David Bradshaw Photos - Vol. LXIV, 357 Maximum Notes

Help Support Ruger Forum:

Lee Martin

Dec 18, 2002
Arlington, Virginia
As William Ruger initiated development of the .357 Maximum, the intent was to provide the impact to topple a 55 pound steel ram from 200 meters, while inflicting less recoil recoil than the benchmark .44 Magnum. A lengthened .357 case fired in a straight chamber would permit interchangeability with .38 Spl. and .357 Magnum. The Maximum would be a hot rod cartridge, devouring a near .44 mag dose of powder in a .357 cylinderr. Ruger partnered with Remington for ammunition. Ruger, Sr., freely expressed consternation as Remington seemed to drag its feet on proving ammunition necessary to testing prototype revolvers. Handloads supplied by this writer could not take the place of commercially-develped ammunition for eventual SAAMI certification. Nevertheless, handloads developed with 180 and 200 grain .358 rifle bullets and fired in prototype SRM revolvers were the main instigator in Remington and Federal producing 180 grain JHPs for the Maximum.

Many shooters, David among them, greeted Ruger's New Model lockwork with reluctance, if not disdain. Out with the melodious clicking safety and half-cock notches. In with a completely passive safety which permits loading without touching hammer and trigger. Upon opening, the New Model loading gate blocks the transfer bar from rising to cover the firing pin. Gate cannot be opened with hammer cocked. Unless the trigger is held to the rear, transfer bar cannot communicate hammer fall to firing pin.

The New Model single action stands beside S&W and Ruger double actions at the pinnacle of fully loaded, safe firearms.

David did not come aboard the New Model train until Ruger released the 10-1/2" barrel S410N Super Blackhawk. The S410N "Silhouette Super" ended the duel between S&W and Ruger. Discovery: the New Model submits to a clean-breaking trigger with strong engagement, with larger engagement patch than Peacemaker-style lockwork. Emphatically, the .357 Maximum would not be the same revolver without New Model lockwork

The revolver progressed faster than the ammunition. Experiment started on a Blackhawk frame, quickly progressed to seven long frame prototypes----stamped SRM-1 through SRM-7----poured at the Newport NH foundry, then machined in Southport CT. (This was 1981. Single action production did not commence at Newport until 1992. All Maximums are Southport revolvers.)

Bill Ruger, Sr., and Jr., were ready to further stretch the SRM frame, as Bill, Jr., considered a case length of 1.660". David worried over frame strength as the bottom strap tapers toward the front. Concerns not shared by Bill, senior and junior. This, while experimental ammo tops 75,000 CUP, primers blanking into firing pin hole, extraction eased by removing cylinder to drive out brass with hammer and drift.

Bill, Jr., settled on 1.605-inch, with the production frame shown here. Remington technicians used closed breech pressure barrels at the Arkansas ammunition plant, and assumed we shot revolvers from a box with a lanyard. Put it this way, Bill, Jr.'s, offer to send an SRM to Remington for in-house ammo testing garnered a less-than Pavlovian response.

Maximum cylinder (right) beside Blackhawk .45 ACP cyl (left) and .45 Colt cyl.

Loads shown, l-to-r:

* 45 ACP----Rem Golden Saber 230 JHP over 8.5/AA #5.

* 45 Colt----cast 276 Volcano, deep seated over 13.5/HS-6.

* 357 Remington Maximum----code 357MX3 180 "Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point.

Frame heat treatment is standard Ruger----strong all the way through. Note standing breech "leade" or ramp into recoil plate area which defines headspace. Loading gate of New model performs three functions
1) access load/unload.
2) drop cylinder catch for rotation.
3) lock transfer bar to prevent cocking.

Cylinder pins for BH/SBH and Blackhawk Maximum.

Bull barrel, indicated by muzzle of 10-1/2", dampens recoil, holds long ejector parallel to chamber.

10-1/2" barrels were fitted with screw-on target blade front sights. Much shooting was done with .100" wide blade. Blades .100" (tenth inch) and .125" (eighth inch) were made. Tenth-inch sight may predominate in production. The 7-1/2" maximum has standard silver-soldered .125" serrated ramp.

.125" target blade shown on 600-00018.

Rear sight notch of .125" is generous for use with .125" front sight on 10-1/2" barrel. Rear notch insert .100" wide (comes with .100" front") is too narrow to properly light sides of .125" blade. Rear notch of .110" to .115" would better match .125" front. (Ruger made a .109" notch in the 1960's.)

Some early Maximums came through with the old 8-click per rev elevation screw. Replaced by 16-click screw around 1982 and production of Maximum. Twice the clicks should provide half the adjustment per; doesn't always work out that way. The 8-click screw tends to better uniformity click-to-click. May not matter for hambone sight-in/leave-it. Matters beaucoup for adjustment in changing light and silhouette

This Maximum sports 8-click screw.

High pressure experimental ammo led Bill Ruger, Jr., to insure chambers were bored straight for smooth extraction. Also, smooth leade (transitions chamber wall to chamber exit, or throat). A .358" throat preferred. Nobody does everything right, and a prevalence of chamber offset among Ruger revolvers is common. A few thousandths barely matters and accuracy camn be saved with a good forcing cone. Chamber misalignment much over .006" and a serious marksman/markswoman will start to notice. Note fouling ring from .357 mag: easily removed.

Ruger incorporated long ejector at David's request to completely extract Maximum case. The Maximum ejector assembly is 1-inch longer than standard and was fitted to first SRM prototypes. Force required to extract brass from brutish experimental loads led Ruger, Jr., to harden ejector rod, carried through on production revolvers. The long ejector was at first tried with the standard spring, which under recoil turned the ejector into a slide hammer against the cylinder face. Effect harder ion ejector than cylinder face. Ejector housing of anodized aluminum, as usual.

Note index finger on ejector button, Maximum case fully extracted.

Barrel-cylinder immediately became an issue with extreme pressure loads. Obviously, to achieve velocity, a large volume of slow powder burning to high pressure wants to be contained. Three dimensions crucial to containment: 1) cylinder gap, 2) throat diameter, and 3) forcing cone; all want to be on the firm side.

Ruger, Jr., tightened gap over standard production without straining assembly. A tight gap requires zero endshake, with cylinder face square to cylinder pin. A film of oil disguises gap in photo, which refuses .0015" feeler. We'll look at gap immediately after firing in Vol. LXV.

Two forcing cones were tried in the .357 Maximum, the industry standard 11-degree, and a 5-degree cone. Bill, Jr., favored 5-degrees, while David sought to continue the 11-degree cone. Nothing wrong with a 5-degree cone----until the base is widened to compensate for chamber-to-bore misalignment. Cut to a given diameter, the low-angle cone sinks deeper into the bore. The bullet now wanders unsupported in search of rifling. Poor bullet, drunk on hot gas, slams wall of forcing cone, ricochets into rifling. The rifling has a drunk slug on its hands, which it works in vain to sober in time for depart from the muzzle. Bullet started life round as a note from Charlie Parker's horn.

Forcing cone pictured is cut short, at 11-degrees.

Identifying rollmark, left side of frame. Super Blackhawk trigger guard. Bill Ruger in mind to introduce the Maximum with his redesign of Colt's Bisley grip. Ruger hoped for interchangeability between SBH and Bisley grips, with an uninterrupted arc at the top. Didn't quite work out that way. The .357 Maximum was released without a Bisley grip, and before Remingon furnished ammunition with 180 grain bullets. David worked with Federal's Hugh Reed to produce a 180 JHP load, as Bill Ruger, Jr., bent Remington's arm for a 180 JHP. Meanwhile, silhouetters stuffed brass with jacketed rifle projectiles and meaty-bone cast.



Aug 7, 2009
Thank you very much for posting this information. We are very blessed to have the members that we do. Their knowledge is being preserved for future shooters.

Any chance we could get all of Mr Bradshaws threads into one big sticky?


Ruger Guru
Sep 18, 2002
Lake Lure NC USA
I've said it before & I'll say it again, This type of info is invaluable & NEEDS to be preserved for future gun owners. David's info & insight is spot on & very welcomed!

David Bradshaw

Sep 11, 2012
Joe S., Rumrunner, Kanook, contender.... thank you for the kind words. The Ruger .357 Maximum lives,
David Bradshaw


Oct 10, 2002
Augusta, Georgia
Mr. Bradshaw,

A technical matter explained in terms easy to understand. Combined with your personal knowledge always results in a great article!

Question; Why the difference in front sight attachment between the 10.5 and 7.5 barreled guns?

ROCS- Ruger Owners Collector Society Rather new but has produced journals that presents articles and beautiful pictures. Many of the well known Ruger owners are members. They should give you a gratis membership so you can provide articles on the SRM for publication and HISTORY.

David Bradshaw

Sep 11, 2012
SATCOM.... thank you for the kind words. The Blackhawk Maximum with 10-1/2" barrel was aimed primarily at steel shooters. The 7-1/2" barrel with traditional serrated ramp front sight soldered to the barrel was aimed at handgun hunters. Silhouetters took their long barrel guns hunting, screw-on target sights and all.

Of course, one may screw a Ruger ramp sight to the 10-1/2" barrel. Revolvers equipped with .100" target blade have a corresponding narrow notch rear. A .125" front requires a rear notch from .105" to .125" wide. I would not file an original narrow notch without having a replacement in hand.
David Bradshaw


Feb 26, 2008
Northwestern Pa.
Very nice rendition! Not to be toooooo smart, but, I knew all that :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: ! I have been fortunate enough to talk to David several times, and hope to in the near future as it has been to long, David expect a call after Easter! God Bless all and Happy Easter, Coogs.


Nov 27, 2013
N. Pole Idaho
My Maximum balances the 7 1/2” barrel with a Brass Bisley conversion grip frame, and Leupold Dual Dovetail scope mount and 4X Leupold scope. It really likes 180 grain bullets.
A4AA4F2C 2BD9 4124 BE2E 2269E3D67BD5

Latest posts