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Edward Dixon
September 25, 1999, 03:45 PM
I'm sorry I wasn't more specific. I know what the term means generally. What I really wanted to find out was its use specific to firearms. Does it refer to an
increase in powder, bullet weight, diameter, or what? Is it the same with shotguns? Besides possible chambering differences, are magnum pieces generally built heavier/stronger since added power requires
overall higher tolerances?

fal308
September 25, 1999, 07:30 PM
Magnum can mean anything as it's the originator of the cartridge that names the round. Some actually have differences and some are nothing more than marketing slogans.
Modern magnum handguns generally are built on a more robust frame. The cartridges are also different dimensionally. They are usually around 0.10" longer so that they cannot be readily chambered in the parent design. For example, the .357 magnum is longer than the .38 Special though they are the same diameter. This makes chambering a .357 cartridge in a .38 improbable if not impossible. Don't even attempt to try this. The pressures inherent in the .357 design would/could blow up many, if not most, .38s. The same goes with the .44 Magnum/..44 Special.
Rifles can be somewhat different. Though marketing was a major influence also here. Magnums used to be belted generally. This was an extra portion of casing that enveloped the base (just above the rim of the cartridge or opposite the bullet end) of the cartridge and was designed as extra strengthing for the higher pressures that were developed. Back when this was common, metalurgy was not as advanced and thus brute strength was used to (hopefully) contain the extra pressures generated. Since then powder science, metalurgy, bullet design and weapon design have made astronomical strides forward so that many somewhat common cartridges of today could not even have been made using the technology of the time.

James K
September 25, 1999, 10:37 PM
Maybe a little more background. "Magnum" is Latin (neuter) for "large" or "great", and was originally applied to a large size bottle of champagne. The firm of Holland and Holland in England was the first to apply it to the (then) very powerful cartridges used in some of their hunting rifles, the .300 H&H Magnum and the .375 H&H Magnum. The name may have been chosen because these cartridges were of the "bottle neck" type and resembled in outline a wine bottle.

From that point, other makers began to use the term, as FAL308 says, as much for advertising "hype" as for any actual increase in performance. Size is relative. The .22 Magnum Rimfire is only a little larger than a .22 Long Rifle, and is nowhere near the size of a .460 Weatherby Magnum, yet both have the name "magnum" associated with them.

Jim