Smith & Wesson introduced the .357 Magnum cartridge around 1935. Does anybody know when Colt first offered a revolver chambered in .357 Magnum? I think it was their New Service model but I'm interested in what year Colt first made a .357 Magnum revolver. And did they ever chamber their Model 1873 sa revolver in .357 Magnum before the introduction of the Second Generation series in 1956?
S&W did introduce the S&W Registered Magnum in 357 magnum in 1935. Colt introduced their New Service and the Shooting Master in 357 by 1936. The Shooting Master was the deluxe target version of the New Service. Both models were discontinued at the onset of WWII never to be made again. I believe that they did make a few Colt SAAs in 357 magnum before WWII. Pretty rare today I would imagine.
Colt, in this regard, and esp with the 44 magnum always seemed to lag behind. Maybe they thought that they didn't have to conform, maybe they thought these S&W creations would be short lived. Either way, it ended up being a bad choice for Colt.
Even in the post war days, they only had one revolver type in 357 - the medium. S&W had a large target model (27 or 28) and then a smaller S&W K frame version - the model 19 combat magnum. Partly because of the versatility, S&W 357 magnums outsold Colt's offerings. Who knows if S&W would have done the same things without the competition from Colt. It was a shame what happened to Colt, but Ruger rose up to effectively replace Colt as S&Ws main competition, esp in the US market.
Here is a nice thread with photos of the big Colt pre war 357s. Shooting Masters in 357 are rare - moreso than even Registered Magnums. Of course, they're not as special as RMs but they're pretty neat. Most SMs were 38 special. I know I want a nice SM someday...