View Full Version : 357 Herters help

June 18, 2010, 11:06 AM
I just saw a 357 mag made by Herters of West Germany.I found out some about it on the net but am looking to find out more.It closely resembles a older 3 screw Blackhawk.It has a 6 1/2 in barrel and some very beefy cylinders that look even thicker than a Blackhawks.I saw someting where they were made by J.P. Saur and Son from 1966 to 1968.Anything else would be greatly appreciated.thanks Russ

June 18, 2010, 08:14 PM
The Herter's Model Perfect Power Mag pistols were manufactured by J.P. Sauer and Sohn of West Germany, and were imported by Herter's.
The Sauer and Sohn name was never stamped on the gun; but “Manufactured in West Germany” was present on the left side of the barrel, as was the “Herters Waseca MINN USA” label.
Also inscribed on the left side was the serial number and proof marks, which indicated the year of production (the latter was a two-digit ID).
The right side of the barrels were stamped, “Herters Single, XXX (.357/.401/.44) Calibre”.
Overall, the pistols were well built, and had bluing that was in-line with that of their Ruger counterparts.

What really stands out is the design of the Power Mags - “Unusual” is a word that comes to some minds, since if any two features detracted from the lines of the Powermag it was definitely the grip-shape and rear sight configuration.
The gripframes were very long & thin, clad in hard plastic panels with rather squarish rear edges.
The rear sights had huge protective ears that required a higher than normal front sight - also giving these revolvers a distinctive look.

As George Herter would say: They're Perfect !" :D


James K
June 18, 2010, 10:32 PM
Just a bit more background. Herters was a large firearms and sporting goods dealer in Waseca, MN. They did have a few retail distributors, but did business mainly by mail order in the days before the Gun Control Act of 1968 effectively banned direct mail order sales of guns. Like most catalog stores, they actually made nothing, only buying, stocking, and shipping.

As PetahW mentions, everything in the catalog was "Herter's Model Perfect", which became a catch phrase among gun folks. While some of their products were a bit less than perfect, in general their stuff was good. One superb product was a massive loading tool that can still be found in homes across the country. It could handle case reforming, bullet swaging, and other tough tasks with ease where lighter tools would bend.

Their firearms were almost all European made, and were generally of good quality, from makers like Husqvarna and Sako. That Sauer & Son revolver was an excellent product though, as PetahW says, its looks did not appeal to everyone. But it was unique and distinctive, which is what Herter was interested in.

In addition to the .401, there was also the .357 Atomic (or .357 Herters Atomic) which antedated the .357 Maximum by several years, but was the same idea, a longer case .357 Magnum.


June 19, 2010, 10:41 AM
If "George L.Herter" is googled, it will soon be seen that he was very much invested in all sorts of promotions, not all guns/sporting related.

I always used to keep one of the Herter's catalogs on hand, though - as I thought them worth more than what they sold, as entertainment and as an informative source many years before computers.

The center 10 pages or so, were shiney paper ILO raggy, and always had full-color photos of gunstocks made up in various different woods & grades, to drool over.


June 20, 2010, 08:43 PM
Thank you all who have responded I went back and gave her a good long look over and decided it was worth the risk so she'll be coming home with me soon.The guys at the store know me pretty well and told me it was a professor's gun at a local college who was retiring and selling off many of his guns.Except for a little holster wear and a small crack in the grip it looks as good as new.The cylinder is long just like the older Blackhawks so loading reloads longer than Saami specs will be easy to do.I hope it will be worthwhile to get it.

James K
June 21, 2010, 09:48 PM
I am pretty sure that revolver is chambered for .357 Atomic, aka .357 Herters Atomic. I have not been able to find the case length (anyone?) but it is described as being between the .357 Magnum (1.29") and .357 Maximum (1.59"). Standard .357 Magnum loads will work fine, of course.


June 21, 2010, 10:09 PM
Great Western also marked their S|A's as 357 Atomic. I believe Layne Simpson wrote about them as being the same length as a standard .357.

Jim Watson
June 22, 2010, 08:30 AM
.357 Great Western Atomic was, as best I recall, standard length .357 Magnum brass, 158 gr bullet, and 16 grains of old Hercules 2400. That back when 15 gr was a good stout full charge magnum load. We are more cautious now, and the powder may not be the same, either.

Never heard of a Herter's Atomic.

Herter's First Rule of Firearms Safety: Never go hunting or shooting with somebody who might gain from you turning up accidentally dead.

Herter's Rule of Hunting Ethics: Shooting a gorilla is about as hard as shooting your neighbor in his back yard, and should be punished the same way.

James K
June 28, 2010, 09:21 PM
I have looked at a bunch of sources and can't find the case length for the .357 Atomic. But it WAS longer than the standard .357 and Herters made a point that while the .357 Magnum could be fired in their guns, the Atomic could not be fired in a standard .357.

The .357 Atomic, .357 Herters, .357 Herters Atomic, .357 Great Western Atomic, were all the same thing. For a while it looked like the round might take off, but several problems, including the gas cutting that plagued the .357 Maximum, put a stop to it. I have been told the case length was intermediate between the .357 Magnum and the .357 Maximum, but have also heard it was the same length as the .357 Maximum. It is not listed in my edition of COTW or in any other cartridge book I can find, even though there were a number of guns made and marked for it.

I think some people may be confused because as the ammunition went from scarce to non-existent, most gun owners switched to the standard .357 Magnum so others believed it was the same cartridge. But I don't think it was.


Steven Mace
June 28, 2010, 11:07 PM
The name “Atomic” is not a phrase that we coined, but instead dates back to the 1950’s. Around that time, Great Western Firearms was producing Colt Peacekeeper-type singles that were chambered for an assortment of calibers. One such offering was the .357 Magnum which was temporarily marketed under the guise of the “.357 Atomic”. The designation is only representative of a using 16.0 grains of 2400 and a 158 grain bullet in the .357 Magnum. It does catch your attention though; I know when I first read Sixguns by Keith, the mention of a .357 Atomic made me think of a wildcatted round (something that easily outperforms the Remington Magnum). As far as I know,
only a few Great Westerns were ever inscribed as Atomics, which accounts for their collectibility. The name is neat though and should be given to a round all its own.

Reference - http://www.singleactions.com/375Atomic.pdf

Regular calibers in the Great Western line were: .22LR, .22 Magnum, .38 Special, .357 Atomic, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt. The name “Atomic” was used to take advantage of the sense of power of the nuclear weapons of the fifties, and a higher velocity .357 round was actually produced and tested by Weatherby. The cartridge case was dimensionally a standard .357 Magnum and would be considered a “+P” today. The round was allegedly manufactured by Herter’s and headstamped “.357 Atomic” but cartridge collectors have yet to see one. Most .44 Magnum cylinders are .050” longer at the recoil shield to allow for a recessed case head.


Hope this helps!

Steve Mace

James K
June 29, 2010, 12:27 PM
Sometimes I wish I had kept and properly filed every gun ad and magazine I ever saw, but then I would need a house the size of the Pentagon. I am about as certain as I can be that Herters claimed the .357 Atomic would not fit the standard .357 chamber, but the memory does play tricks.

I wonder is any of the owners of a .357 Atomic revolver might be willing to make a chamber cast or measure the chamber from the base to the throat and compare it with a standard .357. The help would be appreciated.


Magnum Wheel Man
June 29, 2010, 03:11 PM
my retired gun builder, used to be a machinist for Herters... & according to him, Herters never had a Herters Atomic... if the guns were chambered in 357, they might have been marked "Atomic" because the gun could handle the hotter loads

but he also thinks the "Atomic" was a model of gun made by Great Western, & the Great Western Atomic was just a loading of the 357 magnum...

I have a Dan Wesson in 357 max though, & the cylinder is quite long in comparision to the "normal" mag cylinder...

July 3, 2010, 04:50 AM
I found an article by gun writer John Taffin where he thinks the 357 atomic was an attempt to bring back the original load of the 357 mag.If memory serves me that was a 158 gr bullet at 1500 fps.He states that same loading as mentioned before and said he thought that the atomic was a 357 mag +P+.Scary,cool but scary.I don't know for sure if this is an atomic or not it only says 357 caliber on the right side of the barrel.Still looking at the cylinder there is definately some serious beef there.