Here’s a group of Federal .357 Maximum/Supermag cartridges. Developed by Elgin T. Gates, it is a lengthened .357 Magnum case designed for the express purpose of knocking down 50 pound steel rams in handgun silhouette competition.
From the left: Elgin convinced Federal Cartridge Company to make some experimental cases for him…this is the prototype. The second round is the factory Federal 180 grain Silhouette load. Later, unprimed nickel brass was sold with the headstamp as shown on the third round, while Gates had Federal make a special run just for the silhouette organization he helped found back in the mid-1970’s. The symbol at 9 o’clock is a silhouette of the ram, from the official logo.
Ruger also was involved with testing Elgin’s 1.6" case, but chose to go with a shorter 1.49" case version initially. It was chambered in an extended-frame Super Blackhawk called the Maximum. Dan Wesson stretched their large-frame revolver, and named it the M40, to take full advantage of the new round’s potential, and gun was an instant success. Many perfect scores have been fired over the years with the .357 Supermag, and it is still a popular round for both revolvers and single-shot Contenders.