Recently six DWCA Members participated in a “Virtual Roundtable” discussion about the famous Dan Wesson SuperMag Revolvers. The unique Dan Wesson Revolver design was the perfect platform for the development of the powerful, flat shooting Super Magnum cartridges. Dan Wesson SuperMags are among the most actively collected modern revolvers.
What does the term “SuperMag” mean?
[Mike] Elgin Gates wanted a more powerful cartridge in common calibers for Metallic Silhouette competition. He accomplished this by lengthening the common magnum cartridges from 1.29 inches to 1.60
[Dean] The old .38 Special case was lengthened to 1.29″ by Smith & Wesson back in 1935, to become the more powerful .357 Magnum. The same process was used by Elgin Gates in the mid 1970’s to invent an even more powerful round for handgun silhouette competition. He lengthened the .357 Magnum case to 1.60″, and for lack of a better term, called it a Super Magnum, which was later shortened to SuperMag by Dan Wesson.
How were the SuperMag cartridges developed?
[Grant] They were developed by Elgin Gates for the International Handgun Metallic Shooting Association (IHMSA). They needed to be able to retain enough bullet velocity at 200 meters, to knock down steel rams used in the sport. The first one Mr. Gates brought to the table was named the .357 Maximum…based on a .357 Magnum case, it was lengthened by 1.60 to allow more powder. Dan Wesson’s gun specifically designed for this cartridge was named the “SuperMag”.
[Dean] Elgin Gates, one of the early competitors and founder of the IHMSA, had many ideas for new cartridges for the new handgun game. One of them centered on the .357 Magnum. He reasoned that by lengthening the case even further, he could increase the velocity of those 170-180 grain bullets to make the round more reliable on the rams. By heli-arc welding sections of .357 Magnum cases together, he was able to come up with a lengthened case to use for testing.
What role did Dan Wesson revolvers play in the development of Supermag cartridges?
[Dean] Dan Wesson played a huge role in the development of the SuperMag. When Elgin Gates designed the .357 SuperMag cartridge, Dan Wesson was the first revolver manufacturer to agree to build a new revolver with a frame window large enough, and cylinder long enough, to accommodate the full 1.610” case length.
[Jody] Dan Wesson was the first (and only) firearms company to produce double-action revolvers in SuperMag calibers.
[Larry] At the time of SuperMag development Dan Wesson was the dominant revolver for IHMSA. With its proven strong design, superior accuracy and adjustable barrel it was a natural choice.
[Phil] They were the only regular production factory that was willing to work with Elgin Gates on putting these chamberings into regular production
What are the common Dan Wesson Supermag models, and in what calibers?
[Grant] Model 40/740(.357SM), 375(.375SM), 414/7414(.41SM) & 445/7445(.44SM.) The”7” denotes stainless. The 375 model was the only one not available in stainless.
[Dean] The .414 SuperMag is the rarest of all. Only 25 were built before the Palmer factory shut down in 1995. Again, they were 8” barrels with slotted shrouds, and all are stainless. Continue reading “The DWCA SuperMag Roundtable”