AutoMag 160 in .357AMP: For When the Regular AutoMag is too Common

The AutoMag was originally designed to use a rimless version of the .44 Magnum cartridge; the .44 AMP. Shortly after it was introduced, though, the company Brough out a second cartridge, the .357 AMP. This was simply the regular cartridge necked down to use .357″ projectiles. It was a bottlenecked case with a huge powder capacity for a 9mm round, and it could be loaded to velocities in excess of 2000fps with a light bullet. Yowza! That said, a more typical loading was a 158gr bullet at 1500-1600 fps.

What made the second caliber feasible was the easy swapping of barrel assemblies on the AutoMag pistol. Since the case head was the same for both rounds, simply dropping on a new barrel was the only step in changing from one caliber to the other. Guns were even offered as one frame, two barrel combination packages form the factory.

AutoMag manufacture never became stable enough for the .357 AMP to mature as a cartridge. The ammunition was never offered by a commercial manufacturer, and it was always entirely in the realm of handloaders. Factory barrel options were a 6.5″ vent-rib and 8.5″ plain barrel; this is the longer pattern.


  1. Sounds like lightweight .380 ACP bullets could use a slower twist. Would certainly give the 7.5mm FK load a run for its money!

  2. I’ve never understood the appeal of these hand cannons, but I guess that’s just me. I’m not trying to blow clean through an engine block. 9mm and 45 ACP suit me just fine. Your milage may vary.

    • Shooting down the opposing sides bi-plane’s in WW1 perhaps, upon a machine gun/s jam/empty status. “Take that in your plywood frame you Germanic rotter” Mars pistol.

      • Normally people use revolvers or single loading pistols for hunting in the USA. Or rather some states of the USA, which have some rather idiosyncratic laws regarding allowed weapons for hunting. The power of an Automag pistol is certainly enough for taking down wild game, but I would not trust it to work reliably in the wilderness when i need it. The appeal of such handconnons apart from niche uses really is the novelty and bragging factor at the KD range in my humble opinion.

  3. A fine mechanical Swiss watch is jewelry that happens to tell time hence the eye watering price tag.
    The Automag pistols are jewelry that happens to shoot are priced accordingly and if that’s not exclusive enough for you………..

  4. Another caliber offered was .41AMP. I was lucky enough to have a friend with all three pistols, and allowed me to fire a full mag through each. Believe it or not, not a single failure.

  5. Lets face it. The real purpose of this kind of weapon is boosting the ego of the buyer. Hunting with a handgun? Give me a break. You want to kill dangerous game, not fire up its anger. Among the 5 or 6 Desert Eagle -which could be called lacking power in this context- owners I witnessed on the range, none could consistently hit a paper target.

    • Yes, hunting with a handgun is not only viable, but quite effective. The Desert Eagle came out decades AFTER the AutoMag. Recoil has nothing to do with accurate shooting. Just because you shoot around a bunch of posers, doesn’t mean the pistols/cartridge isn’t capable of stellar profomance.

    • You would be surprised, I suspect. There are people who hunt with handguns, and even do fairly well at it.

      Friend of a friend took a brown bear up in the Rockies with a Glock 29. Not by choice, really, but he did get the bear with 10mm. It was a cautionary tale of “don’t go looking for wounded elk in thickets in bear country, lest ye find that a bear has laid claim to your elk…”

      It helped a great deal that when he found the elk, and the bear chose to start his charge, there were numerous blown-down trees that the bear had to scramble over to get at him. It was kind of the equivalent of a tank going hull-up over a rise, and the guy making the kill getting a nice, clear shot through the bottom of the hull.

      Not sure how that would have worked, were that bear to have been encountered in open country…

    • We’ve carried .44 Magnum revolvers for black bears for years. The shots are usually close range and the cover is very thick. An 870 with a slug barrel is nice too. Close, heavy bullets.

      So…. Maybe that would work for this pistol. Other than that it’s just cool.

  6. Wow sort of beyond cool almost wandering into the world of the wacky . Who would not want to get hands on one! sort of Elmer Keith meets Judge Dredd (look em up) Does any one else see a faint similarity to the Gabbet-Fairfax MARS ? ..What I want to know is… Does the 1907 Brit arms testers comment fit this also….. “singularly the most unpleasant weapon I have ever fired”..!! I suspect this to be a most wonderful wall piece…..I want it!

  7. And yet again, we prove that one of the typical “needs” of the upper-class alpha male is a pistol that packs ludicrous amounts of PUNCHING POWER per trigger pull. If this were a Hong Kong action movie set for a B-movie, I’d imagine that any extra who had been “shot” by a 357 AMP would be sent flying across the stage as though he’d been hit by a speeding truck. I could be wrong.

    • You would be surprised at the sort of people that actually buy these things and work obsessively at making them actually function properly.

      Range acquaintance of mine showed up with a friend of his, visiting from out of state. This guy… Dear God in heaven. He had a Remington XP-100 he’d put together himself that fired some entirely improbable wildcat cartridge that he swore matched the ballistics of a 7mm Remington Magnum. You heard that thing fire, and it was like the fist of an angry god. He was just confirming the zero on it before he headed up to work on one of the pipeline projects in Alaska, where he planned on doing all sorts of really nutty things with it. Reputedly, he took both polar and brown bears with it, carefully stalking them and then putting a bullet in behind their ears. If I hadn’t been shown pictures later on, I’d have sworn the man was a liar.

      Possibly one of the closer things I’ve ever witnessed to that old joke about the anti-tank pistol.

      Oh, and he wasn’t at all wealthy, either… He was working as a laborer on the pipeline, not one of the skilled trades.

  8. So about as fast as a .357 magnum with a top end load of Blue Dot and a 110 grain bullet. I don’t know if that loading remains on the books but it was an attention getter. As to handgun hunting, the Wildey pistols and the S&W X frames have successfully been used to take…Well, everything. (not putting that on my to-do list tho)

  9. I have hunted both small game with a .22 pistol and wild boar with a Ruger Blackhawk in .45 LC.
    A 265 grain hard cast semi wadcutter at 1250 FPS went through both shoulders of a 140Lb pig and went singing down range at a little less than 50 yards.
    The .44 Magnum was designed as a hunting cartridge and it has done that job well for 70 years.

    So why did I choose to hunt with a revolver?
    Partly because I really like that Custom Blackhawk, it is one accurate pistol.
    Partly the challenge,could I get close enough to be certain I could make the shot?
    And partly because I was hunting in very thick brush and even a carbine would have been comparatively awkward.
    Buffalo Bore sells some 300 and 325 grain .45 LC loads that will get your attention when you touch one off and if you can hit with those loads they are enough for any animal on the N American Continent.

  10. As with the M1 Carbine, some people need a firearm that can do a rifle’s job but not be as hard to haul around.

    The Carbine outperformed pistols and submachine guns in range and killing power, but wasn’t as bulky as the Garand. It was also easier for the average engineer, cook, or etc. to hit something with than the 1911.

    The Magnum handgun’s job is to substitute for a rifle within limits when you can’t carry a rifle. The most obvious application is hiking or biking through the backwoods, as protection against dangerous animals- or dangerous people. Nothing says “get lost” like a serious handgun.

    In an article in Guns & Ammo in 1959, Col. Jeff Cooper divided “trail guns” into “infantry” and “cavalry” types, with a maximum weight of two pounds for those intended for carriage by foot. He also specified a muzzle velocity of at least 1,000 F/S for centerfires because they might be expected to deal with things bigger than a marmot.

    In the 1950s, this meant that “infantry” types came in 22RF, .38 Special (High Speed aka .38/44), and .357 Magnum in revolvers, with automatics in .22 RF, .38 Super Auto, and 9mm Parabellum. “Cavalry” types could include .44 Magnum, or .44 Special or .45 Colt with heavy handloads.

    My own take is that the .22RF is an excellent choice for foraging, and is best employed in a compact, takedown rifle such as the Henry Survival (ex-AR7), Marlin Papoose, or Ruger 10/22 Takedown.

    However, targets larger than about raccoon size, especially irritable ones, should not be pestered with rimfires. As such, the logical backup to the takedown .22 foraging rifle should be the most powerful handgun you can put up with carrying and shooting.

    It’s noteworthy that Alaskan bush pilots used to habitually carry .22 rifles in their planes and Magnum revolvers on their belts. The theory being that in event of being forced down, the .22 would provide food and the Magnum revolver would avoid you becoming food. The Marlin M1895 “Guide Gun” in .457 Marlin seems to straddle these two functions neatly- as long as you have it assembled and loaded before the local apex predator comes calling, that is.

    In this context, the .357 AMP made excellent sense in the 1970s and still does today. Anything which can accelerate a 180 grain bullet to over 1,600 feet-per-second is delivering performance in the range of many of the heavy black powder rifles of frontier days. Properly used, it should see off anything on two or four legs up to 600 pounds weight out to 100 yards, which is all that’s required for a defensive “stopping” gun in the back country.

    In a law-enforcement context, it was stated by Dean Grennell in 1972 that the .357 AMP’s ability to drive a 158-grain JSP to over 2,000 F/S made it a top choice for duty where shooting at either automobiles or through barricades might be necessary. He did state that its size and weight kept it out of consideration, but compared to typical large-frame service revolvers of that time such as the S&W M28 or M58, or the Colt Trooper or Python, one wonders.

    In law enforcement, our old axiom was that when you need SWAT in seconds, they’re only minutes away. This is especially true of undercover ops. And in those, it’s often better to have a weapon not instantly identifiable as department issue. Especially one that can put holes in automobile engine blocks.



  11. “Reputedly, he took both polar and brown bears with it, carefully stalking them and then putting a bullet in behind their ears.” I don’t care how good a shot he was, he’s either an idiot or has a death wish (or both)

  12. “Oh, and he wasn’t at all wealthy, either… He was working as a laborer on the pipeline, not one of the skilled trades.” I can remember in the late Seventies when every working class US male was headed for the Alaska pipeline because of the outrageous salaries they paid to all types of workers.

  13. On the subject of handgun hunting dangerous game. It most definitely is a thing, though not for the limp-wristed. Check out Lynn C. Thompson (founder/former owner of Cold Steel Knives) who took the Big Five (Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Rhino, Hippo & Lion) plus Leopard and Crocodile with his iron sighted Ruger Super Redhawk. Watching him slay hordes of wild boar and asian water buffalo with his trusty Rugers in both .44 mag and .454 casull in his Handgun Hunting DownUnder DVD is a magical to those big bore revolver aficionados among us.

  14. “…. is a magical *thing ….”

    (I blame the Steve Jobs and the iPhone for the absence of syntax on that one)

  15. THE RESERECTION ! I purchased a 357 Auto mag and a 44 Auto mag back in the early 70’s ! I could never fire more than five rounds without a JAM in both pistols ! I was told that it was the ammo ( Sandia ) These cartridges did not generate enough foot pounds at muzzel to work the action properly ! So I was told ! Then Auto Mag went bankrupt and so did any production of ammo ! So for over 50 years they lay silent ! And then one day some company just started to produce these forgotten cartridges again ! Claiming enough energy to work said Auto Mag actions ! I have just ordered on line a few boxes ! We shall see ? The AUTO MAG MAN rides again ! ( MAYBE )

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