The History of Magnum Rifle Cartridges
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History of Magnum Rifle Cartridges continued...
The term magnum is rooted in Latin and means "great" or "large". Magnus is another variation on the term. This term was traditionally used to refer to an oversize bottle of wine or champagne. With relation to metallic cartridges, the term "magnum" has come to mean an oversized cartridge, generally with a belt at the head of the case, designed to deliver improved ballistic performance over standard cartridges in the same caliber. The first magnum cartridge to be introduced was the .375 H&H Magnum, by the English firm of Holland & Holland in 1912. Holland & Holland (or H&H) was a London-based gunmaker established in 1835, and made many innovations throughout the 19th and early 20th century.
The .375 was originally introduced as the "Nitro Express", although it came to be known as the Magnum, the first cartridge to use that designation. H&H followed the .375 with other calibers such as .300, .244, and .275, all based on the same basic .532 rim diameter. This was followed by a smaller .240 Magnum based on a rim diameter of .467".
In the United States, Roy Weatherby began modifying the H&H cases in the 1940s to develop his Weatherby Magnum family of cartridges. The .257. .270, and 7mm Weatherby Magnum calibers were designed to be used with a standard .30-06 rifle action, whereas long-case Weatherby Magnums such as 300, .340, and .375 required a magnum action as used on the H&H cartridges. Roy Weatherby's developments set the pattern for subsequent magnum cartridges.
Subsequent cartridges included the Norma .308 and .358 Magnum, Winchester's 264, .300, .338, and .458 Magnum, and Remington 7mm, 8mm, and .416 Magnums. Most of these are based on variations of the .375 H&H case, and many of them are designed to function in a standard rifle action. At the end of the twentieth century, several "super magnum" cartridges were introduced. Remington's Ultra Mag is based on a .534" rim diameter, but does not have the traditional belt typical of other magnum cartridges.
Remington also introduced the Short Action Ultra Mag (or SAUM) cartridges. Winchester, meanwhile, introduced the .270 WSM, a short .270 cartridge that could work in a conventional action. This was followed by the WSSM - for Winchester Super Short Magnum in 22, .24, and .25. Although marketed as a magnum cartridge, there has been some debate as to whether the WSSM is a true magnum, as they lack traditional magnum features such as a belt and large case capacity.