Real Magic Bullets

We often hear “There are no magic bullets.” I beg to differ. There are bullets seemingly magical in their performance; doing everything we could possibly want them to do. However they won’t compensate for poor shooting or faulty reloading practices. If we do our part behind the sixgun — and at the loading press — the performance of these bullets is absolutely magical.

When the .357 Magnum was introduced in the middle 1930s, bullets of the time were plain-based, and therein lies the problem with original .357 loads. Those relatively soft cast bullets, at a then unheard of muzzle velocity of 1,500+ fps, resulted in severe leading, often with the first cylinder full fired. This problem was to last for at least 20 years.

The large proliferation of jacketed bullets available to us today was unheard of in 1935 when the .357 came out. The only jacketed handgun bullets I ever saw in the mid-1950s were FMC hardball loads. So, people wondered if using gas-checked bullets would help with leading in the .357. Keith always claimed gas-checked bullets were worthless in a revolver, though. The gas-check design itself goes back prior to WWI for use on cast bullets in rifles. So what next?

It remained for Ray Thompson to come up with “Magic Bullets” for use in sixguns. He designed #431215 and #431244 for use in the .44 Special and #452490 for use in the .45 Auto Rim, however, his most magical of bullets is #358156. The 2-decade-long problem associated with loading for the .357 Magnum was over.

The #358156 designed for the .357 Magnum is my favorite .357 bullet and I have found it to be the best bullet available for full-power loads in .357 Magnum sixguns. And, its gas-checked feature is absolutely mandatory when using cast bullets in .357 leverguns. It simply does about everything I want a .357 Magnum bullet to do.
By John Taffin

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2 thoughts on “Real Magic Bullets

  1. Ken Adams


    Is there a source for the Thompson/Lyman #358156 from a commercial caster? I have not been able to find one searching the internet.

  2. Fred Shoemake

    I have been casting these bullets for many years. They are among my favorites with the Keith designs for 44 and 45 cal. Heavy semi wadcutter bullets have amazing potential accuracy at looooong ranges and real stopping power too.

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