top of page

Sam's Corner: Ep 3 - Large-Bore Pistols

Today in The Corner, we move from.22s to large-bore pistols. We explore different large-bore firearms and why they are always fun to shoot.

"Welcome to Sam's Corner, you gluttons for punishment. Before we get started, I want to let you know, I'm not a professional shooter. I'm not any kind of legal consultant. I'm not a firearms trainer. I'm not an operator, I'm not a special agent. I'm neither high speed nor low drag. Anything that I do here if you're dumb enough to follow my advice, that's on you. Welcome. Let's have some fun.

Welcome back, you gluttons for punishment! It's Sam's Corner. You know what that means. Hardware. The last two episodes we talked about entry-level 22s and today we're going on the limb and we're going to have some fun. We're going to talk about handguns, almost exclusively American handguns. Big boar handguns, hard thumpers, things you could shoot an elephant that's hiding behind a New York City phonebook with. These are the things that have always stirred my passion.

What we're going to start with first off, Americans have always had the biggest, most powerful handguns. Starting with the horse pistols that we carried during the revolutionary war, usually 72 caliber, carried in a pair of two on the pommel of the saddle. We developed a revolver. There had been revolving flintlocks and other revolvers, but Colt perfected it with the Patterson, followed by the Walker, which was the most powerful handgun in the world, up until 1935 when Smith and Wesson came out with the 357.

A guy named Elmer Keith helped develop 357 and hunted with it, and he'd also been working on the 44, and in my way of thinking, that's where big-bore truly starts.

This kind of pays homage to some of Keith's early 44 work. He was with a group called 44 Associates. They hot-loaded 44 special cartridges, cartridge loads to make a lot more powerful. Smith and Wesson did the same thing with the 44 they did with the 357. They built a cartridge that was a 10th of an inch longer that you didn't have to worry about slipping into the older guns.

This is kind of my personal homage to Elmer's improved number 5, which he referred to as the last word. His was a modified Colt. This is just a standard Ruger. This one's an Accusport with a five and a half inch barrel that I've had custom work done on by a couple of different gunsmiths. They're great guns. They're fun, they're fun to shoot, they're accurate. They do stop and buck a bit and I like that. Of course, I always dropped on my head a lot as a child.

So this is the basic single action 44 magnum which you can get in various barrel lengths. In addition to that, we can step up to the Smith and West and made 29 double-action now this is the gun that Elmer carried after Smith came out with it. He had had a couple of them. I think he had to have them refinished several times because he wore the blue off of them. They're great guns. Same thing, very well fitted, very accurate, fun to shoot. With the hotter loads, they do tend to get a bit snorty and you might want to get a glove.

That's all right. It's a stunt gun. Sudden gust of gravity. I drop guns so blind people can enjoy the video too.

But anyhow, the Smith and Wilson and the single action, in various guises, Ruger is the most prominent, but there've been several other companies that manufacture single action 44. They're all pretty decent Interarms Virginia Dragoon, the Hawes Western Marshal. Great guns, work really well, lot of fun to shoot.

There are other big bores. This is my favorite right now. This is Judge Public Defender and I dont know if you can see. It looks like something straight out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Every time I pick this thing up I feel like I'm going to go clean up Toontown.

This was designed by tourists in Brazil. It's a 45 colt or 410 shotshell pistol. And they get away with chambering pistol for a shotshell because it's also chambered for handgun round. The fact that the 14 fits in it is incidental. They're actually neat. They're not as difficult to shoot as you would think. They're a lot of fun and they definitely have some serious cool factor. I like that one.

As we move up the ladder, people who shoot 1911 have always felt like the 44 Magnum got too much good press and the 45 got short shrift. This is 460 Roland and it's a really cool set up because it's on Kimber stainless target. The 460 Roland uses the standard and 45 ACP magazines. It's a new barrel, new springs, a few other minor adjustments. You get 44 magnum power and pressures out of 45 ACP platform and you can still shoot 45 ACP through the gun without modifying anything at all. It's a very slick setup, ridiculously accurate and I think it's it's one of the prettiest 1911 I've ever seen. Personally.

Then we move on to the bigger stuff. As I've said before, I was dropped in my head a lot as a child. When Smith and Wesson came out with the 500 Smith and Wesson Magnum. I got very excited. And I got excited because in 1986 Ross Fred had written about accustomed gunsmith. Well, a couple. There was John Linebaugh and Ham Bowen who were both building 50 caliber single actions on this platform on the Ruger Bisley, Smith and Wesson came out with a 500 which is longer, more powerful. It's got a ton of whomp and a ton of stomp.

I personally think it's overloaded the way they have it set up now. The pressure rates are really high. The velocities are crazy. You're looking at 1450 to 1650 feet per second with anywhere from 275 to 750 grain lead projectile. That's cool, but I think if you've got a bullet that big and it's going 1000 feet per second, it's going to do the job for you just as well as it will at 1650. And that's what I try to load for. I try to keep things in the 1000 to 1100 feet per second range, except for some plinking loads that I try to load around 750 to 900 feet per second, which makes this a big fun gun. And once again I feel like I'm cleaning up Toontown giant cylinder.

I have two different variants of this and as always, some of the guns are mine. Some of them are borrowed, but I always want to bring in a representative quantity. This is how the 500, I think, looks the best. For some reason, having a six-inch barrel on this gun makes it look a lot more pleasant esthetically than the four-inch version does. Because the four-inch isn't really a four-inch. It's a three-inch with an inch of compensator. These are great guns.

One of these days I would like to go on a buffalo hunt with one of these. That's always been a dream of mine because basically the 500 Smith and Wesson will match the ballistics of the 50 sharps. So it'll do everything the 50 sharps will do at about the same range, provided you can hit with it.

And finally, we get back to the single shot. Remember when I talked about the horse pistols. We weren't the only place that developed big, powerful handguns. In India, they had what they called Howduh pistols. And I know about that because I read Gary James' magazine on Magnum Handgun in 1980. The Howduh pistols were big single or double shot pistols, sometimes revolvers in large caliber, that were carried on the elephant's saddle when you hunted tigers. And the idea was not that the gun be incredibly accurate but that I have enough of a projectile that it would dissuade a tiger from climbing up the back of your elephant, which the elephant doesn't like, and eating you. The Thompson Center Contender is kind of along that line. These are more hunting pistols, though. As you can see, it's got a 14-inch barrel. This one is chambered in 7x30 waters, which is a 3030 Winchester neck down to seven millimeter flattens out the trajectory. Slightly lighter bullet and a little more velocity. You can actually hit with this out to 250 yards if you practice with it.

But as I said, these are big bore handguns. These are the things that excite me and the things that I enjoy talking about, and it's just something we're doing here in The Corner. I view all these as wonderful elaborations of carbon and I think we're drawn to them because they contain a lot of carbon and so do we. That's why guys are always into guns, cars, motorcycles, anything that has a lot of metal in it because it's got a lot of carbon in it. We're drawn to that.

But anyway, if you have any ideas on a topic you think I should cover or anything that you want to know or you have any questions about any of the stuff on the table, we've got a spot where you can talk about it. Just drop us a line. Thanks for watching and we'll catch you in a week or two with a whole another segment." —Sam Griesbaum

108 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page