It is 1869. The Civil War is over and the Colt is King of the Sixguns as Hartford continues manufacturing two of the most beautifully balanced fightin' sixguns ever conceived, the 1851 Navy .36 and the 1860 Army .44. Powerful and fast from the leather, the Colt's are cap-and-ball revolvers, that is each chamber must be loaded with a measured amount of powder, a ball seated and rammed home, each chamber sealed with grease, and then a cap placed on a nipple at rear of the cylinder. The loading process is so slow that serious sixgunners carry extra cylinders already loaded as cylinders can be exchanged much faster than the loading sequence can be followed.

Meanwhile, Smith & Wesson has a better idea as they had Rollin White and his patent resulting in the first big bore single action Centerfire sixgun. White's patent was for cylinders that were bored through completely allowing the use of metallic cartridges. That first Centerfire sixgun/cartridge combination was the Smith & Wesson .44 American which soon evolved into the .44 Russian which then became the New Model Number Three, a beautifully crafted single action sixgun to say the least.

By 1873, the S&W/Rollin White patent had run out and Colt went the .44 Russian one better with the much more powerful .45 Colt chambered in the Single Action Army, the famed Peacemaker. The .45 Colt was an awesome load for that time, or any time, with a 255 grain bullet propelled by 40.0 grains of black powder. It is of course impossible to duplicate the load exactly with modern components, but a 255 grain bullet over 40.0 grains of Goex FFFg black powder ignited by a magnum pistol primer does well over 900 feet per second from my .45 Colt sixguns. We had reached the apex of sixgun development. Sixguns simply could not get any more powerful.

Then the pendulum swung back to Smith & Wesson. The problem was that the ammunition manufacturers simply did not know it. In 1907, the New Century, or First Model Hand Ejector, or the Triple- Lock came from the factory in Springfield. One of the most (the most?) beautifully engineered double action sixguns ever, the Triple-Lock received its name from the fact that the cylinder locked at the rear, and at the front of the ejector rod, and also at the front of the cylinder.

The new sixgun was chambered for the .44 Special which was never loaded to its full potential by the ammunition factories but kept at .44 Russian levels of a 250 grain bullet at around 750 feet per second. It fell to experimenters such as Elmer Keith to extend the loading of the .44 Special to a 250 grain bullet at 1200 feet per second. Now we had really arrived at the zenith.

About the same time that Keith and his followers were touting the .44 Special as the sixgun cartridge, Smith & Wesson, Winchester, and the reigning reloading expert of the time, Phil Sharpe, all put their heads together and decided the heavy-framed Smith & Wesson Heavy Duty was capable of handling more than the .38 Special. In 1930, the large-framed Heavy Duty was designed to give undergunned peace officers a better chance against the crime element of the day. Bank robbers and bootleggers were armed with .45 Autos and Tommy Guns while the constable on patrol was still making do with the anemic .38 Special. Smith & Wesson's new sixgun was chambered in .38 Special but took a more powerful round known as the .38/44 that raised the muzzle velocity of the standard .38 Special by 300 feet per second. Since we were in the modern age and the horse had been replaced by the four door sedan, an armor piercing .38/44 round was also provided for the nation's peace officers.

Over the next few years, the .38/44 Heavy Duty sixgun was specially heat treated, Winchester lengthened the .38 case, and in 1935 we entered the Magnum era with the marvelous .357 Magnum. Launching a 158 grain bullet at 1500 plus feet per second, Smith & Wesson's .357 Magnum was a custom built revolver that was back- ordered while the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. They simply could not build them fast enough to meet the demand. Now we really had reached the ultimate sixgun chambering.

To counter the medium bore .357 Magnum at 1500 feet per second, the .44 Associates, with Elmer Keith as the most notable member, continued to assert that the 250 grain .44 at 1200 feet per second could not only do anything the 'little' 158 grain .357 Magnum at 1500 feet per second could do, it could do it better. For the next twenty years, Keith in both books and magazine articles, pushed the .44 Special, properly loaded, as the ultimate sixgun cartridge.

Then in late 1955, Keith received word that his dream had come true and Smith & Wesson and Remington had teamed up to make the .44 Magnum a reality. Keith asked for a 250 grain bullet at 1200 feet per second; he got a 240 grain bullet at 1500 feet per second. Recoil in three-pound sixguns was awesome to say the least. No one ever forgot the first time they fired a .44 Magnum whether it was in one of the Smith & Wesson .44's, that in those pre-Model number days was simply referred to as the '.44 Magnum', or the Ruger .44 Blackhawk. Major Hatcher of the NRA staff at the time compared firing the .44 Magnum to being hit in the hand with a baseball bat and he was not far wrong. We had come as far as it was humanly possible to handle power in a sixgun. Many would say too far.

After our initial shock, we stepped back, assessed the situation, and began to learn to handle the .44 Magnum. Reloaders started with hot .44 Special loads and worked their way up. Custom grip makers such as Steve Herrett provided grips that did a much better job of handling felt recoil than either the factory Smith & Wesson or Ruger stocks did. Ruger brought out the Super Blackhawk with more weight and a larger grip frame. Then came the new crop of double action .44 Magnum sixguns in the form of the Ruger Redhawk and Super Redhawk, and the four pound Dan Wesson Model 44. Felt recoil was no longer so intimidating and the .44 Magnum was accepted by most sixgunners as the ultimate sixgun. We had reached the top. We had learned to tame its awesome power. We had arrived. Surely no sixgun would ever challenge, or even dare to surpass the magnificent .44 Magnum in power and recoil.

That was then and this is now and I count more than a dozen chamberings in sixguns that are available either in factory form or custom persuasion that leave the .44 Magnum at the bottom of the list of the biggest and baddest. The .44 Magnum is no less a grand cartridge than it has ever been. It remains a great choice for hunting big game and, in the hands of experts, has taken everything that walks including big bears, Cape buffalo, and elephants. In most cases, the challenger sixguns are just more so. We, of course, use the term 'sixgun' generically. Some sixguns are actually fiveguns, that is their cylinders are bored with five holes instead of six to stay within the parameters of a cylinder and frame that allow the sixgun/fivegun to remain at a manageable size.

We will look at three loose categories: The Magnums (those sixguns spawned by the .357 and .44 Magnums); The Maximums (the beginning of the Maximum sixguns and their offspring); and finally for the sake of alliteration if nothing else we will call the last group The Mammoths (the sixguns chambered for rifle cartridges).


.45 COLT: There are some that would immediately question categorizing the .45 Colt as either a magnum or beyond the .44 Magnum. Let's see. There has long been a myth propagated by numerous writers that the .45 Colt brass is weak. Almost to the point of suggesting that somehow ammunition manufacturers have two plants, one for regular brass and one for weak brass, i.e. .45 Colt. This is absurd to say the least.

The problem for one hundred years was the fact that the sixguns chambered for the .45 Colt were relatively weak. Examine a Colt Single Action Army or any of the replicas now being offered in .45 Colt and one immediately sees paper thin walls between chambers. No one with the least bit of common sense whatsoever would try to load these sixguns heavy. A very young Elmer Keith may have inadvertently started the problem of 'weak brass' in the .45 Colt as one of his first, if not the first, articles he wrote concerned blowing up a .45 Colt Single Action. Everyone soon forgot the details, namely that he was probably using a worn out black powder sixgun from the 1880's, his cases were stuffed full of all the black powder they could hold and a .458" .45-70 rifle bullet was then seated over the charge. This in a sixgun made to handle .454" bullets. The top strap blew and Keith looked for a better cartridge and found the .44 Special, which he had never seen up to that time in 1925, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The coming of the Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt twenty-five years ago finally gave us a strong .45 Colt sixgun. Let me say right here that I do not advocate making the Ruger Blackhawk or Bisley in .45 Colt into a ".45 Magnum", but it makes a dandy sixgun for heavy .45 Colt loads. Loads that are well beyond the safe capabilities of a Colt Single Action Army in .45 Colt. I routinely use 300 to 325 grain hard cast bullets over 21.5 grains of H110 or WW296 for 1200 feet per second in the Ruger forty-fives. This is a real game killing load and one to be preferred over 240 grain jacketed .44 Magnum factory loads at 1400 feet per second where maximum penetration is desired.

The sixguns and loads that really take the .45 Colt beyond the .44 Magnum are custom propositions. Gunsmiths such as John Linebaugh, Jim Stroh, and Hamilton Bowen specialize in five-shot custom Rugers in .45 Colt chambering and we are here talking 260 grain bullets at 1600 to 1700 feet per second and 300 grain bullets at 1500 to 1600 feet per second. I would not even think of recording such loads here as dropping the hammer on any of them in a standard .45 Colt sixgun would be a disaster to say the least.

I rarely ever quote muzzle energy figures as they are heavily skewed towards high velocity/lightweight bullet loads. Instead I prefer to use the Taylor Knockout Formula, or TKO, as used by African hunter John 'Pondoro' Taylor, and given to me by John Linebaugh, to give a better comparison between big bore calibers. Taylor's Formula is caliber times bullet weight times muzzle velocity all divided by 7000. The number resulting is strictly for comparison purposes. It isn't foot pounds or anything else. It is only a number for ranking powerful guns.

Using the Taylor Knockout Formula, a 240 grain .44 Magnum at 1400 feet per second is rated at 21 TKO. The Ruger .45 Colt Blackhawk loading of a 300 grain bullet at 1200 feet per second comes out with a TKO of 20, while the maximum loads in Linebaugh or Bowen custom .45 Colts with 260 and 300 grain bullets come in with TKO's of 29 and 31 respectively. This puts them way beyond the .44 Magnum.

.454 CASULL: Gunsmith Dick Casull was one that certainly did not believe .45 Colt brass was weak as he started his experiments in the 1950's with sixguns in .45 caliber instead of .44 caliber simply because the .45 Colt brass was the first to be offered in solid head persuasion. Forty-four Special brass was still being made in the 'weaker' balloon head style. Casull felt, and rightly so, that he could more easily obtain the results he wanted with solid head brass.

Casull had two strikes against him. Both the available sixguns and powders of the time period were not up to his goal of a 230 grain bullet at 1800 feet per second. Casull used duplex loads to get the power he wanted. Neither Winchester 296 nor Hodgdon's H110 were available at the time and their advent removes all need for the dangerous practice of mixing two or more powders in the same cartridge case. Don't do it!

Conventional six-shot cylinders were not strong enough to handle the pressures Casull would be working with so the decision was made to switch to a five-shot cylinder. This was 1954, before the advent of the .44 Magnum, and with a custom Colt Single Action fitted with a five-shot .45 Colt cylinder, Casull reached 1550 feet per second with a 250 grain bullet. The power was there but a greater margin of safety was wanted so by 1957, Casull built his own single action frame using 4140 steel and then fashioned a five- shot cylinder of 4150 steel and the first .45 Magnum was born.

Since 1983, the .454 Casull has been a production revolver manufactured by Freedom Arms. These are superbly crafted, stainless steel, five-shot sixguns and .454 brass is purposely made longer than .45 Colt brass to preclude someone dropping a .454 load into a .45 Colt.

Factory loads of a 260 grain bullet at 1800 feet per second and a 300 grain bullet at 1700 feet per second, come in with TKO's of 30 and 33 respectively while my heavy load of an SSK 340 grain cast bullet at 1800 comes in with a TKO of 40. None of these loads are designed for Sunday afternoon plinking but for hunting of big game from deer to dinosaur.

.500 LINEBAUGH: John Linebaugh is a disciple of both Elmer Keith and John Taylor which means three things are important to him when it comes to a sixgun cartridge and those three things are caliber, caliber, and caliber. Linebaugh began experimenting with the .45 Colt in the early 1980's and the first test gun I had from him was a ten-inch barreled six-shot .45 Colt built up on a .44 Magnum ElDorado frame and cylinder. With his recommended loads I went well over 1700 feet per second with 260 grain bullets and reloaded the Winchester .45 Colt brass five times. Again, so much for the weak brass myth.

When Linebaugh went big caliber, he really went B-I-G with his .500 Linebaugh using .348 Winchester brass trimmed to 1.410", inside neck reamed, and loaded with .511" bullets. Early .500's were built on both Seville and Ruger Super Blackhawk frames but all recent .500's from Linebaugh's shop now come on Ruger Bisleys. Hamilton Bowen also builds .500 Linebaugh's on Ruger Bisleys, Redhawks, or Super Redhawks. The Ruger Bisley grip frame is one of the best shaped grips ever devised for handling heavy recoil.

The .500 Linebaugh is a five-shot revolver that exists on 400 to 440 grain bullets at velocities approaching 1300 feet per second. Both LBT and NEI offer bullet moulds and ready cast bullets are available from BRP. RCBS can supply the reloading dies and inside neck reamer. With a 440 grain bullet at 1250 feet per second, the .500 Linebaugh registers a resounding 40 on the Taylor Knockout Formula scale. As one would expect, felt recoil also registers high to say the least.

The .500 Linebaugh is purely and simply a hunting handgun and would be most comfortable to have in hand should one come up against an angry bear or lion.

.475 LINEBAUGH: Would it be possible to combine the best attributes of the .454 Casull and the .500 Linebaugh into one sixgun? The .454 operated at Magnum velocities while the .500 Linebaugh chugged along at more sluggish velocities but did it with 440 grain bullets. Could a compromise caliber be brought forth that would operate with 400 grain bullets at magnum muzzle velocities?

The .500 Linebaugh had proven to be effective on elk, moose, big bears but lacked penetration for Africa's dangerous thick- skinned game. It was in actuality too much of a good thing. The large diameter and massive frontal area actually limited penetration and in big game hunting with a sixgun, penetration is everything.

So Linebaugh split the difference between the .45 and .50 and the result was the .475 Linebaugh. In the bargain, he came up with one of the easiest wildcat sixgun cartridges for which to manufacture brass. Parent .45-70 brass is trimmed to 1.410", deburred, and then loaded with .476" bullets. If Winchester .45-70 brass is used it is not necessary to inside neck ream; thicker Remington brass requires this extra step.

Where is the .475 Linebaugh on the power scale? A 400 grain bullet at 1400 feet per second figures out at 38 on the TKO scale. John Linebaugh's philosophy in building handguns is to offer power, practicality, and portability, or as he says: "A handgun that can be carried on the hip all day and easily placed under a pillow or bedroll at night." The .475 Linebaugh is his finest effort in this direction.

.50 ACTION EXPRESS: This big bore round was originally chambered in the Desert Eagle semi-automatic. It did not, however, take long for sixgunners to discover that the big fifty would make a pretty fair sixgun round. Hamilton Bowen regularly re-barrels Ruger Redhawks and Super Blackhawks to fifty caliber and fits them with five-shot cylinders of his own manufacture for the .50 Action Express. Factory .50 AE ammunition is available from Speer in a 300 grain jacket hollow point and from IMI in both a 325 grain soft point and hollow point. Velocities are around 1300 feet per second from a 7 1/2" barrel.

Freedom Arms is chambering the Casull revolver in .50 Action Express also and loads can be tailored for the big Freedom Arms fivegun. With the 300 grain Speer jacketed hollow point, the .50 AE Freedom Arms will easily deliver muzzle velocities of 1500 feet per second for a TKO of 32. Switching to the 385 grain LBT bullet, which is available from BRP, I have approached 1600 feet per second and a Taylor Knockout Formula rating of 44. Recoil, as one might expect is heavy to say the least. Needless to say, such loads as these are only for the .50 AE Freedom Arms revolver. I will not quote these heavy loads here as they are only for the Freedom Arms revolver and they can supply loading data with their guns.

Bullets designed for the .500 Linebaugh may not be used with the .50 Action Express as the Linebaugh takes bullets of .511" diameter, while the Action Express is a true fifty using bullets of .500" diameter. Keeping bullets in the rimless case which headspaces on the case mouth can be a real problem. Without a heavy crimp, I find that even with a scope mounted for extra weight, bullets start moving forward under recoil with the first shot and the fourth round will move significantly forward though not enough to protrude through the front of the cylinder and tie up the gun.

Which is the best of the Magnums beyond the .44 Magnum? As a handgun hunter I do not believe I could go wrong with a factory chambered .454 Casull or a custom fivegun from either Bowen or Linebaugh in .45 Colt or .475 Linebaugh. Any and all of these chamberings will do a creditable job on anything that walks. To further add to the great choices we big bore sixgunners have, Freedom Arms now has their superb revolver chambered in .475 Linebaugh.


.357 SUPERMAG/MAXIMUM: The .357 SuperMag is a direct result of silhouetters looking for an easy-recoiling, flat-shooting medium bore that would take down stubborn pigs and rams before the advent of the topple rule allowed targets to be set to go over easier. The .357 Magnum with 158 grain bullets was not even close to 100% reliable, and more so on days when the wind was against the backs of pigs and rams, and in fact was way behind 180 grain bullets at a slow 1100 feet per second. Why not combine the two and come up with a flat-shooting cartridge capable of Magnum velocities with 180 grain bullets?

Elgin Gates was the main proponent of the elongated .357 Magnum that became the .357 Maximum. The new brass was 1.600" in length and chambered in both the Dan Wesson .357 SuperMag and Ruger .357 Maximum. This is one cartridge that should have been written about only by silhouette shooters. We understood the concept; many writers did not.

A lot of confusion exists between the terms SuperMag and Maximum. Ruger's Blackhawk was called a Maximum. Dan Wesson called their .357 a SuperMag but the guns are marked for the .357 Maximum. Remington's ammunition is labeled Maximum. In any case, the .357 SuperMag/Maximum was designed to operate with 180 to 200 grain bullets at Magnum velocities. It was definitely not designed to be a .357 Swift as many tried to make it. When reloaders started driving 125 grain bullets at hyper velocities all kinds of problems arose. Throat and top strap erosion, which always occurs in magnum revolvers, was accelerated as the lightweight bullets slammed into forcing cones. Quite often the bullets were mis-shapened as the light jackets, designed for much lower velocities, made the trip across the barrel/cylinder gap. Heavy doses of ball powder also caused a sand blast effect on top straps and forcing cones.

The .357 Maximum/SuperMag was pronounced a failure by those that didn't know any better while silhouetters went on to make it the winningest revolver in silhouette history during the 1980's. Ruger even pulled their .357 Maximum from the market which is unfortunate as I consider my 10 1/2" Ruger .357 Maximum one of the finest long range sixguns in existence when properly loaded.

.375 SUPERMAG: While the .357 SuperMag was designed as a silhouette cartridge pure and simple, its bigger and younger brother, the .375 SuperMag, was a Maximum cartridge that would prove to be suitable for both silhouetting and big game hunting.

The .357 SuperMag was also the brainchild of Elgin Gates who was then president of IHMSA (International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association) . In my talks with Gates at the time, I wanted to hold out for a straight cartridge case but Gates wanted to go forward by trimming the .375 Winchester to 1.600", or standard Maximum length. The result was a tapered case and when mated with the Hornady 220 grain jacketed flat point, the .375 SuperMag gave velocities of 1700 feet per second from a 10 1/2" Seville Silhouette Sixgun. This load rates a 20 on the TKO scale making it the equivalent of a standard .44 Magnum. However, it cannot be duplicated in a Dan Wesson .375 SuperMag. Loads for the Wesson .375 are more in the 1200 to 1300 feet per second category.

The .375 SuperMag was/is treated even worse by the press than the .357 SuperMag. Ill-informed writers tried to kill the .357 SuperMag; they simply ignored the .375 SuperMag. It remains the illegitimate stepchild with no ammunition manufacturer ever seeing their way clear to provide a factory load for silhouetters or hunters. I do not ever see this situation changing, and this cartridge is on its way to oblivion. And just about the time we were resigned to calling all of these cartridges Maximum/SuperMag or vice versa, Dan Wesson marked these guns as SuperMags to be used with the .375 SuperMag cartridge.

.445 SUPERMAG: When the .357 SuperMag arrived on the silhouetting and sixgunning scene, most of us involved in shooting the long range metal critters with the .357 Magnum, were simply waiting to substitute our 180 and 200 grain .357 bullets into the longer Maximum brass and step up the muzzle velocities by 300 feet per second.

Others had a deeper vision. Wildcatters wanted the SuperMag revolvers not to experiment with heavier .357 bullets at higher velocities but were instead waiting with reamers in hand to make the .357 SuperMag into a true big bore. The .44 SuperMag was on the way.

I have no way of knowing who the built the first .44 SuperMag, but friend Lew Schafer had the first Dan Wesson .357 SuperMag in the area and soon had rechambered the cylinder to his .44 UltraMag and fitted it with a Wesson .44 Magnum barrel. Schafer used .444 Marlin brass cut to 1.600" and turned on a lathe to .44 Magnum exterior dimensions and we were soon getting 1600 feet per second with 305 grain cast bullets and shooting one-hole groups at 25 yards.

Within a few years, Elgin Gates had convinced Dan Wesson to chamber their SuperMag revolvers to forty-four caliber and the .445 SuperMag was born along with factory brass although the .445 has never been offered as factory loaded ammunition. It remains strictly a reloading proposition.

If the .44 Magnum is a hunting sixgun, the .445 is even more so. There are trade-offs, of course, and the .445 revolver is heavier than most .44 Magnum sixguns and certainly more cumbersome to carry BUT it can deliver 300 grain bullets at muzzle velocities faster than the .44 Magnum can accomplish with 240 grain bullets. This is very important for hunting as 300 grain bullets normally shoot more accurately and certainly penetrate deeper. At the present time the only manufacturer offering .445 SuperMags is Dan Wesson. The .445 SuperMag with 300 grain cast bullets at 1550 feet per second registers 29 on the Taylor Knockout Formula scale which places it just about midway between the .44 Magnum and .454 Casull. I expect this SuperMag chambering to be around for a long time.

Big bore sixguns have been my bailiwick for a long time and I have always tried to be 100% honest in reporting felt recoil generated by these Sixguns Beyond The .44 Magnum. While doing this I have been told by one reader that I should look for something better suited to someone that can't handle recoil, like ping-pong, and at the same time another reader accused me of bragging about how much recoil I could stand. Hopefully, the truth lies somewhere in between. With that in mind I now come to the most brutal-to- handle revolvers ever devised, the Linebaugh Longs. The ultimate Maximums. If anything with heavier recoil comes along, don't call me. I will be out playing ping-pong!

.475 LINEBAUGH LONG/MAXIMUM: John Linebaugh, who gave us the really big bore standard length cartridges in the .475 and .500 Linebaughs, turned his big bore mindset to the Maximums and the result was the .475 Linebaugh Long, or .475 Maximum. As the .357 SuperMag/Maximum resulted from stretching the .357 Magnum case, the .475 Maximum came about by performing the same operation on the .475 Linebaugh. Winchester .45-70 brass is easily trimmed to 1.610", then loaded with .476" bullets using .475 Linebaugh dies from RCBS.

Stretching the .475 Linebaugh to 1.610" required a new sixgun platform for the necessary conversion and the only sixgun suitable for being transformed into the .475 Maximum is the Ruger .357 Maximum. Since .357 Maximum Blackhawks have not been made by Ruger for years, one usually has to pay $500 or more to obtain a sixgun for the conversion that will have barrel, cylinder, grip frame, hammer, and trigger replaced. Virtually, all parts of the .357 Maximum except the frame are discarded as this conversion requires a five shot cylinder, a new barrel, and a Ruger Bisley grip frame, hammer and trigger.

Even though the cylinder and frame are massive on a .475 Maximum compared to the .45 Colt Single Action that is fabled in song as 'The Big Iron', the balance of the single action Maximum is exceptional. It handles easy and holsters easy, but certainly does not shoot easy. Recoil is H-E-A-V-Y. So heavy in fact that most shooters will prefer 'light' loads with 400 grain bullets at 1200 feet per second for most shooting chores.

The .475 Linebaugh Long is a sixgun whose maximum Maximum loads will do 1600 feet per second with a 380 grain bullet, 1500- 1550 feet per second with a 410 grain bullet, and 1400-1450 feet per second with a 430 grain bullet. TKO's for these loads are 41, 43, and 42 respectively. Remember a .44 Magnum standard load has a Taylor Knockout Formula rating of 21! Mathematically the .475 Maximum in full house loadings delivers felt recoil at least three times that of a .44 Magnum sixgun. I cannot stress enough that this is a serious gun that must be approached seriously or one can get hurt!

The .475 Maximum is not a target gun or a silhouette pistol or a trail gun. It is, however, a weapon that would feel most comforting to body and soul when the quarry is big, mean, and nasty.

500 LINEBAUGH LONG/MAXIMUM: We have arrived! There is simply no way to get any more power into a sixgun that can be packed easily on the hip or in a shoulder holster. Perhaps more importantly, there is no way any of us could handle any more felt recoil. It takes everything I've got to muster up the concentration and strength to handle this Monster Maximum.

The .500 Linebaugh Long, again named for its creator John Linebaugh is a 1.610" in length fifty caliber cartridge made from .348 Winchester brass. It can be loaded with the same dies used for the .500 Linebaugh and thrives on the same bullets. However, while the .500 Linebaugh is somewhat sluggish as to muzzle velocities, the .500 Maximum is quite the contrary. The .500 Linebaugh Long/Maximum will max out with a 440 grain bullet at 1550 feet per second! That is a rating of 50 on the Taylor Knockout Formula and believe me one feels knocked out on the back end.

Felt recoil is S-E-R-I-O-U-S to say the least. I find I must use a padded shooting glove such as the Chimere and also tape the tip of my trigger finger and pad the knuckle on my trigger finger to shoot the biggest .500. Even then it takes a tremendous amount of concentration and expended strength to handle the .500 Maximum and the .475 Maximum for that matter.

Normally, at least 200 rounds of brass are desired when a sixgun is being tested and 500 rounds is even better. But with these big guns I have found 30 to 40 rounds is all I can handle at one shooting session and I don't do that very well as the recoil drains me physically to say the least.

The .500 Maximum has only one reason for existence and that is big game. Really big game. Game so big and nasty that the shooter will not even think of, nor feel, the recoil when the gun is utilized. Bears, both Brown and Polar, Cape Buffalo, elephant, rhino,... you get the picture. Call the .475 Maximum the .458 Winchester of the sixguns and the .500 Maximum the .460 Weatherby. THE MAMMOTHS: In the early 1960's, Idahoan Stu Brainerd and Arizona Gunsmith Clarence Bates put their heads together and came up with two working sixguns that would handle the .45-70 rifle cartridge. They were not the first as Elmer Keith reported on a rather crude .45-70 revolver in the late 1950's.

By the mid 1970's, Earl Keller of Indiana had started producing the Century Model 100 .45-70 sixgun and I waited eight years to get mine which is serial number 276. That should tell us how many of these big sixguns were made before Keller's passing.

The current Century Model 100 is advertized as having a frame of 120,000 pound tensile strength bronze and stronger than the original guns. The cylinder and barrel are 4140 steel and in addition to the .45-70 chambering, Century has added the .30-30 Winchester, the .375 Winchester, the .444 Marlin, and in a special sixgun known as The Mother Load, the .50-70. All of the Century sixguns weigh right at six pounds which helps to dampen recoil of these rifle cartridges quite effectively. I would much rather fire a .45-70 or .50-70 from a six pound sixgun than a six pound carbine.

This is a lot of sixgun and I simply cannot see a whole lot of use for the .30-30 or .375 Winchester in a sixgun this size. I have both chamberings in T/C Contenders and they make dandy hunting handguns and even with a scope weigh a whole lot less and are easier to pack than the Century. Moving up to the .444 Marlin, I still find the chambering questionable as it is rather mild in the Century and can't really do anything that a .44 Magnum or .445 can't do in a much smaller sixgun. Factory loads in the .444 Marlin will do 1500 feet per second in the Century and I can get this much out of a long barreled .44 Magnum sixgun with proper handloads. Now we come to the real reason for the Century, the two nineteenth century black powder cartridges that become modern day powerhouses when handloaded and fired in the mother of all sixguns. Century tells me they have run the .50-70 up to 1800 feet per second with 450 grain bullets. That is a TKO rating of 59! Even in a six pound sixgun this load is a kicker to say the least. All of my loads for the .50-70 have been assembled with RCBS's #50-515FN, a 525 grain bullet from my alloy. At 1400 plus feet per second care must be exercised when shooting off sandbags to prevent getting hit in the head. At 1324 feet per second, the .45-70 hits a TKO rating of 35 with a 405 grain bullet, while at 1437 feet per second, a 525 grain .50-70 bullet rates at 55 on the Taylor Knockout Formula scale!

As this is written, another 'beyond the .44 Magnum' sixguns are emerging. Wesson Firearms is just starting to produce their latest SuperMag chambering, this time a stretched .41 Magnum to be know as the .414 SuperMag. Brass will be available from Starline.

Is it really possible to go any further in developing powerful sixgun chamberings? I would say no but better minds than mine have been wrong before. Ain't progress wonderful?








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