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Old March 13, 2013, 12:50 AM   #1
9mm
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Big bore revolvers but none semi? dangers of timing off

Why have big bored revolvers (44 mag, 454, 500S&W etc..) been made in revolvers and not Semis? I would see theres a bigger danger risk for revolvers due to timing issues. I can't image what would happen on a timing off issue on a 500 S&W.................
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Old March 13, 2013, 01:04 AM   #2
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Well, there was the .44 Automag, and then there's the .50 AE Desert Eagle, but in general, I think the reason is that most of the *really* powerful handgun cartridges are used primarily for hunting, and in that case, the extra capacity and slim design of a semi-automatic isn't as important.

Plus, with the exception of .22lr, there just aren't a bunch of semi-automatic handguns out there that use rimmed cartridges, "powerful" or not.
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Old March 13, 2013, 05:04 AM   #3
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Because the gun would have to be huge to accommodate the cartridges. The grip frames of the semis in .44mag and .50AE are already close to the limits of what will fit in the hand, any larger and very few people would be able to hold them and reach the trigger.
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Old March 13, 2013, 08:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
I would see theres a bigger danger risk for revolvers due to timing issues.
Timing off on a revolver means that the cylinder doesn't quite line up with the barrel and it shaves a little lead.

Timing off on a semi means that the cartridge goes off when it's not completely supported by the chamber and you're instantly holding a hand grenade in your hand.

Timing on a revolver is set by a couple of simple mechanical parts that will gradually wear. Very little opportunity for catastrophic failure.

Timing on a semi is set by a system of lugs and ramps or links or gas pressure rotating lugs and springs and feed ramps and cartridge profile and mag spring pressure etc, etc. Lots of opportunities for one of those little things to not work quite right and you get a KABOOM in your face.
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Old March 13, 2013, 09:15 AM   #5
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Maybe because of recoil issues with some large bore cartidges can be just as bad with semi-autos. Go buy a 50cal Desert Eagle and shoot it and see how usefull a 4LB 12oz semi-auto is.

With a big bore revolvers when a owner screws up on his handload or with maintenence his handgun if it blows the cylinder tens to go up and out leaveing most parts intact. That can't often be said about sem-autos.
Break a slide or split a barrel and head and hands can be damaged baddly. Buy a quality firearm, keep tham all in good shape and maintan it and enjoy a life time of shooting..
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Old March 13, 2013, 09:19 AM   #6
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An autoloading pistol is subject to a considerable amount of battering as the pistol cycles. They are made of substantial dimensions to counteract this. But as the cartridges get more and more powerful, and bullet weights get heavier, the gun must "bulk up" to accommodate this. Hence, there is a point where the pistol would just be too big and unwieldy.

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Old March 13, 2013, 09:31 AM   #7
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Semi-auto pistols for very large cartridges present a lot of problems, simply too many for companies to spend money developing something for which there is little demand.

In no particular order, the magazine has to be large enough in all directions to accommodate the cartridges. If limited to, say, 5 or 6 rounds, the pistol has few advantages over the revolver. If more than that, it becomes too large and heavy to be practical. (A 17 shot pistol in .500 S&W is a bit mind boggling, to say the least.)

Then the slide has to be massive enough that it won't batter itself to pieces in normal operation. The recoil spring would have to be very strong, and probably would need some kind of disconnector mechanism so the slide could be retracted manually.

Add in the sheer size and weight of the barrel and frame, and the idea takes the concept of "hand" gun to an extreme.

I am aware of a suggestion that a pistol or revolver be made for the .50 BMG, and I am sure that if it were not for the legal restrictions, someone would want a handgun for the 16" naval shell. But realistically, auto pistols are not likely to be made for larger cartridges than at present.

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Old March 13, 2013, 09:36 AM   #8
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In addition to what Bob Wright and 45_auto said...

Cartridges like .44Mag and .500S&W are likely beyond the limits of practical short-recoil tilting-barrel locked-breech operation; an excessively stiff recoil spring and/or excessively massive barrel and slide would be required. This negates one of the main advantages of a semi over a revolver in the smaller service calibers: mechanical simplicity. IOW if the designer has to adopt gas operation to make the gun usable, any cost advantages over a revolver are likely to disappear. Exhibit A: Desert Eagle.

From a practical standpoint, one of the main advantages of a revolver for big-bore cartridges is the ability to reliably use low-powered and mild-recoiling loads for practice. Autoloaders generally cannot do this without adding mechanical and operational complexity.

FWIW the discontinued Steyr GB had an unconventional hybrid gas locking system that was intended to automatically compensate for variations in load power, but I've heard that the system did not work well in practice.
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Old March 13, 2013, 09:41 AM   #9
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carguychris:

You're mighty right on ammunition diet. My .44 Magnums and .45 Colts digest anything I feed them, and exceedingly well. And the .50 AE is full house only or a straight pull repeater.

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Old March 13, 2013, 10:57 AM   #10
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One other issue is making the magazines feed the rimmed, strait walled revolver cartridges reliably.
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Old March 13, 2013, 11:53 AM   #11
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"Why have big bored revolvers (44 mag, 454, 500S&W etc..) been made in revolvers and not Semis?" [9mm]

There have been attempts to build large bore semis, as noted by ScottRiqui, one was the AMT AutoMag 44, which weighs in at about 4 lbs loaded, one of John Sanford's maverick products. Dirty Harry used one in 'Sudden Impact'.

Some years ago, after Mr. Sanford passed, at auction I acquired his personal carry. What is this gun? An Airweight J-frame S&W M38-2.

Sort of brings the question into perspective.


PS: The trigger on the little gun is sublime.

Pictured below, bottom right.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 3 Smiths.jpg.JPG (48.5 KB, 90 views)
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Old March 13, 2013, 03:50 PM   #12
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Have you ever held a Coonan .357 Mag? The grip is HUGE (well, compared to the parent gun, a 1911). And that's just .357 Magnum. Imagine if that were .44 Mag, or *gasp* .500 S&W. You probably wouldn't be able to hold the thing, unless you were a pro basketball player.
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Old March 13, 2013, 05:22 PM   #13
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^^^ I'm 6'7" tall, and I find the grip frame of the Desert Eagle to be a bit bigger than I like.
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Old March 13, 2013, 08:01 PM   #14
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Because it would have to be mounted on a tracked vehicle. In a frickin' turret.

A couple of years ago I was at an outdoor range, walking down a road about ten yards behind the firing line, when a guy began lighting off rounds from a .50 Desert Eagle. The shock wave from that damn thing could be felt like a light slap on my cheek and flapped the sleeve of my jacket. I couldn't believe it.

Later ran into a guy at an indoor range shooting a DE in .44 Magnum. He said it was his EDC. Concealed. Okay...
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Old March 13, 2013, 10:16 PM   #15
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.44 Mag Desert Eagle

.44 Auto Mag
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Old March 13, 2013, 10:19 PM   #16
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.44 & .357 AMP
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Old March 13, 2013, 10:22 PM   #17
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.45 Win Mag LAR Grizzly
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Old March 13, 2013, 10:25 PM   #18
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.45 Win Mag Wildey

.44 Mag Desert Eagle
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Old March 13, 2013, 10:47 PM   #19
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They do, or did make these. The .44Mag is do able in a semi auto, but the gun needs to be big. Desert Eagle is big (at 4.25lbs empty!) but I also had a .44 Mag LAR Grizzly, which is (slightly) smaller and lighter.

You won't see a .500 S&W auto pistol. At 2.25" loaded, the ammo is simply too long to fit in a magazine that has to go in the butt of the pistol and still fit average hands.

Grip fit is very much an individual preference. I wear a size 9 glove, and can manage all these guns well enough single handed, but the DE is at the limit, and the Wildey is close. The Grizzly, fits and locks into my hand quite well. Large, but not too large. The Auto Mag is even slimmer, although it has about the same front to back reach.

All these guns chamber rounds that are .44 mag length (+/- .1"") Longer rounds are simply not practical in a gun where the magazing must go through the grip.

The advantages of a magnum class autoloader are grip fit to the individual, and in some designs better average accuracy than most revolvers. Load levels that are painful to shoot out of a S&W M29 are pussycats (ok, snappy pussycats) out of a Desert Eagle, Wildey and even the Grizzly is much more pleasant to shoot at those levels.

The drawbacks? Cost. Complexity. Size & weight. Must run full power (or nearly) loads (except in the Wildey, with its adjustable gas system). Cannot run cast bullets in DE, and should not in Wildey.

The designs with fixed/non tilting barrels have the potential to be more accurate than revolvers, and my personal experience bears this out, in general.

Niche market, and always will be, outside of Hollywood & TV fantasy.

Back when the Auto Mag was new, one writer described it as like a "motorcycle that will do 180mph, but won't do less than 70..." not a big market for something like that.

When a new S&W M29 was $283.50, an Auto Mag was $395!

I like mine, find them a lot of fun to shoot, but they aren't general duty guns, they are specialty pieces. Not for everyone.
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:42 AM   #20
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OK.

You got my attention. I am mightily impressed. Mightily.

The .45 Win Mag Wildey is especially interesting .... adjustable gas system you say.

Didn't even know there was such a cartridge in existence.

Wonder if it would work in a 460 S&W.

Great collection and pics. Thanks.
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:55 AM   #21
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44... what took you so long

I have a collection of Automags ( not a 44 Auto Mag yet though ) my Automag 2 shoots 22 magnum... my Automag 3 shoots 30 Carbine, my Automag 4 shoots 10mm magnum, & my Automag 5 shoots 50 A.E. ( BTW... the Automag 5 is the lightest weight of the autos ever chambered for 50 A.E., but houses a ported barrel & slide... which make the concussion from firing, even more "big" )

my "5" with the slide back showing the ports...



as far as the 460 / 500 length cartridge, it's both too powder full for a "normal semi auto design" ( the Desert Eagle uses a rotating bolt ) & the cartridges are too long to fit in a grip mounted magazine, the gun would have to be designed like a Scorpion or Broom Handle, with the magazine either in front ( most practical from a design point of view ), or behind the grip... you would lose a lot of the balance, I wouldn't want to shoot a Broomhandle Mauser chambered in 500 S&W
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Old March 14, 2013, 11:07 AM   #22
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Hi Magnum Wheel Man, sorry it took so long! We have some similar interests, it appears. Your collect is very nice, and what I consder "second generation" magnum autos. I've been thinking of getting those as my next interest, but other things, and economics are currently holding me back.

We also have some similar Contenders, if I recall correctly.

Magnum Wheel Man got it exactly right (not surprising) but its little known to people who aren't into these guns, Auto Mag (two words) is the name of the originals, and AMT was not involved in their production.

Automag (one word) II, III, IV, & V are AMT products, and as you can see from the pics, completely different designs from the original Auto Mag. Harry Sanford founded the original Auto Mag Corp, also ran its successor, and later worked at AMT after the original Auto Mag companie(s) folded.

The Auto Mag, Wildey, and Desert Eagle use a rotating bolt. The Grizzly and the Coonan use the Browning tilt barrel system.

You could design and build a tilt barrel system that would handle the .460 & .500 S&W rounds, BUT it would have to be even larger than the biggest made today, and at that point, you might as well make it a rifle. Also, since these rounds are too long to fit in a grip that a normal human could hold, the magazine would have to be somewhere else. You might make something along the lines of a Broomhandle Mauser, but if the mag was detatchable, it would fall under the definition of assault weapon in existing state laws, and all the currently proposed state and Federal ones.

Seaman, the Wildey is an interesting beast, with an unusual combination of features. It is a DA gun, but has a heel type mag catch. The gas system is adjustable, without any tools, just use your fingers to turn the adjustment nut (the knurled ring at the front of the pistol). You can set it for any load from powder puff to full house magnum. Learning the settings is a trial and error process, but once you have it, for each different load, you can go back and forth just by counting the clicks.

The Desert Eagle uses a fixed gas system, and one that is nearly impossible to clean if it gets seriously clogged. NEVER use cast bullets in a DE, and the lead and lube can clog the gas system. I know of one case where the owner clogged one up royal, and it had to go back to the maker, who, replaced the barrel assy (and charged for it, as the manual tells you not to use cast slugs).
Don't do it.

The .45 Win Mag is basically a .45ACP stretched to 1.198", and duplicates .44 mag with bullet up to 250gr in an autoloader. Heavier bullets can be used in the Contender barrel, if desired.

I also have a Coonan, one of the originals, a Model A (only 1500 made), but don't have a good pic right now...
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Old March 15, 2013, 09:59 AM   #23
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My earlier comment: "Wonder if it would work in a 460 S&W." was poorly worded.

Was actually wondering if the 45 Win Mag cartridge would work in a S&W 460 revolver, apologies for being obtuse.

Your comments appear to indicate that it is short enough to fit into the S&W 460 chambers, (cartridge lists have an entry for a 450 Winchester Magnum with a 1.2" case length - same bird?) and give the S&W 460 one more cartridge choice, except that being rimless it would need moon-clips and a requisite cut cylinder. Pretty much puts the kibash on that.

My Hodgdon manual does not list any load data for the 45 Win Mag cartridge... was it a wildcat expressly created for the Wildey pistol? You would think there would be all kinds of semi-autos chambered in it. But....

""like a "motorcycle that will do 180mph, but won't do less than 70..." not a big market for something like that.""

Well the Wildey (my favorite in your collection) is certainly an eclectic creation and belongs in that special class of handgun... and would not seem out of place if compared to a Suzuki Hyabusa, a Norton Commando, a Vincent Black Lightning, or even a Brough Superior SS100.

Great posts. Great guns. Thanks.

No motorcyle today... snow...

but there's the range.
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Old March 15, 2013, 10:04 AM   #24
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I'm sure you were asking 44... but you can check loading data for the Thompson Contenders... I have a 10" barrel chambered in 45 Magnum... & my TC load books have data...

BTW... I'd be nervous about machining the cylinder for moon clips... if shooting the 460 as hot as it is, without case head support of that couple mills of cylinder, may cause a case head rupture...

as an "aside" for all... if you see old loading manuals, pick them up... the new ones offer the newest greatest cartridges, but often drop more obsolete cartridges & practices... I.E. I have load data for the 45 Magnum in older manuals, & I have 2 old Speer manuals on loan to a buddy that has been shooting Speer's plastic bullets in his shed over winter... the newest Speer manual has a brief description of the process, but nothing in detail, & the bullets didn't come with instructions, but in my oldest Speer manual, there is a very detailed chapter... so it can be nice to have those old manuals around... if you see old ones in rubbish sales, they are often very worth the cost...

BTW... if you are wanting a 45 Magnum revolver, the cylinder is long enough on the Ruger Super Redhawks ( double action ) or in the Blackhawk / Super Blackhawk configuration... for example, if you bought a Blackhawk convertible in 45 acp & 45 Colt, & didn't like the 45 Colt for example, I think you could have that cylinder reamed to 45 Magnum... the single actions don't need a moon clip, as the auto version cartridges headspace on the case mouth... this would actually be very easy to do, & of reasonable cost... after buying the revolver in the 1st place that is...
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Old March 15, 2013, 12:05 PM   #25
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"BTW... if you are wanting a 45 Magnum revolver,"

Ahoy Magnum Wheel Man,

Was at the range yesterday and decided to practice using a speed-loader (insert into cylinder, twist, release) for reloading after every cylinder shot empty. Well on one try the speedloader jammed up against the grip and it took a good 2 minutes to free it up. I hate speedloaders, they are so figety, half the time they come apart in my pocket, that NEVER happens with a moon-clip. Moon-clips are so easy to use, you can load up blindfolded, you cannot go wrong. I've seen semi-auto shooters try to put mags in backawards. (reverse - tail to nose)

So yes, your Ruger solution bears investigating. I like the Ruger Vaquero and am pretty sure I've seen them in 45 ACP.

Thanks for the tip.

All the best.
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