View Full Version : Big Bore Advice

August 30, 2007, 11:24 PM
looking for a few opinions. am going to be buying a new wheelie soon. i want some honest opinions on a big bore revolver, new or old model. what do you guys think are the best out there?

August 30, 2007, 11:29 PM
I just bought a new S&W 629 (44 mag) with a 5" barrel. It is a pleasure to shoot. Less recoil than my 686 (357 mag) with a 4" barrel. I am ready to head to the range tomorrow and put some more rounds through it. If you do decide on getting a new Smith & Wesson, you may want to do a search in these forums on "Internal Lock". There is a lot of back and forth on it. Most people hate the lock guns. From what I have read, the problems seem to occur in the lightweight big bore revolvers, so I'm not too worried about mine.

August 30, 2007, 11:39 PM
How big is big to you? 44? 454? 500?

How much $$$ do you have to spend? Is it for carry or just another safe queen? Do you reload or just by factory ammo as needed?

I had some money coming to me last month after cleaning out some items and treated myself to a new 44mag Raging Bull 6" stainless. I could have dropped that $$$ on a S&W 629 or a Ruger Redhawk, but, I really like the factory trigger on the Bull and the double locking lugs for the cylinder are nice.

I also have a RB 454 with the full scope treatment and such. Its not a carry revolver by any stretch.

[I have suited on my asbestos undies since I am well aware the taurus flamers will start nuking this thread promptly]

I have talked to several S&W 500 owners and they all agree, its a big gun and they all spent over $1000 to get their the way they wanted.

So, figure out how much you have to spend, what caliber your aching to get, and what you figure your going to be paying in ammo fees or to reload.

August 30, 2007, 11:40 PM
What do you consider 'Big bore'?

My favorite value guns are Magnum Research BFR's in the regular cylinder length.

Freedom Arms are nice, but 4 shooters on the 83, and maybe 5 on the 97.

Ruger SRH if gunsmithed is an excellent gun, DA.

The 500 S&W are nice, but, only if you are going to load sensibly for the gun. Otherwise, cut topstraps, wrecked forcing cones and new barrels after as little as a 1000 rounds are possible.

If you want art, let me know.;)

S esq.

August 31, 2007, 12:04 AM
thanks for the replies, guys. i consider " big bore " no less than .44 caliber. as far as barrel length, no shorter than 4". this is not going to be a concealed carry gun. and as far as money goes, i top out at a $ 1,000.

August 31, 2007, 03:44 AM
In that case, .500 JRH, or .475 Linebaugh, in Magnum research BFR. Ruger SRH's, but, you may have to chop a bit, and, Ruger totally screwed a great cartridge, the 480 ruger, by not putting a SA revolver in that caliber, so, your only choice is the RSRH.

To be real: the 45 colt/454 is half the price of anything bigger, or at least until Hornady stops trying to put Buffalobore out of business, and, it's avaliable in a number of guns, that will require a bunch of tuning.

S J.D.

August 31, 2007, 07:50 AM
I recently got a Ruger 50th Anniversary Blackhawk in .44 mag. Terrific shooter IMO, as I am a single action kind of guy. The Blackhawk is very accurate, which is important to me, and it is a hoot to shoot with .44 spl rounds. Of course, the magnums will provide quite a kick, if that is your thing. At my age though, the specials do just fine!


August 31, 2007, 09:48 AM
i consider " big bore " no less than .44 caliber

If you don't need more power than a .44mag, get the .44mag, as it will be cheaper to shoot than the larger exotic calibers. You can get .44mag ammo at any gun store, or even at Walmart.

Next decision - do you want a single action, or a double action? No way to tell which type you prefer. They feel quite different.

You said you want a revolver, but have you considered a single shot, such as the Thompson Center? They have some advantages over a revolver.

Night Watch
August 31, 2007, 10:14 AM
:) I stay away from the really big bores; they just don't make any sense to me, and hurt my older hands like the dickens after a few shots. If I want to go THAT large, I'll buy a carbine or rifle. (A lot of shooters must agree with me, too, because every time I walk into Gander Mountain the used gun case is FULL of these really huge revolvers!) :eek:

My all-time favorite caliber is the Smith & Wesson 44 magnum. I've owned 3 of them: 2 Model 29's and 1 Model 629. With the 44, you get: dual chamberings, extremely flat trajectory, and remarkable accuracy too. Been selling off a lot of my, 'excess guns' lately. The one 44 I've kept is a Smith Model 29. It has an 8 3/8's inch barrel. Straightest shooting, best balanced handgun, I've ever owned! ;)

Mine looks (almost) like this one -


August 31, 2007, 10:30 AM
Thinking back on my 33 years shooting revolvers, i would say that Smith and Wesson Ruger, and Freedom Arms(if you want to spend some money) make the best big bore revolvers. Think Smith 629,29, and Ruger SuperRedhawk. When i reach for a big bore, its a Ruger SuperRedhawk in 454 casull. I am also a fan of the 44 magnum, and the 500 magnum. I hope this helps!

August 31, 2007, 12:18 PM
I would have to say go with the .44 Magnum. It is fairly easy to shoot, very easy to find ammo for, very versatile, easy to reload if you go that direction, and will handle anything crawls or walks (2 legs or 4) in the lower 48. And lots of other places. My reccomendation for a gun would be the Super Redhawk if you like double actions or the Bisley if single actions are more your persuasion. Personally, I love the Bisley. The grip is GREAT for making recoil more bearable. 'Course, I know that the look of it isn't for everyone, but it is a fine gun. And, if you ever want to build a big-bore custom, it is a great platform to start.

August 31, 2007, 03:07 PM
Its easy , Buy a Freedom arms
For a $1000 you can find a perfect used one , I have bought 2 for $900 each . I own about 15 handguns and the the FAs are by far the best .
A good freind sold 3 Rugers to buy his FA , 6 mos later he told me he wished he had 3 more rugers he could sell

August 31, 2007, 03:31 PM
Either of these works for me:
Custom Jack Huntington built FA 83 in .475 Linebaugh, and,
a BFR custom shop, in 500 JRH.


Jack sells his ammo for around 33 bucks for 20 rounds, which is pretty cheap, when brass is about a buck per round, and, the finished cast bullets are .75 cents each.

In retrospect, I will have to agree with the guys above. .44 magnum is very attractive. It has the option of shooting 44 special, and, a lot of guns are made in 44 that actually work, and, unlike 45 Colts it seems, are designed to take 44 magnum pressures. 454 operates at another 50 percent MORE pressure then the 44, and, for all that pressure, all you get is maybe a couple hundred feet per second more, and a ton more recoil.

With buffalobore around, you can buy .44 magnum 340 grain bullets, at near 1400 fps, IIRC, and, that's near the only advantage the bigger 454 case has, is, with less pressure, it will push bigger bullets much easier.

Still, the most common Freedom Arms I see for sale is the 454, and, though Bob Baker recommends another cylinder for 45 Colt, you could still shoot both 45 Colt and 454 out of an 83.

Just remember they are not safe with a loaded round under the hammer.

S esq.

Night Watch
August 31, 2007, 03:34 PM
^^^ Good post! :)

August 31, 2007, 09:29 PM
The new Ruger Redhawk with the 4" barrel:D

September 1, 2007, 05:19 PM
I'm very fond of my 4 inch 629, myself. I only wish I'd known about the internal lock before I bought it.


September 1, 2007, 06:46 PM
I define "big bore" as anything 357 mag or larger. You mentioned it has to be a 44 or larger..... Saw a real nice Colt Anaconda for $800 today at a show. I was not optimistic at all when I went to the show about seeing anything that would qualify as a fair price. For reasons I don't know, most of the dealers that attend this show in my area tend to price things pretty high and don't seem to care if you buy or not.

I shoot a SRH 480 Ruger a fair amount starting about this time of the year. I hunt with it for deer. You might consider looking at a 41 magnum. Anything you shoot will never know the difference compared to a 44 mag, but your hands will. The Smith Model 57 is the best 41 magnum revolver even though others have revolvers for that caliber in including the Ruger Redhawk and Blackhawk models.

September 1, 2007, 08:26 PM
My favourite big bore revolver .44mag. I don't consider .357mag to be big bore since 9mm isn't...

I would recommed Taurus Raging Bull in either .44mag or .454 if you REALLY need more power.

September 1, 2007, 08:53 PM
thank for keeping the replies coming, guys. i have to say that i have been to the gunshop since i put up this post and fell in love with two rugers, one that awesome alaskan in .454/.45 colt and a srh 6 in barrel .44 mag w/ some really exotic green hardwood grips i had never seen before. my dealer hadn't restocked any smiths, though. i'll have to go back soon and see what he has.


September 1, 2007, 08:54 PM
While 454s and higher are fun the .44 mag is all you really need and its easy to hand load for and cheaper to shoot than the other higher big bores.

September 1, 2007, 08:57 PM
I FORGOT TO SAY SOMETHING! as far as single/double action goes, it doesnt matter. love the modern double action, and just get that tingly " old west clint eastwood man w no name " feeling shooting the single actions! oh man, maybe i should get a single action .45!!! CHOICES, CHOICES!! HELP ME!! :eek:

September 1, 2007, 09:18 PM
Some very good choices have been mentioned so far. I have a Raging Bull in .500 Magnum and am quite pleased with it. The Colt Anacondas are also worth the extra money to have IMO. gunbroker.com and gunsamerica.com both usually have a few Anacondas listed on their auctions at any given time.
I run across them here in the gunshops I frequent from time to time as well.

September 1, 2007, 09:23 PM
I have to agree with what everyone posted. Each and every one has there strengths and weaknesses but here's a few of my humble opinions that I would look into, since your looking for a "Big Bore" revolver ;)...

-Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum (One of the best bargains you can get for a hand cannon ;)).

-Ruger Super Redhawk .44, .454 Casull/.45Colt, 480 Ruger (They have the Alaskan model too that also comes in all these calibers too).

-Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum. (With the rare exception of the following: .45 Colt, .357 Magnum, and 41 Magnum chambering).

-Colt Python .357 Magnum (Beautiful revolver although I think it has a limited amount of tolerance for heavy loaded bullets).

-S&W .500 Magnum (Can't go wrong with the "Worlds Most Powerful production revolver") :eek:.

-S&W 629 .44 Magnum (Although not as strong as the Red/Blackhawk it will still make you feel like Dirty Harry :cool:;)).

-S&W 627 .357 Magnum (The 8 round capacity could come in handy):D.

Those are some of my favorite "Big Bores" and I hope this helps. Take care and good luck.


September 1, 2007, 11:27 PM
The 44 is cheaper then 45/454 is bull. They are usually the same, or, the 45 bullets are cheaper. Why? you can use 45 ACP bullets in 45 Colt, or that beautiful Ruger Alaskan, depending on the barrel diameter and the swaging done by your bullet maker. I used to load 230 grain Nevada cast bullets, over a full case of H110. The bullet cost a 1/2 cent each, and, was cast extra hard so it would feed in 1911's.
It was a great plinking load in 45 Colt, and, lots of fun.

The 44 special just doesn't have the demand that both 45 Colt, and 45 ACP have for bullets, so, 44 bullets tend to stay higher priced.

Grab the Ruger Alaskan, it's a kick to shoot, and, for a snubby, it doesn't loose as much velocity as you would think, with heavy bullets. It's also a great platform to convert to either .475 Linebaugh, or better, .500 JRH. Jack Huntington does it for 500 dollars, IIRC.

Ruger tends to get the chambers right on the Alaskan, something they aren't famous for on the Blackhawks, and Super BH, in 45 Colt.

Here's one, already done:

The 45/454 will give you the same velocities as the 44, with about 20% less pressure. If you keep the 454 loaded to 40k and below, with moderate weight bullets, it's really fun to shoot.

I shot this snub with 440 grain bullets at 950 fps, and, it's just a little more then an average 44 mag load in recoil.

S esq.

September 2, 2007, 05:17 AM
For my hunting purposes my 44 mags are all I need, but if I trek to big bear country I may want a 454 just an added insurance for self preservation. For now the 44 mags with 320 grain hardcast at 1400 fps is plenty of stopping power. josh

Hammer It
September 2, 2007, 08:43 AM
I would say if you are Looking for a smooth action and dependable revolver S&W is hard to beat. ;) They have been making them since 1850 and will back any Problems should one arrise. They also made the first Big Bore's out there being the .41 Magnum & .44 Magnum. My Favorite models are the Model 29 & 57. In .44 Magnum & .41 magnum. I Like Older Vintage Carbon steel models because I had a model 629 and shot it Loose. :eek:The Model 29 & 57 to me are built a Little tougher and withstand the test of time. Take your time Looking, as they made Plenty of them and the shorter the barrel, the harder they are to locate. one good thing about short barreled Large bore revolver's I have found is they have such Massive Muzzle Blast most are seldom fired when you find them. Here is the Two I have together. One is the model 57 and the Other a 29. I hope this Helps, Hammer It


Night Watch
September 2, 2007, 09:30 AM
:) True! Except the new Smith & Wesson revolvers have that damnable trigger lock thing! :barf:

September 2, 2007, 02:22 PM
I own a few different large revolvers. My favorite is the Smith 29/629 with a half lug 6" barrel.

My favorite! 6.5" M29.

However, I carry the 629 6" while hiking. The stainless steel is easier to maintain.

powder burns
September 12, 2007, 11:25 PM
Seems like everyone neglected to mention the s&w 460vxr. Its an x-frame like the 500 but can chamber .45 colt, .454 casull and the .460 s&w mag. The .45colt can be loaded light for plinking, heavy for .44 mag performance, and of course the .454 and .460 give u the capability of taking just about any game. The .460 s&w mag yields the highest pistol velocities atm in proper configurations. I heard they may release a pistol in a satin black finish in the near future.. -_-

Hammer It
September 13, 2007, 07:15 AM
The .460 s&w mag yields the highest pistol velocities atm in proper configurations

Yup, And S&W is still having them returned with Eroded barrels and Flame cut top straps that are way past normal..:mad: They are not a good choice for a revolver over a Grand, you would be better of buying a classic revolver that fires .45 Colt.;) Regards, Hammer It

Magnum Wheel Man
September 13, 2007, 07:58 AM
Honestly... you have 1/2 the choices you had years ago... unless you are buying an older gun, I'd really think twice about the S&W's... quality is definately down, & the locks well, they seem to have thier issues on harder kicking guns, so I don't know if I'd buy a new S&W 44 Mag, or light weight 357 mag revolver...
the old Colts are nice, but of course they no longer make them as well...

so for a new off the shelf double action big bore, that leaves ( not so many choices )... Ruger, Taurus, Dan Wesson... am I missing any ???

the Freedom Arms, Magnum Research BFR, & Ruger single actions are all nice choices...

calibers... 44 mag would be considered a standard, & is likely the most versitile... you can pretty much do anything you want with he 44 mag... 41 Mag's & 45 Colts seem to be making a come back, & are not much less powerful than the 44 mag, though slightly less versitile, as they have less bullet options in factory loads... if you are a reloader, the 41 Mag & 45 Colt are much more interesting as well as the445 Super Mag... & the slug of new huge bore cartridges are definately interesting both in factory & hand loads...

I myself, would like a 7" barreled BFR in 45-70, & one of the "alaskan" snubbies in ( an undecided yet ) monster caliber

September 13, 2007, 08:05 AM
One should not neglect the good old .44 Special either. S&W is making some beautiful new revolvers in this caliber and if you're a handloader it can be pepped up enough to cover 90% of what most would need a handgun for. Here's mine: S&W M21-4 .44 Special


Hammer It
September 13, 2007, 08:09 AM
Hello Webleymkv
If S&W would make that revolver caliber with adjustable sights I would have one Indeed. They did have a model 624 of which I had one time but the soft cylinder issue, & Recall of it killed that model.. Regards, Hammer It


Magnum Wheel Man
September 13, 2007, 08:18 AM
you guy's have some awesome looking guns... mine are much more utilitarin...

my two S&W are both air weights ( one black J-frame in 32 H&R Mag, & one K Frame in 44 Special ) the 44 does have target sights, but of course they've disconinued both of those guns as well, & they are both "lock" guns... BTW... they both wear nice wood grips right now which helps the looks a little...



But I'm really partial to my "50 special" ;)


& my old Dan Wessons


Hammer It
September 13, 2007, 08:31 AM
Hello Magnumwheelman
Nothing wrong with your revolvers there. All are very nice. You might Like to add a .45 Colt caliber some time. Here is a few I like. Hammer It

For Hiking and Light weight travel, You can't beat the mountain Gun


Magnum Wheel Man
September 13, 2007, 08:39 AM
HAMMER... ya have me pegged... I don't currently own a 45 caliber revolver... it's one of the few bores I don't own in a revolver ( except for all those "new monster bores" which I'm begining to shop now )...

my 44 Special is an air weight Mountain Gun, & it's probably ( you know it's really hard to pick ) one of my favorites right now... most of my handguns ( well hunting rifles also ) are stainless... do they offer that model in stainless ???... no problem with the lock on that gun ( I assume )

Hammer It
September 13, 2007, 09:17 AM
Hello Magnumwheel Man
They do offer this model in stainless and the blued one shown was a one year only offering for Large S&W stocking dealers only back in 2005. I would suggest if you are serious about a .45 Colt caliber wheelgun in S&W, there are Other choices in Vintage models. I have a model 25-5 which is an excellent Target or hunting gun and you could locate a Vintage Second series hand eject British Mark II that has been converted to .45 Colt reasonable, as many were either Factory or Gun snith convertyed to fire the .45 Colt round. The .455 British revolver shown Originally belonged to a Canadian Pilot of the Canadian Royal Flying Coprs. during World War I. I have the Complete History of this revolver and after the war sometime the adjustable sights were added. The family of this Pilot had this revolver bored out to accept the .45 Colt cartridge when they ordered it from S&W as they felt the .455 Webley was an anemic round. I was told this was the Pilots second weapon while in the service as his first was chambered in .455 Webley, and apparently the Wealthy Family did not feel comfortable with him having a revolver in .455 Webley so they paid for this one that has had a factory conversion. They are out there, you just need to nail down what you like and want.



September 13, 2007, 02:11 PM
I will have to say, that out of my bigger bore revolvers, nothing shoots as nice as my older model Ruger Vaqueros in .45colt. For this post I will assume that when you say "big bore" you want something with the word "magnum" in the caliber. Therefore, I would have to say that nothing shoots as easily and comfortably as my Ruger .44mag Alaskan. My other .44mags are nowhere near as comfortable. I would even say my Ruger Blackhawk is even painful to shoot after only a short time at the range and my S&W 629 is way too snappy to shoot comfortably for too long. I will say that my Ruger SuperBlackhawk hunter is a dram to shoot and would be the way to go for a hunting gun or even a range gun if you do not mind hauling a cannon around. I would still have to give the edge to the Alskan though because of it's ease of shooting and smaller size. :)


Honorable Mention

A Bit Too Snappy

Downright Abusive

September 14, 2007, 10:24 AM
Hammer It, S&W currently makes a 3" barrel Model 24 in either blue or nickle. It is available through Lew Horton.

September 14, 2007, 05:09 PM
The ruger redhawk .44 mag w/ 5.5" barrel is a fine revolver. It handles the hottest of .44 mag loads safely. It is arguably the toughest. And the price is very reasonable at under $600. Plus there are various different grip set ups, etc. I have the pachmyer grippers on mine.

Hammer It
September 14, 2007, 08:51 PM
Hammer It, S&W currently makes a 3" barrel Model 24 in either blue or nickle. It is available through Lew Horton.

With adjustable sights ? Hammer It

Zombie Steve
September 15, 2007, 01:53 PM
I shot my S&W 629 Classic yesterday. It has the best trigger out of the box of any pistol I own. I shot offhand pretty well (.44 mag isn't my mainstay - usually a .45 or .357 shooter), but supported, I was carving a great big hole out of the bullseye at 20 yards with Magtech (cheapie) factory loads. Smiths have always fit my hand well, the fit and finish on the gun is great IMHO, and I just don't give a damn about the stupid lock. I've never engaged it, it's never engaged itself - I just ignore it. YMMV
Let us know when you get one!

September 15, 2007, 04:28 PM
With adjustable sights ?

Yes, I believe the only difference between the Model 21 and Model 24 is the adjustable sights.


September 15, 2007, 09:16 PM
If you really want a nice BIG bore go .500 S&W. They were expensive at first but prices have dropped a little now. ANd The last gun-show a few turned up that were used (But in great shape) That were lower priced.

ohen cepel
September 15, 2007, 09:30 PM
I would go with a .44 (or .357 if that fits your need). Anything bigger gets real pricey to shoot and few people have a real "need" for that level of power.

I have a .454 by Freedom and love it! I strongly suggest a .45acp cylinder from them if you go that way, then ammo cost is pretty low and you have a great power range to choose from.

If you don't go with a Freedom I would look at a Ruger .44 or 45LC (lot of potential there if loaded right). I prefer SA guns in big calibers. However, if DA is what you want and Ruger doesn't make it then look for an older Smith.

I wouldn't buy any new Smith with the lock on it though. Just me.

September 21, 2007, 12:29 PM
My personal pick is a S&W 629 in what ever barrel length you want. I have a 4" and an 8-3/8", both with locks and have had no problems with either. I think the 44 is very versitile, down load it to a plinker or power house loads to do 99.9% of what you will ever need a hand gun to do.

Bigger isn't always better. Have you priced slugs for the 500S&W lately? You end up not shooting it much. Got a friend who has one and it's just a safe queen now.

I owned a FA in 44 mag also, and while it was more accurate from a bench, standing on my hind legs shooting was no better than the S&W. Besides, single actions just ended up annoying me, (had 5 of them). The romance of being a cowbay fades after the loading and unloading annoyance takes hold. Just me though, I know some folks love them.

September 21, 2007, 08:35 PM
I'd like a .460 mag, for versitility. .45 Long colt, .454 Casull and .460mag loads.

September 21, 2007, 08:39 PM
I would go for the S&W 460 magnum - Mine is the 5 inch version and recoil and accuracy are fantastic - It's enough gun for anything that might come you way - Best part, for plinking you can use 454 casull or 45 LC. I love this gun!

September 21, 2007, 08:52 PM
Some of my favorites...

S&W 696 L frame 5-shot .44 Special
S&W 629 Mountain Gun .44 Magnum
S&W 629 Classic DX 6 1/2" .44 Magnum
S&W 625 Mountain Gun .45 ACP
S&W 625 Model of 1989 5" .45 ACP
Ruger Super Blackhawk 4 5/8" .44 Magnum
Ruger Redhawk 4" .44 Magnum
Ruger Vaquero 4 5/8" .45 Colt
Ruger Vaquero w/ Bird's Head Grip 3 3/4" .45 Colt