I wouldn’t consider this hand cannon for concealed carry but, for versatility, it’s tough to beat.
by Chick Blood
Hopefully, the ghost of Elmer Keith (1899-1984) won’t haunt me or anyone still living who knew him will think I mention his name here merely to gain added interest in these words. This legend’s first contribution to hand cannons appeared in 1935 with the .357 Magnum and his second, the .44 Magnum, was commercially released in 1956. Both rounds were the culmination of his experiments in pushing heavier bullets out of revolver barrels at higher velocity. Almost instantly, the .357 surpassed the .38 Special in popularity with law enforcement and the .44, propelling a 250 grain bullet out the muzzle at 1200 feet per second, became a formidable favorite amongst handgun hunters. His development of new bullet designs for his boomers is not to be overlooked either.
Keith subsequently leaned somewhat on Smith and Wesson and Remington to manufacture a revolver able to withstand his .44 Magnum load. Though S&W is credited with the first, Harry Callahan’s Model 29, Ruger actually beat them to the market with their single action Blackhawk. Despite not getting involved with the revolver manufacturing, Remington did deliver a more powerful cartridge than the Keith .44 Magnum. It pushed out a 240 grain slug at 1500 ft/s. Dirty Harry warned bad guys he was tagging with, “This is the most powerful handgun in the world. Have I fired five or six rounds? Do you feel lucky, punk?” Harry wasn’t kidding. Until the introduction of the .454 Casull, based on the .45 Colt, the .44 Magnum reigned supreme. What held the Casull back is its recoil, considered excessive by some shooters, and the cost of revolvers to handle it. The cost remained a drawback until Sturm, Ruger and Taurus introduced more economical models in the 1990s.
I’ve never personally fired a .454 Casull but I own a ten inch Blackhawk in .44 Magnum and have managed several five inch groups at 100 yards with it. What I have experienced, indirectly, was that of a fellow club member. Mr. Turner, an avid hunter, showed up at our outdoor range with his brand new Casull revolver and 50 rounds of .454. I was at port one checking out some reloads for my target-ready Model 1911A1. Turner, equipped with forearms like a gold-pounder, was clear up at the opposite end of the 40 port range and soon blasted through my ear muffs with noise from four rounds of .454. Admittedly startled, I looked to my right to see him clearing the spent brass from the cylinder and swinging open the shipping box of the gun. I never found out what became of the revolver. Turner, regrettably, resigned from the club and moved his spray coating business to a small town located northeast of Moosehead Lake in Maine. I figure if he ever lets go with that Casull up there it will scare the trophy moose or bruin he’s after to death.
Read more in our February 2013 issue. Back issues are available.