Sunday, June 3, 2007

The most powerful handgun in the world

Since seeing the movie Sudden Impact, where Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" character dispatches a bad guy with an Automag, I've wanted one. Recently all versions of the model 180 Automag were placed on the C&R (Curio and Relic) list by the ATF, so I could get one in CA. And get one I did -- I actually got two, but that's a story for another day.

I got a TDE branded Automag made in 1973 at the North Hollywood plant. When I bought it, it appear unfired, a condition I quickly remedied. There are many pages detailing the history of Harry Sanford and the Automag corporation, so I won't repeat it here.

Contrary to popular belief (if you take the Wikipedia site as the source of all truth -- UPDATE: The Wikipedia site has been fixed) the Automag action is not gas operated, but is a short recoil action. The breech is locked by a multi-lugged, rotating bolt much like what one finds on AR-type rifles, only bigger.

In recoil, the slide is decelerated by a pair of beefy springs on two steel rods on either side of the frame.

The slide can be pulled back by grasping the two serrated cocking pieces, one on either side of the rear of the slide, with the thumb and index finger of the non-shooting hand. Unfortunately, for those familiar with the "whole hand" cocking method deployed with 1911s (placing non-shooting hand on slide with web over rear sight) this will be the only disappointment with the Automag; cocking is a bitch.

The other peculiarity about the Automag is the thumb safety; it can only be activated with the hammer down. Now, the Automag is a single action pistol so it would make sense to carry it in condition 1 (one up the pipe, hammer cocked, safety on) but the safety cannot be activated with the hammer cocked back; what's the point of the safety exactly?

Yeah, yeah, but is it accurate? I worked up a load using Hornady 240gr XTP/HP bullets, seated to 1.600" in new Starline cases primed with CCI 350 (magnum) primers, over Alliant 2400 powder. I worked up the powder weight from 18.6gr to 21.6gr with a delta of 0.3gr. The sweet spot appeared at 20.7gr for a velocity of 1329+-10.4fps. This load grouped to under 1" from 15yds, shooting offhand while standing up. (The flier in the lower left of the group is a "pull")

And how's the recoil? Not as bad as full-house 44 magnum loads out of a 6" S&W 29, meaning I feel comfortable it shooting one-handed .... and the cases land neatly at my feet.

The most powerful handgun in the world? Nah .... been eclipsed by various revolver chamberings and the Desert Beagle in a 50AE chambering. But it's a finely crafted handgun. Now if only someone would build me a M1 carbine in 44 AMP ... I'll be happy.


Anonymous said...

Given the way it looks from the front, It's make an effective club, were you to run outta ammo.


Felix Estrella said...

Indeed! The Garand of handguns. :-)

Weetabix said...

Damn, but you can shoot!

You provided my inspiration for beginning handloading (which I haven't yet, but when I do, you get credit) by your target photos in that old CZ-82 thread. You were shooting a PA-63, I think.

I can't wait.

Felix Estrella said...

It's all the gun. I just hold it. :-)

Seriously, great that you're getting into handloading. I recommend that all serious shooters get into handloading if for no other reason than to get the most out of their finicky firearms.