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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2010 - Page 46
THE SIXGUNNER June 12, 1957 Roy Huntington, Editor American Handgunner Magazine John Taffin Dear Roy: W ell, the new .44 Magnum is now arriving regularly at local dealers both in the original S&W .44 Magnum and the Ruger Blackhawk. T hanks to my teenage grandson I purchased my first .44 Magnum last summer. He came running in one day all excited about the new sixgun he had just fired down at Shell’s Gun Shop. Shell has a large shooting range on the property and instead of selling that first .44 he rented it out. My grandson and his three friends all took their turn firing six shots through a 4" Smith & Wesson. “Grandpa it was really awful! My hand still hurts. But all the guys said it wasn’t bad so I just went along with them. Grandpa it wasn’t bad; it was terrible!” ow I’ve been around a lot longer than my grandson and figured even at my “advanced” age I could certainly handle one of the new .44 Magnums. Guess what? I got the same feeling my grandson did when I touched off that first round. Oh, I did fire the whole cylinderful, but instead of buying a S&W .44 Magnum I thought I would be more clever and go with the Ruger Blackhawk. That turned out to be a not very smart decision. Everyone knows the Colt SAA grip frame which Bill Ruger duplicated on his Single-Six and .357 Blackhawk is known for easily handling recoil. Maybe so, but when coupled with the .44 Magnum load that original theory flies out the door. Oh, the Blackhawk .44 doesn’t slam into the palm of the hand like the S&W .44 — it’s much worse. When I touched that first round off the Blackhawk grip frame rolled in my hand and didn’t stop until the hammer spur dug into the area of the back of my hand between the thumb and trigger finger. I’ve drawn a lot of blood in my day shooting sixguns at critters, but this was the first time I ever drew my own. You can bet I did not tell my grandson what happened! Roy, I first knew of the arrival of the S&W .44 Magnum back in December of 1955. Smith & Wesson had called Elmer Keith to tell him his dream had come true and he immediately called me. We have been friends now for 30 years going all the way back to the time he actually started working with the .44 Special and I was so happy for him. Others may claim they were responsible for the .44 Magnum, however, Elmer did not invent it but he certainly is the number one man in urging its development. He got even more than he had N P “ P Charlie Askins, always the old rascal, took him to task and asked if he wore lace panties! We can always count on Charlie to stir the pot. asked for. I have shot his heavy .44 Special loads in both his Colt SAAs and S&W double action sixguns as well as mine and believe me there is no comparison as to recoil. It would be good to back up here and look at the real story of the .44 Magnum as told to me by Elmer. By 1950, the .44 Special chambered in a S&W sixgun reached its climax with the superb 1950 Target Model. Since 1907 S&W, and later Colt, provided the .44 Special sixguns but it remained for men like the members of the .44 Associates to bring out the best of the .44 Special cartridge. From the 1920s to the 1950s, Associate members, most notably Elmer Keith, called for a “Real .44 Special” load. He especially called for a “.44 Special Magnum” with a 250 grain hard cast bullet at 1,200 feet per second. His pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears. Ammunition companies were afraid of heavy-loaded .44 Specials taking old sixguns apart. He then asked for a new cartridge 1/10" longer than the .44 Special to preclude its being used in any old sixguns, and also a new sixgun chambered for the new cartridge. Again, the plea was ignored. Unbeknownst to him S&W started to listen in the 1950s. Working in tandem with Remington, who would supply the new .44 Magnum ammunition, S&W engineers went to work on the new sixgun. In 1954, Remington gave S&W the dimensions of a new cartridge that was 1/8" longer than the .44 Special. Smith & Wesson ” 46 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2010