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GUNS Magazine October 2010 - Page 40
T oday we have all manner of chopped and channeled sixguns and semi-automatics as well as a large selection of excellent leather for concealed carry. Semi-autos, having a much flatter profile, are normally easier to conceal than a big-bore sixgun with a 6-shot .44 or .45 cylinder. There is simply nothing to be done to downsize a 6-shot cylinder, however, both the barrel and the grip frame can be reduced considerably in the size. John Taffin Photos: Joseph R. Novelozo The ejector rod housing is relieved on both sides of the sculpted 2-5/8" barrel. If my memory is correct, sometime in the 1980s custom sixguns arrived taking up where Colt’s Fitz had left off (see sidebar) with custom sixgunsmiths offering roundbutted, short-barreled revolvers with modified ejector rod housings to go below the 3-1/2" length of the original short-barrel .357 Magnum of the 1930s. In recent years Smith & Wesson has reached back into history to offer many of the old Classic sixguns such as the original .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .44 Special of the mid-20th century. They have been resurrected and built to 21st-century specifications and requirements. At the same, time S&W is offering lightweight Night Guard revolvers in .44 Special, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum, and the shortbarreled, easier to conceal, all-steel, big-bore sixgun has not been forgotten; it has now arrived as a custom Model 629 from the Performance Center. The original prototype .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson was built in 1954 on an existing 1950 Target Model, which had been chambered in .44 Special. The engineers at Smith & Wesson fitted a new, specially heat-treated cylinder to the 6-1/2" barreled 1950 Target, which had a weight of 39 ounces. The sixgun performed fine, however, the recoil was so fierce the engineers deemed it prudent to add more weight in the form of a heavy bull barrel and full-length cylinder, which brought the weight up to an even 3 pounds. This latest .44 Magnum from the Smith & Wesson Performance Center weighs the same as the original prototype. In the past 55 years, since the advent of the .44, Magnum sixguns have gotten bigger and and heavier to tame the recoil of heavier loads, and a 39-ounce .44 Magnum is going to kick fiercely with regular full-house .44 loads. The original .44 Magnum was built with the hunter in mind. This one is aimed at those who want a big-bore sixgun for personal protection, a term that covers a lot of territory. Since what we have to be protected from depends on just where our wanderings happen to take us. By going with a powerful big-bore chambering such as the .44 I John Taffin t always looks so easy in the movies especially those wonderful old cowboy and gangster films of the 1930s and 1940s. The hero or villain is dressed in a tailored doublebreasted suit and at the proper time reaches his left hand in below his breast pocket and pulls out a full sized Colt Single Action Army or 1911, which is somehow carried magically with nary a bulge detected. It is movie magic at its best, however, in reality it is not easy to carry and conceal a big-bore sixgun or semi-automatic. The first Colt sixguns were not easily concealable but by the time the 1851 Navy and 1860 Army arrived, enterprising individuals found a way to make them more easily concealable. It wasn’t long before barrels were chopped short and the bigbore pocket pistol had arrived. With the advent of the Colt Single Action Army, some enterprising types even removed the barrel altogether to make it fit easily into a pocket. Colt began offering short-barreled Store Keeper Models in the SAA as well as the new Lightning and Thunderer double actions of the 1870s. In more modern times (well at least in the 1920s), John WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • OCTOBER 2010 40