Considering some big bore options (.44, .454, .50)


January 22, 2011, 11:14 PM
Hey all,

Recently I've been deciding what the next handgun should be and I've narrowed it down to a big bore revolver. I have an S&W .38 snub and had a .44 mag, so I'm definitely lacking in the category.

Right now the options I'm looking at are something like a Freedom Arms or Ruger S.R., then sending that to Bowen.

The biggest dilemma is caliber, I'm considering either a .44, .454 or having it chambered in .50AE. Is it really an advantage to have the .454 take long colt?

I'm a big fan of Bowen's Alpine revolver as well (seen here: but am worried that a .50 might be a bit much for the chopped barrel.

The purpose is entirely fun / novel, but if I did go with say the Alpine in a .44 it could absolutely become a backpack gun. I've got .22s, 9mms, .40s, .45s and a few others so I'm really just looking for a big bore wheelgun that's going to be a lot of fun, so what would you do and why?

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January 22, 2011, 11:28 PM
I've had em all and still do except I sold my 454 three months ago. I have become of fan of the 45 Colt in a strong platform over all of the others I have. A 300 gr hard cast bullet moving at 1100-1200 fps will roll anything I need it to. You might want to have a conversation with Bowen about your plans. Also consider getting ahold of a 454 to test fire it. Just my 2 cents.

January 22, 2011, 11:31 PM
I had a Bowen reworked Ruger go through here as a consignment ... it was SWEET!

January 22, 2011, 11:42 PM
I think I'd go with a Freedom Arms 44 mag, if price was no problem.

January 23, 2011, 04:30 AM
I'd say that if you're doing your own reloads then there's no big deal about being able to chamber the shorter "weak" rounds since you can reload the .454 casings to whatever you want from mild to wild.

The key to this would be how big are you willing to have the gun be. The .454 Ruger Super Redhawk is the same size as the .44Mag SR. The next step up is the X framed S&W's in .460 and .500. But they look like oversized movie guns.

If that doesn't bother you then I'd suggest the .460 only because you can shoot any sort of .45Colt, .454 or .460 out of it. That gives you a lot of brass supply options. The .500 is limited to just the one sort of case.

What is the intent of this big gun? Hunting, defense or just a big blaster for the end of day at the range to fan the need for a big slab of blue rare beef?

January 23, 2011, 07:45 AM
I'd look at the Redhawk 4.2" barrel in 45 Colt. It's not to hard to find on Gunbroker & especially for the handloader is very versatile.

January 23, 2011, 08:33 AM
Redhawk in 44 or 45 is the most sensible buy. The Bowen Alpine conversion is fantastic but the recoil in 50 AE can be brutal unless you are prepared for it. I have shot one and currently own one of his Longhunter 50AE SA conversions. Make sure you have your hand properly set and let it roll up when you touch it off, or it will bite you, especially the front of your 'salute' finger even with a range glove. Dave

January 23, 2011, 12:16 PM
a .44 Redhawk and a .454 Super Redhawk. Love 'em both, but they are entirely different guns. The SRH is massive, and needs to be. I think that the .45/.454 flexibility may be more imagined than real. I have heard on other forums that the .45s will do a little flame cutting/erosion of the cylinder chamber, then when you run the .454 through the high pressure presses the brass into the resulting annular depression and difficult extraction follows.
I am planning on getting a Redhawk or Blackhawk in .45 to avoid this.
Good luck.

January 23, 2011, 12:34 PM
I seldom shoot anything other than the specified caliber for a gun... example 357 mag and shooting 38spl's in it. I generally buy the guns I want in the calibers I want. I'm past worrying about whether I can shoot 45LC in a 454 revolver or 460 S&W. I will almost invaribly shoot the higher performance caliber in that gun other than maybe a box or two of the lesser in the testing phase. If I find the caliber uncomfortable to shoot, the gun eventually gets sold or put on the shelf to gather dust unless I need the caliber for something like hunting.

If I were in your shoes, I'd buy a BFR in 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger and in that caliber, I would indeed shoot both the 475's and 480's. OR, I'd go with a 500 S&W revolver in a barrel length suited for your intended use.

January 24, 2011, 02:44 AM
To be honest the intent would absolutely be a blaster, and if it proved to be a capable backpacking / camping gun I could see it morphing into that as well, but as mentioned a .50 Alpine is seemingly nothing short of brutal when it comes to recoil.

A .454 with an alpine conversion is also something that is absolutely on the table.

January 24, 2011, 08:37 AM
The recoil on the 454 will be just as brutal, if not more so than the 50AE. Dave

January 25, 2011, 03:06 AM
A .454 Casull Freedom Arms revolver would be great but why would you send a Freedom Arms revolver to Bowen's shop? I doubt you will need to send a $2300 revolver for additional work. Their Premier Grade revolvers are really up there in workmanship. I would order a .45 Colt cylinder too.

January 25, 2011, 08:12 AM
If you buy the Freedom Arms in a 454 have them add a second cylinder in 45LC and, for the ultimate gun, a third cyc in 45ACP for cheap range shooting. I have a Premier grade in LC and a second cyc in ACP (I dislike the 454) and this is one sweet gun. Dave

January 25, 2011, 09:50 AM
Recently I've been deciding what the next handgun should be and I've narrowed it down to a big bore revolver. I have an S&W .38 snub and had a .44 mag, so I'm definitely lacking in the category.

You have most of the traditional calibers covered with pistols, but certainly your available calibers are wanting in the revolver department. But you don't have a good 22 revolver. The Freedom Arms choice is certainly attractive in which ever caliber you choose if you want to afford it. I would not have a FA revolver customized but rather just buy the premier grade the first time out of the gate.

My revolver calibers: 22LR > 22WMR > 38spl > 357 mag > 41 mag > 480 Ruger and yours 38spl > 44 mag.... the logical choice is to get both a good 22 revolver and a bigger one. I have already given my "big one" suggestion earlier, but wanted to add the 22. They are "blaster's" too since you can blast all day long an not hurt either your hand or your wallet.

January 25, 2011, 09:57 AM
All the FA guns need is a trigger job, which is available from the factory.

Buck Snort
January 26, 2011, 09:42 AM
"Right now the options I'm looking at are something like a Freedom Arms or Ruger S.R., then sending that to Bowen."

If you get an FA you won't have to send it to anybody. I have two of their Modes 83 guns in .454 Casull and I'm contemplating getting a 500 Wyoming express. They are built like bank vaults and are a delight to own.

January 26, 2011, 01:26 PM
Of course, you'll have a lot of opinions as to which big bore wheel guns to buy next. My (new) favorite is the Ruger Alaskan in .44mag. Lots of pop, lots of fun, lots of utility for backwoods adventures in North America.

January 26, 2011, 01:56 PM
If you don't reload or intend to reload in the future, stick with the .44. Unless you are rich, if you don't reload, you'll never feed the really big hand cannons enough fodder to get good with them or to enjoy them. You will also never realize their full potential shooting the factory offerings. Most folks that buy a .454 get one that is too light for the caliber. Sorry, if you don't like big heavy guns, you better enjoy brutal recoil if you think you want a hand cannon. My X-Frame .460 seems massive at first, but it takes the same grips as my 629s and 686s. It's also as pleasant to shoot as my 629s....only because of it's size and weight. Hand loading also give you the option of downloading your caliber instead of shooting compatible calibers in it....i.e. .45 L.C., .38 special, .44 special, etc. In my .460, the compatible calibers(.45 L.C., .454) print so different than .460 ammo, it's a waste of time shooting them. I can load .460 cases with Trail Boss and get .45 L.C. cowboy load performance if I want that. The truly big bores are not for everybody. They need good ear protection EVERY time you shoot them and they are expensive to shoot(even if you reload). But they are extremely accurate and a blast to shoot.

January 26, 2011, 06:52 PM
Definitely would get into reloading, thanks for the opinions so far all, really helpful.

The two most desirable options after checking these responses and looking around a lot more:

.454 option and going alpine with the opportunity to shoot .45 LC is nice

As well as an alpine .44.

January 26, 2011, 11:11 PM
i would call mr. bowen and get his opinion. fwiw


January 26, 2011, 11:23 PM
I have the SRH in .454. I load my own, so I never have a need to use the 45 Colt. The problem with firing the Colt is that it is shorter and leaves a bathtub ring that needs to be scrubbed out before lighting off the longer very high psi 454's.

I still like the SRH or the FA platforms better than the huge 500's. They are much more packable.

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