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Most Powerful Handgun (legal to own)

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by WestKentucky, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    The days of Dirty Harry have long passed. The great .44 magnum has long been eclipsed in power. The N frame S&W which held the might .44 has also been eclipsed to an entirely new power class in the X Frame DA revolver world. A number of makers have made SA revolvers which can take some large caliber cartridges including some rifle rounds. Let us not forget that the TC Contender existed, and the Encore pistol has eclipsed that single shot powerhouse as well.

    So what can currently claim the crown as the most powerful handgun legal to own in the US. Let’s keep our ridiculousness limited to those things which we simply have to plop down our credit card and order. No cheating by saying a g2 encore in xxx with a 21” rifle barrel either... legit handguns. Do the rifle rounds lose enough in a pistol length barrel to let the big wheel guns take the prize? Do the 45-70 wheel guns actually have the strength to shoot full house 45-70 without being damaged or destroyed? Out of a pistol barrel is that enough to stay on top of the modern magnums? Is a Shockwave even in the running because technically it’s a “firearm” not a handgun.

    What do you say, what gets the crown for now? Legal to own in the US. No custom builds. No special permits or tax stamps.
     
  2. OARNGESI

    OARNGESI Member

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    You could probably build a 50bmg pistol for a few grand if all you care about is power also I would personally want to know excluding single shots and rifle based pistols
     
  3. jak67429

    jak67429 Member

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    For revolvers the BFR in 4570 would be the most I would want to shoot. In contender type you can get almost anything.
     
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  4. HB

    HB Member

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    Theres several BMG pistols out there but i doubt I’ll ever see one.

    Commonly available the 460 and Encores for sure.

    My dad was a probation officer for 30+ years and has a still pic from a security cam of a carjacking in which a 500 or 460 was used by a gun on his caseload.
     
  5. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    A 460 s&w and a 45/70 handgun are pretty close. The 460 runs a considerably higher max pressure.
    For pure ft/lbs the 500 s&w would likely be it. over 2200 ft/lbs from an 8 inch barrel with factory ammo (not boutique ammo). The 460 gets there and beyond with expensive ammo. Especially if one is talking about going to the local gun store and impulse buying. There may be more powerful but not mainstream. Bfr in 450 marlin would be pretty powerful as well. There are some rare 50/70 revolvers too I hear. But the x- frames are the most common
    Also I'm pretty sure the 44 wasn't the most powerful when Callahan had one. Misinformation, Kind of like bruce Willis with his non detectable, high priced, porcelain glocks
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  6. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    That begs the question though, if it’s truly a pistol (handheld, non stocked, etc) how does it compare to a 500S&W in a true pistol length? An 8” S&W is essentially an optimized barrel length. BMG will get a HUGE penalty for barrel length because it is optimized for very long barrels. The powder in a BMG would likely still be extruded rods as it exited an 8-10 inch barrel....good lord the fireball though....
     
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  7. LRDGCO

    LRDGCO Member

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    Luckily, flame throwers are not regulated federally.
     
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  8. 25-20 WCF

    25-20 WCF Member

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    Really? So what would have been the most powerful handgun in 1971? Assuming we are ruling out customs and single shots of course.


    .
     
  9. LRDGCO

    LRDGCO Member

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    The 454 Casull.
     
  10. HB

    HB Member

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    Safety Harbor lists ball at 2200 FPS with 18” barrel. I assume 50 BMG has a vastly large powder capacity than any other commercially avaiable round. Just because the powder is burning outside the barrel doesnt mean there wasn’t a ton burning inside it.
     
  11. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    Considering you can get a Thompson Encore pistol in virtually any rifle caliber imaginable, I would say the Encore pistol has the potential to be the most powerful handgun that's legal to own.
     
  12. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Yeppers, Dick Casull and Jack Fullmer developed the 454 Casull way back in the 1950s. It seems like the first commercially available 454 Casull revolvers didn't show up until sometime in the '80s though. I guess it might have been a little awkward for Clint to say, "This is a 44 Magnum, the most powerful, commercially available handgun in the world, and it will blow your head clean off.":D
     
  13. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    The .458 WM is up there....

     
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  14. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    It seems to me if we are talking actual handgun calibers then the 500 magnum wins.

    If we are talking some of the rifle caliber handguns, I guess those would maybe win in certain barrel lengths.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  15. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    dad had 2 bfr's one in 45/70 and 500 s&w the 45/70 was more powerful then the 500, we shot the same stupid hot loads as my siamese mauser in 45/70. i have to see but we croned both max load the won.
     
  16. Bill Raby

    Bill Raby Member

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    Magnum Research BFR can be chambered in 50 Alaskan. Its a custom job, but it can be done.
     
  17. Don357

    Don357 Member

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    I can't imagine the Coonan .45 WinMag being called a wimp, or the DE .50 AE or .44 Automag either as far as auto's go, but I would like to see them in a side by side comparison with a .454 Casual, .460 Roland and a .500 S&W revolvers.
     
  18. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Match grade machine and SSK industries have both made 600 nitro express barrels for encores.

     
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  19. lmccrock

    lmccrock Member

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  20. 481

    481 Member

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    Whoa :eek:, that handgun is as much of a threat to the shooter (and those behind him) as it is to those in front of it. :scrutiny:
     
  21. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    Well the .454 Casull was still a wildcat cartridge up until 1998 when SAAMI first published standards for it, even thoughtthere were commercially available guns for it in the '80s. So would it count against Dirty Harry?

    Now today, if you exclude cartridges designed for rifles, I'd go with the .500S&W.

    Wonder if anybody would make a .458 SOCOM revolver? (Of course it's not SAAMI either, yet.)
     
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  22. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    To answer this question, you'd have to define "most powerful." Highest momentum? Highest kinetic energy? Highest "Taylor KO formula" or some other thing that takes into account bullet diameter?
     
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  23. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Smith had to beef up the original 500 x-frame to make the 460. I remember the original articles explaining it all. And the saami max is higher as well. So while I originally said 500 as well, I'm not sure. I'll just say x-frame to safe

    I wouldn't usually throw out a wildcat cartridge either but in this case I know 2 people who actually had them when the movies came out and still haven't forgiven clint eastwood for the offensive line. Lol
     
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  24. Officers'Wife

    Officers'Wife Member

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    IIRC Eastwood's character claimed the 44 Mag was the most powerful handgun in the world so logically since "wildcats" were in the world they would be included. The better argument would be the undefined termed "powerful" as that gives enough wiggle room to drive a combine with a 45 foot header through.
     
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  25. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Yeah I suppose if one is talking ft/lbs per second then a glock 18, beretta 93, uzi, mac 10 or B&T would surpass the big bores. Said legal to own... not easy or without paperwork or even where. Many of those were available to mr Callahan in 71 as well. Of course "was that 32 or 33" wouldn't have had the same ring to it if his slide failed to lock back. Idk Definitely need more qualifiers but I still lean toward x-frame since I could have one bought on any given day in under 1hr from anywhere in my state

    ETA the movies were before my time and although I've seen them all, I must say I thought they were pretty sorry movies. Philo and his momma made for better movies imo
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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