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The .44 AMP Auto Mag: initial thoughts and observations

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Dragonfly, Sep 10, 2020.

  1. readyeddy

    readyeddy Member

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    Seriously cool looking gun.
     
  2. Lycidas Janwor

    Lycidas Janwor Member

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    Cool gun, I hope they start making them again.
     
  3. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    If they do, you had better save your pennies. I paid $400 for mine in the '70s. Nowadays, that would work out to about $1800 or more.
     
  4. Dragonfly

    Dragonfly Member

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    I had a chance to take the pistol to the range this evening, and what a blast—both literally and figuratively. I had twenty-five rounds loaded with five different power weights to get an idea of what my pistol liked best for functioning. The good news is that even the mildest load (19.7 gr. of H110 and a 240 gr Hornady XTP bullet giving 990 fps ) worked fine, although case ejection was a little lackadaisical (although still 100% reliable).

    I tried four other loads:
    20.4 gr 1090 fps
    21.2 gr 1187 fps
    22.0 gr 1275 fps (est.)
    22.8 gr 1350 fps (est.)
    (the last two series had to be extrapolated due to some self-inflicted chronograph trouble)

    All load were surprisingly comfortable and pleasant to shoot with zero issues—I think my “go to” load will probably be something between the 21.2 gr and 22.0 gr loads. The extraction was very consistent and positive, with all cases landing quite close together. As these were the first 25 rounds I’d ever hand loaded I was very pleased!

    The recoil rods stayed pretty tight, too, and only needed very minor tightening. The H110 powder provides an nicely impressive fireball, too—here’s a screen grab from the 22.8 gr load.
    ur2o0y4.jpg

    I swapped out the factory grips (which had a couple of small crack around the screw holes—very common for this model) with a set of Bruce Stark grips a member of a Canadian Gun Forum was kind enough to offer to me. Bruce is one of the foremost experts on the Auto Mag and he made replacement grips a number of years ago. They’re very comfortable and sturdy, and mine are in a funky shade of translucent blue.
    0QFlZZS.jpg

    It’s a very satisfying feeling to take a new gun out for the first time and have it behave even better than you were hoping for…the Auto Mag has become one of my favourite pistols!

     
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  5. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    To control the muzzle flip and recoil, I had my .44 barrel Mag-Na-Ported. That really makes it a more pleasant and in my case more accurate gun to shoot.

    Some people say that recoil doesn't bother them but less recoil helps everyone.

    H-110 is the powder of choice for reloading.
     
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  6. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Blue grips look awesome.
     
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  7. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    I agree!
     
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  8. Reinz

    Reinz Member

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    Dragonfly, Looks like a successful reloading session and range test. Looks like a lot of fun too!

    Your video brought back a flood of good memories.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
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  9. Reinz

    Reinz Member

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    I realize felt recoil is so subjective and different for everyone. To me, the AM was a soft recoil, more of a push compared to my SW model 29 and Ruger SBH.

    I expected the recoil to be worse, and was pleasantly surprised. I had a similar feeling the first time I shot my 44 Desert Eagle as well.

    And will note, I’m not a big man. I’m 5/10 with smallish to average sized hands weighing 180 during my AM years.
     
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  10. Armorer 101

    Armorer 101 Member

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    I was the match director at a Spl Ops range for 30+ years. We had quite a few Auto Mag guns come through the matches we had there, in the 44 and 357 varieties.
    There are a couple of problems that are common to the originals, the recoil side rail screws come loose during firing and it would be a good idea to check the screws that hold the rails on, after every 10 or so rounds. The last caution is from a personal vision I will never forget: a first time AM shooter in a silhouette match got tired after 30 rounds shot in the standing category and came up on the first ram. Before I could stop him, he reached up with his left hand on top to support his right wrist and pulled the trigger. The 44’s bolt does not stop on its way back for bone, skin or muscle and will create a ghastly wound if your extremities get in its path.

    Synthetic grease always on older stainless guns, just in case.
     
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  11. Gordon
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    Gordon Contributing Member

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    They were a cult around the area I lived in Ca. in the 80s. Guys of means liked them and I remember the $1400 figure of 1987 money that my friend paid the Auto Mag guru to make them reliable and run like a watch. I think that involved a custom bolt and other billet parts and the a general smoothing up inside and out. One guy had all three calibers done. .357 ,.41 and .44 AMP
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  12. Dunross

    Dunross Member

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    I've never handled an AutoMag though I have once in a while seem them at shows. I am somewhat familiar with them though because when I was a kid I used to enjoy reading the "Death Merchant" stories by Joseph Rupert Rosenberger (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Merchant.

    AutoMags were his preferred weapons, a pair as I recall, in many of the stories. The books themselves were pretty cheesy, but for teenage boys they scratched an itch.
     
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  13. SHOOT1SAM

    SHOOT1SAM Member

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    ‘Merica!
    I remember getting started on The Death Merchant because one cover showed him on a snowmobile, shooting a Broomhandle!! And, IIRC, they often mentioned the Lee Juras load he was shooting through the AM’s.

    You’re right Dunross-they scratched an itch for a lot of teenagers!

    Sam
     
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  14. SHOOT1SAM

    SHOOT1SAM Member

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    YOUCH, MAN!! I read this post, then watched Dragonfly’s video-I can only imagine the damage he suffered.

    Sam
     
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  15. JT-AR-MG42

    JT-AR-MG42 Member

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    Mine is a TDE North Hollywood.
    Bought it from a guy who had picked it up thinking he was going to shoot .44 magnums in it. LOL.
    After explaining the (lack of) ammo situation to him, I was able to make a trade.

    amp1.jpg



    I never cared for the black plastic stocks and so got these wood ones some years back.

    To the OP, sounds like you are up on proper lube and vigilance on the guide rods.
    My gun will function with a load as light as 240 plated and 10 grains of Unique if it is clean and lubed.
    Cases at your feet almost!
    My Desert Eagles won't even go to half cock with that load.

    Don't know how many spare magazines you have, but do keep your eyes out for spares like the one I show with the gun.
    Made by Triple K.
    Normally when I speak about Triple K, it's only to say 'at least it's not a pro-Mag!', but I have a few of them and they really do work perfect.

    Same for me. The guy I got it from had neglected it in unstable conditions that caused some rust on the matte finish frame.
    No way to get it off the matte finish without brightening the steel, right?
    On a chance I bought a Hornady sonic cleaner at a Cabela's after insuring the stripped frame would fit inside.
    Couple of hours later and the frame was good as new.

    JT
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Dragonfly

    Dragonfly Member

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    I was doing a bit of dry firing this evening now that I’ve got a dummy round I can use as a snap cap and it got me thinking about how the Auto Mag turned out to be similar to my Bren Ten—both iconic pistols that I’d wanted for years and when I finally got them they ended up being really (and maybe surprisingly) enjoyable to shoot. The Auto Mag is significantly smaller in the grip and lighter than my Desert Eagle, but still very pleasant to shoot. I would without a doubt purchase both the Auto Mag and the Bren Ten if they were currently available pistols.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  17. Japle

    Japle Member

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    I bought my first .44 AutoMag about 1974 for $315. The only ammo available was the CDM (Remington affiliate in Mexico) 240 gr load. It wasn’t loaded anywhere near hot enough to work the action, so I loaded my own, forming LC .308 cases and working up loads with 180, 240 and 265 gr bullets.

    I added an 8 ½” .357AMP barrel and then an 8 ½” .44 barrel. With the .357AMP barrel mounted, it was my Metallic Silhouette competition gun until T/C got their act together with the Contender. Foolishly, I sold the AutoMags in the early 1980s.

    A few years ago there was a dealer in the Tampa area advertising a used-in-the-case TDE .44 AMP and I bought it. Since BATF considers it a “curio and relic” collectable and I have a C&R license, it was shipped right to my door.

    To start with, just getting the bolt open was almost impossible. When I got it apart, it was full of burrs and tool marks and was rough as hell. It came with a partial box of CDM ammo with 9 rounds fired. I suspect that the original owner got 9 jams and gave up. Other than those 9 rounds, I suspect the gun was unfired. When he died, his son took it to his LGS to sell and I bought it. I used to work on AutoMags a lot, and still have my notes, so getting it cleaned up and functioning was no big problem.

    Starline makes cases and I used them to duplicate my original loads. It’s super accurate and a pussycat to shoot. I used it on a small hog in 2016 with the 180 gr load. IMG_8078.JPG Hog and AutoMag.jpg
     
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  18. Dragonfly

    Dragonfly Member

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    ^^That's a darn good 25 yard standing group^^
     
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  19. WisBorn

    WisBorn Member

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    @Dragonfly Congratulations on your Auto Mag!!!
    The history of the pistol is cool. I love the scenes from Sudden Impact.
    Dirty Harry sold tens of thousands of Smith 29s. How many Auto Mags did he sell??
    Thank you for sharing your pistol and story.
    Safe shooting.
     
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  20. Japle

    Japle Member

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    For those who might be interested, here are the loads I settled on many years ago.
    NOTE: These are all pretty hot and not recommended! For information only.
    All fired through an 8 1/2" barrel. Loaded in re-formed Lake City .308 cases.
    180 gr Sierra JHC/31.0/WW296/CCI 350/1990fps
    240 Hornady JHP/26.0/WW296/CCI 350/1640fps
    Lyman 429421 cast/22.5/WW296/CCI 350/1580fps
    265 Hornady/22.5/WW296/CCI 350/1510fps

    I used the 180 gr load on two whitetails and the 265 gr load on a mule deer. All penetrated completely. There was considerable meat loss with the 180 gr load on one whitetail shot through both shoulders. 180 at 25 yds.JPG
     
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  21. Zelwood

    Zelwood Member

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    Does anyone know where I can find video showing the complete disassembly and reassembly for a 44 Automag? I not talking about basic field stripping. I am looking for something that shows how to fully take it down. I recently purchased one and since it is over 40 years old I would like to fully go over it prior to putting rounds through it.
    Thanks
     
  22. Japle

    Japle Member

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    Zelwood, It's not necessary to totally disassemble the gun and I don't advise that you try. Since the company changed hands several times, quality control was, let's just say, spotty.
    Quite a few have burrs and tool marks that effect functioning, but if your gun has been fired, it might have been tuned or at least broken in a bit.
    Degrease and lube and give it a try. A light coat of a standard gun oil on the moving parts is usually all you need. Be sure to lightly lube the action rods and the rear of the bolt. Be sure the bolt moves without hanging up in the cocking piece.
    FWIW, long ago, I had a few boxes of CDM ammo and that crap wouldn't function in any of the AutoMags I worked on.
     
  23. Dragonfly

    Dragonfly Member

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    Zelwood, I was in a similar quandary as you when I bought mine. I knew of Auto Mags but knew almost nothing of them. There’s a dedicated forum at amtguns.info where there is a treasure trove of useful posts and helpful, knowledgeable members. The Auto Mag is a quirky, unique pistol that’s unlike any other gun I’ve owned, although it’s also one of the most fun to shoot.
     
  24. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    The Automag has a little baby brother:

    Excel MP-22 Accelerator.JPG

    Excel MP-22 Accelerator .22 WMR.

    (it's only half the gun of its big brother)
     
  25. Palladan44

    Palladan44 Member

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    Once you start reloading, you will find the itch to get into chamberings you never thought possible!
    Brass availability and variety thanks to STAR-LINE plays a role.
    I wonder how far the auto mag launches empty brass, hopefully not too far you cant recover them!!
    Good luck with your new gun, shes a beaut!!!
     
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