Handguns come in wide variety of chamberings ranging from .22 rimfire on up. If you want one with serious authority—something you’d be willing to brace a Kodiak bear, a Cape buffalo, or maybe even an elephant with—you’re limited to a handful of choices: the .454 Casull, .460 Smith & Wesson, .475 Linebaugh or .500 Mag. By comparison, other handgun rounds are weak-kneed wusses.
I’ve tried them all, and am not ashamed to admit the big .500 Mags exceed my tolerance for recoil. The first shot may hit what I’m aiming at, but follow-up rounds go all over the place. No matter how hard I try to shoot tight groups, involuntary flinching ruins my resolve. Some gunners have mastered .460 S&W and .500 Mag recoil. I haven’t and don’t expect I will anytime soon.
The .454 Casull, which held the “most powerful handgun” title for several years, would seem an obvious alternative choice. The first .454 revolver I ever fired was Dick Casull’s personal handgun. I’ve used a few other .454s since then, managing to keep most of my shots on target. This cartridge has a lot to recommend it. There’s no question this has all the “oomph” a hunting handgunner might need. It’s a long-time favorite of those who hunt big game with a revolver.
The .454 had been the “big dog” in my handgun safe until I tried a .475 Linebaugh. Both were chambered in Freedom Arms’ superb single-action revolvers that weighed about the same. Recoil was heavy with both guns. The .475 came back at you a little harder, but I noticed something interesting. The .454 Casull recoil felt sharper (snappier) in my hands, and generated more torque through the revolver’s plow-handle grip. Linebaugh recoil felt more liked a hard push that somehow didn’t seem so punishing. However, it didn’t take many rounds for either gun to become unpleasant to shoot, limiting practice sessions.
Handguns come in wide variety of chamberings ranging from .22 rimfire on up. If you…
by Massad Ayoob / May 2, 2010