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An older article on the BFR but one which may be of interest to those intrigued by the Magnum Research mega wheelguns, such as myself. I'm considering one in 45-70. ;D


by Dick Metcalf
Technical Editor

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." If that be so, the guys at Magnum Research Inc. (MRI) have the least small minds in business.

To a product line that began two decades ago with the massive Desert Eagle gas-operated .44 Magnum autoloading pistol and includes other such disparate items as the AccuLite graphite-barreled .22 semiautomatic rifle, the rotary-breech Lone Eagle single-shot long-range pistol, the Mountain Eagle bolt-action hunting rifle, and the Swiss-made onePRO interchangeable-caliber DA auto pistol, MRI has now added what it modestly terms the BFR-for "Biggest, Finest

Revolver." This line of massive single actions is available chambered for cartridges as long as the full-length .45-70, .444 Marlin, and .410 shotshell (as well as other more conventional revolver chamberings).

The BFR single-action revolver series is manufactured for exclusive distribution under the Magnum Research label by D-Max Corporation of Springfield, North Dakota, and was designed by D-Max owner Darvin Carda. The original .45 Colt/.410 shotshell version of the gun was initially marketed about five years ago directly by the manufacturer as the D-Max Sidewinder. The present Magnum Research BFRs are available in two basic forms, both of all-stainless-steel construction. The long-cylinder (2.75-inch) Maxine version is for extended-length chamberings while the standard-cylinder (1.75-inch) Little Max version is for cartridges of more traditional revolver length. So the bigger BFR's cylinder is almost 60 percent longer than the typical cylinder of any other conventional big-bore, large-frame magnum-power revolver-which certainly makes for an unusual appearance but also makes for a profoundly powerful handheld shooting tool. Heavy too. A 10-inch Maxine with iron sights weighs in at 65 ounces-that's four pounds, one ounce!

Other than the difference in cylinder lengths and the attendant difference in overall lengths of the revolvers' upper frames, the Little Max and Maxine versions of the BFR are identical. The basic BFR mechanical action is derived directly from the classic .44 Magnum Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk (SBH). Ruger-manufactured investment-cast SBH grip frames are in fact a major component of the design. The upper frame assembly and cylinder-containment mechanism of the BFR is investment cast by D-Max from 17/4PH stainless steel and is considerably more massive than the Ruger .44 Magnum SBH in several key areas to accommodate the stress imposed by the more powerful BFR chamberings (the topstrap and barrel-thread area in particular). All BFR cham-berings have 416 stainless-steel cylinders and barrels.

Mechanically the BFR incorporates a typical Ruger transfer bar ignition system, with a frame-mounted, spring-loaded firing pin that can be actioned only when the trigger is squeezed fully to the rear to lift the bar into place between the pin and the falling hammer's face. The loading system is also the same as the Ruger New Model single-action revolver design in that opening the loading gate frees the cylinder to rotate while the chambers are charged. A loading gate interlock prevents the hammer being pulled back with the gate open or the gate being opened while the hammer is back. In other words, except for being bigger and chambered for some more powerful cartridges, the BFR functions exactly the same as the familiar and popular Ruger Super Blackhawk .44.

One feature that I particularly like about the BFR is that the cylinder base pin and ejector rod length are paired to prevent the base pin from being lost. When you pull the 3.5-inch pin fully forward, it will just clear the front of the cylinder to allow cylinder removal before butting against the ejector rod button, making it, in practical terms, a captive part. A set screw in the base pin release button prevents it moving in recoil. On all versions and chamberings the BFR straight bull barrel has a flat cut muzzle, and the cylinders are not counterbored.

Standard sights on BFR revolvers consist of a Millett front blade with fluorescent orange ramp and a black, Ruger-type square-notch rear that is click adjustable for windage and elevation. Millett precision rear sights with white outline are available as an option. The hammerspur is grooved for secure contact when thumbing it back, and the trigger is smooth surfaced. The overall finish is brushed satin stainless steel with a fine hairline fit of all metal parts in all review samples provided. Standard grips are Uncle Mike's rubber checkered style for the Ruger Super Blackhawk. Hogue rubber and wood grips are also offered by MRI as BFR accessories, as are MRI-label holsters for all configurations.

In terms of specific chamberings and configurations, the long-cylinder Maxine BFR is available in three versions. First, there's a six-shot, 6.5- or 7.5-inch combination .45 Colt/.410 shotshell iteration with one choke and a choke wrench included (accessory aftermarket Full, Modified, and "Scatter" choke tubes are also available at a suggested retail price of $17 each). The five-shot Maxine .45-70 version is available with either a 7.5- or a 10-inch barrel. And the five-shot Maxine .444 Marlin version is offered in 10-inch barrel only. The BFR Little Max standard chamberings include the five-shot .50 Action Express in 7.5-inch barrel; the five-shot .454 Casull in a choice of 6.5-, 7.5-, or 10-inch barrels; the five-shot .45 Colt +P in 6.5- or 7.5-inch barrels; and the six-shot .22 Hornet in 7.5- or 10-inch barrel lengths. Recommended retail is $999 for all versions.

Over the last two years I have had the opportunity to work with the 10-inch .22 Hornet and 7.5-inch .454 Casull versions of the Little Max BFR and the .45-70 Maxine, and for this review Magnum Research also supplied Shooting Times with an extended loan of samples of all the other BFR chamberings as well. Fit and finish on all samples were excellent. The trigger pull average for all the samples came in at 3.87 pounds from the factory (the highest was 4.15; the lowest was 3.60), with the slight creep inherent to all single-action transfer bar ignition systems.

I selected representative types and loadings of commercial ammunition for all versions and put all of the sample guns through a range performance workout as listed in the accompanying chart. I installed scopes (as listed in the chart) on three of the guns, and I fired the others using the Millett sights with which each sample came equipped. The scoped guns were fired for accuracy at 50- and 100-yard distances; the open-sight guns were fired at 50 yards only.

Scope mounting presented some interesting choices. Currently, the BFR topstraps do not come drilled and tapped for scope bases, and the company does not yet offer any proprietary mount for the BFR revolver series. MRI technical people say that any standard frame-attach mount base system for the Ruger Super Blackhawk series can be used due to the identical dimensions of the rear sight slots on both the Ruger SBH and the BFR. However, such frame-top mounts all position the scope way to the rear, with its eyepiece protruding past the butt of the gun, exposed to damage and ruining the revolver's natural balance. I've never liked this positioning, especially on a heavy-recoil single-action revolver because it exacerbates muzzle flip and recoil shear on the scope's internal mechanism. So I sent my 7.5-inch .454 Casull Little Max and the sample 10-inch .444 Marlin Maxine version off to J.D. Jones at SSK Industries (Dept. ST, 590 Woodvue Lane, Wintersville, OH 43953) for installation of his T'SOB mount base systems, which bridges the frame and barrel and positions any scope more comfortably (and nonprotrudingly) forward for better balance, stability, and recoil moderation. The .444 Marlin Maxine came back with a straightforward scope base installed just as I'd asked, and for the 7.5-inch .454 Casull SSK gave it the full custom treatment: tuned trigger (2.75 pounds) with overtravel setscrew, matte satin bead-blast finish, SSK multi-port muzzle brake (it's threaded on, but if anyone can see the seam they have better eyes than my magnifying glass), and the requested T'SOB mount base. I had also put a scope on the .22 Hornet BFR for my earlier .22 Hornet review, but it was easier in that case. What I used was an old B-Square Mono-Mount for the Ruger Super Blackhawk, which was a one-clamp system designed to attach to the full-round 10-inch Ruger .44 Magnum's bull barrel ahead of the ejector rod housing. The barrel diameter of the .22 Hornet BFR is actually a bit bigger than the Ruger .44 Magnum SBH's, but the aluminum body of the Mono-Mount was sufficiently elastic to conform around the larger surface when tightened down with B-Square's heavy-duty hex screws, and it provided a rock-solid base for the Burris 7X scope I selected (the mild .22 Hornet recoil upset it not at all). Unfortunately, the Mono-Mount system is no longer listed in B-Square's product line. That's a shame because it sure works, even if it is a bit strange looking.

As the chart indicates, all BFR samples shot very well, above average for field-grade revolvers in general, particularly the .444 Marlin Maxine. And the SSK-worked .454 Casull version was exceptional. One interesting result was the velocity differences posted by the same .45 Colt loads when fired in the standard-cylinder .45 Colt +P Little Max 6.5-inch BFR and when fired in the long-cylinder .45 Colt/.410 shotshell Maxine 6.5-inch BFR. Even though their barrel lengths are both nominally specced as 6.5 inches, the effect of the extra inch of bore provided by the Maxine version's longer cylinder resulted in an approximate 30 fps gain in velocity for all loads across the board. (Trick question: How long is the barrel of a 6.5-inch-barreled revolver? Answer: It depends on the length of the cylinder.) I also had the opportunity to try out the scoped .444 on a hunt at the YO Ranch near Kerrville, Texas, where a trophy Corsican ram fell like a pole-axed steer to a single 50-yard quartering chest shot using Remington's 240-grain JSP factory load. Another edge for the handgun hunter is that these long-barreled BFR revolvers can generate velocity and energy figures with the .444 Marlin and .45-70 that are as much as 90 percent of the velocity and energy figures for those chamberings fired from carbines. For example, the BFR obtained 1903 fps for the Remington 240-grain .444 Marlin factory loading compared to 2101 for the same load out of a Marlin Model 444P Outfitter carbine.

The new Magnum Research line of BFR's are powerful additions to the handgun hunter's range of market choices, offering some quantum leaps in available power in a single-action revolver format while retaining the familiar operation and feel of one of the most popular and proven single-action revolver designs ever made: the Ruger Super Blackhawk. MRI and D-Max have beefed up and strengthened the Super Blackhawk upper frame dimensions and proceeded apace to provide handgunners with the biggest, most powerful single-action revolvers ever made. Single-action revolver hunters everywhere are all the better off for it.

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