What is the most powerful handgun YOU can handle?

Discussion in 'General Handgun' started by d_p_holland, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    I have shot .45-70 revolvers, and .454 Cassull. I've shot a few rifle rounds in Thompson pistols (8mm Mauser in a handgun was by far the worst). It was fun for a few rounds, but the older I get the less I feel I have to prove.

    When I was in my 20s and I shot a ludicrous handgun or rifle, a sore wrist or a bruised shoulder was an inconvenience of a couple of days and a badge of honor.

    Nowadays I can stove myself up just sleeping funny or twisting funny when trying to get the toilet paper.

    Except for an urge to own a revolver in .30 Carbine, I no longer feel the draw to weirdo handguns in the intermediate-caliber-to-rifle power range - unless you are talking the various Tokarev-caliber guns I (totally do not) own (if the government is monitoring.)

    For handguns, I don't shoot anything more powerful than a Tokarev on the speed end of the power scale, or a .45 Colt on the mass side of the scale. My rifle caliber of choice for the last few years has been vacillating between .303 Brit and 7mm Mauser.

    I do have a chance to shoot a match .50 Barret this Fall, and the owner assures me that between the break and the way the stock is designed it is not as bad on the shoulder as shooting a 12-ga.

    Who knows. It might never happen. I was supposed to shoot a Chauchat this Spring and Covid boogered that up.
  2. Jim Bridger

    Jim Bridger G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I would never turn my handgun choice into a Marathon. I live hunt and travel in the Brown Bear's domain. I have over time used the great .44 and .45 Win Mag. Today the deep penetrating multi-round 10MM handguns are our first choice.:usa2:
    neophyte, graybeard, TXplt and 2 others like this.

  3. noelekal

    noelekal G&G Evangelist

    Spent four years abusing the 8 3/8-inch Smith & Wesson Model 29 with heavy handloads at the hunter pistol silhouette game. That was in the late 1970s/early 1980s before scope sighted handguns were allowed on the firing line. When scopes showed up I retired from formal silhouette competition as that wasn't the way I wanted to compete.

    I practiced at least weekly at the local range and shot a match there as well as some other local registered matches each month. Poured lots of rounds through that Model 29-2 which held up to the beating with perfect satisfaction. I stood it too, but have to wonder if the cumulative effects induced a bit of a flinch for some years afterward. I was experimenting with more moderate .44 Magnum handloads, also the .357 Magnum and even the .38 Special (which proved to fell the 100 rams decently).

    Years later I made myself a commitment to take a deer with the Model 29. Was all sighted in and ready by the week before that weekend's hunt. The bank where I was employed was near a gun range, the owner of which was my customer. On my lunch hour I thought to go out and shoot a few cylinders-full through the revolver, just to double check things and to see if I was still up to snuff.

    Did so and returned to my desk after lunch. Don't recall how many rounds I fired, but remember that my right hand was cramping enough that I had difficulty grasping a pen to write up loans that afternoon. Found that both annoying and amusing.

    The load was the same one I had used for most of the hunter pistol silhouette career, 240 grain Sierra JHP over 24.2 grains of H110, giving 1478 fps out of the long snouted Model 29.

    Got not one, but two deer that weekend with the .44 Magnum.

    A brother-in-law has a Smith & Wesson Model 29-2 reconfigured to round butt and with a custom two-inch barrel installed with an abbreviated ejector rod and a special ball bearing front locking design. About 10 years ago he was given some .44 Magnum handloading equipment and a bunch of ammunition by a widow whose husband had been a shooter. Most of the loads were the 265 grain Hornady JSP over a healthy charge of Winchester 296 (or so the notes on the boxes said). I was a bit reluctant to shoot them in my revolver, but he stoked them up in two of his Model 29s and started shooting them off. One of the revolvers was that 2-inch gun.

    Nothing came unhinged so we continued burnin' off the ammunition, mostly shooting it in the 2-inch which was sort of new to him and I'd never experienced a .44 snub before either. Was entertaining. Was also an absolute whipping. We fired several hundred rounds in a fairly short period of time that afternoon.

    I stood it, but cannot say that I much liked it by the end of the session. I've shot more powerful handguns, both before and since but that was about the most punishing handgun shooting I ever personally experienced.

    Oh yeah. I'm 6' 3", about 215 lbs, and 63 years old.
  4. noelekal

    noelekal G&G Evangelist

    Sometimes it's less the power of the cartridge and more the configuration of the handgun shooting it.

    Those who shot them used to say that that gimmicky COP 4-barreled .357 Magnum pistol was a bear to shoot, primarily because of grip frame configuration and also because of lack of weight.

    I had a .25 Baby Browning for some years. Those are really stunted and with not much for my large hands and long fingers to get a hold of. I found it to be particularly unpleasant to shoot. A Colt Model 1908 .25 lives here as well as a couple other .25s, but none are as unpleasant as that little Browning was.

    Most respected vintage all-steel .380 pistol models of blow-back design are not the most comfortable pistols to shoot even given their relative weight to size. Recoil seems harsh for what they are. The wretched Kel Tec P3AT kept here surprisingly is more pleasant to shoot than a classic PP or PPK, Mauser HSc, Astra Constable, or that little LLama that looks like a miniature Colt 1911. A Colt Model 1908 .380 is marginally better, perhaps because of ergonomics. Guess it's the P3AT locked breach design with its cushioning plastic receiver. A Remington Model 51 .380 from the early 1920s lives here. It's really nice to shoot, but it also is of a locked breach design.

    The alloy framed Smith & Wesson J-Frames are not too comfy when fired with my favored +P 158 grain .38 Special defense loads. Smith & Wesson Airweight J-Frames in .357 Magnum are even worse. Shot one of those on an occasion and was glad to have opportunity to experience it. Could handle it and even deliver effective follow-up shots rapidly enough, but yheeee hah... not something I require for personal defense.

    On the other hand, the Desert Eagle in .50 AE once tried was quite tame. It's new owner was scared to death of it so he and his cousin brought it to me to test fire. I'm sort of like the old cereal commercial. "Give it to Mikey. He'll eat anything" I'll shoot anything just to experience it.
    neophyte, graybeard, TXplt and 3 others like this.
  5. cjleete

    cjleete G&G Evangelist

    I can also testify that small blowback autos like the PPK/S are not pleasant to shoot.
    My 5.5 " Redhawk .44 is comfortable with most factory loads and stocked with the Pachmayr presentation grips. The Ted Nugent ammo and surprisingly, the PPU JHP load, send the muzzle abruptly skyward, even in a two handed grip by my stout hands.
    neophyte, graybeard, TXplt and 2 others like this.
  6. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    I have always loved the way a PPK/s felt to shoot, but its lighter cousin, the FEG PA63 with the lightweight alloy frame will beat you up a little.
    neophyte likes this.
  7. Jack Ryan

    Jack Ryan G&G Evangelist

    I guess I don't know yet, but I'm generally pretty ok with 44 mag.

    I might try a 45 Casill what ever its called but it is nothing I'd go out of my way for.
    neophyte likes this.
  8. cjleete

    cjleete G&G Evangelist

    I tried someone else's Super Redhawk in .454 Casull. I put it down at the second shot. It was not fun by any stretch of the imagination.
    neophyte, graybeard and Jack Ryan like this.
  9. Jack Ryan

    Jack Ryan G&G Evangelist

    I kinda imagined that. I don't get out my 44 mag to shoot 44 specials out of it so they are stout enough. I'm kinda inclined to reach for a rifle or shotgun if I'm of a mind leaving the house that I might need more gun.
    neophyte likes this.
  10. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    You and me both. 13-ish oz 340PD with the Cor-Bon 357s (I believe they were 140s).

    A glove might have helped (or better grips but that makes the j-frame bulky) but it honestly felt like I got smacked in the palm of the hand with a tackhammer. Not a real pleasant experience with plenty of muzzle blast. Quite a bit of work to get not all that much more performance in that I think most of the oomph was going as unused gas out of the barrel.

    I still have mine but stoke it with .38 rounds. A relative likes the hi-viz sight on it.

    Never saw much use for the 45-70 rounds out of a (shorter barreled) handgun in that 45 colts are available and it suffers from the same oomph out the end from the rifle powder and little gain IMHO (unless you really want some good muzzle blast). Perhaps there's a way to handload the 45-70 to optimize performance for whatever gun and that might be a plus, but again there's the 45 colt already here and I don't think you're doing all that much better than it (at least if using a frame/gun that can handle the higher end 45 colt rounds).
    neophyte likes this.
  11. Palladin8

    Palladin8 G&G Evangelist

    For the 45-70 out of a handgun I think you could load between 10-15grs of unique under a 405gr cast bullet. I have used up to 15grs under the RCBS 405gr in my lever gun. never ran it across the chronograph so I don't know how fast it was traveling. I'm sure it was in the 1100-1200fps range. I'm thinking with the fast handgun powder it would be very close to the same velocity out of a BFR or Thompson handgun.
    neophyte and TXplt like this.
  12. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    I think that's right; was looking at using Universal (and still might) for my 45-70 Remlin GBL (think from what I remember it was right around 13 grains) before I decided just going with RL-7 was a better idea.
    neophyte and Palladin8 like this.
  13. Palladin8

    Palladin8 G&G Evangelist

    I use two powders for my 45-70. Reloader 7 for full power loads and Unique for everything else. My 9 year old son and my wife can shoot the unique loads and both of them a recoil shy. For them I think I was using 12grs. For punching holes in paper or hitting the steel plate it's plenty and they can tell everyone they were shooting a big gun.
    For the threat stopper that's not for the recoil sensitive, Reloader 7 under a 450gr paper patched cast bullet for about 1800fps.
    neophyte and TXplt like this.
  14. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    Ya......I have some of the Hornady FTX (factory) for hunting (Leverrevolution) and was looking toward something that I could shoot at steel for a pleasant range session but also had enough thump if I needed it. So the high end trapdoor loads (right at around 40 grains RL-7) underneath a Berrys 350 or a MBC 405 seemed to fit the purpose well. The gun and I seem to like them and if I run low on the RL-7 I can always tap into the Universal. Thanks !
    neophyte and Palladin8 like this.
  15. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    This reminds me of a story:

    When we were first talking about opening up a gun store I asked for some advice on a couple of forums. The most common answer I got, however, was, "don't".

    I did gain a great rapport with a guy up in Indiana, though, and one day I asked him what gun he had that sold the best.

    He thought for a minute and told me that trends change so much there is not really a good answer there, but he could tell me what gun he sold the most, and made the most money on.

    That is, "gun", singular -- not type of gun.

    My memory is fuzzy as to whether it was the 454 or the 500, but I do remember it was a ludicrous revolver caliber in a Smith frame. I am inclined to say .500 S&W.

    Anyway, when these first came out, no one was able to get them, and yet, somehow he got one.

    He sold it before he had even finished putting a price tag on it. Even threw in a box of ammo. A few days later, though, that first owner brought it back. Above his eye was a big gash. He didn't like it, and he wanted to trade it in on something smaller. Only one round was missing from the box.

    Again, almost as soon as it was back in the case, it sold again, along with the same box of ammo. Less than a week later the second owner came back with a wrist brace and wanted to trade it in. Only six fewer rounds were brought back with the gun.

    This process repeated several times over the course of a three or four month span, and no owner had it more than a week.. The gun was still basically new, so the retail was still fairly high, but people wanted to be done with it so much that they lowballed the price nearly every time. Some people were practically willing to give it away just to be done with it.

    Finally a college kid bought the gun, and it stayed gone for a few months. By this time the gun store owner was able to buy a new replacement, but that window of hype had already died down, and it did not sell as fast as the original one.

    One day the college kid returned with the original S&W. He didn't have any scars, no wrist brace, no bruises, and he actually seemed sad to let the gun go.

    My buddy asked him if there was something wrong with the gun. Nope. Did he get hurt? Nope. Had he just not been able to shoot it much? Nope, he had fired several boxes through it. He loved it. Did he just need the money? Nope.

    Well, why are you getting rid of it, he asked.

    About that time the guy's girlfriend came in with her arm in a sling and a bandage on her forehead, screaming, "have you got rid of that **** thing yet?"

    A few weeks after that the same kid came back and bought his gun. The girlfriend was gone. My buddy sold it to him for exactly what he paid and thought the kid would cry he was so excited to get it back so cheap.

    All in all he figured he cleared a few thousand dollars on one single revolver, so generosity wasn't that hard.
  16. Jim Bridger

    Jim Bridger G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    It matters not caliber or your body size. How well can you control the handgun you have chosen. In the mountain West handguns are carried to protect humans horses and dogs from the "Grizz". Very often the bears victims misses with every round in the handgun. Choosing a caliber that you can not control is not wise.
    rando, FortyXDM, neophyte and 2 others like this.
  17. FortyXDM

    FortyXDM G&G Evangelist Staff Member

    My brother and I bought a Ruger #1 45-70 in the 80s. We gave it RL7 beyond the books of the time. With a 400 gr bullet we got it to 200 ft/sec less than a 458 win mag. We were young and "bullet proof". Wouldn't shoot it now as it generated 74 ft. lbs of recoil. We warned several friends who wanted to try it. Don't remember any of them going for seconds. I shot it perhaps 8 times. (all with a 1 in thick leather bag of 7 1/2 shot between gun and shoulder) and once for a 3 shot 2 in group at 50 yards with open sights. Gun weight was 7 1/2 lbs.
    There was an article published about the development of the rolling block. Seems they put a gun in a test room and continued to increase the powder load to see if they could make the action fail. They eventually blew the barrel off the action but the action still worked. We were well below that. Eventually in the early nineties we pulled all the bullets and powder from some 8 remaining loads for obvious children reasons.
  18. William Cairnes

    William Cairnes G&G Newbie

    My favorite wheel gun is the S&W 629 in .44 Mag it is more hand comfortable for me than the smaller framed S&W 66 in .357. The autoloader of choice for hunting is chambered in 45 WinMag. The Wildey handles well and is very accurate the gas control system reduces felt recoil.

    6’ @ 250.
    Ron The Legend and K75RT like this.
  19. Jim Bridger

    Jim Bridger G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    When packing into Grizz country powerful handguns are recommended. My favored handguns were the S&W 29-2 44 Mag and the LAR Grizz .45 Win Mag.
    The 10MM handguns are now becoming the most favored Bear protection. My LAR GRiZZ 1911 now wears it's 10MM Conversion Kit.