The world of firearms is much like the world of male bodybuilding. Iron is pumped, stretched to its limit, and filled with all sorts of volatile chemicals designed to generate explosive power and an impressive aesthetic presence. Following the trends of the overbuilt, steroid-injected weight lifters of recent decades, the human obsession with disproportionately large firearms has only increased as the demand for “more stopping power and a bigger hole” has become the popular and widely accepted trend for judging a weapon’s legitimacy. This trend has literally driven certain weapons engineers stark raving mad, and has raised the issue among seasoned firearms experts: Size matters. But how big is too big?
10. Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Revolver (Dirty Harry’s gun)
True or False: The “giant handgun” craze began with the Dirty Harry movie series. The answer: False. Harry’s use of the outrageously chambered .44 Magnum revolver was widely popularized, leading to the sales of countless Smith & Wesson and other spin-off model .44s. Action sequences in the movie depict bad guys flying backward through windows or spinning in circles before landing flat on the ground after being struck by Harry’s “badass .44.” The simple fact of the matter is that no projectile, short of a 20mm cannon or .50 cal BMG, will cause the human body to fly backwards through the air or even change direction to a noticeable degree. Despite its famed impracticality, the .44 Magnum was not the first oversized revolver and it would certainly not be the last.
9. Desert Eagle .45 Long Colt / .410 Shotgun Load Pistol
Somewhere along the line weapons engineers realized that if a shotgun and a pistol got married, they would produce a baby that looked like it was on steroids and who could hold a .410 shotgun shell or a .45 long Colt pistol round. The results were variants on the classic Long Colt revolver like Taurus’ “The Judge” and Desert Eagle’s “.410/.45 Long Colt” revolvers. While the .410 shotgun shell theory has tested well in close quarters scenarios, it is not highly recommended for anyone attempting to engage a target at over, say, fifteen feet. The shotgun blast, since it is spun by the rifling of the pistol barrel, will fly in a circular pattern and spread to the size of a small car after 15 or more yards. Not only will you risk missing your target, you will risk hitting other targets that may not have been targets in the first place.
8. Desert Eagle .50 Caliber Handgun
This baby is quite unique. The Desert Eagle .50 cal. is one of the largest (if not the largest) magazine-fed handguns in the world. Developed for use in the Israel’s military, the .50 caliber projectile packs a massive punch that will tear apart any human target. The gun looks incredibly modern and “sexy” (as some would describe it), thus increasing its popularity amongst gangsters, young people, and crime bosses. The Desert Eagle brand, although they create a multitude of other pistols, has become synonymous to meaning “fifty caliber handgun,” and when a person refers to a “Dezzy” you can bet they mean the .50 cal.
7. Smith & Wesson Model 460XVR Compensated Hunter
Leave it to the hunters to begin making a series of firearms to dwarf anything else on the U.S. production schedule. These moose killing, beer drinking, moonshine stilling, happy-go-lucky animal hunters needed a revolver that would penetrate dense brush, foliage, even small trees, and still bring down a grizzly bear. A 5-shot-wonder, the 460XVR, as its name suggests, will compensate for the hunter’s package size and allow a brief moment of glory in the field comparable only to dropping an atomic bomb.
6. Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum
Read the piece about the 460XVR and imagine adding .04 calibers to the diameter of the round and pinching more powder into the larger cartridge. I once witnessed this projectile strike a deck of Bicycle poker cards at 25 yards. The deck of cards literally, and I mean literally, disintegrated into the air.
5. .50 Caliber Black Powder Wheel Lock Pistol
The .50 caliber flintlock or hammerlock pistols date back hundreds and hundreds of years. The need for the .50 caliber chambering was due to the production standards of the day. A .50 caliber round is exactly one half inch in diameter, making it easy to measure and reproduce accurately by any weapon or ammunition manufacturer. Back in those fabled times, little clamps were produced in the shapes of this common load, meaning that any regular metallurgist could melt down a block of lead or steel and create a projectile for his weapon. It was as easy as using a modern day hole punch. Couple this easy-to-replicate ball projectile (this is not a pointed bullet, rather a ball which is not rifled) with the fact that you can put a whole heck of a lot of black powder behind it, and you have created a weapon which can take down a horse—much less a man—with relative ease. But remember, you only get one shot, and that one shot is not going to be accurate beyond 15 yards and will severely decelerate beyond this distance. Why would you want one for self defense? You wouldn’t. Regardless, they are highly prized collector’s items.
4. Colt 45-70 Peacemaker
At some point during the 1970s some genius was under the impression that the .45 caliber Colt Peacemaker (John Wayne’s gun of choice) did not “have enough stopping power.” How anyone could arrive at this conclusion is beyond sane reasoning, given that discharging the standard .45 caliber load feels akin to slapping a brick wall. American engineering, however, devised a way to make this gun even larger and more powerful. Thus, the 45-70 load, originally developed for use in an infantry and/or “buffalo” rifle, was introduced into the sphere of modern day handguns.
3. Magnum Research 45-70 Government Hand Cannon
Despite what some people will tell you, there are variants on the standard 45-70 government load. Some feel like a jackhammer, while others feel like you’ve pulled the pin on a grenade and forgot to let go. The “Hand Cannon” delivers that good old “grenade-in your-hand” feeling. It is a weapon that should not be fired by the unsuspecting individual, or anyone for that matter. It is utterly beyond practicality in every sense of the word. Certain models measure over two feet in length and are impossible to wield (safely or effectively) with one arm
2. WTS .50 BMG (Browning Machine gun Cartridge) Pistol
Beyond all reasonable doubt, this is the largest and most formidable handgun you could ever actually wield in a gunfight. Following in the footsteps of Hitler’s obsession with giant railroad cannons, the Germans are still producing the biggest, most outlandish crap on the market today. The .50 Browning Machinegun cartridge was designed for use against tanks, airplanes, armored personnel carriers, and in some cases it may be used by high-powered sniper rifles. It is more than twice as powerful as the fabled 45-70 government round, and one can only imagine that shooting it in a pistol format would be painful, unwieldy, and quite hazardous for everyone involved. If a soft target is hit with a .50 caliber BMG bullet, it will be shredded/exploded into pieces. The gargantuan .50 caliber death-monster projectile can fly at a breakneck speed for miles, even after penetrating one or two targets. Discharging it at your common household thief is ill advised… unless you don’t mind the possibility of inadvertently pegging one of your neighbors. Would someone be scared of it? Yes. Would they run away? Yes. Would you be able to use your right hand to jot down the grocery list post-firing? Doubtful.
1. Pfeifer Zeliska 28mm Revolver
The biggest, most worthless manifestation of an inferiority complex ever created by one man. Originally manufactured under the name “Remington Model 1859,” this copy of the formerly U.S.-made revolver was built by Ryszard Tobys and measures 4-foot-(1.26 m) long. To give some basis for comparison, the 28mm projectile is 8mm wider than the U.S. military’s fabled “20mm Cannon,” a weapon used primarily for destroying tanks, sinking boats, or shooting down heavily armored airplanes. While entirely impractical and, one would guess, impossible to use as an even mildly effective tool for any purpose other than felling trees, the 28mm revolver has made its mark as truly being the world’s largest pistol. And simultaneously the world’s most comical waste of lead.
by Jesse Stretch