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Astra Terminator .44 magnum.

"The Terminator"--what a name for a handgun! It calls to mind visions of muscleman/actor Arnold Schwarzenegger as the murderous, time-traveling cyborg in the recent popular movie of the same name. Well, here's a belly gun worthy of Arnold himself! What the Terminator is, is a 41-ounce, 2-3/4-inch barreled .44 Magnum that stands in relation to the ordinary .38 "snubby" much as Arnold, with his 58-inch chest and 22-inch biceps, does to the average guy!

This revolver is a "chopped" version of the large-frame .44 Magnum double action made by the well-respected Spanish-Basque firm of Astra-Unceta of Guernica. These revolvers use a Smith & Wesson-type lockwork and have been on the American market for some years now, being imported by Interarms. The Terminator, however, is an offering of the John Jovino Company (Dept. GA, 5 Centre Market Place, NYC, NY 10013). Our evaluation sample was one that had been customized by Jovino from a full-sized revolver, but subsequent production will be made to the same specifications for Jovino at the Astra plant in Spain. Principal modifications are the shortened barrel and a grip that has been altered to the same dimensions as a S&W round-butt K-frame and fitted with a pair of Pachmayr rubber grips.

Sights consist of a red-insert ramp front and a white outline rear. The rear blade has had its corners rounded to prevent snagging. However, I found this to be something of a hindrance to fast, precise alignment--a square-topped rear blade aligns faster with a square-topped front sight post. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation.

Jovino slicks up the action on these six-guns and the DA pull was very smooth. The single-action pull broke a just over 5 pounds, but somehow seemed lighter. The trigger return action seemed a bit sticky a few times, but it smoothed up with use and the problem soon vanished.

Polish and blueing were nicely done, and overall fitting seemed good, except that the Pachmayr rubber grips tendered to peel apart just behind the triggerguard.

I tried this big-bore snubby out at Angeles Shooting Ranges with three types of .44 Magnum ammo. I had best results with a Pro Load loading that uses a 240-grain LSWC that exits a 6-inch barrel at 1,200 feet per second (fps). This slightly reduced in this Goliath of snubbies, and I obtained best accuracy with this load. The best groups ran about 3-1/2 to 4 inches at 25 yards, but, then, some of that spread may have been my fault; triggering off .44 Mags from a snub-nosed belly gun is hardly conducive to shooting like a human machine rest! Winchester full-House 240-grain LSWC loads were a good deal less pleasant to shoot, and the same maker's 240-grain JHPs were downright punishing.

During a later visit to the Target Range in Van Nuys, I found it easy to print a nice tight group on the reduced combat silhousette at 25 feet in fast double-action work using the moderate Pro Load loadings. The Winchester 240-grain LSWCs were much more violent--blast and flash caused consternation among a large party of Japanese tourists shooting there, and the rangemaster rushed up to make sure I wasn't firing some sort of prohibited load. Recoil recovery and follow-up shots were noticeably slower than with the Pro Load ammo. Probably someone with the might and brawn of an Arnold Schwarzenegger (an avid shooter himself, I gather) could use the Terminator to best effect with full-house loads, but most of the rest of us had better stick to reduced loadings in this Arnold-sized sixgun.

Although I didn't try any, the Remington 240-grain LSWC at 1,000 fps looks like it would be ideal for this gun, and .44 Specials ought to be as mild as mid-range wadcutters in a .38 snubby.

Big-bore snubbies like this have enjoyed some vogue since "Fitz" Fitzgerald of Colt was showing off his snubbed New Service .45s back in the 1920s, and they seem to be enjoying an upsurge of popularity at present. The Jovino Company, for example, purchased all Smith & Wesson's remaining stocks of Model 25-2. 45 Auto Rim revolvers and converted them to belly guns of this type. I have always had some reservations about the practicality of trying to use a revolver with such a large frame size and cylinder width as a hideout gun. However, I am told that many narcotics agents and other law enforcement professionals favor these big snubbies, and I am certainly not going to fault the choice of these men whose lives may very well depend on an effective, concealable sidearm.

The big advantage of the Terminator is its relatively low price. It should retail in the vicinity of $350, and it's ready to go out of the box. By way of contrast, a similarly customized Smith N-frame, the favorite subject for such conversions, will set you back the better part of $1,000 and may involve a lengthy waiting period, depending on how backed up your custom gunsmith is. This makes the Terminator look like a pretty good buy--and if you're as burly as Arnold, "The Austrian Oak," you should have no problems at all in using it as a hideout!
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Title Annotation:includes 2 related articles on the H&K P7 and the Raven Arms MP-25
Author:Libourel, Jan; Hetzler, Dave
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Aug 1, 1985
Previous Article:The SAR-48: Springfield Armory reproduces a classic.
Next Article:Shooting a schuetzen.

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