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Although it seems like it was yesterday, it was many decades ago that Elmer Keith began to run against the accepted grain of handgun ballistics. He wanted a handgun that would do more than most shooters at that time believed possible. Taking the .44 caliber bore, combined with special bullets and loads, he made the .44 Special do what couldn't be done. This initial experimentation spawned the grand .44 Remington Magnum, the ultimate handgun. It was indeed the ultimate in portable power with the cartridge housed in revolvers of great strength and reasonable size. This made it possible to take any medium and mediumlarge game in the world with a sixgun.

I have been, and still am, absolutely devoted to this wonderful round, but in my pursuit of big game have found that more horsepower would be a welcome addition. The .44 Magnum performed well, but in reality when it is matched against elk, the heavy plains game of Africa, or our bears, it is a pipsqueak. Not to say it isn't effective; it is very effective in the hands of cool experts, but its margin for error is so minute as to be discounted. Kill efficiently it can, has and will, but I wanted more punch for extraordinary situations, bigger animals and poorer angles of penetration.

The currently accepted answer to that quest are the single-shot "short rifles," the super power rifle-type cartridges in the Contenders and Remington XP actions with reasonably long barrels. This approach certainly grants power beyond that fo the .44, but at the dear price of portability and folow-up shots. It's strictly personal, but I know I am not alone when I say that when I go handgun hunting I want a handgun! This means a six-shooter, carried in a belt holder that I don't know is there unless I look for it. If I am to have my hands full of gun when I am hunting let it be a rifle, with all of its power and shootability, not a compromise.

Again, to get the needed horsepower increase, it would be necessary to chop on the hardwood and ice of tradition and accepted knowledge by maximizing the .45 bore. I am going to pause right here for some stern words of warning. The technology I am going to introduce is absolutely not for use in any currently available handguns. The handguns I will describe are not toys, but tools of the specialist and the loads are to be used only in special custom handguns made by John Linebaugh.

Over a year ago John phoned me to tell me that he had a normal-sized, wearable six-shooter that would make my pet .44 Magnums look like white mice. It is times like this when I feel fortunate to possess an open mind, for all my experience and knowledge made me want to say "nonsense" and politely ask the nut from Cody, Wyoming to go away. I did in fact put him off for several more phone calls, and then one day he pitched up on my doorstep with his pistols, leaving me without option except to learn something . . . and learn I did! What John had were totally custom pistols made on Seville or EI Dorado single-action frames. The cylinders were made from scratch, of specially heat-treated steel, with a length and diameter exceeding anything I had seen before. The cylinder completely fills the frame fore and aft, eliminating the weak barrel extension inside the frame. The barrel is unique, with the correct bore and a custom slow twist to maximize the efficiency of the .45 Colt cartridge case, loaded to .44 Magnum pressure levels. The magic is that the gun is not a physical monster as it weighs in at just a few ounces more than my Model 29s, and is just slightly larger externally. It is in fact a very wearable six-shooter.

The loads I fired during my first session with the pistols were 310-grain cast Keith bullets from NEI moulds, and some 250-grain jacketed ones. In shooting both close and long-range targets, and firing over the chronograph, it became apparent that heavy bullets were the way to go. The 310-grain bullets, although a bit slower, ate the little 250s alive at the longer ranges, and in my opinion would be far superior penetrators and bone choppers. I was amazed that day over a year ago, but the technology has just begun. The velocities with the 310-grain bullets were still higher than I felt necessary. Applying what Elmer had taught me over the years about handgun bullets, it seemed that bigger would be better. Using this line I used the Keith bullet design principles, three equal driving bands, a big grease groove and a deep heavy front shoulder for accuracy and hole-cutting capability. The results are what I feel ar the ultimate bullets for these pistols.

At the end of that first shooting session I almost threw John back in his car, followed by a handful of dollars and an EI Dorado frame with instructions to immediately begin making my pistol with a 5-1/2-inch barrel. While the gun was being completed, the work with Walt Melander of NEI on the bullet moulds was set in motion. The results were the usual beautiful NEI workmanship, and bullets with my alloy weighing 345 grains and 370 grains. The pistol and moulds arrived at nearly the same time, so my waiting like a cat on a hot tin roof was over and the shooting could begin. Ron Reiber of Hornady kindly agreed to do the load development and pressure work for me, while I worked on this end with load development for my pistol. It was immediately apparent that bigger was indeed better. My long, heavy bullets gave astounding accuracy, penetration and long-range performance in a "normal" sixgun that I am deeply sad Elmer Keither can't see and put to work. Next to it, the .44 Magnum does seem insignificant. Another plus to the package is that the necessarily heavy recoil is quite tame in the big single-action frame.

The velocity figures that Hornady provided were equally impressive. The loads were assembled using only Federal .45 Colt cases and Federal primers loaded to .44 Magnum pressure levels. The velocities from the 5-1/2-inch pressure barrel were as follows: 250-gr. Hornady JSP, 1,587 fps; 310-gr. NEI cast, 1,357 fps; 345-gr. NEI cast, 1,289 fps; and 370-gr. NEI cast, 1,235 fps. Now just look at that magnificent 370-grain bullet in the little short barrel. Its horsepower is getting very close to the old .45 caliber rifle cartridges! Even closer to home is its relationship to the .44 Magnum loads that I have been using for years in my four-inch Model 29s with the 250-grain Keith bullets moving 1,200 fps. The .45 load in the Linebaugh pistol is throwing a whopping 67 percent increase in bullet weight at the same velocity! Remember, you don't need wheels under, or a sling on, the gun to carry it. It is true that we can exceed the muzzle energy of the heavyweight bullets with light ones at very high velocities, but where big game is concerned I think the discussion of bullet weight vs. velocity has been taken too far, even where we can argue about velocities over 3,000 fsp. In handguns where extreme velocity of reasonable bullet weights (those over 200 grains) is around 2,000 fps, the argument becomes totally overwhelming in favor of a heavy bullet. You just aren't going to get a handgun bullet going fast enough to shock the life out of anything over 100 pounds . . . actually I don't really believe it works with rifles! So here we are, with almost 400 grains of lead moving at the accepted magnum velocity of 1,200 fps. In initial testing the penetration of hard lead bullets is everything one could hope for, enough to break both shoulders on 1,000-pound animals with room to space. My revolver is getting ready for a tour of the big game of Africa and North America; stay tuned and I'll give you a report this fall.

As I said before, the bullets and loads can only be used in the pistols custom-made by John Linebaugh, and the use of such loadings should never be attempted in any ordinary .45 Colt handgun. Should you feel that you need the ultimate hunting handgun, locate a Seville frame, or more likely the whole pistol, and contact John Linebaugh, Box 1263, Cody, WY 82414. The cost of the conversion is $695, about the same as a full house PPC or combat pistol. You will get a new barrel, a very special made-from-scratch cylinder, and a very crisp, clean smooth action job. The pistol is individually shot and tested, as well as being proof-fired with loads well in excess of the working loads. For further information on the Seville pistols, contact U.S. Sporting Arms, 2021 East 14th Street, Tucson, AZ 85719. PACHMAYER TRIGGER

High quality trigger jobs on the Colt autos are probably the rarest commodity in gunsmithing. You can count the masters of the colt trigger in the entire world on the fingers of your hands. From this you can see that there just isn't any device or part that will make an instant quality trigger on the pistol. This is the case with the new synthetic trigger from Pachmayr, but it is one of the very important links in the chain that will allow a master smith to turn out a first-class trigger pull for you. It is my opinion that a trigger pull on the Colts isn't to be classed as masters' work until it gets int he realm of three pounds or less, with absolute reliability. It can and is done regularly by a few men, and to accomplish this a very lightweight trigger drawbar assembly is essintial. In the Colt the trigger is a free-floating part, literally without mechanical connection to the sear and hammer. By the nature of this design the mass of the trigger literally slaps back and forth during the recoil cycle of the pistol. If the trigger is heavy its inertia creates a considerable force when it slaps back and forth. This pounding of the trigger assembly literally shakes the sear from its bent in the hammer notch, causing the hammer to fall to half cock. Now of course with the four-pound triggers, if they are done at any skill level at all, the problem doesn't exist, but in the lightweight pulls it becomes very critical. The past tools for the gunsmith were to lighten the existing triggers by discounting the steel ones altogether and concentrating on aluminum. By drilling holes and skeletonzing in other ways, the weight could be lowered to a useful level, but it was a lot of work.

The Pachmayer concept is to make the heaviest part of the trigger--the part that you touch with your finger--out of synthetic material. This material appears to be black nylon or something similar, and it is very lightweight.

The other physical aspect of the trigger that is important is how it lends itself to the shootability of the pistol. If you are familiar with the usual Colt triggers you know that there is considerable slop in the trigger, both up and down as well as left and right. While it is possible to shoot consistently with such a setup, as your rate of fire increases to extreme speed it becomes more and more difficult to maintain consistency with this play present. The Pachmayr trigger has little pads molded into it, so that as it's manufactured it won't fit into the frame. These pads are dressed down by the gunsmith until a perfect fit results, and you have a trigger virtually without play. These little pads also reduce the contact area on the frame, reducing friction and making a lighter pull possible. A work of caution for you to carry to your gunsmith, and for you to observe yourself; the synthetic will expand when it gets hot. If the initial fit is too tight it will bind when it gets very hot. To test this, lay your pistol in the sun on the dash of your car and let it get almost too hot to touch. At this point the trigger should still float absolutely freely in the frame . . . it should fall out of the frame under its own weight, if the pistol were disassembled. Once it passes this test you're okay.

My one complaint with this trigger, or at least my sample, is that the metal bow is of very soft steel, with almost no spring. It will work all right, but when you take the pistol apart you must be careful not to bend this bow. Its shape and fit in the frame are quite critical. If it should be bent it could cause the trigger to bind, not returning, or it might be physically shortened so that the overtravel stop would be effectively too long, preventing the pistol from firing. For this and all other triggers it is wise not to set the overtravel stops too tight. I would much rather have a bit of overtravel than a pistol that won't fire.

Finally, please don't write and ask me to tell you who you should have do your super-light trigger. I simply cannot do that, for when I do and your trigger doesn't suit you, I become the whipping boy, and I don't need the grief. The trigger will be available from gunsmiths and fine retailers of Pachmayr products.
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Title Annotation:Linebaugh conversions, Pachmayr trigger
Author:Seyfried, Ross
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:Jun 1, 1984
Previous Article:Gun-e-sack.
Next Article:1984 ... is Big Brother here?

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