Magnum Research BFR in 45-70 Government, I brought enough gun.
My Uncle Larry is an avid hunter, and that is putting it mildly, so he talks often about handgun hunting. That got me to thinking about what sort of handgun would come close to a do all in single handgun. I will be honest, I have hunted but don’t anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against it but I don’t care for getting up early in the morning. I do like to experiment and thought it would be an interesting project for me to work on. I figured since this handgun would be for all sorts of game, I decided on an affordable revolver that would be inexpensive to shoot but with enough quality to hold up for use over the years.
I talked to my Uncle Larry about what cartridges he likes for hunting and he went through the popular centerfire rifle cartridges and then he began talking about the .45-70 Government in an old Springfield Trap Door. I had been eyeing the Magnum Research page and looking at the BFR line, which stands for Big Framed Revolver and they ain’t lying. I have reviewed the Desert Eagle, which you can read about here so I know Magnum Research builds quality handguns. After looking around I settled on the BFR in .45-70 and put in a call with my idea and a test sample. I opted for the ten inch barrel in order to wring every bit of velocity from this cartridge designed for a rifle. Now, I am well aware the .45-70 Government began as a black powder cartridge but since the advent of smokeless propellant the cartridge’s potential has grown exponentially.
It was not long after my request that the test sample came in and, well, wow this is a large revolver. I went over it pretty close and it appears consistent with Magnum Research quality but it would take a trip to the range to see what is what.
Over molded hard rubber stocks with nice checkering on the side. Note how the front of the stock is rolled to the back of the trigger guard. This is key in keeping the trigger guard from banging into your middle finger during recoil. After the test was over, the trigger broke clean at a cat hair over five pounds with no take up and little overtravel.
The rear sight is blade type adjustable for elevation and windage. They were right on at twenty five yards from the box. On a working gun such as this I would not mind a fixed sight option. Adjustable sights are a bit more fragile than fixed, though I did not lose my zero throughout the review.
The prominent front sight, for target work I might have added some color to the front blade. With that said, I had no issues with getting the sights on target.
Here you see the five shot cylinder, in front is the ejector rod. The hammer was easily cocked and fell with authority. The cylinder rotates clockwise.
The cylinder was unlocked by opening the loading gate and you do not have to half cock the hammer. To me this is a great improvement on a single action revolver. Though they are slow to load, this did speed up the process a bit.
The BFR has a transfer bar safety that allows you to keep the hammer down on a loaded chamber safely. Another great improvement on the single action handgun.
The Magnum Research is an attractive revolver that is well built.
The BFR is shipped with the top strap drilled and tapped and it also includes a stainless steel scope mount. The scope mount requires you to remove the rear sight to install, and that concerns me. If you had an optic mounted and it went down, you would be left without a rear sight unless you thought to bring it with you. Still for Magnum Research to include a mount is a nice touch.
Initial Range Trip
The local Gander Mountain set me up with some test ammo, Remington 405gr jacketed soft point. Now .45-70 has a few levels of threshold pressure, the lowest being loaded for the original Trap Door Springfield, which compared to newer rifles is pretty weak. The next level of pressure was designed to shoot in the Marlin 1895 lever rifle which is quite a bit stronger than the Springfield Trap Door, and finally the Ruger #1 Rifle which is the strongest of the three. I started out the review with the Remington ammo and as far as recoil it was about .44 Magnum levels. I expect the handgun weighing in at almost five pounds has a lot to do with that. The revolver was very accurate out of the box, but holding it at arms length for extended times can be a bit challenging. The next day I put in a call to Double Tap Ammunition for some of their developed .45-70 to see how this revolver will do with some technology added to the ammunition.
Second Range Trip
Accuracy Chart, 3 shots at 25 yards from a rest.
Ballistic test comparing the BFR to the Marlin with a 22 inch barrel.
From left to right Federal 300gr JHP, Winchester 300gr JHP and Double Tap Ammunition 300gr JHP. The top row was from the rifle and the bottom row is the BFR
The .45-70 is a viable cartridge in the BFR and here is the data to back that up.
After all the dust cleared we had about 150 rounds through the BFR, and as expected as any well made single action revolver, there were no issues. This revolver, or any of the BFRs would serve well as a hunting sidearm, especially is your rifle and handgun were in the same caliber as to reduce ammunition load and logistics. I know several people who prefer handgun hunting and this would also be an area where this revolver would be right at home. For obvious reasons, unless you live near dinosaurs or bigfoot, this would not be ideal for home defense. It is very powerful and loud as all get out, so touching this cannon off in an enclosed room would be tough on the ole hammer, anvil, and stirrup. That is an anatomy reference by the way and yes I had to look up the names of the ear bones. Now if you hiked and camped in the deep woods I could see the BFR is an excellent medicine against four and two legged predators that you may encounter. Being made of stainless steel, it is durable and lower maintenance than carbon steel but at four and three quarters pounds you would need to keep that in mind when determining the load you want to bear. Magnum Research offers this revolver in many calibers and barrel lengths so you can pick which one suits your needs best and they are all built to the same quality standards. As far as the .45-70 goes, well it is really almost a .46 caliber at .458″ so if you decide to reload and cast for this caliber please keep that in mind. As said above the “safe for all firearms” ammunition did not produce the velocities of the “not safe for Springfield Trapdoor rifles” but that ammunition did well in the ballistic gel and was easy to shoot and practice with. The HSM 430gr +P .45-70 was very impressive bringing the BFR to 500 S&W energies, but that ammunition is punishing to shoot. The Double Tap Ammunition seemed a very happy medium, surpassing the original .45-70 ammunition but nowhere near as punishing as the HSM 430gr. Double Tap offers several options for the .45-70 so you can tailor the ammunition for what you will need the revolver for. The versatility of this caliber is what makes it so attractive. You can use the inexpensive ammunition that is easier to shoot to become proficient with this handgun and step up to several different levels when you really need a tremendous amount of energy. All in all I am very satisfied on how this revolver performed, proving to be reliable and accurate. With a little practice it is not tough to shoot well and certainly draws plenty of attention at the range. Magnum Research did very well by bringing such a powerful and versatile handgun to the needs to the folks who love big guns, myself being one.
Specifications on all the BFR Revolvers
|Models||BFR30/30||BFR444M||BFR45Colt/410, BFR45Colt/4105||BFR45/70, BFR45/70||BFR450M||BFR460SW10, BFR460SW7||BFR500SW10, BFR500SW7|
|Calibers||.30/30 Win.||.444 Marlin||.45 Long Colt/.410||.45/70 Gov’t||.450 Marlin||.460 S&W Magnum||.500 S&W Magnum|
|Weight||5.3 lbs||4.8 lbs||4.5 lbs||4.3 lbs||4.7 lbs||4.3 lbs||4.7 lbs||4.7 lbs||4.3 lbs||4.7 lbs||4.5 lbs|
|Trigger Pull||3~4 lbs|
|Finish||Brushed Stainless Steel Construction|
|Sights||Factory Black Fixed Front / Rear Adjustable|