The Magnum Research BFR .454 Casull is one fine handgun
Sometimes, bigger is better, and when it comes to knock-down power, that certainly applies in most hunting situations. I am referring to my newest large-caliber handgun – the Magnum Research BFR in .454 Casull.
Last year I wrote about another handgun in .454 Casull that was very nice – until I shot it in a stand without hearing protection. It was almost like someone stuck ice picks in my ears. The barrel was ported so that the sound was directed back toward me. It hurt my ears so much I almost dropped the gun out of the stand.
After that deafening experience, I had to let that handgun go. It was a shame, because it was very accurate and handled great, but I do not wear hearing protection when I hunt and was not going to experience that much discomfort again.
Later, I decided I had to have another .454 Casull – but this time it would be a non-ported pistol. When the new Magnum Research BFR – which stands for “Big Frame Revolver” and not the words you (and I) were thinking of when we saw the BFR abbreviation – showed up, it was clear that this was the finest revolver I had ever held.
Every part of this gun was precision-machined to very close tolerances, and it fit together as if had been custom-made by hand. It is big enough to handle the big thump you would expect from such a powerful cartridge, yet not too big to need a gun toter or a rest to set it on. And, the barrel is not ported.
As with most firearms that are new to me, I proceeded to familiarize myself with it and remove the cylinder, grips, ejector housing, rod, spring and cylinder pin. (I like to take things apart).
These parts can be easily removed without fear of small parts flying across the room and landing in a spot where they will never be found. I have had that happen on other things I have disassembled, so I limit my disassembly to parts I am absolutely sure about how to re-assemble.
I can remember a reel I once took apart. When I removed the cover plate, one or more parts that must have had some springs involved shot across the room and landed somewhere never to be found again – even after a long search on my hands and knees, armed with a metal detector!
After some inspection and light oiling, all of the parts of the Magnum Research BFR went back together just as they had come off, and the gun still worked. My next step was to measure the cylinder length for my handloads. Unlike a magazine-fed handgun, revolvers can have the ammo loaded right to the end of the cylinder, as long as the bullets do not protrude out of the end of the cylinder.
This means you do not have to conform to the standard OAL (overall length) of the bullet as you might with a magazine-feed handgun. The plus in being able to load ammo longer than the load manual’s stated OAL is that it allows you to play with cartridge length, which sometimes allows you to find a load that is more accurate.
Or, you may be able to shoot a bullet design that is longer than the standard for that caliber without seating so deep as to compress the powder. The cylinder measured 1.750 inches long, so I knew I needed to use a maximum OAL of 1.800.
Looking at these numbers, I realize something may look a little off. But, if you take into consideration the shell’s rim measures 0.053 inches, it gives me a total of 1.803 inches to work with.
I had accumulated several flavors of .454 Casull ammo from the last .454, and I planned to hand load several more using Hornady brass and Hornady 200- and 225-grain FTX bullets. The FTX bullets have a Flex Tip technology that delivers controlled expansion across a broad range of velocities, making these longer than hollow-point or flat-nose bullets.
If you are going to hand load these Hornady FTX bullets, here is a trick you need to know: On your seating die, remove the plunger (the part that contacts the top of the bullet) and replace it with a socket that has a large enough opening that it does not press on the Flex Tip. If you use the plunger that comes with most dies, it will compress the Flex Tip, and the next day the OAL will be a bit longer after the Flex Tip returns to the original length. If you are pushing the OAL to the max, these bullets will be too long for the cylinder to spin, as the Flex Tip will be sticking out of the end of the cylinder just enough to rub on the forcing cone (the part of the barrel that almost touches the cylinder). Or, you can forget about the socket and load one to the max OAL and come back the next day and measure it to see just how much it has grown overnight. Then measure it and adjust your seating die to compensate for the increased length. I have done it both ways, and they both work.
Range Day: I knew I was in for some fun (and punishment to my hand) as I intended to shoot well over 100 rounds. I still remembered how the .45-70 hurt me, so I took a padded shooting glove in hopes that my hand would still work after the punishment it was going to endure from shooting so many big recoil loads.
I had shot several rounds in the back yard with no pain to my hand, but shooting over 100 rounds at one sitting was going to require some extra padding. I also brought a Caldwell Handy Rest, because shooting bags don’t work well with revolvers. The fire that comes out between the cylinder and the barrel will burn a hole in the bag (just ask my hunting buddy Alex).
My first loads – just to sight-in the gun – were some real old bullets that someone had given me. I then proceeded with the newer factory ammo I still had available.
My targets were set up at 25 and 50 yards. My plan was to shoot at the 25-yard target, and if I had a round that was accurate there, I was going to send a few to the 50-yard target.
My first few factory offerings were not very impressive, but I knew this gun, like all guns, was not going to like every load. I was getting 2- to 3-inch groups at 25 yards until I got to the DoubleTap brand. My first DoubleTap load was a 400-grain WFNGC that was traveling at a whopping 1,400 fps. This was more like what I was expecting out of this fine handgun. My groups shrunk to 1.5 inches at 25 yards and 1.75 inches at 50 yards.
The next two loads were Double Tap 325-grain Equalizer Defense and 360-grain WFNGC hard-cast pushing 1,500 fps. These also produced groups in the 1.5-inch size. When I shot the Double Tap 250-grain Barnes XPB, the groups had opened back up to 3-plus inches.
After that I took a break, cleaned the barrel and let it cool off. After a 20-minute cool-down period, I started back up with Winchester Supreme 260-grain and Federal 300-grain Swift A-Frame loads. Both of these produced 3-plus-inch groups. MagTech did not perform any better than the previous two.
Next was Hornady 240- and 300-grain XTP hollow points, which brought me back to the 1-inch groups I was looking for. I shot two flavors of Buffalo Bore, and the one that was the best (2 inches at 25 yards) was the 325-grain LBTLFN, pushing 1,525 fps. The 250-grain Barnes XPB was 3-plus inches.
Once again I cleaned the barrel and let the pistol cool down. It is amazing just how hot the barrel can get after several rounds of firing this powerful ammo. After the cool-down and barrel-cleaning, I went back at it with my handloads, which consisted of Hornady brass, Hornady 200- and 225-grain FTX Flex Tip bullets, Hodgon H-110 powder loaded from 36 to 38 grains and CCI #400 small rifle primers. I had loaded these starting at 36 grains of powder with increments increasing by 1/2 grain with a max load of 38 grains.
All of the bullets were loaded using Hornady dies and all with a stout crimp. My first salvo was the 200-grain Hornady FTX with 36 grains of powder. This was dead-on, with 1.5-inch groups at 25 yards. I continued through the loads all the way up to 38 grains of powder with similar results, but the best was the 225-grain Hornady FTX with 37.0 grains of H-110, which produced groups as close to one hole as you can get at 25 yards and just about one hole at 50 yards.
I had also cooked up some .45 Colt loads with lead bullets that were in the 800 to 900 fps range. What a delight these were to shoot in this fine gun. Most of them were in the 2- to 2.5-inch groups. If I was going to just go plinking with this gun, these would be the loads I would shoot.
After shooting the high-power .454 loads, these Cowboy loads were quiet and almost recoil-free, not to mention I was only burning about half as much powder compared to the .454 loads.
The most accurate loads – which I would have no problem using for hunting – were the DoubleTap 400-grain WFNGC and 360-grain WFNGC hard cast (pushing 1,500 fps), Hornady 300-grain XTP hollow point and my hand loads consisting of Hornady brass and Hornady 225-grain FTX bullets with 37 grains of Hodgon H-110 powder.
All of these produced groups inside 2 inches at 50 yards. With these heavyweight bullets, all moving at 1,400 fps, and delivering more than 1,600 pounds of kinetic energy, I will be able to stop the meanest pig out there.
I ended up shooting 200 rounds through the BFR and was surprised that my hand really was not beat up. The next day it hardly hurt at all. The BFR was a pleasure to shoot, and it will make a fine, accurate gun for my type of hunting.
After I finished at the 50-yard range, I still had several of my most accurate loads that had not yet been fired, so I just had to give the 100-yard target a try. This BFR does not have a scope, and for me to see a target at 100 yards without a scope is a task in itself, but I had to try.
I set up a 10-inch target and very carefully tried to find it in the sights before slowly squeezing the trigger. My first shot was low by about 6 inches, so I made an adjustment and tried again.
With my next shot, I hit the target but was still a little low of the center X. With another small adjustment, I squeezed off another round, and my bullet hit within 2 inches of the X.
After that shot I had a big ol’ grin from ear to ear. I continued until I had shot the remaining 30 rounds and managed to hit a 4-inch circle with all but 4 rounds, which were all just outside of the 4 inches. I think this fine gun could easily be used out to 100 yards or further in the hands of someone that could see better than myself – or if I had a scope mounted. This is an impressively accurate gun.
My Thoughts: In my hand, the BFR seemed lighter than the advertised 3.8 pounds – probably due to the excellent balancing. The soft rubber grip fit my hand and greatly reduced the felt recoil. The trigger pull is crisp with no creep and just right for hunting.
The trigger guard is plenty big enough to get your gloved finger in. The hammer is oversized for easy cocking with or without gloves. It is very accurate. There are no sharp edges and it is very finely tuned and polished. I shot over 200 rounds through it without any failures or hiccups.
On my last outing to the hunting camp, I wore this around my waist all day, and found it to be comfortable, not too heavy and not too long. I will be wearing this during hunting season for those close-up shots and for the two stands I have that might require me to shoot over my right shoulder.
I like it and will keep this pistol. This is a quality made handgun that will last me a lifetime.
The Gun: Magnum Research BFR
MRI’s Big Frame Revolver is truly the biggest, finest revolver on the market today. Entirely manufactured in the US and like the legendary Desert Eagle pistol, it is designed as a magnum from the ground up. The BFR is all stainless and has a cut rifled barrel that delivers unmatched accuracy with lead or jacketed bullets.
The BFR is the most powerful production single-action gun made. With 12 calibers and two frame sizes to choose from, you can take everything from grouse to grizzly.
Model: BFR454C7 Caliber: .454 Casull
Twist Rate 16
Groove Diameter: 0.451
OA Length: 15”
Weight: 3.8 lbs.
Slide Width: 1.75”
Trigger Pull: 3-4 lbs
Finish: Brushed Stainless Steel Construction
Sights: Factory Black Fixed Front / Rear Adjustable
• Shipped with rubber grips and scope mount (Weaver style)
• The .410 shot shell/slug cartridge is not compatible with the .45/70 caliber revolvers. The .45LC/.410 caliber has modified choke and wrench included. The .410 will accept 3” shotgun shells.
• All BFRs are shipped with MRI scope mount (Weaver style) included in packaging (except for .45LC/.410) and are drilled and tapped for installation with screws supplied.
• The BFR is available in the following calibers: .45-70, .480 Ruger/.475 Linebaugh, .450 Marlin, .500 S&W, .50AE, .444 Marlin, .30-30, .45 Colt/.410, .460 S&W, .454 Casull, and .22 Hornet.
• Available barrel lengths range from 6.5 inches to 10 inches, with two barrel lengths usually available in each caliber.
If all firearms were treated as if they were loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings. Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe!
Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”