If I pulled out a box of .375 Winchester ammunition for my new gun, you might ask whether I bought a Winchester Big Bore 94 rifle or a Savage 99 lever-action. That’s where you’d be wrong. My new piece is no rifle at all, but it certainly does fire traditional rifle rounds. Meet the BFR.
The Biggest, Finest Revolver Around
The BFR family is a line of seriously over-built single-action revolvers for hunters and those who wish to punch massive holes in distant targets. We’ve covered them before in earlier versions, but the line continues to expand with calibers, options, and now, a BFR-specific Magnum Research Custom Shop.
These solid stainless wheelguns are intended for hard use in any kind of conditions, including adverse weather in which hunters often find themselves. Magnum Research manufactures versions for all types of shooters, including standard “short cylinder” renditions like the .44 Magnum and .454 Casull; but the bread-and-butter of BFR line centers around what the company calls the “long cylinder” models.
Lots of Love for the Long Cylinders
Though BFRs are not new, there have been some recent design changes, including an upgraded rear sight, as well as minor modifications to both the hammer shape and the grip. Factory produced long cylinder calibers include the .30-30 Win, .444 Marlin, .45-70 Govt, .45 Colt/410 shotgun, .460 S&W, and .500 S&W.
Barrel lengths are available in either 7.5-inches or 10-inch variants with cut rifling. Overall lengths measure 15-inches and 17.5-inches respectively. The finish is a clean, brushed stainless, with solid stainless steel construction. A black fixed front blade and fully adjustable rear come standard, though all BFRs ship with a silver scope base. While some short cylinder revolvers now handle six rounds for 2020, the big-bore rounds fill an unfluted 1.75-inch cylinder.
The BFR is touted by the company as “the most powerful production single-action made” with a dozen calibers on two frame sizes. With our focus on the biggest of the big, the BFR long cylinders retail for $1,302.
Magnum Research Custom Shop
Magnum Research builds some of the most well-recognized pistols on the factory market with its Desert Eagles. There’s now a Custom Shop available for them, as well as the company’s line of Magnum Lite Rimfires as well. The Custom Shop is for those who seek customization and aren’t afraid to pony up the cash for something built by hand specifically for them.
Our BFR in .375 Winchester was built by Custom Shop and to say we’re impressed is an understatement. The process begins at Magnum Research’s new Custom BFR Revolver Builder which, according to the website, “will help you design your ideal BFR Revolver with nearly every option and configuration we offer available to choose from.” After virtually building the revolver of your dreams, you can then save your design by adding it to the cart for either later reference or purchase. The program transparently shows the cost of each upgraded feature over standard.
For instance, look closely at our .375 Win and you’ll see a pentagon cylinder, octagon barrel, color case hardened receiver, and Bisley grip. Though we went for the .375 Win, long cylinder calibers can be had in .300 AAC Blackout, .307 Win, .375×444 Marlin, .375 Win, .38-55 Win, .445 Super Mag, .450 Bushmaster, .450 Marlin, .458 SOCOM, .45-90 Win, and .499 LWR.
In addition to customizing our build aesthetically, we opted to take things one step further. In speaking on the phone with the Custom Shop, we found out they could fit a second cylinder for our revolver in .38-55 Win. As it stands with all the custom options, our one-off wheelgun totaled just over $3,000, no small chunk of change. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of gun built specifically for us, though. No doubt it will go on many hunts, adventures, and range trips before being passed down through the generations. It’s worth mentioning, build time for a Custom BFR is approximately six months.
While the Custom Shop is a fantastic option, it’s certainly not the only way to get the biggest, finest experience in the firearms world. A standard BFR is just as well-built with the same smooth action and attention to detail as its custom counterparts.
Pulling the Trigger on the BFR
We opted for the Bisley grip frame given the stout recoil of the .375 Win round. Though we were a bit tentative about those first shots with a round that kicks in a rifle, the 4.5-pound weight of the revolver, along with the swooping grip shape and sturdy build made recoil more than manageable. In fact, there is little impact on the palm, though the muzzle rise is impressive. Balance in the hand is nice and the 7.5-inch barrel on a long cylinder remains simple enough to carry in a quality holster.
Trigger pull is incredibly crisp for a single-action hunting revolver. Our gun’s trigger broke right at 3-pounds. Another interesting feature on the BFR is the ability of the cylinder to rotate in either direction for ease of loading/unloading.
All the perks need to be backed up with reliability and accuracy, and the BFR shines there as well. We fired a small mix of factory ammunition. In the .375 Win, we went with Winchester 200-grain Power Point and HSM 200-grain Sierra Game King. In .38-55, we used Buffalo Bore 255-grain JFN and Winchester 255-grain Super-X.
With a little practice, we were regularly punching out 2-inch groups at 50 yards. Once we mount a scope, there’s no doubt those groups will improve significantly. These rifle calibers also have the punch to reach out well beyond 100 yards on big game. What stands out most, however, is the smoothness of the firearm. Every moving part goes with the ease of warm butter. Firing this BFR, along with every other Magnum Research BFR, is an empowering treat.
Should You Buy a BFR?
When you first hoist a BFR it’s impossible not to grin at the size, weight, and potential of the revolver. While Magnum Research has planted themselves firmly at the heart of the hunting revolver market with single-actions like the .30-30, .45-70, and .444, they managed to outdo themselves yet again with the Custom Shop. The BFR may be pricey, but they back that cost with the kind of performance and quality that will last for generations.
All BFRs are manufactured entirely in the USA, with headquarters and custom shop work coming out of Pillager, Minnesota.
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