November 28, 2011
Magnum Research BFR 30-30 Winchester
From the 06-01-2003 Issue of Gun Tests
Model Name:BFR .30-30 Winchester
Manufacturer:Magnum Research Inc.
Model Number:30-30 Winchester
Even for those who think rifle calibers are to be shouldered and handguns are to be fired offhand, this BFR has some appeal.
The Magnum Research BFR .30-30 Winchester, $999, was a custom product offered by gunsmith Jim Tertin, and isn't available through Magnum Research itself. When the Gun Tests staff tested the Magnum Research BFR in .30-30 Winchester, they had a big gun in a well-known rifle cartridge. In terms of mechanical fit, they found both the BFR to be flawless. Lockup was sound and sure and stayed that way even under the pressure of powerful shots. They did experience a build up of debris inside the chambers that made inserting fresh rounds stubborn after a few shots. But they thought this is one of the drawbacks inherent in this class of revolver.
The staffers were impressed with the trigger, which broke consistently at 4.5 pounds. The round cylinder on the custom-shop .30-30 was 3 inches long, seated inside a flat-topped frame, with the cylinder rod held in place by a screw. Unlike many revolvers that anchor this point with spring releases or push buttons, this adds needed strength to this revolver. There is no loading notch. Open the loading gate, and the cylinder is free to turn, but the hammer cannot be pulled back.
The BFR uses a transfer bar in the ignition system. Pull the hammer back and the bar, a flat piece of steel, rises to cover the end of the firing pin. Pressing the trigger lets the hammer fly forward and strike the transfer bar, which in turn hits the firing pin. If you want to return to the hammer-down position without firing, you first hold the hammer back with the thumb and press the trigger briefly to release the hammer. Once the hammer is free, removing the finger from the trigger will drop the transfer bar. As you let the hammer down with your thumb, you will see that the space cut away in the hammer face for the transfer bar is now empty and the firing pin can't be struck by the hammer.
At the range they found the simple open sights to be more than adequate for 50-yard shots. The rear unit seems small and plain, but it is easily adjusted for both windage and elevation. The front sight blade is a quick-change (one-screw) assembly, and different blade heights will make the biggest difference in elevation point of impact. Because they could not find ammunition with heavier or lighter bullets, this was not necessary.
The holes this gun left in the test targets gave them new respect for this gun and caliber. This BFR didn't seem to have any problem launching cannon ball after cannon ball into groups consistently measuring between 2.5 and 2.9 inches. Heat didn't seem to bother its operation. In this case, accuracy was primarily a product of a consistent grip. With a good scope, this would make a fine 100-yard hunting handgun. But your strength and endurance had better be ahead of your shooting skill. This gun will pound you.
They said they were not exactly sure why the .30-30 BFR had an unfluted cylinder when the cartridges it holds are much thinner than the
The straight-walled .444 Marlin towers over the "little" .454 Casull, another well-known powerhouse. They are flanked by .30-30 Winchester, one of the oldest rifle cartridges, and by the .17 HMR, one of the newest.
.444 Marlin rounds, but this is one way to distinguish between the two models.
Another way is to look at the muzzle. The barrel wall on the .30-30 is approximately 0.07 inch thicker. The bore looks almost tiny compared to the muzzle of a .444 Marlin BFR. The result is that the .30-30 Winchester model is more muzzle heavy. Even though the difference in weight between the two guns is small, the testers could tell which one they were handling with eyes closed. They thought the extra weight up front contributed to controlling this weapon. Whereas this gun would be a handful, only the hottest loads came close to making the gun hard to handle. Spectators also enjoyed a session with the .30-30, partly because the BFR produced some impressive flashes from the muzzle. Shooters also got to hear more than a few concealed-carry jokes that were prompted by the size of our BFRs. Perhaps BFR actually stands for (Paul) Bunyon's Favorite Revolver.
Accuracy from this model was also tops among the BFRs the staff has recently tested. While the .45-70 tested in May managed an average group size of 1.9 inches at 50 yards, this aggregate was shot with only one selection of test rounds. But in .30-30 Winchester, shooters had far more success. Each .30-30 test rounds was capable of sub 2-inch groups. It is reasonable to believe that with the variety of .30-30 ammunition currently on the market, not to mention the wealth of hand-loading data, accuracy could be improved. The smallest single groups were fired with the Remington. Two separate groups measured approximately 1.6 inches. Inside one of these groups shooters measured a three-shot group of 0.4 inch. Within the other 1.6-inch group was a four-shot group measuring just 0.6 inch from center to center. But the Remington Core-Lokt 150-grain soft point was also the least powerful cartridge in our selection. The most powerful rounds shooters fired from the .30-30 produced 1015 foot-pounds. of muzzle energy. This was the Federal 125-grain hollowpoint that landed a 1.8-inch group. Shooters managed an average group measuring 2.3 inches per five shots at 50 yards with this round. Testers were sure there are more powerful .30-30 loads available, but this should be enough for medium size game.
Of all the BFRs, the GT shooters like the .30-30 model the best because you can largely shoot it without complaint. They said if you want a gun as a conversation piece, than you might be better off with the .410 shotshell/.45 Long Colt combination model. In Gun Tests view, the .30-30 is the only one that you might have some success with shooting games like NRA Long Range Pistol Silhouette.