The NEW .825 G&S Online Express Magnum

By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff

.825 Magnum cartridges
From left: .44 Mag, .825 Std, .825 Premium, .357 Mag.

Given the dearth of new big bore hunting pistol cartridges in recent years, we at Guns and Shooting Online felt that it was time that we became proactive in order to jump start the market. Wimpy efforts such as the .475 Linebaugh and .500 S&W may be okay for mouse guns and girley men, but real men need a new cartridge into which we can sink our teeth.

Our cartridge design team spent months surveying the market and concluded that the new cartridge should be between .800 and .850 caliber. This is because big game has, undeniably, become progressively harder to kill during the last century.

Perhaps a brief handgun cartridge history can best illustrate the point. From the last quarter of the 19th Century through the first quarter of the 20th Century, standard revolver cartridges such as the .45 Long Colt (the "world's most powerful revolver cartridge" at that time) and the relatively flat shooting .38 Special High Speed (loaded to maximum average pressures--MAP--up to about 20,000 psi) were considered to be all that was required for any handgun purpose afield. However, by the mid-1920s game had gotten harder to kill and the standard velocity handgun cartridges were no longer sufficient for the task, even at very close range.

The first magnum handgun cartridge, the .357 Magnum, was therefore introduced in 1935 to shift the balance of power back to the handgun hunter. For at time, it did. At the time of its introduction the .357, loaded to the previously unheard of (for a handgun) MAP of about 43,000 psi, was the most powerful handgun cartridge in the world. It was loaded with a 158 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 1550 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 845 ft. lbs. The .357 was used to bag all North American big game, including elk, moose and the great bears, before the beginning of the Second World War. Big game was still relatively weak in that bygone era, so practically no one felt any need for a more powerful handgun hunting cartridge.

However, by the end of World War II wild game was becoming too tough for the .357 Magnum. Elk and moose were becoming impervious even to perfectly placed .357" bullets. (Today, of course, we all know that even the smallest deer have become completely immune to .357 Magnum bullets.) Experiments to again redress the balance of killing power were underway in earnest by 1950 and in 1956 the result, the .44 Remington Magnum, was born.

This new cartridge, billed as the world's most powerful handgun cartridge, was standardized at a MAP of 36,000 psi. The original loads drove a 240 grain bullet at a MV of 1470 fps with ME of 1150 ft. lbs. The .44 Mag. was used to kill all manner of heavy game, such as elk, moose and the great bears; it did so with authority. All across North America hunters heaved sighs of relief. Protected by a .44 Magnum revolver, it was once again safe to venture into the woods.

Unfortunately, that happy state of affairs only lasted until the 1970s. By that time elk and moose had begun to shrug off solid hits by .429" (.44 Mag.) bullets. In desperation, some handgun hunters began carrying crystals for protection in the field and storing their .44 Magnum ammunition inside pyramids specially constructed for the purpose. (A secondary benefit of the latter practice came to light when it was discovered that these pyramid shapes also sharpened razor blades.)

Others sought safety in the magic properties of the .45 caliber bullet and traditional .45 Long Colt cartridge, loaded to pressures far in excess of the SAAMI standardized 14,000 psi. Cultists, of course, have long recognized the .45 as possessing killing power completely out of proportion to the scientific reality of its cross-sectional area, sectional density and available kinetic energy. Wildlife had the last laugh, however, as the inevitable results of such experiments were far more missing fingers and blown-up revolvers than injured animals.

A stop gap measure was Dick Casull's .454 Casull revolver cartridge, a sort of super Long Colt, introduced as the most powerful revolver cartridge in the world. Markedly more powerful than the .44 Magnum, the .454 drove a 300 grain bullet at a MV of 1650 fps and ME of 1478 ft. lbs. The .454 brought temporary relief during the 1980s. However, by the time of its standardization by SAAMI in 1998 at a MAP of 65,000 psi, big game animals had already become too tough to be killed by mere .454" bullets.

John Linebaugh stepped up to the plate with his .475 Linebaugh, the "worlds most powerful revolver cartridge" of the 1990s. Offering a modest increase in killing power over the .454 Casull, the .475 Linebaugh drives its heavier 400 grain bullet at a MV of 1300 fps with ME of 1501 ft. lbs. However, the .475 Linebaugh is a cartridge whose time has already come and gone.

By the turn of the 21st Century, the .475 Linebaugh was no longer sufficient to kill, or even dissuade, heavy North American game. In an effort to bolster their tattered corporate image (and financial bottom line), Smith & Wesson courageously offered up their .500 S&W Magnum in 2003. This cartridge, for which a new, larger revolver had to be designed (sadly, based on the same antiquated S&W lock work), drives a 400 grain bullet at a MV of 1625 fps and ME of 2346 ft. lbs. It is pegged at a MAP of around 50,000 psi.

In 2005, a panicky Smith & Wesson introduced the higher velocity .460 S&W Magnum (300 grain bullet, MV 1750 fps, ME 2041 fps) on the same case to augment their .500, but the handwriting is already on the wall for the big S&W revolver cartridges: North American game is becoming immune to them!

As can clearly be seen from the forgoing history, the pace of big game indestructibility is quickening. It is no longer a secret that elk, shot by high power rifle bullets and once thought to be stone dead, are re-awakening. (A conspiracy by PETA and other animal rights groups may be responsible for this; an undercover Guns and Shooting Online investigation into this possibility is underway.) The .30-06 rifle cartridge is now considered marginal for killing elk and is close to becoming totally inadequate. See Bruce Rutherford's interesting article "Adequate Elk Cartridges," which can be found on the Ammunition and Cartridge Articles index of the Rifle Information Page for more on this subject.

An increase in bore diameter of a measly 0.01" to 0.05" is simply inadequate to keep pace with the rapidly accelerating indestructibility of big game animals. That is why, as a public service to our readers, Guns and Shooting Online has developed the .825 G&S Online Express Magnum cartridge. Proportionally similar to the .44 Remington Magnum in shape (see the photo at the top of this article), the .825 could be described as a .44 Magnum on steroids--lots of steroids!

We at Guns and Shooting Online refuse to be victims of big game animal indestructibility! The .825 G&S Online Express Magnum, with an actual bullet diameter of .823", provides a realistic 0.323" increase in bore diameter to kill elk and other North American big game animals and keep them dead. This is the cartridge that separates the girley men from the real men.

The new .825 is based on a rimmed, straight sided case. Here are the .825's vital measurements:

  • Bullet diameter - .823"
  • Case material- "High tension" steel
  • Maximum case length - 2.2105" (nominal case length 2.210")
  • Rim diameter - 0.925"
  • Rim thickness - 0.095"
  • Head diameter - 0.865"
  • Neck diameter - 0.860"
  • Overall cartridge length - 2.850"
  • Barrel twist - 1 turn in 18"
  • Primer type - Large Rifle Magnum
  • Maximum average pressure - 82,500 psi

All .825 cases are being made of what is known in the steel industry as high tension alloy (or mild) steel. Steel cases are required because the operating pressure of the new cartridge would melt brass cases.

The new 750 grain bullets developed specifically for the .825 G&S Online Express Magnum have ballistic coefficients of 0.180 and sectional densities of 0.158. One of these new bullets is a lead core, fully-jacketed hollow point (JHP) design. The Premium bullet is made from gilding metal with a depleted uranium core and a cup point (CP). It is designed for deep penetration and virtually 100% weight retention in any creature up to and including a T-Rex.

There will be two initial .825 G&S Online Express Magnum loads. The "Standard" (or medium velocity) load will drive the 750 grain JHP bullet at a MV of 1280 fps for a ME of 2724 ft. lbs. It is hoped that this load will suffice for hunting the smaller species of CXP2 game. It can also serve as a mild practice load. The standard load can be recognized by its brass-plated case.

The "Premium" (full power) load drives the 750 grain CP bullet at a MV of 1610 fps and ME of 4300 ft. lbs. This is power on a par with elephant rifle cartridges and it is hoped that the Premium .825 G&S Online Express Magnum load will serve to keep elk shot with it dead for years to come. The .825 Premium load can be recognized by its nickel-plated case. The ballistics of both loads were measured in a 10" vented test barrel.

Of course, a new gun is required for the .825 G&S Online Magnum cartridge. It is far to large--and too powerful--for the puny Smith and Wesson "X" frame revolvers developed for the .460 and .500 S&W Magnum cartridges.

The Guns and Shooting Online Technical Department is developing an innovative new revolver based on the 9-lug Weatherby Mark V action. Despite certain minor pre-production snags, development is proceeding. The new revolvers, as well as factory loaded .825 Mag. ammunition, will be sold exclusively though the Guns and Shooting Online Store.

Preliminary testing of the new cartridge has been conducted using a single shot, closed-breech pistol with a 10" barrel and has yielded excellent accuracy results. 5-shot groups have averaged 0.1 MOA, with the largest 100 yard group measuring only 1/2", regardless of who on the Guns and Shooting Online staff has done the shooting. Seldom, outside of the pages of print magazines, has the shooting world seen such a consistently accurate cartridge.

Early on we were afraid that recoil might be an issue for some individuals, but this has not been the case. We consider the recoil to be "not unpleasant." We consulted Charles Atlas (through a medium) and he reported that the .825 pistol was "surprisingly controllable." In any case, there are no wimps on the Guns and Shooting Online staff. Shooting the .825 Express magnum has been described as, "a piece of day-old cake." Comments like, "I can't wait to get this pesky cast off my wrist so that I can shoot it again!" were common.

Calculated recoil in our 5.25 pound test pistol amounts to only 92.9 ft. lbs. for the Standard (1280 fps) load and a somewhat more interesting 125.6 ft. lbs. for the Premium (1610 fps) load. We feel that any experienced handgunner with hair on his or her chest should be able to handle that level of recoil energy without complaint. After all, recoil is what puts the kick in shooting!

This, then, is the .825 G&S Online Express Magnum cartridge, the most powerful handgun cartridge in the world. Not available in stores.

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