Gun Test

Two decades ago a revolver chambered for the .30/30 rifle cartridge would have been a novelty bordering on the ridiculous. Nowadays, however, we've become so accustomed to ultra-powered handguns that a .30/30 hawgleg seems almost ho-hum, especially when you consider that handguns are also available in such arm-bending bullies as the .45/70. Built along classic single-action lines by Magnum Research, the well respected maker of heavy-caliber pistols, the BFR-.30/30 could be called a Peacemaker on steroids. Everything about the BFR-.30/30 is BIG, from the 10 1/2-inch barrel and 3-inch-long five-shot cylinder to the semi-firm molded grip, which is plenty roomy for a two-handed hold. The gun's total weight is more than 4 pounds.

Overall workmanship of the stainless-steel test sample was in keeping with the high-grade fitting we've seen on other MR pistols we've tested. Its surfaces were smoothly contoured and free of the ripples sometimes apparent in overpolished stainless-steel firearms. The only visible machining marks were on the inside flats of the top and bottom frame straps. The six-groove cut-rifled barrel was of near target-rifle quality and no doubt contributed to the accuracy that was obtained with select loads.

Accuracy testing was done from a benchrest using a two-hand hold over sandbags. The revolver was sighted with a Leupold LER 2.5-8X in Warne QD rings. As is often the case when firing factory-loaded rifle ammo in handguns, accuracy was less than satisfactory, with some groups exceeding 4 inches at 50 yards. Handloads specially developed for the pistol's 10 1/2-inch barrel were another matter, however, with lighter bullets proving particularly accurate. Five 5-shot groups at 50 yards with 110-grain Speer spire-point bullets and 32 grains of H-322 averaged 1.67 inches, with one group measuring just 0.945 inches. All groups were fired with a shot from each of the cylinder's five chambers. With an MV over 2,000 fps, this would be an excellent load for varmint plinking. Another load, with Sierra's 135-grain pointed ProHunter and 32 grains of H-322, was slightly less accurate (1.88 inches) but would be good for game in the pronghorn and whitetail class. For harder punch and good accuracy, Nosler's 165-grain Ballistic Tip with 31 grains of IMR-4895 yields 1,860 fps.

My chief--and just about only--criticism of the sample tested is the trigger pull, which I considered too heavy for the shooting normally done with a specialized handgun of this type. A 3-pound pull would make the gun easier to shoot, thereby improving range performance, and if I had my druthers a 2 1/2-pound pull would be even better. (This would be an easy fix for a good pistolsmith.)

Recoil was surprisingly moderate, no doubt due to the revolver's considerable mass and the lightweight bullets used during most of the testing, but muzzle blast is a bit ferocious. The hand and wrist abuse usually associated with prolonged shooting of sharp-recoiling handguns was considerably eased by wearing Pro-Aim shooting gloves, which both pad the hands and support the wrists with a rigid brace. (www.pro-aim.com)

HOW IT SHOT Test Firearm: Magnum Research BFR-.30/30 Ammo Used: 110-gr. Speer spire points and 32 gr. of H-322 Average Group Size: 1.67 in.*

*Average of 5 five-shot groups at 50 yards

BY THE NUMBERS
Manufacturer:| Magnum Research
Model:| BFR-.30/30
Type:| Revolver
Caliber:| .30/30
Magazine Capacity:| Round cylinder
Weight:| 5 lb. 6 oz.
Finish:| Stainless steel
Stock:| Molded rubber grips
Barrel Length:| 10 1/2 in.
Rate of Twist:| 1 in 10 in. cut-rifled
Overall Length:| 18 in.
Trigger Pull:| 4 lb. 4.4 oz.
Bore finish grading (out of 5):| 4+
Suggested Retail:| $999