Yeti

My new Bear Medicine: a .460 Rowland in a Kimber 6-inch Longslide

Cav1

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
231
Location
Central Montana
1989: I celebrate my 21st birthday by buying in pawn shops outside of Fort Knox, KY a real Dirty Harry 6-inch blued Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver and a 1911A1-ish (Colt slide on a Spanish frame) .45 automatic. Oh sure, I might have had a couple of .22 revolvers before that, but they didn't count as real guns. I have had the Smith and the Colt(ish) ever since.

In all that time I didn't shoot the 6-inch S&W Model 29, and later a 4-inch 629, in double action hardly at all. It was all, later including a pistol scope, mulie and whitetail hunting in weapons restricted areas, deliberately aimed single-action shooting. The only time I shot the 4-inch 629 for keeps and on double-action was while fishing in rattlesnake country. I gotta say those CCI .44 Mag shot loads are about like hitting a snake with a .410 shotgun at 6-10 foot range. But when I started hunting the Unlimited Bighorn districts in Montana (just a big blank spot on the map marked "Here there be dragons.") what with all the grizzly bears that infest that country, and their mistaken belief about their real position in the foodchain after 60 years of Federal protection, I figured I should get serious about shooting my double-action Smith .44 revolvers.

I went right to the source, or Force, and consulted the Jedi of the Sixgun: Elmer Keith, Bill Jordan, Ed McGivern. I worked on this for about a half a year. I did thousands of dry-fire drills, with Snap-Caps, often with a dime balanced on the barrel flat. I went through many hundreds of Bill Jordan's short-range wax-wad loads (.44 Special case, primer hole drilled out, with just a large primer and a wad of parrafin wax pressed into the neck). Not to mention a whole lot of live ammo, mostly reloads but some factory bear fodder like the Federal and Buffalo Bore hardcast. I eventually came to the conclusion that I could shoot a double-action revolver accurately (single-action) or fast (double-action), but not both. Every now and again I would turn in an absolutely fabulous fast double-action group, but it took a lot of work and I couldn't do it consistently or at will. I still wonder why US law enforcement clung to the double-action revolver up into the 80's when we had John Moses Browning's masterpiece since 1911. See Stephen Hunter's American Gunfight. I think the real answer lies in that there are so many gun ignorant folks who are just horrified by a 1911 carried cocked and locked, as it should be. That hammer being back just looks so dangerous, never mind the two separate safeties. Anyway, one day after a particularly bad performance with the 4-inch 629, I brought out the old Colt 1911A1 and put nine rounds (8-round Wilson mags) into an excellent group in much less time than I could fire a bad 6-shot group with the Smith.

Well, that got me looking into the .45 Super. Eventually, I bought and did all the modifications to a Remington R-1 1911, including a muzzle brake, and had a great deal of fun getting my Rim Rock 250-grain hardcast RNFP .45 Super loads up to 1,120 fps, as hot as I wanted to go in a 1911. As much as it pains me to admit it, you can go hotter in "Tactical Tupperware", aka the Glock, with .45 Super brass and the Glock's supported barrel.

As much fun as I had with the .45 Super, and I loaded the hell out of it for about a year, the .460 Rowland still piqued my interest. The same bullet at 1,300 fps. Eventually, I broke down and bought a Kimber 6-inch Longslide in .460 Rowland. My timing was worse than usual, i.e. I bought it right after the 2020 election and just as the Great Biden Guns & Ammo Famine began. Rowland was having a hard time finding a Kimber Longslide to convert. Hell, I had my .308" 212-grain Hornday ELD-Xs back-ordered for well over a year to get them. It got considerably harder for Rowland when Kimber (wisely and good for them!) moved their whole pistol works from heavily-regulated and taxed anti-gun New York state to "We love guns! Ya'll come on in!" Alabama. So, it took a bit longer than any of us hoped for me to get my Longslide .460, but I finally did.

I've had it for a couple of months now and I'm happy as a gopher in soft dirt with it, although I do need to get the taller Kimber front sight. I mean, it was meant for a .45 ACP at 830 fps, so even with the rear sight bottomed out I'm about 3 inches high at 25 yards with 250-grain factory ammo. The Rowland factory ammo is advertised as 1,250 fps on the box, but out of that 6-inch Longslide the first ten rounds averaged 1,290 fps. I've been working mainly on Rim Rock 250-grain RNFP loads and some of their 255-grain "Keith" hardcast SWCs with Power Pistol, which works great in the .45 Super as well as the .460 Rowland, and with Accurate #7. The latter is supposed to be a low-flash powder so you don't dazzle yourself with your own muzzle blast if Mr. Griz comes into camp at oh-dark-thirty. Got some really nice groups around 2" at 25 yards with AA#7; now just chasing velocity to see if the groups hold up beyond 1,200 fps. The Rowland and Buffalo .460 bear loads note that they use low-flash powder. The .460 Rowland case is only like 1mm longer than a .45 ACP, just so you can't chamber it in Grandpa's old Postal Guard Colt 1911, but with pistol loads even a few tenths of a grain can make quite a difference. I also got some Hunter's 275-grain hardcast flatpoints I've started to load. There are guys who've loaded 300-grain Beartooth hardcast in the .460 Rowland.

All I can say is I'm pretty happy with the whole set-up so far. After the first range session, I did replace the Kimber's rosewood grips with wrap-around rubber Hogue grips. You are aware you're firing a pistol with considerably more snort to it than a .45 ACP, but the the extra meat and length of the Longslide makes everything work well and you're back on target pretty quick. If you convert a standard 5-inch 1911, a muzzle brake is pretty much mandatory. The Kimber Longslide is actually the same overall length as my .45 Super-modded R-1 with its brake.

Finding a holster for a 6-inch 1911 was problematic. I'm not a leather worker, nor do I play one on television, but I was able to buy some leather scraps from a local saddle-maker and, using a pattern I found on-line, make a modified M1916 style USGI holster with just my Awl for Awl. I wanted it in drop-leg length so it would always be one me, on my belt, at least as long as I have pants on anyway, and not on my pack or web gear when I needed it. I also wanted a full-flap USGI rig. In the mountains, weapon retention is my number one priority, plus open-topped holsters tend to end up full of pine needles and dirt and shit. It wasn't strictly necessary, but Volkommen Enterprises up in Great Falls makes a U.S. military cartouche leather stamp as well as a crossed-saber emblem than an old 19D could not pass up. FWIW, I finally figured out the strap that does around the leg on a drop-leg style holster shoulder be secured at a high level on the back of the holster, as with the M1912/M1916 GI patterns. If it's secured too low, it ends up slipping down below your knee while you're walking, and that's a PITA.


IMG_0526.JPG
I ain't saying it's perfect or quite a potent as a 300-grain .44 Magnum, but it's really done good by me so far. I would rather put eight 250-grain bullets right where I want them than six 300-grain slugs spread out all over the place like a shotgun pattern. A factory .460 Buffalo Bore 255-grain hardcast RNFP at 1,300 fps still delivers about 957 foot-pounds of energy and just scratches about 21 on John "Pondoro" Taylor's Knock-Out scale. It's hard to believe, but Elmer Keith and Ray Chandler and others proved that a big, heavy, hardcast Keith-style pistol bullet like this, even from the elderly .45 Long Colt, will penetrate deeper into the thick hide, ropes of muscle, and heavy bones of a grizzly bear at 25 yards than any of the high-stepping .300 Magnum rifle cartridges, mainly because at these minimal self-defense ranges the Magnum rifle bullets are just moving too fast for their bullet jacket design to hold up and retain mass and momentum.

The big, solid, hardcast pistol bullets deliver at these short ranges. You don't want a hollowpoint; that's for frail 2-legged varmints. When Remington first introduced the truncated cone Yellow Jacket high velocity .22 hollowpoint, we shot raccoons between the eyes only to have them hit the ground fighting the dogs. The hollowpoints often mushroomed inside the hide but outside the skull. If you farm hogs, an injured one will be torn apart by the healthy ones. Once, one of my Dad's feeder pigs nearing 250 pounds broke its leg somehow. To put it down, I grabbed a 2-inch snubbie .38 Special Smith I had in my truck. I shot that hog at about 10-15 feet range, right between the eyes, with a 125-grain JHP factory load. It ran away squealing. Dad had to put it down with a .22 LR right behind the eat. So, when it comes to large, ornery critters, big, heavy, fat, solid, hardcast pistol boolits good, big, heavy, fat, solid hardcast pistol boolits our friend.

No matter how you slice it, though, just like a Dirty Harry N-frame hogleg or the even more massive big bore .460 or .500 Smiths these days, even a .460 1911A1 is still another 2-1/2 pounds to schlep around. But you never heard any real complaints about the .45 ACP, no matter how heavy, from WWII or Korea.

I just thought I would share my experience, FWIW, for those who always wished there was an alternative to the double-action big-bore revolver. I once ran into a guy carrying a 10-inch, scoped S&W .500 Mag on its own sling. If your pistol requires a sling rather than a holster, it's not really a "handgun" anymore and you might as well just carry a big-bore carbine.
 

geetar

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
3,269
Location
North Carolina
That is one nasty piece of bear medicine right there. Can’t wait to see it in person. I agree with Blueridge This is a quality post.
 

Steve O

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
256
Location
Michigan
I build a Rowland on a Ruger 1911. Very happy with that. It’s a pussycat with standard 45ACP for practice.
 

OntarioHunter

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Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
4,051
I shoot a lot of moving targets, including many live ones. You'll never have time to be minutely accurate if a bear is charging. The most critical thing is knowing how to hold your water in the face of never before experienced danger. I'm not sure how one can practice that without being around bears on a daily basis. Follow up shots aren't as important as making the most of the first one. My go to bear medicine during the years I packed horses in Montana was a .357 S&W Highway Patrolman. It packed enough punch and I could hang onto it when punching. On paper I was extremely accurate (single action of course) and it was a pleasure to shoot with oversize custom rosewood grips, especially in .38 Special. Once bear spray came out I was 100% confident I could deal with any dangerous bear with 100% effectiveness. Bear spray to incapacitate followed by .357 to terminate ... if necessary.

I have to wonder why anyone who wanted to hunt sheep in high rough country would feel the need to carry the extra weight of a big bore handgun if a high powered rifle is already in hand. The only time my Patrolman was on the hip was when I was fly fishing. The rest of the time it was in the saddlebag. Only once it came out for a bear (thankfully resolved without firing a shot). I actually fired it "at" a sow with cubs about nine years ago the last time I fished the Flathed Middle Fork. She couldn't see or hear me with the wind at her back. My three hunting dogs were in total control but if she made a bluff charge who knows what would happen. I very accurately put a big hole in the air off her port side which stopped her. Then waved my rod tube in the air so she could see us. At 75 yards she gathered the cubs, turned around, and went back downriver. I fished till dark and then hiked the seven miles back to the trailhead. No worries. She was a wild bear.
 

Sytes

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 25, 2009
Messages
10,496
Location
Montana
All I can say is I'm pretty happy with the whole set-up...
Looks like a sweet setup! Nice write-up of your decisions. One heck of a bear gun.

Buffalo Bore makes some nice rounds for the .460 if there was a semi auto bruiser - I'd say you crafted a beast.

460 Rowland® 255 gr. HC-FN @ 1,300 fps / 957 ft. lbs.
 

Cav1

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
231
Location
Central Montana
Sytes. I haven't tried the Buffalo Bore yet and am still working on reloads, but with the 6-inch barrel Rowland factory ammo averaged 1,290 fps. Rim Rock out of Polson makes some nice hardcast (22BNH) 250-grain RNFPs and 255-grain Keith-style SWCs sized for .451". I used them a lot in the .45 Super and they're working good in the Rowland..

I agree in part with OntarioHunter. When you have a rifle, even the venerable 170-grain .30-30 Winchester packs a lot more punch than a 300-grain .44 Magnum. I just personally like having a gun on me all the times out in the mountains. How many guys came to...or almost came to...grief because their rifle was leaning up against a tree while they were dressing out an elk and a bear showed up?

BTW, I never even brought up reload speed with the 1911 Rowland on purpose. I figure that's completely irrelevant. No matter what you're using, if you don't get the job done with what's in the gun, it's all over but the crying anyway.
 

newmexicohunter12

New member
Joined
Jul 25, 2022
Messages
18
1989: I celebrate my 21st birthday by buying in pawn shops outside of Fort Knox, KY a real Dirty Harry 6-inch blued Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver and a 1911A1-ish (Colt slide on a Spanish frame) .45 automatic. Oh sure, I might have had a couple of .22 revolvers before that, but they didn't count as real guns. I have had the Smith and the Colt(ish) ever since.

In all that time I didn't shoot the 6-inch S&W Model 29, and later a 4-inch 629, in double action hardly at all. It was all, later including a pistol scope, mulie and whitetail hunting in weapons restricted areas, deliberately aimed single-action shooting. The only time I shot the 4-inch 629 for keeps and on double-action was while fishing in rattlesnake country. I gotta say those CCI .44 Mag shot loads are about like hitting a snake with a .410 shotgun at 6-10 foot range. But when I started hunting the Unlimited Bighorn districts in Montana (just a big blank spot on the map marked "Here there be dragons.") what with all the grizzly bears that infest that country, and their mistaken belief about their real position in the foodchain after 60 years of Federal protection, I figured I should get serious about shooting my double-action Smith .44 revolvers.

I went right to the source, or Force, and consulted the Jedi of the Sixgun: Elmer Keith, Bill Jordan, Ed McGivern. I worked on this for about a half a year. I did thousands of dry-fire drills, with Snap-Caps, often with a dime balanced on the barrel flat. I went through many hundreds of Bill Jordan's short-range wax-wad loads (.44 Special case, primer hole drilled out, with just a large primer and a wad of parrafin wax pressed into the neck). Not to mention a whole lot of live ammo, mostly reloads but some factory bear fodder like the Federal and Buffalo Bore hardcast. I eventually came to the conclusion that I could shoot a double-action revolver accurately (single-action) or fast (double-action), but not both. Every now and again I would turn in an absolutely fabulous fast double-action group, but it took a lot of work and I couldn't do it consistently or at will. I still wonder why US law enforcement clung to the double-action revolver up into the 80's when we had John Moses Browning's masterpiece since 1911. See Stephen Hunter's American Gunfight. I think the real answer lies in that there are so many gun ignorant folks who are just horrified by a 1911 carried cocked and locked, as it should be. That hammer being back just looks so dangerous, never mind the two separate safeties. Anyway, one day after a particularly bad performance with the 4-inch 629, I brought out the old Colt 1911A1 and put nine rounds (8-round Wilson mags) into an excellent group in much less time than I could fire a bad 6-shot group with the Smith.

Well, that got me looking into the .45 Super. Eventually, I bought and did all the modifications to a Remington R-1 1911, including a muzzle brake, and had a great deal of fun getting my Rim Rock 250-grain hardcast RNFP .45 Super loads up to 1,120 fps, as hot as I wanted to go in a 1911. As much as it pains me to admit it, you can go hotter in "Tactical Tupperware", aka the Glock, with .45 Super brass and the Glock's supported barrel.

As much fun as I had with the .45 Super, and I loaded the hell out of it for about a year, the .460 Rowland still piqued my interest. The same bullet at 1,300 fps. Eventually, I broke down and bought a Kimber 6-inch Longslide in .460 Rowland. My timing was worse than usual, i.e. I bought it right after the 2020 election and just as the Great Biden Guns & Ammo Famine began. Rowland was having a hard time finding a Kimber Longslide to convert. Hell, I had my .308" 212-grain Hornday ELD-Xs back-ordered for well over a year to get them. It got considerably harder for Rowland when Kimber (wisely and good for them!) moved their whole pistol works from heavily-regulated and taxed anti-gun New York state to "We love guns! Ya'll come on in!" Alabama. So, it took a bit longer than any of us hoped for me to get my Longslide .460, but I finally did.

I've had it for a couple of months now and I'm happy as a gopher in soft dirt with it, although I do need to get the taller Kimber front sight. I mean, it was meant for a .45 ACP at 830 fps, so even with the rear sight bottomed out I'm about 3 inches high at 25 yards with 250-grain factory ammo. The Rowland factory ammo is advertised as 1,250 fps on the box, but out of that 6-inch Longslide the first ten rounds averaged 1,290 fps. I've been working mainly on Rim Rock 250-grain RNFP loads and some of their 255-grain "Keith" hardcast SWCs with Power Pistol, which works great in the .45 Super as well as the .460 Rowland, and with Accurate #7. The latter is supposed to be a low-flash powder so you don't dazzle yourself with your own muzzle blast if Mr. Griz comes into camp at oh-dark-thirty. Got some really nice groups around 2" at 25 yards with AA#7; now just chasing velocity to see if the groups hold up beyond 1,200 fps. The Rowland and Buffalo .460 bear loads note that they use low-flash powder. The .460 Rowland case is only like 1mm longer than a .45 ACP, just so you can't chamber it in Grandpa's old Postal Guard Colt 1911, but with pistol loads even a few tenths of a grain can make quite a difference. I also got some Hunter's 275-grain hardcast flatpoints I've started to load. There are guys who've loaded 300-grain Beartooth hardcast in the .460 Rowland.

All I can say is I'm pretty happy with the whole set-up so far. After the first range session, I did replace the Kimber's rosewood grips with wrap-around rubber Hogue grips. You are aware you're firing a pistol with considerably more snort to it than a .45 ACP, but the the extra meat and length of the Longslide makes everything work well and you're back on target pretty quick. If you convert a standard 5-inch 1911, a muzzle brake is pretty much mandatory. The Kimber Longslide is actually the same overall length as my .45 Super-modded R-1 with its brake.

Finding a holster for a 6-inch 1911 was problematic. I'm not a leather worker, nor do I play one on television, but I was able to buy some leather scraps from a local saddle-maker and, using a pattern I found on-line, make a modified M1916 style USGI holster with just my Awl for Awl. I wanted it in drop-leg length so it would always be one me, on my belt, at least as long as I have pants on anyway, and not on my pack or web gear when I needed it. I also wanted a full-flap USGI rig. In the mountains, weapon retention is my number one priority, plus open-topped holsters tend to end up full of pine needles and dirt and shit. It wasn't strictly necessary, but Volkommen Enterprises up in Great Falls makes a U.S. military cartouche leather stamp as well as a crossed-saber emblem than an old 19D could not pass up. FWIW, I finally figured out the strap that does around the leg on a drop-leg style holster shoulder be secured at a high level on the back of the holster, as with the M1912/M1916 GI patterns. If it's secured too low, it ends up slipping down below your knee while you're walking, and that's a PITA.


View attachment 228102
I ain't saying it's perfect or quite a potent as a 300-grain .44 Magnum, but it's really done good by me so far. I would rather put eight 250-grain bullets right where I want them than six 300-grain slugs spread out all over the place like a shotgun pattern. A factory .460 Buffalo Bore 255-grain hardcast RNFP at 1,300 fps still delivers about 957 foot-pounds of energy and just scratches about 21 on John "Pondoro" Taylor's Knock-Out scale. It's hard to believe, but Elmer Keith and Ray Chandler and others proved that a big, heavy, hardcast Keith-style pistol bullet like this, even from the elderly .45 Long Colt, will penetrate deeper into the thick hide, ropes of muscle, and heavy bones of a grizzly bear at 25 yards than any of the high-stepping .300 Magnum rifle cartridges, mainly because at these minimal self-defense ranges the Magnum rifle bullets are just moving too fast for their bullet jacket design to hold up and retain mass and momentum.

The big, solid, hardcast pistol bullets deliver at these short ranges. You don't want a hollowpoint; that's for frail 2-legged varmints. When Remington first introduced the truncated cone Yellow Jacket high velocity .22 hollowpoint, we shot raccoons between the eyes only to have them hit the ground fighting the dogs. The hollowpoints often mushroomed inside the hide but outside the skull. If you farm hogs, an injured one will be torn apart by the healthy ones. Once, one of my Dad's feeder pigs nearing 250 pounds broke its leg somehow. To put it down, I grabbed a 2-inch snubbie .38 Special Smith I had in my truck. I shot that hog at about 10-15 feet range, right between the eyes, with a 125-grain JHP factory load. It ran away squealing. Dad had to put it down with a .22 LR right behind the eat. So, when it comes to large, ornery critters, big, heavy, fat, solid, hardcast pistol boolits good, big, heavy, fat, solid hardcast pistol boolits our friend.

No matter how you slice it, though, just like a Dirty Harry N-frame hogleg or the even more massive big bore .460 or .500 Smiths these days, even a .460 1911A1 is still another 2-1/2 pounds to schlep around. But you never heard any real complaints about the .45 ACP, no matter how heavy, from WWII or Korea.

I just thought I would share my experience, FWIW, for those who always wished there was an alternative to the double-action big-bore revolver. I once ran into a guy carrying a 10-inch, scoped S&W .500 Mag on its own sling. If your pistol requires a sling rather than a holster, it's not really a "handgun" anymore and you might as well just carry a big-bore carbine.
Awesome 1911 look to that pistol!
 

Gravelyctry

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2018
Messages
40
Cav1, I’ve read about and thought about the 460 Rowland for some time. Can you share why you decided to go with the 6” long slide vs the 5” conversion? Thanks, Neil
 

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