.44 AutoMag with standard 6.5 in (170 mm) vent rib barrel and custom Duane Short grips.
|Place of origin||United States|
|Designer||first: Max Gera|
|Designed||1969 to 1971|
|Manufacturer||Auto Mag Corporation|
|Unit cost||first: $217.50|
|Produced||1971 to 1982|
|Weight||57 oz (3 lb 9 oz) (1.62 kg)|
|Barrel length||6.5 inches|
|Feed system||7-round single-column box magazine|
|Sights||Adjustable target sights|
The short-recoil operated Auto Mag pistol featured a rotary bolt with locking lugs located at the front similar to the M-16/AR-15 rifle. The Auto Mag is a heavy pistol designed to give handgun owners .44 Magnum power in a semi-automatic pistol. The .44 Auto Mag was designed to shoot .429 inch, 240 grain bullets at about the same velocity as the .44 Magnum revolver.
In 1970, Auto Mag Corporation president Harry Sanford opened a factory in Pasadena, California. The first gun was shipped on August 8, 1971, and the factory declared bankruptcy on May 3, 1972, after making fewer than 3000 guns. The company opened and closed several times from 1973 through 1982 under several different names. Namely TDE(Trade Deed Estates), OMC, Thomas Oil Company, Hi-Standard and AMT(Arcadia Machine & Tool). An additional 6,000 guns were produced and sold during this period for a total of about 9,000. Harry Sanford continued to sell spare parts and died in 1996. Walter Sanford, the son of Harry Sanford, continued to sell the remaining parts through automagparts.com. Production guns were made in .44 AMP (Auto Mag Pistol). Experimental pistols were made in .45 ACP, .30 AMP,.357 AMP and .41 JMP. Except for the .45 ACP guns, changing calibers required only the additional barrel and cartridges. The same frame, magazine and bolt could be used on both.
Auto Mag Corporation was short-lived for several reasons. The design team, which took the Auto Mag pistol from a fully functional and working chrome-moly steel prototype designed by Max Gera, to a more complicated and less reliable stainless steel pistol, disagreed with Harry Sanford about how the company should proceed. The design team was convinced the Auto Mag pistol was not ready for production and could not be produced at a profit. The design team believed that even with the correct finished design, the wholesale price of the gun had to be greatly increased or the company would go bankrupt. The design team was unable to convince Sanford, and they all resigned. The pistol was then rushed into production by a group that were not concerned with the gun making a profit but only that it got into production immediately. This led to expensive manufacturing processes, and later Pasadena guns were not fitted well as there was a constant push to get the product delivered.
Severe underpricing of the Auto Mag pistol to indicate huge market demand to potential investors made success impossible. A final analysis showed that the Auto Mag Corporation lost more than $1,000 on each pistol; each pistol sold wholesale for around $170. The pistols originally sold retail for $217.50 in 1970's. Used Auto Mag pistols now sell for around $3,000–$4000.
In August 2015 Walter Sanford sold all the assets of the company including the name, trademark, and all rights to Auto Mag Ltd. Corp., a South Carolina based corporation. They have reported plans to bring the pistol back to market, with pricing similar to that of used originals.
Auto Mag Pistol
- Chambering: .44 AMP (Auto Magnum Pistol) [10.74x33 mm] (1970), .357AMP [9x33 mm] (1972), .41JMP (Jurras Mag Pistol) [10.41x33 mm](?).
- Barrel Length: 6.5 inches.
- Overall Length: 11.5 inches.
- Weight: 57 oz (3 lb 9 oz) (1.62 kg) [.44 AMP]; 54 oz (3 lb 6 oz) (1.53 kg) [.357 AMP].
- Magazine: 7-round single-column box magazine.
- Sights: Adjustable target sights.
- Finish: Stainless steel.
- Furniture: Two-piece black polyurethane (AMP models) or holly or ebony wood (JMP model) grips.
- Features: Ribbed barrel.
- Production: 1970–2002
- Price: Original retail $217.50 later increased to $275 ($425 for a paired .44 AMP and .357 AMP barrel kit)
Between 1971 and 2002 the Auto Mag would wear eleven different names:
- AM, Pasadena, California (Made in Pasadena, Calif.)
- TDE, North Hollywood, California (Made in El Monte, Calif.) There was never a North Hollywood factory.
- TDE, El Monte, California (Made in El Monte, Calif.)
- TDE, El Monte, California, High Standard (Made in El Monte, Calif.)
- TDE, El Monte, California, Lee Jurras (Made in El Monte, Calif.) Most custom work by Lee Jurras
- TDE, El Monte, California, Kent Lomont (Made in El Monte, Calif.) Custom work by Kent Lomont
- TDE / OMC, El Monte, California (Made in El Monte, Calif.)
- AMT, Covina, California (Receivers made in Covina, Calif. and guns assembled in Irwindale, Calif.)
- AMC, Covina, California (Receivers made in Covina, Calif. and guns assembled in Irwindale, Calif.)
- AM, Irwindale, California (Made in Irwindale, Calif.)
- AM, Sturgis, South Dakota (Some made in Hesperia, Calif. and some were made in Sturgis, S.D.)
Lee Jurras of Super Vel Ammunition commissioned a limited run of Auto Mags to be given the LEJ-prefix on their serial numbers. They were to be custom-made to his specifications and were chambered in .44AMP, .357AMP and for his wildcat .41JMP (Jurras Mag Pistol). Some of Jurras's custom guns had custom leather holsters and magazine pouches, shoulder stocks, high polish jobs, gold plating, engraving, etc.
The Auto Mag design gave birth to three new cartridges: the .44 Auto Mag (.44 AMP), .357 Auto Mag (.357 AMP) and the lesser-known .41 JMP. There were barrels made to shoot other cartridges:
- Harry Sanford
- .44 AMP [Uses the .44 Magnum bullet]
- .357 AMP [Uses the .357 Magnum bullet]
- .300 AMP [Uses the .30 Carbine bullet; necked down at a different shoulder angle than the .30 LMP]
- .45 Win Mag
- .45 ACP (experimental only)
- .475 Auto Mag (experimental only)[Uses the .475 Wildey Magnum bullet].
- Lee Jurras
- .41 JMP [Uses the .41 Magnum bullet]
- Kent Lomont
- .30 LMP (Lomont Magnum Pistol) [Uses the .30 Carbine bullet; necked down at a different shoulder angle than the .30 AMP]
- .25 LMP (Lomont Magnum Pistol)[Uses the .25 ACP bullet]
- .22 LMP (Lomont Magnum Pistol)[Uses the .22 WMR bullet]
- .45 ACP Magnum (experimental only) [Uses the .45 ACP bullet]
- Eric Kincel and Brian Maynard
Kincel was an editor for Gun World magazine and Maynard was a technician who worked at AMT's service department.
- .40 KMP (Kincel-Maynard Pistol, experimental only) [.45 Winchester Magnum case necked down to accept a .40 S&W bullet] Created in October, 1990.
- 8mm KMP (Kincel-Maynard Pistol, experimental only) [Based on an unmodified 7.92x33 (8mm Kurz) rifle case to accept a .323 diameter pistol style projectile] Created in 2010, Introduced in June, 2012.
AMT (Arcadia Machine and Tool) manufactured several firearms under the AutoMag name, not the Auto Mag name, including the AMT AutoMag II in .22 WMR, AMT AutoMag III in .30 Carbine, AMT AutoMag IV in .45 Winchester Magnum and AMT AutoMag V in .50 Action Express.
The .44 Auto Mag Pistol (AMP) cartridge was introduced in 1971. Its rimless, straight wall case was originally formed by trimming the .308 Winchester or .30-06 case to 1.30 inches (33 mm). Loaded ammunition was once available from the Mexican firm of Cartuchos Deportivos Mexico and from Norma (a Swedish firm), which produced empty cases.
The .357AMP round went into production in 1972 with the North Hollywood guns. It is similar to the .44 AMP, but is necked down to accept the smaller diameter bullet. The same is true for the .41JMP, .30, .25 and .22LMP.
Presently, loaded ammunition is available from Cor-Bon, and new .44 AMP brass is available from Starline Brass. The dedicated handloader can form AMP cases from .30-06 or .308 Winchester brass, using a series of forming dies and an inside neck reamer.
The Automag in popular culture
- Mack Bolan of The Executioner (book series) carried a .44 Automag he named "Big Thunder" in his war against the Mafia
- In 1983 the Auto Mag was featured in the fourth Dirty Harry movie, Sudden Impact. Clint Eastwood's character Harry Callahan uses his .44 AutoMag to kill Mick after Harry loses his Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver in a fist fight.
- Warlord hero Travis Morgan recovers a .44 Automag from his downed Blackbird and carries it for most of his adventure in Skartaris.
- In A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane, private detective Patrick Kenzie uses an AutoMag as his sidearm.
- Richard Camellion of Joseph Rosenberger's Death Merchant book series carried two customized long-barreled .357 AutoMags on most of his missions for the CIA.
- Beverly Hills Cop II features a .44 Auto Mag as a plot point, stating that the rounds for it are too expensive to manufacture, so someone must be modifying .308 rifle casings to reload for the Auto Mag 
- Barnes, Frank C.; Skinner, Stan (2003). Cartridges of the World: 10th Edition, Revised and Expanded. Krause Publications. p. 528. ISBN 978-0-87349-605-6.
- Taffin, John (30 October 2006). Gun Digest Book of the .44. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 216–220. ISBN 1-4402-2670-9.
- The Auto Mag Owner's Reference Manual by Bruce Stark page 6
- The Life and Death of Auto Mag Chapter 1 by Bert Mason
- Life & Death of Auto Mag Chapter 1 Page XIII
- Adam, Rob (1 January 1996). The collector's book of modern handguns. Borders Press. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-681-21549-8.
- Shideler, Dan (26 June 2009). The Gun Digest Book of Modern Gun Values: The Shooter's Guide to Guns 1900-Present. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 95. ISBN 0-89689-824-5.
- Clint Eastwood (Director) (1983). Sudden Impact (Film). USA: Time Warner.
- Mike Grell (w). The Warlord 1: 4/3 (1976), DC
- Lehane, Dennis (27 July 2010). A Drink Before the War. HarperCollins. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0-06-201565-5.
- Rosenberger, Joseph N. (1 January 1981). Death Merchant, No. 3: The Psychotron Plot. Pinnacle Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-523-41347-1.
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