.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 AutoMag LDT Corp (2015-Present)|
|Unit cost||first: $217.50 $3500: AutoMag LDT Corp|
|Weight||57 oz (3 lb 9 oz) (1.62 kg)|
|Barrel length||6.5 inches and 8.5 inches|
|Caliber||.429 (bore diameter)|
|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 pistol was shipped on August 8, 1971, and the factory declared bankruptcy on May 3, 1972, after making fewer than 3,000 pistols. The company opened and closed several times from 1973 through 1982 under several different names. Namely TDE (Trade Deed Estates), OMC, Thomas Oil Company, High Standard, and AMT (Arcadia Machine & Tool). An additional 6,000 pistols were produced and sold during this period for a total of about 9,000. Sanford continued to sell spare parts until his death in 1996. Harry's son Walter continued to sell the remaining parts through automagparts.com. Production guns were made in .44 AMP. Experimental pistols were made in .45 ACP, .30 AMP, .357 AMP and .41 JMP. Changing calibers usually required only exchanging the barrel – the frame, magazine and bolt could be used with all calibers except .45 ACP.
Auto Mag Corporation was short-lived for several reasons. The design team, headed by Mark Lovendale, took the Auto Mag pistol from a fully functional machined chrome-moly steel prototype designed by Max Gera to a more complicated and less reliable welded up stainless steel pistol. Gera disagreed with Sanford about how the company should proceed and left the company. Additionally, the new 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 pistol 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 pistol 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 under-pricing 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 the 1970s. Used Auto Mag pistols now sell for around $3,000–$4,000.
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. Auto Mag has produced the first 77 Founders' Edition pistols with an 8.5" barrel, sold for $3,995 each. Classic Edition pistols with a 6.5" barrel are planned to sell for $3,495 each.
Auto Mag Pistol
- Chambering: .44 AMP [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 .44 Auto Mag Pistol 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 as well as SBR Ammunition, 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 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 Automag in popular culture
- 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. Fans of the movie tried to buy the gun even though it had gone out of production.
- Mack Bolan of The Executioner book series carried a .44 Automag he named "Big Thunder" in his war against the Mafia.
- 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.
- A character named Hiromi from the Cat's Eye anime employs an Automag in the second series episode "The Hunter Wore a Badge".
- 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.
- Lee, Jerry (29 January 2016). 2016 Standard Catalog of Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media, Inc. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-1-4402-4441-4.
- Hogg, Ian; Walter, John (29 August 2004). Pistols of the World. New York: David & Charles. p. 25. ISBN 0-87349-460-1.
- Barbasiewicz, Robert (1 March 1998). Auto Mag: The Pasadena Days: The Years 1966-1972. Krats Publishing. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-9662695-0-5.
- Adam, Rob (1 January 1996). The collector's book of modern handguns. Borders Press. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-681-21549-8.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- 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.
- Schroeder, Joseph (2007). Gun Digest Handbook Collectible American Guns. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 13–14. ISBN 1-4402-2663-6.
- Hornaday, Ann (Jan 17, 1999) "Guns on film: a loaded issue ", Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
- Young, William Henry (1996). A Study of Action-Adventure Fiction: The Executioner and Mack Bolan. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7734-8918-9.
- 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.
- Eger, Chris (13 March 2013). "The .44 AutoMag Pistol: More than a Hollywood handcannon".
Indeed, possibly the only time custom reloading was mentioned as a plot point in a major Hollywood movie, 1987s Beverly Hills Cop II, was about the Auto Mag.
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