There’s one question I get asked a lot by those who aren’t quite into shooting as I am (or in some cases aren’t into it at all.) The format differs slightly but the nature of the inquiry is always the same: Why do you need that? For many people the idea of a .22 or a 9mm is more easily justified than rocking a .44 magnum, and in many cases those with the .44 magnum aren’t actually keeping it for self defense against bears.
Perhaps the easiest way to explain this fascination some of us have with ridiculously large firearms comes from the same mindset of rollercoaster fiends, always in search of the next rush, the latest and greatest, the ‘next big thing.’ Or for the gearheads of the world it could be a similar reason to trying to squeeze another fifteen horsepower out of an already tuned engine. For some the answer will still be a simple ‘because I can,’ but I suspect there’s a lot more going on with most of us, some of which may not be easily explained. Thus, in my verbose manner I am going to tap into some personal experience here and attempt to explain at least a few elements of this phenomenon.
In the wonderful world of firearms there exists an endless variety of offerings. Firearms come in almost any size, shape, caliber, color, and mechanism imaginable. To put things into perspective, not all .22 rifles are built the same. Every last one of those polymer framed striker-fired 9mm pistols are all different despite many of them copying all of the most popular features which everyone else is running with. They might be subtle differences, one may feel more ‘gritty’ to another’s ‘smooth as glass’ function. Some may make lots of interesting mechanical noises for those kinetic-minded individuals while some may be more simplistic and to the point in their operation.
But I’m supposed to be explaining the big bore monsters of the firearms world. The .454 Casulls, the .50 Action Expresses, the .500 magnums (all three of which are available to rent at the Range,) and beyond. What could possibly possess a person to want to shoot such a thing, let alone own one for themselves? There’s a few schools of thought which may be applied to this curiosity.
The first shouldn’t be a surprise, it’s for the adrenaline rush. Like the rollercoaster fiends, once a new high has been experienced then the bar must be pushed further still. How far can this go? Between the limits of technology and our own limits as individuals, where is the end? In this sense it becomes a personal journey, some might even consider it something of a spiritual matter such as a rite of passage. It’s a sense of taming the proverbial beast, the ability to say in all honesty that you’ve taken something which is intimidating and incredible and you’ve been able to conquer it. It not only provides the rush, the experience builds character and confidence alike.
The second is more for the complex-minded. When firing a .22 pistol, fun as it is, it may seem kind of mundane. When firing that .44 magnum there’s a considerable amount of force being applied in every manner of direction as soon as that hammer falls. This transfer of energy becomes a point of fascination in its own right. Just imagine for a moment the idea of being able to not only safely harness some 36,000 pounds per square inch of energy that single bullet creates but to control it within your own hands? This is no small feat, and the .44 has already been around since 1955! Just imagine what modern metallurgy and ballistic advances could bring to the market in this century. In this regard it’s a matter of respect, both for the centuries of engineering which have all boiled down to this one moment in time and for the sheer amount of power which is being created to send that chunk of metal downrange. Much like gazing at the evening stars, it’s easy to feel that awe of personal insignificance compared to everything else that’s going on around you.
Similarly, this is a wonderful way to shed some undesired stress.
Shooting something that weighs over four pounds and kicks like a mixed martial artist can be an intimidating, incredible, hilarious thing, none of which are bad feelings to have. In a world of 9mm pistols when you bring a .500 Smith and Wesson to the firing line the reactions from nearby shooters can be just as entertaining as pulling the trigger is. In an instant the monster of a hand cannon becomes a conversation piece, a focal point which is almost guaranteed to get some manner of reaction out of anyone who is a part of the shooting world. Firing the big guns is almost its own celebration, easily packaged into bogglingly large chunks of brass.
So why is it so important to me to have a .50 BMG rifle in my collection some day? It’s because of so many different elements brought into a twenty-odd pound whole: Fascination, respect, admiration, appreciation, and above all, because I know that I will be grinning like an idiot every time that hammer falls.
Whether you’re brand new to the gallery of heavy-hitting pistols or a seasoned vet we have you covered, rentals are currently available in .357 magnum, .454 Casull, .50 Action Express, and the newest to the lineup, the S&W .500. Come celebrate with us!
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