Rifle-like performance in an extremely-shootable, handgun-sized package

The Magnum Research BFR (“Big Frame Revolver” or “Biggest, Finest Revolver,” take your pick) has earned an enviable reputation as one of, if not the, strongest and most reliable single-action revolvers ever produced . . . anywhere, by anybody. It’s 100% CNC machined in America at the Magnum Research factory in Pillager, Minnesota, using 100% American stainless steel, components and labor. Like the legendary Desert Eagle Pistol, also manufactured by Magnum Research, the BFR was designed from the ground up as a Magnum handgun.

While BFRs are also avalable in an impressive lineup of heavy-hitting short-cylinder cartridge chamberings, stepping up to a long-cylinder model opens the door to even more downrange energy. With the exception of the .45LC/.410 shotshell, from left-to-right, these are the chamberings to choose from: .500 S&W Magnum, .460 S&W Magnum, .30/30 Win., .444 Marlin, .45/70 Gov’t and .450 Marlin.

The BFR has been around for many years, and is currently chambered in seven long-cylinder factory offerings: 30-30 WIN., .45-70 Gov’t., .460 S&W Mag., .500 S&W Mag. and .45LC/.410 Shotgun, .45/70 Gov’t and .450 Marlin—some available in both 7.5 and 10-inch barrel lengths, and some in only one or the other. Short-cylinder models with barrel lengths from 5.0- to 7.5–inches are also offered. Prices are all over the place depending upon model, chambering, cylinder length, barrel length and a host of other options, including fluted cylinders, so forgive us for not being able to quote exact retail pricing for the standard for every custom model you may want. We can tell you that the MSRPs start at $1,184 for the standard model (including the 10-inch barreled .30-30 test gun), and can jump to over $2,000 depending upon how many of the seemingly endless custom options—like octagon and fluted barrels, fluted cylinders and high-polish finish you add—and what optional custom chamberings (20 available) you opt for. The Bisley-frame models—which are the subject of this article—start off with a slightly higher base price. You’ll pay an extra $100 for the Bisley grip frame, but the full retail upcharge may be somewhat higher. Consult the Magnum Research website for specific pricing, by model, barrel length, caliber and custom options.

Unlike some single-action revolvers, loading and unloading the BFR’s big 5-round cylinder does not require half-cocking the hammer. Cylinder rotation was exceptionally-smooth and precise, and indicative of the level of mechanical-precision one would expect to pay twice as much for as the BFR’s more-than-reasonable sticker price. Standard models come with an un-fluted cyclider, but we checked the custom-shop box to have ours fluted.

In perhaps the biggest development in the BFR’s storied history, Magnum Research recently introduced a BFR model with a Bisley grip frame and white faux ivory grip panels. The Bisley grip frame is much more vertical than standard “old West” or “Cowboy” grip frame, and it is authentically executed in the BFR by Magnum Research. But first, my personal story.

Our test gun was fitted with the shorter 7.5-inch barrel (versus the also-available 10-inch model) to which—like the cylinder—we had Magnum Research add fluting to through their custom-shop services. Available custom options also include an octagonal barrel, shorter barrel lengths and even special, non-standard caliber-chamberings.

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