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Back when I knew nothing about handguns (except from what i picked up at the movies and on TV) I loved the Dirty Harry flicks. I can’t tell you how many times my classmates and I recited one of the most famous quotes in movie history:

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

I got to thinking, the other day, about which handgun is the most powerful. And it’s not the .44 Magnum. (Nor was it, in point of fact, back in 1971, but I digress…)Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, allow me to introduce you to the Pfeifer Zeliska Revolver, in .600 caliber.

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The most powerful handgun in the world. For now.

Here are some specs:

Caliber: .600 Nitro Express, .458 Win Mag
Vo: 462 m / s, Full-jacketed bullet with 900 grain
Muzzle energy: 6230 joule
Weight: 6.0 kilograms
Capacity: 5 shots
Length: 33.5 cm
Overall length: 55 cm

Ah, those pesky metric measurements. In English, you’re looking at a handgun that weighs in at over 13 lbs, and shoots a cartridge that runs about $40 per shot. (The cartridges are no longer produced, so save that spent brass!) The gun was originally a custom, one-off job for a Mr. Zeliska, but the folks at Pfeifer would be happy to make one for you, in exchange for somewhere in the neighborhood of $18,467. (But what’s a dollar or two when you’re talking about the most powerful handgun in the world.)

The gun’s weight actually works in it’s favor (the cylinder alone weighs over 4 lbs.), as it helps control the recoil. The cartridge was originally designed for shooting elephants with a rifle. You can imagine the recoil. Or not…this puppy is best shot from a gun rest or using a bench clamp. To give you an idea of the scale of this weapon, here’s a picture of the gun in the hands of an anonymous writer:

So how much more powerful is this handgun than the competition, you ask. Good question. With a 900 grain bullet weight and a muzzle velocity 1950 fps, thePfeifer- Zeliska .600 Nitro Express Magnum produces muzzle energy of 7591 ft/lbs (a.k.a. 3½ tons). This puts the gun at three times more powerful than the Smith and Wesson .50 Magnum, and eight times more powerful than a Smith and Wesson .44 magnum.


I can imagine a scene where an aging Clint Eastwood sees a thug and says, “I used to carry a .44 Magnum…what I thought was the most powerful handgun in the world. It wasn’t. THIS is.” He starts to unholster this baby. The perp faints from shock with the barrel only half out of the holster. Dirty Harry smiles ironically, then drops to his knees from the effort to reholster the 13 lb. behemoth. As Callahan staggers to his feet, he checks his bank account from his iPhone, to make sure he has enough in his account to buy more ammo, at $40 per.

Ain’t progress grand?

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