It might be understandable for the run-of-the-mill North American shooter (a.k.a., yours truly) to be only slightly aware of the name, Janz. On the other hand, it would be more surprising if anyone (including this author) was unaware of the name, Korth and their high end revolvers. But, in a very real sense, Korth begat Janz.
A Brief History
According to the owners of Janz Präzisionstechnik GmbH, the genesis of their revolvers occurred because of serial insolvencies at Korth. The first insolvency resulted in Korth losing all of their equipment etc; Janz thus became the supplier of all the parts necessary to produce the Korth handguns. The second insolvency decimated Korth even further, leaving Janz with a stockpile of parts and no buyer.
Along with the stack of revolver components, the Janz owners and staff had accumulated a wealth of knowledge. It was easy to see why they asked themselves, “Should we design and build a unique revolver using our own parts and know-how?” Heading to the blackboard/scratch pad, they came up with this product description:
- A revolver with a caliber similar, but not identical, to Korth revolvers – they chose .44 Magnum
- The best available trigger system (more about that later)
- Grips to accommodate either the Smith & Wesson N or L frame
- Robust, but beautiful surface treatments using the best German technology
- All metal parts made from hammer-forged, high-carbon stainless steel
Their choice of steel is indicative of the extremely high quality materials and manufacturing demanded by the Janz family. Thus, the Janz revolvers possess barrels with steel hardened to a Rockwell C value of 54.
For comparison, “Steel makers offer special ‘ordnance-grade’ steel alloys for the manufacture of gun barrels. Ordnance-grade alloys are subjected to special handling, careful heat treatment and rigorous analysis to assure quality and consistency…Most barrel steels have a hardness of around 25 to 32 on Rockwell C scale.”
- With the highest-quality materials and craftsmanship, the pricing was planned to be similar to Korth revolvers, but based on the production of approximately 100 revolvers/year.
The year 1997 marked the establishment of the team of artisans who would produce the Janz revolver; the team included Rene Gantz, the last apprentice of Willi Korth. The first prototype appeared in 1998 in .44 Magnum. Because of a demand for very very powerful cartridges, a larger-framed prototype was produced in 1999 chambered to .454 Casull.
Though the prototypes were instantly hailed for the quality of their craftsmanship, the premier of the Janz claim-to-fame occurred in 2000 – a unique modular system based on a single frame, but with interchangeable barrels and cylinders in calibers ranging from .22LR to .454 Casull. The transformation from one caliber to another is said to take a matter of seconds and requires no tools.
“Would you be interested in reviewing another ‘unique’ firearm?” Those were pretty much the first words I uttered after answering a call from Ken Buch, owner of Kebco LLC. Ken is the North American importer of Verney-Carron rifles and shotguns and Manurhin revolvers.
Once I managed to answer his question in the affirmative, he asked, “Have you ever heard of Janz revolvers?” My answer: “I have a vague recollection of hearing the name.” It seemed that Ken and the North American importer of Janz revolvers, Till Hezel, were interested in having a Type EM in .357 Magnum put through its paces.
This particular handgun — the Type EM — is a fixed-caliber model, but is constructed from the same high-quality materials and with all of the mechanical attributes, found in the interchangeable caliber models: high-carbon stainless steel, a hammer-forged barrel . . .
…grips made from German walnut, and adjustable front and rear sights. The Janz Type EM is designed for both competitive shooting and hunting.
The revolver’s trigger pull can be adjusted by the screw located in the bottom of the grip and the scale on the frame.
About that trigger pull…. Knowing that I was planning to use the EM at the range and not for hunting, Till Hezel set the pull weight to 2.5 lbs (the weight can be adjusted as high as 5-6 lbs).
The crispness of the trigger break was impressive when firing the Janz single-action, but it was the double-action mode that frankly astounded me. The term smooth-as-silk doesn’t really do it justice.
To test to see if others might come to the same conclusion, I accosted two guys who were firing rifles on the range next to the pistol stand. I let them handle the Janz and provided them with the information I had collected before receiving the revolver. When they were about to head back to their rifles, I asked them to dry-fire the revolver without cocking the hammer.
The looks on their faces were noteworthy. One of them declared that he owned a number of double-action revolvers, but the only way he could get close to that smooth a trigger pull would be to fire them in single-action mode.
The mean muzzle velocities (as estimated using a LabRadar unit) for these three ammunition types were very similar: 125gr FTX = 1443 ± 21 f.p.s.; 140gr FTX = 1407 ± 15 f.p.s.; and 125gr SJHP = 1444 ± 9 f.p.s.
For the competitive shooters out there, the power factors generated from the Janz 4-inch barrel and these three cartridges were 175, 191 and 175, respectively. The velocity and PF values reflect well on the inherent power of the cartridges and the sufficiency of the 4” barrel to provide efficient propellant combustion.
Given the muzzle velocities and power factors, I should comment on what I usually refer to as the ‘shootability factor’. In the extreme, a particular firearm and cartridge combination might make me want to curl into a fetal position each time I pull the trigger. My long-since-sold .338 Winchester Magnum rifle was in that category.
On the other hand, a very powerful rifle/cartridge combination might produce more of a ‘hold-my-beer-and-watch-this’ response from me. The Blaser .458 Lott I reviewed not too long ago comes to mind.
So, what about the Janz and the three cartridge types tested? First, this is a relatively short barreled .357 Magnum revolver. That means it is noticeable when the trigger breaks. However, this particular revolver weighs 3 lbs 3 oz. That weight provides definite dampening over a ‘normal’ .357 Magnum revolver that’s a pound and change lighter.
The Janz Type EM in .357 Magnum is wonderfully shootable in terms of felt recoil. And, its extra weight provides a balance that isn’t present in lighter and less well-constructed handguns that I have encountered (two of my own .38 Caliber revolvers included).
As mentioned earlier, this double-action revolver possessed the most amazing trigger pull I have ever encountered. Though I fired for accuracy estimates using the single-action mode, I had a wonderful time using the Janz EM in double-action.
As always, I first fired from the 42 yard mark. I finally acquiesced and thus carried a portable table to the range so that I could also fire from the regulation 25 yards for which my NRA targets were designed.
The photograph of the target illustrates the size of groups obtained at 42 yards. Ignoring the one shot I yanked out of the black, the group is slightly less than 4 inches in diameter. I think that’s excellent for the combination of new handgun + 4” barrel + iron sights + my eyes.
This group was obtained using the Remington ammunition, but the two Hornady cartridges gave similarly-sized groupings.
As expected, when I moved to 25 yards the groups were approximately 2 inches in diameter for all the ammunition types.
I realize that many readers of The Truth About Guns firearm reviews are more interested in handguns designed for personal defense. The Janz line of revolvers are ‘sport’ models. Hence, they’re designed for the competitive shooter and/or hunter who wants the very best equipment available.
In terms of my analysis design, shooting at the ‘extreme’ distance of 42 yards demonstrated that even an average shooter such as myself could accomplish groups that should be reasonable for competitive shooting. Also, these groups would provide the opportunity to ethically and efficiently harvest game at distances of 50 yards or less.
The Janz EM in .357 Magnum is a truly wonderful handgun. It’s another example of a firearm that when held and fired radiates quality. For those who know, it is at least equivalent to the quality of a “Korth-from-before.” If there is a higher-quality – in terms of materials, manufacturing, appearance and performance – sport revolver on the market, I would love to find it.
I can’t comment on the ‘interchangeable’ Janz models, not having seen one except in photographs. However, the ‘fixed’ caliber Janz reviewed here makes me certain that all of the Janz products will prove to be phenomenal.
As an aside, with the lower price tag (relative to other Janz models), I consider this fixed-caliber Janz EM as a ‘gateway Janz’.
Specifications: Janz Type EM Revolver
Caliber: Fixed, .357 Magnum
Barrel Length: 4″
Overall Length: 10.5″
Weight: 3lbs, 3oz
Grips: German Walnut manufactured by Karl Nill GmbH
Finish: Matte Blue
Capacity: 6 rounds
Ratings (out of Five Stars):
Style: * * * * *
This is a classic revolver, but built to the highest standards of German design and manufacturing. The quality of appearance of this handgun is seen in only the finest of firearms.
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
The design of the Janz Type EM frame and grips produced a hand-in-glove feel for me. The finish was impeccable. This was reflected not only in the bluing and woodwork, but also in the exacting fit of the metal and wood components.
Accuracy * * * * *
Iron sights + three different cartridge types + 4” barrel + old eyes = ~four-inch groups at 42 yards. Enough said.
Reliability: * * * * *
Not only were there no mechanical issues, this revolver was amazing in terms of the smoothness of trigger and cylinder mechanisms.
Customize This * * *
There isn’t a thing you’d likely want to change on the Type EM and if you find yourself thinking about it, don’t. There are no commercial holsters made for it, but if you’re spending this much on a revolver, a few hundred extra for a custom holster from El Paso Saddlery shouldn’t be a problem.
Overall * * * * *
I often encounter firearms that I would like to own. Less frequently do I encounter a firearm for which I would sell organs (even my own) to purchase. A Janz revolver is in the latter category. The look, fit and accuracy of the Type EM is truly special. I hated to put it into the UPS box for shipment.
All of the photographs, except those from the range analysis (taken by the author), were provided by Till Hezel.
Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.