John Linebaugh, RIP

Previous Post
Next Post
Mr. John Linebaugh (image courtesy John Linebaugh Custom Sixguns)

The shooting and hunting world has lost a true pioneer. John Linebaugh passed away, surrounded by his family in his home on March 19, 2023.

It is impossible to overstate Mr. Linebaugh’s effect on pistol hunting around the world. This man almost single-handedly invented “big bore” handgun hunting and certainly is responsible for the re-birth of revolver hunting in America, and throughout the world.

Without doubt, Mr. Linebaugh was a scientist, in the truest sense of the word. He looked at problems, discarded old “wisdom” that didn’t make sense, and experimented carefully. This is the man who didn’t trust a century of “facts” about the .45 Colt, and proved that the right gun, and the right sized cylinder bore could turn that old warhorse cartridge into a powerful hunting handgun cartridge capable of far more than anyone with an old Model P had ever dreamed.

Almost four decades ago he created the first really successful .50 caliber modern revolver hunting round, the .500 Linebaugh. A couple of years later he produced the .475 Linebaugh. In his custom Ruger Blackhawk frames, these midweight guns have been used to take every animal on earth, including African dangerous game like the Cape Buffalo and elephant.

Mr. Linebaugh didn’t just produce cartridges. His attention to detail and unwavering commitment to quality turned out some of the most beautiful and practical sixguns around today.

Courtesy John Linebaugh Custom Sixguns

Beyond his technical and artistic ability, he was also just a nice guy. It’s hard to remember when I first called him, but it had to be the better part of 20 years ago. He picked up the phone himself and was kind enough to answer any question I had of him.

I still remember him saying “the .44 Magnum just didn’t have enough horsepower” for him. I sent him a Ruger in .44 Magnum and he sent back a .45 Colt with a Bisley Grip. I have no idea how many deer and pigs have been taken with that .45 Colt revolver.

I’m sure I annoyed him plenty of times with my calls and emails over the years, but if I did, I couldn’t tell. He always answered the phone himself, and back when I really didn’t know anything about how guns really work, or what it really took to work on guns, he was patient and friendly.

Mr. Linebaugh passed away the same day I took a one-ton Eland bull with a revolver chambered in .460 S&W Magnum in South Africa. That cartridge almost certainly wouldn’t exist without Mr. Linebaugh’s inspiration. Sadly, I never took one of Mr. Linebaugh’s revolvers hunting in Africa. I should have…he would have loved the pictures and stories. I guess I always thought I’d have more time. Ain’t that the way it is?

With John Linebaugh’s passing, the world is diminished. He will be missed.

A public visitation will be held at Ballard Funeral Home in Cody, Wyoming on Saturday, March 25, 2023, from 4-6 p.m., with a private family visitation from 6-7 p.m.

Previous Post
Next Post


    • if he collapsed and died in his shop as reported, he likely went the way he wanted.

      I should be so lucky… 😉

  1. “I guess I always thought I’d have more time. Ain’t that the way it is?”

    Time waits for no man. Now is what you have, go for it.

    RIP to a pioneer, innovator and craftsman.

  2. Describing how gracious the man was to helping a customer while most likely he probably was juggling around things he had to do says a lot about a person. Don’t feel sad…There’s huntin’ and fishin’ and lovin’ forever on the other side.

    • You have a better chance of owning one of his revolvers than the Linebaugh chambered BigHorn leverguns which START at $5000 and go up quickly from there.

      • Sorry, the above isn’t intended to be a dig on Mr. Linebaugh, he in fact was very helpful in answering questions I had about heavy cast loads in 444Marlin and even steered me to bullet and load resources that his “competitors” dealt in… all in all, one of the most gracious persons that I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking with.

  3. The sons of the Greatest generation are quickly passing on. Let us all hope that they aren’t the last Generation to carry the torch of Freedom and Liberty. RIP

      • Fun fact :

        Today’s Leftist Scum ™ are having fewer kids than we do.

        So, I heartily encourage pushing the message that a climate catastrophe is immanent, and it would be immoral for them to have kids in today’s environment… 😉

  4. Was it Mr. Linebaugh that was the original designer of the tiny .22 mini-revolver before North American Arms bought the design?

    I have a vague recollection that the original design was by someone who developed some seriously powerful revolvers…

  5. No, ironically that was Dick Casull, whom I believe sold the design to Rocky Mtn. Arms, that became NAA, probably to come up with the cash to develop loads at the OTHER end of the spectrum.
    I have a Casull 22short mini-revolver tucked way in the back of one of the safes

    • Thanks, yeah, Casull was it. Well, he did develop some serious hard, pipe-hitting revolvers, so my two remaining brain cells are still somewhat functional…

      • Yeah, but I only remembered that because I still have three – another irony, that’s the square root of Hoppe’s #9.
        Coincidence?…. I don’t think so

        • “Coincidence?…. I don’t think so”

          *Snicker*… 😉

  6. Years ago I used to enjoy reading Ross Seyfried’s articles in Guns and Ammo about hunting and early IPSC shooting. He wrote a number of good articles about using Linebaugh’s revolvers in Africa. I’m not a hunter and will never own any big magnum revolvers, but the power he was able to fit into a handgun that could be easily carried is impressive.

  7. This man was a true pioneer in the firearms community and most big bore hand held howitzers would not exist today if it weren’t for his contributions.God rest his soul in peace and bring comfort to his surviving loved ones.

    • “Hand held howitzer” is an apt description of beasts like those, from being on a firing line when someone lights one of those animals off. The concussion is *impressive*.

      I’ve never fired a seriously powerful revolver, but based on the limited experience I have had in firing the 7-inch barreled .44 mag Super Redhawk I once owned, I think I need to try me one sometime. Perhaps one round of .454 Casull as a tribute to the tiny NAA Mini-revolver I love so much…

    • Ah, yes I was struggling to recall his name from the depths of my memory …

      My entirely amateur understanding of “heavy” handgun platform development: we owe about 95% of all “heavy” handgun platforms available today to original or derivative works of those two pioneers, Elmer Keith and John Linebaugh.

      (Those are the only two names that I have come across who majorly contributed to heavy handgun platform development.)

  8. I met John along with John Taffin, Lee Jurras along with a group of other big bore fans at his first Big Bore Seminar. it was held in Cody WY at his complex. as stated, John was a true gentleman and big bore genius. he provided me with a brass Bisley grip frame which I had fitted to a Ruger .41 magnum. John will be greatly missed.

  9. When youngsters assert that “there’s no reason for anyone to want a revolver any more” in this day and age of Wundernines, I point to Linebaugh’s work and say “You were saying?”

  10. I had one of Johns first 45 colt six shooters built on a US Arms frame. It had the S-7 tool steel cylinder by a good friend. A long time friend still has it today. I have a 475 built on a Bisley frame I got in 1992 and have been shooting it ever since. At a gun club meeting I pushed a 45 cartridge across the table to the Magnum Match director. Said ” take a 45colt case, put in 28 grains of H110, stuff in a 325 gr SWC and shoot it.” His answer was ” My friend, You throw hand grenades at the enemy!” He did enjoy shooting it tho. RIP John, You will definitely will be missed. Thank You for the great guns and insite.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here