Product Tests & Reviews
Product Test: Bellm 44mag Barrel

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8" Bellm 44mag Full Bull Barrel with Bellm Machined Brake

Bellm 8inch 44mag: click here for closeup of brake

Back in February of 2002 I acquired an 8" 44mag barrel with machined in muzzle brake, manufactured by Mike Bellm. This is an Original Bellm made barrel and not a re-chamber, yet was only recently within recent times actually chambered by Mike, meaning that it has the full benefits of his most current chambering techniques! It is a Full Bull (not the tapered Bull contour of the T/C 10 barrels) and has the Super 14 dovetail lock spacing. It also has Mike's very effective machined in muzzle brake.

Machined Brake with T/C Fiberoptic Site


The brake really works exceptionally well, as mentioned below in terms of the recoil being analogous to warm 38 specials in a 357 Contender barrel. It is, as with all Brakes, quite LOUD. My wife remarked to me that even from inside the kitchen and listening to me fire outside that it was also quite loud, which is of course a necessary consequence of porting and braking hot rapidly expanding gasses. I had warned her ahead of time, and she was still startled by the first shot!


The idea behind this 8" Full Bull 44mag T/C concept is that one can use a 6" revolver holster and wear this 8" Contender very comfortably as a belt gun. This is of course ideal for me when going around the farm checking fence etc as it is a lot more accurate than the typical revolver, and hot enough to dispatch the odd Black bear that may appear or the odd feral dog, and one may of course load it with the hottest and longest of 44mag loads w/o the length limitations which revolvers have.


The forend is a cut down super 14 Herrett style forend that I cut and refinished and contoured for this barrel. I picked it up from Ed Kirkpatrick as a blemished piece of wood, as Id hate to alter a 100% Herrett forend. The grip is a Herrett style finger groove thumb rest grip which was also scuffed and nicked up, and had a major gouge in the bottom swell, which I sanded out and refinished as well.


My first initial firing shows this to be a very accurate barrel with all loads tried, and these were just factory loads! What is most remarkable to me considering this barrel's accuracy is that the first set of groups were shot freehand (I am not a particularly good free hand shooter, and most all my shooting of T/Cs is done with the rifle scoped variety off of a stable rest such as a bipod). I was in this first session using up factory ammo for brass, and also testing the effectiveness of the brake.


Here are some initial freehand results:


Remington 240grn jlfp did 1/2 inch at 15 yards, FREEHAND.


PMC 240 grn jhp, 1/2 inch at 15 yards, FREEHAND.


Remington 275grn jhp also did 1/2 inch at 15 yards, FREEHAND.


Hornady 300grn jhp XTP, pretty much one hole at 15 yards, FREEHAND.


Next up are the 25yard shooting results, which were obtained from a rest:


Remington 240grn jlfp did 1 inch at 25 yards, RESTED.


PMC 240 grn jhp, 1/2 inch at 25 yards, RESTED.


Remington 275grn jhp also did 1/4 inch at 25 yards, RESTED.


Hornady 300grn jhp XTP, pretty much one cluster-hole again, at 25 yards, RESTED.


Note that I have not yet tried any cast lead loads.


Recoil was quite mild when compared to my past experiences with 10" 44mag T/C barrels as well. I have always found the 10" 44magnum T/C to be particularly uncomfortable in an unscoped arrangement, and shooting the 8" octagonal choked barrel with open sights is to me downright torture! So I was understandably concerned about how this barrel would feel when shot.


What an enjoyable surprise! In this barrel, recoil was about on the order of what a 10" 357mag T/C feels like when loaded with warm 38 specials: in short, it was WONDERFUL! I was shooting w/o shooting gloves (using a solid walnut pistol grip) and LIKED IT!


One astonishing and rather pleasurable incident was that I did not have to adjust the open sites I had placed on the barrel, **AT ALL**, until I got to the Hornady load.


Once I had placed the sights on the barrel and took it out for the initial sighting in, my first shot was absolutely dead center, and elevation and windage deviation was scarcely perceptible between different loads until I shot the 300 grn Hornady, which was a tad high and required just a bit of elevation adjustment, but no windage tinkering was necessary!


I have never had that happen before with freshly mounted open sights, that they were by Providence *already* correctly adjusted to point of aim both for windage AND elevation before the first shot! I had anticipated having to really work with elevation to the point of possibly even having to file on the front sight, so this was nice! What a joy to start out of the gate with such a positive experience!



This barrel was made by Mike Bellm, custom gunsmith & chambering specialist. Mike is a consummate craftsman and knowledgeable in all areas of firearms customization! Contact him through the link below: 

Mike Bellm

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