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Product Test: Bellm 44mag Barrel

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Product Test: Bellm 44mag Barrel
Product Test: Bellm/VVCG 14" 223 Rem SS Contender Barrel
Product Test: Mike Bellm Wyoming Stones

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

This is a report I printed up in March of '02. An updated report, using Fiber optic sights and a wider variety of ammo at longer ranges will be forthcoming soon!

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

Back in February of 02 I acquired an 8 44mag barrel with machined in muzzle brake, manufactured by Mike Bellm. This is an Original Bellm made barrel (from back in the days when Mike was making barrels) and not a Rechamber, yet was only recently within the last year actually chambered by Mike. So 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 Mikes very effective machined in muzzle brake.


Closeup of 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. **Serious rested 50yard and beyond accuracy testing will commence in the next series of tests**


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!


I can just imagine what carefully prepared handloads will do in this barrel, and will update this test page when testing and pictures are completed and data is compiled!



Updated Report


I will post more on my testing of this barrel (longer range shooting sessions with a wide variety of ammunition) very soon. For now, I will say that this is one of the most accurate "shorty" barrels that I have worked with, and that it has also rekindled my interest in shooting T/Cs with open sights!
From what I understand, Mike also has one or two of these in stock in a 12"  variation with machined in brake, chambered in 45-70! Now there is a fun concept!

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