Here we are: after years of announcements and postponements – the last one during the 2018 SHOT Show – it seems now is the time for US gun enthusiasts to finally get their hands on one of the most controversial guns of the 20th century, the Automag. Let's take a brief look at its history.
The Automag M-180 pistol was designed by Max Gera in 1966 who, within a few years, convinced entrepreneur Henry Sanford to found a company to mass produce it. Manufacturing of the Automag actually began in 1970 at the Auto Mag Corporation's factory in Pasadena, California. The main feature of the Automag was the cartridge it fired, the .44 Auto Magnum Pistol, a rimless, pumped-up version of the .44 Magnum made from a shortened .308 Winchester cartridge case, which pushes a 240-grain bullet at a respectable velocity of 460 meters per second. Despite the interest aroused by the specialized press and the appearance of the gun in a couple of blockbuster movies, after about a year of activity and about 3000 pistols made, the company closed its doors. Over the last few decades the Automag project has passed through the hands of several American companies that tried to revive it, always with little success. The main problem of the Automag has always been the fact that unlike what happened with the Bren Ten in 10mm Auto caliber, no company has ever commercially produced the .44 AMP caliber cartridge, and this of course has always hampered the gun's popularity.
Automag in .44 Auto Magnum Pistol, a new life
After so many announcements, finally came the Auto Mag Ltd, a South Carolina-based company that in 2015 acquired all the rights to the project. From now, through the company's website, you can reserve the first 25 pistols in a 8.5”/216 mm barrel version. Automag is also available with a 6.5”/165 mm barrel. Reservations can be made through a configurator that allows you to choose the finish and other details, such as the grips material. According to the company's claim, the gun has been redesigned using the most modern technologies and materials, but the basic platform still is the original one, featuring a short recoil system with a rotating head bolt – very similar to the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle system.
The trigger is single action only, the single-stack magazine holds seven cartridges. The sights are made up of an adjustable rear and a blade front sight mounted on a delightful ventilated rib in 1970s style. The 8.5" barrel Classic Edition Mod. D is sold at the attractive price of $3795 (3200 euro approximately). Is it the good one or will it be yet another false start? The fact that the owners of this gun will have to forcefully resort to ammunition hand reloading (the dies are made by Hornady) is a drag on its diffusion. However, the nostalgia operation is commendable, and we wish the Automag a final return to the shooting ranges.