Now, I don’t mind admitting that I am pontificating somewhat about the Auto Mag pistol, having never pulled the trigger on one or even held one in my hands (complicating this further for me is the inner battle raging in my mind, where Elmer Keith is pistol whipping me with his ivory-gripped Smith & Wesson, and the blows are painful indeed). But, I’ve also never handled an authentic 1903 Springfield topped with an USMC-marked Unertl scope, either. Maybe my distance from these things is bolstering an unrealistic fantasy, but I’m fairly certain that, should the occasion ever arise, getting my mukluks on either would result in truly happy feelings — like the afterglow one experiences the moment you realize the IRS audit letter in your mailbox was intended for your neighbor, not you.

Wildey ceases production.
As AMT announces it will begin production, the Firearms Blog reports that Wildey, another big bore autoloader popularized in the 1970s, has ceased production.

Introduced in the early 1960s by Harry Sanford, the .44 Auto Mag just never found wide enough market appeal to maintain a viable business, and I don’t know why. There are reports of the pistols not feeding reliably. However, I’m not so sure about those reports — at least I don’t want to believe them; they sure don’t support my Auto Mag fantasy — and yet still for the life of me, I can’t figure out why the .44 Auto Mag went extinct. But just like Spielberg’s movie Jurassic Park, where dinosaur DNA becomes the catalyst for scientists to hatch an island of prehistoric monsters into a nightmarish theme park, the Auto Mag people have resurrected the big bore creation (hopefully with a more cheerful end result) and they did so up in Kodiak, Alaska, a place that is both hellish and beautiful. And thank God it’s Made in the USA, might I add.

Click here to learn more about the history of AMT and the Auto Mag

It’s also an appropriate headquarters for a semi-auto .44-caliber magnum, a place where a defensive gun use might be foisted upon you by thugs or big brown bears. Down in the lower 48, where people have less menacing critters to deal with, there is a silly debate over whether the 9mm is a smart concealed carry caliber for criminal work. I don’t hear any sounds on that issue coming from Kodiak. As AMT says proudly on their site, “The Auto Mag has never been a production autoloader for punching paper. The Kodiak is no different. The Kodiak is a Bear Killer.”


  1. I just remembered that the AutoMag had a starring role in a 1980s Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movie, “Sudden Impact.” In that movie, Dirty Harry graduated from his S&W M29 to the AutoMag, with satisfying mayhem as the result. As the old Lev Gleason comic books told us, “Crime does not pay!”

    I remember that back in 1971 when the original “Dirty Harry” flick debuted, there was a run on the M29. Everybody wanted one, and S&W — then owned by Bangor-Punta — just couldn’t keep up. The M29 was backordered almost overnight, and street prices soared well beyond MSRP. I dimly recall that the AutoMag enjoyed a similar sort of cinema-induced popularity but, since its maker was chronically undercapitalized, production could never meet that initial burst of demand and the public turned its attention elsewhere.

    Come to think of it, pretty much the same thing happened with the AMT 1911 Longslide when “The Terminator” came out. . . .

    Crime does not pay.

  2. I think the original version failed because of its extremely spotty production and lack of distribution. Most rep groups wouldn’t take on a small manufacturer unless deliveries were guaranteed, which they never were in the case of the original AutoMag. In those pre-internet days, there was no effective model for direct-to-consumer sales. Finally, big-bore handgun hunting back then didn’t exactly favor the semi-auto. (It still doesn’t.)

    Of course, the AutoMag was also competing with the various Rugers, S&Ws, and Dan Wessons, all of which were safe bets in comparison. Even today, the price of one .44 AutoMag will get you two Freedom Arms M83s.