Many firearms enthusiasts I know are also
outdoorsmen like myself. We
either hunt, backpack, or just enjoy tent camping in remote
areas; perhaps all of the above.
All of us have experienced, or almost experienced, how
poor planning, bad weather and perhaps even hostile denizens of
the forest can turn a pleasant trip into a miserable and even
One should never underestimate the whims of Mother Nature
for she will eventually chastise you until you never forget her
It is for this reason that Smith and Wesson
developed their Emergency Survival Kits available in 44 Magnum,
460 Magnum and 500 Magnum.
I decided to purchase one in 460 Magnum as I already have
guns in 45 Colt and 454 Casull.
Very good prices can be found on these kits online.
Mine came from AJC Sport Shop.
Chris in sales was kind enough to expedite shipping to me
in time for a camping trip and I appreciate the good customer
The kit comes in a hard-shell waterproof
case. It features a
foam o-ring to seal out moisture and has an automatic pressure
relief valve. I put
the case in the shower, valve up, for 10 minutes, and it does
appear to be completely waterproof.
The interior foam is very thick and well cut-out for the
items it stores.
The case contains an S&W Extreme Ops
folding tactical knife, a Coglan’s Magnesium Fire-Starter, a
Fox40 Micro Whistle, a Silva Polaris Compass, the Unbelievable
Survival Saw, two Space Emergency Blankets, a Rescue Flash
Signal Mirror, the book “Bear Attacks of the Century” and 6
I hastily had to pack for a camping trip (never a good
idea) to the Snow Mountain Wilderness in the Mendocino National
Forest, and in my rush I realized when I got there that I had
forgot my favorite survival knife and multi-tool combo in its
sheath in its familiar place in my home.
Then I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that I
had the tactical folding knife in my E.S. kit; problem solved,
redundancy has its place. It
is for this reason that an E.S. kit is such a good idea.
Next to the firearm the tactical knife is the
best part of the kit. The
knife is very industrial in appearance being done up in a matte
black finish. It is
well balanced and fits the hand well.
Blade length is a useful 4 ¼ inches.
The Coglan’s Magnesium Fire-Starter and Silva Polaris
Compass are standard items found in most retail sporting good
Micro-Whistle requires a forceful blow and is very high pitched
and loud. The
Survival Saw I have not seen in stores.
It is essentially a chain saw blade with handles.
The blade is made of high strength, heat-treated steel
and has 92 cutting teeth. The
Space Blankets are the original ones made in the U.S.A.
since 1964. The
Signal Mirror is of course very reflective.
I decided to not try the fire-starter blanks as there are
only 6 of them and I will save them until they are truly needed.
The book features true stories of bear attacks that were
meticulously researched and checked for accuracy.
The stories are not dramatized or embellished as they
don’t need to be. The
incidents and resulting physical harm are very sobering to read
The gun itself is a premium firearm.
It is finished in satin stainless with a bead-blasted
finish on the top of the receiver to reduce glare.
It features a red-notch front sight and a target
adjustable rear sight. The
chambers are polished to a mirror-like shine for ease of
extraction which I have found to be more of a necessity than a
luxury when dealing with cartridges that operate at 60,000 P.S.I.
The forcing cone has been polished to reduce gas-cutting
of the cone and receiver. The
muzzle has a recessed crown.
The action is very slick and it has the typical “Smooth
and Wesson” trigger that at an estimate breaks at a little
over 3 lbs. in single action.
The gun is not light at 3 ½ lbs but its size compares
very favorably to a 5 ½” Ruger Blackhawk Bisley and full size
Kimber 1911. Its
proportions look right and it balances very well in the hand
being slightly muzzle heavy but not overly so.
The grips are an excellent shape and do their job of
absorbing recoil well.
The 460 Magnum chambering in a revolver is
special because of its versatility.
It can shoot anything from “cat sneeze” 45 Colt
loads, to 45 Colt +P, 454 Casull and 460 Magnum cartridges in
bullet weights ranging from 200 to 400 grains.
In a first for a production revolver, the S&W 460
series of revolvers were designed from their conception to also
shoot spire-point bullets.
I tested hand loads in 454 Casull and 460
Magnum and measured them through my chronograph.
The 454 Casull loads tested were slightly above what can
be used in a Taurus Raging Bull or BFR without cases sticking
460 ES seemed to devour and extract them easily with a
surprisingly good velocity average of 1427 fps with a Hornady
300 grain XTP Mag bullet. The
same bullet in my initial 460 Magnum loads, which were two
grains shy of maximum, averaged 1492 fps.
I feel comfortable in estimating that a max load in 460
with this bullet will average about 100 fps more than in the
Casull. These are
excellent velocities considering the short 2 ¾” non-ported
barrel length. You
can only burn so much powder in such a short barrel.
Three bullets that I have recovered from
earth embankments or dry paper penetration tests that I would be
comfortable trusting my life to are the Hornady 300 XTP Mag,
Barnes 275 grain XPB and Belt Mountain 314 grain solid.
There is no data by the way for the Barnes bullet with Hodgdon
Lil’Gun and H110 propellants and special thanks to Mic
McPherson, ballistician, gunsmith and author for providing me
with a suitable load. During
my testing I was able to recover a Hornady and Barnes bullet
fired into an embankment at almost 1500 fps.
The Hornady bullet still weighed 279 grains and had
expanded to just under an inch at its widest point.
This would certainly leave a devastating wound channel.
The Barnes 275 grain bullet actually increased its weight
by 4 grains, probably because of impacted soil into its hollow
point. It had only
begun to expand and for tougher and very large game where deeper
penetration was needed, it would be the better choice in an
expanding bullet. If
a solid, non-expanding bullet is desired there is no better one
available than the Belt
Mountain Punch Bullet.
The bullet pictured was fired from a 454
Puma rifle at a velocity of 1900 fps into a box of dry 20
lb. weight copy paper. Where
a heavier hard cast bullet shattered in the same test, the Punch
Bullet penetrated further and looks like it could be loaded
again. The same
bullet was documented as penetrating 48.5 inches in wet
newsprint at a Linebaugh Seminar from a 454 Casull handgun.
With one of these bullets, the owner of a 454 Casull or
460 S&W handgun need make no apologies to those armed with
larger calibers that generate more recoil.
Obviously, a loaded handgun in a box that is
not accessible is worthless.
Currently there are holsters available from S&W
directly and Galco that make the “snubbie” version of the
X-Frame comfortable to carry.
I opted for the Galco with their matching Sport Belt.
Whichever caliber you choose, I think Smith
and Wesson’s Emergency Survival Kits are well supplied with
useful items that you hope you never have to use.
Personally I find the short-barreled version of the
X-Frame to be the best looking and best balanced for field use.
If the color of the grips give you pause, that is easily
changed as black rubber grips are available.
I really like the canary yellow grips on mine as the gun
will certainly not be mistaken for anything else than what it
is: one of the most
powerful and versatile handguns available.
Smith and Wesson products can be seen here: http://www.smith-wesson.com/
Hornady Manufacturing can be seen here: http://www.hornady.com/
Barnes Bullets can be seen here: http://www.barnesbullets.com/
Mic McPherson’s articles and services can
be seen here: http://www.levergun.com/main_index.htm
Belt Mountain Punch Bullets can be seen here:
Galco Leather can be seen here: http://www.usgalco.com/
AJC Sport Shop can be contacted here: http://www.ajcsportshop.com/
-Andy Tuttle, aka
|For a list of dealers where you can
buy this gun, go to:
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