I can remember reading an article that once declared the .44 Magnum to be a dying round, and that soon it would go the way of so many other old and obsolete cartridges. That article was written when the .454 Casull was first commercially produced and as well all know, the .44 Magnum is still going strong.
There are however so many new handgun cartridges coming out that shooters hardly have time to read the fresh ink on one before another one is being touted as the superior to all those before it. What has happened though is that the new rounds are falling far short of their goals and many are fading fast into the abyss of obsolescence.
The .480 Ruger was introduced in 2003 and was designed to be a shorter version of the .475 Linebaugh giving handgun hunters a heavy bullet with less recoil. Unfortunately the design was a failure with Ruger chambering the cartridge in the Super Redhawk instead of the Super Blackhawk as many requested. Ruger stopped production of the revolver because of its poor sales and now the guns are few and far between, as the round was quickly outpaced by the .500 Magnum.
Another round that just came out and already seems to be hitting a wall is Federal’s .327 Magnum. A stretched version of the .32 H & R Magnum, it seems to be a round without a purpose. Right now there are only a handful of revolvers chambered for it, and all the revolvers so chambered can be had in the more popular .357 Magnum. Ruger’s eight shot .327 Blackhawk is one such example. One has to wonder since they at one time chambered their Single Six in .32 H & R Magnum, a gun much more suited to the round. Also with the number of .32-20 revolvers out there, either in the form of single action copies of the Colt SAA or the occasional double action revolver, the old .32 WCF still has a much stronger following. It doesn’t help either that no one has come up with a companion rifle for the .327 Federal, while there are .32-20 rifles everywhere to be found. Cost is another factor since a box of twenty .327 Federals averages $20 versus a box of factory .32-20’s where you can fifty rounds for around $40. None of this bodes well for the .327 Federal.
The .45 GAP seems to be heading out with a whimper instead of the bang it was expected to ride in on. To be fair it had a daunting challenge in the first place, to try and compete with the other large defensive cartridge of the same bullet diameter, you may have heard of it, it’s called the .45 ACP. Designed to give as much power as the .45 ACP but in a smaller package and therefore a smaller gun, it initially found favor until companies started producing compact .45 ACP’s. The sheer number of guns chambered in .45 ACP seemed to have doomed the .45 GAP to a lingering death as ammunition seems to be tough to get in some places. If anything will keep it alive it will be the handful of law enforcement agencies that have adopted it, but as budget cuts rear their ugly head, having to buy large quantities of defensive ammo for a more expensive cartridge when the more economic .45 ACP will do the same job might tell the tale.
There are many more handgun cartridges that are on the brink of extinction or at the least obscurity. For every .38 Special and .44 Magnum, there are many more defunct rounds like the .32 Long and the .44 Russian. It should be no surprise that we have a few rounds in our time that will fall away as they prove inadequate for the task that they were designed for. Some should just be allowed to slip away without any fuss.