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The AMT AUTOMAG III

By Frank Iannamico

Probably the best promotional advertising for any firearm is to be featured in a Hollywood film. An example was when the Smith & Wesson Model 29 appeared in several of the Dirty Harry movies beginning in 1971. The demand, and asking price, for S&Ws .44 Magnum revolvers skyrocketed and they soon became very difficult to find.

The term Auto Mag became part of the American lexicon in a 1983 sequel to the Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact. In that film Clint Eastwood’s character inspector Harry Callahan, uses his .44 Auto Mag pistol to take down the bad guys. In the 1987 film Beverly Hills Cop II a .44 Auto Mag is used by the bad guys. However, due in part to a lack of availability, sales of the Auto Mag pistol never approached that of Dirty Harry’s Model 29.

The Auto Mag Pistol

The original Auto Mag pistol was conceived and designed by Harry Sanford and Max Gera during the late 1960s. Mr. Sanford established the Auto Mag Corporation during 1969 in California. The .44 AMP (Auto Mag Pistol) cartridge was also conceived by Harry Sanford. The original cartridge cases were formed from .308 rifle brass shortened to a length of 1.298 inches. The bullet was .429-caliber 240-grain with a powder charge of 26 grains. The average velocity was 1450 feet per second with 1120-ft/lbs of energy.

Production of the Auto Mag pistol began at a factory located in Pasadena, California during 1970. The first gun was shipped to a dealer in August 1971. After producing only a few thousand pistols, the Auto Mag Corporation declared bankruptcy on May 3, 1972. The Trust Deeds Estates Corporation (TDE) of El Monte, California purchased the machinery, unfinished guns and parts. They also hired Sanford to produce the guns from the parts. In 1974 after new financing was acquired, TDE made minor engineering changes and re-tooled for complete production. In September of that year Lee Jurras signed an exclusive world-wide sales and distribution agreement for all Auto Mag pistols. Mr. Jurras not only took over distribution but also handled warranty and parts...

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