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Larry Grossman on the history of the Dirty Harry .44 Auto Mag pistol

Larry Grossman has spent over 40 years working on the .44 Auto Mag, the gun made famous in the 1983 Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact. After being out of production for 25 years, it’s back this year. caught up with Grossman at SHOT Show 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He recounted the early days of the Auto Mag when, in 1971, inventor Harry Sanford struggled to produce and sell the gun that was manufactured at the AMT factory in Pasadena, California. Even though it had a unique design and slick lines, and was in demand, it struggled to turn a profit. Grossman attributed this to the gun costing too much to produce and not selling for enough.

During the entire run of the Auto Mag from 1971 to 1982, less than 9,000 guns were produced. The last gun was assembled in 1982. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until 1983 that the gun became famous. Clint Eastwood caught wind of the pistol and met with the designers. He was so smitten with the Auto Mag, that he wanted to make a film with it. A year later, Eastwood had a script, and the Auto Mag was featured in the fourth Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact.

Just as Harry Callahan made the Smith & Wesson model 29 .44 magnum revolver famous, he brought a lot of attention to the .44 Auto Mag. However, as Grossman recounted with a laugh, « Everybody wanted one. We weren’t making them, which kind of wasn’t a good deal. » The attention certainly made the 9,000 guns floating around very valuable.

Fortunately now, twenty five years later, the .44 Auto Mag is back with Grossman overseeing production. According to him, the original design was very good, but the new model will improve on the design, be manufactured to much higher tolerances and utilize better materials.

Unfortunately, the pistol won’t be cheap. In the ballpark of $3,795, it will be more of a niche firearm. However, if you’re a fan of iconic pistols, beautiful lines and a powerful round, the .44 Auto Mag will be an excellent addition to any gun safe and will certainly garner a lot of attention at the range.

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