Build Your Own BFR?

Magnum Research Custom Revolvers
; .

Tank’s finished semi-custom Magnum Research BFR. The worn, subdued
finish really warms the stainless steel and gives a unique patina to this unique
revolver. Photo: Matthew Peake

I remember when “make your own pizza” was introduced. As a ravenous teenager, I thought it was the greatest idea ever! Finally, a pizza the way it’s supposed to be made — lots of pepperoni and sausage, smothered in a mountain of cheese. What could be better? A few years later I would find out …


Here’s Tank’s completed BFR before the Nitride finish is applied.

Build Your Own Gun?

The CEO of Magnum Research must have had the same experiences as a teenager, only without the indigestion. A few years ago, Magnum Research started a “build your own custom gun” with its own website. After setting up an account, you simply log in and start building the gun of your dreams. Brett Pikula, Custom Shop manager, told me all about it one day. He even suggested I do an article on it and I did for the American Handgunner website.

This conversation took place a few years ago while I was wringing out a custom shop Elmer Keith commemorative chambered for the .500 Linebaugh. To be honest, it was the first BFR I ever shot, but boy did it impress me! This gun resides in my safe now, testament to how much I liked it. It’s the highest compliment a reviewer can give any gun.


Now it was time to build a gun worthy of carrying in the hunting fields, while being capable of toppling steel rams or busting rocks way out yonder. It had to be capable of making friend, or foe, envious with its good looks too! After all, what fun is owning a gun without these qualities?

First off, BFR frames are robustly built — think beefed-up Ruger Super Blackhawk. BFR uses a simple locking base-pin with a screw. No matter how stiff the load, these base pins aren’t going anywhere.

I knew I wanted a longer barrel for this long-range shooter. Besides providing a greater sight radius for better accuracy, the added weight soaks up recoil associated with full-power .454 Casull loads. A 9″ octagonal barrel seemed perfect, giving the gun a classic look with just the right amount of heft. It shipped with a screw-on aluminum Picatinny rail for easy scope mounting should I want to scope it down the road.


The Turkish walnut stocks are fitted beautifully to the BFR Custom by Brett Pikula.

Worn Look

I love stainless steel but its rust-resistant properties can look mundane or even sterile. I much prefer the warm looks of blued steel. Thanks to Brett Pikula, I got both. Brett informed me he could nitride the gun after a robust hand-polishing. He then goes over the gun, giving it a nice “used” look.

Brett not only hit a homerun; he knocked the ball out of the stadium. The gun looks beautiful! Using classy, high-grade Turkish walnut for stocks, they are expertly fit to Magnum Research’s version of the Bisley grip frame. The grip frame allows plenty of room from the trigger guard for ham-fisted shooters, sparing the middle knuckle from being “bashed” into the trigger guard at the speed-of-light accelerations heavy .454 Casull loads are known for.

The low-setting, wide-spur hammer makes cocking easy and comfortable while adding style and elegance to the gun’s profile. Fit and finish of the whole works is only as to be expected from Magnum Research’s Custom Shop. The final stamp of approval is the script “BP” on the end of the frame — Brett Pikula’s initials.


I got to stretch the legs of this shooter during my yearly pilgrimage to the Whittington Center in Raton, NM, during the Shootist Holiday. The group consists of hard-core, dedicated shooters, industry folks and other riffraff meeting yearly to visit, exchange ideas and see what’s new from invited industry folk.

I’d brought several hundred handloads consisting of 410-grain cast bullets from a custom Steve Brooke mold my friend Jim Williamson loaned me. Loaded over 11 grains of Hodgdon Longshot, we get just over 1,000 FPS. These long bullets are flat shooting, throwing 100-meter rams off their steel bases with authority whenever I managed to keep the sights aligned.

Shooting at large rocks and boulders out to 600 yards was also noteworthy. Holding approximately half my front sight above my rear sight and perching the designated rock on top of the front sight, I was consistently making an eruption of white rock dust.


Typical accuracy of Tank’s BFR using Buffalo Bullet factory loads.

Buffalo Bore Ammo

Factory ammo was represented by Buffalo Bore Ammo. I personally think Buffalo Bore is the finest factory ammo you can buy.

I had several kinds of Buffalo Bore ammo to shoot in the BFR .454 Casull. The first was their 300-grain Mono Metal bullet listed at 1,650 FPS. Out of the 9″ BFR, velocity was just over 1,700 FPS. Three shot strings at 50 yards were just under 2″ with the barrel perched on a Caldwell rifle rest bag. I also had some 300-grain JSP that clocked out at over 1,700 FPS and snugged right in at 1.7″ at 50 yards.

Next was BB 360-grain cast bullet. From the 9″ BFR, we averaged 1,437 FPS and accuracy was about the same as the Mono Metal load, around 2″ at 50 yards.

Wrap Up

I highly recommend BFR’s Custom Shop for anyone wanting to dip their toes into semi-custom waters. But be warned, once you build a gun the way you want it, it is addicting. Current lead time runs 8–12 months for your factory custom shooter.

Subscribe To GUNS Magazine

Get More Revolver Content Every Week!

Sign up for the Wheelgun Wednesday newsletter here:

Purchase A PDF Download Of The GUNS Magazine March 2023 Issue Now!



Freedom Arms...

In 1997 Freedom Arms introduced their “90 percent gun,” the smaller, and thus easier packin’, easier shooting, Model 97.
Read Full Article
Loading For...

There are five basic models of Dragoon originally produced in the short time frame from 1847 to around 1850. First came the Walker, which was improved...
Read Full Article
Too Much Of A...

While the .44 Magnum can no longer claim to be the world’s most powerful handgun, it remains the standard against which other magnums and wannabes are...
Read Full Article