The Return Of The Mastodons

Reeder Big Boomers
97

There was a time when elephants roamed North America. Mastodons had tusks up to 15′ in length and were found in Africa, Europe and both North and South America. The woolly mammoth had longer and shaggier hair with tusks up to 13′. This creature was a cold-weather animal found mostly in Siberia and Alaska. Both the mammoth and the mastodon disappeared 10,000 to 11,000 years ago and both for the same reasons — climate change and hunting pressure. We definitely know it was not man-made global warming that killed them off! If elephant hunting today is the ultimate hunting experience imagine going after one of these prehistoric creatures with nothing but a spear.

The mastodon may have disappeared over 10,000 years ago, however it has now been resurrected, but I’m getting ahead of the story.

Reeder Custom Guns Mastadons: Two-Tone .510 GNR and satin stainless .455 GNR.

.44 Magnum Mania

From early 1956 until the arrival of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movies in the early 1970s, .44 Magnums from both Smith & Wesson and Ruger were easy to find. In fact it was not that unusual to find a like new specimen for sale with a box of cartridges with 44 rounds left. In those days when the .357 Magnum and .45 ACP were considered extremely powerful weapons, the .44 Magnum was more than many could handle. Then came Dirty Harry and those who had never even shot a gun suddenly wanted a .44 Magnum.

The demand was incredible, with Smith & Wesson working around the clock trying to supply the imagined need. I was one of the fortunate ones having purchased my Ruger .44 Blackhawk in the 1950s, and my Super Blackhawk as well as both a 4″ and 61/2″ Smith & Wesson in the early 1960s.

Something had to be done to relieve the demand and that something was the Ruger Redhawk. Arriving in 1979, the Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum was stronger than any double action sixgun ever offered, and I still regard it as a brute of a weapon — sturdier than the Smith & Wesson and Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnums. I don’t believe it’s possible to make a stronger double action revolver, which is at the same time portable and pack-able.

Mongolian stag grips on the reconfigured Redhawk grip the frame of the Mastadons.

Groups shot by Taffin indoors are still more than acceptable
even though he was handicapped by poor lighting.

Modern Mastodons

Now we’ve taken the long way around the barn talking about elephants and Redhawks so let’s pull it all together. Gary Reeder of Reeder Custom Guns, has long offered custom handguns, both single actions and single-shots in standard calibers as well as his proprietary GNR wildcat cartridges. His single actions bear such names as Arizona Classic, El Diablo, Alaskan Hunter and African Hunter. Over the past 10 years Gary relates he has wanted to build a custom Ruger Redhawk in some of the larger calibers using a custom five-shot cylinder.
Like most of us who have things we want to get done someday … someday never came. Then incapacitation turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Gary had shoulder surgery, which took longer to heal then he hoped, however it did give him some thinking time and the result is his first custom Redhawk. An appropriate name for a revolver of this strength and large caliber offerings has been chosen, and it is “Mastodon.”

Inside The Beast

The Mastodon is built only on the Redhawk as great difficulty is found in removing and replacing a Super Redhawk barrel. The latter may be larger and heavier, however I doubt it’s any stronger than Ruger’s original big bore double action, and the Redhawk is certainly more portable. Gary is offering the Mastodon in .475 Linebaugh, .455 GNR and .510 GNR. The .445 GNR is created from necking down the .475 Linebaugh to .45, allowing it to use a wide range of .45 bullets; with factory rounds from Cartridge Performance Engineering utilizing 300 grain LBT WFN (wide flat nose) Hard Cast bullets. Muzzle velocities are in the .454 Casull range.

The .510 GNR is basically a slightly shortened .500 Linebaugh using .511″ hard cast bullets. By shortening the case Gary maintains it can be loaded equivalent to the .500 Linebaugh while at the same time being easier to load down for practice loads. I was provided with full house hunting loads as well as 1,000-1,100 “practice loads” by Andy Rowe of Cartridge Performance Engineering; the latter are certainly much easier to handle while at the same time being capable of taking most big-game efficiently. Factory loads for the .510 GNR use 350-435 grain hard cast bullets.

Both of the guns received are set up for efficient up-close, really big game hunting with V-notch rear sights and, in one case, a gold bead front sight and, the other, a red fiber-optic sight. Both of these, especially the red optic front sight, are exceptionally easy for me to see outdoors but almost disappear under indoor shooting range light. Due to the time of the year and the climate and the fact I am long past my invincible period of life, I was forced to shoot indoors which required intense concentration on the sights. Shooting indoors may not be the best scenario but it is a godsend in bad weather. Gary’s son Kase is much younger than I, with corresponding younger eyes and hands, and is able to shoot one-hole groups at 25 yards with full house loads. I can’t do that well in poor lighting, but well enough to be fine in a hunting situation.

Oh to be young again! Target shot with the .510 GNR by Kase Reeder.

The .455 GNR and .510 GNR.

Big Boomers Indeed

Gary Reeder Customs Guns offers the Mastodon on either a blue or stainless steel Redhawk. A new five-shot cylinder, which completely fills in the frame window is fitted, along with a heavy custom barrel with a recommended length of 51/2″ or 6″. Longer barrels are available, however these two seem to combine the best features of portability and practical use in hunting situations. In addition to the three chamberings mentioned, others are available on special order.

It’s been my pleasure, (well, okay, the full house loads are not that pleasurable) to be able to test the first two Mastodon prototypes, one in .455 GNR and the other .510 GNR. Both have 51/2″ barrels and wear beautiful custom Mongolian stag grips (other materials are also offered) on a slightly reconfigured frame which rounds off the hotspots. Both also have single action trigger pulls right at five pounds, which is definitely light enough in a revolver this powerful. Double action pulls are smooth enough to be easily used in an emergency situation.

The .455 GNR has an all satin stainless finish with a gold bead front sight matched up with a V-notch rear sight, smooth trigger with no sharp edges, and both hammer and trigger are high polished stainless. A mastodon with huge tusks is engraved on both sides of the cylinder as well as both sides of the frame behind the trigger.

The prototype .510 GNR is a two-tone gun with satin stainless barrel and cylinder matched with a matte black frame. Gary’s beautiful high polish Black Chromex finish is also available. The front sight, a red fiber-optic, is on a ramp, which is part of really neat barrel band. This Mastodon also features the same engraved cylinder.

These are heavy-duty hunting handguns made for taking really dangerous big game, however there is nothing saying they couldn’t also be used for deer, black bear and wild boars. The retail price for the Mastodon is $2,295, built on the customer’s supplied Redhawk. Delivery is anticipated at about three to four months. With 1,000 fps loads they are most enjoyable to shoot, and with full house hunting loads they are definitely serious sixguns.

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