Chasing A Stalker


Here’s Tank’s Stalker taken on the coffee table in Larry Kelly’s office.

Ever since I laid eyes on a Mag-na-port Stalker — you know, the Holy Grail for handgun hunters, designed by the most famous handgun hunter, Larry Kelly — I’ve wanted one. Not just any one, but that coveted one! Larry traveled the world with his, taking trophy heads of grizzly, elk, Cape Buffalo and even elephant!

It was a brilliant marketing strategy, allowing Larry to hunt anywhere in the world and making everyone want to be like him. Naturally, they’d want a gun like his or, at the least, have their gun ported like it.

Larry Kelly killed a lot of game with this 320-grain cast truncated
cone bullet designed by JD Jones of SSK Industries. Jones and
Larry Kelly were the best of friends.

The Plan

During an earlier visit to Mag-na-port, I dropped off a 10.5” stainless Super Blackhawk for Ken Kelly, Larry’s son, to convert into a majestic Mag-na-port Stalker. Recently, the planets aligned. Ken called … my Stalker was ready! I foresaw a road trip coming in the immediate future, consisting of a short 8-hour drive “up north.” It meant a chance to visit with Ken, his sisters and the beautiful Mag-Na-Port International facility.

Of course, any trip to Mag-na-port means dinner at a local tavern known as the Adair Bar. Famous for its fried perch and chili, it has the looks and feel of a “big woods” tavern, complete with deer heads and mounted fish on the walls. The food and home-brewed beer were so good Ken and I went there both Thursday and Friday night.

The Stalker’s cylinder chambers are numbered, so tuning
and keeping track of how each chamber shoots is easier.

The Transformation

Stalkers start out as .44 Magnum Ruger Super Blackhawks with 10.5” barrels. The barrels are cut down to 8 3/8” and ported, reducing felt recoil. Then, they are given an inverted crown job. Sling studs are added to the barrel and grip frame so the Stalker can be conveniently carried. Cylinder chambers are numbered, so tuning and keeping track of how each chamber shoots is easier.

Ken had an old SSK T’SOB base lying around the shop and recycled it for my gun. A black Leupold 2X fixed power scope was mounted using four Leupold rings. Yes, four! This provides both function and style the Mag-Na-Port way. You can’t appreciate the inertia a scoped handgun produces on the scope until you shoot it. This scope isn’t going anywhere!

The hammer, trigger and base pin head are highly polished, along with accent stripes on the muzzle and cylinder. The rest of the gun is velvet honed to a satin finish.

Remember, Mag-na-port is just outside Motor City (Detroit), and keeping with the tradition of big shiny chrome bumpers, grills and lights trimmed out in chrome, the Stalker reflects the city from which it’s from. Besides, it’s a tradition started by Larry Kelly and feels right. Ken times and tunes the gun to perfection, giving it a creep-free 2.5 lb. trigger break.

Later, Stalkers were made using S&W model 29s, 629s and Freedom Arms model 83s.

Inverted crown job and high polish accent stripe on Stalker barrel.

Handgunner Heaven

I’ve been going to Mag-na-port for the past 7 years or so. Meeting with Ken Kelly, along with sisters Donna and Doreen, is always a pleasure. The girls work the front end, handling walk-ins, shipping — both receiving and sending — as well as the mountains of paperwork. Ken runs the shop in the back, while Holly splits time at both locations.

Mag-na-port is really three places in one, being home of the Handgunner Hall of Fame, Larry Kelly’s Trophy Room, and, of course, a gun works facility. It’s worth your while to visit. You’ll see dozens of Larry’s mounted trophies, photos, trophies and other paraphernalia of past members.

Tank and Ken Kelly in Larry’s office in front of a charcoal
drawing of Elmer Keith and Cape Buffalo he took in Africa.

A true honor to sit behind Larry’s desk with my Stalker made
by his son Ken. The office itself is a small museum.

Range Report

I had some handloads using 300-grain RFN HP GC (radiused flat-nose hollow point gas check) bullets loaded over 21.5 grains of H110 sparked by CCI 350 large magnum pistol primers. Velocity runs over 1,200 fps, and the Stalker printed them into 1.5” at 50 yards with ease, shooting off a sandbag rest. Recoil and barrel flip are noticeably less with the Mag-na-port porting. Simply put, it works!

An early photo of Ken Kelly with Motor City
Madman Ted Nugent back in the day.

Just some odds and ends in Larry’s office. What a beautiful sable!

Killing the Myth

Mag-Na-Ported guns have been tested several times by H.P. White Laboratories. Findings confirmed a reduction of 20.8% in measured free recoil, while actual shooters say it feels more like 40%. The more gases produced by a cartridge, the more a Mag-na-ported gun will reduce felt recoil.

The escaping gases from the ports reduce muzzle flip and blast. The more gases produced by the caliber, the greater the effect will be. The more recoil there is, the more effective the taming results will be noticed from Mag-na-porting your gun.

All this with a +/- .5% in velocity, less recoil and muzzle blast. Ken Kelly states Mag-na-porting a gun does NOT affect accuracy, noise level or velocity. I’ve personally never noticed any increase in noise when shooting my Mag-Na-Ported guns.

Fried perch and Octoberfest beer from Adair Bar. Nothing better!

Larry Kelly sporting his Stalker in Africa.

Larry Kelly with a huge coastal grizzly taken with his Stalker.


Additionally, Mag-na-port is very supportive of the Second Amendment. Ken has donated much time, work and money doing so. He’s done projects for Friends of the NRA, Whitetails Unlimited, The Pistolsmith Guild, Second Chance and numerous other organizations, along with local gun clubs. It only makes sense to support him so this secular cycle can continue to maintain our rights as Americans to keep and bear arms.

Mag-Na-Port as it sits today.

When it comes to handgun hunting you might say Larry Kelly
wrote the book on it — along with JD Jones. What an era!

That’s a Wrap

Larry Kelly was the pioneer in recoil reduction of firearms, and his family continues the tradition in a way he would be proud of. I know I am. Besides handguns, Mag-na-port ports rifles and shotguns, along with threading barrels, making muzzle brakes, trigger and action jobs and other basic gunsmithing work. If you want your slice of handgun hunting history, bring/send your gun to Mag-na-port and let them turn it into something special.

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