Sold for: $1,967.00
Make: North American Arms of Spanish Fork, Utah.
Model: This pistol was built on NAA’s ‘Eagle’ design, but they called it the .450 Magnum Express.
Serial Number: 5315
Year of Manufacture: Production began in 1981, the pistols did not reach shelves until 1984 and by 1987 they were discontinued with only 530 produced, all with serial prefix “5”.
Caliber: .45 Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum & .450 Magnum Express
Action Type: 5-Shot Single Action Revolver with Loading Gate Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “NORTH AMERICAN ARMS CORP. / SPANISH FORK, UTAH 84660″, the right is marked “.45 WIN. MAG. / 450 MAG. EXPRESS”. The left of the frame has the serial number, the left side of the grip frame is marked “315”. The fronts of the cylinders are all marked appropriately for their calibers.
Barrel Length: 7 1/2”
Sights / Optics: The pistol is set up with a Millett high visibility set, something that was an option through the factory. The front sight is a high profile black blade with a neon red rear striped face, in a rectangular base that is fixed to the barrel. The rear sight is a square notched leaf with a white “Y” outline, in a base that is adjustable for windage and elevation.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are beautiful smooth varnished walnut stocks with semi-thumb rests on the upper flanks, the grips cover all but the smooth back strap of the grip frame. There are a few rubbed spots that are slightly darker than the other surfaces, the stocks mate well with one another at the butt and front strap. The grips are in Excellent overall condition.
Type of Finish: High Polish 17-4 Stainless Steel
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp and deep. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 90% of its metal finish. There are several rubbed portions of the high gloss stainless finish, found on top and underneath the barrel at the ejector track; there is a scratch on the right of the frame. The rear of the grip strap has a few light scrapes; the installed cylinder has a thin drag line and tiny marks. A skilled metal worker should be able to take out most of the marks with some time and effort. The metal has some polishing blemishes from the factory. The pistol does not look to have been fired much outside of the factory. The markings are clear and the screws are strait. Overall, this handgun rates in about Fine – Excellent condition.
Mechanics: The cylinders produce mild side to side play and very light back play in full lockup – all within tolerences, the pistol incorporates a ‘sliding bar safety’ unlike Ruger’s Transfer Bar. The hammer has a high pointed spur with some minor casting flaws in the serrations. The trigger pull is crisp. We did not fire this handgun.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: The pistol comes with an original marketing flier and full research guide by Lee Martin of Arlington, Virginia, which tells the history of the .450 Magnum Express pistol, its maker and its ammunition, along with loading data. The paperwork has mild bending, in Fine to Excellent condition. The pistol currently has a .450 Magnum Express cylinder installed and also comes with.45 Colt and .45 Winchester Magnum cylinders, both of these have scattered scrapes and scuffing; they have mild drag lines and rate in Fine condition. Two boxes of original NAA .450 Express Magnum are provided, which are completely full, one other box is provided with two rounds missing, for a total of 148 cartridges. We have to ship the ammunition separate from the pistol, hence the higher cost.
Our Assessment: North American Arms is most famous for its line of ultra-compact revolving pistols that you can literally hide in a bathing suit without anyone noticing; on the opposite end of the spectrum they made a large frame revolver in a rare caliber and dubbed it the .450 Magnum Express, which produces about 2100 FPS at the muzzle with bullet weights from 185-260 grains. Only 530 of these pistols were produced in the 1980’s. When North American Arms was sold in 1992, all of the .450 hardware was destroyed by the new owners and only about 20,000 cases of .450 Magnum Express ammunition was ever made and distributed. You get 148 factory rounds, with two original red NAA cartridge cases and a third clear box to keep it all safe. A full documentation of the revolver and its ammunition are provided along with a vintage marketing flier. You can kill just about any game in North America with this scarce cartridge but with bullets going for about $20 each, you may want to stick with the .45 Colt or .45 Win. Mag. cylinder for general sporting. The fit and finish is beautiful on this gun, the Millett sights give swift alignment, the large frame, un-fluted cylinder and 7 1/2″ barrel almost leads you to believe you’re holding a Freedom Arms revolver. This is a rare opportunity to own a scarce pistol that will never be made again!