Van E. Harl


Big Horn Armory Model 89
Big Horn Armory Model 89
Teddy Roosevelt took a Winchester model 1895 lever action rifle, chambered in the .405 Winchester cartridge, to Africa to hunt dangerous animals. At the time the .405 was the most powerful American manufactured rifle cartridge. Roosevelt called his rifle “Big Medicine.”

There is now a newly designed lever action rifle being made by Big Horn Armory of Cody Wyoming that I believe could be a modern day Teddy Roosevelt’s new big medicine. Smith and Wesson developed a handgun cartridge in 50 caliber, designated the 500 S&W Magnum. The case size is so large that even after introducing a new larger pistol frame (X-Frame) to handle the 500 S&W Magnum, the cylinder could only be chambered for 5 rounds. Of course as soon as the new pistol cartridge was released to the public the idea of using it as a rifle cartridge was quickly born.

Frank Ehrenford, the owner of Big Horn Armor and his master machinist Dan Brown have been working to bring the 500 S&W Magnum to the lever action rifle shooting community. In his own words he wasted too much time trying to make someone else’s lever action rifle work chambered in 500 S&W Magnum. Pressure is the driving factor with the 500 S&W Magnum round and an entirely new designed lever action rifle needed to be developed. The venerable models 1886 and 1892 were used as a basis to start from. By combining features from both rifles and enhancing the strength, Frank has come up with what he calls his Model 89 which is in between “86” and “92”.

I knew Frank back in the early 1970s, when we worked at a gun shop and indoor range. Frank always talked about “kicking harder-booming louder” when he discussed his ideas of big manly firearms. I would suggest his new Model 89 is right up there in the higher recoil and increased decibel area. I would also suggest that Teddy Roosevelt would loved to have of had a Big Horn Armory Model 89 to take to Africa with him. I could envision that great, turn of the century hunter with his Model 89 in his hand and a Smith and Wesson 500 S&W Magnum pistol on his belt, stalking the most dangerous wildlife the African continent could offer up for his hunting adventures.

Of course the idea of having a cartridge that you could carry into the backwoods that allowed you to chamber it in either your rifle or handgun has been a desired feature since the early days of western expansion. The problem with pistol cartridges of the late 1800s being shot out of a rifle was the lack of power that left the shooter wanting for more. The 500 S&W Magnum does not leave you lacking or wanting in either the handgun and most assuredly in a rifle. However, other than some single shot rifles and I assume some custom bolt action rifles, there is very little out there that you can match your 500 S&W Magnum revolver up with to take on nature’s largest and most dangerous.

Large caliber, lever action rifles were becoming very popular for hunting in the thick alder-brush of Alaska when I was stationed up there with the Air Force in the early 1990s. A fast handling lever gun could be just the trick in the thick and dangerous quarters of the Alaska bush. Now envision a lever gun in 500 S&W Magnum with a nice 450 grain gas check Keith bullet (Frank’s design and production) moving down range at 1850 plus FPS to stop that bear who is unhappy with your presence.

If you need great power and a fast handling shooting platform that is also very good looking, the Big Horn Armory Model 89 lever action rifle will fill that void in your personal shooting adventure and provide you with new big medicine. There is a sense of anticipation about the debut of this rifle and the expected demand by North American hunters of large and dangerous game. New big medicine will put big holes in big animals and the winner is the owner of a new Big Horn Armory Model 89. For manly Oklahoma hunters and Methodist preachers who hunt the high Veld (plains) this is a must have shooting iron. Last week a pet dog was taken from its own back yard here in Colorado by two mountain lions. You don’t want to face off with that type of dangerous animal with a 22 rifle. Bad things deserve nothing but the best in response, two legged or four legged. Did I use the word “manly” enough?