NXR: Korth’s Prestige .44 Magnum Revolver
By Massad Ayoob
Prestige plus performance…
Korth revolvers, made in Germany, are recognized as a prestige brand, especially since Nighthawk Custom has been importing them into the USA. Here we test the NXR, a six-shot double-action .44 Magnum with all the bells and whistles except for a recoil compensator. Let’s discuss the hefty price tag up front: MSRP is $5,299, and that’s before you count the Trijicon RMR red dot sight that rode atop On Target’s test sample. In the world of revolvers, this Korth carries a Rolls Royce price tag, but I’d compare it more to Porsche. You’re not paying all those bucks just for prestige. You’re paying for performance.
Let’s start at the business end. The hammer-forged barrel is crowned to what looks like eleven degrees with a flawless polish (which should make cleaning easier and improve accuracy). That barrel is inside a sleeve, slotted to lighten the already significant weight and to promote barrel cooling. Under the barrel is a Pythonesque weight, so well mated to the barrel that you have to look twice to realize it’s removable and wasn’t forged with the barrel itself. Atop the revolver is an accessory rail which also sports an interchangeable front sight (a Patridge front with gold bead is furnished) complemented by a precision adjustable rear sight that is striated to prevent glare. The front sight is shielded from leather holster shreds and whatnot by protective wings, a’la the old BoMar Rib for PPC revolvers, which are removable by the user if desired. Dedicated screwdrivers come with the gun for these purposes and for adjusting trigger pull.
The NXR’s finish is an attractive, workmanlike DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon). The stocks on our test sample are a handsome Turkish walnut, two-piece, and perfectly matched and mated. They feature finger grooves, a palm swell, and a flared flat bottom ideal for prone shooting or firing from the bench and are marked “Korth/ Jim Wilson.” Jim, a six-gun-savvy gun writer, designed these stocks.
The NXR’s cylinder latch, easily identified with a bright red dot for those more familiar with American-made six-guns, sits alongside the hammer but out of the way of thumb-cocking. It works fast and sure.
Externals are impressive. Once the shooting starts, the NXR’s internals are more so.
Shooting the NXR
The cylinder of the NXR takes the common HKS speedloader, size 29, and the grips are cut to let the loader clear them easily. Of course, that means the stocks also will not block expended shell casings. Clearly, some significant double-action revolver shooting experience went into this Korth design.
With the RMR in place, the test gun weighed a whopping 55.3 ounces unloaded. As you’d expect just from looking at it, its six-inch barrel is muzzle heavy.
The NXR in silhouette resembles the custom PPC guns that used to rule “police combat shooting” and has much the same feel. The forward weight stabilizes the gun against the double-action trigger stroke.
About that trigger pull: it is smooth and has what you might call a dual personality. With a slow double action (DA) pull, you can feel it pre-time – that is, the cylinder locks each chamber into line with the barrel earlier in the DA stroke than most other six-shooters. This facilitates a two-stage pull if you prefer to shoot this way. Most Master and High Master shooters prefer a single stage double action pull, and when you roll it that way, the sense of a stopping point disappears, facilitating a surprise break. The faster you fire the NXR, the more you notice that.
On the Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge from Brownell’s, working from the center of the smoothly polished narrow trigger (the ideal configuration for double action work according to most experts), pull weight averaged 10.23 pounds in double action and 4.89 pounds single action (SA). Both honestly felt lighter than that. This may have been due to the extremely smooth action and partly because the gun held so steady against the pull with the weight of all that steel.
Obviously, the NXR is a heavy handgun. For perspective, though, the Colt Anaconda .44 Magnum fits roughly the same “footprint” and is spec’d at 53 ounces unloaded. The NXR is a hefty beast for one-handed shooting, but its weight does inhibit felt recoil, and its muzzle heaviness does reduce muzzle rise.
The .44 Magnum is an extremely versatile chambering, accepting everything from light .44 Russian and .44 Special “cowboy loads” up through full power .44 Magnum and extra-potent large game hunting loads. Neither my ammo budget nor my arthritic wrists were up for a torture test of the entire broad range of .44 Magnum fodder, so representative cartridges at each power level were used on the range.
.44 Special was good enough for many of Jelly Bryce’s legendary shootings and Texas Ranger Frank Hamer’s one-shot instant kill of an assassin in Sweetwater. PMC’s 180-grain semi-jacketed hollow point .44 Special spec’d for 980 foot-seconds felt like shooting mild .38s in the heavy Korth. Five shots went into 2.70” from the 25-yard bench, and the best three, usually indicative of what the gun and load will do for all five from a machine rest, were 1.55″ apart.
MagTech 240 grain full Magnum with soft-nose semi-jacketed bullet is rated for 1617 foot-seconds velocity and 1395 foot-pounds of energy. The Korth’s weight made it not horrible for recoil. The five shots went into 2.15” with the best three clustering well under an inch, 0.80”. This configuration seems to be the most commonly found over-the-counter .44 Mag ammo.
The most pleasant surprise of the test was the “big bear buster” choice, the 310-grain flat-nose super-hard cast lead “Hammerhead” bullet from Garrett Cartridge. Rated for 1,325 FPS from a 7.5-inch barrel, it would have been slightly less out of the 6” cold hammer forged barrel of the Korth. Recoil was stout, but a hard crush grip kept the hands from separating.
What was most impressive was the group. All five shots were in 1.35”, and four of the five were in a cloverleaf so tight we couldn’t define the best three. The best four, however, were in less than half an inch center to center!
And that, my friends, is one reason this revolver retails for over five thousand dollars. One reason for the accuracy is rock solid cylinder lockup. Do you remember how the classic Colt Python had the second cylinder hand that would rise and lock the cylinder motionless as the hammer began to fall? The Korth does the same with a single cylinder hand that rises just a tad more as the hammer starts to come forward.
Our test gun carries an MSRP of $5299.00, not counting the RMR. How does one justify that kind of money? Fear not: your friendly neighborhood enablers here at On Target stand ready to help.
First, if you keep it for twenty years, its price figures out to less than 75 cents a day, and that score of years later, you’ll own a superb, uncommon gun that’s still worth a lot of money and is probably a family heirloom. But we can also look at utility based on the gun’s design and capability. We’ve all met the skeet gunner with a different expensive shotgun for each gauge used in the game and the hunter with a different $1,000-plus rifle for every quarry on his list. We can look at handguns the same way.
The NXR is 1) a superb designated hunting handgun. 2) It’s not necessarily too heavy to take for protection when salmon fishing in Alaska in competition with giant bears. 3) It’s hard to imagine a home defense revolver that will look more intimidating from the business end. If you compete, you can set it up like ours and go to the wonderful prize-rich Pin Shoot (www.pinshoot.com) and use it in 4) Space Gun division, then remove the RMR and enter with it in 5) Pin Gun and even 6) Stock Gun division. Handling much like the PPC revolvers John Pride once dominated 7) the Bianchi Cup match with light Special loads would do fine there. Heck, you could even shoot it in 8) open class in a PPC match. That’s seven $1,000-or-so guns that can be replaced by this single $5,300 one. Voila: it suddenly becomes economical!
Seriously, the Korth NXR is a superb handgun. It’s the kind of gun you show off to your friends … not only in the gun room, but on the range. Check out a Korth Revolver at your nearest Nighthawk dealer, or for more information, contact Nighthawk Custom; Tel.: (870) 423-4867; E-mail: [email protected]; Web: www.nighthawkcustom.com
Caliber: .44 Magnum
Barrel Length: 6-inches
Finish: Black DLC