All images and technical information on this webpage by courtesy and permission of Pfeifer Arms Ltd.

The worlds most powerful pistol is the Austrian Pfeifer-Zeliska .600 Nitro Express Magnum. It is chambered to fire the British developed .600 caliber rifle  bullet originally made by Holland and Holland. This revolver was not originally a full production model but a bespoke one off, built especially for a wealthy Swiss gentleman...Mr. Zeliska.

But if you would like one and I am sure that a few of you 'gunslingers' with a bit of disposable income would, then contact Pfeifer arms (url near bottom of page) and they will actually make one for you.  Priced at 14,000 Euro's, this equates at around $17,000 or £11,000 including taxes.

At long last I have been able to source a video of this revolver being fired, its actually a fluted cylinder type in the video (not as strong as unfluted) and is also a descendant copy of the Pfeifer-Zeliska and not a faithful copy either as it has an extended recoil compensator muzzle brake, but it is still firing the .600 NE Magnum round.

It has taken a while for this style of revolver to catch on because of its price.  The video has been uploaded to Youtube by the shooter, so I will embed it here...I like the way the guy is wearing a motorcycle crash helmet!! as he believes the Pfeifer-Zeliska's recoil will flip the gun and bash his head in...but as I stipulate on this page, the weight of the revolver at just over 13 lbs is heavy enough to absorb most of the recoil making the revolver quite safe to fire...

The Pfeifer Revolver is also available chambered for the  .458 Winchester Magnum and this qualifies it as the second worlds most powerful handgun. The .600 Nitro Express Magnum revolver is a single action, five shot, old west style gun. A single action revolver style was chosen for this gun as it is stronger in construction than a double action revolver due to the solid stronger base frame that the cylinder sits in.

The image below shows the colossal size of the revolver in the hands of a suitably impressed gun magazine photographer!

This is not a joke or a photo-shopped image, this revolver really does exist. It's the absolute ultimate Magnum revolver and one that Smith & Wesson would rather you didn't know about as their market researcher would need medication!

Rumors that Smith & Wesson were actually contemplating developing a .75 caliber pistol have never been truly substantiated, or have never left the drawing board.  The possibility of such a gun coming from the Smith & Wesson stable though is remote to say the least.

Because of its size, the Pfeifer-Zeliska .600 Nitro Express Magnum would really be required to be fired whilst resting on a bench clamp or small sand bags as shown in the image below.  The gun weighs in at total of 13.23 lbs and consequently is heavy enough to absorb most of the violent recoil, in fact, it is said to be on par to firing the Smith & Wesson .50 Magnum.

The recoil is not violently uncontrollable, on the contrary it is tamed by the guns 13.23 lb's weight down to acceptable levels.  A bi-pod and shoulder stock may be in order though as gravity would be the biggest issue, meaning that you would not be able to level this revolver at arms length for any great period of time.  The bullet that if fires is the main reason why this revolver is so awesome...the .600 Nitro Express.

The .600  Nitro Express cartridge was originally developed in 1899 for big game hunters who went to Africa with the intention of killing elephants, (something that I despise by the way) and was fired from a double barrelled rifle.

Even though Holland & Holland no longer manufacture these cartridges, they can still be sought through the gun trade, small reloading companies or even over the internet.  One company still actually make these rounds and they are Kynoch  at www.kynochusa.com Shown below to almost actual size.

The images below shows almost actual size of the .600 Nitro Express round, the bullet of which can go clean through a 10mm steel plate at twelve meters like a hot knife through butter. Below is a comparison between the U.S Armys standard 5.56mm round and the .600 Nitro Express cartridge.

These .600 Nitro Express cartridges are megga expensive and sell from about $40 onwards each! So it would cost $200 every time you loaded the Zeliska.  Of course the size of cartridge based ammunition can go on, up to an 88mm anti-tank round and beyond but as small arms go, these bullets/cartridges are colossal.

Nitro Express in firearms terms actually applies to a cartridges charge or powder, that in this instance is made by mixing nitro-glycerine with the already explosive gunpowder to make a  nitrocellulose compound which is then dried and becomes many times more explosive than the original gunpowder.

With a Bullet Weight of 900 grains and a muzzle velocity 1950 fps, it produces muzzle energy of 7591 ft/lbs or 3½ tons! the Pfeifer- Zeliska .600 Nitro Express Magnum is eight times more powerful than a Smith and Wesson .44 magnum  and three times more powerful than the Smith and Wesson .50 Magnum.  As handguns go, this is the absolute ultimate.

The Mag-Port recoil compensation holes can be seen at the business end of the barrel, these holes let some of the blast out before the bullet has left the barrel, in so reducing the back pressure enough to lower the recoil to an acceptable degree. In fact the gun only rises up 60 degrees when fired.  This might sound quite a lot, but a .44 Magnum Super Ruger BlackHawk is about the same if not more, consequently, it wouldn't be that much of a surprise to experienced pistol and revolver shooters.

The line of sight from rear to front sight is 440mm. This long sight range of course helps for long range shooting of which the .600 Nitro Express is more than capable.  This revolver would really set its self apart if it was to have telescopic handgun sights fitted to it, as long range shooting would be this guns best forté.

Below is an image of the ported muzzle of the Pfeifer-Zeliska, these ports help to reduce the massive recoil by "farming off" some of the gases.  Most super high power pistols such as the Smith & Wesson .50 Magnum also utilize this feature.

As this gun is a single action revolver, the hammer needs to be manually cocked every time before the gun can be fired.  At one time, this is was way that all revolvers were cocked, including all the Colt revolvers of the old west.

The cartridges are loaded one at a time through a 'gate' on the right side of the cylinder housing. The spent cartridge cases are also ejected through this gate, by pushing back the extractor rod that lies under the barrel. 

The extractor rod has a stroke of 170mm and pushes the 76mm long Nitro Express cases out 60mm from the back of the cylinder leaving 17mm of the case still in the chamber, enough for them to be extracted by hand.  As .600 Nitro Express cases are quite heavy and expensive and can be reloaded, they aren't damaged by falling to the ground.  This is quite a good innovation which shows that there has been a lot of thought put into the manufacturing of this fine and unique revolver.

Nice polished woodwork there.

The gun is made from super hard 42CrMo4 Tungsten steel and can withstand the gas pressure of the .600 Nitro Express Magnum cartridge of 2500 BAR without a hitch. The cylinders pivot is 8mm in diameter and is bolted to the frame for extra strength. The empty cylinder with its highly polished chambers weighs a massive 4.5 lb on its own. The hammer, extractor, knock-out cylinder bar, screws and the cylinder central pivot are all gold plated.  Gold is a very beautiful metal, that always retains its shine but more importantly, it doesn't corrode.

Just to reiterate here, the massive weight of this revolver, at over 13 lbs, helps to keep the massive recoil down to acceptable levels. And with the cylinder alone weighing in at over 4 lbs...almost twice as heavy as most complete revolvers...this is not surprising!

On the right lower sides of the gun, the inscriptions are gold filled. The inscriptions read..."MOD. ZELISKA CAL .600 NE" on the left side and on the right, the manufacturer's address  "K. PFIEFER WAFFEN, FELDKIRCH, AUSTRIA"

Most of the guns metal work was made on conventional milling and drilling machines, then  each part was finished to a very high standard by fine filing and polishing to give the gun a superb finish.  With a price of  $17,316 ( @ 20 Nov 2008) though, the price of this unique gun is just as exclusive as the caliber!

Click the picture to go to the Austrian Pfeifer custom gun website.  The .600 Nitro Express revolver is no longer shown on their website?  The text below is duplicated direct from their site, however this information is no longer dispayed.

Pfeifer Waffen Feldkirch
Schlossgraben 10-12
A-6800 Feldkirch
Austria / Europe
phone 0043/ 5522/ 741 74
Fax 0043/ 5522/ 77660
office@pfeifer-waffen.at

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8.30am - 12.00pm / 2.00pm - 6.00pm
Saturday 8.30am - 12.00pm

Forget everything you’ve heard about magnum revolvers, this is the ultimate gun.  Measured by muzzle energy, it is the most powerful in the world with Cal.600 Nitro Magnum.

Every single part is made by hand and is matched individually for each Zeliska revolver.  The Zeliska revolver is unique and a masterpiece of the art of gunsmithing.  Due to the weight of the gun, shooting the Zeliska is no problem for a skilled marksman.

There won’t be any permanent damage inflicted to your wrist.  The Zeliska is also available in cal .458 Win Mag, take into consideration that the price for this ammunition is much lower than .600 Nitro Magnum.

 

TECHNICAL DATA

  • Caliber: .600 Nitro Express or .458 Winchester Magnum

  • Muzzle Velocity: 462 m/s with Full Metal Jacket 900 grain bullet

  • Muzzle energy: 6,230 joules

  • Weight: 13.23 lbs

  • Cylinder Capacity: 5 rounds

  • Barrel length: 13 inches

  • Overall length: 21.65 inches

  • Features: Special browned steel.  As every revolver is an individual product we can satisfy every customers wish.

  • The Zeliska comes with an exclusive wooden case

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THOMPSON CONTENDER ENCORE .600 NE

The Pfeifer-Zeliska .600 Nitro Express Magnum is a very impressive revolver, a revolver that is truly the worlds most powerful...EVER.  But its not alone...

...The Thomson Contender Encore, as seen below, is a single shot target pistol that fires the same super powerful .600 Nitro Express Magnum bullet as the Pfeifer-Zeliska.  However, as the Thompson Contender is a very light pistol, it is consequently very dangerous and  uncontrollable when fired.

A nice looking pistol, but looks can be deceptive!

The recoil in such a relatively light gun at 6 lbs can in fact throw the pistol clean out of your hands as the video grab below testifies.

PLEASE NOTE: The video below shows the Thompson Contender Encore .600  NOT the Pfeifer-Zeliska.

I have drawn a red arrow that points at the Thomson Contender, (its the blurry grey object) as it flies over the shooters head after he fired it on the shooting range.  He was lucky the gun flew over his shoulder and didn't smash him in the face.

A never again to be experienced exploit in pistol shooting.

.600 NITRO EXPRESS BALLISTICS

The .600 Nitro Express fires a 900 or 1040 grain bullet between 1600 - 2100 feet per second muzzle velocity, with between 8000 and  10,000 foot/pounds of muzzle energy this of course is over four tons of energy.

The powerful 1040 grain bullet can of course be fired in the Zeliska, but a bit more safely than the Thompson Encore, as with the Zeliska, the recoil is arrested quite well.

Note: No bullet can ever be as powerful as when fired throught a rifle and the .600 Nitro Express is no exception, it is in that case even more powerful!

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Page created February 11th 2006. Updated January 2nd 2013