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.475 Wildey Magnum Autopistol: The Charles Bronson “Death Wish 3” Handgun

just like with the .44 AutoMag, the .475 Wildey is making a comeback, and appropriately, it has acquired the new(ish) moniker of Survivor.

.475 Wildey Magnum Autopistol
.475 Wildey Magnum Autopistol

Meet the .475 Wildey Magnum Autopistol: Magnums make for movie magic. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a symbiotic relationship between moviemakers and the manufacturers of several Magnum-caliber handguns, revolvers, and autopistols. 

It started in 1971 with the original Dirty Harry, which sent demand for the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum through the roof. Twelve years later, the fourth film in the Dirty Harry series, Sudden Impact, made the moviegoing public aware of another big-bore Magnum, the .44 AutoMag.

Alas, neither that movie nor the bestselling The Executioner action novel series were able to make the AutoMag financially viable. In 1988, the Freedom Arms .454 Casull got its proverbial 15 minutes of fame thanks to James Caan’s turn in the sci-fi cop buddy movie Alien Nation. And, of course, the big Desert Eagle has been in more movies than you can shake a stick at.

Last but not least, you have the .475 Wildey Magnum semiautomatic pistol, which was wielded by Charles Bronson in 1985’s Death Wish 3. Let’s give the Wildey an additional moment in the spotlight. 

 .475 Wildey Magnum Gun and Cartridge History & Specifications

The .475 Wildey Magnum cartridge was designed in 1977, though the actual pistol wouldn’t go into production until seven years later.

There were two different bullet weights made for the caliber: a 250-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1,850 feet per second and 1,900 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, and a 300-grain bullet at 1,610 fps and 1,727 ft-lbs.

For basis of comparison, a standard 240-grain .44 Magnum round generates a muzzle velocity of 1,180 fps and 741 fps out of a 7.5-inch test barrel. The .475 wields more ballistic energy at 100 yards than the .44 does at the muzzle.

The gun itself debuted in 1984 – four years later than originally planned – and was named for its inventor, Wildey J. Moore. Though bearing a token resemblance to AutoMag, which is a short recoil-operated autopistol, the Wildey is more akin to the Desert Eagle in terms of being gas operated. While the AutoMag and Desert Eagle are single-action autoloaders, the Wildey stands out as the first gas-operated double-action semiauto pistol.

In addition, as noted by ohn Woods in a 2019 article for AllOutdoor.Com, “The unique feature of the Wildey pistol is its ability to change or adjust the gas operation for different loads. This also aids in reducing the pistol’s recoil.”

Original barrel lengths were 8, 10, and 12 inches, with a weight in the neighborhood of 4 pounds, 5 ounces. Magazine capacity is 7 rounds.

Lights, Camera, Action: The “Death Wish 3” Connection

The .475 Wildey Magnum showed that Bronson’s Paul Kersey character had come a long way in choice of armament from the .32 S&W Long caliber Colt Police Positive that he carried in the original Death Wish 11 years prior, and the .380 ACP caliber Beretta Model 84 in the second film, made in 1982.  The pistol used by Bronson in DW3 was the actor’s real-life personal pistol, a 10-incher with an eye-catching stainless steel finish. 

Though the film only grossed a relatively modest $16.1 million at the box office, it is still credited with generating enough sales of the gun to save the manufacturer from insolvency, and Moore noted that sales of his gun would spike every time the movie appeared on cable TV. 

Want Your Own?

Luckily for y’all, just like with the .44 AutoMag, the .475 Wildey is making a comeback, and appropriately, it has acquired the new(ish) moniker of Survivor. Production was suspended in 2011, but the Wildey gun franchise was purchased by USA Firearms in 2015. USA Firearms website lists a base price of $2,750, and you can fill out their online order form to tailor the gun to your specific desires.  Meanwhile, L&M Enterprises USA LLC recently sold one on the GunsAmerica.Com website for the comparatively low price of $1,495. 

Ammo will set you back a pretty penny as well. Reed’s Ammunition & Research, LLC lists Speer Gold Dot loadings of 275 and 325 grains at $190 and $220, respectively, for a 100-round box. Spare magazines will cost you $79.95 apiece.

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. 

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).