Munition of the Week – The Smith & Wesson Model 500

Smith & Wesson Model 500
Greetings, fellow weapon enthusiasts, and welcome to my first article in this venerable publication. I must admit I had quite the difficult time selecting a weapon for such an auspicious occasion. I spent many hours deliberating the kind of impact I wanted to deliver (no pun intended) with this article. Should it be an explosive? Should it be a battle rifl e? Should it be a vehicle? Or mounted on one? After much deliberation, the choice became clear. For you, dear reader, I have selected one of my very favorite weapons. I have been fortunate enough to fi re this wonderful device on a few occasions, and it has been well worth the price of its formidable ammunition. Today I present to you the most powerful handgun currently manufactured, the Smith & Wesson model 500.

Nick with GunBuilt on the extremely durable X-Frame, the 500, as it is commonly known, holds fi ve .50 (fi fty caliber) Magnum rounds in a counter-clockwise feeding cylinder (the round part goes to the left, for those of you not familiar with gun terminology). As you may or may not know, most revolvers hold six rounds. The 500 holds fi ve to allow for thicker cylinder walls, which accommodate the intense pressure generated by the expanding gases as well as to more easily fi t the larger ammunition. Now you may be saying “Most powerful handgun made? But Nick, what about the Israeli Military Industries Desert Eagle?” While the Desert Eagle does indeed fi re a .50 round, it is the truncated Action Express variant, meaning that the cartridge (brass casing) is shorter, contains less powder and is therefore less powerful. While I have not, as of this writing, had the pleasure of fi ring the Desert Eagle myself, I have been informed by reputable sources that the recoil of the 500, despite its larger round it’s actually much more manageable, due to the overall weight of the gun, the compensator on the end of the barrel, and the Desert Eagle’s odd slide mechanism.

Developed primarily for hunting large game (its can pierce the skull of a charging bull elephant), the 500 has become wildly popular among target shooters, partly for the prestige that comes from fi ring one, as they are eternally on back order from the manufacturer. The gun has also seen a “snubnose” variant placed in survival kits of bush pilots fl ying over places such as Alaska, should they need to fend of large wildlife in the event of a crash. The shorter barrel (2” compared to the standard 8” or 10”) allows both maneuverability and conservation of ammunition, as it should be used only at point-blank range. Currently, there are only a few other handguns which chamber the 500 S&W round, including Magnum Research’s “BFR” their “Biggest, Finest Revolver”. While this is certainly not a handgun for everyone, I recommend that any experienced shooter looking for a unique experience seek out a range that possesses one and try it out. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

S&W 500 roundThere has been some controversy surrounding this gun (isn’t there always?). Before it was released, Sen. Chuck Schumer claimed that the 500 was being used by gangs and other criminals, and that hunters would not use it because it was too heavy, despite the gun weighing less than most hunting rifl es. Law enforcement offi cials have refuted Sen. Schumer’s accusations, claming no gang member would ever carry this weapon due to its weight, diffi culty in obtaining and concealing such a large handgun and the sheer price and relative scarcity of ammunition. There is no record of the 500 being used in a criminal act to date.