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Thread: The Most Powerful Handgun in the World!

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The Most Powerful Handgun in the World!

    S&W's new .50 caliber "Dirty Harry Special" -

    In the 1971 movie "Dirty Harry," actor Clint Eastwood introduced the world to the double-action Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44-cal. Magnum revolver—"the most powerful handgun in the world."

It was a crown S&W wore proudly, albeit briefly.

The rising popularity of handgun hunting for big game (spurred largely by the .44 Magnum itself) prompted the introduction of newer and significantly more powerful revolver cartridges.

    Many powerful enough that they had to be chambered in single-action handguns because existing double-action designs could not contain the recoil forces and pressures they produced.

Since S&W does not make single-action revolvers, and no double-action frame at its disposal could handle the new loads, S&W was effectively dethroned.

At the 2003 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, the manufacturer regained its crown. And, most significantly, it did it by introducing a new massive double-action revolver that is chambered for an equally new .50-cal. cartridge.


    
The S&W X-frame Model 500 is a brawny handgun designed to master the most rigorous hunting fields in the world. It is not a revolver one would, or likely could, tuck into a waistband. In fact, to call it massive is an understatement.

With its 8-3/8-in. barrel, the overall length of the Model 500 is 15 in. and the empty weight is 4.5 pounds. The cylinder alone is almost 2 in. in diameter and approaches 2.25 in. in length. Thumb the cylinder open and five charge holes await. Each is 1/2 in. in diameter, and the .50-cal. cartridges they hold are almost 2 in. long. Load five of them and the total weight of the handgun climbs to 5 pounds.



    You don't just casually pick up a Model 500. You have to lift it.

Fire even one of those big cartridges and you'll appreciate why the weight and mass are there.

When the .44 Magnum laid claim to being the most powerful handgun in the world, its standard load produced about 900 ft.-lb. of muzzle energy. Several new loads have since eclipsed that, but the handgun most commonly used by big game hunters is the .454 Casull, which will generate about 1900 ft.-lb.



    The 500 S&W Magnum will produce almost 2600 ft.-lb. with its heaviest load, and more powerful loads may well be on the way.

If Dirty Harry felt that the .44 Magnum would make his day, the new 500 S&W Magnum would certainly make his decade. It is the largest double-action revolver available, and there is no production revolver in the world—single or double action—capable of matching, or even approaching, the level of power it produces.

    Rest (including pics) here:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/outd...7336?src=popsf

  2. #2
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    A friend has one of these - the 12" S&W Performance Center version (the one pictured with the sling), and I've shot it off a pistol rest.

    The 325 gr bullets are considered "light" loads and have severe recoil. The 440 gr full-house loads have recoil beyond severe, and will bruise the hand (and possibly forehead) of even experienced shooters. The article says the recoil is manageable. Yes, it is, for someone used to shooting .454 Casull. For someone used to a 9mm or even a .45 ACP, it's not going to be fun.

    Recall that this is a revolver, so there is no gas-operation mechanism to lessen any recoil like in the .50 Action-Express Desert Eagle -- it all comes back to your hand and arm.

    Accuracy is very good. Assuming you don't flinch, the muzzle velocity is such that bullet drop is non-existant at ranges under 50 yards, so you'll almost certainly hit what you were aiming at.

    Chip H.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    A friend has one of these - the 12" S&W Performance Center version (the one pictured with the sling), and I've shot it off a pistol rest.

    The 325 gr bullets are considered "light" loads and have severe recoil. The 440 gr full-house loads have recoil beyond severe, and will bruise the hand (and possibly forehead) of even experienced shooters. The article says the recoil is manageable. Yes, it is, for someone used to shooting .454 Casull. For someone used to a 9mm or even a .45 ACP, it's not going to be fun.

    Recall that this is a revolver, so there is no gas-operation mechanism to lessen any recoil like in the .50 Action-Express Desert Eagle -- it all comes back to your hand and arm.

    Accuracy is very good. Assuming you don't flinch, the muzzle velocity is such that bullet drop is non-existant at ranges under 50 yards, so you'll almost certainly hit what you were aiming at.

    Chip H.
    I've fired some .44 revolvers - and a Desert Eagle .50 - once!

    The recoil is off-putting, even if you are a physically very strong person.

    And if you don't have much better than average hand/grip strength (as well as arm/upper body strength) a gun in this range isn't just difficult to shoot safely, it's physically un-fun. The recoil can leave bruises, even damage a person's hand (if they are frail/light boned).

    A few summers back, a friend of mine's college-age son and his buddy spent a couple of days with us on their way out West. We did some shooting. Eventually, I brought out my Mossberg 510 with pistol grips, loaded with 3 inch magnum 00. Now, this kid is maybe 150 pounds soaking wet. He asked to shoot the Mossberg. I, not really thinking, let him try.

    He was barely able to hold onto it as it discharged. It was obvious it did not feel good! He did not want to shoot it a second time...

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    I have a .357 Magnum Desert Eagle. Recoil is like a .22 rimfire

    Seriously, it's very minimal. However - there is still a lot of mechanical motion going on (the slide has to come back the full length in order to pick up the next round) and some muzzle blast. So if you can ignore that, it's a point-and-click gun.

    The uhh, downside, is that the Desert Eagle isn't all that reliable. Being that you're shooting a revolver round in a semi-auto means that feeding and ejecting will never be 100% perfect. However, most of those types of problems can be solved by upping the powder charge.

    Cleaning is another chore with the Desert Eagle. Being gas-operated, you need to keep the gas piston and cylinder very clean.

    In short - a fun gun for plinking and non-dangerous game. I would never trust my life to one.

    Chip H.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    I have a .357 Magnum Desert Eagle. Recoil is like a .22 rimfire

    Seriously, it's very minimal. However - there is still a lot of mechanical motion going on (the slide has to come back the full length in order to pick up the next round) and some muzzle blast. So if you can ignore that, it's a point-and-click gun.

    The uhh, downside, is that the Desert Eagle isn't all that reliable. Being that you're shooting a revolver round in a semi-auto means that feeding and ejecting will never be 100% perfect. However, most of those types of problems can be solved by upping the powder charge.

    Cleaning is another chore with the Desert Eagle. Being gas-operated, you need to keep the gas piston and cylinder very clean.

    In short - a fun gun for plinking and non-dangerous game. I would never trust my life to one.

    Chip H.
    Yeah - expensive, too!

    I have come to really like the little Bersa Thunder .380 I bought a few months back. It is ideal for CC and (so far) has been extremely reliable. A few days ago I put about 300 rounds through it without a single problem.

    I like to shoot my Sig 220, but the truth is it's a little large/heavy for CC - at least, for me - most of the time - because I mostly wear cargo-type pants/shorts without a belt and use an "inside the pants" holster.

    I'm still looking for a CC holster for this gun that will work for me - and the type of clothing I usually wear... any ideas?

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    I once shot a 44 magnum. My movie idol is Clint Eastwood and if I were to get a gun that would be the one. Problem is I can't even afford a water pistol at the moment.With all the hot weather upon us that would be more practical anyway.

  7. #7
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    I looked at a S&W 500 a couple of years back. It's the first pistol I've ever seen with a muzzle brake. The guy behind the counter said that was to lessen the end of the barrel coming up when shot. It still kicks, but straight back. There's just something about it as it is a beautiful weapon but I'd be afraid to fire it in anything other than a perfect double handed stance. I'm not a small person and have made my living throwing bundles of shingles for 30+ years, so I'm not out of shape, much. I'd still be afraid of spraining my wrist. On the other hand, there's just something about it.

    One pistol that was even scarier was a .460. The 500's older brother. They had one with a 2 inch barrel. I don't see how anybody normal could fire that thing, and hit what they're aiming at. sheesh! I'll probably stay with my .45 revolver. The only time I've missed with it was the first time I shot it. I was down and to the left as I over compensated for the remembered recoil from the .357 I'd had previously.
    Honk if you love Jesus.

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  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    I looked at a S&W 500 a couple of years back. It's the first pistol I've ever seen with a muzzle brake. The guy behind the counter said that was to lessen the end of the barrel coming up when shot. It still kicks, but straight back. There's just something about it as it is a beautiful weapon but I'd be afraid to fire it in anything other than a perfect double handed stance. I'm not a small person and have made my living throwing bundles of shingles for 30+ years, so I'm not out of shape, much. I'd still be afraid of spraining my wrist. On the other hand, there's just something about it.

    One pistol that was even scarier was a .460. The 500's older brother. They had one with a 2 inch barrel. I don't see how anybody normal could fire that thing, and hit what they're aiming at. sheesh! I'll probably stay with my .45 revolver. The only time I've missed with it was the first time I shot it. I was down and to the left as I over compensated for the remembered recoil from the .357 I'd had previously.

    Yeah, it's pretty.

    That's another area where guns and cars (and bikes!) have something in common. We appreciate them for their form as much as their function. I'd like to have one just to be able to display it/look at it!

    Have you ever seen the .44 Automag? It was also featured in a "Dirty Harry" movie...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c8k3...eature=related

    They were not successful when new but today they are real collector's items!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Yeah - expensive, too!

    I have come to really like the little Bersa Thunder .380 I bought a few months back. It is ideal for CC and (so far) has been extremely reliable. A few days ago I put about 300 rounds through it without a single problem.

    I like to shoot my Sig 220, but the truth is it's a little large/heavy for CC - at least, for me - most of the time - because I mostly wear cargo-type pants/shorts without a belt and use an "inside the pants" holster.

    I'm still looking for a CC holster for this gun that will work for me - and the type of clothing I usually wear... any ideas?
    Sorry - don't really know of one.

    I ordered a belt holster for the Walther P-99 last year. Because it's not a standard pistol (aka 1911), my choices were plastic, plastic, and custom leather. I hate plastic holsters, so custom leather it was. Still waiting on it.

    http://bulmangunleather.com/

    Chip H.

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