The 500 S&W; headlines the list of new loads for 2005, but a reduced-recoil 500 S&W; cartridge, a speedy .22 LR rimfire and several new loads for old favorites like the .357 and .41 Magnums make this an interesting year for handgun hunters.
500 S&W; Goes Wild
The massive X-Frame Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver was the hunting handgun star of the 2003 SHOT Show. Not surprisingly, there are 11 new loads available for it this year.
Cor-Bon/Glaser, developer of the original 500 S&W; cartridge for Smith & Wesson, has three new loads: a 325-grain Barnes X spitzer at 1,800 feet per second (fps) that produces 2,338 foot-pounds (ft.-lb.) of energy; a 350-grain JHP at 1,600 fps/1,989 ft.-lb.; and a 385-grain Bonded Core hollowpoint at 1,725 fps/2,544 ft.-lb. (800-338-3220; www.corbon.com)
Hornady introduced a 350-grain magnum XTP hollowpoint at 1,900 fps/ 2,805 ft.-lb. last year. It has followed it up with a 500-grain MAG-XTP flatpoint moving at 1,425 fps and hitting with 2,254 ft.-lb. (800-338-3220; www .hornady.com)
Buffalo Bore enters the 500 S&W; arena with a 400-grain jacketed flat nose at 1,675 fps/2,491 ft.-lb.; a 440-grain lead flat nose at 1,625 fps/2,579 ft.-lb.; and a reduced 440-grain lead flat nose at 1,325 fps/1,715 ft.-lb. (208-756-8085; www.buffalo bore.com)
Ultra Max Ammunition offers a 400- grain hardcast load at 1,400 fps/1,740 ft.-lb.; a 325-grain JHP at 1,290 fps/1,200 ft.-lb.; and a 330-grain RNFP at 1,290 fps/1,218 ft.-lb. (800-345-5852; www.ultramax ammunition.com)
** New 500 Deer Load**
While the 500 S&W; is capturing the lion’s share of attention among big-game handgun hunters, a new .50-caliber round might actually prove more useful for many, especially for those who pursue deer-sized game.
Developed by Cor-Bon/Glaser (at Smith & Wesson’s request), the 500 S&W; Special was introduced in August. A shorter-cased version of the 500 S&W;, it is no different in concept from a .38 Special fired in a .357 Magnum, or a .44 Special in a .44 Magnum. And it functions perfectly in the S&W; Model 500 while producing less recoil. Two loads are currently available-a 350-grain JHP at 1,350 fps/1,417 ft.-lb., and a 350-grain full- metal-jacket “plinking/practice” round at 1,300 fps. The shortened 500 S&W; Special fits into a standard-sized large handgun frame while producing ballistics comparable to the .480 Ruger. Although no one is talking right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new, more compact .50-caliber revolver from S&W; in the very near future.
[pagebreak] New Classics
Old favorites haven’t been ignored this year either. Speer has introduced the Gold Dot JHP in the .41 Magnum. This load delivers a 210-grain bullet at 1,350 fps (from a 6-inch revolver barrel) producing 848 ft.-lb. (800-627-3640; www.speer-bullets.com)
Buffalo Bore offers four new “Heavy” .357 Magnum loads intended for single-shot pistols: a 180-grain Lead Flat Point-Gas Check at 1,400 fps/783 ft.-lb.; a 170-grain JHC at 1,400 fps/740 ft.-lb.; a 158-grain JHC at 1,475 fps/763 ft.-lb.; and a 125-grain JHC at 1,700 fps/802 ft.-lb. For 10mm fans, they have a 180-grain Gold Dot JHP at 1,350 fps/782 ft.-lb. and a 200-grain FMJ at 1,200 fps/639 ft.-lb. (208-756-8085; www.buffalo bore.com)
Thompson/Center Arms introduced the .375 JDJ cartridge to its line in 2004 and is now supplying a 220-grain softpoint load at 2,200 fps/2,362 ft.-lb. (603-332-2333; www.tcarms.com) ** New Rimfire Loads**
Rimfire shooters will want to look at the new CCI17 Mach 2- a .17-caliber rimfire round built on a necked-down .22 LR Stinger cartridge case that delivers 2,000-plus fps from standard .22 LR actions with a standard .17-caliber bullet. Savage, Ruger, Thompson/Center, Marlin and others have already begun chambering both rifles and handguns for it.
In addition, the .17 HMR calibber will see a new CCI 20-grain GamePoint bullet that is purported to mushroom like an expanding big-game rifle bullet, reducing meat loss for small-game hunters while hitting .17 HMR velocities of greater than 2,300 fps. (866-286-7436; www.cci-ammunition.com)