Gun Test Smith & Wesson's 500 Monster Magnum

With the introduction of the Model 500, Smith & Wesson has reclaimed the title of maker of the world's most powerful revolver. Most reviewers have been so caught up in the 500's impressive numbers, however, that the potential utility of this cartridge as a hunting round has received secondary play.

The truth is that the Model 500 is a very shootable handgun that can handle a broad range of game. Accounts of the .500 S&W downing brown bears and Africa's dangerous game will start turning up soon.

Hunters now have three commercial loads--a 275-grain Barnes X bullet, a 400-grain Hawk softpoint and a 440-grain Hard Cast bullet, all marketed by Cor-Bon. (A flat-shooting 385-grain spitzer-style bullet probably will be available this fall.)

What is it about the 500's numbers that has everyone so worked up? Well, the light 275-grain Barnes X bullet leaves the barrel at 1,665 feet per second, generating 1,688 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, which is about double the energy of a standard 240-grain round from a .44 Magnum. The 400-grain load, at 1,675 fps from the muzzle, is carrying 2,500 foot-pounds of energy, and the 440-grain bullet, at 1,625 fps, delivers a whopping 2,580 foot-pounds at the muzzle. From his perch above, Elmer Keith surely must be smiling. --John Snow

BY THE NUMBERS

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson Type: Revolver Caliber: .500 S&W Magnum Action: Single action/Double action Capacity: 5 Weight: 72.5 oz. Finish: Satin Stainless Barrel Length: 8 3/8 in. Overall Length: 15 in. Trigger Pull: 4-5 lb. in single-action mode Accuracy: Approx. 2 in. at 50 yards (manufacturer's data) Suggested Retail: $987