Gun Review: Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum Revolver

I managed to sneak off for a little range time yesterday. I had the chance to shoot one of Smith and Wesson’s hand cannons: the 500 Magnum Revolver. After hearing (and fearing) a lot about the weapon’s recoil, I can say it deserves its rep as a YouTube comedy channel fodder. The 500′s got more kick than a stage-full of Rockettes. Even more impressive: the ports spewing hot gasses and flames like nitromethane hitting the headers of John Force’s funny car. This is not a gun for first time shooters—unless you want to put them off guns for life. But I think you knew that.

You load it up with five rounds of 350 grain .500 S&W—which pretty much resemble 12 gauge slugs. I was advised to choke up on the grip as much as possible without getting too close to the action. Speaking of which, dare I call it butter? Silky like a hot-rodded K frame. Only strictly X-rated. And as soon as the hammer drops, all hell brakes loose.

I had the proper stance and position, and I absorbed the recoil well. Unfortunately, my mouth open in awe upon firing. The recoil slammed my jaw shut. Really. My teeth still hurt.

I love it. I would not run out to buy a Smith & Wesson 500 (retail price $1,414). But then I don’t live anywhere near polar bears. And with a mouth guard, it could provide minutes of fun. At taxi ride prices. If someone offers you a chance to shoot one, offer to pay for the rounds. One cartridge costs about the same as a bottle of Snapple at my local gourmet deli.

I wonder how many people carry the Smith & Wesson 500 just waiting for the day they can pull a Crocodile Dundee. “You call that a gun? THIS is gun.” Moreover, at 56 (!) ounces, you never have to buy bullets for the Smith. Just use it as a club. Or join the exclusive club of owners who, for one reason or another, call this stainless steel cartoon cannon their own.

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About Brett Solomon

Brett Solomon got his first taste of the magazine world covering car electronics for CarSound & Performance Magazine. He landed the job by being noticed for designing high-end car audio systems. Which was fine by him because there was no way he was going to pass the third level of calculus toward an electrical engineering degree at University of Delaware. Not with those DuPont scholars around campus, he’ll take Journalism over Engineering, thank you very much. He has since written for a number of publications (think in-flight journalism) that lack the chutzpah of Robert Farago, and having all of those milquetoast reviews pent up in his system now allows his pen to spit fire. We’ll, he is just not that mean but happy to tell the truth…and the truth is most firearms are fun!

24 Responses to Gun Review: Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum Revolver

  1. avatarLance says:

    My dad got one a while back. We took it to a indoor range and we got a pistol lesson. The instructor would not let my dad load more that one round in the cylinder the first time he shot it because he had seen people who shot it and the recoil scared them so much that they shot again as the gun came up. The holes in the ceiling backed up his claim. It's a very fun gun .

  2. I've owned my s&w .500 mag for 2 yr's now and I love it. I was a little afraid the first time out at the range but after fireing my first round I thought this isn't so bad and I've been hooked on it ever since. Accuracy? I've put 5 rnds in the bullseye at 40 feet within a silver dollar. Recoil isnt bad with 300 to 350 grain bullets at 1350 fps and it gets real fun at 1900 fps. Make no mistake, it is a cannon but a fun to shoot cannon.

  3. avatarPeter Gnanapragasam says:

    I have owned a 500 S&W for a year now. When it comes to revolvers the 500 S&W is a Cadillac. It is smooth, accurate and fits well in my rather small hands. The contoured Hogue grip feels similar in size to a K frame revolver's grip and absorbs the recoil well and reduces felt recoil significantly. The trigger pull is exceptionally smooth without any stacking of weight and breaks cleanly. The trigger itself is wide just like it should be. However, on the minus side it's face is smooth and I would like to feel some stippling there instead. The accuracy of mine is again exceptional and is capable of one inch groups at 50 feet if the shooter is up to it.

    Beware of reflexive double bumping of the trigger with this revolver. Early on I had this occur thrice, but with more confidence and control this has not reoccurred since. Also keep your fingers off side of the forcing cone when firing this behemoth. Due to the pressures (50,000-60,000 PSI) of loaded cartridges the plasma gas cut through any fingers straggling over there. Besides you need to hold this revolver with both hands anyway, and due to the dimensions of this revolver, one would have to actively looking for trouble for this to transpire.

    The workmanship is excellent and the fittings are tight. Cylinder to forcing cone separation is hard to see even when back lit. Cylinder lock up is tight with no movement of the cylinder.

    I am glad to see S&W did not contrive this revolver by throwing together parts and calling it such. The revolver is a well thought of design and should be a decent hunting platform in polar bear country or Africa (where it has taken the big five – I understand this is meaningless because even the lowly 22 is capable of taking the Big 5 under the right circumstances).

  4. avatarJeff Montgomery says:

    My girlfriend saw this weapon on a TV show and said, “That’s what I want for Christmas!!”. Aside from the $1,300 price tag, how do I convince her that she won’t want to shoot this thing more than twice? Her heart is set on a revolver and I’ve tried to convince her to get something inherently shootable and which ammo won’t put me in the poorhouse but she wants the “look-at-the-size-of-THIS-thing” gun.

    • avatarKudu40 says:

      If you hand load, you can make it very manageable for her to shoot.

    • avatarJunior says:

      Jeff, if your girlfriend asked for the S&W 500…..MARRY HER! Nuff said

    • avatarDoubltap says:

      You can load 9.5 grains of Hodgdon Trail Boss powder under a home cast 400 grain LBT, achieve about 800 fps, and derive recoil that is very manageable. On the other end of the continuum, 37 grains of H110 under a 440 grain LBT kicks out about 1600 fps, and will definitely kick start your day!

  5. avatarkagbalete says:

    tried the SW 500, for but I found the 454 Casull more punishing….. great way to relieve stress though……

  6. avatarvikkktor says:

    I have one SW 500 mag Performance Center, with barrel 10 1/2. I buy this gun in 2005. For my part of the world, Romania, Est-Europe it is one performance, cause I don,t find this type of gun…It is amazing gun, the best weapon. Very, very gorgeous gun…I recommended this object for all persons who love weapons. This is a must have…

  7. avatarGordon Johnson says:

    I have had a 500 SW for more than a year. I agree with kagbalete, the 454 Casull is more punishing than the 500. I’m more accurate with the 500 than the Ruger 454. Great way to relieve frustrations however, a really great gun. Would love to take a bear with it.

  8. avatarevan says:

    im having my dad get me one for my 18th birthday and im getting the 4 inch barrel. for when i turn 21 so i can carry it. haha back up little fuckers. evans in town. i wouldnt even have to shoot. just flash it and take my wallet back.

  9. avatarBroncoBob says:

    I have most of the high end power house of guns,but what I like about the 500 is when it goes off everyone around can feel the concusion from the blast if your with in five feet of each shot you feel A thump all over,so I feel the need to get A thumper of my own.

    • avatarDoubltap says:

      Yup, my 4″ S&W does that, but so do my 4 5/8″ and 8″ custom [Phillips & Rogers] Blackhawk 50 AE revolvers. Heck, the 8″ moves the LEAVES on the ground!

  10. avatarJohn says:

    I just came across this article and wonder what sort of firearms the author has been shooting. I have owned my S&W 500 for a little over a year and personally don’t find the recoil all that bad. My 14 year old son has shot it, not his favorite to shoot though. My 19 year old daughter has shot it and wants one. Even my 86 year old mother has fired it, once, but she remained standing and acually placed the shot on paper! Yes I said 86 years old and she wieghs around 90lbs. Now when my mother fired the pistol I loaded it with Remington 350gr low recoil and in my opinon it with this round it has less recoil than my Rugar Redhawk 44 mag when loaded with a hot round. I love the pistol and the only thing I find that hurts is knowing how much money I just spent with each pull of the trigger, but then thats why I have several 22 pistols to play with. Still haven’t found a scope that works worth a damn on this pistol.

    • avatarDoubltap says:

      A 1.5 or 2.5 Leopold is the only thing I can think of that would hold up.

    • avatarJustin says:

      Try the Burris 2× – 7× I have it on my 500 and have had no problems with it in the last 2 years it’s extremely accurate at 200 yards

  11. avatarAdam says:

    I own the 500 S&W with the 8 3/8 inch barrel and have shot the 4 inch barrel model. The 4″ kicks quite a bit more than the 8 3/8 inch barrel but is still manageable for an experienced hand gunner using 350 grain rounds. I have found that 400 grain rounds fired out of the 8 3/8 inch model are less punishing than a 44 Magnum with wood grips, although the 700 grain rounds do KICK HARD! These are what cause inexperienced people to shoot the ceiling.

  12. avatarAsh says:

    I have the 500mag. and love it I shoot 50 rounds at a time with it and find it is a kitten to shoot. I killed a 400lb. RUSSIAN boar with it at 40 yards last month one shot fried his brain and compleatly removed his lower jaw . use a 400 grain bullet. This is the best gun I have ever owned or shot . If I could only own one gun this is my baby, nothing to be scared of .

  13. avatarwesp22 says:

    I love my .500
    She’s a real crowd pleaser at the range…
    I’m not sure what all the fuss is about though, she’s balanced well and with slightly bent elbows, recoil is very manageable.

    I’d really like to find somewhere to shoot something other than paper….I’d love to see some watermelons or cantaloupes explode.

  14. avatarBob says:

    I have read bragging stories of hot rounds and heavy bullets. The effectiveness of that has to be questionable. I have two. The 10″ and the 2-1/2. The 10 has a Leupold scope and is a fine, accurate piece that far exceeds my skills. A front bi-pod takes the strength issue out of the equation. Reloading 275 to 325 grain HP bullets and a light load and I have FUN with it. Hot loaded heavy bullets and it is not fun any more. 2 inch groups at 75 ft are routine for me, with the bipod and scope. I am sure that a higher skilled could do better.

    S&W had the survival kits out for a short time. I have one and it is a fist class kit. It is for the airplane and part of my bug out equipment should that ever happen.

    Bob

  15. avatarcary says:

    I bought my 500/8-3/8barrel august2012. A interchangeable muzzle brake for hollow points and solid comes with it. Its not as snappy as my glock 40cal but still a hand full. I love shooting it but it is on the expensive side to shoot. Truly, it is a real hand full and not for the 1st time shooter. trigger is silky smooth. My brother wants me to boar hunt with him so im looking to get the 440grain round, but im thinking the 300grain will probably do. I ran into a website that has a 700grain round. I would never put that in my 500, too much, just too much.

  16. The 500 sounds like a gun that would be fun to shot and just hold in ones hands. The stopping power alone sounds like the price is very well worth the gun.

  17. avatarjohn says:

    i would like to purchase a .500magnum ,please send me the price of the revolver, regards, john , vassallo, my e- mail is nev0818@gmail.com thanks

  18. Does anyone have any knowledge of the Bullet Trajectory of this beast?

    What is the bullet drop at 100 yards, 200 yds, 300 yds, 4oo yds, 500 yds?

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