In Top Shot season three’s opening salvo, we learned that Survivor survivor and series host Colby’s hands have been surgically attached to his hips. And there’s someone on planet earth thinner than Colby. Who was eliminated. I mention all this because it’s funny. In other news, the competition began with TTAG commentator’s Joe Matafome’s pride and joy: the Smith & Wesson 500. With Germanic pride (i.e. over-capitalization) Smith’s website calls the five-shot revolver “A Hunting Handgun For Any Game Animal Walking.” Running? That too. Did you know that S&W designed the 500 cartridge before the new-for-2003 X-frame wheelgun that holds it? The can was invented before the can opener too. As for the 500’s shootability . . .

The 500’s recoil is not as bad to as you might imagine—provided your imagination is as limited as Top Shot’s producers. Or you’re not the aforementioned eliminatrix, who was almost as surprised as I was that the big Smith didn’t break her arm in three places. FYI, the 500’s barrel is almost as long as Amanda Hardin’s limbs (8⅜”). That’s the ex-competitor in question, who will long be remembered for her pseudo-Apocolyptic biographical note: “One of my favorite smells is gun oil.” I wonder how defeat smells.

Wikipedia reveals that “the Model 500 can fire a bullet weighing 350 gr ( 22.7 g; 0.8 oz) at 1975 feet per second (602 m/s) generating a muzzle energy of over 3,030 foot-pounds force (4.1 kJ).” Then again, “Articles, statements, and opinions vary widely on this firearm.” Including this one. I heart the 500 without hesitation, deviation or repetition. As Sam says (above) “That’s what you want from a gun.” Unless you’re looking for concealed carry. Here’s my fave 500 anecdote, via CBS Bnet:

Over the next few days we covered a lot of ground on foot looking for jumbo. When the moment of truth arrived, I found myself about forty yards away from a herd of ten elephants. When you get this close to jumbo there isn’t any cartridge that seems “too big.” We checked the wind periodically since these animals have incredible senses of smell. I laid the hefty revolver in the cradle of shooting sticks and held for a heart/lung shot.


When the big slug struck home, I immediately sent another. It was all over in a matter seconds. Once again, the big bullet performed as expected, and the results would feed the locals for many days ahead. After recovering one of the bullets we found it retained over 90-percent of its original weight. If the Smith & Wesson 500 can handle elephant and cape buffalo, it seems elk and deer should be a piece of cake.

Elk and deer cake. Yum! Next up: the Larue OBR. I’m not sure which Larue PredatAR (geddit?) the marksman-turned-pole dancers used, but the relatively short-barreled long gun (without a flash suppressor) is a kick ass sniper rifle. This I know because Colby told me so. Larue’s website does mention that: “The PredatAR 5.56 is designed for those who are searching for a lightweight, ultra-reliable and accurate 5.56 mm NATO rifle for home-defense, competition-shooting or hunting.” Then again, maybe I’m just sniping. With my Tactical iMac.

Quite why the contestants needed spotters to hit targets at 50 and 100 yards (or feet or something) I have no idea. The Larue is a 1000 yard gun, as owner JerkeeJoe at snipershide.com attests:

It took us 4 rounds to find the steel with no dope, an unfamiliar scope, and a new gun, but the 5th round was a hit, and of the 40 more rounds fired at the 1000 yard steel, around 30 were hits. The rest were all close misses. I was pretty amazed at the little gas guns ability to reach out to 1k so accurately. I initially signed up for an 18″, but am very happy that I settled for a 16″.

The gun handles very well, is very light, and handles recoil like a dream. I was never off target after a shot due to recoil and the lack of recoil made very quick followup shots possible. There were a couple times when I shot very quick strings of 3 and got 2 hits out of three (at 1000!) basically rapid firing. The other 4 guys I shot with today all took a turn also, and all made hits at 1000. Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the gun so far.

And then: the Winchester 1873 lever gun. Top Shot, a History Channel production, told us that “Repeating rifles were a significant advance over single-shot rifles for use in combat due to their greater rate of fire.” I guess their Google done broke. The Winchester never made the original Model 1873 in Colt .45, the standard military cartridge of the day. While the U.S. Army fielded the Springfield Model 1873, both guns were a dead end.  Lever guns can’t be used in the prone position. The American Civil War had established trench warfare as the future of fighting.

Still the Winchester 1873 was “the gun that won the west.” Remembering that the whole Wild West thing is 90 percent myth, 10 percent bullshit. With a little room for 700,000+ 1873s, which were cheap, reasonably robust and fired handgun ammo. Actually, I lie. The 1873 was used for at least one successful military campaign. The Indians that helped General Armstrong Custer achieve infamy at Little Big Horn (with Dustin Hoffman) used the Winchester 1873 against the army’s single shot breech loading Springfield 1873s.

In case you were wondering, the Top Shot elimination round pitted Amanda please against Customer Service Professional Mark “Crazy Eyes” Schneider, not shooting pop-up targets with the 1873 Winchester from a stage set. Coach. Stage coach. Oh, before that, the Red Team chose their deuce of duds using an old Colt revolver of some sort. Single action, of course. Still, it’s better than throwing rocks. Did I mention that one of the competitions to come involves throwing a rock at a tin can? Thankfully, it looked like a tactical rock. Can’t wait. Well, can. Soda speak.

22 Responses to The Guns of Top Shot Season Three Episode One

  1. Just remember that this show introduces more of the population to “firearms” and shows them that they are not so evil. So their little exaggerations are not the worst thing.

    • Exaggerations are indeed a worst thing. Facts are facts and when I have ever learned something new, I have always preferred facts over exaggerations intended to persuade me one way or another. It is common courtesy to not spread stupidity…or the clap.

    • When a person not familiar with firearms sees the targets explode, what do you think they believe? Do you think it reinforces the stereotypes created by television and media? Exaggerating and misrepresenting what firearms do is worse than not introducing them at all.

  2. I was thrilled to see the 500 open the show, but they should have used the BONE COLLECTOR with the 700 grain T-REX ammo. Now that would have really been interesting. It looked like they were using the 350 grain Hornaday, which greatly reduces the recoil with the long barrel. I would also loved to see the Snubbie in there.

  3. well, where to start. I thought the 500 challenge was great, some of the red team members, not so much. the red haired new yorker guy reminds me why i hate that city, with his pompous attitude after he missed everything. The weirdo who won the red team elimination challenge is also about as interesting as a can of soup, and as high strung as a poodle, the cowboy shooting expert said it best there. I also think the elimination challenge could of been better practiced for, why not sit them in the bed of a pickup to practice to simulate the height of the shooting platform? I think it is great that they have a SEAL on the blue team in light of what has happened recently in that community, i do notice far less ex-military folks than last season, a questionable choice

    • IIRC Season 1 wasn’t super heavy on ex-military contestants. But then again I think that most of the ex-military contestants seem to act like a bunch of condescending jackoffs to everyone so I don’t really care if they aren’t on the show.

      • i think this the the “Alpha” type personality we are speaking to here. This personality type thrives under pressure, which there is alot in any shooting competition

        “seem to act like a bunch of condescending jackoffs”

        : this was really only George, from last season and he turned out be a good guy at the end. Did any of the civilian shooters hit the 50 cal target in 1 shot, nope. I think George was hilarious most of the time when he talked smack (with the sole exception of his smack talk on the FAL, one of my all time favorite weapons)

        The only people that got the attitude treatment was jay, the golf guy who would not listen to professional instruction and that whiny Navy rescue swimmer (before i get jumped on, i come from a Navy family), he was weak because he shrunk when challenged, Ashely the USAF Spec Ops guy is the example I’m thinking here.

        Jake from season 3 is my man this season, all other backgrounds of the other competitors pales in comparison. He prob has more trigger time than anyone else this season.

        remember that the first top shot Iain Harrison is a British Army Vet.

        • Go watch season 2 again and pay attention to any of the interactions between the military contestants and the non military ones. The majority of the military guys come across as jags to any one in the house who hadn’t served. I know it most likely has to do with them having type A personalities and that’s fine but I don’t watch the show for the drama, I watch the show to see skilled people shooting cool weapons in cool challenges that I don’t have the resources to setup.

          I really liked Iain from season 1, it was a tie between him and JJ for who I wanted to win. George just reminds me of the standard douche bag frat boy.

  4. Remember those little paper triangles that we’d fold up from a strip of notebook paper and then try to flick through the ‘goalposts’ of a classmate’s fingers?

    Those will be in Top Shot Season 4. And so will drinking straws firing wads of chewed-up napkin.

  5. Who gives half a wad about rocks and axes and sticks and whatever the hell else they manage to involve. They’re bringing AKs (this season), ARs (every season), and big scary loud .50 caliber weapons into the limelight in a positive way.

    Focus, people.

    • good point lion, i jumped out of my chair when they showed the previews for next week. It is about time they included the most ubiquitous firearm on the planet the AK type (read not just the US), a symbol of both oppression (mid east lunacy) and freedom (the anti colonial struggle in Africa).

  6. ” Lever guns can’t be used in the prone position. ”

    What???

    Yes, lever guns can be used from prone. Easily. What I have trouble shooting from prone is those new-fangled semi-automatics with those ridiculous high capacity banana-rama clip things sticking way out the bottom.

    Lever guns weren’t used by the military back in the day for several reasons – they cost more than single shots to purchase, they used more ammo than single shots(cause you could shoot faster … and that cost more money in ammo), and they had more moving parts than single shots, which meant more stuff to break, which meant more stuff to repair, which meant they cost more. However, many officers purchased lever guns as personal weapons and carried them in campaigns.

    • +1

      Although I wouldn’t get too hung up on the “history” that top shot provides during each episode. I’m pretty sure the research they do prior to each episode is just Colby hopping on wikipedia and writing the first little blurb down on an index card and calling it a day.

  7. Just watched the show on line, no commercials. Highly recommended.

    Um, Amanda…you fired, I think, 25 rounds over three competitions. And hit two, count ’em…two targets. How were you selected for the show again?

    Probably not her fault. That falls to the producers who selected her. And I’m not saying I’d do better. Not by a long shot (heh). But holy crap. Could they not find another more competitive token female shooter?

    I just think back to the woman from season one who had to leave due to her father’s illness. She could shoot.

    • I think the S&W 500 was sort of unfair for the women competitors, especially without giving them any sort of practice session beforehand. I’ve never fired the 500 but I have shot a .50ae Desert Eagle and that things no joke either, so I can only imagine the effect unfamiliar/incredibly powerful weapon + pressure would have on your marksmanship. That being said the fact that she completely dropped the ball with the OBR was ridiculous, whether it was the 5.56 or 7.62 variety it shouldn’t have mattered, a 75 yard shot on a target that size should have been a walk in the park for anyone competing for the title of top shot. Hell I can make that shot with the crappy ass sights on my AK.

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