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Smith & Wesson’s 460XVR (X-treme Velocity Revolver) is a Performance Center hand cannon aimed squarely at the handgun hunting market. As if to evince the seriousness of its purpose, the snub-nosed 460XVR comes packaged in a plain white corrugated box, not the usual cardboard container gaily decorated with the vivid blue and white S&W colors. The box is highly utilitarian and can be used for many other purposes, such as shipping heavy machine parts or an improvised midnight burial of the neighbor’s Labrador . . .

Inside the big white box is the usual paperwork, a big black soft case gaily decorated with the gold Performance Center logo, and an expended cartridge that, with just a little rock salt on the case mouth, would be suitable for dainty shots of Tequila.

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Open the soft case and there it is – a BFG. Yup, a Big Gun. A picture of the 460XVR next to an S&W 642 Airweight is included for a sense of scale. The pic is kinda reminiscent of a father-and-son range photo, although it seems that young Mister 642, with his fluted cylinder and fancy wood grips, must take after his mom even though he does have his dad’s snubby little nose.

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The 460XVR is robustly built to handle the very powerful .460 Smith & Wesson Magnum cartridge, which is based on the .454 Casull, which in turn is based on the familiar .45 (Long) Colt. The little Airweight son-of-a-gun in the picture is chambered for the ancient (vintage 1898) and familiar .38Spl. The photo below illustrates the size difference between the .38Spl, .45LC and .460S&W cartridges.

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The pictured .460S&W round is a 2 1/8” long, 300 gr. JHP that escapes an XVR’s muzzle at an astonishing 1750 fps, although that speed might require a longer barrel. We don’t know for sure because, when ShootingtheBull410 previewed this very XVR revolver, his chrony had a nervous breakdown.

For serious handgun hunting of big game at distance, the XVR is available with barrel lengths up to 14” and a fitted bipod. With a long barrel, a lighter 200 gr. bullet can reach 2250 fps at the muzzle and still be zooming along at 1715 fps when it’s 100 yards downrange. That’s almost twice the speed of sound at the muzzle, which is approaching Ludicrous Speed from a handgun.

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The XVR can also fire the .45 Colt, the All-American standard that was first used by Roy Rogers to tame the west way back in 1872. The XVR is equally at home with the .454 Casull, which for all I know was used by Dale Evans to tame old Roy if he stepped out of line. While neither the traditional .45 nor the Casull are lightweights, they do not compare to the power of the.460S&W round that when used as directed in the XVR, according to Smith & Wesson, “has the highest muzzle velocity of any production revolver on earth.” On Mars, not so much.

Both the .460 and the .454 are first and foremost hunting cartridges. Commercially loaded .460 cartridges are available with bullet weights up to 395 grains, which should be more than adequate to vaporize most North American big game short of the infrequently-encountered escaped circus rhinoceros. The comparatively weak .45LC remains a very capable man-stopper even now, more than 140 years after it was first adopted by the US Army. So, although the XVR has a hunting focus, it is a versatile revolver that can be used effectively for self-defense without evaporating the bad guy, taking out a couple of walls of the garage and exploding an electrical power substation in the adjacent zip code.

XVR Fly-By
The XVR is a Performance Center piece, and right from the get-go it looks like quality. I’m not a fan of the appearance of the unfluted cylinder, but based on that unfortunate Titanic incident it seems that removing metal right where it is needed most might be a bad idea. The whole piece is glass bead-finished stainless steel, and it appears expensive.

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The barrel sports a neatly tapered full under-lug and an attractive polygonal sculptural profile. The teardrop hammer and the trigger are both chromed. While the 460XVR is a serious hunting machine, it’s very clear that some folks at S&W wanted it to look good, too. They succeeded.

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The well-contoured one-piece synthetic grip completely covers the back strap to promote shooting comfort. The grip, with its pebbly texture and pleasing color, looks better than the same old nondescript black rubber grip pictured on S&W’s web site.

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The sighting system consists of a fixed HI-VIZ green fiox front and a fully adjustable square notch rear. The front sight is bright under incandescent lighting and in natural sunlight can be used to signal ships at sea. The rear sight’s elevation and windage can be set by turning two screws, one on the right side of sight for windage and one on the top handling elevation. Both require a simple, flat head screwdriver. One warning about such screwdrivers – they will not do the job unless they are actually in your range bag when you take the XVR out to play. More on that later.

There is the obligatory and much-hated internal lock on the left side of the frame. If I owned this revolver, the lock would be the first thing to go. In fact, it would be the only thing to go. Everything else seems pretty damn squared away.

Handling and Shooting the XVR
When it’s loaded, the XVR weighs about a pound less than a Ruger 10/22. Yeah, it’s on the heavy side, but because the XVR is so well balanced, it doesn’t feel awkward. Unlike a big bore semi-automatic handgun like the Desert Eagle .50AE that I reviewed a while back, the XVR’s stock isn’t oversized or boxy and provides a reassuring grip. Normally, I’m suspicious of grips with deep finger grooves. They never seem to fit me, and my fingers usually end up riding the high points instead of snuggling comfortably into the grooves. Not so with the XVR. The stock fit me just fine, and also fit several other experienced shooters with disparate hand sizes. One size rarely fits all, but this one size will fit most.

I started out firing .45 Colt LRN (lead round nose) target ammo so that I could get a feel for the XVR before embarrassing myself with magnum ammo. There was an immediate problem – at 25 yards offhand, I wasn’t even on paper. It took a couple of shots until I figured out that the XVR was shooting high and left. No big deal, thought I. The rear sight could be easily adjusted — with the screwdriver that I left at home.

Once again, no big deal. I simply adjusted my point of aim until I was on paper, and then walked them in. Once I figured out the proper point of aim, I ended up with a nice group solidly in the 10 ring. This is an accurate revolver despite its short sight radius.

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Then it was time for something a little more challenging, so I loaded five 200 grain Hornady hollowpoints. In ShootingtheBull410’s XVR preview, he noted the prodigious recoil inherent in 460 S&W loadings, so I was pleasantly surprised. There was plenty of recoil to be sure, but it certainly wasn’t punishing. In fact, it was exhilarating, like riding a Brahma bull for the full 8 seconds and dismounting without catching a gigantic horn right up the coolie. Because I believe in spreading joy wherever I am, I asked a couple of well-qualified doods to shoot the XVR with the Hornady ammo, and they both reported a similar sensation, albeit in less colorful language.

With my confidence now higher than a Colorado pot salesman, I loaded the XVR with some 300 grain JHP and let loose. And that’s when the XVR revealed both its mighty roar and even mightier kick. Every head in the indoor range swiveled around just to see what I was shooting. I even got a couple of “what the hell was thats” from my fellow range denizens. Although the range was far from full, by now everybody was watching the XVR, which put a lot of pressure on me. It was like taking a whiz with people watching. I really wanted to be accurate.

I loosed another round and a guy a few lanes to port wandered over to let me know that he could actually see a donut-shaped pressure wave blowing out of the muzzle. I couldn’t see that from my vantage point behind the revolver, but I did see the muzzle flash that reminded me of firing my Mosin M44 carbine. Oh, how I wanted to shoot the XVR in the dark!

My wrist gave out before my ammo did, so I decided that discretion was the better part of tendonitis and saved the rest of the ammo for my next range session.

The following week, I headed to an outdoor range, loaded up with plenty of ammo and multiple screwdrivers. I joined TTAG commenter Greg in Allston and our pal Dave (the master of the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf that I reported on last year) for a little fun in the bitter, biting New England cold. I think that the temperature was -346°F when we started shooting and dropped from there to nearly absolute aero. Anyway, it was cold.

I was on target pretty quickly after tweaking the XVR’s windage and cranking down the elevation screw. There was a light frosting of snow on the ground and the roof of the shed when Greg started getting jiggy wit’ it.

What Greg is looking around for in the next viddy is the snow which has been knocked off the roof by the concussive blast of the XVR.

There was a guy a few lanes down who was shooting a nice SMLE in .303 British. He couldn’t make it snow, but the XVR did. And that was with the “little” 200 grain Hornadys. The heftier 300 grain time-bombs cleared the snow off of nearby trees, so I recommend them for Alpine avalanche control. Nevertheless, Greg maintained complete control of the XVR and no wrists were harmed during the making of these videos.

All in all, shooting the XVR, especially with the Hornady ammo, was infectious. The more we shot, the better we got and the more fun we had, which is almost axiomatic. The only difficulty we had was maintaining a secure grip with gloves on after our fingers were near amputation because of frostbite.

Likes and Dislikes
What didn’t I like? Not much. I didn’t care for shooting the XVR with .45 Colt ammo because it felt like I had dumped a 1.8 liter Honda Civic engine into a Ferrari 458 Italia. Now, that Honda is a nice little mill, but c’mon man. It would hardly be satisfying to drive a Ferrari body that was made for greasy fast speed but hampered with a mild street motor. So too, the XVR was meant for bigger and better (and badder) things.

As for price and availability of ammo for the XVR, well, it’s readily available now and was even during the recent Great Ammunition Extinction. Cost of ammo is always an issue, although not as critical a problem for the XVR as might be expected. Figure on two bucks a round for 460 S&W Mag ammo and you’re in the ballpark. .454 Casull will be about half a buck less, and .45 Colt is out there for south of 75 cents a pop. It sounds like a lot for the Casull and 460 S&W, but most shooters won’t be sending hundreds of rounds of heavy, store-bought magnum stuff down range. They will reload.

I wasn’t thrilled with the heavy, but silky smooth, double action trigger pull. The pull was long, too. How long? Bring a book, that’s how long. Single action, the XVR’s trigger is more like a button, with (I’m being generous here) maybe 1/16th of an inch of travel before it goes boom.

Fit and finish from the Performance Center product are perfect. I expected nothing less, and I got nothing less. Firing dirty lead ammo will leave sooty marks on the cylinder, which I believe can be removed with an eraser, crocus cloth or similar lightly abrasive polishing thingamabob. Unfortunately, while I finally remembered to bring screwdrivers to the range, I forgot to bring my eraser back home from the range.

Everything else about this big revolver was serious fun.

Last Shots
Because the XVR snubby has such a short (3.5”) barrel and a correspondingly short-ish 6” sight radius, it’s not a long-range hunter unless your name is Miculek. Long-barrel models (up to 14”) will do the business on deer, elk and other large critters at rifle and shotgun distances, but it seems that the snubby version has “feral hog” written all over it.

Is it the definitive bear country sidearm? I’ll leave that up to shooters who are more experienced at hiking in definitive bear country. But if I were camping in said country, the XVR snubby would be the kind of revolver that would allow me sleep well at night. It’s powerful, easy to pack, won’t take up as much room as a long gun and would be very useful at distances of, say, 50 yards or in tight spaces. And it should knock down a grizzly.

So it comes down to this compound question: if I don’t hunt with it, or protect myself from bears with it, is the pure fun of shooting the XVR worth the cost?

It is for me. 

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model: Smith & Wesson 460XVR Performance Center
Caliber: .460 Smith & Wesson Magnum, .454 Casull and .45 Colt
Cylinder capacity: 5 rounds
Materials: Steel, baby. Steel! With a composite grip.
Weight: 59.5 oz., unloaded
Barrel length: 3.5″
Action: Double and single action revolver
Price: $1609 MSRP

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
With its unfluted cylinder, you will like the looks or you won’t. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. It grew on me. Everything else about this big revolver is pure, unadulterated class.

Ergonomics * * *
It’s a fairly heavy gun, which it needs to be given its task. But despite its recoil-absorbing mass, the XVR isn’t clumsy to handle. For carry, S&W offers some beautiful leather (or nylon, for those so inclined) retention holsters for belt or shoulder, in left and right hand models. For hip carry, get a good belt. A really good belt.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * *
There’s mild recoil with .45 Colt ammo, and exciting but manageable recoil with light 460s. The heavier the bullet, the more likely this revolver will leave an impression on your psyche if not your shooting hand. But the grip is absolutely fantastic. An Airweight shooting plain-Jane .38Spls will sting more.

Reliability * * * * *
C’mon, man. It’s a Smith & Wesson revolver. And a damn well made one at that. Five for sure.

Customize This 0
Absolutely not.

OVERALL * * * *
Hog hunters will probably award the XVR five stars. Hikers too. As a range toy, it’s worth – well, what price do you place on fun?

 

43 Responses to Gun Review: Smith & Wesson 460XVR 3.5″

  1. It’d be nice to have a 5-6 inch barrel version without the Bone Collector version. There is the 460V but that’s compensated and – I think – not a Performance Center piece.

  2. “Smith & Wesson’s 460XVR (X-treme Velocity Revolver) is a Performance Center hand cannon aimed squarely at the handgun hunting market.”

    The 460VXR is certainly aimed at the hunting market, but I wouldn’t say that about the PC version. You don’t build an “X-treme Velocity Revolver” for the hunting crowd by chopping the barrel to 3″.

    Great review though.

    I own a PC 627 357 8-shot. I love that gun. I wouldn’t call it a hunting gun. My eye is on the PC 460VXR for my next revolver.

    • The “little” XVR should do the business on hogs in the brush. There aren’t any hogs in MA to hunt — they’re all in the state legislature and are protected by law — so I can’t vouch for the 3.5″ version, but that seems to be the consensus of hog hunters who have used it for that purpose.

  3. I thought the 5″ barrel on my 460V was short but a 3.5″ barrel for an artillery piece? Wow! I had the same issue while at the range. My hands got tired before I ran out of ammo. Proficiency will be expensive, time consuming and so much fun!

  4. Ralph, you never fail to please. Usually I’d have little interest in such a gun, but your definitive bear country prose won me over. Now I’m thinking of possible uses I could put this gun to (fat people I dislike? picking off Smart-For-Twos?)
    Thanks for the remarkable essay. Can’t wait for your “American Sniper” review.

  5. That looks like a handful of fun to me!

    I’d give it at least a star or two for customization because you could probably put a WEIG-A-TINNY in the existing rear sight slot and mount all kinds of fun optics on it. I’d think a hand cannon of this caliber would merit some magnification to exploit its large (for a handgun) effective range.

    -D

  6. This looks like it could shoot down airplanes and blow up railroads! It should be banned, for the sake of little piglets and of course the children!

  7. This would make a great CCW for these warm Texas summers. I’ve been looking for a smaller gun to carry as I usually have to wear an overshirt when I carry my pistol grip SBR Mosin.
    I know its a step down in power, but sometimes you have to make compromises for comfort.

  8. Daaaayammmm. That thing would probably snap my wife’s wrists. And it would probably get banned from the indoor range we go to the first time it made someone crap their pants 3 lanes over. 🙂

  9. In Wisconsin we’re required to have a 5.5″ barrel for hunting purposes… but that’s measured from the firing mechanism to the tip of the barrel. I don’t suppose that cylinder hits 2.5″, does it?

  10. This got me laughing: “Although the range was far from full, by now everybody was watching the XVR, which put a lot of pressure on me. It was like taking a whiz with people watching. I really wanted to be accurate.” That is how I feel at the range when I am shooting my S&W 28-2 Highway Patrolman. I love the hot loads.

  11. I wish Ruger would jump into the BFR game. I can imagine the reviews, ‘compared to the Smith & Wesson 460 the Ruger is a tank.’

  12. There is a 8-10 inch bbl one of these bad boys for sale at the local pawn shop. I think it weighed 42 pounds.
    I kinda liked it though. In a masochistic kind of way.
    After your review Ralph, I’m going to give it a second look.

  13. Great review Ralph, it was great talking to you and thanks for letting me hold that hand cannon before sending it off. A mighty piece of hardware indeed.

  14. Certainly is a nice snubby and I am sure it’s not much snappier than my S&W460V. When I camp in Grizzly country it’s the 460V, or my model 629 3″ barrel 44 magnum that goes with me. They’re both certainly a blast to shoot, it never fails to bring a child like smile and grin to my face when I shoot it or talk about it to others. The 200gr Hornady FTX loads are my favorites, they throw off some heat and make a heck of a fireball! My 21 year old daughter shot it this past summer (outdoors) with 240r 454 Casull rounds; she was ALL SMILES! Though afterwards she said: I like the 45LC rounds. If you look around, you can usually find the Hornady 200r FTX rounds for $26 -$30 a box for 20 rounds, that’s not really too bad.

  15. I’ll be fishing/camping on a very remote Alaska river with the grizzlies in August. If I could buy that masterpieve with 4-6″ barrel I’d leave the Remington Marine magnum at home!

    • The 460V has a 5″ barrel and comes with compensator to reduce lead fouling and reduce recoil. I generally leave in the compensator with the larger ports. No one seems to have mentioned this here, but the 460V was the original 460 model and there were lawsuits that are still out there. The 460V production was stopped for a few years and the model was just recently reintroduced. I bought mine in late 2009; I believe they were absent from the S&W website from 2010 to 2014 or was listed as Not Available. Could not find any in my state (when I bought mine), so it was store transferred from Montana; from Wholesale Sports during their short lifespan. It is an exhilarating revolver to shoot. Keep your hands and fingers where they should be and you won’t suffer the wrath of these powerful cartridges and their ability to slice open flesh (that’s what the lawsuits are about).

  16. I’ll be fishing/camping on a very remote Alaska river with the grizzlies in August. If I could buy that masterpiece with 4-6″ barrel I’d leave the Remington Marine magnum at home!

  17. What a waste of a great caliber. 460 much like the 500 was not meant to be fired from a short barrel. These short barreled monster calibers are sold as bear guns but one can just as quickly pull out and fire whether u have a 2″ or the proper 8 3/8″ barrel. A bear isnt going to come at u any different if he can see ur piece is a stub or giant, the weight and length is meaningless, with the chest rig the fullsize 460 and 500 are a breeze to carry hiking. Short barrel any caliber is just silly unless its a 38 and its a backup piece.

  18. Can anyone tell me the best fitting leather holster to carry on hip for the S&W 460 XVR 3.5″ barrel? Thanks guys.

  19. I got one. I love it. Why did I buy it? because this is America and we buy things because they are badass? Yeah, a longer barrel would make better use of this caliber. I lose alot with the snubby, but gain many MAN points, lol. It is a monster of a revolver but really not that bad to shoot. It weighs 60 ounces. We buy 500 hp cars in america, yet the speed limit is 55(65-85ish) you know what I mean. I originally wanted the ruger alaskan .454 years ago. One, never showed up to purchase, and then this came up. It was a no brainer, since my wife found me a used super redhawk 7.5. in 454 for $500. didn’t need a long barrel. This gun is sooo much fun to shoot. I would like to mount some sort of optic to see how far I can really shoot this hand cannon. If you can put one on layaway like i did at my gun shop do it. its value as an investment can only go up. Fit and finish is insane. Now if someone would just make an extra long slide 1911 in .454 like the Hellsing 454 i would be so happy.

  20. I’m going to purchase a S&W 460 next week and I really appreciate your article. Thanks Mundo

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