TTAG’s Top 3 Range Toy Handguns

Range toys. Firearms that are oodles of fun to shoot, to force your friends to shoot, or just to show off, but aren’t particularly practical. Maybe you rent ’em, maybe you buy ’em, but you’ll certainly have fun with ’em. Here are our picks for the top three range toy handguns . . .

1) Desert Eagle

Oh yes, the “Deagle.” A-list star of more movies, video games, TV shows, ads, and photo shoots than the kombined Kardashians. Of course, looking impressive on film is arguably the best use of a Desert Eagle. It’s entirely impractical and its reliability record is well within reproach. In TTAG’s dictionary of gun terminology, you’d most assuredly find a Deagle photo under “range toy.”

2) .500 S&W Magnum Revolver

Are you craving a bigger boom than even the .50 AE Deagle provides? X gon’ give it to ya! Smith & Wesson’s X-Frame, that is. These comically large revolvers turn heads and snap wrists. They draw attention up and down the firing line and no shortage of “Hey, any chance you’d let me fire that thing?” inquiries from fellow shooters. And man do they explode all manner of fruits and vegetables!

Better yet, these wheel guns are extremely well-made and uber reliable. Yes, yes, the .500 S&W Mag has some practical use for brown bear and moose defense and big game handgun hunting, but precisely zero of the dozen or so .500 owners I’ve met had any intention of ever using theirs as anything but a range toy. Which is just fine. It’s perfect in that role.

If you haven’t shot one, you know you want to.

3) A Suppressed .22 Pistol

We like the guns, the guns that go boom. While that’s clearly borne out by the first two choices, it’s definitely not the only way to have fun, fun on the range (where the deer and the antelope abstain). At the opposite end of the ammo cost and ballistic bravado spectrum is the humble .22 Long Rifle. Toss a can on one and it’s as quiet as a staple gun, albeit more deadly to a church mouse.

Perhaps nothing satisfies the “range toy” designation quite like plinking without the need for hearing protection. Don’t confuse it for a BB gun, though, as there’s just no substitute for using gunpowder to send a 40 grain pill right on target at 1,000 fps. The cycling action, the gentle nudge of recoil, the blue puff of smoke — all the good stuff with [almost] none of the noise and at a fraction of the per-pew cost. Few things bring a smile to someone’s face like shooting a suppressed .22 pistol for the first time.

Maybe it’s a Walther, maybe a CZ. Maybe it’s the Grand Power or the Smith & Wesson seen above. Maybe the suppressor is from AAC or Q or Innovative Arms or Dead Air. None of that really matters. As long as it’s accurate and reliable, a suppressed .22 pistol is one of the best range toys of all time.


  1. avatar Chazzer says:

    How about 9mm semi-auto carbines–SMG look-alikes such as Uzi’s and MP-5 ?? They always attract a crowd !!!!! Chazzer

  2. avatar Kroglikepie says:

    My home-brew 300 BLK SBR. Suppressor and subsonic pills, of course.

    1. avatar retrocon says:

      Ha, i actually consider my homebrew .300 blk SBR suppressed to be one of my more practical “toys,” but that doesn’t make it less fun 😉

      But who wants to take a suppressed rifle to a range where you have to wear ear protection?!?! Same with the suppressed .22!

  3. avatar CentralIL says:

    Suppressed .22 pistols are highly useful tools. They are not just range toys.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Agreed. My suppressed .22LR pistol and rifles are actually my most used firearms off the range, and least used on the range.
      Then again, I’m pretty sure my name is used as a curse throughout the skunk and raccoon kingdoms.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        I share in those curses. Two springs ago I killed 14 skunks and several opossums.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          17 in one night is my record.

    2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Very very true, depending on where you live. Despite having a legit use, they’re still absolutely fantastic range toys. Perfectly pleasurable plinking partners.

  4. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    Glock haters!

  5. avatar Vhyrus says:

    Matt from Demo Ranch has repeatedly said that his 500 S&W is the only gun he owns that he flat out hates, and the only reason he keeps it around is to make newbies shoot it so he can laugh at them.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I’ve shot RF’s snubby version for more than a few cylinders at once, and I was really surprised at the lack of recoil. Yes, it is stout, but it’s really not that bad at all. It’s a heavy little gun, with a big comfortable grip. I was very disappointed in its accuracy, but didn’t mind shooting it a bit.
      I’m not trying to sound all manly, I hate recoil, it is the enemy, but I just didn’t see it with this one.

      1. avatar Vhyrus says:

        That’s very surprising, considering Matt did a test where he rigged his 6 inch SW 500 to a little stand with a string and it flew 15 feet backwards from the recoil.

      2. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

        Hickock45 shot it at 230 yards ( But then again, that guy is crazy.

      3. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        Well RF’s is a .460, IIRC, which can also shoot .454 Casull and .45 LC and whatnot, in addition to some of the lighter projectiles in .460 thumping a lot less than the burly .500 stuff.

      4. The most unpleasant handgun I’ve ever fired was the Model 29 and I have fired the 500.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          The largest handgun I’ve fired is the .44 mag. I much preferred the Ruger super blackhawk to the model 29.

        2. avatar Steve says:

          To JWM: Just the reverse here. Tore my hands up on my Super Blackhawk, even after installing oversize grips and lightening trigger pull to 3-1/2#. Went to long barreled 629 and outright love it. A joy to shoot.

  6. avatar None says:

    I think the 500 is one of the most useful guns around. It can be loaded down, used to kill pigs (and trucks,) I breached a door with mine once (built specifically for the experiment, I’m not doing any B&Es.) I think the problem is that it’s big, people don’t reload so it costs a lot for them to shoot, and they pick the short barreled version so it’s uncontrollable and ridiculous. I think it has all the versatility of a 44 mag, just impossible to conceal.

    1. avatar CentralIL says:

      Yep. People who don’t reload are really missing out when it comes to the 500 S&W (or any large revolver round, really). 500 S&W can be loaded so a small woman could shoot it all day (even with a short barrel) or loaded up to the power level of a literal elephant gun. It supports a huge range of bullet weights (particularly if you have the John Ross version with the faster rifling). It’s not even that expensive to shoot if you cast your own bullets.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      If you don’t reload you should go with the .460 instead. Almost all of the pop of the .500 and 3 shorter, weaker cartridges as well.

  7. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

    I feel like the “Can Cannon” deserves and honorable mention. Nothing could be more useless but more fun.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Clearly you have not seen the DildAR made by Underground Tactical. It’s not what it sounds like. It’s an AR that shoots dildos.

      1. avatar Vhyrus says:

        “….DildAR…. It’s not what it sounds like. It’s an AR that shoots dildos.”

        Actually, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

        1. avatar None says:

          Come on Vhyrus, don’t try to kill the comedic genius of that post…

      2. avatar jwm says:

        So it was built especially for hunting progressives?

        1. avatar Mike Silverton says:

          This progressive and handgun enthusiast takes objection to your remark. BTW, a progressive’s latest pleasure? A Nighthawk-Korth Super Sport. Gaze upon it and drool.

        2. Why be a Progressive who likes guns when you can be a Conservative who likes punitive tax rates, Constitutional infringement, inefficient bureaucracy, bankrupt government, failed social programs, failed public schools, open borders, sanctuary cities, quota systems, stifling regulations, etc.

        3. avatar jwm says:

          Triggered. Doesn’t get more progressive than that. Watch out for high velocity dildo’s.

    2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Handguns. This is the top three range toy handguns. So the aforementioned pistol caliber carbines and 300 blk sbr and can cannon, etc etc, are not valid suggestions. We’ll certainly consider them for the range toy rifles post though!

      1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

        A gun I fire with my hands *is* a handgun, no?

  8. avatar Mr. AR says:

    BFR in .45/70 or 30-30.

    1. avatar Amanofdragons says:

      As an owner of a 45-70 bfr, I was expecting it to be on the list. I do hope to harvest an animal this year with it though.

      1. avatar Andrew Lewis says:

        I wanted my BFR in 500.
        Man I love that long barrel.

  9. avatar barmbwt says:

    “List-icles, less than you bargained for…”

    1. avatar Ing says:

      I had to write an article for a test once. I guess that means I took a test-icle. (Aced it, too.)

  10. avatar Anonymous Coward in CO says:

    T/C .375 JDJ

  11. avatar Steve says:

    H&K Mk 23.

  12. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    For everyone complaining their favorite rifle/carbine didn’t make the list. The title clearly states handgun.

  13. avatar Kaban says:

    >>as there’s just no substitute for using gunpowder to send a 40 grain pill right on target at 1,000 fps

    Technically, there is: .30 cal PCP does exactly that. Ignoring hideous price of gun, accessories and air supply…ah, therein lies the rub.

    Back to powder guns: Korth Custom (with dot, of course) deserves a mention here. Also, for extra macabre, a Morini is worth keeping around.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Nah, that doesn’t scratch the same itch. There’s no substitute for using gunpowder, meaning other methods don’t give you the smoke and smell and action cycling and the same recoil impulse, etc…

      1. avatar Kaban says:

        …not to mention there is no need for scuba tank. I am yet to see a person who’d willingly pump 80+ ft/lbs PCP with a hand pump for a hundred or so shots 🙂

  14. avatar Ian says:

    +1 for a suppressed 22. I havent shot 22 in years due to the ammo scare and have only recently gotten back into it. Ive picked up a pair of rugers, a pristine standard Mk2 and a Mk3 22/45, and Ive forgotten how much fun just plinking with a 22 fan be. I run the mk3 with a Sig Romeo red dot and my silencerco spectre 2 and it is definitely up there as probably the most fun gun in my collection to shoot, aside from maybe my Scorpion Evo Carbine or M1 Garand.

  15. avatar What About Bob says:

    The Judge seems like it would fit in this category too.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      I’d agree with you for sure, but there are tons of people actually choosing them for self defense.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        I bought a Judge not too long ago. Have put about 50 or so rounds through it, 410, and 45 Colt. At about 25 rounds, the front sight insert disintegrated. I called Taurus to get a couple more, and they don’t have any!
        I would just insert a round metal insert, and paint the part facing me, fluorescent orange, but I afraid the recoil might knock it loose and send it through my eye!
        Any suggestions?

  16. avatar crzapy says:

    Being a S&W 500 and a suppressed Buckmark owner I definitely agree.

  17. avatar P-Dog says:

    I recently got a chance to shoot rather stout 44 mag loads through a S&W 29 and a Desert Eagle. The S&W experiences wasn’t quite that fun… it’s certainly nice to feel the power with Dirty Harry’s gun, but then again, it felt like my hands were getting hit with a baseball bat. I can only imagine that it would be even worse shooting a 500 S&W. My poor hands.

    The DE though… now that was something else. It was like reissuing your man card (to quote Bushmaster). Serious fun, less felt recoil than the S&W, and it didn’t smack my hands. But you do feel the power, and it is far louder through the Deagle than through the revolver. You especially feel it reverberate in an indoor range, though I think my neighbors didn’t appreciate the canon blast. I also wouldn’t let any newbies shoot it, but for those who are somewhat seasoned, what a nice way to spend an afternoon.

    So that’s my vote, the Deagle. Loads of fun for the non-novice.

    1. avatar Jason A says:

      I’ve got a DEagle myself (in 50AE) and it’s definitely a fun range toy. I think the sheer weight of the gun helps control the recoil and the “hit” on your hands (mine also has the muzzle brake.)

      But yeah, if you’re on an indoor range, ask the RO to leave the lanes next to you open, if they can, just to be a good neighbor.

  18. avatar JR says:

    Strange, I would have thought that they would mentioned the 460 S & W, V . The looks my daughter gets after shooting it from the guys at the range is just classic. Especially when they notice she took out the X in the bulls eye. Even the range officer was impressed and he’s a retired L. E.O.. So much fun !!

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      IMHO the .460 makes a better range toy and a more practical hun ting revol ver. The .500’s just a smidge more, but with the .460 you can let anyone shoot it with .45 Colt, or .454 Casull.

      1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        Yeah, too practical. Everyone wants to shoot the .500 anyway. It’s the world’s most powerful production handgun round, not the .460. I hedged a little bit by saying the X-Frame, but in reality it’s the .500 that’s more of the toy. Too many people use the .460 to actually hunt with and the ability to run factory ammo that makes it a soft shooter (i.e. .45 colt) takes away from the crazy. Ain’t no .460s in shooting range rental cabinets for the bachelor party crowd, but the Deagle and .500 dominate there.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          OK, I concede your point, the .460 is the more PRACTICAL range toy and hun ting weapon. Still, if I had a dozen or so bills in my wallet just burning to get out, it’s what I’d buy.

  19. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    I’ve been contemplating acquiring a scoped magnum revo lver ever since someone put an 8″ gong out at the 200 yard range at the local Izaak Walton League. It’s just a little too easy with any of my scoped rifles, I want to hit that with a han dgun. Probably either a Super Redhawk or Super Blackhawk Hunter in .44 magnum. Sighted in at 100 I’ll have about 22″ of drop and 16″ of wind drift (10mph) to compensate for, so that should make it just enough of a challenge.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      A few months ago I was hitting a chicken silhouette at 220 yards with a Super Blackhawk in .30 Carbine. Standard sights. Don’t wait on that scope, go shoot it!

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        I’ve shot the 6″ GP 100 at 100 yards a handful of time and can usually get 4 out of 6 on a 12″ target. With a little practice I think I can make that 6 out of 6. As far as the gong, I’d have to head out sometime in the morning. I usually shoot in the late afternoon and the range faces west with the 200 yard mark up against the tree line, so without a scope I can’t even see it. I’m sure the big GP would do it though. Also have a 6-1/2″ Blackhawk in .44mag that would do just as well. Maybe I’ll try it with my unscoped .30-30 first and work my way up.

    2. avatar KMc says:

      Gov, you should get in touch with me. I can help with that revolver problem you seem to be having.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Why? Looking to get rid of a few on the cheap?

  20. avatar O2HeN2 says:

    M-16 converted to .22 LR. It has the recoil of a garden hose.


    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I have one, suppressed, and full-auto. It has an extremely high cyclic rate. So much fun.

  21. avatar Steve Clark says:

    I’ve rented the LGS’s 8.38″ S&W 500 a few times. It brings the range (and the store) to a dead stop, usually with “what the F*CK was THAT?!” yelled from a few lanes over by someone caught off guard. 🙂

  22. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

    All my guns are range toys and none of them are. The closest thing I have to range toy is my 9mm Range Officer and I am going to swap tbe competition sight for a combat sight.

  23. avatar jimmy james says:

    DE has to have the worst trigger I ever pulled on a handgun. It was not current production and I do not know what year it was made or what model other than it was 44mag but it was truly awful. I would not shoot that snubby 500S&W if that is really what that picture is. There is always a 500 S&W for sale on my local gun board. I wonder why? Suppressed 22’s are fun but are more fun in my back yard on squirrels than at the range.

  24. I don’t think about range toys that often, but when I do, I would like to have a single action 45 long colt.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      I have only one range toy handgun, and it is a .45 Colt Ruger Vaquero. Lots of fun, especially from a fast draw rig, but impractical to virtually any other purpose.

  25. avatar Ralph says:

    Having spent plenty of quality time with S&W’s 500 and 460 revolvers and the Deagle .50AE pistol (including reviews of the Deagle and 460XVR for TTAG), all I can say is that they’re a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.

  26. avatar Gary Howell says:

    The 500 ya just have to wonder. I’ve only seen one in the wild. Boys on the range line. Fired one shot; took a muzzle to the forehead and left for the hospital. Bloodly lil mess there where they had set up. It didn’t look like fun to me.

    1. avatar Andrew Lewis says:

      Shooting the 500 holds the same type of appeal as riding a bronco. The thrill of mastering a wild beast. Unfortunately (or thankfully given your perspective) the relative newness of the caliber means there is an extreme variability in the factory ammo available with regards to flash, bang, & recoil impulse.

  27. avatar retrocon says:

    Nothing draws the crowds than:

    1) anything full-auto (which i do not have the pleasure of owning)
    2) .50 BMG, assuming your range allows it (which i do have the pleasure of owning)
    3) Saiga-12 922(r) (or the newer AK configurations), with a 20 round drum

    Now, frankly, since i have been at the range when all three have been used, i can honestly say that the .50 BMG draws the biggest crowd and most interest. Especially from the group two benches over, who’s pop cans have been upended even though they were warned.

    1. avatar Steve says:

      Loved it when my friends wanted to take a shot with my Ruger #1 in .375 H&H. Every time standing shot, every time they would keep looking down range and just hand the rifle back behind them with the support hand without looking back at the onlookers. Never asked for a second shot, never said a word, just walked away. During a long set at the range once, I ended up putting the sandbag on my shoulder after round #7. After about 12, it took a really long time to work up the courage to squeeze off the next rounds without flinching. Now I have a .458 SOCOM that lets you know you shot something with the 405 grain slugs. Not so bad with other weights.

  28. avatar Mikial says:

    Honestly, I love my DE’s, but I sure don’t carry them. They either go to the range, or stay at home on the nightstand. As for reliability, as long as you shoot high powered ammo in them, they work every time and they are indeed accurate.

  29. avatar Range Toys says:

    This is definitely a Range Toy:
    The Glockinator

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