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Big Horn Armory Introduces the Scout Lever-Action Rifle in 500 S&W
courtesy mfr

Big Horn Armory’s got a new twist on Jeff Cooper’s venerable Scout rifle design. Rather than the traditional bolt gun, their take on the concept is a laminate stock nitrided lever gun chambered in 500 Smith & Wesson. You can get one with either a 16- or 22-inch barrel. What do you think Col. Cooper would have said to that?

Here’s their press release:

Cody, Wyo. (December 2018) – Big Horn Armory, makers of big-bore firearms, have developed an all-purpose lever-action, big-bore, Scout rifle in .500 S&W. The late Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, US Veteran, author, professor and founder of Gunsite, was a major advocate for the Scout rifle concept; a rifle that was compact, easy to use and carry for hunting, target or defense. Typically, Scout rifles have become synonymous with bolt-action rifles, but BHA has expanded the concept with its new lever-action Scout model.

“Big Horn Armory’s success is a combination of combining legendary firearms platforms, such as the lever-action (and recently the AR) and big game calibers,” Greg Buchel, president of Big Horn Armory, said. “With the Scout rifle, we are incorporating all the features in a great, multi-purpose work-horse of a rifle. Our Scout is short, easy to shoot and utilizes the .500 S&W cartridge.”

Big Horn Armory Introduces the Scout Lever-Action Rifle in 500 S&W

Built on the BHA Model 89 platform with a 17-4 stainless steel, nitrited barreled action and receiver in a Hunter Black matte black finish, the Scout rifle buttstock and forend are made from black laminate with a synthetic satin finish and a 1” recoil pad on the buttstock. It also has a Scout scope Picatinny rail and Skinner Aperture rear sight and a white dot front sight.

Options are also available on the BHA Scout Lever-Action rifle, including a 22”, 16” and octagon barrel, scope mounts and a variety of sight options. MSRP for standard Big Horn Armory Scout Lever-Action rifle is $2,799.00.

Big Horn Armory Scout Rifle Specifications:

Caliber: 500 S&W
Rate of Twist: 1 in 24
Barrel Length: 18 inches
Crown: Recessed
Butt Stock and Forend: Barreled Action: Black Laminate
Metal Finishes: Hunter Black Nitride on SS parts
Swing Swivel Mounts: Integral front, stud rear
Mag Capacity: 7
Sights: Aperture rear, blade front 37 inches
Overall Length:
Weight: 7 lbs. 10 oz.
Length of Pull: 13 5/8 inches
MSRP: $2,799

For more on Big Horn Armory, visit or any of their social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter.

About Big Horn Armory:
Big Horn Armory was founded in 2008 with the expressed intention of designing a Browning-type lever- action gun chambered in 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum. The Big Horn Armory Model 89, made in America, closely follows the work of John Browning with refinements courtesy of modern metallurgy and machining capabilities. The first rifles began shipping in September of 2012 and since then, BHA has added to their big bore lineup with a Model 90 Carbine in 460 S&W, the Model 90A in 454 Casull, the Model 90B in .45 Colt, the Model 89A in 500 Linebaugh and the Model 89B in .475 Linebaugh. In 2017, Big Horn Armory took a departure from its lever-action series and developed the AR500 Auto Max, the most powerful short-range, semi-auto based on an AR .308 platform.

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  1. Cooper probably would have said: “not enough range with that cartridge”, but I like it. It’s like a slight upgrade from my custom in .454 Casull w/ glove loop lever. Too bad this has the narrow, curved lever that my hands simply find unacceptable.
    Also, the Casull chamber lets one fire .45 colt also, but that could be fixed by handloading a light load also for the .500. In that case I always load the light loads in a different case(like brass versus nickeled, or something else obvious enough not to risk bracing for a big blast and getting a little pop, or vice versa) to keep them segregated.

    • I keep hoping Henry or someone would make a more reasonably priced lever action that would fire .460, .454, 45 Colt, and .45 Schofield – 1 rifle able to fire 4 different rounds. I’ve been been fantasizing about that .500 Big Horn Armory since I saw the Hickok45 video with him shooting that beast. Just a tad too pricey for me though, and the ammo isn’t that cheap.

      • Big Horn actually offers a layaway program. Its $600 down and then the rest can be paid off over a year. Its no interest or anything like that just a option so blue collar guys can afford the rifle.

    • Basically, a larger, heavier, projectile at a higher velocity.
      Overall, good for about a 30% increase in muzzle energy, for those who believe in that figure.
      The real benefit is not in ballistics, but in the efficient use of space, which the .45-70 is very poor at since it was designed for black powder. That’s why the .500 gets more power, even though the round is smaller(but not in diameter). Most of the .45-70 case is just full of air when loaded with smokeless powder. This means less ammunition capacity for any length of magazine tube.

      • May be true if you’re talking about standard pressure 45-70, but ammo loaded specifically for an 1895 action or stronger will equal or exceed a 500 S&W even out of a rifle barrel. Haven’t checked pricing, but my guess is that the 45-70 does it for less money per shot. Cool toy, but no thanks.

        • Actually, out of the rifle the 500 S&W can achieve significantly higher velocities than the 45-70 even with the Ruger #1 loads. Even with the hottest loads the 45-70 tops out power wise at around 200 FPS with a 400 grain projectile. The M89 can push a 440 grain projectile at the same speed with a larger projectile, larger diameter, and less recoil. The 500 S&W also has a massive range of bullet weights ranging from 200 grain to 700 grains. Th 45-70 tops out about 600 and those will absolutely rattle your teeth.

        • Sorry, typo I meant 2000 FPS not 200. Its energy is about 3554 foot pounds of energy, the Big Horn Armory M89 can do a 440 at 2000 FPS which is 3909 foot pounds. However it can do a 350 grain at 2300-2500 FPS which blows the 45-70 away energy wise at 4112 foot pounds at the slow end.

        • I stand corrected. I’ve seen 45-70 clear up to 4000 ft lbs, but if your data is right, that is still a little short. Would make a cool, but very expensive brush gun.

        • The .500 produces awesome ballistics from a rifle-length barrel. When I fired Double-Tap 400 grain .500s from a 22” barrel several years ago, I got an honest (and almost frightening) 2240 FPS and 4447 lb-ft.

          These monster loads penetrated completely through a telephone pole. Diagonally.

      • 500 smith is a niche round made so people can say they have the most powerful production handgun. It doesn’t offer any practical edge when it comes to rifles.

        There’s a slew of bush guns and let’s not forget a simple shotgun with slugs that will out perform that thing for a fraction of the price… lol

        • The 500 S&W out of a rifle is capable of firing a 700gr up to 1500 fps, 263gr more than a one ounce slug at around the same speed. With 440 gr hard cast bullets we’re reaching 2200 fps and almost 4600 FPE.

        • Plus the .500 will hold more rounds and reach out to at least double the range of shotgun slugs. Still, nothing wrong with slug guns either, even if one doesn’t live where hunting with them is State mandated.
          I don’t. I live in Montana where the ranges are long and the sky is big. 🙂 But I still carry slugs whenever I have a shotgun in my hands. Probably not in the gun, but still on me. That way a bird gun can turn into a real stopper of big, nasty things(two or four legged) with just a change of ammo. Versatility. Shotguns excel at it. Too bad they can’t be made to excel at range too. Then I wouldn’t have to have 50 rifles… but that also might be a lot less fun. 🙂

    • The main benefit I see is that you can more easily fit .500 Smith into a revolver. While this rifle looks pretty sweet I think a Marlin 1895 SBL could do the same ting for a lot less money and with a more versatile cartridge (for a rifle).

    • Or you can just buy an marlin in 45-70 for less than $500. 45-70 will wallop just about anything that walks the earth…

      Btw… Tacticool optics on a lever gun is blasphemy…..

  2. Overall love the concept. Not so much the chambering. I don’t see what a 500 S&W does in a rifle platform that any number of more available cheaper cartridges won’t.

    • Actually recoil is a lot less than most 45-70s. It has a much wider stock and due to the shape of the pistol grip it is much easier than a straight stocked lever gun Big Horn Armory has a lot of Youtube videos of it showing how easy it is to control.

    • I think the Colonel would say “no” as it fails several of the criteria set out in the definition of the Scout Rifle. One is being able to engage targets at 300-400 meters. One of the others was the use of standard cartridges, such as .308 Winchester, or acceptable alternatives such as 7mm-08.

      The 500 S&W would arc like a rainbow and would not be very common compared to .308.

      • I agree- Copper insisted on an easily-obtained military-based caliber besides the parameters of engagement. He also desired a weight/length limitation, forward mounted scope for fast engagement, backup iron sights, and the Ching sling system, among a few more options. I have my Steyr Scout 9.308) in the vehicle nearly all the time, takes up no room and is a nice insurance policy.

        Interesting that Steyr also produced the Scout in .223/5.56 which would’ve possibly gotten Cooper’s nod, but also in .243 Win and .376 Steyr. Had a chance long ago to pick up a used .376, wish I had taken it if only for giggles. Have to remember that this entire Scout project began with an old .350 Rem Mag “fireplug” round in the short Remington rifle it was built for. The Rem action was soon scrapped for a CZ one and he continued looking for sometime until Steyr finally got his “endorsement”.

        Cooper was a fan of lever guns, however, Years back at an annual Whittington Center breakfast, we talked at our table about how much better those CA cops would’ve been if they’d only had a couple Win 94 30-30s in that infamous North Hollywood shootout rather than some handguns. I can’t remember if he actually got it going but before he sold Gunsite Cooper was developing/had developed an “Urban Carbine” course with normal, garden variety lever guns. There’s a chapter in his “Art of the Rifle” book.

        If I had my wish, I’d take an AR platform in .45 Win Mag. That might be closer to Cooper’s “Thumper” project, as is the .500 S & W levergun in question here.

        • What would you think about my current project: An AR15 chambered in a new cartridge, the 7.62 X 39 case made straight walled for a .416 projectile?

      • Thanks for saying it. This is a Cooper scout rifle in no way shape or form. It is inadequate to the job on several levels and…just…no! It may or may not be a good rifle (it isn’t, at least not in .500SW) but it is so far from a scout rifle that it isn’t even the same sport, let alone in the right ball park.
        Given that this fails the common ammo test, it thus can’t be made to go bang when needed, rendering it useless in the scout rifle role.
        Given that it is chambered in something that fails the minimum distance requirement, when it does go bang, it fails to reach the target, rendering it useless in a scout rifle role.

        Why does it have to be a scout rifle? It’s probably a fine brush gun…but it is a terrible attempt at a scout rifle.

    • Same here. I’d love to have one of those, but damn, that price tag… And the Marlin .30-30 I already have gets the job done.

    • I agree with you RA-15. The price is a big turn off. I have a Marlin .44 mag rifle and for $2800, I could buy a LOT of ammo, and still have money left over to pay for a trip to Alaska.

      • OK, but is it only me who thinks a .44 mag would not be very good insurance against a real Grizzly or Brown Bear? Maybe I’m a puss but my .454 Casull is about the minimum I’d want with me. Ditto in Africa.

  3. The only thing it’s good for is self defense in bear country. For the price you could buy a .44 and a trip to Alaska.

    • Mossberg with slugs. Cheaper than a .44 revolver or rifle. Save enough money to stay an extra week in Alaska.

      • OR, get a 6.5 creedmoor and watch comfortably as others pay for your trip to Alaska and book you a first class flight on the way there.

        • With 6.5 creedmoor, you wouldn’t even need to go to Alaska. You could aim from your house and hit your target. That’s how awesome 6.5 cm is.
          I was interested in this rifle until I saw the price. That’s insane for a lever action in a handgun caliber.

  4. The whole point from days of yore of using a pistol cartridge in the carbine is so that you could go into the field or the woods with your handgun and your long gun and just have to carry one cartridge which would work in either, like the 45 colt or 44 mag. Nobody is going to carry a handgun in 500. So this seems something of an exercise. If a 45 colt isn’t enough, and often it wouldn’t be, Why not carry whatever usual in a reasonable handgun you want, and a 3030 in the lever action, particularly with the newplastic tipped rounds for better performance which avoid the flat nosed bullets here to for used to avoid tube magazine detonation?

    • Agreed. Using the same load in rifle and pistol is the reason for rifles in pistol calibers. .44 and .357 make sense in that context. .500 doesn’t.

  5. I got to take Roberts Bighorn lever gun in .500 S&W to Africa.
    Those hard cast bullets did some serious damage.

    • If/when I go back to Africa, it’ll be with the Big Horn .500. This year’s Cape Buffalo hunt with a 45/70 Marlin was pure rock and roll. I would like to stalk a kudu with it. The kudu I took was a 250-yard with a .300 Win Mag, which has reach. Yes, I can smack stuff a long way away, but darn, hunting with as lever gun or a pistol is much more satisfying.

      Michael B

    • Glad to see you back in action Tom, I have not, nor ever will have the opportunity to hunt Africa. I would like to hear some of you guy’s stories. ,, Internet, TTAG , wow.,,. I flinch when I look at the price of a box of 4 tens.,. It’s darn cool a person like me can acquaint with regular hunters of Afican big game. Tom, I would like to hear of some of your adventures.

      • BTW I’ve. Been a p h g and can hold my ground with a garden rake vs. Cow with calf. Did it, kung Fu monkey, so I would really like to hear the horrors of killing . In your point of killing. Sorry but this species is anaemic.

  6. I have a Big Horn Armory 500 and a Marlin Guide Gun 45-70. There is no comparison. The Marlin is like driving a ford escort and the Big Horn is like driving a Ferrari. The Big Horn is better quality, has more power (around 1500 FPE depending on the load) and shoots same sized bullets a lot faster than the Marlin. Yeah, the Big Horn is pricey, but not everyone can afford a Ferrari either. Don’t knock the Big Horn because you can’t (won’t) afford it, it is hands down better quality and far more versatile than the 45-70.

  7. I have a M89 with a 16″ barrel and it is without the best big bore I own. I carry it for my Bear gun and she has yet to have any problems. The workmanship is impeccable and the knockdown is unbeatable. If you want the biggest baddest rifle out there this is it, their layaway program is awesome to! Love it, absolutely kicks ass!

  8. this was really cool…until the price. ridiculous. $1k tops, its a fucking lever action, not like it took a shit ton of engineering.

    • There has been a considerable amount of engineering involved in the creation of the Model 89. It uses the most modern high strength materials, modern heat treating methods, modern finishes, a design to minimize felt recoil, high quality walnut hand fitted and glass bedded for durability along with old world craftsmanship to create the best lever gun available in the world at any price. All other lever guns use old engineering, finishes and methods that don’t even come come close to the Model 89 in quality.

      If you think there is little engineering involved in the creation of this gun, I suggest you try to build one yourself using the above parameters.

  9. This doesn’t meet a single requirement of a true scout rifle, it can’t be loaded with stripper clips or mags, it isn’t bolt action, before optic and sling it weighs almost 8 lbs, it’s over the length requirement, it isn’t chambered in a cartridge meant for range, it can’t accommodate an IER sight and it doesn’t have a proper sling. Literally every requirement for a scout rifle does not apply to this gun.

  10. If yah git a hold of her calf and hold it in front of you the herd won’t charge. I always thought Wow, them big animals in the red eyed rage still won’t trample you , because of hurting that calf. The whole herd, snorting and pawing the ground. MoMA’s gonna take yah and if you back up yur fucked. Talk about stand your ground. Anyway we got that bull calf dewormed and inoculated, come on down n spend yo money. Whoo eeeee. That sunrise is pretty….

  11. Does this mean a S&W .50 (same as he S&W 500 Revolver shell) will work i.e. 359 grain 400 grain 500 grain? Thank you beutiful gun!

  12. That MSRP though…..LOL

    MSRP: $2,799 lever 500 S&W

    Rifle dynamics AK: $2200
    KAC rifle: $2500
    SCAR 16: $2600

    The list goes on and on. I guess if you’re bored and have $$$ to throw away it would be a good option.

    • I’ve concluded that these people have sold their brains long ago and are now being suckered into buying these things.

  13. If one is in need of more power than afforded by your 4570, may I suggest looking over Gary Reeder/Pistol Parlor, Flagstaff, Arizona, Website…he can work your 1895 into many different chamberings, black chromium finish, barrel lengths, etc. If you’re in the market for a tyrannosaurus stopper, he can fix you up. FYI he also does custom revolver & pistol work…a truly custom firearms craftsman & designer …I believe his cost to do over an 1895 was $1250..going to get mine done someday soon. Have one of his Black Widow 5.5″ Ruger Custom Blackhawk .45 Colts from when he was still in Sarasota FL!

  14. Granted, this is a nice rifle for those who need a bear (or bigfoot) gun. But for the average shooter, at that price point? Can’t see it, nor can I see many of them being sold, except to bear country hunters or to sooth some guys’ egos. I have two .45-70 lever rifles and they are entirely adquate (or more than adequate) for anything I’m likely to hunt with them.

  15. Gotta agree with the .45-70 guys. This thing looks awesome. Most likely shoots awesomely. But, would love it in .45-70 rather than .500 S&W.

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