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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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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!


  1. 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 .

    • The 500, at first glance, is very striking. The scheer size of this monster fills the room with silence. Don’t get frightened. Just pick up the wheel gun, fling the cylinder open and start loading. Just pretend you are DIRTY HARRY, you are the last vestage of justice in a world gone mad. Flick the cylinder closed, cock the hammer and take aim. “Do you feel lucky, punk?

      • Negative. .. while most “gun” people know your joking. .. some idiot is gonna read this and probably try it…

  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. 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. 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.

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

  6. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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. 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. 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. 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.


  15. 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. Biggest piece of cr@p i’ve ever owned! i bought the 6.5″ barrel version a few months ago and have had nothing but problems. now, granted i bought it used, but the original owner told me he had fired one round and left it in his safe after that…too much recoil for him.

    i’m no stranger to recoil. i don’t hunt but i love to shoot targets with powerful guns. it’s not unusual for me to put a hundred rounds through my .375 H&H magnum rifle or a couple hundred rounds through my .454 Casull in an hour at the range.

    i’ve wanted a 500 mag since they first came out and finally got the chance to own one a few months ago. at first it was wonderful. the gun will put a hole clean through 1/4″ steel plate at 25 yards. it’s a real head turner at the range. as you said, the trigger was just about perfect…at first. the problems started after i’d shot about a hundred rounds. the sear snapped right off the trigger. getting inside to find out what happened i found that the trigger is cast metal (they call it injection molded but thats the same thing imho). i was disappointed in S&W for using such a cheap part in their flagship pistol (biggest, baddest, most powerful handgun on the planet, etc) but i conceded that, as it was used, maybe the original owner had done something to cause the defect. i called S&W to order another trigger. of course, as it was a used gun they didn’t honor the warranty and i had to pay for it but i asked for the strongest one they had, no matter the cost. they shipped me a chrome trigger (also cast) for just under $50. it came yesterday (after 6 weeks of waiting) and i installed it and went to the range today…

    it snapped in the SAME PLACE after just 8 rds fired. to say i’m pissed would be an understatement, i’m livid. if this is what we can expect from Smith & Wesson (sub standard parts and poor customer service) i doubt they’ll be in business much longer. i know I’LL never buy another one.

  17. I got mine new from magnum research….smith and wesson 500 mag hunter 10.5….love it….very accruate at 200 yards….little $$$$ too shoot….but worth it….

  18. I just had the chance to purchase the 500 mag Hunter. It appears to be a fine firearm in finish, balance and just neat looks.
    In ordering ammo for it I realized it would not be cheap to shoot. However since I can’t quite compete with Mr. Parker’s “Manliness” on the range it should be affordable to shoot.(200 rounds in an hour of .454 ammunition). Definitely he gets the MAN AWARD.


  19. “all hell brakes loose.” Brakes are on a car. Hell breaks loose. You do consider yourself a journalist, don’t you?

  20. I shot mine for the first time today. I had several miss fires. The round had been hit by the firing pin but didn’t fire. I tried the same rounds again and they fired. I don’t know whether the firing pin was not hitting hard enough or the rounds were to blame. The rounds were magtech 325 grains. Anyone else have these issues?

    • I had this issue when I was using CCI LR primers but ever since I switched to Winchester and Federal, I had no such issues.

  21. I know this 100%. S&W customer service is the worst going as far as gun manufacturers. My buddy saw my Series E SC 1911 & ran out & bought a new one. Mine has been okay, but its prettier than reliable. Buddy has sent it back 3 times. S&W sucks with Customer Service. Since Im an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor- i make damn sure all who want to know- know the truth. S&W customer service is the WORST. Best ever has been Springfield & Henry. Period!!!!

  22. My 500 is zeroed at 25 yards and holds true at 100 yards shooting the 400 grain lead from Underwood Ammo. Here in Maine, shots out passed 100 yards are not common.
    It does kick but I also agree, due to the recoil pads in the grip, it seems to kick less than a .44 magnum with wooden grips. A superior weapon but for sure not one most will want to shoot all day at the range.

  23. Absolutely ridiculous gun. Laugh out loud funny to look at and others laugh at you and point when you bring it out at the few outdoor ranges that let you shoot it (almost no indoor will let you shoot it more than one or two rounds). Seen and fired one in person. You have to shoot rounds less than 300gr to be able to hit anything accurately less than 25 yards because the recoil is more ridiculous than the looks. If you have to load it way light to hit anything then what is the point? Just get a Ruger .44 mag and shoot 300gr or 340gr bullets all day long and get better accuracy and penetration in the process. Unless you are standing ten feet from an elephant or Kodiak Grizzly and have a huge target you aren’t gonna be hitting anything. Ammo is too expensive at 2.50 cents a round, if you are lucky, and can never be found in your local gun shop (internet just about only option). Just under $2 for the cheapest garbage ammo online. It is so heavy it makes a .44 Mag feel light and looks no where near as nice as a classic .44 mag S&W or even a Ruger for that matter. Was gonna buy one myself for bragging rights but after actually shooting it and looking at the unavailability of ammo, I decided against it. As soon as S&W decides to lower production of some revolvers this will be the very first to go. All the gun shops say the used ones sit and sit and sit, which is why most won’t take one for trade in or buy back unless they get it for less than half it’s worth. You won’t shoot it enough cause it is not enjoyable at all, so you will want to sell it eventually and you’ll have to practically give it away when you do. It is only a matter of time. 10 rounds and your hand and wrist is hurting, and that is from the pro’s that shoot daily. After the gimmick wears off you’ll just have it sitting around. A classic Smith is harder to find but very beautiful, and a lot easier to shoot and shoot some more. Plus when you go to sell it ( you probably never will) you get very close to what you paid for it every time, even for the newer ones.

    • your review is the most rediculous thing i’ve read in a long time . My 500 with a red dot hits the 12 inch sheet plates at 100 yards all day long with 400 grain hard cast bullets running at over 1600 fps. I hunt mostly with the Ruger 480 and lost track of how many deer i’ve taken with handguns . Smith and Wesson make a fine product as does Ruger, . my 500 drops deer just as quick as my S&W 629 . Maybe you suffered mentally from the concussion you may have received after shooting it or quite possibly your just sore because you can’t afford one or the wife won’t let you buy one . Ask any old timer gun store owner about how many people returned the 44 magnum after shooting it because the recoil was too much.

    • @Jim…You must be one of those girlie men Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about. Me? I guess being 6’4″ tall, weighing 235 and being able to hammer curl 50 pounds 75 reps with each arm is the reason I’ll rebuke your “review”. I can do just fine with it on a 10″ plate at 25 yards, double action and do it with all three that I have.

  24. A friend had an 8″ one that he had fired three times. I had fired it the other two. He ended up with it because the shop he bought it from wasn’t able to get him a .44 magnum. OOPPPSSSS…he found out that it not only kicked like hell it cost like hell to shoot it. Well one day he decided to sell it and having the fake money around that was loosing value so fast I picked it up from him. It has SOME RECOIL to say the least. However, one day I was watching Jerry Michulek shoot a FOUR inch one and it appeared to have LESS recoil or muzzle flip than my 8″, on and BTW…I had decided before this time to buy a 6″ one so now I had two. Anyhow after watching Jerry and looking into the reason his didn’t have so much muzzle rise I realized it was the BRAKE that was different and it made a LOT of difference. So, now I sit here with the 4″ one in my lap trying to figure out what the little “l” with the arrow by the cylinder release means? And I have three. Maybe I’ll get the snubby and maybe I’ll get the 10″. I don’t know. But I did buy a Big Horn Armory “Spike Driver” in 500 S&W. So now when I go to the range for “50” day, I bring the Big Horn, 3 x S&W 500’s, a Desert Eagle 50AE, a 50 Beowulf carbine, a 500 Automax also from Big Horn Armory, a 50GI Guncrafters Industry “Glock” style clone and and a Barrett 82A1. And no, I’m not “rich”. I just drive older cars and fix up my older house. Yeah, go read some of my articles on Substack! Especially the one about those Forgotten and Ignored 13 words…HEAR ME ROAR! Jus Meum Tuebor


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