Working Out the Big Horn Armory .500 S&W Lever Gun


Having received an offer from Robert to take his lever gun hunting, I couldn’t possibly to say no. Having a weekend of sunshine in the middle of February in Oregon and a stunningly beautiful big bore lever gun along with free ammo courtesy of ceasefire Oregon: priceless. My first reaction when pulling this brushed stainless piece out of the case was an instant perms-grin . . .

It was also apparent that it hasn’t been shot very much. The action was a bit stiff, and this is a rifle to use with authority. After all, it’s flinging 450 grains at almost 2,000 feet per second. At 100 yards, it’s still delivering over 3,000 ft/lbs of energy.
These are seriously big bullets. For seriously big animals.


For comparison, that’s an empty 5.56 casing next to the .500. Wow. Mind you, I like big bores. Call me a masochist, but I thoroughly enjoy a heavy recoil whilst sending 850 grain bullets down range. The delivered foot pounds of energy makes me giddy. The flash from an energy dump as a round impacts a steel plate around dusk is hard to capture with a camera, but it’s there.

To get somewhat used to the gun, I put up some targets at 25, 50, and 100 yards. Keep in mind that this is iron sights only with a kind of ghost ring rear sight. Here’s 25 yards:


Well under two inches. Personally, I find this acceptable for iron sights. The gun is likely more accurate than these old eyes. Next is 50 yards:

A bit under 3 inches. Still OK as far as I’m concerned. Again, it’s likely me. Here’s the 100 yard target:


I’m not sure what happened here. Is the one on paper the flier? If I would have been on the spotting scope after each round, maybe I’d have known.

Any way I look at it, it’s still in “minute of hog” range, and definitely “minute of bear.” My upcoming plans are a hog hunt in Northern California and a spring bear hunt in Northern Idaho. I spoke to the owner of J&V Outfitters for the bear, and his hunt area is very promising. I’ve cruised through there a few times on the way to Montana. It’s beautiful country and apparently over populated with bear.

The bear hunt comes with bonuses. Not only can you harvest two bears on one tag, but cougar are also allowed. All at no extra cost. The outfitter tells me that the bear shots are typically taken at 40-60 yards, so the Big Horn boomer is definitely well suited. Man I love hunting and harvesting my own food!

Not being happy with the groups, I went home and rummaged around in my shop. I came up with a Weaver Kaspa series scope in 1.5-6 power with some rings high enough to clear the existing rear sight and arc of the hammer.
This scope should be able to take the recoil abuse the “spike driver” delivers. It was mounted on my .375 H&H for a long time before going a different route there, so it will take a licking.


Back to the range. Just as I’m getting the scope dialed in, it quits adjusting. Uh oh.

The Winchester 400 grain platinum tips are flying really nicely, grouping tightly, under an inch at 50 yards. I set the rifle down and see something fall to the shooting bench pad. I pick it up, and it’s a screw.

Uh oh. As I pick up the rifle to look, the rear sight falls into my palm.


Weird. No evidence of lock tight at all. Fortunately the cure for this is a simple one. Back home to the shop and a call to Robert to keep him up to date. Stay tuned.


  1. avatar Youzernayme says:

    where in Idaho are you coming to hunt? haven’t had any luck with grouse this year, but i did drop a turkey. bear hunts are a ways off for me and my gear. my circle can’t wait to get into it though. I’m just 30-45 minutes from great hunting, shooting and camping. hell yeah, north Idaho!

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      It’s north of Coeur d Alene.
      Beautiful country up there!

  2. avatar Greg says:

    I’ve had mine on order for over a year now, hopefully Big Horn will get around to it soon.

  3. avatar Sammy says:

    This is the same gun that had to go back to the factory for feeding issues. Not too impressed with Big Horn Armory

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Huh? the failure was the scope, not the rifle.

      1. avatar JasonM says:

        He said the rear sight came off, not the scope. Presumably that’s the factory sight.

      2. avatar Sammy says:

        When the gun first arrived, it would not feed. Needed to be sent back to the factory. Now we find out the sight was not installed correctly.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      Wilson Combat price, Freedom group quality?

      My Marlin 1895 XLR .45-70 can put 3 rounds rounds of LeverEvolution in 2″ at 100 yards, feeds well, and cost less than $800. I wish Marlin didn’t take a nosedive, and made guns in .460 and .500.

      1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

        Plus I suspect 45-70 ammo is more readily available and cheaper. 45-70 been dropping big bruins for what? A hundred fifty years? I’ll go with tried and true.

  4. avatar John L. says:

    Was the top rail a factory option or did RF add it on later?

  5. avatar Pieslapper says:

    I like big bores and I cannot lie…

    1. avatar Aaron says:

      you other brothers can’t deny…

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        I’m tired of magazines
        Saying Remington R51s are the thing…

        (A jab at dead tree gun mags…)

  6. avatar Publius says:

    I had that happen with a Chiappa made Puma Bounty Hunter in .44 magnum. Recoil knocked the screw loose on the rear sight and it fell off completely while shooting it – thankfully I was able to find both the sight and screw.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      I would hope guns like that were made with Loctite on the screw threads…

  7. avatar Charles says:

    I have a Marlin in .444 Marlin that can do 1.25 inch groups at 100 yards with handloads. It has the microgroove barrel so it won’t stabilize the leverlution ammo. Fine rifle though. I sure wish Remington hadn’t screwed Marlin over the way they have. The used to make some fine firearms at reasonable prices.

  8. avatar Myrealname says:

    Imagine how many of these they would sell if they could keep the prices at 12-1500 bucks.

  9. avatar paulWTAMU says:

    I would give my eyeteeth to get the old Marlin back; every time I see a review of a lever gun it just makes me think of what we’ve lost

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