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While recently spending time with my siblings, I had the chance to check out a couple of my brother-in-law's hunting handguns. He had a Smith and Wesson Model 460XVR and also a Smith and Wesson S&W500. The XVR chambers the .460 S&W Magnum cartridge while the S&W500 takes the .500 S&W Magnum load. While I didn't have a chance to shoot either, it sparked my curiosity as I've never shot a revolver chambered for anything larger than a .44 Magnum. I've put a few rounds down range using a T/C Contender chambered in .30/30 Winchester, but that was many years ago.
When I got back to Phoenix, I dropped an e-mail to Bryan, a local friend that shares a couple of common interests. I thought I remember him telling me he had picked up a big-bore handgun some time ago. If I was right, then all I had to do was get him out to the range where I could fire a few rounds to see what it was all about. As luck would have it, he responded in the affirmative and we set up a shoot for the upcoming weekend. Gotta love it when a plan comes together that nicely!
Bryan arrived at my house early in the morning and we quickly loaded his gear into my pickup and headed off to the range. The drive time gave us a chance to catch up on what had been happening since we last had a chance to chat. It wasn't long and we were unlocking the gate to the range and some much expected fun!
With our gear unloaded at the 50 yard bay, Bryan got out the S&W500 and a box of reloads. These were "plinking" rounds, he told me....the Speer .50 cal jacketed hollow point bullet weighing in at 325 grains. I don't recall the powder used but it makes little difference....I knew these were going to be more than what I'd shot before.
So just to put things in perspective, I rounded up a couple of cartridges I use in several of my CCW handguns. The .45 ACP and the 9mm Luger are very commonly used for both home and personal defense. When compared to the .500 S&W Mag cartridge, one gets a very clear picture of just how massive that magnum is. What was I getting myself in to?
With the target stands positioned 10 yards down, I stuffed 5 cartridges into the cylinder. I gave Bryan my camera and asked him to take a few photos of this "event". I figure that one way or another, this was going to get recorded for posterity....be it for an insurance claim or the last photo of me alive to display at my memorial service. <grin>
Bryan snapped one of the above two pics right at the beginning of one shot and the other right after I pulled the trigger on another. Needles to say, the recoil was quite noticeable and it let me know that I wasn't shooting my regular Springfield XD 9mm range pistol. However, that being said, it wasn't as bad as I was thinking it could be.
With 5 fresh rounds in the cylinder, I decided to call it quits when these were used up. My wrists were still functioning so why push my luck? Actually, by the time I got those next 5 out of the barrel, I was glad I was done (for now). I still had an evaluation to do on my XDs45 trigger and I really did need a working strong hand at the very minimum.
For the most part, I was shooting low. I noticed a flinch (or two) while shooting the 2nd group of five which accounted for that miss to the side of the head. The above were a combination of both single and double action. I was very impressed with the double action pull....smooth and consistent it was. The single action was too light for my taste. I don't believe I could manage a good shot were I wearing the kind of gloves I normally use for Minnesota white tail hunting. Even with the muzzle compensator, I experienced significant muzzle rise. This 4" barrel version tips the scales at 56 ounces and wouldn't be my choice for hunting, but certainly would be were I looking for a personal protection handgun for when I was hiking in big bear country or hunting some other kind of dangerous game.
For what it is worth, these hand loads were not loaded near max. I have no burning desire to experience a full house cartridge......thanks, I'll pass on that. <smile> I don't need a bullet, smacking into a deer, carrying in excess of 2000 ft/lbs of energy. But at least I can say I've pulled the trigger on the S&W500 a few times and enjoyed doing so. So, let me give a shout out to Bryan for allowing me to shoot what is currently the most powerful production handgun currently being manufactured. I really appreciate getting the chance to do so.