By the year 2000 it seemed that the revolver world had grown a bit stale. Sure, there were plenty go good revolvers being sold and millions of people worldwide used them for both home defense and concealed carry, but there was not a significant level of core innovation going on. The .454 Casull was the last cartridge to make serious splash in the revolver pond and that was all the way back in 1957. The plastic wondergun revolution had firmly established a dominant foothold and the 1911 was making a comeback, but nothing exciting was expected on the revolver scene. Then, all of a sudden in 2003, Smith & Wesson introduced a new hand cannon...the Model S&W500.
Not only was the gun built on a completely new reinforced frame, but it came with the all-new .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum cartridge. The round was significantly more powerful than either the .44 Magnum or the .454 Casull cartridges and was marketed by the company as being ready to take down any big game that currently walks the earth. With the best loads the gun fires a 350-grain bullet at 1,975 fps developing 3,031 ft/lbf of energy and making it the most powerful handgun cartridge in the world at the time.
This revolver is known to “kick like a mule” and required a good deal of strength to properly manage the recoil. Videos catching unsuspecting shooters off guard abound. It may be comical at first blush but the lack of proper muzzle control should give any responsible shooter cause for concern.
Built specifically for the new cartridge, Smith & Wesson's previous N-Frame revolver platform simply was not up to the task and the company had to develop an entirely new frame which came to be known as the X-Frame. Initially, the 8” Model S&W500 was the only member of this revolver family but it was quickly supplemented by the 4” Model S&W500, the Performance Center S&W 500, and eventually the Model 460XVR.
This revolver carries 5 rounds of .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum and is setup with the typical Double-Action/Single-Action trigger configuration. It sports and extra-large spur hammer and a smooth trigger with the double-action pull breaking at 10 lbs and the single-action at 4 lbs.
The hunting version of the gun with an 8” barrel is offered in two variations both with a stainless steel finish. The first (#163500) comes with a vertically oriented compensator affixed to the very front of the gun while the second (#163501) features an interchangeable compensator which channels muzzle blast in a V-shaped formation. While both editions of the gun have adjustable rear sights, the second version also sports a light gathering HI-VIZ red dot front sight.
Smith & Wesson Model S&W500 Revolver Gallery
As with all Smith & Wesson revolvers, the S&W500 is made in the U.S.A. and comes with a lifetime service warranty.
Reviews of the Smith & Wesson Model S&W500 hunting revolver are found below with the newest reviews at the bottom of the page. Please write a review of your own but limit them to the mainline 8” S&W500 revolvers as the 4” S&W500, the fluted barrel editions, as well as the 460XVR all have their own review sets. Please send a picture of your gun to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be sure to add it to the Model S&W500 Photo Gallery as soon as your review is approved.
I bought the 4 inch version of the 500 S&W about four years ago. While I was waiting for the gun to arrive I did extensive reading about loads, bullets, reloading and shooting done by others. I reload all my ammo for economy and quality reasons. I have put in excess of 1200 rounds down range with this gun. Early articles talked about an erratic pressure problem with the 500. The solution to the erratic pressure problem was published as using a rifle primer. Starline made cases designed for the rifle primer so I use only those cases. I decided that low power loads (for the 500) was the starting point. I used a published load of 10 grains of Unique behind a 350 grain bullet. When I shot the gun the first time I loaded one round in the cylinder. There were reports of potential doubling with this gun due to recoil and poor grip. When the gun went off I was surprised. there was very low recoil. I worked up to full power 350 grain bullet loads using H110 and W296. I felt that the gun had a respectable recoil with hunting loads but not excessive. I never did have any problem with the cylinder unlocking which could lead to doubling. Full power hunting loads worked very well for me. I easily shot 50 to 100 rounds per session. I have used a very firm grip with big bore revolvers for twenty years. I developed a modified weaver grip keeping all of my fingers well behind the cylinder--barrel gap. I am right handed and keep all my thumbs LOW to avoid the cylinder release or the slide. I DO NOT WRAP MY OFF HAND AROUND THE BACK OF THE GUN. I use the same grip with automatic pistols. Keeping the second thumb along side the gun avoids getting cut by the slide. I use enlarged grips with no extension behind the grip frame. The enlarged grip is to provide a wide smooth surface for the web of my hand. By way of comparison I have shot the Savage Striker and the XP 100 both in 308. If there was no muzzle break turned on when the gun was fired both of these guns had me ready to quit after about 20 rounds.
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