The Buzz

The Smith & Wesson 500: The World's Most Powerful (And Lethal) Handgun?

What is such a difficult handgun good for? The Model 500 is not for home defense: not only is the round overkill, it is too heavy and deafening when shooting indoors. (Many indoor gun ranges in the United States ban .50 caliber pistols as a source of irritation to neighboring shooters.) Some gun owners buy it simply for the challenge of managing the gun’s recoil and having the most dangerous revolver. It has no value as a military weapon.

What the Model 500 is good for is as a sidearm for hunters chasing very large game, particularly in administering the coup de grace to dangerous, wounded game. The giant revolver is also useful for hunting any animal a .308 hunting rifle can ethically take, albeit at closer distances. The use of a heavy recoil revolver adds yet another dimension to big game hunting. While the Smith & Wesson Model 500 will never achieve Glock-like levels of popularity, it was never meant to, and may never be eclipsed. The epitome of pistol power, the Model 500 is in a class by itself.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

This first appeared in January.

Image: Creative Commons.