.500 S&W Magnum - The most powerful handgun in the World
"I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'did he fire six shots or only five?' - to be honest, with all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being that this is a .44 Magnum, which is the most powerful handgun in the world and could blow your head clean off, you got to ask yourself one question: 'do I feel lucky?'. Well do ya? Punk!"
- "Dirty" Harry Callahan
Dirty Harry was basically right at 1971 when the movie was made, if you add the words "factory made" and "handgun cartridge" that is. In 1955 Smith&Wesson introduced Model 29 revolver in .44 Remington Magnum, a rather large and sturdy revolver with enough punch for shooting big game. 16 years later this fine weapon of mass punctuation became the weapon of choice for Dirty Harry, the prototype of a loose cannon cop with a huge gun.
The .44 Magnum has lost its title for heavy duty handgun calibers such as .454 Casull, .475 Linebaugh and the Hollywood favorite .50 AE, which was actually designed for Desert Eagle pistols by Magnum Research Incorporated "just because it can be done". The standards of big guns changed again at 2003 as Smith&Wesson introduced their latest model. Though, the .44 Magnum is still considered by many as "the most powerful handgun that's actually somewhat comfortable to shoot".
There is no "why". The .500 S&W Magnum cartridge was developed for no other reason than being the biggest and loudest. Most other big calibers have some sort of reason to exist, but the .500 has none. It's like Altair 8800, a solution without a problem just waiting for someone to actually need it for something. Yes, it can drop just about anything that lives on Earth and walks, so it would be very useful choice for a handgun hunter. But let's face it - a handgun with more power than most common hunting rifles is more than just a bit overkill.
As the cartridge was finished, the next task was to build a revolver around it, big enough to take the size and sheer power of the massive ammunition. And the result really was a big gun, a scaled up, 5-shooter version of Model 629 (which is a somewhat modernized and stainless version of Dirty Harry's sidearm).
The ridiculously massive bulk of the 500 gun is something you appreciate after pulling the trigger. Nearly five pounds of steel absorbs the recoil pretty nicely, and that's accompanied with a rubber grip for cushioning the blow and a very effective muzzle brake to eliminate the whiplashing effect your wrists usually receive when shooting large caliber handguns.
If Dirty Harry had a .500 instead of that "wimpy" .44 his line would be:
"I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'did he fire five shots or only four?' - to be honest, with all this ringing in my ears and throbbing pain in my wrists I kinda lost track myself. But being that this is a .500 S&W Magnum, which is the most powerful handgun in the world and could blow your head clean off, you got to ask yourself one question: 'do I feel lucky?'. Well do ya? Punk!"
One day I had a chance to try it out myself, and didn't want to lose that chance. Getting a permit for that kind of weapon is next to impossible for a mere mortal here in Finland. I was excited, and yes, a bit scared too.
Picking up the gun for the first time was among the most surreal experiences in my adult life. The first thought was "ok... now that's not a big gun, it's fucking huge!" and I shit you not. It's not just big, it's ridiculously big - something you could imagine being delivered in a wooden crate with ACME written on it.
When I first fired it, I didn't know what to expect. Well, my roommate got to try it first and I saw him survive, but I still didn't know if it was pleasant or not. And it actually turned out to be surprisingly pleasant. But remember that a gun this size being "pleasant" doesn't mean it's not a monster to shoot, make no mistake about it. After all, it is The Most Powerful Handgun in The World. The muzzle brake reduced the muzzle flip so the gun was pointing upwards in about a 30-40 degree angle, which really was way less than i expected. But most of the recoil came straight back towards me, I guess hitting your palm with a rubber hammer might give the idea what it felt like.
Conclusion? I want one. Ok, it is a penis extension and in just about every way a weapon that would make Freud blush. And I admit I want it only for having the biggest gun on the pistol range. You have to experience it to understand it ;)