Smith & Wesson 6 1/2 Inch .500 S&W Magnum Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

December 8th, 2008




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Doesn’t seem like it, but it has been over five and a half years ago that Smith & Wesson introduced their .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum revolver to the world. I was fortunate enough to get my hands upon of one of the first of these to leave the factory, and reported on it here back in July of 2003. I had done a lot of shooting with that early revolver, and had also let several other seasoned shooters fire the big gun. All were impressed by its power, and amazed at the sheer mass of that big Smith. Some of the early guns had a problem with the heaviest loads, and would sometimes unlock upon firing, allowing the cylinder to rotate under recoil. I have heard of no problems with any of the .500 S&W revolvers produced since that early batch, and they have found a solid place in the market. The first .500 S&W revolvers wore barrels that measured roughly eight and three-eighths inches, plus a compensator, resulting in a barrel that was about nine inches overall, and the gun measuring about fifteen inches in total length. It was, by any standard, a large revolver. Smith & Wesson dubbed the all new frame their “X” frame, and it is now the platform for the .460 S&W as well. Selling very well for S&W, the .500 is now available in various other barrel lengths and profiles, and Leroy Thompson wrote about the special five inch John Ross .500 S&W here back in July of 2007.

The latest version of the .500 S&W revolver, and one of my favorites, is this six and one-half inch gun shown here. The barrel profile and length makes the gun balance much better for me than the full-lug long barrel of my earlier test gun, and the ported barrel looks much better to my eyes than the ones with the detachable muzzle brakes. This .500 shown here has three ports on each side of the barrel shroud top rib, but the barrel itself has ports all the way around, in about three-quarters of an inch from the muzzle. This version of the .500 looks more like a swelled-up Model 629, and just looks more “right” to me. It also weighs considerably less than the first version of the .500 S&W Magnum: about three quarters of a pound less! Weighing in at 60.4 ounces, this .500 is no pocket gun, but it is a lot easier to pack and better handling than the heavier .500 that I reviewed before.

Like most other versions of the S&W .500, this one wears a set of synthetic rubber Hogue grips. The .500 grip frame is the same as the K and L model S&W revolvers, so there are many styles on the market that will fit this big Smith, but the design and material of the Hogue really helps to make the big gun more comfortable to shoot. Recoil is really not bad at all until you start pulling the trigger on the heavy 440 grain Cor-Bon loads, and for those who do not need full-power .500 magnum loads, and not many of us do, Cor-Bon now loads the .500 S&W Special loads as well, and they still give plenty of power to positively take most any game animal on Earth, but with a lot less recoil. A 350 grain bullet at 1200 feet-per-second (fps) will do most anything that a handgun needs to do, but if you need more power, the Magnum load will scoot that same bullet out about 400 fps faster from this six and one-half inch barrel.

The trigger pull on the test gun was very good, measuring a smooth nine and three-quarters pounds in double action mode, and a typical S&W-crisp three and one-half pounds in single action mode. Like most of the latest S&W revolvers, the .500 has the internal key lock. I did not use it, and it caused no problems at all during firing, whether hand-held or when fired from the Ransom Rest. The barrel/cylinder gap on the test gun measured an even six one-thousandths (.006) of an inch; a bit larger than I prefer, but within S&W specs. The .500 has a checkered wide hammer spur, and a smooth wide trigger, both of which were very comfortable during shooting. The S&W doesn’t hurt me when shooting. The muzzle comes up instantly, and recoil with magnum loads is brisk, but there is no painful pinching and poking like goes on when shooting some big-bore revolvers. The trigger guard on the Smith is plenty large to not slam into the trigger finger, and it also accommodates a gloved finger very well. By changing the length and profile of the barrel and shroud, S&W really changed the handling dynamics of their big Five Hundred. The shorter barrel loses a little velocity when compared to the longer barrel, but not so much that whatever beast you are shooting will notice a difference. I fired five different Cor-Bon factory loads over the eyes of my chronograph, set twelve feet from the muzzle, with the results listed below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second, and bullet weights listed in grains. Testing was done with an air temperature of thirty-nine degrees Fahrenheit, at an elevation of approximately 550 feet above sea level. DPX is a homogenous copper bullet with a huge hollow front cavity. JHP is jacketed hollowpoint. FMJ is full metal jacket. HC is a hard cast lead bullet.

Cor-Bon .500 Special DPX 275 1216
Cor-Bon .500 Magnum JHP 350 1618
Cor-Bon .500 Special FMJ 350 1199
Cor-Bon .500 magnum DPX 275 1419
Cor-Bon .500 magnum HC 440 1528

Reliability was, as expected, perfect. The big Five Hundred fired every round fed it, and extraction was smooth, with no stickiness at all. Accuracy was also very good. I clamped the S&W into my Ransom Rest, and tested the factory ammo for accuracy at twenty-five yards. No handloads were tested. The high performance Cor-Bon ammo performed very well, exhibiting match-grade accuracy with a couple of the loads.

The Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum has made a place for itself. For some, it is carried while in pursuit of the world’s largest and most dangerous game. For others, the big Five Hundred is carried for protection from teeth and claws while working, hiking, fishing, or camping in areas where large carnivores make their home. For others, the .500 S&W Magnum is just used to bust rocks and such at long range, and doing so with such a powerful revolver is reason enough to own one. With several variations of the S&W .500 Magnum now available, there is a configuration to suit just about everyone.

Check out the .500 and other S&W products online at

For the location of a Smith & Wesson dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the S&W .500 online, go to

To order the Cor-Bon High Performance ammunition, go to

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:




Jeff tested the S&W .500 with a variety of Cor-Bon factory loads. The big .500 performed admirably with each.





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Click pictures for a larger version.


Smith & Wesson's 6-1/2" .500 S&W Magnum revolver.



Three ports on either side of top rib help hold muzzle down under recoil.



Barrel is fitted inside outer shroud.



Internal key lock.



Fully adjustable rear and red ramp front sights.



Top strap is drilled & tapped for scope mount.



Despite the large size of the S&W .500, the hammer is easy to reach.



Hogue rubber grip really helps to soften the felt recoil.