• If you enjoy the forum please consider supporting it by signing up for a NES Membership  The benefits pay for the membership many times over.

A .50 cal 1911?? Are you nuts?

I saw it on TV a while back. I don't know anything about the load, but the jump from .45 to .50 isn't that big in simple measure.
Ohmigawd! A .50 caliber handgun! Take a deep breath and look at the specifications for the cartridge. We're not talking about a .50BMG here, but simply a .45 ACP round that's roughly 10% fatter and 20% heavier, with a muzzle velocity that's usually a skosh lower. The net result is a big fat round (that will make a big fat hole, though probably with not nearly as much penetration). The power factor ranges from about 10% lower to 25% higher than a 230gr .45ACP. The muzzle energy ranges from 25% lower to 25% higher than the .45. The power factor never approaches a 240 gr .44 Mag, and the energy doesn't even reach a 158gr .357 Mag. Both the power factor and the energy are completely dwarfed by the 500 S&W, so that even with a much lighter gun than the S&W, the recoil is going to be a lot less.

If you need a hand cannon fix, just load up a S&W 500 Magnum 4" with the 440 grain Hard Cast Cor-Bon ammo and beat your hand a few rounds.


Here is a piece of heavy 1/2" armor plate hit at 25 yards.


OK, so I missed 2 shots - sue me. (^_^) The first two hits were the lower ones. The last hit was the top one and the reason it is deformed is that the target was ripped off the wood I had it clamped to and actually threw this fairly heavy target 3 feet up the berm. Impact craters are about 1/8" deep and very noticable bulges formed on the opposite side. The entire target is slightly bowed as well.

Ammo Data

Cor-Bon Hunter Premium
500 S&W Magnum
440gr HardCast
Factory specs: Vel: 1625 fps 2580 ft/lbs

tested: (4" barrel with lead comp installed)
Vel: 1467, 1459, 1472 10 feet from muzzle.
Energy: 2100+ ft/lbs
Recoil: OH BABY!!!
Never found one of these in the berm. Then again, I only fired 10 and 3 of those were hits on steel. Still, I expected to find at least a lump of something.

I also tried out several other 500 Magnum loads, but I didn't bother shooting over the Chrony as at $3 a round (with one exception) that was just too much for 'science' when there was stuff to shoot.

Cor-Bon 400gr JSP
Factory: 1675 fps 2500 ft/lbs
A little less recoil, but a LOT more accurate. Might have been the jacketed compensator. Found one of these in the berm that had mushroomed to well over 1" in diameter. Found several of these where the jacket and lead seperated. I found one that had hit a larger piece of gravel and actually enveloped it.

Cor-Bon 275gr Barnes X
Factory: 1665 fps 1688 ft/lbs
Feels a lot like a hot .44 Magnum but very easily handled in this gun. Accurate, but very different point of aim than the heavier rounds. Interesting bullet. Very deep hollowpoint. I was surprised to find ones of these in the berm that had not deformed much. Most were just shards. Having no lead it will make a nice display piece for class as it clearly shows the rifling.

All the Cor-Bon ammo is $36 or more per box of 12.

Lastly, I tried a box of BullsEye brand as it is 20 rounds for $40 (ooh, down to $2 a shot) and it was OK. 375gr JHP. Might have been just me getting tired, but I was all over the place with this box, having trouble hitting a 6" circle at 25 yards. Moving in to 7 yards and left a nice set of large Micky Mouse prints. This stuff was a lot of fun for tossing an empty jug of laundry soap around. Hit below it and the impact sent the jug FLYING.... Didn't go berm digging after these, so no idea how they looked.

All in all, a fun range day. Glad I had the range to myself as I was spending more time down range diging up bullets than shooting it seemed. Felt like a kid in a sandbox.

Oh, and did I mention that these suckers are freaking LOUD? (^_^) Another good reason for having the range to myself.

All shots were taken from a standing two handed Weaver position except one. OK, I HAD to try one shot in the classic one-hand bullseye position. Lets just say that one was enough. (^_^) The hogue manufactured stock grips do a good job of absorbing a lot of the recoil, but you do have to hold the pistol firmly and it still kicks you hard. I did notice that my wedding ring (a lightweight titainium ring at that) was slapping my shooting hand pinky and actually left a bruise.

My pistol has an OK double action that is servicable. I suspect that much of the weight of the trigger is the amount of rotation of that huge 5 shot cylinder. However, the single-action trigger is absolutely perfect in my opinion. Nice crisp break with almost no preceptable movement. I estimate about 2-3 lbs.

I have to admit that cleaning was a bit of a chore.The compensators have a lot of ridges, holes, and such that are just no fun to get into. The recessed barrel is really only about 3" and the end of the rifling is set back about 1/8" from the crown where the compensators attach. Very well protected, but makes cleaning that area a fun chore. The Cor-Bon ammo is fairly dirty too. About the only place I could not get every bit of grime off was at the cylinder gap although the ends of the chambers cleaned up better than some I've had in the past. I also have some permanent stains under the front sight just above the compensator ports.

The gun has the new Smith and Wesson hammer lock and it does function well enough, but I'd still secure this in a case as the keys look very flimsy and the interface of key to lock is not at all solid. Like John Ross recommends, forget it exists.

The interchangable compensator is a neat idea. No idea why you need two. The only difference between the lead version and the jacketed version is that the lead version blocks the holes on either side of the front sight (another place that was a PIA to clean) and is slightly longer adding four holes through which you can pass a supplied tool to help rotate the compensator. No idea why this is needed as the comp turned easy with my fingers once unlocked.

To remove the compensator, you use the supplied 2.5mm allen wrench to 'Tighten' ie. turn clockwise the locking screw. This actually releases the compensator. You then grab the compensator and rotate it 90 degrees in either direction to free the six lugs from grooves in the barrel shroud. Then you can pull the compensator straight off the front. Installation is the reverse. You only have to spin the lock screw a few turns to release the compensator, and if you turn it too far, it actually makes the removal harder. Once you see how the locking screw fits the grooves on the compensator, you'll understand why only a few turns are needed. I never had the compensator come loose while shooting.

The barrel is not similar to most Smith and Wesson Revolvers. In fact, it looks more like a Dan Wesson barrel and Shroud setup. The barrel still threads into the frame, but it tightens down on an outer shroud that supports both ends of the barrel. As a result, you need a specail new tool from Smith and Wesson to install or remove a barrel. However, the engineering is well done and very well integrated to the design.

There is a unique ball detent on the frame to lock the yoke. Unlike other revolvers that use a hollow ejector rod and linkage to lock up the front of the cylinder, this big S&W uses a simple spring loaded ball. The ball on the frame faces forward so that under recoil the forces actually will help to hold the gun closed. Also, the right hand twist of the rifling helps to hold the gun closed by twisting the frame into the yoke instead of away from it. Such a nice simple solution. It does make opening the big 500 require a little more of a push of the cylinder, but not bad.

Since this gun uses the same frame as the larger barrel versions, the rear sight still sits over a tapped frame section for mounting a scope rail. The rear sight is adjustable with a white ouline on the notch. The front sight is a standard ramp post with an orange insert. I found that after shooting several boxes of Jacketed ammo, the upper compensator ports expelled enough debris that the orange was getting hard to see. It cleaned up easily enough, but it's something to watch.

Firearm and ammunition came from my good friend Carl at Four Seasons. If you want your own hand cannon, tell him Chris sent you. And as Carl said as I walked out of the store, "Watch out for those 440gr Cor-Bons."

OK, I didn't intend this post to turn out as a review, but there it is... (^_^)
C-pher said:
Yea, this would have to be something that you would be able to get dies for and reload.

Well, I don't (yet) reload, so the thought of having to buy commercial ammo only for a niche round like .50 GI makes my wallet hurt... ;)

(Did I mention I'm a cheap bastard? I think .44 Special ammo is expensive...)

I don't know if I would want the explosion that close to my face!

I prefer the long barrel model of that hand cannon. :D

Oh yea, that extra 4" or 6" for the 'hunter' model will make a huge difference. (^_^)

Besides, the slow motion pics of the gun show that your most likely to face the plume of the cylinder gap more than the muzzle/comp. Still, I would agree that the longer barrel version would tame the gun a bit. Especially if you add the weight of optics. I know I had a bear of a time (pun intended) getting the optics on my .480 Ruger to not move under recoil (sliding in the scope rings). This puppy is likely to be even more a challenge.

From John Ross's page:

"Download a high speed video of the .500 S&W being fired one-handed by engineer Brett Curry. There is 6/10,000ths of a second elapsed time between the B/C gap flash and muzzle flash. Note distance from tip of trigger finger to wrist. It changes little; the rubber grip and palm flesh compress, which results in the trigger almost being released enough to re-index for the next shot. This is how some people are getting the gun to "double." Use wood grips with a very firm hold if you're going to shoot this bad boy one-handed. "

His site at: http://www.john-ross.net/guns_and_shootong.htm has some other 500 Magnum info, some custom gun pics, and some loading data that I want to try out as soon as I get the reloading dies.

This one just looks painful. It's dubbed his CCW version. (CCW against WHAT?)

A friend of mine has the long barrel version and I was standing next to him when he shot it. I could literally feel the heat on my face from the explosion.
Interesting. Didn't notice any excessive heat from the shooter's position. Then again, I was concentrating on keeping sights aligned and trying not to anticipate recoil. (^_^) I suspect a ball and dummy drill with this gun would be interesting to watch. (^_^) Might also have been the fact that the wind was blowing from behind me.

I did see somwhere a low light photo of the 4" version that showed a huge plume of blast. Can't find it right now, but yea I could see that raising the local ambient temp a few degrees. (^_^)

I know that the barrel shroud and cylinder got fairly warm, but my shooting was no where near 'rapid' and the gun sat in the shade while I was down digging out bullets so it had plenty of time to cool down.

I honestly have no idea where in New England a gun like this is truly 'practical', but it was something I didn't have in the safe. in Massachusetts, finding a new handgun for the safe isn't an easy task these days.

And if I ever decide to go treking in Cape Buffalo country, I have the perfect sidearm. (^_^)

Lets face it, it is a hell of a lot of fun to see big holes on the paper and have the shotgun guys drive over to see who's making all that noise. (^_^)

C-pher, it actually isn't that bad a kick. I find the crack of a hot .454 still hits harder. Then again, its likely that the grips do tame a lot of the initial kick. My biggest reason not to try one handed anymore wasn't due to pain, but the fact that the muzzle flipped way over the berm and was generally uncontrolled. That said, I'm not looking to load up a 510gr round at some 1700 fps with 3200+ ft/lbs of energy any time soon. (^_^)
Chris said:
Interesting. Didn't notice any excessive heat from the shooter's position. Then again, I was concentrating on keeping sights aligned and trying not to anticipate recoil.

I forgot to mention we were shooting in the snow when I noticed it. I would say the temp was in the low 30's.
Top Bottom