.500 Magnum Ammo

500 Magnum Ammo: In Depth

The .500 Magnum caliber is renowned for being one of the most powerful production handgun calibers available today. Introduced by Smith & Wesson in 2003, the .500 Magnum has quickly gained a reputation for its impressive power, making it a favorite among big game hunters and enthusiasts of powerful handguns. Its sheer stopping power and performance capabilities make it a standout choice for those requiring a high level of energy and impact from their ammunition.

.500 Mag History and Development

The development of the .500 Magnum caliber was driven by a demand for a more powerful handgun round that could outperform existing large calibers like the .44 Magnum and .454 Casull. Smith & Wesson, in collaboration with Cor-Bon, developed the .500 Magnum cartridge to fulfill this need. Officially released in 2003, the cartridge was designed for the Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver. This new caliber set a new standard in handgun performance, capable of generating muzzle energies exceeding those of many rifle calibers.


The ballistic performance of the .500 Magnum caliber is nothing short of impressive:

  • Velocity: Depending on the bullet weight and load, the .500 Magnum can achieve velocities from 1,200 fps (for heavier bullets) to over 2,000 fps (for lighter bullets).
  • Trajectory: The trajectory of the .500 Magnum is relatively flat for a handgun round, especially with lighter bullets. This makes it suitable for longer-range shooting compared to other handgun calibers.
  • Recoil: The recoil of the .500 Magnum is substantial and can be challenging to manage. However, this is a trade-off for the caliber's significant stopping power.


The .500 Magnum is commonly used in the following applications:

  • Hunting: Its power makes it suitable for hunting large game such as deer, boar, and even larger animals like elk and bear.
  • Target Shooting: While not typically used for casual target shooting due to its heavy recoil, it is popular among enthusiasts who enjoy shooting powerful handguns.
  • Self-Defense: Although it offers immense stopping power, the .500 Magnum is generally considered overkill for self-defense due to its excessive recoil and over-penetration risks.

Available Firearms

Several firearms are chambered in the .500 Magnum caliber, primarily from Smith & Wesson:

  • Smith & Wesson Model 500: This is the flagship revolver for the .500 Magnum caliber. Available in various barrel lengths, the Model 500 is designed to handle the high pressures and recoil of the caliber.
  • Smith & Wesson Performance Center: Custom and performance-oriented versions of the Model 500, offering enhanced features such as better grips, ported barrels, and improved sights.

Avaialable Ammunition

A variety of ammunition options are available for the .500 Magnum, catering to different needs and preferences:

  • Cor-Bon: Offers several high-performance options, including hunting loads with heavy bullets designed for deep penetration.
  • Hornady: Known for their quality, Hornady produces .500 Magnum rounds with various bullet types and weights.
  • Federal Premium: Provides a range of .500 Magnum ammunition suitable for both hunting and target shooting.

Common bullet profiles include hollow points, soft points, and full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds. Bullet weights typically range from 275 grains to 700 grains, offering versatility for different applications.


When compared to other calibers, the .500 Magnum stands out for its power and energy:

  • .44 Magnum: The .500 Magnum significantly surpasses the .44 Magnum in terms of muzzle energy and stopping power, though at the cost of increased recoil.
  • .454 Casull: While the .454 Casull is a powerful caliber, the .500 Magnum offers greater energy and a larger bullet diameter, providing more stopping power.

.500 Magnum Ammo FAQ:

Due to its heavy recoil and significant power, the .500 Magnum is generally not recommended for beginners. It requires experience and proper handling to manage effectively.

The .500 Magnum is effective at ranges up to 200 yards, depending on the bullet weight and load. However, it is most commonly used within 100 yards.

While it can be used for self-defense, the .500 Magnum is typically considered too powerful for this purpose, with risks of over-penetration and difficulty in managing recoil.