The Ultimate Hand Cannon: S&W Performance Center 500


The 500 S&W Magnum made its first appearance at the 2003 SHOT show. Designed by Cor-Bon in partnership with S&W for their Model 500 X-Frame revolver, the .50-caliber semi-rimmed cartridge has two primary purposes. The first being a handgun cartridge capable of taking any North American game species. The second? To simply have bragging rights for being the most powerful production handgun cartridge currently produced. If that’s not good enough reason, I don’t know what is!

After all, who wouldn’t want to launch a 440-grain hard cast bullet at 1,625 fps? Sounds like fun, right? It is, when the handgun is built around the cartridge like the S&W 500 was.

Handier Handgun? You Bet!

Big-Bore aficionados love hand cannons; it’s what makes them tick. After observing their upper appendages remained connected to the body after shooting the 8.38″ barreled X-Frame hand cannons, they relaxed a bit, even enjoying the big thumpers.

This revelation got them thinking about a compact-sized hand howitzer. You know, something easier to carry, yet still packing enough kinetic energy to neutralize the nastiest of adversaries. Cue the S&W Performance Center. The Performance Center engineers decided it was high time to miniaturize the 500 S&W fire-breathing dragon for folks appreciating the proverbial pocket-rocket. The 3.5″ barrel, with side milled flats, definitely makes packing easier, meaning gunslingers will be more likely to carry their back-up bazooka.

The pinned HIVIZ fiber-optic front sight automatically snuggles between the black adjustable rear sight notch for an instantaneous target acquisition; it’s that intuitive. Combined with an over-travel stop and a Performance Center-tuned action, follow-up shots (like you’d ever need one) are smooth, fast and furious. The unfluted 5-shot cylinder adds both style and weight, for recoil-reducing heft.

Soft synthetic black grips complement the stainless finish, while soaking up recoil while shooting. Overall length is a packable 9.875″ and weight is 56.2 oz. Barrel and frame are made of stainless steel for a rugged, rust-resistant finish from the elements and human sweat.

There’s definitely a technique to shooting big bores like the 500 S&W Magnum. My best advice is not to fight recoil, but rather go with it, letting your arms arc upwards, like shock absorbers, during each shot. I can even do it.

Granted, the 500 S&W is not for everyone, but with practice, it becomes natural and you’ll enjoy shooting the “most powerful factory handgun made on earth” while having bragging rights to owning one.

MSRP is $1,649 for the Performance Center snubby, and it comes with a nice embroidered soft case.

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