I’m a .357 man. I think the Smith & Wesson Model 686 is the best double-action revolver ever made. But I don’t live far enough west to worry about grizzles, or far enough south to worry too much about 900 pound zombie hogs.
Others tend to disagree. The .357 ruled the roost for a long time, but then the Smith & Wesson Model 29 shook things up. The .44 Magnum took the .357 to the next level, and gave those who were worried about grizzlies something to strap to their hip. Then Dirty Harry raised the Model 29 to the highest level of iconic pop-culture.
But the Model 29 isn’t the most powerful anymore. Smith & Wesson didn’t stop there. In the last few years they’ve introduced some monster revolvers.
The Classic .44 Magnum
But let’s start small. That’s funny. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of the .44 Magnum as small. Far from it. I think this is where any discussion of big-bore revolvers should start. After all, the .357 is really nothing more than a hopped up .38.
Smith’s classic Model 29 is still very popular. But I prefer their stainless guns. This 629 is an updated version of the classic. An expensive, updated version. MSRP is $1,509.
It has a bit more heft, but not enough to mitigate the recoil. But these guns are so well built The actions are very smooth-though that probably won’t be what you’re thinking about as you pull the trigger.
Grain weights for the .44 Magnum bullets range from the diminutive 200 grains to a hefty 340. Muzzle velocities range between 1,200 and 1,350 feet per second. These are hefty rounds with excellent terminal ballistics.
The .500 S&W
But maybe you still want more. There are bigger guns available. The Smith & Wesson .500 X-Frame. And everything about this gun is super-sized. The barrel is more than 10 inches long. The whole package is so big that the revolver comes with a strap. You’ll need it. It weighs just under 5 pounds, empty. MSRP on the 500: $1,509.
The .500 S&W round is bigger, too. Grain weights range from 300 to 500. That’s big enough for anything living in North America (and most everywhere else, too). And the muzzle velocity isn’t slow. The hefty bullets clip along at 1,500 fps. The 300 grain bullets can break 2,000 fps.
.460 S&W Magnum.
You still want something faster? I get it. Smith has you covered.
The .460 S&W Magnum turns in numbers very close to the .500 S&W, but it is a bit faster. A 200 grain .460 can hit speeds of 2,300 fps. Even the 300 grain rounds are still topping the 2,000 fps mark. And the Model 460 XVR is the ideal platform for it.
Strap attachments. A 12 inch barrel. Iron sights or a rail for scope mounts. This is a serious hunting handgun. I’ve never hunted with a revolver, but I can see the attraction. In dense brush, this beast would be much more easy to maneuver than a rifle. But it is going to cost you. MSRP on the Model 460 XVR: $1,619.
There are a couple of things to consider about these guns. They’re not for beginners. They aren’t especially well suited for small framed shooters. The recoil on these guns can snap the barrel up far enough to hit you in the face. So hold on.
And they’re not cheap. And the ammunition is expensive. But they’re worth it, I think, if you live someplace where you’ll actually get some use out of.
Still. I can’t help but wonder what’s next for Smith. Why not something bigger? Faster?