There are hunting wheelguns, and then there are hunting wheelguns. S&W’s 460XVR revolver sporting a 14-inch barrel topped with an aggressive muzzle brake and bipod blends recoil control with potent takedown power. Before we even hit the range, here are some initial impressions, detailed specs, and an up-close look at one of the meanest handguns we’ve ever seen. 

Meet the Beast


Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
Pictures almost barely do this revolver justice, weighing in at a respectable rifle weight. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The given name of our chosen revolver is Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 460XVR 14” Barrel with Bipod. That’s a long moniker for an even longer wheelgun, though the box tag itself comes marked as “460 Hunter.” 

The biggest boy on the block joins S&W’s whopper .460 Magnum revolver family to form one serious trio of model variants. Our chosen hand cannon wears the longest barrel of the family at 14 inches of fluted joy. The others are a 7.5-inch version with a Hi-Viz fiber-optic front sight and a 10.5-inch revolver with an interchangeable front sight and sling swivels. 

It weighs in at 86.6 ounces – or 5.4 pounds – empty. Add the ammo, optic, and bipod, and the hulk tips the scales around 7 pounds, heavier even than a good number of modern rifles. While we’ve yet to pull the trigger on a live round, we have fired other S&W 460s in the past. Suffice it to say the extra weight will be a welcome benefit when taming the bite. 

The length is 21.5 inches of stainless construction from stem to stern. The barrel is a full 14 inches, plus the muzzle brake. Thinking of sliding this bad boy into a holster? That might take a small act of Congress. This piece takes up some space, but that length adds up to an extended sighting radius as well as plenty of barrel for wringing the most from the .460 round. Grips are rubberized synthetic, ideal for a solid hold and negating a bit of that fiery recoil. 

Don’t just expect to find this beast readily on the market. Smith is building them, but with more of a niche market, they’re more often ordered from a dealer than found sitting on a shelf.

What You Get


Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
Our test gun rolled in with some nice extras, including a well-deserved bipod. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

This unboxing gave us a chance to focus front and center on the firearm itself. We’ll get down to range time once the ammunition arrives, but for now, such an unusual firearm really deserves a more intricate study of the piece at hand, the accessories, the market, and future possibilities. 

The package comes in a heavy cardboard box that looks almost large enough for a compact carbine, but inside is a host of goodness. There’s a black zippered soft case embroidered with the company’s Performance Center logo. There’s a UTG Tactical Bipod, Butler Creek Ultra Universal Sling in black, Midwest Industries sling-adapter stud, swivel mount kit, an external lock, and the keys for S&W’s legal-appeasing integral lock mechanism.

The wheelgun chambered for .460 S&W Magnum holds a capacity of five rounds. The cylinder is solid – non-fluted – as keeping the bulk of extra stainless steel is always welcome when dealing with higher-pressure, harder-recoiling rounds such as this. 

The Chambering(s)

Smith & Wesson’s proprietary .460 Magnum was initially designed for the company by Hornady, which still packs a few nice choices of hunting ammunition. The round is tipped with a .452-inch-diameter projectile on its straight, rimmed casing. Sound familiar? Hunters and reloaders will be familiar with the closest relatives, including .454 Casull and .45 Colt.  

Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
The gun does host a solid front blade with an adjustable rear sight. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

While this is a hunting handgun through and through, it’s not a one-trick pony in terms of caliber. In fact, most guns chambered for .460 S&W can also safely fire .454 Casull and .45 Colt and even other .45-caliber rounds like the Schofield. As with any guns firing multiple rounds, especially when some are shorter than others, always remember to thoroughly clean and polish the chamber and cylinders before switching to another round. 

While it’s nice to have that type of flexibility, the heart and soul of such a wheelgun is the .460 round. Like all ammunition these days, rounds don’t come cheaply, but the good news is that numerous companies offer .460 Magnum ammo, including Hornady, Federal Premium, Winchester Grizzly, Buffalo Bore, Swift, HSM, Sellier & Bellot, and Underwood. 

Projectile weights see a wide range from 200 to 395 grains, allowing for tailoring to various game types. Regardless of the choice, pressures on the .460 Magnum can be eyebrow-raisingly high, with a maximum average of a whopping 65,000 PSI, comparable to heavy magnum rifles. 

Initial Impressions

Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
The gun just begs to host an optic, which would be well served given the .460 Magnum chambering. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Like other Smith & Wesson revolvers, our XVR’s cylinder rotates counterclockwise, and it does so with smoothness. Our test gun wears a simple black ramp front sight that looks to be an integral part of the forward band. While it may suffice in a pinch, it’s not the kind of front ramp we’d be overly enthusiastic about using it as-is. The rear sight is fully adjustable, but the extended rail offers ample real estate for optics mounting, which is part of our grander plan.  

As with the company’s other products, the big bear of a handgun is backed by S&W’s lifetime service policy, a welcome addition for any major purchases. Believe it or not, this monstrous piece is marked as both CA and MA compliant. For a heavy-weight piece – and this one has some heft in the hand – it’s surprisingly well-balanced. Holding it out at arm's length for any amount of time, however, feels like a session at the gym. 

Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
The finger grooves are comfortable. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/
Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
And the hammer boasts nice checkering. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The grips are indeed grippy, with the feel of Hogue rubber, though not branded as such. The finger grooves are comfortable, even for smaller hands. The hammer spur is sharply checkered and leads the way to a slick single-action break and smooth, controllable double-action working. The greatest questions revolve around accuracy potential, but a good part of that means working with both recoil and a significant muzzle blast coming from that gaping brake. The good news? This heavy-framed build should be up to the task. 

More on the S&W Performance Center and Velocity


Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
It's pretty hard to shake a fist at that muzzle brake, well, without breaking your fist at least. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Smith & Wesson has long used its own lingo for frame sizes and types, denoted by letters and ascending in size from smallest to largest. Common snub-nosed .38 Specials start at the J-frame, moving up through K, L, and N for standard Magnums like the .44. This big fella, however, is built on the largest of them all – the X-Frame. The biggest and baddest rounds – .460 S&W Magnum and also .500 S&W Magnum – find homes on the X-frame. 

These particular specimens are touted by Smith & Wesson on the company website as having “the highest muzzle velocity of any production revolver on earth.” In fact, the XVR designation reflects those claims, standing for X-treme Velocity Revolver. Ever wonder what you can hunt with a round like the .460 S&W and a handgun such as this one? The short answer is anything you darn well please and anywhere on the globe. Of course, there’s no substitute for shot placement, but for those who can tame the best, the terminal results have a track record of success in the field. 

Further, this is no standard production gun. Rather, it springs from S&W’s revered Performance Center. The company advertises these premium builds as “the ultimate expression of old-world craftsmanship blended with modern technology.” Special PC features on this gun are the aggressive muzzle brake, chrome hammer and trigger, trigger stop, and a hand-tuned action.  

Comparable Big-Bore Wheelguns

Smith & Wesson .460XVR Revolver
While not the only big-bore hunter in its category, the .460 will claim just about anything you can get an accurate shot at. We're actually planning on adding an optic to maximize its potential. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

For fans of Smith & Wesson, the lengthy Performance Center variants are not the only choices. Those seeking a greater degree of pain – or shall we say, packing the same punch in a snub-nosed .460 wheelgun – have several other options from the company. 

On a wider market in relation to the hard-hitting, heavy-built wheelguns, we must acknowledge one of our all-time faves – the Magnum Research BFR. They offer not only the .460s but even beastlier chamberings traditionally saved for rifles, like the .30-30 Winchester and .45-70 Government. Opening the web door on their custom shop is like a rabbit hole for gun nuts who can customize almost every feature on not only BFRs but semi-automatic Desert Eagles, too. 

Likewise, Freedom Arms has a history of quality and reliability. In a more budget-friendly market, Taurus chambers plenty of wheelguns for rounds like the .460 and .454 Casull. Bear in mind, though, that if you drop the coin on the gun, ammunition doesn’t come cheap. As always, reloading is a solid option for those wanting to send lots of rounds downrange. But, then again, the .460 is far from the most common high-volume “plinking” choice due to its stout recoil. But take it on a hunt and be confident that any well-placed shot will bag whatever critter roams the earth. 

Stay Tuned

We’ll speak more to function, recoil, accuracy, and optic and ammo selection once the goodies arrive. For now, if you’re thinking about big-game hunting with a handgun, you simply must get your hands on the biggest, baddest version of S&W’s XVR lineup. Expectations are high, and there’s no game off the table for hunters. 

In addition to rounds downrange with the XVR, we’ll schedule some time to put this baby head-to-head with the Magnum Research BFR, so be sure to come back for more.  

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