Smith & Wesson has rolled out the big guns. The really big guns.
The new .50-caliber Model 500 Magnum revolver made its debut at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Orlando, Fla., yesterday.
It is the biggest, most powerful revolver ever made.
“Well, bigger is better, I always say. This is a moment of celebration. This is beautiful,” noted rock musician and gun aficionado Ted Nugent from his home in Michigan yesterday.
Just how big is the Model 500?
It has an overall length of 15 inches, more than half taken up by a satin-finished, stainless steel barrel, and weighs more than 4 pounds.
“Now, there are bigger guns than this,” Mr. Nugent said. “There are custom, single-shot hand cannons on handgun frames. But this still packs a wallop, and for a hunter who likes to get real close, this kills fast. I’m going to have to get me a couple.”
Smith & Wesson made the original .357 Magnum revolver in 1935, and followed up with the .44 Magnum two decades later. That model became a Hollywood icon in the 1970s “Dirty Harry” films starring Clint Eastwood.
“I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kind of lost track myself,” Mr. Eastwood’s character told one villain in a memorable movie moment, while brandishing his weapon.
“But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?”
Mr. Nugent credits Mr. Eastwood’s acting for the scene’s power.
“A lot of the impact of that moment was more about Harry’s attitude, and the way he handled that gun,” he said.
Nevertheless, Smith & Wesson’s latest offering is somewhat of a cultural milestone.
Future Hollywood scripts can no longer tout the prowess of the old .44 Magnum. The .50-caliber model simply has “no equal,” according to Smith & Wesson President Roy Cuny.
It holds five rounds and provides “nearly three times the muzzle energy of the .44 Magnum round,” Mr. Cuny said.
The new revolver already has some competition, however. Minnesota-based Magnum Research has manufactured the .50-caliber Desert Eagle Pistol for a dozen years, and now offers eight models with six- or 10-inch barrels and multiple accessories.
The Desert Eagle has its own devoted following, and has already appeared in films, on magazine covers and in video games.
“A polished chrome .50 AE Desert Eagle was featured on an episode of ‘The Sopranos,’” the company notes. “White micarta grips and a gold baseplate add unusual style.”
Meanwhile, the new Smith & Wesson revolver proved to be a popular draws at the SHOT Show, attended only by dealers, manufacturers and other firearm professionals.
“This is a gun for adventurous hunters,” Smith & Wesson spokesman Ken Jorgensen said yesterday. “There’s a certain group who are looking for broader horizons. They’ve taken up archery, or black powder guns. And they’ve taken up handgun hunting. The .50 raises the bar for them.”
Steve Comus, a spokesman for the Tucson, Ariz.-based hunter’s advocacy group Safari Club International, recently test-fired the new model.
“Big gun, big cartridge. This has already taken handgun hunting into a whole new league,” he said yesterday.