Help me pick a Magnum


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imas
September 6, 2005, 04:33 AM
Ok I have been thinking of buying some wheel guns but which one should I buy first?

- S&W 44Mag AirLite with a 4in barrel
OR
- S&W 500Mag with the 4in barrel

I just don't have any really powerful handguns and its time to get one. I'm leaning towards the 44 because of weight and size but the ballistics on the 500 are amazing. The 500 would be much more effective against large animals. But many think the 44 would be enough. I suppose I will buy them both eventually anyway.

Pricing is very close so it is a non issue. Since I don't plan on shooting it alot ammo prices won't be a big deal either.

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Buck Snort
September 6, 2005, 03:54 PM
You didn't say what you'd be using the gun for but I'm really skeptical of this idea of making bigbore handguns in "light" formats. If you'll only be shooting it occasionally then PERHAPS a light bigbore can be justified but it just does not make any sense to me. My 44 mag Anaconda with a 6" barrel weighs about 56 OZ and the recoil with heavy loads is manageable. I can't imagine using those same loads in a lightweight gun.

04SilverSCFX4
September 6, 2005, 04:01 PM
I'd go with the 500 magnum for concealed carry. The 44mag is a great purse gun for the wife. Good luck!

PS, make sure you don't get short-changed and get the sling. :D

Black Majik
September 6, 2005, 04:09 PM
I big thing to consider now ammo costs. The cost to shoot the .500 S&W cartridge is considerably more expensive than the .44 magnum.

Plus, what are the needs for the gun? Hunting? Range fun? umm... CCW? :D

Honestly I'd say go with the .44 magnum first. It'll be shot more, and its powerful enough for most applications. Next, I'd suggest something not so lightweight. Look into either a 629 Mountain gun or a older Model 29.

fisherman66
September 6, 2005, 04:17 PM
460

Quick Look: the S&W .460 Magnum

By Chuck Hawks

Smith & Wesson has done the obvious by introducing a .45 caliber cartridge for their X-Frame 5-shot revolver. Hornady and Cor-Bon did the cartridge and load development.

The new cartridge is a lengthened version of the .454 Casull, itself a lengthened version of the .45 Long Colt. So both of those cartridges can be fired in a revolver chambered for the .460 Magnum.

The basic dimensions of the new .460 Magnum are as follows: bullet diameter .454", rim diameter .520", case diameter .478", overall case length 1.800", cartridge overall length (COL) 2.300". The official SAAMI maximum average pressure (MAP) is 65,000 psi!

The .460's COL is too long to permit the cartridge to be chambered in existing Colt, Freedom Arms, Ruger, and Taurus revolvers, so its popularity is automatically limited to those consumers with memories so short that they are willing to do business with Smith & Wesson.

Forsaking all common sense, which would indicate the heaviest pistol bullets available in the caliber for such a large case, the basic factory specifications call for a 200 grain bullet at a MV of 2330 fps and ME of 2400 ft. lbs. A 200 grain bullet in such a big case is just about the poorest possible choice for what is, realistically, a moose and elk gun.

Fortunately, there are many heavier and more suitable hunting bullets from Hornady, Speer, Sierra, Nosler, and Barnes available to the reloader. .460 reloading information is basically impossible to come by at this writing, but Hodgdon data shows that the .454 Casull cartridge can launch a 300 grain bullet at about MV of over 1700 fps with a MAP of around 53,000 cup. I would estimate that the .460 Magnum could exceed that velocity by about 100 fps. That would be the kind of load that makes sense when using the .460 Mag. for hunting the largest North American antlered game.

rick_reno
September 6, 2005, 05:01 PM
If size is important, look at the Ruger Alaskan. It's not a "magnum", but few would argue that the .454 or .480 puts in the class with magnums. 2 1/4 inch barrel. I looked at the S&W, it's size (length, weight) is too much for me to want to lug around.

Technosavant
September 6, 2005, 05:28 PM
You are wanting a S&W 329 for range use?

You say you won't be shooting it much; that's for dang sure. I have a pre-29 4" .44 magnum, and that thing just isn't pleasant to shoot for any length of time. The lightweight flavors have gotta leave a welt. Those are for backpacking- enough punch for large carnivores, but light enough to carry. For range use, get something heavier to tame the recoil.

Do you reload? If yes, then I would probably lean towards the .500 S&W. If not, keep in mind what the ammo prices will be. .44 Magnum isn't cheap, but it is nowhere near the price of the .500 S&W.

fisherman66
September 6, 2005, 05:35 PM
I reread the original post. This will be your first revolver?

357 mag all the way.

Why do you want a 500?

22-rimfire
September 6, 2005, 07:45 PM
Unless you are just looking for the ocassional thrill of shooting a big magnum like the 500, I would start with a 357. Plenty of power and has the flexibility to shoot 38spl's through it. Step up to the 500 or 460 later. Prices are coming down on the 500's and the same should happen to the 460's in about a year or so.

Frankly, not everyone can shoot one of the big magnums well. I am partial to the 41 magnum, but the recoil is medium stout in that. The S&W Model 57 or 657 are very sweet shooting guns. Skip the light weight magnums unless you have a lot of experience. Otherwise, you'll just sell it or toss it in a drawer and forget about it except to show your friends about the BIG magnum that you have.

I also have a 480 Ruger SRH which has considerably more recoil. I shoot and I have trouble with the 480 after about 3 or 4 cylinder fulls of shooting. I can't honestly say the 480 is close to pleasant to shoot.

The 500 is more unpleasant to shoot in large weight bullets. But, I have shot one with the long barrel (preformance center piece) and they shoot very nicely and the recoil didn't seem any worse than my 480. In case you don't know, the higher the bullet weight, the more recoil.

MachIVshooter
September 7, 2005, 12:39 AM
S&W 500Mag with the 4in barrel..........the ballistics on the 500 are amazing

The ballistics you read are for the 8-3/8" model. In the 4" (actually 3" + compensator) these numbers suffer quite a bit. The 2,600 FPE generated form the full length gun will drop to around 1,700 FPE from the short barrel. That drops it to the level of .454 Casull fired from a 5" tube.

The Ruger SRH Alaskan will still give you 1,200-1,300 FPE with stiff loads from a 6 round gun that is considerably smaller and lighter than the .500 4". And save you about $400 on the gun and $1 per cartridge.0

IMO, the .500 S&W cartridge needs at least 6" of barrel to generate enough performance to make such a large gun feasible. The 4" model is a pecker extension.

imas
September 7, 2005, 12:45 AM
No it won't be my first revolver. By first I mean I don't have a 454, 44, or any other powerful handguns.

I am looking for a good back up for large game hunting and a good gun for remote areas. It won't be a range gun. It will be my wilderness gun and will likely never be needed. Bear attacks are few and far between. Also when hunting the rifle should do the job the first time. This is just a last chance blaster.

Again the ammo cost means nothing. I'll put some rounds through it occasionally for function testing but thats it. I don't reload.

I'm guessing that out of a 4in barrel the 500 is going to be more effective than the 44. But I like the weight and feel of the 44 better.

It will not be used as a pecker extension or for concealed carry. I normally carry a 9mm but I don't think that will be the best choice for bear.

Majic
September 7, 2005, 01:12 AM
Instead of just using your imagination I think you should experience shooting your choices. There will be a world of difference between a 9mm and a lightweight .44 magnum or .500 S&W. Those are handguns of seasoned magnum shooters not someone new to big bore magnums.

imas
September 7, 2005, 02:11 AM
So what should a pansy like me use for bear?

rick_reno
September 7, 2005, 02:39 AM
What kind of bear? Black bear, a .357 will work - brown bear, something bigger. You're choice, there are a lot of them to choose from.

imas
September 7, 2005, 03:22 AM
I have a GP-100 and I would like to have something a little larger than a 357 when I have a 1500 pound moose bearing down on me.

If you think a 44 Magnum is too much for me what then shall I buy?

Stainz
September 7, 2005, 07:22 AM
After my share of .45 ACP evil bottom feeders, I 'discovered' the purity of the 'round gun'. Then, after a few SA Ruger .45 Colts, I added my first DA - a .454 SRH. I survived - quite well, actually, as it's ergonomics are super. I would think a Ruger .454 SRH 'Alaskan' would do just fine for your application. You could carry the 200gr 1,100 fps .45 Colt Gold Dots from GA Arms for thin skins - some real .454's for thick. I've shot a friend's both ways - it does have a significant muzzle rise under recoil, predictable considering they all but forgot to put a barrel on it. Expect a huge muzzle and b/c flash.

Now... if you want a .44 Magnum, I'd avoid the 329... because of it's Ti cylinder. I have one - in my .44 Special Airweight 296 - and wish it was SS. A very easily carried .44 Magnum is once again available from S&W - their 629 Mountain Gun. It weighs nearly 50% more than the 329 - some 39.5oz. It has a 4" tapered tube, partial lug, and chamfered cylinder - all in bright SS. Change the grips to the backstrap-enclosing .500 Magnum style, available from S&W, and you have a real .44 Magnum. Mine so equipped still has some predictable muzzle rise, but it is easily shot with real Magnums.

I haven't shot the .500 Magnum... somehow, that 3" (plus comp) variant is alluring...

Stainz

Majic
September 7, 2005, 04:22 PM
If you think a 44 Magnum is too much for me what then shall I buy?
I'm not saying the .44 mag will be too much gun for you, just that your choice of the light weight model may be a problem. While most shooters can handle the recoil in a 50 oz revolver (6" N-frame), cut the weight in half and it turns into a real beast.

casual
September 7, 2005, 04:46 PM
i agree with the gentlemen recommending the 629 Mountain Gun for your stated purposes

i don't do a lot of backpacking (so weight is not an issue for me), but the idea of regularly shooting a Airlite .44 mag doesn't appeal to me


casual

imas
September 7, 2005, 10:32 PM
Well I think you guys have me sold on a Super Redhawk in 454. But for now I think I'm probably going to buy a smith 629 Mountain Gun.

RyanM
September 7, 2005, 10:45 PM
http://www.gunblast.com/images/Ruger-SRHAlaskan454/MVC-021F.jpg

Doesn't look fun to shoot.

http://www.gunblast.com/Ruger-SRHAlaskan454.htm

fisherman66
September 7, 2005, 10:49 PM
imas, the 454 is nice "no mas" the 460 will shoot 454 and give you the room to grow or shoot 45lc which is no pansy round itself. Little extra heft is good on the big boys.

Strongbad
September 7, 2005, 10:49 PM
Imas, this may be a little late in the game but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

As the other fellows mentioned, the 500 or 460 S&W's are probably going to be overkill. You don't know how hard it is for me to say that since I own a 500 but... :)

However! If you want one of those big pistols then get one! Yes they're a handful, but if you want one of those babies then do this... get the 460 and then shoot either 454 ammo or 45 colt through it! That'll solve your expensive ammo problem and you could work into the 460 loads gradually, then if in the future you wanted to step up to full 460 loads, you'd be good to go! Since the 460 isn't currently available in the 4" model like the 500 you could get the 460 with a 6 1/2 inch barrel. That way you've still got decent barrel length but you don't have the cumbersome longer barrel of the 8" model like mine. Anyway, I guess it all depends on how much you want to spend since the 460's and 500's, especially the PC models aren't cheap. If I wasn't getting the 460, then I wouldn't bother with the 454. I'd just go straight to 44. At that point you can take your pick of the gazillion 44 mag revolvers out there. :)

Anyway, I hope this helps. Good luck. Let us know what you pick.

22-rimfire
September 7, 2005, 10:52 PM
629 Mountain Gun... excellent choice. I like the Model 57 Mountain Gun (have one) and it would also be very suited for your purposes. We didn't know that you had experience with any of the magnum revolvers which is why I suggested the 357. I also have a GP100 (3") which I like but it certainly isn't a colt or a Smith.

imas
September 8, 2005, 01:03 AM
I guess I don't consider the 357 to be in the same league with the 44mag and 454.

I made up my mind I'm going to buy the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan AND the S&W 629 Mountain Gun.

Since I'm getting ready to start reloading it will be fun to work up some hot 45 Colts for the Alaskan. I think I'm also going to buy a full size Super Redhawk in a couple months.

Thanks I've never heard of the Alaskan before this. :D

Marshall
September 8, 2005, 09:03 PM
Go feel a .44Mag Ruger Redhawk in 5 1/2" and 7 1/2". Try it with Hogue rubber and you're set. Great feel, not too heavy, handles the kick very well and is a strong and accurate gun!

MachIVshooter
September 8, 2005, 09:55 PM
the 454 is nice "no mas" the 460 will shoot 454 and give you the room to grow or shoot 45lc which is no pansy round itself. Little extra heft is good on the big boys.

Seems he is looking for a backpacking handgun, not a stockless rifle. At well over a foot long and more than 5 pounds, the .460 is not what I would call a good "pack gun". It is a hunting handgun, plain and simple. I like them, but they are heavy and< I think< would be quite unweildy to use in a defensive situation. If the bear is on top of you, you might be able to draw a Ruger SRH Alaskan. The .460 XVR? No way.

The SRH Alaskan was specifically designed to meet the needs of a defensive handgun in areas with dangerous animals and, IMO, is the best option.

Marshall
September 9, 2005, 01:48 PM
If you think a 44 Magnum is too much for me what then shall I buy?

Whomever made you feel or think this is the case is wrong. If you're shooting a GP-100 now, you'll have no problems with a .44Mag. You might even like it better.

fisherman66
September 9, 2005, 03:28 PM
Seems he is looking for a backpacking handgun, not a stockless rifle. At well over a foot long and more than 5 pounds, the .460 is not what I would call a good "pack gun". It is a hunting handgun, plain and simple. I like them, but they are heavy and< I think< would be quite unweildy to use in a defensive situation. If the bear is on top of you, you might be able to draw a Ruger SRH Alaskan. The .460 XVR? No way.

Hacksaw?

I agree (grudingly), but there should be some mountain gun style of the 460. I doubt many would shoot 460 rounds often, but I bet they would be carried into the field.

Marshall
September 9, 2005, 03:32 PM
They have a 6 1/2" .460 XVR, still a long gun.


http://www.firearms.smith-wesson.com/userimages/170263_large.jpg

imas
September 9, 2005, 05:51 PM
That 460 just doesn't look right at all. It almost looks like the barrel was photoshopped on there.

Stainz
September 9, 2005, 06:33 PM
The .460 is a faster cartridge than the .454 - by design. S&W heralded it's super, well over 2,000 fps design. The long - and slow rifling - is best in a longer, ie rifle-like, barrel. Whether it will live up to it's higher speed rating is a question for time to answer. The .454 isn't quite as fast, and generally is heavier. The most KE I regularly shot from my 7.5" .454 SRH was from the 240gr 2,000 fps Hornady XTP's, which were also the lightest bullets I shot. They actually derated them for a while, but increased them back to 2,000 fps in the last few years. I chrono-ed them from my SRH and measured 1,985 fps with a low +/-12 fps SD. At that, they had a muzzle KE of 2,096 ft-lb - not up to the 2,600 ft-lb of the new S&W .500 Magnum, of course.

Ruger announced their 'Alaskans', in both .454 and .480 Ruger, this year. While the .454 is around - including the one a friend of mine bought and 'let' me shoot earlier this year, the .480 Ruger doesn't seem to be in the stores quite yet. It may just be the better choice. I have heard that penetration is important - but so is a large meplate and bullet mass. In fact, the higher velocity .454's and .460's may just be too fast. This may give the nod to the .480 Ruger - actually, just a shortened case .475 Linebaugh. Sure, only 'dedicated' gun shops will have .480 Ruger - probably fewer than would have the .460's, too. The full sized .480 Ruger SRH is heralded as having a less brisk recoil than the .454 version. It may just be the ideal choice for you as close-in protection against big critters - when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, you can't beat the S&W 629 Mountain Gun for all-but-the-biggest critters... a good choice. Mine is forever a .44 Special & Russian revolver. I just got my new 6" 629 half-lug back from S&W. It weighs ~6 oz more than the MG, but should be easier to shoot well with hotter rounds - especially with my .500 Magnum-style grips on it.

Stainz

Marshall
September 9, 2005, 09:04 PM
Agreed, the Mountain Gun is tough to beat.

MachIVshooter
September 11, 2005, 02:35 PM
Hacksaw?

I agree (grudingly), but there should be some mountain gun style of the 460. I doubt many would shoot 460 rounds often, but I bet they would be carried into the field.

Won't work. The .460 uses gain-twist rifling, which means that shortening the barrel will compriomise it's ability to stabilize bullets.


That 460 just doesn't look right at all. It almost looks like the barrel was photoshopped on there.

Agreed. The S&W PC guns are completely bead blast, not just the tube. And my understanding after talking to S&W directly was that there will be no .460 with a shorter barrel than the standard model. Besides which, it would completely defeat the purpose of the gun.

The full sized .480 Ruger SRH is heralded as having a less brisk recoil than the .454 version.

IT also has considerably less power. The .480 was designed to split the difference in both energy and recoil between the .44 mag and .454. In actual shooting, it ends up being much closer to he .44 mag, with energy levels between 1,300 and 1,400 ft. lbs form a 7.5" SRH. The .454 can exceed 2,000 ft/lbs from the same length tube. The .480 is more like a wheelgun version of the .50 AE, though the .50 can develop up to 20% more energy, even from a 6" barrel.

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