What's the most powerful handgun caliber?


October 9, 2005, 11:04 AM
well?...what is it? :evil:

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October 9, 2005, 11:10 AM
The one the BG is staring down the barrel of...

Seriously though, it will be a rifle cartridge chambered in one of the various bolt actioned hanguns.

A "typical" wheelgun has various handcannon calibers to choose from whether it be 480 Ruger, 500 S&W...

October 9, 2005, 11:13 AM
In a Std production Gun the 500 Smith

In a Encore Barreled Action you can go pretty wild id say 30-06 might be pretty powerful to your wrists

October 9, 2005, 11:29 AM
In order to answer this question, you first have to define the word "powerful". This is a favorite topic of internet gun boards: big and slow vs. light and fast. Energy, Taylor's knockdown formula.........................

Basically there are a number of answers to your question: for a standard production revolver, I believe the answer is .500 S&W. However, I think Linebaugh makes more powerful cartridges in custom revolvers. But there are also bolt action and single shot handguns chambered for medium bore rifle cartriges: I believe I saw the Savage Striker chambered for .300 WSM.

October 9, 2005, 11:51 AM
Truly made for handguns? The .577 British (can't remember what revolver it was used in, though!)

Black Snowman
October 9, 2005, 11:59 AM
I've seen a .50 BMG that legally qualified as a pistol before the weight restrictions were added. It was a single shot.

chris in va
October 9, 2005, 01:06 PM
What's that one video where the thing flew out of his hands at the range?

Double Maduro
October 9, 2005, 02:46 PM
chris in VA,

That was a .600 Nitro Express.

That one would probably get my vote.

But in production guns, .500 S&W.


October 9, 2005, 03:20 PM
For standard production repeating handguns firing handgun cartridges, the order is:

#1: .500 S&W; 2600 FPE
#2: .460 XVR; 2350 FPE
#3: .454 Casull; 2050 FPE
#4: .50 Action Express; 1600 FPE
#5: .480 Ruger; 1340 FPE
#6: .44 Rem Mag; ~1050 FPE

.44 mag can exceed the .480 Ruger with certain loads. I believe Buffalo Bore loads a 260 grainer that develops over 1500 FPE from a 7.5" barrel. The .357 Remington Maximum would be on this list if it were still commercially loaded.

*this list does not include semi-custom guns and proprietary catridges, such as Linebaugh.

Pietro Beretta
October 9, 2005, 10:11 PM
What's that one video where the thing flew out of his hands at the range?

I wanna see that one, anyone have a link?

October 9, 2005, 11:07 PM
I wanna see that one, anyone have a link?

Accurate Reloading (http://www.accuratereloading.com/)

Don't know if they still have the videos on there yet or not. Don't usually check the home page just the forums.

October 10, 2005, 02:00 AM
taurus makes a .45-70 revolver. never shot one, but have a rifle in 45-70 that kicks pretty good.

October 10, 2005, 05:50 AM
Since when does Taurus make a .45-70? :scrutiny:

It's a rhetorical question since they don't/never have.

Mr Jody Hudson
October 10, 2005, 06:00 AM
Here is the current Taurus Line;

Taurus Revolvers (http://www.taurususa.com/whatsnew/revolvers.cfm)

The Big Ones are:

Model: 500MSS10 RAGING BULL, .500 MAGNUM

I have shot both of these and they are very nice, very accurate and not too bad to shoot either.

Here is a nice little pocket gun in .500 Magnum:


Camp David
October 10, 2005, 08:57 AM
That was a .600 Nitro Express

These handguns were called "Howdah" pistols and they were carried on the Elephant Box while hunting tigers in India... there was a Howdah offered in .600 Nitro, double with exposed hammers... if not fired correctly it would break your wrist, but since it was used to stop a tiger in mid-charge a broken wrist was often preferable to being eaten!

Modern biggie is probably .454 and since I have one, a new Ruger Alaskan, I can tell you that you don't want to shoot it a lot! But it does was it was designed for well...

October 10, 2005, 01:00 PM
oops, I'm sorry I meant Magnum Research, not Taurus. If you noticed, I wrote that at 2 am, and was not in the proper mindset to post.
Here's the link.
http://www.magnumresearch.com/Expand.asp?ProductCode=BFR45-707 (http://)

October 10, 2005, 01:31 PM

.475 Wildey Magnum
.45 Wildey Magnum
.45 Winchester Magnum
.44 Auto Mag

Working Man
October 10, 2005, 01:45 PM
.45-70 I have shot loads in 405 grn at 1900 fps. That puts it right under
3,250 ft/lbs. :evil:

October 11, 2005, 03:15 PM
I've seen a .700 Nitro Express single shot. Can't believe the guy shot it after watching what happened to the guy with the .600 Nitro Express revolver.

Both shooters looked down right scared, and I can't blame them. If either one had been firing the gun with thier head aligned with the sights, I think that would have been a bad day. Both guns flipped up and back, landing several feet behind the shooters. The noise was like a punch in the gut.

I'd rather let the tiger eat me I think.

October 11, 2005, 03:22 PM
If you listen to Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) its a 44 mag
That was then, now he would have a 500 S&W

Go ahead and make my day !!!!!

October 11, 2005, 06:38 PM
There seems to be some confusion regarding the question.

"What's the most powerful handgun caliber?"

Not, What's the most powerful cartridge chambered in a handgun?

.223, .45-70, 577 Nitro Express, .30-06, etc, etc. are all RIFLE cartridges that just happen to be available in some handguns. Rifle caliber pistols.

The .357 Mqagnum is a handgun cartridge, The .44 Magnum is a handgun cartridge. The .45 Colt is a handgun cartridge. Same for 9mm and .45ACP. The fact that they are available in some carbines and rifles doesn't change that. In fact those guns are generally referred to as pistol caliber carbines.

In fact .32-20, .38-40 and .44-40 are actually rifle cartridges since they were originally designed by Winchester to be used in their rifles. The fact thay were later chambered in revolvers doesn't change that. Look where they appear in the Winchester & Remington catalogues. (in the rifle section)

The most powerful handgun caliber at he present time is the .500 S&W. Period.

Are there more powerful cartridges chambered in handguns? Of course there are. A lot in fact. But they are still primarily rifle cartridges.

October 11, 2005, 07:02 PM
OK so technically speaking the most powerful "handgun" CALIBER is .500 while the most powerful "handgun" CARTRIDGE is .500 SW :D

October 11, 2005, 08:42 PM
I'm with BluesBear, as a production handgun cartridge, the S&W 500 rules (for now). This is not to say that someone, some where won't do something silly.

Ex: When I was working for a bank in Chicago, we had a young man in our dept who inherited a tidy sum from his grandma. He was driving a ratty Chevy Vega wagon and he was a drag racing fan. He managed to find a shop that would put a full-tilt supercharged L-88 427 with a B&M tranny into said Vega, with 'appropriate' running gear and a new paint job (blew alla granny's $$). He did OK on the street for the first weekend, but the first time he put it on the strip and pushed it hard, that motor twisted it up like a beer can, and he was back to riding the bus.

Just 'cause you can, doesn't mean you should - same goes for some 'wildcats' on a handgun frame (but it's your wrist/elbow/forehead).

October 11, 2005, 08:45 PM
How true, how true. Why anyone would need a handcannon bigger than the 500 SW is beyond me. I guess there is always bragging rights of the manufacturer...

October 12, 2005, 12:37 AM
Why anyone would need a handcannon bigger than the 500 SW is beyond me.

The same thing was probably said in 1935, 1955, 1959, 1988, etc. It would seem the cartridge gods aren't listening.

October 12, 2005, 12:42 AM
How true, how true. Why anyone would need a handcannon bigger than the 500 SW is beyond me. I guess there is always bragging rights of the manufacturer...

I am sure they said that about the .44 mag....

October 12, 2005, 07:51 PM
I see what you guys mean, especially performance wise, but why? Backup for grizzlies or Africa's dangerous 5? Who knows, maybe I'll pick one up, just not in the near future.

October 13, 2005, 09:39 AM
Yeah, I know it's a rifle round, but I saw pix floating around of a .50 BMG handgun being shown off @ a gunshow somewhere. :what:

There where pictures of it being fired on the wall behind it, apparently a dozen feet of flame is involved.

Reading the description, it was said that the recoil wasn't nearly what you'd expect, mostly because something like 90% of the combustion happened outside the gun, after the bullet had left the barrel.

October 13, 2005, 09:45 AM
You said handgun caliber so I say 10mm in pistol and .44 magnum in revolver.

October 13, 2005, 06:18 PM
There are .44 Magnum automatic pistols too ya know.

Sorry to bust your bubble, but in commercially available chamberings/loadings, the .454 Casull, .460 S&W, .480 Ruger, .475 Linbaugh and .500 S&W leave the .44 Magnum in the dust.

As much as I'd love to have a Super Redhawk Alaskan (mainly for use as a .45 Colt snubby), I personally feel that, based on where I live and my lifestyle, if my .44 Magnum or .45 Auto won't do the job I need a rifle or a shotgun.

However, if I were a handgun hunter I'd simply have to have a.460.
I think that cartridge in a Contender will be awesome.

You see I don't think for normal use you need to have the newest/biggest/most powerful gun available.
I've never seen a deer hunter with a .460 Weatherby.

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