Smith and Wesson .500


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miatchguy
July 7, 2003, 12:05 AM
What do you think of the Smith and Wesson .500?

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John Ross
July 7, 2003, 09:08 AM
Amazing. This is the most accurate, flattest shooting, and by far the most powerful wheelgun I've ever owned. The Sorbothane grips make it pleasant to shoot.

My first love was long range DA magnum revolvers. (I dislike the feel of SA revolvers, and no longer own any.) Accurate, powerful, very cheap to shoot for a handloader, quick to load and unload, no stooping to pick up brass. I have well over 100,000 rounds through S&W M29s over 32 years. Long range plinking (100-500 yds) at a rock quarry is my favorite use. The .44 is much easier to develop accurate (4"@100) ammo for than the .357, and throws much more stuff in the air when it hits, always a plus for spotting shots as well as general enjoyment.

The .500 is as much better than the .44 in these respects as the .44 is to the .357. I have not yet put the .500 on paper but in the field it is easy to hit with, even better than my best .44 loads.

It is better than full custom guns costing more than three times as much, and it has a lifetime warranty. You can shoot handloads for 12 cents each, counting the cost of the brass. See my other thread for load data with 625 grain cast bullet.

For my use this is the best thing S&W has ever done.

A bunch of my other guns are on the auction block to make way for more of these in my safe.

JR

Steve Smith
July 7, 2003, 11:20 AM
Amazing in that S&W didn't make the action strong enough to hold up under their max advertized load. Cylinder turns backwards. Oops.

John Ross
July 7, 2003, 02:43 PM
"Amazing in that S&W didn't make the action strong enough to hold up under their max advertized [sic] load."

Not sure what this means. First, I assume "max advertised load" means *Cor-Bon's* max recommended handload, which they say is "under 60,000 PSI" on their website, hotter than I would ever load for extended use. Second, what does "[not] strong enough to hold up" mean? Have a bunch of .500 owners ruined their guns with extended shooting *already?* I've got several hundred rounds of 625 grain loads at 1200 FPS through mine with no ill effects, but this load is about 40,000 CUP, same as a full power .44 mag. If it turns out the 500 will tolerate extended shooting with loads that are only TWICE AS POWERFUL as a full .44, I can live with that.

"Cylinder turns backwards."

Well, yes, sort of. Sometimes with a light (righthand) grip the gun torques and climbs, and the bolt stop bounces under recoil, unlocking the cylinder. The cylinder stays still and the frame rotates around it, making the cylinder "turn backwards." This happens with some shooters and not others, due to grip technique. I think this will get sorted out with different spring, hammer heat-treat, etc. The original M29 with heavy loads would sometimes *unlatch* (not unlock) the cylinder when shooting the gun righthanded, or upside down lefthanded (pulling the trigger with your pinky) but I haven't had this happen with any recent gun, including the Ti/Scan 329 with 320 grain bullets. I think S&W finds fixes for minor glitches as they occur.

I'll say one thing about bad ideas right now: I don't think the X-frame chambered in .223 (as I've heard is planned) will work out very well. I think the forcing cone will go away in short order, and accuracy will be lousy at best. If I'm wrong I'll gladly eat my words.

If the .500 has teething problems, I think minor fixes and appropriate ammo will be the solution, unlike, say, the .22 Jet.

JR

Steve Smith
July 7, 2003, 03:00 PM
Posted by Tim Sundles, a man of unquestioned integrity, on the Sixgunner board:

Ive been doing a little testing with the cast Performance 440gr. bullet in the 500S&W. Every one making a load with this bullet is advertising a velocity of 1625FPS out of the S&W revolver. However, OUr test gun rotates the cylinder backwards when firing this load. Thats right, the gun goes bang and the cylinder rotates back wards one chamber, so when you cock the gun the next time, the hammer falls on an already fired chamber--weird. The recoil causes this. WE had to back the velocity down to 1550FPS to get the problem to go away.

Also, from Jeff Quinn:

I let everyone that wanted to shoot the .500 in Raton. Depending upon how the gun was held, it would rotate the cylinder. When it did rotate, the cylinder went backwards for righthanders, and advanced for lefthanders like me. It could, for a lefthander, possibly fire the next cartridge. It never happenned, but a full-auto .500 is spooky! For some shooters, the cylinder would not rotate at all. Shooters who let the gun recoil straight up had no problem, but the tighter the gun was held, the more severe the problem. S&W is aware of the problem, and hopefully have a fix for it. It might be as simple as a stronger bolt spring. As you stated, the problem only occurs with the 440 grain load, which we chronographed at 1662 fps.

John, I think you are 100% correct on the .223 issue unless they develop a topstrap and corcing cone of a more heat resistant steel.

JohnK
July 7, 2003, 03:14 PM
I've got several hundred rounds of 625 grain loads at 1200 FPS through mine with no ill effects, but this load is about 40,000 CUP, same as a full power .44 mag. If it turns out the 500 will tolerate extended shooting with loads that are only TWICE AS POWERFUL as a full .44, I can live with that.

The numbers from a 300 gr 44 vs a 625 gr 500
Energy: 959 / 1998
Momentum: 51 / 107
TKO: 22 / 53

Impressive numbers, they don't seem loaded down though :). Compared to the factory 440 @ 1,662 fps your load has more momentum and a higher TKO (Taylor Knock Out) value.

Which 625 gr bullet are you using and what kind of loads are you using with it?

I think Jeff Quinn made another post saying that he put a stronger bolt stop spring in and it did cure the problem of the cylinder rotating backwards. It's still something that S&W should have found during their testing, but seems like a simple low risk fix to the problem.

Steve Smith
July 7, 2003, 03:23 PM
JohnK, please calculate the TKO of a baseball at 100 mph.


I like the rest of your post.

John Ross
July 7, 2003, 03:25 PM
Go to http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=29822

and read the whole thread for more info and a link to a picture. Also go to

http://www.john-ross.net/recoil.htm

for some relevant recoil info. The 625/1265 load gives 27.1 FPS recoil velocity, slightly more than the full 440 grain load but not as bad as a 329 with heavy loads, or other Ti/Scan guns. S&W will get the .500 sorted. They could not possibly test them as much as a few hundred enthusiastic customers would.

JR

John Ross
July 7, 2003, 03:33 PM
Steve Smith TKO is unscientific, yes, (as are all momentum-based calculations) and if we followed it blindly, we would conclude that the shooter should be as injured by the gun's recoil as the game is by the bullet.

TKO gives good approximate real-world results if, AND ONLY IF, the projectile in question achieves adequate penetration. A 100 MPH fastball fails this test, obviously.

JR

Steve Smith
July 7, 2003, 03:42 PM
I note that "Fiveshooter" asked what would a 625 do that a 440 would not. It will penetrate more.

Now, considering my hot 325 grain .45 Colt loads will penetrate 42" of soaked newspaper, or an elk from stem to stern, what exactly would one have to come across to use that 625 grain load efficiently? :D

Sperm whale on the attack?

Standing Wolf
July 7, 2003, 10:23 PM
S&W is aware of the problem, and hopefully have a fix for it.

I expect it'll rain shiny Truman dimes later this evening, too.

Fiveshooter
July 7, 2003, 10:27 PM
That a 625 gr. bullet would penetrate more than a 440 gr. bullet. :)
A .50 caliber 440 gr. bullet at 1650 fps will already penetrate all the way through anything that you can hunt.
Unless you are hunting Buicks of course:uhoh:

Jim March
July 7, 2003, 10:50 PM
Buicks? I think you mean Freightliners!

:)

John Ross
July 8, 2003, 06:05 AM
quote (from somebody):
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
S&W is aware of the problem [500 cylinder unlocking and freewheeling under recoil occasionally], and hopefully have a fix for it.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Standing Wolf's reply: "I expect it'll rain shiny Truman dimes later this evening, too."

Hunh?

This is a minor mechanical problem that HAS a solution. The 500 with heaviest loads recoils with 30% LESS velocity than a 329 with 320 grain bullets (see recoil chart at http://www.john-ross.net/recoil.htm) and the 329 *does not* do this. I talked to Herb Belin about this yesterday and he said the 329 prototypes did this and they fixed it with different springs and different heat-treat on the hammer(!) to alter the internal harmonics of the gun when it fires. They are using high speed video to see exactly what happens when the gun goes off.

Why didn't S&W figure this out earlier for the .500? The phenomenon is shooter-dependent and only happens with some people (different hand size/strength/palm fat/grip) and only then with heaviest-recoiling loads.

Worst case, no mechanical changes do any good and some shooters have to load their heaviest bullets down 100 FPS from maximum if hunting dangerous game.

JR

Steve Smith
July 8, 2003, 10:33 AM
Fiveshooter, no problem...I know your question was rhetorical...I was just using it for my post.

Oh, and John, call me weird but your worst case solution is, IMHO, unacceptable. Any product fielded should be 100% operational.

Owen
July 8, 2003, 11:04 AM
The problem with testing at S&W and other gun companies is that they have people that shoot heavy hitting handguns all the time. The range guys at S&W will shoot a couple of hundred full-house rounds of 44 mag, every day, with no grips on the gun. They friggin look like Popeye! In the end, everyone that does testing at S&W ends up having an extremely hard hold. The engineer that would have done most of the initial shooting the gun is in a wheelchair, and has an extremely hard grip. John Ross mentioned Herb Belin. Herb can palm Cadillacs, and carry them around!

The problem being, when a gun hits the market (especially something like the .500, where S&W will not force a 100 pound secretary to shoot it because of the abusive recoil) the gun is going to be exposed to conditions it has not been tested under. In addition it is the first really new revolver S&W has introduced since the mid 80's (the L frame)


With brand new guns stuff pops up, because the nature of testing can not be all inclusive. Beleive it or not, gun companies just do not have the funds to test dozens of guns to destruction. S&W will find a fix for the problem, and S&W will fix the guns that are out on the market. After all, S&W has the best Customer Service in the industry (I know, I've worked for a few gun companies now)

owen

mec
July 8, 2003, 11:08 AM
Quinn did try a heavier spring which did fix the problem for him. Comes from being up to day on the Endurance Package history and doing a thorough evaluation.

Steve Smith
July 8, 2003, 11:15 AM
I would love to shoot the dang thing.

John Ross
July 8, 2003, 11:54 AM
Steve Smith: "Oh, and John, call me weird but your worst case solution [loading down heavy-bullet loads to 100 FPS below max] is, IMHO, unacceptable. Any product fielded should be 100% operational."

That's your priviledge. However, I can't help but ask myself (and others) which scenario we would prefer:

Scenario 1: S&W cannot find a cure for the cylinder-unlock problem that is 100% effective with 100% of the shooters 100% of the time with heavy-bullet 50,000+ CUP loads in a 4.5 lb. gun, and issues the statement "If cylinder unlock problems persist, do not shoot any load that produces more recoil velocity than a 400 grain bullet at 1600 FPS (23.4 FPS). See enclosed chart for which loads exceed this level."

Scenario 2: S&W cannot find a cure for the cylinder-unlock problem that is 100% effective with 100% of the shooters 100% of the time with heavy-bullet 50,000+ CUP loads in a 4.5 lb. gun, and makes the gun heavier, say 5.25 lbs.

Scenario 3: S&W cannot find a cure for the cylinder-unlock problem that is 100% effective with 100% of the shooters 100% of the time with heavy-bullet 50,000+ CUP loads in a 4.5 lb. gun, and tells Cor-Bon to cut their heavy 440 grain load to 1500 FPS and tell everyone that's "maximum" and that the gun is only good to 40,000 CUP, like the .44 Mag.

Scenario 4: S&W cannot find a cure for the cylinder-unlock problem that is 100% effective with 100% of the shooters 100% of the time with heavy-bullet 50,000+ CUP loads in a 4.5 lb. gun, and so they decide the .500 is fundamentally flawed and discontinue production.


If S&W had done the predictable thing and told Cor-Bon the max pressure level for the .500 was 40,000 we wouldn't be having this discussion. We are in uncharted territory with a DA revolver that will sling 440 grain bullets at 1700 FPS with acceptable design pressures. I am astonished this gun is as good as it is, right out of the gate.

This problem WILL get worked out, IMO.

JR

Steve Smith
July 8, 2003, 12:25 PM
I'm sure that it will, too.

IMHO, this is the stuff that custom manufacturers, not production houses, are for. Having several of the top custom revolver makers as friends, I know that they push the envelope hard and they offer their work to friends to try. I have been a "guinea pig" for a lot of custom work, both for guns and high-performance vehicles. When its custom or leading edge, you can accept a certain amount of failures and mistakes. You even expect them. Shortcomings are found and eliminated. After a custom caliber has been sucessful in the market for a few years, then its time for a production company to step up and give it some backing. This should have been the work of a John Linebaugh type first.

That is the scenario I would have preferred. It would have precluded all of this. IMHO, you don't advertise your product will do "x" and later have to say "reduce the load."

Fiveshooter
July 8, 2003, 12:40 PM
I would love to get hold of a stainless steel stretch frame like Reeder uses and send it to Clements for a custom .500 S&W in a Bisley configuration.
My biggest reasons for choosing Clements are that I would not have to sell the house to afford it. The project would most likely be complete in my lifetime. And last but not least he line bores the cylinders.
This is not to take anything away from John Linebaugh or Hamilton Bowen. I have handled a few six(five)guns from both and they are both Artists. They are in such demand that lead times get WAY out there.
The down side to a custom single action in this caliber would be that I would most likely shoot lighter loads because of the lighter gun. I am allergic to having front sights stuck in my forehead. :uhoh:

Best Regards,
Billy

Steve Smith
July 8, 2003, 01:24 PM
I am not a big Reeder fan, but that is personal, more than anything.


IMHO, the .457 and .500 Linebaughs are more than enough for a sixgun. The Maximums that John made were more than more than enough!

Redhawk1
July 8, 2003, 02:19 PM
That is why I got the Magnum Research BFR in S&W500 MAG. I have not heard of the cylinder rotating backwards or not holding under high recoil rounds. I have about 300 rounds through mine with 38.5 gr. of W296 under 440 gr. Cast Performance bullets. Not the Max load but stiff enough. :D

Captain
July 9, 2003, 09:25 AM
The problem with testing at S&W and other gun companies is that they have people that shoot heavy hitting handguns all the time. The range guys at S&W will shoot a couple of hundred full-house rounds of 44 mag, every day, with no grips on the gun. They friggin look like Popeye! In the end, everyone that does testing at S&W ends up having an extremely hard hold. The engineer that would have done most of the initial shooting the gun is in a wheelchair, and has an extremely hard grip. John Ross mentioned Herb Belin. Herb can palm Cadillacs, and carry them around!

The problem being, when a gun hits the market (especially something like the .500, where S&W will not force a 100 pound secretary to shoot it because of the abusive recoil) the gun is going to be exposed to conditions it has not been tested under. In addition it is the first really new revolver S&W has introduced since the mid 80's (the L frame)


With brand new guns stuff pops up, because the nature of testing can not be all inclusive. Beleive it or not, gun companies just do not have the funds to test dozens of guns to destruction. S&W will find a fix for the problem, and S&W will fix the guns that are out on the market. After all, S&W has the best Customer Service in the industry (I know, I've worked for a few gun companies now)

owen

Owen,

I was at the S&W plant in March of this year and saw the testing they are performing on the 500. They wouldn't subject anybody to the punishing tesing of this cartridge, so they made up a jig to hold the gun (like a vice). They connected a cable to the trigger and would blast away. They tested a bunch of guns with 3,000 rds each. They were trying to see how long they would hold up and see where the weaknesses were if any. The people that I talked to that were doing the testing said the problems were few and far between. They are indeed testing this gun out in what looked to me to be a reasonable fashion.

500swmag
July 9, 2003, 01:02 PM
Captain,
yes we did test several guns in a fixture and racked up thousands of rounds of testing, however we also decieded to endurance test the 500 by hand to best duplicate a real world scenerio.
BC

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