.454 vs. .480 vs. .500 vs. ?


August 5, 2003, 01:59 AM
I have a S&W .44mag now and love the heck out of it. (Just machined it for moon clips:)) Maybe I'm a gluten for punishment but I usually shoot 2-300 full power rounds per sitting. My hands usually start bleeding after 50-75 and by the end they are hamburger. But the joy I get from shooting it is well worth it.
Now I'm playing with the idea of a real hand cannon. The good old .454 was always the next step up but people are saying that the .480 recoils less and generates more power? And now the .500 is out, I just don't know much about these rounds. Is their any other round that I should look at? Have any of you guys shot some of these back to back? Thanks for your input.


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Robert inOregon
August 5, 2003, 05:11 AM
If a real mans gun is what you are looking for and you like pain, skip the behemoth guns and get a light weight S&W Scanium 329. It is chambered in 44 magnum and weighs in at under thirty ounces. Getting the big picture! Guarantied to kick like no other and make you bleed in half the time. Save on ammo because there is no way you'll shoot as much. And you'll need to too! In order to pay for the Ibuprofen and extra doctor visits.

August 5, 2003, 08:32 AM
I've have 44s and a Freedom Arms in 454 but I used to have a 480 and am looking at ordering a 475 Linebaugh. The 454 is my favorite by far. Very versatile. Plinking loads of 255 for 1200 fps which isn't shabby anyway up to 335s at 1500 or 265s at 1900 or 300s at 1700. Your choice. The 480 is ok but I would go ahead and buy a 475 instead. The other poster mentioned a light 44, try the Bond Arms Derringer in 44 magnum. 20 ounces of pure delight. It is an invigorating experience. Makes any of the above mentioned guns with hot loads feel weak. GS

Brian Williams
August 5, 2003, 09:31 AM

August 5, 2003, 12:42 PM
IMHO the .454 is here to stay, and in a pinch, you can use .45LC brass for all but the hottest loads. The jury is out on .475, .480, .500, and other oddball calibers, WHATEVER their ballistic virtues.

I absolutely HATE shooting any major load out of a single action - I may be in the minority on this, but I find the grip shape and high bore line simply don't suit me - I'll stick to a DA revolver.

As for myself, I have a couple of .44 Mag revolvers - S&W and Ruger. If a 300 grain hardcast bullet in a max handload out of my Redhawk won't do the job, I'm switching to a rifle.

August 5, 2003, 08:04 PM
Do what I did. I started with a Redhawk in .44 Mag. I love it so much that I went and put money down on a .454 Super Redhawk and .480 Super Redhawk. Then go read a bunch of posts about how much everyone likes their 500 S&W and order one. You're going to get them all anyways. Why not just dive in :)

Robert inOregon
August 5, 2003, 09:47 PM

Blame it on country music! :neener:

August 5, 2003, 10:09 PM
Blame it on country music!

It worked for me :)

August 5, 2003, 10:38 PM
The 454 is versatile, powerfull and has a very flat trajectory. The 480 does recoil less but does NOT have more power. I'm not a 480 fan. As to the 500 S&W, the physical gun itself is too big to pack around. A FA SA, Raging Bull or SRH DA is much nicer to carry.

August 5, 2003, 10:56 PM
What loads are you using? What gun (barrel length)?

50-100 rounds shouldn't cause any pain at all if your using good technique, not that I recomend shooting high volume of high recoil loads...it leads to bad shooting.

Where are you bleeding? That is something that can be prevented.

August 5, 2003, 11:41 PM
I have a need to turn large rocks into small rocks:)
Bigger is better. (My wife's line)

I have a 629 Classic 8 3/8"-

I'm thinking about selling this one to replace it with a bigger cannon. Then getting a 4" .44 mountain gun for camping/ hiking in bear country. Right now .454 seems good, but I'm thinking about getting something custom built in .50 AE. Is that stupid? I've got to find some ballistic tables to compare all these.

The 629 draws blood because I never wear shooting gloves and it has wood grips that don't cover the back strap. I bleed from the webbing between my thumb and trigger finger, and from the top of my middle finger (trigger guard). I shoot mostly 240gr. plated flat points w/ 24gr. H110


August 6, 2003, 06:33 AM
My first DA revolver was the SRH .454, due to the interesting engineering and the ability to digest .45 Colts. I have sent over 300 of various .454's down range as well as thousands of .45 Colts, without a hiccup. Out of the box, it had a very good trigger - certainly better than my new S&W's. They 'broke in', the SRH has stayed the same. I tried Wolff springs in the SRH, but the mushy return and occasional FTF - a real scare with .454's - forced me to return it to original springs.

I also put a HiViz fiber optic sight in the front and a Weaver H2 2X28mm handgun scope in the excellent included rings. The scope really helps my older eyes. With it off, the HiViz sights make the 7.5" barreled an interesting, if not intimidating looking, plate gun with .45 Colt 'cowboy' loads. They won't group as well - possibly because of the slow twist rate of the rifling - to favor the faster .454's. I have grouped the 2,000 fps 240 gr Hornady's at 1.5" @~50yd off of sandbags - quite good for my abilities.

The ergonomics are great on the SRH - I doubt you will split the webb a la the 29/629 wood grip arrangement. Additionally, the grip is padded at the back, too - the grip actually slips up over a stake-type frame housing the hammer's coil spring. Shooting a bunch of .454's will more likely 'hurt' your wallet more long before it does your hand. Compared to a RB, it is a bargain - and a true six-shooter.


John Ross
August 6, 2003, 07:50 AM
Z1500, if a Smith .44 makes your hand bleed after 75 rounds it's because you're shooting a lot on one day when your hand hasn't been shooting much at all recently. It's just like going to a batting cage for an hour when you haven't held a bat for months, or taking up sculling in college. Shoot some every week and your skin will toughen up.

The .500 S&W is in a different league than the other rounds you mention, especially with handloads using long-nose bullets that give a cartridge OAL of 2.300" or thereabouts. Try 650s @ 1300 or 450s @ 1800 with acceptable pressures.

Go to this thread


and also read this piece I wrote



August 6, 2003, 08:55 AM
That load in that gun shouldn't cause pain. I shoot 300 grain castcores in my 4" 629 with no pain. Your gun is almost a pound heavier than mine. And your using bullets that are 60 grains ligher.

Are you shooting DA or SA? I always shoot heavy loads SA, I use Hogue grip that leaves backstrap exposed, SA allows for more correct grip because trigger reach is much shorter than for DA mode fire.

Part of proper technique, IMVHO, is to use a VERY firm grip with some type of weaver stance and let your arms flex with the recoil. You don't want to fight muzzle rise and recoil with heavy loads like you would for combat power level loads.

If done correctly hand moves WITH gun and arm muscle soak up recoil both in time and distance (ie you let it move against some resistance but don't try to keep muzzle on target in recoil).

For the grip think about the correct way to shoot slugs or big bore rifle. You want a hard kicking long arm as tight against your shoulder/chest as possible so it pushes you when it recoils. If it isn't tight it gets to hit you which hurts a LOT. With grip of handgun you want shooting hand to move as part of the gun.

The 50 AE would be a step DOWN in performance for terminal ballistics from a full power 44 mag load (ie 300+ grain bullets, Federal's castcore, BuffaloBore, or Garrett's).

For fun big bore a 480 would probably be best bet, they make factory loads that are low recoil. You might want to buy or load some 300+ grain bullets for your 44 first.

August 6, 2003, 12:50 PM
I looked at several big bores when I bought my 454 SRH, (not the 500 yet) and opted for the 454 due to it's versatility and abilities. I am ver happy with it's performance, If I need anything more powerful than that I'm grabbing something with a substantially longer barrel.

Robert inOregon
August 6, 2003, 05:58 PM
The 50 AE would be a step DOWN in performance for terminal ballistics from a full power 44 mag load (ie 300+ grain bullets, Federal's castcore, BuffaloBore, or Garrett's).

Fifty Action Express from a revolver out shines every conventional handgun cartridge (Sub 1.4" case, non wildcat) including .454 Casull. Only the larger "super magnum" class cartridges like .475 and .500 Maximum and Linebaugh perform better. Little fifty packs more punch than what most think.


August 6, 2003, 08:32 PM
John Ross, that is an excellent article. I learned allot from it and cannot wait to get my 500!

August 6, 2003, 10:51 PM
The problem with the 50 AE for terminal performance is you can't use adequet crimp (for heavy bullets at full power) because even in a revolver it is headspacing on the case mouth. Leads to problems with bullet pull.

In other words if you shot it in a single shot it could better the 44 mag by a bit, but if loaded to operate reliably in a revolver or semi it won't provide as much penetration as top end hardcast 44 loads.

Did you note that Taffin said that his heavy loads only worked in Casull's and he wouldn't list the loads? I would suggest taking a look at Hamilton Bowen's book "The Custom Revolver" can be ordered from Bowen at http://www.bowenclassicarms.com/book.html

Quote from that link " Several chapters are devoted to truly exotic revolvers, many of which are one of a kind, such as a .577 Redhawk and a twenty-six ounce, ultra-lightweight .50 Action Express Blackhawk with a titanium barrel and cylinder. Other sections touch on the Colt Flat-Top Target model, the fascinating Sedgley take-out cylinder revolvers and many others. Not only is the fabulous Seyfried No. 13 revolver discussed and illustrated, but also the first chapter is devoted to the most famous custom revolver of all -- the Keith No. 5."

The "ultra lightweight 50 AE" is a 26 ounce gun :)

August 7, 2003, 04:51 AM
Thanks for the help guys, now I really don't know what to do.


August 7, 2003, 10:00 AM

Get Bowen's book, it is a great place to start.

IMHO the 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger (the 480 ruger is to the 475 Linebaugh like a 44 special to a 44 mag...just a shorter version, well the 480 has a smaller rim so it will fit in Casull's) is the way to go if you want more than 44mag or 45 Long Colt.

Don't minunderstand what I said about the 50 AE, it is a powerful round, but because of bullet limitations is better for deer and such than serious big game (say bull elk) or big bears.

If you just wanted a big bore for fun it would be a good caliber. But if your looking for something that can handle big game better than your 44 I think you would be unhappy.

August 9, 2003, 01:08 PM
Don't forget that a .480 can be handloaded upward, too. www.hodgdon.com shows loads with Lil'Gun powder and 370 grain bullets over 1500 fps. I humbly submit this is enough for anything on this continent.

The .480 of course makes bigger holes than the .454, or .44. Bullet availability is worse though...much better with the two smaller calibers.

I shot a .454 with full power Garrett 300 grain, and it only did so-so at 50 yards. My 629 shoots groups half the size.

I still like the SRH, though, just because of the scope mounting arrangement. Haven't decided yet whether I'd get a 454, or a 480.

The 500 S&W? $1200 and the local guy will put you on a waiting list of unknown length. I like Smiths, but will pass. A Freedom Arms gun is made like a fine watch, and will always hold its value. for that kind of money.

August 9, 2003, 02:08 PM
The 500 S&W? $1200 and the local guy will put you on a waiting list of unknown length. I like Smiths, but will pass. A Freedom Arms gun is made like a fine watch, and will always hold its value. for that kind of money.

I'm not sure why you guys are getting charged so much for the 500's. My local shop is selling them for $759. The waiting list is long but it is everywhere. I've heard they are behind as many as 10000 guns.

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