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S&W 500 or S&W 460 for dangerous game defense?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by rolltide, Mar 31, 2007.

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  1. rolltide

    rolltide Member

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    I need your help. I have just about decided to buy one of S&W big bore revolvers. I really like the lower felt recoil, versatility and availability of cartridges, and lower cost of ammo available ammo for the 460. On the 500 side of things are the raw power and heavier bullets for the most functional use I might make of the gun, bear/moose defense. I have a Dan Wesson 445supermag which is totally functional for any long range revolver work I might do, so the niche this new purchase will fill for me is short range protection work.

    Do you think that the 500 has enough more power over the 460 to outweigh all the other advantages of the 460?

    Is there anything I am overlooking as far a advantages or disadvantages of the 500 compared to the 460 for dangerous game defense?

    All thoughts and input appreciated,

    Roll Tide
     
  2. Fn-P9

    Fn-P9 Member

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    The 500 is a sledge hammer compared to the 460 12ounce pall peen. :neener:

    I have never shot a 500 but have witnessed others. I can say from watching them that a fast follow up shot is not going to happen easily. vs a heavy gun in 460 maybe.

    IMHO you were to choose the 500, get one of the longer barreled versions (nose weight) and make sure it has one of those factory compensators.

    My thought, vs dangerous game, what about a .45lc with those little .410 shells in it. A few hits with those and the eyes wouldn't be able to see, and the bruins or bobcats poor nose would sure hurt :cool:
     
  3. Gator

    Gator Member

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    The advantage of the .460 is a longer range and flatter trajectory, both desirable characteristics for a hunting handgun, but unnecessary for a defensive weapon. Go with the .500 for its tremendous close range "smackdown" power. But do get one with the muzzle break to increase your chances of getting off a second shot.

    You could get the .460 and load it with .454s for protection and .460s for hunting though, but if you want the biggest boom possible......

    And don't try the .410 shot shells....a .22 would be better than those :eek:
     
  4. rolltide

    rolltide Member

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    My 445supermag will match 454casull factory ammo and nearly match 454 reloads with a 300gr bullet, so I won't even make the purchase if I can't do considerably better than the 454casull for defense. The Belt Mountain Punch Bullet will do 1330fps out of a 4" 44mag barrel and penetrate 36" in the Linebaugh type test, paper only. While I have not loaded any in my 445supermag yet, I imagine I will be getting between 1500 and 1600 out of my 6" Dan Wesson in 445supermag. The Belt Mountain 454casull 315gr bullet goes about 1600fps out of a 7.5" barrel and penetrates 49" in the PAPER + BONE Linebaugh test. I think my 445 would be so close to those numbers that it would not justify a new purchase of another firearm. I am hoping that the 460 or the 500 will best that 454casull load by some significant margin.

    Roll Tide
     
  5. gbran

    gbran Member

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    Given your criteria, I'd get the 500, but I'd get the shortest version available. The standard 500 is too long and too big to be maneuverable for defence work.
     
  6. Tberger688

    Tberger688 Member

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    tberger688

    I have both and I love my .460 (except for that stupid lock) for an all around big boomer. However with that being said if I was in a defensive situation I’ll take my short barreled .500 any day. I think even if you missed the noise and the fireball would probably scare him off. People talk about recoil - - don’t worry about that because if a bear is after you, you will not even notice it going off.
     
  7. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    .500 magnum for virtual "knockdown power"~! ;) :D
     
  8. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I really like the .460 Magnum because you can shoot .45 LC, .454 Casull and of course the .460 Magnum rounds but since you already have a .445 SuperMag it might be a little redundant.

    Since you are looking for an up close and personal cannon I would also suggest the .500 like others have already told you. The .460 has more velocity than the .500 but the .500 does hit like a hammer.

    Since you won't be hunting with this revolver there is no need for a super long barrel but the 2.75" barrel model is just too hard to handle. Too bad the 500 doesn't come in a 5" barrel like the 460 does. You might want to take a look at the 4" barrel model that's available. http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/...angId=-1&parent_category_rn=15707&isFirearm=Y That might be just the right size since it has a Muzzle Compensator.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. rolltide

    rolltide Member

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    You are right about the longer barrels, I will go with a 5" or 6.5" PC barrel probably.

    I really appreciate everyone's input and that is precisely what I was hoping for when I made the post. I really like big bore revolvers, but I can't justify the purchase of a larger one if it does not give me an added edge in some practial way. (Just a silly quirk of mine.) I do believe that the 460 and the 500 will give me a edge in power against big bruins. The 44mag and certainly the 445supermag is fine for black bears and probably lower 48 grizzlies, but for really big Alasakan stuff, the extra power of the big Smiths could definitely make the difference between walking away or not. I am a big guy, so carrying the extra weight is not an issue. I buy guns for how they shoot, not how they carry. If I am going to compromise anything first, it will be comfort and convenience before power and "shoot-ability."

    I know that the 460 shoots a little faster and that the 500 will shoot significantly heavier bullets, I am just trying to understand how each of those characteristics will translate into a dangerous game defense situation at clase range. I assume the heavier bullet at slower speed will have a penetration advantage, although I have not seen much info to confirm that through actual test, mostly just ideas from people who like one or the other. (I have all the Linebaugh data) The rifle rounds that seem to be real stoppers on these big dangerous animals are a lot faster, seem to have more shock power, and penetrate far less that some of the really big slow bullets, yet they have proven time and again to be reliable stoppers (375H&H) on these big dangerous animals.

    SOOOOOO

    Which is better?

    460 S&W
    Punch Bullet 315grains 1,600fps n/a Paper Only Pen. 49.0" 4" bone + paper pen.

    500 S&W
    Punch Bullet 450grains 1,297fps 46.0" Paper Only Pen. 43.5" 4" bone + paper pen.

    445 Supermag
    Punch Bullet 300grains 1732fps 45.0" Paper Only Pen n/a 4" bone + paper pen.


    Roll Tide
     
  10. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    I wouldn't consider the 500 suitable for any kind of defense. The gun and the shooter must both be readied, which means it is a hunting arm at best. A defense gun must be brought to bear (no pun intended) rapidly and sometimes fired in less than perfect stances. The 500 is a cannon and can easily injure shooters who fail to set up their shots. A 460 and 454 also should be carefully handled in this regard, but they should be more managable.

    I'm still leery of the 500 for about everything. I've never fired one and would probably turn down an offer to do so. Watching a friend try to attune himself to full charges of .454, I thought that was pushing the envelope.
     
  11. Camp Cook

    Camp Cook Member

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    I carry handguns for defense when in remote wilderness areas here in British Columbia, Canada.

    We have over half of Canada's black bears here in BC which is approximately 200,000 + this is also the largest concentration of black bears in the world. We also have over 20,000 Grizzlies in the province as well.

    I have carried and fired lots of different handguns/cartidges/calibers and feel that I have finally come up with the most powerful, packable, controlable combination that I can find.

    I feel the 460 & 500 S7W are just too much of a good thing...

    I modified a Ruger Super Redhawk chambered in 454 Casull by shortening the barrel to 4.25" adding a sight rib and fiber optic front sight, I also installed Crimson Trace laser grips.

    I shoot 240gr XTP-Mag's @ 1650fps, 300gr XTP-Mag's @ 1450fps and 405gr Beartooth WLNGC's @ 1200fps. I also load and shoot 345gr, 360gr and 395gr WLNGC's.

    I reduced the velocity of the 405gr loads from 1350fps because there was just to much recoil at the faster velocity.

    Here is a short vid clip of me shooting 3 of the 405gr loads. I am using my brand new Bob Mernickle holster which should explain the draw. :eek:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ENclXD0LaE

    Here's a couple of pic's of the gun.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2007
  12. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    That looked almost pleasant! Tell me, though, isn't it tough to own and carry handguns in Canada these days? Just what are the restrictions?

    The more I hear about the .44 mag Ruger 4-inch, the more I want one. I may have to give up my prized 629 to do it, though.
     
  13. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Member

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    I carried my 629 in .44 mag. when I was in Alaska last summer and never felt underpowered. I had the Federal 300 grain Cast Core rounds in it. It was more than controllable and would take down a moose no problem. I wasn't worried about the bears since I was on the interior and they had a tendency to be smaller.
     
  14. Camp Cook

    Camp Cook Member

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    I am one of under 900 non-enforcement Canadians that is licensed to carry handguns in remote wilderness areas for the protection of my life and the lives of others due to my working in these remote areas.

    I had a 6" 629 but I found that I left it at home all of the time so I sold it and bought another 7.5" Ruger SRH in 454 Casull as a back up revolver.

    When you have as many bears around you as I do you want the most powerful but controlable handgun that you can get your hands onto.

    That is why I say that the 460 and 500 S&W's are just to much gun to lug around all day and the recoil just takes to long to recover from for me.

    Let me put it this way the 44mag's aren't enough for me and the 460/500 are to much.

    My Ruger SRH is the best compromise that I have found.

    One other thing I do not want or like single actions for defense guns. They may have a lot of power but if I ever needed to reload I wouldn't have a chance where as I carry speed loaders and if given a few seconds can reload and continue the fight. (I acknowledge that I probably would never have a chance to reload though ;) )

    One other thing I am not saying that a 44mag can't do the job because I know that it can I just prefer something with more power... :)
     
  15. Mainspring

    Mainspring Member

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    I'm a gun guy...really.

    Let me preface this by saying that I am indeed a gun guy, and will always carry for defense whenever legally possible, whether it's to defend against two or four legged critters.

    Having said that, when I fear that I may have to go toe to toe with a bear, I prefer fixed sights, because it won't be quite as painful when the bear shoves that gun where the sun doesn't shine (very often). I've given this some thought, so bear (pun) with me in my logic;

    First, a few givens:
    A P.O.ed bear can cover a lot of ground very quickly. Let's say that a properly motivated bear can go from 0-35 mph in a hurry.
    A bear's skull is MUCH smaller than what it's in-tact head appears.
    A bear's brain is MUCH, MUCH smaller than what it's in-tact head appears.
    A bear's skull is pretty tough, and from the front makes a lousy target with it's somewhat areodynamic shape.
    A charging bear doesn't encourage a proper draw and solid shooting stance from the chargee.
    A bear's heart doesn't beat very fast, and a lot can happen before a bear stops with a good hit through the boiler room, thereby requiring a solid head shot to stop the charge.

    Given those givens, I liken making a good head shot on a charging bear to hitting a softball, that's inside a lightly armored basketball, that's moving at roughly 35 MPH, while it's bouncing, that both surpirses you and scares last night's dinner out of you.

    I'm not an authority on this, but I figure that most bears will charge from a distance of less than 50'. I can't do the math at the moment, but my best SWAG (scientific wild a$$ guess) is that the bear will be on you in well under 5 seconds. That gives you something less than 5 seconds to register the threat, form a plan, clear leather, assume a good shooting stance, acquire a target (the above softball inside the lightly armored bouncing basketball moving toward you at about 35 mph), and put a solid shot on said softball while you're in the process of filling your pants.

    That's a lot going on all at once, and presumes a 50' buffer.

    So, while I will always carry an appropriate lead launcher and will never try to talk anyone out of doing the same thing...I very clearly understand it's limitations, and will rely more heavily on a proven bear spray.

    I know that's not a cool gun guy thing to say, but that's what I think.
     
  16. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    I guess the math shocked me... herr bruin, if averaging 17.5mph for that 50', would literally be 'on' you in 1.94 seconds. While Bob Munden could draw and empty his SAA in .45 Colt in that time - and Jerry Miculek could draw and empty his 8-shot 627 .357M in less, I am afraid both would be lighter loads - and not significant for the mission. I would want something with a large meplat, greater mass, and decent velocity - in a DA and easily accessible revolver. The .475 Special/.480 Ruger SRH revolver with a short barrel - a la the nice .454 depicted earlier should be good. Sure, a .480 Alaskan would be nice - if Ruger ever gets around to making that second batch. I guess the best current bet would be that 4" .500 - loaded with 440gr LWFN making 800+ fps, it should be a highly controllable 'stopper' for most lower 48 targets.

    Of course, one of S&W's real shocker selling goodies of the last year or so has been the S&W .460/.500 'ES', or 'Extreme Survival', kits - even including a book on bear attacks - and room within the case for a bottle 'Original' A-1 sauce, with only a few west coast bears insisting on the 'Teriyaki' version. While I feel totally protected with my 625MG and some 250gr GD's/255gr LSWC .45 Colts @ 820-850 fps here in C.A. (Central Alabama), I know a better approach for wild hogs might be my 4" 629 with 300gr LSWC's at 900+ fps. The best news, in either example, is I have it covered...that $900 4" .500 would need more $ in reloading dies & supplies, not to mention more time in the wrist brace (CTS from too much woodturning... probably not helped by my old .454 SRH.). Being familiar with what you carry, as in the urban wilderness, is of the utmost importance.

    And, sir rolltide, I have but one word in parting.... 'FIVE'!

    And, of course, WAR EAGLE!

    Stainz
     
  17. Camp Cook

    Camp Cook Member

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    Mainspring, I agree with what you are saying but I would rather have a handgun on my hip than a rifle/shotgun leaning against a tree or rock...

    Let me make it very clear that not all wild animal attacks are full out charges towards you...

    With that said... I very rarely go out without a rifle or a shotgun with me as well but I know I will be putting them down when I get to where I am working.

    A few of these are a 20" barreled LSI Puma M92 in 454 Casull, a Marlin 1895GS in 45-70, a Rem 7400 30-06 carbine and a 14" barreled Rem 870 and a 18.5" barreled Rem 870 12 gauge shotguns

    I have spent an enormous amount of time researching, loading and shooting appropriate rounds for them and I have done the same with handguns.

    I will take my 45-70 before a shotgun any day though...

    Let me give this another approach. My totally anti-gun Canadian Federal Government licensed me to carry handguns for defense against wild animals.

    If an anti-gun government will do this there most definately be proof that handguns can and do work to defend ones life from wild animals.

    Are handguns the best tool for the job most definately not but the way I look at it the tool you have with you is the best tool to have and I am never without a handgun when in the bush.

    Depending where I am or what time of year I carry different handguns/cartridges.

    When the bears are sleeping for the winter (they actually do that here :D) or if I am jumping in and out of my truck my prefered handgun is a Glock 20 10mm with 200gr Beartooth WFNGC's @ 1300fps. I also carry 5.5" s/s Ruger Bisley Vaquero's in 45 Colt with 300gr XTP's or 330gr WFNGC's @ 1280fps.

    My theory on this is that I can load/unload this handgun faster so will have it with me if a need arises (here in Canada it is illegal to carry a loaded firearm in a motorized vehicle). Also when the bears are asleep for the winter my main concern is mountain lions. We also have more mountain lion attacks here than anywhere else in the world so planning a defense against them is totally advisable.

    I have had two buddies that have been attacked by mountain lions fortunately both were able to shoot them while the lion was leaping into the air . In both cases the guys where hunting the first one shot the M/L with a 7mm Rem Mag and the second was a 270 Win both animals dropped instantly.

    If they had handguns the first would have been extremely hard to hit witha handgun because it was attacking when my buddy heard it running at him from behind the second was spotted lying in wait with it's ears flattened against it's head and it's tail twitching much like a house cat will do.

    This one didn't give much more time than the first one but wasn't running when spotted.

    While I'm at it let me clear up what a bear charge is like. Yes there are full out running attacks but the majority of black bear attacks are slow wandering in on the victom giving tons of time to be able to draw and place your shot accurately.

    I have had to shoot 3 black bears in defense the first one I used a 308 Norma Mag and shot the bear at about 8 yards as it was running at me. The next two where with my 7.5" Ruger SRH in 454 Casull before I had it cut down to the 4.25" gun I posted above. I used a 360gr C/P WLNGC @ 1520fps on the first one and a 240gr XTP-Mag @ 1900fps on the second one...

    The first bear was walking up hill towards me and when it swung it's head to it's right I shot it in the neck with the bullet breaking it's spine between it's shoulder blades. The second was more of a side chest cavity shot that hit a bit high but broke it's back dropping it instantly the bear continued to try and drag itself with it's front legs but I ran up to it and gve it another 2 quick shots one in the lungs and the other in the neck.

    I'll end with handguns do have a place in the realm of firearms for defense. Get out to your range and practice using those guns so that you are as proficient in their use that you can possible be.

    edit to add...

    If I was to carry a 500S&W these would be the loads I would be working with... :)

    http://www.kdm-custom-bullets.com/photos.html
     
  18. Mainspring

    Mainspring Member

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    Camp Cook...I totally agree with you. Long guns trump short guns, and short guns trump pepper in the end. When I'm off the pavement I tote a 5.5" Ruger Bisley Blackhawk .45 LC or a little Birdshead Vaquero .45 LC, both stoked with some cool Buffalo Bore solids. I'm thinking of having a cylinder chambered in .454 built for the Bisley specifically for this purpose. But the OC is also very close at hand, and can be effectively depolyed quicker than the pistols ("effectively" meaning close does indeed count with OC, but not with lead). I've never had to shoot a bear, and I know that a lot of others who carry in bear country haven't either. I just think that most of us who haven't been the subject of a bear charge completely overestimate the abilities of both a handgun and our abilities to properly deploy it in such an instance.

    Getting the desired result shooting at two legged critters is not the same as shooting at a P.O.ed highly motivated four legged critter, and I think that a lot of people don't really understand that.
     
  19. 'Card

    'Card Member

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    I've been putting a lot of thought into the same .460XVR versus .500Mag equation, although my perspective is a little bit different simply because I'm more interested in a hunting revolver than having something for defensive purposes.

    I won't be buying one until July, so the odds are I will change my mind at least three more times between now and then - but for the time being I'm thinking the .460 is the way to go. Practice and proficiency is very important to me when it comes to a hunting weapon, and I'm concerned I wouldn't put in as much range time as I should with the .500 due to the high ammo cost. The .460's ability to eat .45LC and .454 Casull is a major plus in my book.
     
  20. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Member

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    Rolltide,

    I have a 4" .500 and an 8-3/8" .460 XVR. I shoot them both frequently. The recoil on these revolvers tends to be way overstated - especially by those that have never shot them. My son began shooting full power loads from my .500 when he was 11 or 12, and he's not a big kid. If you use the factory grips and hold it properly, a S&W .500 is a much much easier gun to shoot than a Ruger single action in .454 or even .44 Mag. Try them side-by-side some day (I have).

    Also, I had the opportunity to fire a .500 snubbie last weekend and found the recoil to be identical to my factory-compensated 4".

    Nobody has asked the question so I will: Do you reload? If you do, the versatility of the .460 becomes moot. I load for both the .460 and the .500 and can load fairly powerful plinking loads for the .500 for about $.20/each.

    Because of the extreme velocity, you must be careful when selecting components for full-power .460 loads. Most jacketed handgun bullets shouldn't be loaded to faster than 1500 fps. This velocity is very easy to exceed with the .460 ( I use Hornady XTP Mag bullets for full power loads).

    You can get much larger bullets for the .500, so you don't have to drive them as fast to get similar punch. I've also been able to find lots of inexpensive once-fired brass for the .500 but not for the .460.

    The accuracy of the .500 is very good, but the .460 is just plain scary. I put a 2X-6X Bushnell trophy scope on my .460. Using a rest, I can easily get 2" groups at 100 yards.

    For hunting, the .460 gets the nod. For up close defense, you probably can't beat the .500.
     
  21. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Member

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    [QUOTE='Card]Practice and proficiency is very important to me when it comes to a hunting weapon, and I'm concerned I wouldn't put in as much range time as I should with the .500 due to the high ammo cost. The .460's ability to eat .45LC and .454 Casull is a major plus in my book.[/QUOTE]

    'Card,

    If you don't already, you really might want to consider reloading if you're going to buy either of these revolvers. I bought a Hornady L-N-L Progressive with a case feeder, as well as dies, a shellplate, a tumbler, media separator, electronic scale, ammo boxes, and various gages and tools. The total bill was about $700. After spending a bit of time developing a load that I liked, I more than "paid" for the whole mess literally the first afternoon of "production" when I loaded 1000 rounds of .500 S&W Mag.

    As far as practicing with .454 or .45 LC...
    I'm not sure exactly what you'll be "learning" with these loads that you can't get simply by dry-firing. The .460 is a very different gun when shooting .45 LC vs .460 Mags. You can practice handling, sighting, and trigger pull with snap caps. Your range time firing .45 LC will not translate well with full-blown .460s.
     
  22. Camp Cook

    Camp Cook Member

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    Eddie I totally disagree with your last comment.

    I think draw and dry fire practice is great and doing it has helped me with being able to draw proficiently and should be a major part of everyone's practice program.

    I find being able to shoot lighter loads has helped me learn to shoot my different guns way more proficiently. Dry firing just doesn't come close to shooting a live bullet at a target were you see nstantly how you actually are screwing up... :what:

    Let me give some examples of how/what I practice with;

    In my 10mm handguns my practice loads are 180gr or 200gr Montana Gold bullets loaded to 40S&W velocities of 900fps to 950fps. My bush loads are 190gr JFP & 200gr WFNGC's @ 1300fps.

    In my now sold 629 44mag I loaded 240gr cast with 15grs Blue Dot to get top 44 Special velocities. My bush loads where 270gr Gold dot's or 300gr XTP's & hard cast's at top 44 mag velocities.

    In my 45 Colt's I practice with loads from very light 200gr cast @ 600fps up to 250gr cast @ 950fps. My bush loads are 300gr XTP's @ 1280fps up to 345gr WFNGC's @ 1150fps.

    In my 454 Casull's I practice with all of my light 45 Colt loads saving my 454 Casull brass for top loads only.

    I practice with all of the light loads to remain proficient in the use of my handguns but also end every range session with shooting enough of the top loads to know exactly how the guns perform and to check that they are hitting to point of aim.

    I feel that one of the best things about reloading is being able to download for practice loads and one of the best training tools is to be able to practice with light loads.

    The added benefit of the 454/460 is that you do not have to keep your cases marked to keep light and heavy loads seperate. Knowing when I grab a 45 Colt and put it in my 454 that it is going to be a light load no matter what is great.

    A point that hasn't been covered here is make sure that you clean the chambers after shooting the shorter cases and before you shoot the longer cased bullets. The pressures that you are dealing with in the 454 and 460 are such as to cause problems if there is carbon build up in the chambers.

    Mainspring here's a pic of my Ruger Bisley Vaquero's in 45 Colt... :)

    [​IMG]
     
  23. 'Card

    'Card Member

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    Yeah, that's good advice. I've been reading the reloading guides, trying to figure out how it works and what equipment I need, all that jazz - but I haven't bought anything yet. The purchase of a high-dollar hand cannon will probably be the issue that forces me to go ahead and get off the pot, so to speak.


    Good point, but I'm not sure I agree. After all, .22LR replacement barrels for semi-auto pistols are popular for a very good reason, and I know my handgun shooting has improved tremendously (with all calibers) since I bought a Ruger 22/45. Even if it means practice time at 15 yards instead of 100, and with open sights instead of a scope, I can't help but think that the lighter loads mean more trigger time, more comfort, and more familiarity with the gun.

    Besides, from a ballistics standpoint the .500 and .460 are kind of like the .30-06 and the .308, as far as I can tell. There are differences, but for deer hunting purposes they seem small enough to be practically insignificant. So all other things being equal, the added flexibility of the .460 becomes kind of the deal breaker with me. Even if I end up loading my own and the ammo cost isn't an issue, I like having the additional options, I guess.

    Am I missing something about the .500 that gives it a significant edge for hunting purposes?
     
  24. schmidtbender

    schmidtbender Member

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    47
    The gun you will carry is the one you'll have

    Living with Mr Griz, I have had several large bore handguns. All but one were too heavy to hike with and even a pain on a horse. My choice is the 329 S&W 44 Magnum loaded with max loads of H110 and 300 gr hardcasts. Tests on dead steers gave all the penetration you need and 26 ounces empty means you wont leave it behind. A 500 weighs as much as a carbine or light shotgun and is about as handy as an M60. The 329 comes with express type sights, Hogue grips and is very accurate. Here's me and Jordan with the Sawtooths behind us where 50+ Griz live. The 329 is on the hip, fly rods in the scabbard.

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  25. Camp Cook

    Camp Cook Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    B.C.
    That's awesome and I totally agree with your choice...
     
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