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  • .500 vs .50

    I'm wondering what, if any, differences there are between the .500 handguns and the .50 calibre handgun.
    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

  • #2
    There are differences, but not which you can tell by the 500 or 50 name.

    The 500 Linebaugh uses 0.510" bullets.

    The 500 S&W uses 0.500" bullets.

    The 50AE uses 0.500" bullets.

    The 50-70 uses 0.510" bullets.

    Unfortunately cartridge names have no direct correlation to bullet diameters.

    The US government has classified handguns with bores over 1/2" 0.500" as destructive devices, same catagory as machine guns and silencers which require special licenses to manufacture and purchase. I have yet to read any clarification on whether the way the 1/2" is tested is based on the bullet dia, or the dia of a rod that can be passed through the barrel. The 500 Linebaugh uses a barrel with 0.006" deep lands, so a 0.500" won't pass through it.

    I hope this didn't cause too much confusion. It would have been nice if the manufacturers had settled on a bullet dia.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    • #3
      Cartridge

      The big difference is the cartridge itself not the bullet or bullet diameter.

      "The S&W .500 cartridge is based on a new case that looks like a scaled-up .454Casull case. It is a typical straight, rimmed case designed for use in revolvers. The rim diameter is .556", the body diameter is .528", the maximum case length is 1.625", and the overall cartridge length is 2.10". The actual bullet diameter is .500". Here is some reloading data courtesy of the Hodgdon Powder Company:

      Starting Load - 275 grain Barnes XPB bullet, 42.0 grains of H-110 powder, MV 1965 fps, 43,900 PSI.

      Maximum Load - 400 grain Sierra JSP bullet, 40.0 grains of H-110 powder, MV 1721 fps, 49,700 PSI."

      "The .50 AE was designed to fit the .44 magnum desert eagle so it was designed with the same rim diameter (.514"), case length (1.285"), and cartridge overall length (1.61") as the .44 Magnum. The .50 AE uses a straight walled rimless case with a rebated rim and a slight body taper. Its bullet diameter is .500". The SAAMI maximum average pressure for the .50 AE is 35,000 psi."

      As you can see, these cartridges, even though they have the same bullet diameter are in two completely different categories. Obviously, the SW 500 is able to withstand greater pressure and hence larger loads than the AE. It is also almost a half inch longer.

      Unfortunately, my resources do not have information on case measurements or history of the other cartridges Paul listed, but I am sure you can find it with some searching on the net. Hope this leads you on the right path.
      "A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

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      • #4
        .510s

        There is the .50 Alaskan as well. A .348 Winchester case blown straight out.
        The 500 Linebaugh is based on the same finished case trimmed to 1.4" and the 500 Linebaugh Long is trimmed to 1.6".
        Both of the 500 Linebaugh cartridges can be fired in the .50 Alaskan.

        To me, these are the most practical of the .50 cal. cartridges out there.

        I did some pretty extensive testing of the 50AE in a Desert Eagle and a Freedom Arms 555.
        It was a good idea but no lead bullets in the DE and the fact that you have to use a taper crimp in both guns limited the cartridge's potential. I wasn't able to drive the cast bullets out of the 555 to ~1200 - 1300 fps due to the taper crimp. The bullets would pull before getting there.

        I've had some experience with the .500 S&W in an Smith revolver and the NEF Handi-Rifle. I just wasn't impressed. A whole lot of fireworks and recoil for decent load. That revolver is HUGE too.

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        • #5
          So what would be the most powerful handgun made today (and not specialty ordered)?
          "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

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          • #6
            More Power

            I would say that honor goes to the 500 S&W. The Linebaugh's were made to operate at lower pressure than the S&W and can't match it's smack with 400-450 grain bullets. The 460 is still a 45 caliber and will not match the killing power of the 475 LB or the 500 S&W or the 500 Wyoming express. The 500 WE is new and I have not seen one but it's advertised ballistics are not any better than I have seen from the 500 S&W. The 500 S&W is too big to carry so I'll still use my 4" Redhark in 475 LB, it's small and dainty. Good shootin'.

            Murphy
            Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?


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            • #7
              I have to agree with murphy here. The SW500 is a behemoth. I dont know if you are looking at purchasing a handgun, but the SW500 is a big gun to shoot. The recoil isnt bad, but it takes alot of practice, and alot of money (ammo is expensive) to master this cartridge.
              "A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

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              • #8
                I plan on buying a 4" .500 S&W for bear defense. I don't want to target shoot with it, I just want a better critter defense, and something compact.
                "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

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                • #9
                  I currently own the 4" model. I must say, if you get a chance, or know someone that has one, take it out for a few shots before purchasing. I always try and make it a point to shoot before buying. I purchased the gun for the same purpose, but after a few trips to the range to acclimate myself to the cartridge, I realized this one is going to take some more work to make sure I am able to hit what I am aiming at when I am under an adrenaline rush from a charging bear. Needless to say, I have spent alot more time and money at the range than I would with a 44mag for instance. Please dont take this as me pushing you away from the gun. It is a blast to shoot and a great firearm. Just trying to share my personal experience. Good luck in purchase and I hope you don ever have to use it.

                  Also, just in case you are interested, S&W just released a 2-3/4" barrell version of the SW500. They call is the Model 500ES. It is supposed to be for emergency survival. For a packing gun, for protection purposes, this is a handy size. A nice thing about this model is no port compensator. It increases recoil, but decreases noise and I do not like the fact that you have to change the 4" compensator depending on the bullets you are using.
                  "A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

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                  • #10
                    How does this 2 3/4" gun shoot? Has anyone here had experience with it? Could it handle the Buffalo Bore ammo? I would guess it wouldn't be very accurate at all.
                    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

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                    • #11
                      I have the 4" S&W 500 and LOVE it.

                      It IS huge, but I carry it with me always when afield. I bought a nice leather hip holster for it and it doesn't weigh me down too much.

                      I have shot a .357 that kicks worse than my 500, and I also believe my friends 454 Casull kicks worse with the bear loads in it. So will disagree, but this is just my opinion after shoot several hundred rounds through my gun.

                      I will say that it is the LOUDEST handgun I have ever shot. Use ear protection EVERY time.

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                      • #12
                        Smith And Wesson

                        I have a smith and wesson model 500 with 4" barrel. Nothing (pistol) can compare to it for bear defense. It is the most powerful pistol in the world. Bar none. Shooting Buffalo Bore 430 gr at 1975 fps for almost 2,600 ft/lbs. That is amazing power to fit on your hip. They make a snub nose version now. Called the survival kit. For close range bear protection, you just cant beat it. Not just the size and power, but the overall quality is what impressed me the most. One of the smoothest actions of any pistol I have ever shot. You shoot one, and you will buy one. Amazing gun!!!
                        The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by adfraiser View Post
                          I have to agree with murphy here. The SW500 is a behemoth. I dont know if you are looking at purchasing a handgun, but the SW500 is a big gun to shoot. The recoil isnt bad, but it takes alot of practice, and alot of money (ammo is expensive) to master this cartridge.
                          Can you say "reload"? Best answer for heavy handgun rounds v. cost...

                          bd

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