Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing

The 500 S&W is a rare example of “more bite than bark.” It is arguably ‘the most powerful handgun on Earth (in current factory production).’ With a case measuring over 1.5” long and operating at 60,000 PSI chamber pressure, the 500 S&W Magnum is capable of ethically hunting all North American game (with proper marksmanship) and is reasonably capable of repelling brown bear when using heavy hardcast projectiles.

Readers of this website will hopefully agree that I do not exaggerate in my writing. Here is a good way to picture the terminal effectiveness of this cartridge (assuming a 8” barrel length is in use) : the kinetic energy at the muzzle tops out at 3000 ft-lbf. This is equivalent to a 30-06 Springfield rifle muzzle energy. One of the benefits to using a handgun of this power instead of a rifle is the increased sectional density of the pistol rounds and the lower length-to-diameter ratio discourages tumbling. These two effects lead to a potentially very deep-penetrating round that is ideal for emergency use against dangerous game animals.

This firearm is mostly for handgun hunting by handgun hunters of the highest skill level. It certainly can be used as a ‘nightstand gun’ but I think that the muzzle blast would be potentially overwhelming if fired from a closed space. Only practice (while wearing hearing protection) can sort this issue out to your satisfaction. Recall that the 275gr Barnes Expander bullet penetrated to 19.5 inches of 10% ballistic gelatin. This is far deeper than the optimal 12.0” of penetration but it is usually preferable to be deeper rather than have shallow penetrating bullets during a defensive shooting.

It would be my desire to see a JHP that penetrates to the neighborhood of 12.0” in 10% gelatin when propelled by a maximum charge out of a 4-inch barrel length. This would represent the maximum effectiveness in handguns used for personal protection but would require a heavy revolver and some recoil mitigating technologies in order to be useful.

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10-percent Ballistic Gelatin Shots
See how well this caliber stacks up against the FBI performance requirement of expansion and 12.0” or deeper penetration depth.


20-percent Ballistic Gelatin Shots
See how well this caliber stacks up in military-standard performance evaluations.

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