Most EXTREME Handgun Bullet: 500 S&W Magnum 700gr HAMMER!

Sometimes you need to go EXTREME! And in this article we’ll go about as extreme as you can go in the handgun world: loading and shooting 700 grain bullets in the 500 S&W Magnum revolver!

500 S&W Magnum: Setting the Standard

Here are some insights about 500 S&W Magnum that I condensed from a previous story I published.

500 S&W Magnum is what I would call a “last page gun”. Need load data? Go to the very end of the handgun loading section, and you’ll find it! It’s the largest diameter bullet for common handgun applications, and the most powerful, so you’ll always find it at the very end. But why build such a powerful handgun? Isn’t it overkill? Well, here in North America there is need for such a handgun- and I can think of no better application for the 500 S&W Magnum than full-size Alaskan bears (Grizzly/Brown bears, not so much for Black Bears). This cartridge and handgun is also ideal for hunting large (extremely large) game in any country in the world. And finally, it’s a lot of fun!

In the above picture we see an illustration of the magnitude of the 500 S&W Magnum in this “police lineup” of common handgun cartridges. From left to right we have:

Cartridge Energy
.22 Long Rifle 150 flt-lb
9mm Parabellum 400 ft-lb
45 ACP 400 ft-lb
40 S&W 450 ft-lb
10mm Auto 700 ft-lb
44 Magnum 1200 ft-lb
500 S&W Magnum (light) 550 ft-lb
500 S&W Magnum (full-power) 2000 – 2600 ft-lb

Needless to say, the 500 S&W Magnum packs an amazing punch- pushing 500 grains of lead down range at supersonic speed. It’s an amazing feeling that you can’t quantify with words- you have to experience it in person to appreciate the “experience”. Released in 2003, this cartridge is still the most powerful for handgun applications, and it’s hard to comprehend wanting for more!

Going to the MAX: 700 grain Bullets

Above: Loaded 500 S&W Magnum cartridge (left) and Matt’s 700 grain 50 caliber bullet with gas check (right)

700 grain bullets use up all of the available capacity: everywhere. The case capacity is nearly 100%, and the end of the loaded cartridge (bullet nose) barely clears the end of the revolver cylinder. This load is all about maxing things out!

This load does quite well with Hodgdon H-110– one of the most popular magnum pistol powders that’s also used for specialty applications like 300 Blackout.

Here are the load components used:

Here are the load specifics for the 700 grain bullet:

Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.

Loading 500 S&W on the RCBS Pro Chucker 5

Here’s the die station utilization for the loading I used for these loading sessions (440 grain and 700 grain loads):

Here’s the station breakdown:

  • Station 1: Sizer de-primer (removed for this loading session as I was using new Starline cases)
  • Station 2: Expander
  • Station 3: Powder measure
  • Station 4: Seater (crimp not used)
  • Station 5: Crimper (seater plug removed)

You can find more about this setup in the 500 S&W Special reloading article I published previously.

Shooting the 700 Grain Load

Shooting 500 S&W magnum is ALWAYS a kick, here’s a frame from the video where I shot some freedom munitions ammunition:

For this story, I focused on two bullets and loads, both with Matt’s hard cast bullets:

  • 440 grain flat nose
  • 700 grain flat nose

Energy, Momentum, Taylor KO Calculations

While putting together this article, I found a cool calculator for kinetic energy, momentum, and the “Taylor Knock Out number”. You can access that tool HERE. From that page:

The “Taylor Knock Out Index” was developed by John Taylor. John Talyor was an extremely experienced African hunter. His formula was based on killing thousands of large game animals with nearly any caliber you can imagine. This formula was designed to give you a relative momentum figure adjusted for bullet diameter. Taylor called it a “power yardstick” for African rifles. The higher the number the better. For example the 44 Magnum handgun, which most handgunners consider an acceptable hunting caliber with its standard 240 grain load at 1400 fps with a 0.429 diameter bullet gets a Taylor KO of 20 (try that above). A fairly typical 454 Casull 300 grain handgun load gets a Taylor KO of 30.  A standard 12 gauge shotgun slug load gets a Taylor KO of 53.

The 440 grain bullets produced a LOT of recoil, and tremendous velocity/energy:

It was interesting to compare these numbers with the 700 grain load:

So essentially, the 700 grain load has the knock down power of a 12 gauge shotgun slug load- WOW!

The 700 grain load actually felt about the same as the 440 grain load! Hard to believe. What was really different was the “push”. Due to momentum, I had to hold a “target  low” at 20 yards to hit center of mass (about 8-10″). CRAZY. What’s more: the high-speed camera showed almost no “flame ball” for either the 440 grain load or the 700 grain load. I’m sure if I had a short barrel, things would be different!

Destructive Testing

I thought it would to do some “rough tests” to see what kind of penetration power the 440 grain and 700 grain loads would have. As seen in the video, neither bullet could penetrate the ~14″ deep “wood log test”. They both went about 3/4 of the way through.

These bullets also performed about the same with a concrete block- penetrating both “partitions” in the first block, but not penetrating the second block at all (just moving it).

Above: 440 grain 500 S&W Magnum penetration test with two concrete blocks

I’ve barely even scratched the surface in terms of “destructive testing”. This type of testing is partly for fun, and partly for the good of science. Either way, I want to do more!

Get your Matt’s Bullets

Matt makes some great bullets, and they are quite affordable! To shop his site, click on the image below:

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