500 S&W Reloading Without Breaking the Bank!

Big guns, big bullets, big smiles — handloading with Berry’s plated bullets means your costs don’t have to be. 


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About Berry’s Plated Bullets

 Plated bullets are generally less expensive than jacketed bullets, though they still perform exceptionally well. We’ve done a lot of work with Berry’s plated bullets: 

From Berrysmfg.com:

Berry’s Superior Plated Bullets® are the finest bonded copper-jacketed bullets available today. Starting with a swaged lead core, they are electroplated with copper to their final weight, leaving no lead exposure. They are then re-struck to precise specifications, ensuring a solid bond and providing consistency with every round. Indoor range safe and unbelievably accurate, Berry’s Superior Plated Bullets® are the choice of shooters everywhere.

Gavin considers the 350 grain bullet a great all-around bullet for shooting targets. Hornady manufactures a 350 grain hollow point load. Though 350 grains is powerful, some may consider it light for a 500 S&W. These plated bullets measure 0.500” with a round shoulder and have a lead core. 



They are limited to 2,000 feet per second, but our handloads stayed well under that number.  Pro tip – do not over crimp! 

The bullets are also cannelured, ideal for use as a benchmark for crimping (a good idea with magnums). 

Loading Setup

A progressive is a great way to quickly produce ammunition in volume. 

Today we’re using the RCBS Pro Chucker 5. There’s also a RCBS Pro Chucker 7— both are featured in the progressive press shootout



The Pro Chucker 5 has 5 stations and a case activated powder measure. We also have it equipped with a KMS Squared UFO light and Inline Fabrication Ultramount and heavy duty side bin bracket . This light is great for doing your powder check prior to bullet seating. 


From RCBS: 

The new RCBS® Pro Chucker 5 Auto Index Progressive Press is the next level in reloading efficiency and customization. It features five-station automatic indexing for maximum production, with a load rate of approximately 600 rounds per hour. The quick-change die plate allows fast caliber change over for even greater efficiency. Standard primer pick up tubes are used with the safety-shielded priming system. Spent primers are efficiently dropped from the bottom of the press to be captured in a trash receptacle. The powder measure is fitted with Quick Change metering components that allow you to drain powder without removing the measure from the press. You can also quickly swap out preset metering screws for dispensing the new powder. Plus, the new Pro Chucker 5 is the first progressive press that can be converted from five- to seven-station operation.

    • Five-station auto indexing
    • 4.625″ operating window
    • Quick-change die plate
    • Quick Change powder measure metering components
    • Die cast aluminum frame
    • Zerk fitting for lubrication
    • Loaded cartridge bin
    • Load rate ~600 rounds per hour (pistol)
    • Limited lifetime warranty
    • Made in U.S.A.

This isn’t the first time Ultimate Reloader’s used this setup with 500 S&W and 500 S&W special. Gavin machined some spacers to preserve the die lock ring settings. 

Above photo taken from 40S&W story

These spacers are equal to the difference in case length between the special and the magnum. 


Our 350 grain 500 S&W Handload: 

  • 350 Grain Berry’s Plated Bullet (.500” diameter) 
  • 40 grains H110
  • Federal 210 Large Rifle Primer
  • 1354 fps average velocity 

Hodgdon’s H110 is the first powder I turn to when loading for powerful, magnum handguns. There is a tight window of powder charges. 

For this load, we could go from 39 to 43 grains. H110 doesn’t like to burn at powder weights less than 90 or 95%. 

Hodgdon recommends a magnum large rifle primer. Moving forward, we’d like to compare the large rifle primer and magnum large rifle primer. 

Ballistics Gel Testing

We use Clear Ballistics Gel to determine bullet expansion and penetration. While synthetic ballistics gelatin will not 100% reflect what a bullet will do to a human or animal, it provides us with valuable data and allows us to compare the performance of different bullets and different loads.

This Hornady 7mm 150gr CX Bullet penetrated 33” at  3200 fps.

American-made Clear Ballistics Gel is reusable. It can be melted down and utilized again for even more tests. Consult ClearBallistics.com to view all of their offerings!

Gavin likes the 500 S&W for stress relief. Personally, I wouldn’t want to shoot a 100 rounds of it. It’s a gun you bring out as a novelty to show your friends.

The 350 Grain Berry’s plated bullet isn’t an expanding bullet, so we set up the ballistics gel just for fun. I must confess, I made a mistake. I set up two blocks, 32 inches, of ballistics gel thinking it would be enough. The bullet penetrated straight through like an arrow. 

We often see bullets yaw and move different directions. Expanding bullets produce a sort of sideways hot air balloon shape. This plated bullet produced a linear “wound channel.” I attempted to recover the bullet, but was unsuccessful.

Gavin speculates that the bullet wouldn’t be much to look at. It would have some rifling and otherwise be mostly pristine, as most other non-expanding bullets do. The real question is how far it would have penetrated with more gel. 


500 S&W handloads with Berry’s plated bullets are very economical with great penetration.

Aside from fun, the real question is what you may realistically use a 500 S&W revolver for. Though it may seem overkill at first, protection from grizzlies or bear hunting may be viable purposes. Practicing long shots with the 500 S&W could be fun, as well as seeing how accurately we could shoot such a heavy-recoiling pistol. The first step would be single action  before moving to double action. Lawnmowers, pumpkins and pine boards are also potential targets. Let us know what we should do with the 500 S&W next! 

Get the Gear! 

Find the .500 350 grain round shoulder Berry’s plated bullets direct from Berry’s – currently $91.99 for 150 count and $180.99 for 500 count.

The RCBS Pro Chucker 5 Progressive Reloading Press is directly available from RCBS for $736.99 as of this posting. 

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Guy Miner

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