S&W 500ES, too much gun?

S&W 500 Magnum

Many firearms can and do serve multiple purposes, such as the carry pistol you can shoot in your local matches. To me that is a good way to get more bang for your buck, pun intended, in buying a single handgun. Then there are firearms that serve a single purpose, such as the Smith and Wesson 500ES. This revolver, as far as I can tell, was designed for one thing, and that would be to put a great deal of stopping power in a small package that can easily be carried or stowed. For someone who ventures into territories that include dangerous animals and storage space is a premium, the 500ES would serve in that role well. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks due to that design. The biggest, well, is this revolver is difficult to shoot. The first shot is easy to initiate but once recoil sets in you have quite a bit of recovering to do. With the larger S&W 500 Magnums, especially with ported barrels, it is not so bad. When you lose this much barrel you loose a lot of weight at the end of the handgun. Another drawback is losing sight radius. The longer the sight radius the easier it is to place a well aimed shot, and having the front sight so close to the rear sight you have more margin for error in the sight alignment. With less barrel length you will have velocity loss, though I don’t think that is quite as big of a deal for this revolver as compared to many.

S&W 500 Magnum-4

S&W added an adjustable rear sight and a front fiber optic sight which, even with the short sight radius, I was able to get a nice sight picture. In such a handgun as this though I prefer a fixed rear sight. Adjustable sights are more fragile and prone to breakage. Since no one this side of normal would use this revolver for any sort of precision target shooting, a fixed rear sight would be plenty sufficient and more durable.

S&W 500 Magnum-3

The cylinder latch was well serrated to aid in releasing the five shot cylinder. This revolver is double action allowing you to cock the hammer for a much better trigger pull for a well aimed shot, and also able to just run the trigger when you were in a bit of a hurry. Though I am not sure how much of a hurry you could get in with follow up shots either way.

The wrap around semi soft rubber grips, slightly stippled and finger grips added a lot of cushion and controlability.

S&W 500 Magnum-7

You can see the 500gr Hornady left, and right is the 300gr LEVERevloution.

S&W 500 Magnum-2

Normally we do several range trips getting accuracy charts from a rest at twenty-five yards but after Clinton and I went through about sixty rounds, most of which Clinton shot earlier, we felt we had taken enough abuse. As expected with a revolver, there were no malfunctions and the adjustable sights held their zero. Accuracy was done off hand with well aimed shots and it was not hard to keep five rounds in a six inch circle at thirty feet. Truthfully, there was not enough barrel to rest the handgun in such a manner I felt I could maintain control so Clinton and I agreed, especially considering the role the 500ES serves, it would be fine to gauge accuracy off hand.


The 500ES is a very specialized handgun, but specialized in such a way that for many it could be practical to own. It is a steep curve learning to shoot this handgun but with enough effort it can be run well enough to be used for what it was designed for. If you want to pack some serious firepower and keep the cargo as light as you can this revolver is for you. I would highly recommend becoming proficient with it before venturing into an area you would need it for, and have an understanding of the financial cost in ammunition of learning the gun.


Caliber 500 S&W Magnum

Capacity: 5

Sights: rear adjustable, front fiber optic

Material: stainless steel

Weight (unloaded): 3.4 pounds

Barrel length: 2 3/4″

Overall length: 9″

Action: double

A huge thank you to Clinton for providing the revolver and test ammunition.

S&W 500 Magnum-6



By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

6 thoughts on “S&W 500ES, too much gun?”
  1. I’m glad that you are doing reviews on powerful revolvers As I am currently debating what I should get I’ve always wanted a big revolver I clearly know that I will not be getting a 500 Smith and Wesson as that is way too much gun for what I’m looking for I would more likely be using this for deer hunting and have focus my attention towards the 454 Casull and the 460 Smith and Wesson I like the power of the 454 Casull that also shoots 45 Long Colt but the 460 is much more versatile as you can shoot multiple rounds or calibers but I’m thinking that the 460 Smith would still be a little too much I was wondering if you have had a chance to do some shooting or have done a review on the 454 Casull in a hand gun configuration or even the Smith and Wesson 460 and what your thoughts are I would appreciate your feedback As I am looking to purchase one of these and any opinion would be awesome thanks..

    1. I have not had a chance to do a full review on the .454 Casull but I have had the chance to put a few cylinders to one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew5jaLN0KQE
      Did you see the review on the Magnum Research BFR in .45-70? Out of the 3 I have worked with that was my favorite big bore revolver. With mild .45-70 it is similar to .44 Magnum in recoil and you can go from there to 500 Magnum energy and all points in between,


  2. Thanks for the feedback I have considered the .45 70 as a honorable round for deer hunting as my grandfather has the same exact Marlin lever action rifle he also has that in a 444 I would have to say a round that large and heavy in a rifle configuration is more of a close brush gun… To me a rifle is meant to go the distance or reach out there and touch you as my grandpa would say I’m going to look into the 45 70 and see if it is possible to mount a scope on one and what the price range is but I will have to say that is a very ugly gun definitely meant for purpose and not looks I have kind of have my eyes set on a Taurus Raging Bull in 454 Casull and of course the Smith and Wesson as I know both of these firearms come with picatinny rails for mounting a scope right from the factory and the price range is not too awful bad more so with the Taurus so I guess I have a little more studying to do on what I think would suit me best just wish I had the opportunity to shoot a 454 Casull + 460 Smith as I have never shot one but here nothing but great things on either one whatever I decide on I will have to bring it by that way if you have anybody in your subscription that is interested it might help them out a little bit cuz there’s really not that much on youtube as reviews for these guns

    1. The BFR comes with a scope mount from the factory. What ever you decide to go with please let me know and it would be great to get some reviews done. Thank you very much and please keep us posted.

  3. I am an experienced revolver shooter [44] years, I started at 22 years old when I was a newly appointed Police Officer back in 1973. I never expected to become so interested and experienced with shooting revolvers. Now later in my life, I’ve become very interested in mastering Big-bore short barrel revolvers. I’ve been shooting S&W 500 magnums for the past 7 years. I just wanted to stress, that with the proper training, and a God given talent, it is possible to shoot this particular short barrel powerfull revolver, with extream “Precision Accuracy”. My goal, was to do just that and I have. After years of working up to one of the most powerfull handgun/caliber combinations, the S&W 500 magnum ES and the Hornady 300gr ftx 500 magnum round, I proved that any revolver, no matter how powerful can be mastered and shot super accurately with the right training. I shot my S&W 500 Mag. ES with those Hornady rounds from 25 yards. I shot two hands slow fire, loading one round at a time per shot. I was standing unsupported and all shooting was done “Double Action” only. I shot 5 rounds into a bullseye target into the 3″ X – Ring. All 5 shots measured a 2.25″ group size. This was off hand not a Ransom Rest, which proves the accuracy of both this revolver and caliber combination, along with the skill of the shooter!

  4. I shoot this gun regularly and you can get used to it even with heavy full magnum loads but it takes a while. To save some $$$ and have less stress I practice with .500 S&W Specials.

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