The S&W Model 500 is a double-action revolver with a five-shot cylinder, produced by Smith & Wesson. The Model 500 is chambered for .500 S&W Magnum, designed specifically for hunting purposes and marketed as the "World's most powerful handgun".
The Model 500 is built with an X-frame, the biggest frame size that Smith & Wesson produce, to cope with the .500 S&W Magnum cartridge, the largest and most powerful cartridge that Smith & Wesson revolvers use. Made entirely from stainless steel the frame is strong enough to cope with the power produced from the cartridge.
The weapon is fitted with a recoil reducing "Effective Muzzle Compensator", which reduces the recoil produced by lowering the muzzle velocity (albeit very slightly). Otherwise the barrel of the Model 500 is available in lengths of 4in, 6.5in, 8.75in and 10.5in made from stainless steel.
It suffers from an excessive amount of gas leakage when fired, as demonstrated on the television series Mythbusters. The gas leakage occurs around the cylinder area when the gun is fired and is capable of burning the user when used. Special training is required for novices when they purchase a Model 500.
The Model 500 is chambered for the .500 S&W Magnum cartridge, one of the world's most powerful cartridges and the biggest that Smith & Wesson use. The weapon was specifically designed for this immensely powerful caliber, hence the X-Frame size, as no other Smith & Wesson revolver could cope with the force of the shot.
The Model 500 has been produced in a variety of forms, as well as spawning the smaller (in terms of caliber) Model 460, which was adopted by the Smith & Wesson Performace Centre and has become the "highest velocity revolver on earth". The Model 500 has been produced in the following forms:
- Model 500 ES ("Emergency Survival") - A short barreled (2.75 in) version of the Model 500 designed as a self-defense gun rather than a hunting revolver. Discontinued in 2009.
- Model 500 HIVIZ - A limited edition version of the Model 500 an interchangeable 8.375 in barrel made from high-grade stainless steel.
- Model 500 (custom) - A customized version of the Model 500 fitted with a 10 in rifle barrel, produced by Lothar-Walther. Finished in a matte stainless steel.
- Bone Collector - A limited edition of the Model 500 with a custom finish.
The Model 460 is a newer line of X-Frame revolvers (released in 2005), counterpart to the Model 500 line. The Model 460 uses the same frame and mechanisms, except that it is chambered in the smaller .460 S&W Magnum cartridge.
The Model 500 is sold as the "world's most powerful handgun" by Smith & Wesson, and is by a distance the most powerful production revolver on the market. Its large caliber makes the weapon a popular hunting revolver. The Smith & Wesson Performance Centre produces customized versions of the weapon which can be built to almost any specification.
The Model 500 had also sparked a new market in the revolver market, focused around the .500 S&W Magnum cartridge. These revolvers include the JTL-E .500 S&W Magnum, Taurus Raging Bull (slightly modified design) and the Magnum Research BFR among others.