Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Gun Fight Friday: Colt 1911 vs. S&W 500

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Gun Nuts
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

June 07, 2013

Gun Fight Friday: Colt 1911 vs. S&W 500

By Phil Bourjaily

This week’s Gun Fight features a pair of guns for actual gun fighting. It’s a classic matchup of revolver vs. semiauto with a twist: The revolver out-magnums Dirty Harry’s .44 by a wide margin.

First, the semiauto: It requires no introduction, but I’ll introduce it anyway. John Browning’s 1911 pistol has been everywhere and done everything in the past 102 years. The .45 ACP cartridge was adopted by the armed services after the .38 proved ineffective against Moro tribesmen in the Philippines. This is a full-size 1911 but it is slender enough to ride in a holster or, as reader Bob Camarata explains, holsterless, between belt and hip. Camarata carried the gun as a police officer in Waterloo, Iowa, and carries it still—now with the addition of Trijicon night sights.

Tim Flannery’s revolver, on the other hand, is not a classic carry gun. It’s a 2 ¾-inch barreled S &W Model 500—a chunk of a revolver that weighs around 3 ½ pounds. Developed as a hunting gun, the S &W 500 debuted in 2003. It was built on a new X-Frame, the biggest S &W makes. A small number were made with 2 ¾-inch barrels as bear guns, I guess, and that’s the model Flannery has adopted as a carry and trail gun. No matter how reliable a semiauto may be, a revolver is more reliable. And while many gun owners might not make the same choice, Flannery makes an interesting case for it. Keep an open mind as you ponder your vote.

Bob Camarata’s Colt 1911

This is a Generation 70 Colt 1911 in .45 ACP, which I purchased new in 1970. I carried it as a backup duty arm while working as a patrol officer in the early 1970s, because I didn’t trust my life to our required duty gun—a .38 S &W revolver. In truth, it was the only gun I reached for on the rare occasion when I had to pull one.
 
It has a flat mainspring housing and Rosewood grips that I installed myself, and a Colt Commander hammer and trigger. A Waterloo Police Dept. armorer lowered the ejection port a bit, polished the feed ramp, and stoned the trigger, sear, and hammer engagements for me. The Colt has a 4 ½- to 5-pound trigger, so it is not a hair trigger by any means, but is smooth as glass and breaks clean.
 
On the rare occasion that I worked undercover, the Colt was my only weapon, and I chose to use the “Mexican Carry,” sliding the piece under my belt inside the pants on my right hip.

This gun has never failed me, including tens of thousands of rounds in combat pistol shoots. Were I to ever get in a gun fight, on a Friday, or any other night of the week, this would gun will be my choice.

Tim Flannery’s S &W Model 500

One day while I was selling a couple handguns, I saw an even dozen Smith & Wesson 500 2 ¾ inch in the case. They looked like they might be fun to play with so I bought one. For the same reason I’m partial to .44 Magnums I like this 500. I can handload anything from a soft-shooting plinker to something that will stop anything. Even with factory loads I enjoy shooting this. Federal makes a round with the 275-grain Barnes. It is easy to control. I started carrying the 500 with 385-grain handloads for hiking the high country in Colorado. I’ve grown to carry it everywhere now. In town, I carry the 275-grain and a speedloader loaded with 400-grain. I have found that wood grips are easier to control than the black Hogue rubber grips that came with it.

Want to see your favorite firearm in a Gun Fight Friday? Send a brief paragraph and a profile picture of your gun against a plain background (couches, tabletops, and beds all count as “plain”) to FSGunNuts@gmail.com.

Comments (55)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Amflyer wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Four hundred years from now, somebody will post a picture of the revolver on this website, and our great-great-great-greats will offer their opinions and conjectures on just what the hell it was for....then they'll go clean the 1911 that was passed down from ole Grandpa Amflyer....

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from idduckhntr wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I'll take the 1911. Why any one would carry a 2 3/4 in 500 baffles me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I am a wheel gun guy, but I voted for the 1911. Maybe if the S&W 500 had a longer barrel........

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

This one was easy. The 1911.

The 500's owner statement was typical of some other 500 owners that I know. They say, "I can handload plinker rounds if I want to." But really, they don't, and they don't carry their pistols anywhere except to the range, once in a great while. Mostly they collect dust. A 2.75 in 500? Does he also have a pickup with the plastic testicles hanging on the rear bumper?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I voted for the 1911, the barrel length on that revolver is ridiculous.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from BELinMA wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I find it instructive that the author found that many snubby 500s in the case and didn't immediately realize that there was a *reason*. Any bets on whether they were brought in with a box of ammo having 3 expended rounds: :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

No question the 1911 is a more versatile gun. The revolver may be a good carry while out in bear country.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I think it is an unfair comparison. The 1911 should be put up against one of the many clones like say a browning hi-power or one of the many fine 45 clones. I've shot a S&W in the longer barreled 500 and it is a handful, I could' t begin to see using one with a 2 3/4 inch, but I guess the muzzle blast would be enough to deter just about anyone.
I sent you a pic of my savage 99 I can't wait to see what you put it up against. A little background on that rifle. It was made in 1951 or 52. I bought it in 1974. The action is really smooth and it is all original. The trigger is a little stiff and it is a bit heavy No aluminum parts on this gun. I use it primaily in the deer woods of Pensylvania and West Virgnia altho with the right handloads it would do for a medium range elk and black bear rifle. Thanks for considering it

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jason Gruber wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Reminds me of the .38 snub nose that Bruce Willis took a helicoptor down with. I also am partial to revolvers. I'm going with the 500.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

If I tote the S&W, I'll have to wear both suspenders and a belt to keep my pants up, and my kids will subject me to some ridicule.

On the other hand, I kind of like the idea of how much flame will blast out of the 2 1/2 barrel, blinding my opponents, myself, and the cameras on the passing flock of drones should I have to use it for self or family defense.

But I think I'll just hold on to my Colt Commander- now I know what to call my carry style- "Mexican" which makes me feel even better about it than when I called it, to myself, Montana IWB (I'm dreaming of some Milt Sparks leather for it when I get a few bills paid off). I vote 1911, and I really like AMflyer's comment above.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I'm a revolver man, but that Model 500 is too much of a load for me. If Flannery is going to be handloading it down to .357 Magnum levels, he would be better served with a Model 19 that is a pound lighter in weight.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Dawson wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Personally, any gun that I'd use to protect a life would needs to have readily purchasable ammo. I can buy 45ACP most places. What's the availability of 500S&W?

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I think the .500 could be used to shoot marine locator flares.
A friend bought one and lots of ammo to go with it. He immediately built a glass enclosed display case for it and put it in there without ever firing it. No thanks, I will stick with my .45auto.
I shot my chrony with my .45auto one time, it carried it a ways down range - tripod and all. That's all the power I need.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shootstir wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The .500 would make for a great backup hammer in my toolbox.....stick with the M1911. Half a million GI's and their offspring who are still shooting them can't be wrong.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

My concealed carry is a Rock Island in .45ACP.
My closet also contains an 8 3/8 S&W Mod 57 and a 4" Mod 10.
I'd be afraid of what kind of collateral damage the .500 may cause!
Larry walked into our store and asked for the owner. He wanted to buy a "plinking" gun!
Larry was probably 6' 5" and went probably 325! ...and he WAS NOT FAT!
HIS "plinking" gun turned out to be a .460WM!
Some folks can handle BIG guns. I'm a "can't"!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

1911A1, you can up the firepower to a 44 Mag with a 460 Rowland kit

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Another vote for the 911.
A 2 3/4 500 doesn't make much sense to me. The one thing I like about the 500 is this. I bet if you pulled it out in confrontation the other guy would run like hell figuring if you were crazy enough to shoot that gun even once you are no one to mess with.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greenhead wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I think its an unfair matchup, as stated above. The .500 should be matched against other bear guns, and the .45 for those used on the two legged predators.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

.45 To Stay Alive. After forty plus years or so, it's hard to give up what you know you can shoot and hit with.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The 1911 was my choice, too. If I wanted personal protection against Bears it would be the 500 revolver hands down!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I'm not a fan of the .45 ACP, but the 500 S&W is a bit over the top -- going with the Browning Wunderkind 1911.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

First of all, the handgun on the right (at top of page) wouldn't be legal for game in most States regardless of cartridge....

460 Rowland Kit would turn a 45acp 1911 into a 45 Magnum

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian D Fletcher wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I first shot a .44 mag when I was 9 and my dad got his Hawes Western Marshal. That was pre Dirty Harry.
A year later when my big brother got his model 19 I got his hand me down Ruger Blackhawk in.357.
I was raised with wheelguns and love them. I shoot SASS with .357's and .45's.
I have owned 4 different model 29's including a custom 3" ported model. Like the .500 above it would be a good bear country gun but way too heavy and unmanageable in an urban defense situation.
My carry is a full size custom Springfield 1911.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

1911 hands down.
If I wanted the extra weight of that Smith I'd put a brick in my pocket..

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

WA Mtnhunter,
Out of pure curiosity, why are you not a fan of the .45.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Dang it! I put a period instead of question mark again.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

And in that comment a forgot to an "a" after "of", what is happening to my brain?!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

And in that one I forgot to put the word "put" after the word "to". It's official, i'm an idiot.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I've never been much of a handgun man, but I fell under the spell of Col. Jeff Cooper when I was about 12 and knew I had to have a 1911. I handed my entire collection of Christmas money ($50) over to my dad and had him order me a near mint surplus model by mail in, I believe, 1965. Still have it, still use it (shot it at the range a couple of weeks ago) and it is currently residing by my bed with a full magazine, about a foot away from the pump shotgun. I doubt if a better combat sidearm has been made to this day, so I'll vote for the 1911.
On the other hand, a revolver is simpler and a good snub nose .38 is probably still the best choice for concealed carry, given the bulk of the 1911. For inexpensive plinking I also prefer my little single-action .22 revolver. But the idea of shooting that short barreled S&W 500 cannon kind of make my blood run cold. Not much chance of running into a grizzly here in S. Texas so not much need for the 500.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walkingman wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I think this is a mismatch of two excellent firearms and calibers meant for two entirely different purposes. I own both 1911 Government Models and Commanders in .45acp and a S&W 500 with the 2.75" barrel.

My wife and I just returned from two weeks of hiking in Montana and Wyoming where we saw both grizzly and black bears. We carried bear pepper spray and I carried my 2.75" S&W 500 in a belt holster. We didn't have to use either but the 500 was great comfort as insurance to the pepper spray. At over four pounds loaded you don't forget the 500 is riding on your hip but it is easier to carry and a lot lighter than a rifle or shotgun.

On the other hand I believe the 1911 to be the best around pistol in spite of the design being over 100 years old. Apparently a lot of people agree, in addition to Colt, a 1911 copy is offered by S&W, Remington, Ruger, Sig, Kimber, and numerous other gun manufactures. And the .45acp has proved to be an outstanding self defense round with over 100 years of use by the military where it is still in service, and by law enforcement and by armed civilians. The 1911 in .45acp is an excellent choice for self defense but I wouldn't choose it for defense against large, dangerous, four-legged animals.

Wal-Mart may not have ammunition for the S&W 500 (or any other ammunition these days) but you might be surprised at the number of sporting goods stores that do. I hand load for the 500, not because the ammunition is scarce but because it is just too darn expensive. For defense from dangerous animals I load a 400 grain solid bullet at approximately 1,350 fps from the 2.75" barrel, this is about the same energy as a 12 gauge slug. The 500 can place all 5 shots in a 4" group at 50 yards which is much better than my 12 gauge with slugs. I also down load a 275 grain lead bullet at 1,250 fps for "plinking" that has more punch than a .357 magnum and a bit more than a .44 magnum.

Why the 2.75" barrel? I didn't want a long (8" or more) barrel on a "belt" gun and the 4" barrel is compensated. I don't like a compensated barrel on a handgun with the added noise and blast that comes back to the shooter. Also the 2.75" barrel doesn't lose a noticeable amount of velocity compared to the compensated 4" barrel. I voted for the 500.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

With the snub nose revolver palmed in your hand you can really really whip the $h** out of someone your not ready to put in a body bag. Cheers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Dallas,
Just never cared for a 7-shot heavy single action pistol. I had rather have a 6-shot heavy DA revolver minus all the gizmos, like a .41 Rem Mag. If I am going to carry an autoloader, it has to have 13+ mag capacity of 9mm +. The 1911 is a fine weapon, just not my cup of tea. If I had only one shot to fire, it would be a hot .357 or .41 Rem, not a .45 ACP. Just my personal preference not taking away from the .45 ACP

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Prefer a revolver for simplicity or operation under heavy drama. Auto's have bells and whistles.

Auto's are presently "thee side arm" I believe since military and LE bought the results of the Project SALVO. Being brief, this study declared since most is short range, the side that can expend the most ammo [fire power] tended to win.

SALVO may be right, or not. It does explain many current matters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

as has been posted already, these are two different guns for two different purposes. my choices would be; the .45 auto for social work (much easier to carry and conceal) and the .500 for hunting or for carry in big bear country. if I had a choice I would choose the .500 john ross with 5 inch uncompensated for bears or hunting. my personal preference is a short barreled .44 mag which would serve as a good choice for all purposes. besides, my old arthritic hands will not tolerate the recoil of the .500. even the .460 s&w is too much gun for me nowadays. the .460 Rowland is more powerful than the .45 auto (ed brown makes a nice one) but the .44 mag revolver is in a different league altogether for power and versatility.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The 500 makes me think of a detective special on steroids.
And we all know steroids are bad for you......

I picked the 1911.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Irving Stammreich wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

@Douglas A. McWhorter- I totally agree. You did have one heck of a brain-f**t. Loved it all.

I go for the 1911 being an army vet (retired) but for everyday shooting, I have a Charles Daly rendition of the old reliable .45 peacemaker, the pistol Sam Colt, said made all men equal. The 500 S&W is just too much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from the Preacher wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I have the 629 44mag in a 2.5 inch barrel, same size as the 500. It is my bear gun, and meant for close quarters. I love it. but what I love is that it can also be loaded w 44special. With 44 special I feel comfortable with it as a home defense gun as everyone in my family can use it, and it is fairly accurate.

Obviously the 1911 is a more versatile weapon and for the readers of this forum would be an easy to use gun due to the level of firearms training. But for emergency situations for un trained people the revolver holds some elevation.

One important note though... Even though I like the 2.5 inch 44. it is absolutely impossible to find a holster for one of these. Diamond D out of alaska can custom make them but you will never find a holster for these large frame snubbies anywhere online or at a shop. I bet anyone who has one of these is carrying it around in a holster made for a 4 inch barrel, unless they had one custom made. Any tips on appropriate fitting holsters would be appreciated .

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TLF Nevada wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The 629 in a N Frame. The 500 is an X Frame. Galco makes a holster for the X Frame 2 3/4. The grips in the picture are from Altamont and are the same as a K Frame round butt. And yes I do like the 1911. That was edited from my writing. I prefer to have one gun for carry and I was taught with revolvers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VicF wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

All things considered (power, availability of ammo, accuracy, handling, concealability, ease of reloading)make this an easy one: 1911.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Irving Stammreich,
It's Dallas, not Douglas.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

That's a lot of revolver. Too much in my opinion. I can't even shoot a .45 fast. Give me a .40...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I carried a .45 auto every day at work for three years in the Army. I hated wearing one but I loved shooting them. I can't imagine carrying or shooting that snub-nosed cannon. Don't have to do it to know I'd hate it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I will not attempt to bandy words with the more knowledgable on this site. BUT I know two things. You want dependable get a revolver. You want to stop use a WIDE/HEAVY bullet. Last but not least if you can not stop the threat with 5 or 6 rounds. Don't worry you are already dead. Please excuse last part but it is true.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sinbad7 wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Mr. Camarata, I also like the 1911 and have a series 70 (without the firing pin block of the series 80). Do you have a preferred carry method that you consider safe? WCP8

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from gjesch wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I've got an American derringer .357 that will rip your hand off. The S&W doesn't look much kinder to the limbs.
4 inches would make a world of difference.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from focusfront wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Since everything else has been said, let me put in that no, I have never fired a .500 Smith, but I have shot plenty of .50 AE, .454 Casull, .44 magnum, and have lots of time with .357s I owned. Big magnum handguns are incredibly loud, and when they are compensated they are fantastically loud. As I do not hike in the woods with muffs on the choice is being deaf or eaten by a bear with that .500 snub. Deaf, for real. Be warned.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I have recentlly started a love affair with 1911s. So my vote is obvious. Remington R1 1911 is my newest love. Sweet sweet weapon and amazingly accurate. Waiting for my rosewood grips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 44 weeks 2 days ago

I was always taught to respect our elders and the 1911 is certainly an elder, so I have to vote for the 1911.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from SoCalGunNut wrote 44 weeks 2 days ago

two legs = 1911
four legs = 500 magnum

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 44 weeks 1 day ago

SoCalGunNut, nice.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 44 weeks 1 day ago

Having fired the .500 in the Performance Shop configuration (7" barrel, brake, etc.) I would argue that it's simply too much gun for the vast majority of people. It's not even fun to shoot. I can't imagine shooting the short-barrel version, much less trying to hit anything that's not already gnawing on my gun hand.

And when it comes to hitting what I'm shooting at, that implies practice. Most folks aren't likely to spend much time at the range with this monstrosity, and even less likely when they can find ammo to feed it. Someone might roll this thing out to show off, and that's what the S&W .500 is best at... getting comments and curious stares.

The 1911 can be a bit of a handful for newer handgunners, but it's not anywhere near the .500's category for recoil and blast. With a little practice, it's not hard at all to start knocking over targets with this pistol, and ammo to practice with is usually (not counting the current madness)readily available and relatively affordable (especially compared to the .500).

As far as dual-purpose capabilities... the .45acp isn't much of a hunting round, but it's a pretty good choice for self defense against two-legged vermin. Nevertheless, of the two options here, I'd take that 1911 any day.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from blueticker wrote 43 weeks 6 days ago

If you have never owned a .41 Mag, (and I prefer S&W Mod 57's over Rugers but that's just me), you have missed out on the most versatile, accurate, and amazingly powerful handguns ever made, plus without undesirable recoil. Trust me on that one, I've never known a 41 owner who got rid of his gun in favor of another, they are that good.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 43 weeks 5 days ago

Who are we throwing in the ring tomorrow? Pre 64 Winchester Model 70 Supergrade vs a Jarrett Beanfield rifle? Yet another reason why Friday is the best day of the week. Love this place...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 43 weeks 2 days ago

I'm a Revolver guy, but in this instance for my purposes and at my age, I'd take the 1911.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HugoChess wrote 40 weeks 6 days ago

I need safe advice, I accidently purchased the 45 GAP ammo, but should have gotten the 45 AUTO ammo. Should I just get rid of the 45 GAP, or can I still safely use it on my gun that uses 45 AUTO. Please let me know. Thank you very much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Amflyer wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Four hundred years from now, somebody will post a picture of the revolver on this website, and our great-great-great-greats will offer their opinions and conjectures on just what the hell it was for....then they'll go clean the 1911 that was passed down from ole Grandpa Amflyer....

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I voted for the 1911, the barrel length on that revolver is ridiculous.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walkingman wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I think this is a mismatch of two excellent firearms and calibers meant for two entirely different purposes. I own both 1911 Government Models and Commanders in .45acp and a S&W 500 with the 2.75" barrel.

My wife and I just returned from two weeks of hiking in Montana and Wyoming where we saw both grizzly and black bears. We carried bear pepper spray and I carried my 2.75" S&W 500 in a belt holster. We didn't have to use either but the 500 was great comfort as insurance to the pepper spray. At over four pounds loaded you don't forget the 500 is riding on your hip but it is easier to carry and a lot lighter than a rifle or shotgun.

On the other hand I believe the 1911 to be the best around pistol in spite of the design being over 100 years old. Apparently a lot of people agree, in addition to Colt, a 1911 copy is offered by S&W, Remington, Ruger, Sig, Kimber, and numerous other gun manufactures. And the .45acp has proved to be an outstanding self defense round with over 100 years of use by the military where it is still in service, and by law enforcement and by armed civilians. The 1911 in .45acp is an excellent choice for self defense but I wouldn't choose it for defense against large, dangerous, four-legged animals.

Wal-Mart may not have ammunition for the S&W 500 (or any other ammunition these days) but you might be surprised at the number of sporting goods stores that do. I hand load for the 500, not because the ammunition is scarce but because it is just too darn expensive. For defense from dangerous animals I load a 400 grain solid bullet at approximately 1,350 fps from the 2.75" barrel, this is about the same energy as a 12 gauge slug. The 500 can place all 5 shots in a 4" group at 50 yards which is much better than my 12 gauge with slugs. I also down load a 275 grain lead bullet at 1,250 fps for "plinking" that has more punch than a .357 magnum and a bit more than a .44 magnum.

Why the 2.75" barrel? I didn't want a long (8" or more) barrel on a "belt" gun and the 4" barrel is compensated. I don't like a compensated barrel on a handgun with the added noise and blast that comes back to the shooter. Also the 2.75" barrel doesn't lose a noticeable amount of velocity compared to the compensated 4" barrel. I voted for the 500.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from SoCalGunNut wrote 44 weeks 2 days ago

two legs = 1911
four legs = 500 magnum

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 43 weeks 5 days ago

Who are we throwing in the ring tomorrow? Pre 64 Winchester Model 70 Supergrade vs a Jarrett Beanfield rifle? Yet another reason why Friday is the best day of the week. Love this place...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from idduckhntr wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I'll take the 1911. Why any one would carry a 2 3/4 in 500 baffles me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

This one was easy. The 1911.

The 500's owner statement was typical of some other 500 owners that I know. They say, "I can handload plinker rounds if I want to." But really, they don't, and they don't carry their pistols anywhere except to the range, once in a great while. Mostly they collect dust. A 2.75 in 500? Does he also have a pickup with the plastic testicles hanging on the rear bumper?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

No question the 1911 is a more versatile gun. The revolver may be a good carry while out in bear country.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I think it is an unfair comparison. The 1911 should be put up against one of the many clones like say a browning hi-power or one of the many fine 45 clones. I've shot a S&W in the longer barreled 500 and it is a handful, I could' t begin to see using one with a 2 3/4 inch, but I guess the muzzle blast would be enough to deter just about anyone.
I sent you a pic of my savage 99 I can't wait to see what you put it up against. A little background on that rifle. It was made in 1951 or 52. I bought it in 1974. The action is really smooth and it is all original. The trigger is a little stiff and it is a bit heavy No aluminum parts on this gun. I use it primaily in the deer woods of Pensylvania and West Virgnia altho with the right handloads it would do for a medium range elk and black bear rifle. Thanks for considering it

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jason Gruber wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Reminds me of the .38 snub nose that Bruce Willis took a helicoptor down with. I also am partial to revolvers. I'm going with the 500.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

My concealed carry is a Rock Island in .45ACP.
My closet also contains an 8 3/8 S&W Mod 57 and a 4" Mod 10.
I'd be afraid of what kind of collateral damage the .500 may cause!
Larry walked into our store and asked for the owner. He wanted to buy a "plinking" gun!
Larry was probably 6' 5" and went probably 325! ...and he WAS NOT FAT!
HIS "plinking" gun turned out to be a .460WM!
Some folks can handle BIG guns. I'm a "can't"!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greenhead wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I think its an unfair matchup, as stated above. The .500 should be matched against other bear guns, and the .45 for those used on the two legged predators.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The 1911 was my choice, too. If I wanted personal protection against Bears it would be the 500 revolver hands down!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian D Fletcher wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I first shot a .44 mag when I was 9 and my dad got his Hawes Western Marshal. That was pre Dirty Harry.
A year later when my big brother got his model 19 I got his hand me down Ruger Blackhawk in.357.
I was raised with wheelguns and love them. I shoot SASS with .357's and .45's.
I have owned 4 different model 29's including a custom 3" ported model. Like the .500 above it would be a good bear country gun but way too heavy and unmanageable in an urban defense situation.
My carry is a full size custom Springfield 1911.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

WA Mtnhunter,
Out of pure curiosity, why are you not a fan of the .45.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Dang it! I put a period instead of question mark again.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

And in that comment a forgot to an "a" after "of", what is happening to my brain?!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

And in that one I forgot to put the word "put" after the word "to". It's official, i'm an idiot.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Dallas,
Just never cared for a 7-shot heavy single action pistol. I had rather have a 6-shot heavy DA revolver minus all the gizmos, like a .41 Rem Mag. If I am going to carry an autoloader, it has to have 13+ mag capacity of 9mm +. The 1911 is a fine weapon, just not my cup of tea. If I had only one shot to fire, it would be a hot .357 or .41 Rem, not a .45 ACP. Just my personal preference not taking away from the .45 ACP

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Prefer a revolver for simplicity or operation under heavy drama. Auto's have bells and whistles.

Auto's are presently "thee side arm" I believe since military and LE bought the results of the Project SALVO. Being brief, this study declared since most is short range, the side that can expend the most ammo [fire power] tended to win.

SALVO may be right, or not. It does explain many current matters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

as has been posted already, these are two different guns for two different purposes. my choices would be; the .45 auto for social work (much easier to carry and conceal) and the .500 for hunting or for carry in big bear country. if I had a choice I would choose the .500 john ross with 5 inch uncompensated for bears or hunting. my personal preference is a short barreled .44 mag which would serve as a good choice for all purposes. besides, my old arthritic hands will not tolerate the recoil of the .500. even the .460 s&w is too much gun for me nowadays. the .460 Rowland is more powerful than the .45 auto (ed brown makes a nice one) but the .44 mag revolver is in a different league altogether for power and versatility.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I will not attempt to bandy words with the more knowledgable on this site. BUT I know two things. You want dependable get a revolver. You want to stop use a WIDE/HEAVY bullet. Last but not least if you can not stop the threat with 5 or 6 rounds. Don't worry you are already dead. Please excuse last part but it is true.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 44 weeks 2 days ago

I was always taught to respect our elders and the 1911 is certainly an elder, so I have to vote for the 1911.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 44 weeks 1 day ago

SoCalGunNut, nice.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from blueticker wrote 43 weeks 6 days ago

If you have never owned a .41 Mag, (and I prefer S&W Mod 57's over Rugers but that's just me), you have missed out on the most versatile, accurate, and amazingly powerful handguns ever made, plus without undesirable recoil. Trust me on that one, I've never known a 41 owner who got rid of his gun in favor of another, they are that good.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I am a wheel gun guy, but I voted for the 1911. Maybe if the S&W 500 had a longer barrel........

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BELinMA wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I find it instructive that the author found that many snubby 500s in the case and didn't immediately realize that there was a *reason*. Any bets on whether they were brought in with a box of ammo having 3 expended rounds: :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

If I tote the S&W, I'll have to wear both suspenders and a belt to keep my pants up, and my kids will subject me to some ridicule.

On the other hand, I kind of like the idea of how much flame will blast out of the 2 1/2 barrel, blinding my opponents, myself, and the cameras on the passing flock of drones should I have to use it for self or family defense.

But I think I'll just hold on to my Colt Commander- now I know what to call my carry style- "Mexican" which makes me feel even better about it than when I called it, to myself, Montana IWB (I'm dreaming of some Milt Sparks leather for it when I get a few bills paid off). I vote 1911, and I really like AMflyer's comment above.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

I'm a revolver man, but that Model 500 is too much of a load for me. If Flannery is going to be handloading it down to .357 Magnum levels, he would be better served with a Model 19 that is a pound lighter in weight.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

1911A1, you can up the firepower to a 44 Mag with a 460 Rowland kit

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Another vote for the 911.
A 2 3/4 500 doesn't make much sense to me. The one thing I like about the 500 is this. I bet if you pulled it out in confrontation the other guy would run like hell figuring if you were crazy enough to shoot that gun even once you are no one to mess with.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

.45 To Stay Alive. After forty plus years or so, it's hard to give up what you know you can shoot and hit with.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I've never been much of a handgun man, but I fell under the spell of Col. Jeff Cooper when I was about 12 and knew I had to have a 1911. I handed my entire collection of Christmas money ($50) over to my dad and had him order me a near mint surplus model by mail in, I believe, 1965. Still have it, still use it (shot it at the range a couple of weeks ago) and it is currently residing by my bed with a full magazine, about a foot away from the pump shotgun. I doubt if a better combat sidearm has been made to this day, so I'll vote for the 1911.
On the other hand, a revolver is simpler and a good snub nose .38 is probably still the best choice for concealed carry, given the bulk of the 1911. For inexpensive plinking I also prefer my little single-action .22 revolver. But the idea of shooting that short barreled S&W 500 cannon kind of make my blood run cold. Not much chance of running into a grizzly here in S. Texas so not much need for the 500.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

With the snub nose revolver palmed in your hand you can really really whip the $h** out of someone your not ready to put in a body bag. Cheers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The 500 makes me think of a detective special on steroids.
And we all know steroids are bad for you......

I picked the 1911.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Irving Stammreich wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

@Douglas A. McWhorter- I totally agree. You did have one heck of a brain-f**t. Loved it all.

I go for the 1911 being an army vet (retired) but for everyday shooting, I have a Charles Daly rendition of the old reliable .45 peacemaker, the pistol Sam Colt, said made all men equal. The 500 S&W is just too much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from the Preacher wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I have the 629 44mag in a 2.5 inch barrel, same size as the 500. It is my bear gun, and meant for close quarters. I love it. but what I love is that it can also be loaded w 44special. With 44 special I feel comfortable with it as a home defense gun as everyone in my family can use it, and it is fairly accurate.

Obviously the 1911 is a more versatile weapon and for the readers of this forum would be an easy to use gun due to the level of firearms training. But for emergency situations for un trained people the revolver holds some elevation.

One important note though... Even though I like the 2.5 inch 44. it is absolutely impossible to find a holster for one of these. Diamond D out of alaska can custom make them but you will never find a holster for these large frame snubbies anywhere online or at a shop. I bet anyone who has one of these is carrying it around in a holster made for a 4 inch barrel, unless they had one custom made. Any tips on appropriate fitting holsters would be appreciated .

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TLF Nevada wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The 629 in a N Frame. The 500 is an X Frame. Galco makes a holster for the X Frame 2 3/4. The grips in the picture are from Altamont and are the same as a K Frame round butt. And yes I do like the 1911. That was edited from my writing. I prefer to have one gun for carry and I was taught with revolvers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VicF wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

All things considered (power, availability of ammo, accuracy, handling, concealability, ease of reloading)make this an easy one: 1911.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Irving Stammreich,
It's Dallas, not Douglas.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

That's a lot of revolver. Too much in my opinion. I can't even shoot a .45 fast. Give me a .40...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I carried a .45 auto every day at work for three years in the Army. I hated wearing one but I loved shooting them. I can't imagine carrying or shooting that snub-nosed cannon. Don't have to do it to know I'd hate it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sinbad7 wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Mr. Camarata, I also like the 1911 and have a series 70 (without the firing pin block of the series 80). Do you have a preferred carry method that you consider safe? WCP8

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from gjesch wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I've got an American derringer .357 that will rip your hand off. The S&W doesn't look much kinder to the limbs.
4 inches would make a world of difference.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from focusfront wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Since everything else has been said, let me put in that no, I have never fired a .500 Smith, but I have shot plenty of .50 AE, .454 Casull, .44 magnum, and have lots of time with .357s I owned. Big magnum handguns are incredibly loud, and when they are compensated they are fantastically loud. As I do not hike in the woods with muffs on the choice is being deaf or eaten by a bear with that .500 snub. Deaf, for real. Be warned.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I have recentlly started a love affair with 1911s. So my vote is obvious. Remington R1 1911 is my newest love. Sweet sweet weapon and amazingly accurate. Waiting for my rosewood grips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 43 weeks 2 days ago

I'm a Revolver guy, but in this instance for my purposes and at my age, I'd take the 1911.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HugoChess wrote 40 weeks 6 days ago

I need safe advice, I accidently purchased the 45 GAP ammo, but should have gotten the 45 AUTO ammo. Should I just get rid of the 45 GAP, or can I still safely use it on my gun that uses 45 AUTO. Please let me know. Thank you very much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Dawson wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Personally, any gun that I'd use to protect a life would needs to have readily purchasable ammo. I can buy 45ACP most places. What's the availability of 500S&W?

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I think the .500 could be used to shoot marine locator flares.
A friend bought one and lots of ammo to go with it. He immediately built a glass enclosed display case for it and put it in there without ever firing it. No thanks, I will stick with my .45auto.
I shot my chrony with my .45auto one time, it carried it a ways down range - tripod and all. That's all the power I need.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shootstir wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

The .500 would make for a great backup hammer in my toolbox.....stick with the M1911. Half a million GI's and their offspring who are still shooting them can't be wrong.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

I'm not a fan of the .45 ACP, but the 500 S&W is a bit over the top -- going with the Browning Wunderkind 1911.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

First of all, the handgun on the right (at top of page) wouldn't be legal for game in most States regardless of cartridge....

460 Rowland Kit would turn a 45acp 1911 into a 45 Magnum

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

1911 hands down.
If I wanted the extra weight of that Smith I'd put a brick in my pocket..

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 44 weeks 1 day ago

Having fired the .500 in the Performance Shop configuration (7" barrel, brake, etc.) I would argue that it's simply too much gun for the vast majority of people. It's not even fun to shoot. I can't imagine shooting the short-barrel version, much less trying to hit anything that's not already gnawing on my gun hand.

And when it comes to hitting what I'm shooting at, that implies practice. Most folks aren't likely to spend much time at the range with this monstrosity, and even less likely when they can find ammo to feed it. Someone might roll this thing out to show off, and that's what the S&W .500 is best at... getting comments and curious stares.

The 1911 can be a bit of a handful for newer handgunners, but it's not anywhere near the .500's category for recoil and blast. With a little practice, it's not hard at all to start knocking over targets with this pistol, and ammo to practice with is usually (not counting the current madness)readily available and relatively affordable (especially compared to the .500).

As far as dual-purpose capabilities... the .45acp isn't much of a hunting round, but it's a pretty good choice for self defense against two-legged vermin. Nevertheless, of the two options here, I'd take that 1911 any day.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment