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Muzzle flash and cylinder blast from a Smith & Wesson Model 500 fired at night.

A .50 caliber handgun is a handgun firing a bullet measuring approximately .5 inches (12.7 mm) in diameter. Historically, many black powder pistols fired bullets with diameters well above ½ inch. However, following the development of smokeless powder, the focus shifted to smaller-diameter bullets propelled at higher velocities, and the development of .50 and larger calibers in handguns became uncommon.

In the twentieth century, several new cartridges of half-inch diameter were developed, with the .50 Action Express (1988) being the first to achieve wide popularity.[1] The diameter was further popularized by the development of the .500 S&W Magnum in 2003.[2]

There are automatic, revolver, single-shot, and bolt action .50 caliber handgun designs. Handguns of this caliber tend to be larger and heavier than most others of their type, for both structural integrity and absorbing the recoil associated with firing these rounds.[2]

Despite being featured in many video games and action films as the weapon of choice for some members of elite military and law enforcement units, these guns are in reality used primarily for hunting, target shooting, and silhouette shooting.[3][4]

Examples[edit | edit source]

A custom made .50 Alaskan five-shot single-action revolver built on a BFR frame. The cylinder can also accommodate the 0.3 inch longer .50-110 Winchester cartridge.
(Left: .50 Alaskan, Right: .50-110 Winchester)

Largest industry-produced revolver: Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 500 built on the company's indigenous X-Frame. This one sports a 7.5 inch barrel. Ammunition varieties of 275 grain through 600 grain and larger is available.

.50 Action Express[edit | edit source]

.50 GI[edit | edit source]

500 GNR[edit | edit source]

.500 Maximum[edit | edit source]

.500 S&W Magnum[edit | edit source]

Other[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Shideler, Dan (2011). Gun Digest 2011. Krause. p. 368. ISBN 978-1-4402-1337-3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Van Zwoll, Wayne (2006). Hunter's Guide to Long-Range Shooting. Stackpole Books. pp. 335–339. ISBN 978-0-8117-3314-4. 
  3. Hartink, A.E. (2002). The Complete Encyclopedia of Pistols and Revolvers. Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc. pp. 165–167. ISBN 978-0-7858-1519-8. 
  4. Taffin, John (2005). "The Desert Eagle of Magnum Research". http://www.magnumresearch.com/news_detail.asp?story=gunsmagaug2005.asp. 
  5. Hartink, A.E. (2003). The Complete Encyclopedia of Pistols and Revolvers. Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc. pp. 132–134. ISBN 978-0-7858-1871-7. 

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