In the 1971 movie Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood delivers the famous passage:

I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking "did he fire six shots or only five?" Now to tell you the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow you head clean off, you've gotta ask yourself a question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?

The official name for the .44 Magnum in the film is "Smith & Wesson Model 29". I have no idea if was the most powerful handgun in the world in 1971. It's certainly not anymore. Enter the Smith & Wesson Model 500. The .50 caliber (compared to .44) hand cannon. It might not stop Godzilla, but any non-fiction land animal is fair game.

While hanging out with a buddy for a Redneck Weekend, I got the chance to fire this piece of personal artillery.

We shot rounds loaded with 40%, 60% and 80% of the maximum amount of gun powder the pistol can safely handle. Safely, in this case, meaning that it fires the giant, deadly bullet down range without removing your hands in an uncontrolled explosion of fire and steel.

The 40% rounds felt like trying to catch a cinder block thrown by an angry line backer. At 80%, the blast concussion knocked animals within 100 yards and smaller than a raccoon unconscious. We didn't have any rounds packed to capacity with powder but I don't feel slighted. I'm not sure if I could have held onto the gun.


Incidentally, the Model 500's bullets are bigger than the .44 Magnum's. It only holds five shots instead of six. So, if you're in a Dirty Harry situation remember those numbers when you're trying to count.