(HP = Hollow Point, RN = Round Nose, FMC = Full Metal Case, FMJ = Full Metal Jacket, JHP = Jacketed Hollow Point and if GC indicated, means Gas Check at bottom of lead bullet)
Loads for 500 S&W Magnum:
It was published that the 500 S&W would produce about 2600 ft/lbs of energy at full maximum load with a heavy lead bullet. I have never shot a load like that in my S&W 500, and hope I never do. My lighter loads recoil about the same or less as a .44 magnum and are good to shoot for target practice. The 700 Grain GC bullet kicks like a mule. The most punishing load I have ever shot is the 700 grain GC bullet moving at 1,126 fps which equals 1970.5 ft/lbs.
If you look below, you will see several loads with the 440 gr. lead GC bullet (from LeadHeads Bullets (Tommy) of St. John, KS) that come out at just above 1100 FPS, that calculates to around 1200 foot/pounds of energy (and recoil). That’s less than half the maximum loads with big bullets. Not bad for plinking with this Magnum caliber. You’d have to push this same bullet to 1,635 FPS to get 2600 ft/lbs of energy. A .44 mag load of 250 grain jacketed moving at 1,430 FPS will generate 1135 ft/lbs, almost the same as the .500 load above. Further, a 325 gr. .501 moving at 1,200 fps only generates 1040 ft/lbs, making it less recoil than the .44 mag AND this is from a heavier gun with top port (the S&W 500 with 8 3/8″ bbl).
(Note: Shown on this page are START and MAXIMUM loads. Do NOT reduce below START or exceed MAX except at your own risk.)
(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.)
Bullet size is .500″ (jacketed) in diameter. Cast bullets with Gas Checks for 500 S&W (like Lead RN-GC) are usually .500″ diameter. There are some Lead .501″ cast bullets available, and that is what I have used for some loads below. If not indicated (.501) then it’s probably .500″ lead. Use LARGE RIFLE primers in cases. Make sure primer does not protrude from case head since early cases before July 2003 were for Large Pistol primers (not as deep by .006″ ). New cases for large rifle should have “LR” or “R” on the case head. If not, they may have been made for the large pistol primers. It DOES make a difference which you use.
Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer brand and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start 10% under these charges and work up.
SOME ARE MAXIMUM LOADS! – NOTE, powder companies sometimes reduced some of these hot and maximum loads after these figures were posted. You might check current loads from powder company before loading maximum loads. The loads that produce velocities below 950 fps, are very nice, mild shooting, lower recoil rounds.
BTW, I got 1815 FPS from the commercial CorBon 275 Grain Barnes Bullet that comes 12 to a pack for about $36 per pack ($3 per round).
(Note H110 & W296 are the same as of 2008 as is HP-38 & W231)
(IMR 4227 is same as H-4227 if made in Australia) Ramshot makes “Enforcer”
600 GR. Lead Flat-nose .501 (MAXIMUM Loads) (Hang on)(other shooter contributed)
1,389 fps (I personally think 29.0 grains is enough)
700 GR. Lead Flat-nose GC .501 (MAXIMUM Loads)(Monster recoil)
(Ranger Rick Bullet http://www.lsstuff.com/ranger-rick/)
damn this mule kicks, had to use gloves, both on my right hand to stand the recoil. Good spread & accuracy. You won’t shoot many of these (This is 1970 foot pounds of energy)
(Note, do not compress the powder with seating bullet – increased pressures)
~1,200 fps (max, start lower)
1,126 fps personal, Hi=1152 Lo=1093 Spread=58.6
1,200 ~ fps (24.0 to 25.0 gr. are used)
1,036 fps Hi=1042 Lo=1022, spread=20.1 Great load from Bill Bramlett of Ballistic Supply
1,067 fps Max – bullet seated out sightly to avoid powder compression
Update 2010: I got some Ramshot Enforcer made for magnum loads and it performs very nicely. I even tried some in my .32 H&R magnum loads and it was not bad, but the Competition (around the speed of Unique) was much better. See my test in the 440 grain Lead+GC section.
Trail Boss in some 330 grain plain base lead bullets was very mild and my wife could shoot it easily in the big, heavy 500 S&W with 8 inch barrel.
Discussion: Accurate (XMP)5744 is one of my favorite powders that I use in my .45 Colt and other calibers. It seems to be less “case position sensitive” than others I have used. And only a few more grains (to MAX) is a compressed load, so it uses a lot of the case space. Start load with a 325 gr. JHP is around 1200 fps and with a 440 lead the start load is around 950 fps. Far less recoil than factory or maximum loads.
I have also recently (June 2004) used Titegroup and I like it a lot. It is a very light powder for its bulk, so it fills the case about 3/4 when seating a big 440 gr. lead GC bullet. Velocity spreads were very good (only about 20 fps difference)and recoil with lighter loads was not bad.
Many shooters, like me, are looking for a less punishing load to just target practice with and Hodgdon Tech Support recommends Titegroup 11.0 gr. for 1032 FPS as a START with a 350 GR. HDY XTP. Pushing this bullet only a bit over 1,000 fps is far milder than most loads on their web site. Even though this amount of powder is quite a bit less than other loads of different powders, Hodgdon says it’s the least case position sensitive of the types they recommend.
UNIQUE – Using around 10 grains for bullets from 370 grain thru 440 grain (lead, gas check), were mild loads and the spread was quite good for loads tested above. Quite a difference in velocity with bullet weight (see tables above).
Currently new cases are available from Hornady and Starline. Others may follow soon (5-25-04) Original cases from Hornady used large pistol, but shortly all cases went to large rifle primers. You can NOT mix the cases since primer depth is different. All new starline cases have an “R” on the case head indicating large rifle primers. Some new cases have a “L” and an “R” on the head. (2010)
AA(XMP)5744, AA 1680, AA 4100 are products of Accurate Arms Company
Tightgroup, Longshot, Lil’Gun, H110, H4227 are products of Hodgdon Powders.
IMR Trail Boss (formerly DuPont) Powder Company, Winchester, Components Div.
Alliant (formerly Hercules) Powders: Unique
References: Accurate Arms Co. (loads faxed to me on 5-26-04) – – Alliant Powder Co. Reloaders’ Guide (1995) – – Hodgdon’s Basic Reloaders Manual (1996)- – Hodgdon Tech Support-May ’04 – – Speer Reloading Manual, #12 – – Winchester Reloading Components Manual, 14th edition – – Lyman Piston & Revolver Reloading Handbook, 2nd edition. – – VihtaVuori Oy Company, reloading booklet (1995) – – Numerous magazine, Ramshot Powders on-line reloading guide 2007 articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted. Ramshot powders reference is online .pdf loading manual 2007 and some updates in 2010.