Shooting Down a Tree with a 500 S&W Magnum

TEXAS TACTICAL by Dustin Ellermann – October 2019
September 24, 2019
Trijicon SRO
October 8, 2019

First – we shot down a tree with a .50BMG, so of course we have to do it with a 500 S&W Magnum as well!

I was reminiscing my days on Top Shot.  And the S&W 500 Magnum was the very first and last firearm I shot in the competition.  Of course on Top Shot it was in a speed dual (this is NOT recommended).  Here I had a little more time to plan my shots and shoot comfortably.

However, the S&W 500 is not a very comfortable gun to shoot.  Granted, it does have shock absorbing stocks (or “grips” if you are unfamiliar with revolver nomenclature).  However when sending a 500 grain bullet downrange at 1,500 feet per second, you feel a little recoil.


While it was awesome to shoot down a full sized pine tree last time with a 50BMG, I didn’t think my wrists could hold. up to that volume this time.  So we searched out an invasive Chinese tallow tree just large enough to allow full penetration of the 500 Magnum.  As shown in the video, the first tree that was just a tad thicker, didn’t allow any bullets to pass through.

Tree shot down

Success! It didn’t take many rounds to fell this tree.

The .500 S&W Cartridge

Ammunition was a mix of 275, 350, and 500 grain bullets.  I was really impressed with how light and affordable you can actually load a S&W 500.  While factor ammunition can cost $2-3 per cartridge, I was able to load my own rounds for $0.37 each!  This isn’t counting the brass.  Using my Redding press and dies and bulk pulled 275 grain Speer Gold Dot bullets I acquired from RMR reloading got the cost down considerably.  It also decreased recoil tremendously when using lighter Titegroup powder.  This is a great hit with my staff at Marksmanship camp.  They love being able to shoot the neutered loads.

Reloading the 500

Reloading is a great way to tailer loads to your liking – even your budget!


I’ll admit – beyond shooting down a tree and just having a blast at the range the .500 S&W is a crazy big caliber in a crazy big handgun.  But don’t think that will keep me from brining it hog hunting!  In fact, now that I’m setup with reloading gear for the caliber I’m tempted to get a single shot rifle threaded in order to suppress it with a Bowers Group VERS50 Suppressor just to be able to send 700 grain subsonic rounds downrange!

500 vs .22Mag

The 500 next to a .22WM

I figured because it’s a crazy big gun there would be a large offering of second hand pistols of those shooters who changed their mind.  But I actually ended up getting mine from Big Daddy Unlimited.  They sell guns, ammo, optics, hunting and fishing gear below dealer cost to their members!  I was able to get the brand new massive magnum cheaper than I could find any used ones.  You might want to check it out sometime:


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