More hysterical hype about the .500 S&W Magnum

I’ve already talked about the Gun Guys’ strident hysteria with regard to the .500 S&W, but in fairness to them, they’re not the only ones who are trying to invent a “threat” out of thin air. Recently, I found a press release from the Violence Policy Center, in which we are told that the power of the huge cartridge renders police body armor nearly worthless. The VPC actually has the audacity to imply that the introduction of this cartridge, and the enormous revolvers that fire it, is a deliberate attempt by Smith and Wesson to exploit a supposed “cop killer market.”

The “reasoning” here is that the .500 S&W Magnum fires a bullet with a kinetic energy level comparable to the .30-06 rifle, which will indeed penetrate standard police body armor with relative ease (as will a great many other center-fire rifle cartridges). The reason, we are to suppose, that police officers should be more frightened of these revolvers than they are of rifles is that the revolvers, being handguns, are “concealable.” One might point out that although these are indeed handguns, they are enormous handguns, and would constitute a rather odd choice as a concealed weapon–but the VPC has an answer to that:

In addition, he [Tom Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst, and author of the “study”] pointed out, at least one shoulder holster is being sold for the Magnum revolver, thus making it easy for criminals to carry the gun concealed.

This, of course, ignores the fact that the shoulder holster is vast–designed for hands-free carrying of the gun in the field (it was designed as a hunting arm, after all)–not for concealed carry (nothing less than a parka is likely to provide much concealment for such a gun and holster).

The .500 S&W Magnum revolvers are, as mentioned, huge, heavy (3 1/2 lbs, unloaded, for the short barreled model, and more than a pound heavier for the standard barrel length model), they can hold only 5 shots, they cost in the neighborhood of $1000 or more, and subject the shooter to recoil and blast that make accurate shooting very difficult for people without extensive experience with the big beasts. The price of the ammo means that getting this experience is very pricey, and the recoil means that few would be willing and able to practice for very long in one session (or to have multiple sessions without considerable rest periods in between).

These guns would be very near the bottom of the list of most logical choice of weapon for your friendly neighborhood cop killer, but far be it from the VPC to let the facts stand in the way of some good old fashioned fear mongering (more on that tomorrow!).

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