The Mighty Taurus Raging Hunter in 500 S&W

Taurus firearms are not new to the shooting community, they’ve been around for decades. From humble beginnings before World War II, Taurus has risen to be one of the top five handgun manufacturers in the U.S. and one of the three largest small arms manufacturers in the world. I had the pleasure of running into Kristen Alberts at the Taurus booth this year at the SHOT Show. Her name should ring a bell, especially for handgun hunters. Last summer Kristen, aka “The Wilderness Woman” hand-gunned a cape buffalo bull on The Dark Continent. So, it was no surprise we both ended up at their hunting revolver section where we were shown their new line of Taurus Raging Hunter revolvers in 460 S&W and the mighty 500 S&W. A couple of months back Taurus’s Brand Marketing Manager, Caleb Giddings asked if I wanted to do some wrist-snapping revolver content. Well, of course I did!

Features of the Taurus Raging Hunter 500

Based on their large-frame revolver the Taurus Raging Hunter 500 is hefty, weighing in at an unloaded 59.50 ounces. My test gun was the 5.12-inch barreled, all-business black gun. The barrel is somewhat slab-sided and contours in on the top and bottom, forming a diamond shape. It is ported to help reduce recoil. The unfluted, five-shot cylinder leaves plenty of steel around the chambers to allow for the heaviest of loads. The padded backstrap of the wrap-around rubber grips aids in cushioning recoil and provides a good gripping surface. The front sight is bold and 0.11-inch wide and the rear sight is sturdy and adjustable. The barrel also comes with an integral Picatinny rail to support optics if you so choose. Along with the rear cylinder latch, this big gun also supports a latch at the front providing dual-cylinder lockup. The heavy top strap measures 0.31 of an inch in thickness, providing a lot of steel for strength. The hammer is well-checkered, offering easy cocking for single-action fire and the wide trigger is slick-faced, offering a good feel.

Accurate ammunition from Hornady and Buffalo Bore range from 300 to 500 grains.

The Cartridge

Smith and Wesson debuted the 500 S&W cartridge in 2003 for chambering in its massive X-frame revolver. The cartridge uses a rimmed case 1.625 inches in length with a rim diameter of 0.560. My Ammo and Ballistics 5th Edition gives the 500 S&W a relative recoil factor of 2.95. The same book rates the 44 Remington Magnum at 1.45 and the 357 Magnum at 0.89, just to give you an idea of the sheer power of this cartridge.

The Good, the Bad, and the Recoil!

This is one big, tough revolver. I had no mechanical issues whatsoever. Truthfully, I wondered if any screws would back out due to heavy recoil. None did. I have one complaint about this gun. The single-action trigger is much too heavy to my liking, weighing in at seven pounds on this particular gun with a bit of creep. Personally, for me, that’s about four or five pounds too heavy. I am confident in saying that had this trigger been more manageable, my groups would have been much tighter than those I fired. If this gun was mine, I would have the action slicked up and the trigger pull lightened. I have handled Taurus’s Executive Grade Judge recently which has a really nice action on it, so I know they can do it. I think hunters would be happy to pay a bit extra for a smooth, crisp action out of the box. I have no way of measuring the double-action weight of this revolver. While it is not buttery smooth, it does not feel extreme.

The Taurus Ragin Hunter on the Ransom Multi Cal Steady Rest
While Ransom International’s Multi Cal Steady Rest is excellent, I elected to shoot the revolver from shooting sticks and removed the Trijicon SRO, preferring to use the Taurus Raging Hunter’s good sights.

Even though the Taurus Raging Hunter 500 is ported, it still produces plenty of recoil. This is not a gun for the novice. My first three-shot group fired with Hornady’s 300-grain FTX ammunition off my good Ransom Steady Rest produced a nice 1.67-inch group. Those three shots took every bit of concentration I could muster, and I lost my desire to fire two more for a five-shot group! The recoil from a sitting rest was not what I would call terrible, but I wouldn’t call it pleasant either. I have a medium-sized hand and have discovered that most double-action revolvers in their grip design pound the web of my hand when heavy recoil loads are involved. The wrap-around rubber grips on the Raging Hunter go a long way in helping reduce felt recoil.

I fired the Hornady group with a Trijicon SRO red dot mounted on the revolver but using it on this particular gun felt unnatural to me, so I removed it and will use it in later reviews. That’s no fault of the optic, just my personal preference for iron-sighted revolvers.

Hornady Ammunition provided a three-shot 1.67-inch group.
Off the Ransom Steady Rest and sighting through the Trijicon SRO, Hornady’s 300-grain FTX load clustered three shots in 1.67 inches at 25 yards.

I decided to fire the remaining groups standing, using my Primos tall tripod trigger sticks to support my gun hand as I do when hunting. This allows me to absorb recoil much better and changes group size very little.

I also spread out my range sessions over three separate trips. The most I fired at one time was fifteen rounds. This let me concentrate on holding the revolver sufficiently while firing, along with concentrating on breaking the stiff trigger as best I could when the sights were aligned correctly on the target.

Buffalo Bore sent me four of their 500 S&W loads for testing ranging from bullet weights of 375 to their new 500-grain hard cast load. It’s no surprise that all shot well, and I consistently shot five-shot groups roughly the size of my fist with an occasional flyer. Their 18A loading performed exceptionally well in this revolver. This load consists of a 400-grain JFN at around 1675 fps. I was able to put three shots in two holes at 25 yards, standing and resting my gun hand wrist on my trigger sticks and gripping my gun hand as normal with my support hand.

Buffalo Bore's Ammunition shot very well in the Raging Hunter.
Buffalo Bore’s 18 A load, a 400-grain JFN listed on the box at 1675 fps stacked three rounds in two holes at 25 yards.

Real-World Applications for the Taurus Raging Hunter 500

For me, this revolver is one I would sight in with my preferred, stout load and not shoot much with full-power ammo. I would definitely experiment with some lighter 500 S&W Special loads for practice and shoot the hot stuff in moderation.

The Taurus Raging Hunter, especially with the 5.12-inch barrel is an excellent candidate if one lives where the big bears roam. The same goes for those fortunate enough to live in or hunt Africa on a regular basis. This revolver/cartridge configuration is one heck of a strong candidate as a carry gun to be used against critters that can kill you. After an action job, I would not hesitate to take this revolver after an old, ornery cape buffalo bull, or anything else for that matter. Had it been available a couple of years ago, this is the revolver I would have worn while hiking with my wife in grizzly country.

If you are in the market for a revolver chambered for the most powerful commercial revolver cartridge on the planet, the Taurus Raging Hunter in 500 S&W is for you. It’s tough, accurate, and affordable. With an MSRP of $1069.00, I expect you can find one for under a grand. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

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