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The World’s Most Powerful Handguns

Although all handguns are designed, in principle, to be handheld, pistols and revolvers come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they are used for hunting, personal defence, target shooting or just as collection pieces, the wide variety of handgun models serves many different purposes, and gun enthusiasts have a whole range of points to consider when choosing their handgun of choice. For example, all handguns have different rates of fire (semi-automatic, single shot, etc), designs (revolver, cartridge, machine pistol) and range, among other features. Perhaps most interesting, however, is the power of some handguns. Despite their small size, handguns are capable of producing massive amounts of firepower, and some models can even rival the damage caused by automatic rifles and shotguns.

1972 44 magnum smith and wesson

.44 Magnum

Popularised by Clint Eastwood’s tough-talking, grimacing detective Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry film series, the .44 Remington Magnum is one of the most recognisable handguns in the world. The long barrelled revolver still makes a appearance in many action films and video games, and the heavy, classic design of the handgun makes an intimidating sight. Although it is not the most powerful handgun (and it wasn’t at the time Dirty Harry was released in the 1970s, despite the film’s memorable speech saying otherwise), the Magnum packs tremendous force from its high velocity firepower and heavy .44 calibre bullets. The Magnum’s high recoil and large muzzle blast makes it generally unsuitable for police or army use as rapid fire can cause tremendous strain on the hands of users. However, the handgun is often used by hunters in North America, and its high stopping power and deep penetration mean that it can be even used on game as large as elk and deer. American publisher and avid hunter Robert E. Petersen once boasted that he killed a polar bear with the impressive revolver.

S&W 559

Smith & Wesson Model 500

The Smith & Wesson Model 500 is the most powerful, mass-produced revolver in the world. Released in 2003, the Model 500 was designed with a unique X-Frame design that could support the huge muzzle energy and pressure produced by the .500 calibre cartridges. The rounds are fired at a massive rate of 1975 metres per second, and the gun can be used effectively at a range of up to 200 yards when hunting game. In fact, the energy and velocity produced by the large calibre rounds has made the Model 500 suitable for hunting large African game, like cape buffalo bulls. Generating up to 4.1 kJ of force, the handgun produces a great amount of recoil and kick, and novice shooters should be under strict supervision when handling the impressive weapon.

WTS .50 BMG Pistol

This custom built handgun from German gun manufacturer WTS Waffentechnik weighs a whopping 7.2 kilograms, which makes it heavier than most automatic rifles. With its 430 millimetre long barrel, the WTS .50 BMG looks more like a rifle than a pistol, but it is still technically a handgun and is designed to be held like one. However, users will have to be very careful when using this monster of a weapon as it fires .50 Browning Machine Gun (BMG) rounds. Perhaps unsurprisingly, with such large ammunition the pistol is only single shot, and users have to load additional rounds via a bolt action mechanism. However, the huge firepower generated by the handgun means that just one bullet will be more than enough for any target. The WTS .50 BMG is not widely manufactured, and it is hard to purchase out of Germany. For many avid gun enthusiasts who have managed to get their hands on one, the handgun is certainly the talk of any gun collection

This post was written by Robert Johnson an gun enthusiast and keen angler. Visit Sealskinz for more information on the professional gun gloves and sporting apparel, all fully waterproof and wind resistant.

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Sgt. Tim Moran is a former United States Marine veteran
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