We all remember Dirty Harry and his famous line, “But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” While there has always been a serious gun subculture interested in powerful revolvers, this piece of cinematic art launched the purchase of thousands of guns. Everyone wanted to harness the power of the 44. Many an innocent pumpkin evaporated at the hands of a shooter with a Dirty Harry hand cannon. With this new interest in large caliber revolvers came the growth of those chambered in calibers far beyond the .44 Magnum. While the .44 Magnum may have ruled Dirty Harry’s day, times have changed. In fact, there is one revolver now that makes the .44 magnum pale in comparison. Say hello to the Smith & Wesson 460XVR.
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The 460XVR is a unique revolver from the Smith and Wesson Performance Center. By their account it is so revolutionary it required an entirely new designation — XVR, X-treme Velocity Revolver. Extreme velocity may be an understatement with a maximum velocity of over 2,300 fps. With the extra barrel length, the 460XVR delivers 2,400 lbs./ft. with a 200-grain round. The official term for that is ballistic freight train. This exceeds even the mighty .454 Casull. As I pen this article, Smith and Wesson rightly claim the 460XVR is the most powerful .45 caliber revolver in the world! The gun is built on a sturdy stainless steel double-action X-Frame. It has a five-shot fluted cylinder, which also accommodates the 45 Colt and .454 Casull cartridge allowing for a variety of shooting options.
The barrel is a hearty 8.3″ in length and includes an interchangeable muzzle brake. The forcing cone has a high polish finish to prevent erosion from the hot gases. The barrel also has gain twist rifling. That is a style where the rifling starts slowly with one turn in 100 and then increases to a twist rate of one in 20. This is a great way to handle this super high-velocity cartridge. This rifling also brings superb long-range accuracy at distances even beyond 200 yards. In fact, Smith & Wesson states if you zero its sights at 200 yards you will bag your buck with a center hold inside a range of 0-250 yards. All with no hold. Remember, we are talking about a revolver. The gun I got in for testing had a HIVIZ green dot interchangeable front sight with an adjustable black blade rear sight. The gun also comes with an integral Weaver style scope mount, which allows you to install an optic if you choose. The gun is finished out with Hogue Dual Density Monogrips with the S & W monogram to help absorb recoil.
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Recoil is the word that enters anyone’s mind when you start talking about a handgun designed to kill a deer at 200 yards. Images of YouTube videos highlighting epic gun recoil and ensuing embarrassment race through our mind. That concern though is misplaced as I quickly found out. With gun and ammo in hand, a range trip was set, and we were off. First up I would run some beloved .45 Colt through the 460XVR. Coming in at a pretty beefy 72.2 oz., the gun barely moved with the 185-grain rounds. This also gave me an opportunity to get a feel for the trigger. I found the trigger in this revolver to be very smooth and clean. It became phenomenal following a thumb cocking of the hammer for some precision shooting. This low perceived recoil continued even when I finally loaded the beefy .460 Magnum rounds into the gun. Now don’t get me wrong. Two hundred grains of bullet leaving the muzzle at over 2,300 fps is not a one- handed, walk in the park. The gun does move. What it doesn’t do though is punish the shooter.
My day with the 460XVR was long and I was able to let a number of people shoot it to get their feelings on it as well. The only thing that slowed us down was a hot barrel we let cool from time to time. The consensus was the gun was very controllable and enjoyable to shoot. While the gun is easily seen as a pure powerhouse, it is very accurate as well. With Hornady 200-grain FTX, I was able to get a group under 2″ at 100 yards. That was with the iron sights and using a sandbag for a base. I believe if I had mounted an optic I could have done even better.
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The “need for speed” is certainly met with the Hornady 200-grain rounds, but an even more serious punch can be delivered by using a Cor-Bon 275-grain Barnes X load. There is not much out there in the handgun-hunting realm that would stand up to this type of power including black bear. Taking notice of the 200-yard zero philosophy, I set up a series of steel targets between 25 yards and 200 yards. Using a rest for consistency I engaged each target using a standard hold I would use on a deer. I used six different targets and hit each one twice. The results were very interesting and proved Smith and Wesson’s claim. The total spread of the group from 25 yards to 200 yards was 4.85”. This is well within an exceptional strike zone for a deer or other game. A few shots at our 300-yard steel proved to be a challenge with iron sights but we did get some solid hits. It is noteworthy that the sound and movement of the steel even at that distance was significant. I would once again suggest an optic to find this gun’s true outer limits.
“With Hornady 200 gr FTX, I was able to get a group under 2″ at 100 yards.”
The uses for this gun are obviously many but I see a very effective hunter in this revolver. I also see an exceptional backcountry gun for areas where humans aren’t exactly the top of the food chain. Handgun hunting is growing in popularity and the 460XVR is certainly worthy of being a serious contender in that arena. Wearing the title of “the most powerful .45 caliber revolver in the world!” doesn’t hurt either. Dirty Harry would be proud and as you get ready to pull the trigger on that next trophy buck, I am sure you will whisper to yourself, “Do you feel lucky punk?”
- Model: Model 460XVR™
- Caliber: .45 Colt, .454 Casull and .460 S&W Magnum
- Capacity: 5
- Barrel Length: 8.38″
- Overall Length: 15.0″
- Front Sight: Interchangeable
- Rear Sight: Adjustable White Outline
- Action: Single/Double Action
- Grip: Synthetic
- Weight: 72.2 oz.
- Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
- Frame Material: Stainless Steel
- Frame Finish: Satin Stainless
- Purpose: Competition Shooting, Hunting
- MSRP: $1,369.00
You can buy the 460VXR on GunBroker.com.
For more information, visit www.smith-wesson.com