What is the difference between the .50 caliber and the .500 caliber guns?

16 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    The number of that extra zero DOES make a difference. The two cartrdges may fire the same diameter bullet but they are two separate cartridges with two different velocities, energies, and pressures. You cannot confuse cartridges.

    The .50 can refer to the .50BMG which is a rifle cartridge, or a .50AE which is a handgun cartridge. The .500 is probably refering to the .500 S&W magnum which is also a handgun cartridge. It is very important to know the entire name of the cartridge to know exactly what it is or you may find yourself with .50BMG rounds to go with your .500 S&W magnum revolver.

  • 3 years ago

    500 Caliber

  • Wendy
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    The caliber is the size of the bullet in milimeters as in 7.62x39mm would be 7.62 milimeters across(diameter) and 39 milimers tall(length). Bullets are also measured as inches to like a 5.56x45mm could also be called a .223 because it is .223 of an inch wide. The bore of a gun is kind of the barrel, you see if you have a gun barrel that is not in the gun it is called a barrel. However when it is mounted in side the firearm it is refered to as a bore. so bascically the bore would be the tube in which a fired bullet travels. p.s. the caliber measurements only refer to the bullet not the entire cartridge. And in response to "Daniel"'s post they test bullet power using high speed motion capture devices and use a formula to detirmine the bullets power factor, since most rifle cartridges will break apart on contact with water. This happens because the bullet is traveling at supersonic speeds when it hits the water it is decelerated so fast the energy literaly rips it apart.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Calibers are such fun to keep track of.

    The .50 cal. is generally thought of as a rifle or machine gun round. The round is long and heavy. There are no handguns that chamber the .50 BMG round.

    The .500 mag. is a handgun round (although there are some rifles chambered for it) it is just a bit longer the the .44 mag. round. There is also the .50AE, which is semi auto pistol round.

    The .50 cal rifle is about 38 pounds. Can be a single shot or semi auto. Shoulder fired off a bipod. Recoil is pronounced but manageable. Noise and muzzle blast are quite loud.

    The .500 mag., notably the S&W, is a heavy revolver. Recoil is stout and not for the faint of heart. Noise and muzzle blast are awesome.

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  • Jon W
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Legally, several states and localities outlawed ".50" caliber rifles.

    The .500 is to get around the laws and the subsequent bad reputation. It's also a different S&W cartridge chambering for revolvers I believe.

    Also ".50 cal" generally is taken to mean the .50 caliber BMG military round.

  • 1 decade ago

    .500 is a marketable way for Smith and Wesson to state .50 caliber. it's called "being different". Magnum Research uses .50AE (Action Expresss), so Smith and Wesson did it differently. Your question makes no distinction between handgun and rifle, so I chose to focus on the handgun aspect only and I believe the SW ".500" was the source for your question. In short, .500 and .50 use the same bullet diameter and everything else (bullet style/casing/velocity) varies.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Not much, but there can be bore variations. For instance, the 500 BPE is in theory a .500 bore size and .510" groove diameter, but some of these old shooters seem to run anywhere from about .504 to .514, in my limited experience. You generally have to look up the specifications or history of the individual cartridge to have an idea what to expect, and then you may still need to slug the bore.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    .50 cal is usually a black powder single shot Muzzle loading rifle similar to the old flint locks like Daniel Boone used. There are .50ACP (like a new 1911 .45ACP govt. model only in a new .50ACP) and .50 Action Express (like the agent's guns in Matrix). The newest "most powerful handgun in the world" is the .50 cal. Smith and Wesson .500, a huge, brutal, heavy revolver for hunting only.

    The legendary .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) is still the most powerful and reliable big machine gun and does not belong in handgun discussion. Our troops use .50 BMG cartridges in special shoulder fired sniper scoped rifles, either single shot, bolt action repeater, or semi-auto rifles. Used mostly to disable trucks and equipment up to tanks and armored vehicles.

  • 1 decade ago

    I can't believe some of the answers.

    Just because .50 and .500 are the same on a caliper, doesn't mean the bullets are the same thing. The outside diameter is all that is equal. The length of the projectile is not the same. The length of the shell casing is not the same. The amount of powder in the projectile is absolutely not the same. The guns that accept them are not the same.


  • 1 decade ago

    The only difference between the two is the, in general, the .50 refers to a rifle load, while the .500 refers to a handgun load. (i.e. the 50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) and the 500 S&W (Smith and Wesson)

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