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The 5 Most Powerful Handguns

Posted Aug 13th, 2020

The 5 Most Powerful Handguns

If it ain’t broke, might as well make it even more damn powerful – has always been the human psyche regarding guns and ammo. Since Samuel Colt patented the first mass-produced revolver back in 1836, handguns have come a long way in terms of raw power. 

Forget about asking whether the handguns on this list can stop a human assailant with a single shot; they can down even bigger targets such as grizzlies and bull elephants. Here are the 5 most powerful handguns currently on the market.  

1. Pfeifer Zeliska

Price: $$$$$$

Weight: 13.23 lbs 

Caliber:  .600 Nitro Express

Barrel Length: 13 inches 

Action:  Single-action 

Muzzle Velocity: 1516 FPS 

Capacity: 5 rounds 

.600 Nitro Express is a round specifically made to down the largest and toughest of the big game such as elephants and hippos. Until 1988, with the advent of the even bigger .700 Nitro Express, these were the most powerful commercially available hunting rifle commercially available. In World War 1, rifles chambered in the round were used by British snipers to down German targets hiding behind thick steel plates. 


Of course, somewhere in history, a wealthy hunter got an idea of having a handgun produced chambered in this round, and he commissioned an Austrian firearm company to produce one. They complied and gave rise to the Zeliska. One of the largest serviceable handguns ever produced, the Pfeifer Zeliska is so massive that its own weight helps in managing its otherwise bone-shattering recoil. Aside from hunting bull elephants, the gun might also be useful in other applications such as shooting a burglar in your neighbor’s house hiding behind a fridge from the comfort of your living room. 


2. Magnum Research BFR 

Price: $$$$

Weight: 5.3 lbs 

Caliber: .45-70 Government

Barrel Length: 5.5 inches 

Action: Single-action 

Muzzle Velocity: 2050 FPS

Capacity: 5 rounds 

The BFR in the gun’s name stands for ‘Big Frame Revolver,’ although there are other common meanings among gun enthusiasts where the ‘F’ is often tied to another word. The BFR comes in two basic models – one with a standard-length revolver cylinder and the other one meant for housing longer rifle cartridges. There are various bullets for which the gun can be chambered for, from the extremely potent .475 Linebaugh to the massive .45-70 Government. 

As you would expect, the recoil this gun features is beyond brutal, but this weapon is kind of perfect if you are hunting big game from short range or want a conceal-carry for self-defense against an armored car. Beyond that, pulling this gun out at shooting range and firing it is sure to others take notice of you. 


3. S&W 500 

Price: $$$$

Weight: 4.52 lbs 

Caliber: .500 S&W Magnum

Barrel Length: 8.38 inches 

Action: Single-action 

Muzzle Velocity: 

Capacity: 5 rounds

If a Dirty Harry film was remade today, this would definitely be the gun our protagonist would carry.  Sure, the 500 isn’t the most high-powered handgun on this list, but nonetheless, it is one that you can most easily find available on the mass market. The gun is chambered in the very potent .500 S&W Magnum, the most powerful cartridge to date, designed specifically for handguns. 

In addition, another thing going for this gun is that it is the more practical relative to many others here on the list. The recoil is punishing but manageable enough to allow for rapid shooting in the experienced hand, and the grip on this handgun is beyond excellent. Because of this, coupled with its power, this is a great option to take along in bear country. You may also find this gun convenient for lighting up any home invader without the need to leave your bedside. 

4. Taurus 454 Raging Hunter

 Price: $$$

Weight: 3.94 lbs 

Caliber: .454 Casull

Barrel Length: 8.375 inches 

Action:  Single-action 

Muzzle Velocity: 1,900 FPS

Capacity: 5 rounds

If you want a powerful yet affordable option for protecting yourself against bears at a short-range, then look no further than the Taurus 454 Raging Hunter. This hefty gun houses the infamous .454 Casull rounds – among the most powerful handgun cartridges in production currently. Understanding, when this gun is fired, it generates a recoil to match. It’s almost 5 times that of a standard .45 Colt handgun, so while it may not be the most powerful on this list, don’t think for a moment you can fire it steady with one hand. 

Nonetheless, it wouldn’t do justice to the gun to just focus on its raw power. With the Raging Hunter, Taurus has managed exceptionally good big-game hunting handgun. From its ergonomic to its shooting performance to its overall aesthetics, at the price offer, it boasts plenty of value. 

5. 6. Desert Eagle Mk XIX

Price: $$$$$

Weight: 4.5 lbs

Caliber: .50 Action Express

Barrel Length: 6 inches 

Action: Gas-operated 

Muzzle Velocity: 

Capacity: 7 + 1

The largest and most powerful semi-auto handgun, the Desert Eagle is a beast to take for hunting and a real monster in the case of self-defense. In the case of the later, it might well be the most practical option. Being magazine-fed, reloading in a critical situation can be quick; plus, you get more rounds to fire compared to in other high-powered handguns. 

Traditionally, pistol handguns because of their design didn’t operate well when chambered for bigger, more high-powered cartridges. The makers of the Desert Eagle overcome the limitation by implementing a gas-operated firing mechanism like that of rifles. This allowed this pistol handguns to be among those rare specimens that could compete well in a previously magnum-dominated territory. 

Over to You 

Which of these guns would you like to buy? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to also check out our store offering high-quality ammunition for your handguns, rifles, and shotguns.