.500 S&W Double Taps

0217

Accidental double tapping of .500 S&W revolvers is apparently quite common. This video demonstrates …

A few years ago S&W investigated the phenomena. They discovered, as you have probably already guessed, that the double taps were the result of what was essentially bump firing. If the gun recoiled quick enough, while the shooter was still applying trigger pressure, the trigger would reset and then, when the trigger finger caught up with the trigger, another round would fire. S&W filmed this video to demonstrate that their revolvers were not faulty …

[ Many thanks to jdun1911 for emailing me the link. ]

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • SoloTwo

    I still don’t get the obsession with making women fire over sized and high powered pistols.

  • James.Denholm

    That looks bloody dangerous.

  • http://www.dooms-day-device.com Puke

    Nothing against women (A small man would also have the same problem.) but they probably just don’t have the forearm strength or large enough hands for a ridiculous handgun like the .500S&W.

    Physics are physics.
    If the recoil is far greater than the grip of the person holding the gun then you get problems.

  • Andy from West Haven

    Yeah, I agree. It’s stupid as well as chauvanistic if not somewhat sadistic.

    The average woman simply doesn’t have the same hand size/strength as the average man. I know women who can handle .45 ACP or 10mm all day long. .357 mag in full sized revolvers, no problem. But .44 mag in a wheelgun is pretty much the limit to their enjoyment. And I don’t care how well those comps work. .500 S&W is a brute unless you’re shooting Cor Bon .500 Special.

  • Sian

    @SoloTwo it’s to discourage them from picking up the shooting hobby. It’s expensive enough keeping yourself in guns and bullets. Imagine having to take care of the woman too! ;)

  • Dom

    A reminder why EVERYONE should be behind the firing line. Yeah, she’s cute, but the big fella in the black t-shirt won’t be thinking about how he had a good angle on the cute girl shooting a big magnum when she bump fires a .500 S&W into his leg. I suppose that slug came down in whatever county was ahead and a bit off to her left.

  • clamp

    That round is not on my list of rounds I want shot up in the air. (Let’s limit that to birdshot).

  • http://www.drunkenroundtable.com Stuart the Viking

    SoloTwo: Sometimes, the woman WANTS to fire the big gun. A few weeks ago, a friend came down from out of state and wanted to go shooting (she had never touched, let alone fired, a gun). I started her off with an off-range lesson on stance, grip, function, etc. (sans ammo, using snap caps) so that she would know what she was doing when we got to the range. Then we started at .22LR and worked our way through 9mm, .38spl, .45ACP, .357Mag, and finally the .44Mag (standard 240gr JSP). Her grin got bigger and bigger as we progressed, and by the time she fired the .44Mag, she looked like an old pro. I was impressed by how little the .44Mag moved when she fired it. She was a VERY good student.

    I do think you have a point when it comes to a lot of these videos where the woman is just given a high powered handgun and bang, she’s bleeding from the forehead where the front sight smacked her one, but it isn’t always the case.

    s

  • JKEverett

    That second round is an incredible liability…

    I look forward to the lawsuit against S&W when someone actually shoots something / someone with that unintentional double-tap. I bet a court would entertain it under a heading along the lines of “you knew it was a problem, you should have corrected it.”

  • altoids

    @James

    Agreed. I’m glad that the gun’s not faulty, but that was insanely dangerous. She could have shot herself in the head. Good thing that was either the 8 or 10 inch barrel.

    @SoloTwo

    Yeah, it seems to be some kind of perversion.

  • Veeshir

    Heck, if they’d asked me I could have told them that.
    The trigger is so sensitive on single action that it’s ready to fire again before you can tell your finger it’s done pulling.

    I’ve done it a bunch of times, but only when shooting single action.

  • Squidpuppy

    Wait, what? So sustained trigger pressure has released the cylinder stop and the recoil is jarring enough to cycle it so the next round is in battery; at that point it’s single action with a super light trigger? That seems lame. On my 4″ Model 29, which has plenty of recoil, I just can’t imagine this happening and it has a 6 lbs DA and a 2.5 lbs SA trigger, so that’s very light. Does this occur with factory tuning, or are folks messing with their triggers?

  • gunslinger

    well… i don’t think it’s women firing oversized rounds. i think it’s “new shooters” firing those big rounds. i bet i’d have a bit of a problem as well. in those instances, one would THINK to only load 1 round. especially for people who are unfamiliar with the round. i remember my CWP instructor telling a story of a guy who bought a desert eagle, and put a trigger job in before even firing once. he said the guy loaded the mag…. bang bang. he fired during recoil. and well. lets just say we know what happened.

    so yeah, it makes me nervous to see stuff like that.

  • Hogan

    I’m with SoloTwo. There is nothing that annoys me more in the gun community than the hordes of youtube videos where some nimrod slaps a full powered gun in a clearly nervous and inexperienced female shooters hand. There is never any talk of stance, grip, trigger safety, etc…just a loaded cannon ready to ruin someone’s day. I’m pretty sure if your fledgling shooting experience results in pain and fear, that you are not going to end up a gun lover when its all said and done. For that matter, why do people find it funny? We have it hard enough without behavior making us all like like dolts.

    This video wasn’t all that bad, at least it didn’t come crashing into her head.

    • Terry D. Waters

      Sadly ‘crashing into her head’ is exactly what some of these idiots are hoping to capture for Youtube. Sick.

  • http://anarchangel.blogspot.com Chris Byrne

    Just a note on terminology.

    When you unintentionally pull the trigger a second time because of recoil, its called trigger doubling, and is only SLIGHTLY less dangerous/embarrassing than any other negligent/accidental discharge.

    It’s unfortunately common on heavily recoiling chamberings; but it’s also fairly common for 1911s that have been given too light a trigger.

    I’ve mentioned it a few times before on my blog:

    http://anarchangel.blogspot.com/2005/04/good-triggers.html

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Chris, noted

  • John C.

    WOW that is a cool slo mo

  • Aurelien

    SoloTwo, i still don’t get shooting howitzer-sized revolvers. But that’s just me.

  • matt

    What scares me is where the barrel is pointed when she set off the second round. There was no control, none.

  • Tuco

    I can’t remember when it happened, but a man was killed at a local shooting range by the same sort of event. A woman firing a .44 mag allowed the recoiling barrel to flip far to the back and to the side, when the second shot went off it struck and killed the man who was helping her.

  • Cam

    @Solo
    Neither do I. On the plus side, it’s great to see she wasn’t doing the chick lean.

  • MrMaigo

    It’s not the gun’s fault if you’re too WEAK to wield the superior firepower of Smith & Wesson’s .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum. Perhaps you should stick with the lightweight .454 Casull?

  • Don

    I’ve seen enough of these videos to conclude that there needs to be a slight re-examination of how one defines “their revolvers were not faulty”.

    If by simply using a thing as intended produces an undesirable result then it is a faulty design… for example, maybe if you are going to make a hunting revolver with a degree of recoil which can easily induce accidental bump firing, make it SA…

    -D

  • Thomas

    Funny, the s&w video doesn’t replicate e double tap. Note that the cylinder did not advance, so the trigger did not in fact reset.

    Scary stuff, the girl just about gave herself a new beauty mark.

  • Bazoo

    A few years ago a similar accident occured in Alberta, Canada. A fellow allowed his young son fire a .44 Magmun. The boy was about 9 years old to my recollection. The first bullet went down range as intended but the second one went into the boy under his chin killing him instantly and wounding the father in the forearm. This horrible accident could have been prevented by only loading ONE round for someone not experianced with these guns or not letting them shoot it at all. Be safe. Or sport depends on it.

  • Kyle Huff

    The n00bs at the range are always firing these things. Next time I’ll take a bathroom break when they bring it in. Someone could have caught that in the head.

  • Big Daddy

    Yeah what’s up with that? They are always firing weapons that are too big for them and do not use the proper technique to fire them.

    It was funny???…ha ha until that second round hits someone.

    I see even people that have fired weapons be afraid of certain ones. You can tell because they are usually leaning backward. If you never fired full auto it’s different and depends on the weapon, people seem to lean backward and that’s wrong. Why the person with the weapon does not instruct them in the proper way baffles me, it’s so dangerous.

  • Zulu

    I’ve had this happen with two separate people I’ve taken out shooting.

  • jdun1911

    There are two things that went full retard.

    1. The people that are insisting that the S&W 500 can go full auto.

    2. Stupid planks/Attention whores.

    The people that gave the young lady that revolver to shoot so they can put the video on Youtube are fucking stupid. They could have gotten someone brain or dick blown off. It’s all fun and game until someone gets hurt. These people are adults and firearms aren’t toys or use as planks.

    As a rule I only put one round for new shooters so that kind of stuff don’t happen. Doesn’t matter what age or how tough they are. One round for new shooters until I know they can handle the recoil pulse.

    For full auto guns two rounds until I am satisfied they can handle it.

  • http://aricdavis.com Aric

    I took my Mom shooting about a week ago, first time in her life she’s ever fired a gun.

    I have little gun training, at least as far as professionals go, but it was common sense, and the kind of sense that made us both comfortable, to let her know that when she pulled the trigger once, the gun was out of bullets.

    This is easy stuff, folks, and the consensus here is a good one. When you’re teaching someone new to guns to shoot, one round to start, after that, you have a base.

    As for the big pistol/small girls thing, those people are just dirtbags. When I first got into firearms, I had a dude at the local rent a gun range constantly trying to talk me into trying the .454 they had on rent. Why? I just wanted to run a .40 cal Glock safely, learn the basics. What sense is there in calling my manliness into question?

  • jdun1911

    I mean pranks and not planks.

  • http://www.gunbloggers.co LibertyNews

    That video scares the shit out of me. There was a case a few years back where a lady couldn’t control the gun, recoil flipped it up over her head and she shot the guy (husband?) standing behind her.

  • J.T.

    @ Don

    I agree 100%.

  • Cymond

    I don’t really keep up with high-powered handguns, so this is the first I’ve heard about this issue. I will definitely make note of the problem and take steps as necessary to make my trips to the range safer.

    I think part of the tendency to hand uber magnums to tiny novices is to make the normal shooters feel a bit more macho. “Haha, watching her fail makes me feel so manly when I shoot that 500″.

  • http://whitebreadonpatrol.com Whitebread

    I’ve seen this happen first-hand. It was my grandfather firing my father’s S&W .500. It seems to happen most to people who haven’t fired high-recoil handguns before. I treated it just like a particularly feisty .357 and had no problems.

    I’m sure the gun has its applications, but it’s not the sort of thing I would personally be passing around to a lot of shooters for exactly this reason.

  • Jeff M

    Heh some of you I get the impression when you get in the car with someone you wait until they put on their seatbelt because it’s not safe to drive without a seat belt, then you lecture them on how they should put the seatbelt on before they start the car. Like you’re the safest people in the entire world or something. Damn annoying.

    You give the girl the gun, cause you’re all shooting guns and she wants to shoot the big one, after the first 2 shots you see that she has absolutely no wrist control at all so you take it away. Lesson learned.

  • Peter

    Guys who think it’s funny to watch a new shooter get frightened/hurt by a recoiling gun are beneath contempt.
    http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2009/04/dont-ask-idiot-to-teach-you-to-shoot.html

  • ChuckE

    When I first got an SP101 .357, I loaded one .357 round in it at a time. I was afraid that I wouldn’t hold onto it – (lack of) proper grip, powder burns on my support hand, blistered and bleeding web of my hand (Yes, from the .38s I shot earlier.), loud report, etc. And the only other handgun I had shot before was a Mauser Broomhandle. My common sense was simple fear.

    I guess that their bravado trumped any reasonable fear.

    I agree with @JKEverett. Maybe, Smith & Wesson should look into a very-long reset for the gun.

  • AJ

    Why did the guy put more than 1 bullet in the gun to begin with? Especially with a novice.

  • Redchrome

    Personally, I find it more enjoyable to teach people how to shoot well, than to actually shoot myself. (It’s even better when I can get them to help clean guns afterward).

    I usually start people off with a single-action .22 revolver because there’s a comparatively limited amount of things to fiddle with it and ways to operate it (cock hammer, concentrate on front sight, squeeze trigger). After a comparatively limited amount of shooting with it tho (once they’ve learned good technique), I’ve had people shoot a .45-70 revolver (Magnum Research BFR) without inordinate trouble. That having been said; it’s a 5-pound revolver with power levels not substantially in excess of super-heavy .44 mag loads and low pressure levels that don’t hurt the ears so much. Lifting the revolver seemed to be the big problem for some people.

    I don’t push it on them, and I tell them recoil is not something they need to worry about because it happens after the shot — and they don’t have a problem because there’s no hype about how awful it is, and they learned good technique.

  • http://dchandguninfo.livejournal.com DC Handgun Info

    I think some guys have a sick attraction to (making or watching) videos with their wives/girlfriends/coworkers(?) shooting inappropriate guns. Inappropriate, as in: too heavy, not enough training on the novice shooter’s part, too long, too much recoil, etc. THINK of how non-gunny people are affected by this: “Oh, those gun jerks — typical behavior!” Let’s act better than this. What we — the responsible gun owner — can say to the “gun slob” is: Just stop. You’re helping the anti-gun forces in a powerful way. Your idea of humor is feeding our opposition and making it easier for them to spread lies about the majority of gun owners.

  • A girl…

    This is going to be a very late comment, but I only saw this post now, and felt I had to reply after some of the things I’ve read in the comments.

    Wow, quite a bit of chauvinism going on among some of the male shooters.

    I have news for some of you. Not all girls are pathetic weaklings unable to hold a large revolver or take some recoil.

    I’m a girl, 5’7″ tall, very slender and “delicate-looking”, and the Smith & Wesson 500 is my primary handgun.
    I have other guns, but this is the one I take to the range all the time, and the one I absolutely love shooting, more than any other.

    It’s also the very first gun I ever purchased. That’s because until I discovered the 500, I wasn’t quite interested enough to actually bother buying my own gun. (I’ve been shooting for a while, but using my family’s guns and range guns etc.)
    After I discovered that gun, I fell in love with it. I bought one and go to the range with it as often as I can.
    I have no pain or limp-wristing or difficulties like that, and I don’t fly back with the recoil at all (in fact, I barely move back at all, contrary to many guys I’ve seen firing that gun, even some experienced shooters…)

    Not only that, but I’m more accurate with this gun than I ever was with any other gun before. There are no bullets flying around like in this video, everything is controlled just fine.

    I can’t count how many times someone saw my gun and felt compelled to pull out the “you’ll hit yourself in the face with it” or “your wrists will hurt too much” or “you’ll blow your fingers off”, but none of this ever happened.
    It’s not any more dangerous than any other gun. If the shooter knows what they’re doing and follows proper safety rules, it’s all fine.

    The danger is putting a gun in the hands of an inexperienced shooter (of either gender) without warning them or taking proper safety measures.
    That’s what gets so many ridiculous Youtube videos, as well as tragic stories of people accidentally shooting themselves or others etc.

    Being female or not has nothing to do with it.

  • A girl…

    A quick add-on to my comment, in case it might have been unclear: I don’t mean to sound harsh or attack anyone with my comment, and I wasn’t aiming my comment at the people just talking about such youtube videos being bad. I agree that such videos are often ridiculous, as are any videos involving putting inexperienced shooters in situations that might end up being dangerous.

    My comment was merely addressing the issue of the few guys who think that because someone is a girl, they can’t use a gun like the S&W 500.

    An experienced shooter is an experienced shooter regardless of their gender, the size of their wrists, and so on. :)

  • ChuckE

    Bravo! And I’d like to add that even experienced shooters can be recoil sensitive or uncomfortable or reckless with certain types of guns. You might have already seen this, but check out this big, burly guy handle a single shot handgun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrXOuWhsU5M (I’m not implying that he was experienced.)

  • James.Denholm

    I think, just to further prove the above point:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c6XFvqoJug

    Now, it’s not the same gun, being one of those Taurus abominations, but methinks that this might show that it’s not a good idea to load more than one round in any .500 S&W revolver if you’re new to the gun.

    That said, I still don’t understand why someone would need a weapon with such a ridiculous calibre for anything but asking punks how lucky they feel.

  • A girl…

    >> ChuckE:

    That video! I’ve seen it before too, it’s painful to watch. (Aside from the danger of what might have happened if it had double-fired, it’s painful because I wonder so much if the poor gun that flew back got all scratched up when it landed. A gun like that is something to cherish, rather than mess up all the finish.)

    That happens to be the other revolver I dream of one day owning, although I’m not sure it would be possible to have one where I live even if I were to win the lottery and suddenly be able to afford it or something. :p

    The company that makes it has a line in the gun’s description, saying not to worry since “it won’t cause permanent damage” to your wrists. That alone makes you want to try it just to see how bad the kick can be. (A bit like how people feel compelled to try and climb higher and higher mountains because of the challenge it represents.)

    >> James.Denholm:

    But asking punks if they feel lucky is half the fun of owning such a gun! ;) j/k

    I was originally a bit tempted to get a .44 magnum, but the 500 just won my heart completely. And now that I’m used to shooting with it, when I try .44 magnum it feels like I’m shooting a medium powered or low powered caliber with pretty light recoil. (That’s one of the funny side effects of the 500. It also makes 9mm and 45 feel like you’re shooting .22!)

    The video with the guy was very worrisome. Aside from the double-tap, I kept expecting him to accidentally blow his fingers off, whenever he would touch the cylinder with his fingers all over the edge. D:

  • ChuckE

    @a girl…

    I think it is a Thompson Center single shot. It looks like it might have grazed his face.

    There is another pistol in 600 Nitro Express, the Pfeifer-Zeliska single-action revolver. It is apparently more controllable, because it weighs 13-14 pounds. It should be, since the Thompson is “only” 6 lbs. Walker Colt is 4.5 lbs.

  • Knives

    Nah women can handle the 500 just fine. I brought a friend out to the range and she willfully wanted to try it out. Since the 500 does double tap for most novices it’s best to load the revolver with 3 rounds skipping 2 chambers. Then set the left of the two bullets together in battery so that when the trigger’s pulled the fireing pin would hit the next one over, manualy rotate the cylinder to the next round and so on. That way it is physically impossible to double tap. It worked for her and she shot it over and over again. It’s fun to shoot and is useful for a range thriller and a great bear gun. You just have to tame its awsomeness and get use to sticker shock.

  • A girl

    @ChuckE

    I’ve seen it online before too, it’s awesome. That’s another of the guns I dream to own! (Even though that one might really have a bit too much recoil.) Too bad it’s so pricey.

    @Knives

    I never had the double-tap thing happen to me, ever. Nor to any of the shooters I’ve let use my 500. Neither the experienced ones or the newbies. It just never happened.

    I can’t help but think the “500 always double-taps” tales are exactly the same as “all glocks go kaboom, without exception” that we also often hear in forums etc. but that are totally untrue.
    We all are extra-careful when introducing people to this gun because of its power and also a bit because of the double-tap tales, but are they really true…? Have you had it happen yourself?

    I personally think that the whole manually rotating the cylinder and only loading 3 rounds etc. might add a bit to the awe the newbies might feel about the power of that gun, but it must also diminish some of the enjoyment of shooting it.
    IMHO it might be better and easier to simply get them to be used to shooting with steady hands and all so that they can use the gun normally rather than do all that stuff…

  • http://TheFirearmblog David

    I shot my 500 and it did double tap. However it skipped a chamber!!!!!

    I shot bullit one, then double shot two and four, skipping three. !!

    So skipping chambers and loading only three bullits is not fool proof!!!

    Be careful.

  • TED

    S & W doesn’t give a rat’s ass about safety with these guns, just about the bottom line. We have a client who lost an eye when he fired a .460 S&W Revolver and the cylinder released causing a horrific blow-back which literally fried his right eye. Let’s see S & W Sleeze out of that suit.

  • Dave

    Just got my S&W 500 back from Smith & Wesson. They replaced the cylinder stop. No more double tap. I ran 20 shells through it this morning and shot a 3″ pattern. I love this gun. Once you get over the size of this monster, you will find it very easy to control. Wear a shooting glove and hang on tight! Not the recoil I thought. The flame on the other hand was hugh. Try it in the dark.

  • Terry D. Waters

    I’ve shot my friend’s S&W 500 plenty of times with no problems and I’ve never had any hand gun instruction. I’m shocked that this can happen.
    So what exactly does a person have to do wrong to make the gun go off unintended?

    • Tom

      I’ve owned my 500 since 2009 and shot hundreds of rounds without incident. Today, though, I had a double fire. Normally I never cock it before firing, but today I decided to try it out and on my second shot I double fired. After watching several double fire video’s on youtube I have noticed that one thing they all have in common is the shooter cock’s the gun before making their shot. I will bring mine to a gunsmith before shooting again to be safe but I believe cocking the weapon before shooting is the enabler of the situation.

  • Tom

    I’ve owned my 500 since 2009 and shot hundreds of rounds without incident. Today, though, I had a double fire. Normally I never cock it before firing, but today I decided to try it out and on my second shot I double fired. After watching several double fire video’s on youtube I have noticed that one thing they all have in common is the shooter cock’s the gun before making their shot. I will bring mine to a gunsmith before shooting again to be safe but I believe cocking the weapon before shooting is the enabler of the situation.