Dirty Harry wouldn’t have known what had hit him if he pulled his old pea-shooter out in the modern age. The World’s most powerful handguns are a different ballgame now and handgun calibers just keep getting bigger as the technology emerges to contain them.
That 357 Magnum wouldn’t even register on this list of the world’s most powerful handguns. It’s still a great gun, but it is lost among these handgun calibers.
These are big-bore handguns designed for big game hunting and survival in big bear country, which is about the toughest test the American population is ever going face. They have the stopping power of a cannon and they are the baddest kind of personal defense.
These high caliber handguns sit on the hip and in the jeeps of guides all across Africa, who know what it takes to dissuade a charging wild animal from taking bite-sized chunks out the tourists. Their very existence depends on their sidearm and these are the men that these cannons were created for.
So, there is a real world reason for these guns. But then some people simply want to have them, shoot them and enjoy them for the engineering works of art that they are. More than a few of these guns are out on display on desks and stores around the country.
Enjoy the most powerful handguns in the world and feel free to buy one!
1. Magnum Research BFR 45-70 Government
- Price: $1031.99
- Caliber: 45-70 Government
- Barrel Length: 7.5″
- Total Length: 15″
- Weight: 4.3lb
- Capacity: 5 Rounds
This massive, five chamber revolver comes from Minnesota and it’s a game-hunting handgun that’s essentially firing rifle ammo. It’s a gun for the African plains and it might be able to take out a bear, too.
It’s a brutal, two-handed gun that does come with some recoil, but then you kind of know that when handgun calibers get this intense.
It’s slow to load, so you might want to think twice about packing this as a last line of defense against wild animals. Truthfully it’s a terrible personal defense gun and it really needs to be laid out on sandbags, or on a bipod, to get the best from it. Then it can drop deer, or even Elk if you’re good. But this is no concealed carry quick shooter.
This is the world’s most powerful handgun for sale in 2018, but its a specialist tool for hunting and you certainly wouldn’t want to go waving this round in the real world.
It’s a big old Colonial gun, a Blunderbuss of a handgun, that would only really look right on the African Savannah.
Here it’s a novelty, to be fired at the range for a crowd. It has also proved a popular deer hunting gun where the regs that normally only permit shotguns didn’t think to include handguns. So, there’s a legit reason to own one.
Sometimes you just don’t need a legit reason, though. Sometimes you just want to own the most powerful handgun in the world.
If that’s you, you know what to do…
2. Taurus 454 Raging Bull Casull
- Price: $984.99
- Caliber: 454
- Barrel Length: 8.375″
- Total Length: 14″
- Weight: 3.94lb
Capcity: 5 Rounds
Another good old-fashioned wheelgun, but this one can handle 44 Magnum or the infamous 454 Casull rounds. It’s a good-looking, well proportioned, big-bore revolver with an accurate 8.375-inch barrel.
It’s 14 inches in total and it’s a brick of handgun, weighing in at 3.9lb. It’s the kind of weapon you have strapped to your thigh if you work in bear country or the African bush and it’s a step back in time to total hand cannons bringing big game to its knees.
It has the long double action, or the snappy and sharp single action with the hammer thumbed back.
This is also what real stopping power feels like and you might just be able to wield one of these as personal defense. I mean let’s be honest, it’s not the best CCW in the world. But if you pulled one of these out of a concealed gun safe then your home intruder’s odds just got way, way shorter.
Are these supremely powerful handguns a good idea as a home defense gun? No, for all kinds of reasons, including the fact that you have to be a certain size to handle the gun at all. If you’re looking for home defense handguns then I would go right to the bottom of the list to the 10mm handguns I included just for you.
Alternatively, check out our complete list of the best 10mm handguns that we think offer a more practical combination of power, control and capacity. You can also opt for the traditional 45 ACP 1911 if you live in the real world and you won’t hear too many people complaining about a 230gr hollow point and its lack of punch…
They are self-defense handguns. This is something else entirely. This is for blowing small shit apart, and giving big shit a valuable lesson in messing with you.
It’s the same cartridge the Ruger Super Redhawk uses and we know that it just works. Alaskans credit these guns with saving their lives more often than we know. They don’t carry these things round for fun up there.
Using a Casull in normal life would be just a bit odd to be honest as it is a monster of a handgun cartridge. This is a sledgehammer of a handgun, which might just make a bear, wolf or lion change its mind and go elsewhere. That’s really it’s main purpose, apart from some backyard range destruction, of course.
It is a semi popular range gun, too. It’s a challenge and it won’t be your first choice every day, but just sometimes you’ll want to wrestle the beast and send some Casull rounds down range.
You can, of course, hunt with it. In which case this round will take down deer with ease and, if you can get close, it could take bigger game.
It’s a serious cartridge and that turns a gun like this into an easy investment.
It also gives you a shot against bears, lions, even crocodiles or gators. Some people live in much harsher worlds than us. For them, a Taurus Raging Bull can keep them alive.
It’s an equaliser with nature and we actually think it’s a prettier gun than the big Rugers. As it will be by your side constantly, that counts for something.
The longer barrel also means it should be more accurate and more powerful. If you don’t want to take on crocs and polar bears, maybe you can opt for the six-inch barrel instead. You’ll lose some top end power, but not much.
It’s absolute gunporn in its own way and if you just want one, big, powerful handgun, then I’d say it’s between this and the S&W 500. They are guns you can shoot up your backyard with and have fun doing it.
And if your friend owns a Smith & Wesson, get one of these just to spite them. Your gun will be more powerful at the range, and that moment will be priceless.
A Snubnose Taurus Raging Bull? Seriously?
You can get a
Beware, though, that the smaller, snubnose gun is going to be way more difficult to control. It could be the very definition of a loose cannon.
3. Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Special
- Price: $999.99
- Caliber: 454 Casull
- Barrel Length: 2.5″
- Total Length: 7.62″
- Weight: 2.75lb
- Capacity: 5 rounds
With a 2.5-inch barrel, you know this is going to be a snappy little gun, but it’s perfect for animal control or when you need a hell of a lot of stopping power in a small package. It’s a cannon, in small revolver form, and the 454 Casull round is not something to be toyed with.
It’s pretty much Ruger’s alternative to the snubnose Taurus, and if you’ve never seen one then it’s a safe bet you don’t spend much time up North.
There is a reason why Alaskans consider a Ruger Super Redhawk essential equipment and keep them as pocket pistols. They have to contend with the animals that most of us sometimes have nightmares about. That is big bear country and wolves patrol the wintry wonderland, too. It’s no place for a 22 pistol.
You would be amazed, too, how many African guides have one nestled next to them in the jeep at all times. If an animal springs from the bush then it’s cocked, locked and ready to blow its face off.
As a last line of defense in your home, it’s also got a certain perverse appeal. This is a very big gun in a very small package and it’s kind of the next-level Judge.
It’s 2.6lb, so it’s not a perfect CCW, but it is a beast of a gun that you might want to have in your home. It will take care of everything, from a grizzly bear to a zombie.
If that version is a little much, you can get the Super Redhawk chambered in 44 Magnum, too, which turns it into a surprisingly versatile weapon.
My gut feeling is that the Taurus line-up works better right now, and they are much better looking guns. But there are old men in the wild country that trust their Super Redhawk with their life and won’t use anything else.
Who are we to argue with hard won wisdom like that?
4. S&W 500 .50 Cal
- Price: $1199.99
- Caliber: .500 S&W Magnum
- Barrel Length: 8.38″
- Total Length: 15″
- Weight: 4.53lb
- Capacity: 5 Rounds
This has become the most famous high-power handgun in recent years, even though technically it does get outgunned by a few rare souls. Still, this is probably the most powerful gun for the mass market and it’s pretty much the biggest thing you probably want to shoot on the regular.
It comes with a range of barrel sizes, with a manageable 4 inch barrel looking pretty damned cool, while the longer barrel 8.75″ barrel you see here turns this into a legit hunting gun if you can tame it. That might take a lot of practise, or even a bi-pod, but you can do these things.
The snubnose version could actually be a life-saver in bear country, or polar bear country, or a few other countries with big animals that can eat you. Right then, you want the most powerful handgun in the world and this S&W would look like a sweet deal. You can speedload it, you can group the shots and this is just about the most powerful handgun you could rapid fire if you really focus.
Of course, I’m looking at valid reasons for using a hand cannon, like practical applications. There really aren’t that many when it comes down to it.
If he were still going strong today, this is the gun that Dirty Harry would carry. And it would be a frightening double act.
This guy shot a big piece of pork with his Smith & Wesson, because, well, why not? It does show the bullet weight, though, and the massive amount of damage you can do to flesh with this monster handgun.
You might just want the most powerful, slightly practical handgun that money can buy, though. Right now, ignoring the much less practical 45-70 Magnum Research offering that really is a unique thing, that’s this one. This is the most powerful mass market handgun, that you should buy.
You’ll never regret owning a S&W 500. It’s just too much fun and it’s $1000 well-spent. Even lighting up the range and reducing the other members to amused spectators can be fun. As a last line of personal defense in a gun safe by your bed, it could be an awesome surprise for a home invader.
I suspect you might not say that about the BFR.
The longer barrel is going to generate more energy, that’s just the way it works, and you can count on 2600lb/ft of muzzle energy with this long gun. So the smaller gun is way more practical, but you’ll get the most power with the longer versions. There is a S&W Performance Center hunter with an even longer balanced barrel and it really is something…
There is basically a form package for you, from the
With the high-grade 500gr
You can speedload it, so it has a massive tick in the plus column there, and the S&W X-frame is big, but the ergonomics all work. This is a practical gun that doesn’t need any special treatment. It’s just a big damned revolver.
If you haven’t scratched the itch yet, get the best price for the S&W 500 online now.
Stick with this video for the slow motion gel, watermelon and soda pop destruction. It’s pretty cool.
5. Desert Eagle Mk
XIX .50 AE
- Price: $1,781.99
- Caliber: .50 Action Express
- Barrel Length: 6″
- Total Length: 10.75″
- Weight: 4.5lb
- Capacity: 17+1
It’s so easy to forget the semi-automatic Desert Eagle, but it is still one of the most powerful weapons we have. It’s a movie icon, it starred in Deadpool, for instance, and The Matrix. It’s pretty much a movie icon, but we just love Deadpool so that’s the one you get here.
Magnum Research’s distinctive 50 AE still does a roaring trade as a rental gun at ranges round the country because there is just nothing like it. It’s still the most powerful semi-automatic handgun in the world by a long way and that must be for good reason.
Others would like the record, but the engineering challenges involved in a 50 Cal semi-auto are immense.
So we should always hold a little love for the Desert Eagle. And maybe consider owning one again, one day….
It’s the easiest here to reload, too, thanks to a simple magazine system. So drop one clip, load another and you’ve got another eight shots of 300gr Hornady hollowpoints. That’s enough to do serious damage through the weight of numbers.
When capacity becomes a factor, the Desert Eagle might actually be the better weapon. I never thought I’d be describing a Desert Eagle .50 as the practical alternative, but here we are…
It is still down on power compared to the Smith & Wesson 500 and those heavyweight bullets. That’s one thing we can’t
Where to buy a Desert
Eagle .50 AE MKX1X
Every online gun store lists the Desert Eagle, but not all of them have one for you to buy right now. We look for guns for sale online at the right prices, that’s literally our purpose. So we have found a few great places to buy Desert Eagle handguns online at discount price.
Here are our favorite gun stores that stock the Magnum Research Desert Eagle XIX 50 AE:
- Guns.com – A great selection of Desert Eagles for sale right now.
- Brownells – Buy a range of Desert Eagle .50 AE pistols online now.
6. S&W 460 XVR
- Price: $1,362.90
- Caliber: 460 S&W
- Barrel Length: 14″
- Total Length: 21.5″
- Weight: 5.4lb
- Capacity: 5 Rounds
We know, another S&W revolver, but just look at it. This is a sniper rifle of a revolver, designed to be used with a bi-pod and scope.
Why hasn’t this featured in an awesome film yet? Actually, It probably has. I don’t watch too much TV.
But anyway, if you hunt, you want something different and you want to get up close and personal, then this could be an awesome handgun for you. It’s another Smith Wesson model that you just might not have thought about, but it is a fun handgun.
That’s barrel is 14 inches, and so you need to do this gun justice with proper technique and your own particular brand of hunting prowess. If you’re going out into the North American wilderness then one of these and a Creedmoor rifle could cover you for just about all eventualities.
That would be a two-gun kit to hunt and stay safe in the American countryside.
If you’re in big bear country, add a snubnose back-up from Taurus, and you are as prepared as you reasonably can be.
If you’re curious about handgun hunting, then check out cheaper big bore revolvers and get one you could use as home security, and personal defense as well as out in the field.
7. Ruger Blackhawk 45 Long Colt
- Price: $533.50
- Caliber: 45 Long Colt
- Barrel Length: 7.5″
- Total Length: 13.3″
- Weight: 2.5lb
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
This is a classic Blackhawk chambered for 45 Long Colt, if that’s what tickles your fancy. You can get basically the same gun chambered for Casull, by the way, but if you’re not facing down angry grizzlies every day then this is all the gun you’ll likely ever want or need. You can get a 45 ACP version, too, which again is more than enough gun for most people.
This big handgun cartridge dates back to 1873. It was a blackpowder round and it went on to become a staple of the cowboy world. Now it’s actually popular with the cowboy recreationists and the Blackhawk is as close to an old-school six shooter in this caliber as you’re like to find.
Even in the old weapons, it made a more than respectable 1050fps with a shove from the black powder. Now? It’s more. Lots more.
Others offer the full black powder experience, but this is a modern-day, old-school six shooter with all the mod cons and the reliability that this Ruger revolver has become famous for. It’s over-engineered, it’s tough as old boots and it keeps people safe in the wilderness every day.
Wolves, bears, lions, tigers and even elephants have tasted the wrath of this personal defense cartridge flying from this colt pistol. It’s a serious handgun caliber that you might even think about using for home defense, because this thing takes care of animals wherever they crop up.
I love this video, mainly for the proper cowboy accent.
8 Taurus Public Defender Polymer
- Price: $486.99
- Price: $486.99
- Caliber: .410 Bore/45 Long Colt
- Barrel Length: 2″
- Total Length: 7.65″
- Weight: 1.69lb
- Capacity: 5 rounds.
This is a real practical addition to your personal arsenal and if you’re thinking about just one gun for self-defense, this is one of the most sensible options here. It’s small, it’s a viable concealed carry and it offers something different to a standard handgun.
You can chamber the Taurus in 410 Cartridges or 45 Long Colt. A lot of people that live and work in rattlesnake country have one for a yard gun and if you chose to carry one of these on your ankle, or even as your main EDC, I would struggle to argue with your life choices.
The general feeling is that buckshot in a Judge is LESS effective than a small 45 ACP, but watch the video below and you’ll see that you can get buckshot tightly grouped at about 10 feet, which is typically the
But, if you use slugs, then it’s a totally different proposition and you get range, as well as power. Then this becomes one of the most dangerous pocket pistols you can carry.
The range of 410 slugs on the market is truly mindblowing now, and there are some truly horrendous projectiles you can load into your Taurus these days. So, get the right slugs and you’re looking at one of the most vicious handguns in the known world at close quarters.
For the money, you’ll struggle to find anything with more impact and those 410 shells and slugs hold the key to the type of weapon you have in your hand. Either way, it’s one of the most potent tools for self defense we know about. If you don’t have one, get one. You can even use it as a back-up in your sock, if you live that kind of life.
The whole gun weighs 1.69lb, it’s just over seven inches long and it will work as an EDC. With a speedloader, or a high-capacity 9mm as a completely separate option, this little gun can easily form part of a self-defense system. It effectively gives you a small shotgun on your hip, which can be a very big deal. But we would load it with slugs and go for the maximum impact.
This is a different kind of power. It’s all close-up and it’s all about personal defense, but there’s a place in this world for a gun like that. It is also possibly the best snake gun for sale at any price.
9. Smith & Wesson 329PD 44 Magnum
- Price: $982.70
- Caliber: 44 Magnum
- Barrel Length: 4″
- Total Length: 9.5″
- Weight: 1.56lb
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
We always knew there would be a lot of Smith & Wesson love in this list. The company cornered the market in big bore revolvers for a while and this one is actually a detuned compromise. It’s the mass-market gun to emerge from thousands of hours of field testing.
It’s probably the one you want for home defense, unless you spend serious time in the great American wilderness. Even then, it’s maybe the best compromise between outright power and shot placement.
Essentially this is a lightweight, six-round wheelgun. It’s the lightest it could be while maintaining the structural integrity required to pummel 44 Magnum loads out all day long.
It’s an elegant looking gun and you can see the police service revolver influence. I like the matte black, you might want a nickel finish, but there’s a S&W for everyone.
It isn’t cheap, but if you just love a
10. Glock G20 10mm
- Price: $549.99
- Caliber: 10mm
- Barrel Length: 4.6″
- Total Length: 8.03″
- Weight: 1.92lb
- Capacity: 15+1 Rounds
Now things get interesting. The truth is that the difference in penetration between the Glock and the larger calibers will come down to shot placement more often than not. There’s more in you than the gun.
So, if you’re honest with yourself, would you rather be aiming one of these hand cannons at a charging bear or the familiar form of a Glock?
Make no mistake, the 10mm comes with a bigger kick than the 9mm, but then it’s nowhere near the savage feedback and three-feet fireballs you’ll get from the big hitters on this list. The ammo, though, is widely considered to deliver the same powerful impact as a 357 Magnum round.
If you’re a woman, a smaller guy or you just want to have control of the gun you’re firing, then a Glock 10mm could be the one you actually need in your arsenal. If you can pump in two or three shots from the Glock, in 90% of cases you’ll be doing better than one shot with a big revolver.
With the real big guns on this list you’ll need to reset after each shot unless you’re built like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. With the Glock, you could pump a whole magazine into a tight group. That could be a lifesaver.
It’s cheap, too, comparatively, and it’s a Glock so it should survive a nuclear winter. There are debates raging on the forums about the difference between this and the 44 Magnum, which means it’s close enough for this to be an option and it is proven bear defense.
I don’t think it is on a par with the 44 Magnum in terms of power, incidentally. It’s not even close, but the Glock comes with a lot of benefits that are hard to ignore.
10mm ammo was basically Unobtanium. You can get it now, but it’s so expensive that most people end up parting with their 10mm and you’ll have to shell out around 40c a round for even basic ammunition. Check here, to, and when you spot a deal on the heavyweight 200gr ammunition then buy it in bulk.
The range-topping stuff that makes the gun worthwhile can be well over a dollar a round. If you have an issue with wild animals, though, or you just want the last line in home defense, then this 10mm from Glock is really an unsung hero.
If you want even more punch, then the Glock G40 comes with a longer barrel and slide. It’s more expensive, but it will give you a touch more power and visual impact.
11. Ruger SR1911 10mm
- Price: $750.99
- Caliber: 10mm
- Barrel Length: 5″
- Total Length: 8.67″
- Weight: 2.52lb
- Capacity: 8+1 Rounds
If you’re not quite ready for the Desert Eagle, but you do want a hand cannon you can control and identify with, then you might be happy to know there’s a 10mm version of the 1911 we generally think is the best in the world in terms of value.
The SR1911 is an icon, there’s no two ways about it, and it offers the 10mm version on the quiet, so you really could have an old-school monster on your hip. 10Mm will go head-to-head with 45 ACP or more or less any round you care to mention. It largely comes out on top and only the price of the ammo will kerb your shooting. It’s a fun gun, get one and you’re pretty much covered for big bore protection.
Technically, this gun could take out angry animals. Don’t test that theory if you can avoid it, though.