.500 Linebaugh: Taking Revolver Cartridges To The Next Level

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500 Linebaugh

Nothing stands a chance up against John Linebaugh’s monstrous 1/2-incher — the .500 Linebaugh.

How The .500 Linebaugh Tops Most Other Handgun Hunting Cartridges:

  • Capable of pitching a 500-grain bullet at more than 1,200 fps at the muzzle.
  • Despite a punishing recoil, it has a reputation for outstanding accuracy.
  • Most cartridges in its class that are more powerful are designed for use in single-shot handguns; the .500 Linebaugh is a revolver cartridge.
  • Suitable for African game, as well as brown bears.

The .500 Linebaugh is the design creation of John Linebaugh, who started out by converting a .45 Colt revolver from six to five shots, thus offering more strength in the cylinder. It was a successful venture, but he continued to search for a more powerful handgun.

The result is the .500 Linebaugh, which is based on the .348 Winchester cartridge and cut down to 1½ inches and reamed to .50 caliber. Linebaugh uses a large-framed Ruger Bisley revolver, because he has found that the Ruger frame is the only one that can withstand the severe recoil. He replaces the Ruger barrel with one of .50 caliber, usually 5½ inches long. However, he will cut a barrel of any length the customer desires.

The .500 proved to be a very successful round, pushing 500-grain bullets at more than 1,200 fps. Accuracy is outstanding, but recoil can only be described as severe.

Not long after Linebaugh designed this cartridge, the supply of .348 Winchester cases began to dry up, which is why he designed the .475 Linebaugh based on the readily available .45-70 Government case. Not long after the .475 was designed, Browning reintroduced its Model 1871 rifle in .348 Winchester, and so those cases are again readily available.


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There are more-powerful pistol cartridges, but they are primarily for single-shot handguns, such as the T/C Contender.

When it comes to the revolver, this is close to the ultimate in power. Generally, in these revolvers, the .475 Linebaugh can safely be loaded to higher pressure and, therefore, can deliver more energy. Due to its accuracy and easy handling, this cartridge could prove to be an excellent heavy-game handgun cartridge and possibly a revolver cartridge suitable for taking African game.

Specialized bullets are made by Bear Ammunition. The jackets for these bullets are turned on a screw machine, and a lead core is swaged in. In terms of both accuracy and penetration, these bullets have been found to be excellent performers. Buffalo Bore offers factory-loaded ammunition.

500 Linebaugh Loading Data Table

Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from Cartridges of the World, 16th Edition.


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