Big Horn Armory Archives -
July 7th, 2020 by AmSJ Staff

Introduced in 2018, Big Horn Armory has made some upgrades to its AR500 Pistol for 2020.

Cody, Wyo. (June 2020) – Big Horn Armory, makers of big-bore firearms, is pleased to announce it has reintroduced the AR500 Pistol for 2020. Based on the BHA AR500 Rifle, the most powerful AR firearm, the AR500 Pistol is a large frame AR chambered in 500 Auto Max, a rimless .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum. This puts an unparalleled amount of power into the pleasant shooting, rapid firing, exceptionally compact platform. The new pistol has been updated and upgraded with a new Blade® pistol brace and M-lok handguard and also includes an ambidextrous safety and charging handle to make shooting it even more enjoyable. You can watch the video on the AR500 Pistol here:

“The original pistol version of our AR500 was great, but we knew we could improve upon it and make it even better,” Greg Buchel, president of Big Horn Armory, said. “After listening to our customers, and performing tests on our end of the new M-Lok handguard and Blade pistol brace, we knew we had created an even better version of our compact AR500 without compromising on the quality our customers expect out of our big bore firearms. We believe our customers will enjoy what the new AR500 Pistol can achieve.”

Built using lightweight black hard coat anodized 7075 aluminum receivers with a 10-inch nitrated barrel, full-length Picatinny rail, M-lok handguard and blade pistol brace, the new AR500 Pistol packs a punch yet felt recoil is similar to a .308. It comes with one five round magazine, but additional five- and nine-round magazines are available for purchase at

Its size makes it ideal for SWAT officers, military, or private security use for vehicle carry or as a powerful breaching weapon capable of clearing any obstruction, including bulletproof glass. It is also perfect for hunters wanting a more compact, but powerful platform for big game, whether in a vehicle or on horseback.

The 500 Auto Max was developed by Big Horn Armory using a 500 S&W rimless straight walled casing with the same ballistics. It is capable of feeding and firing any .500 diameter bullet between 200 and 700 grains. The AR500 has an adjustable gas block to allow the user to run subsonic loads using a suppressor.
500 Auto Max ammunition is currently shipping from Buffalo Bore, Steinel Ammunition, and Underwood Ammo, with brass available from Starline Brass. It is also available at Midway USA.

Big Horn Armory AR500 Pistol Specifications:
  • Caliber: 500 Auto Max
  • Rate of Twist: 1 in 24
  • Barrel Length: 10 inches
  • Muzzle: Threaded
  • Crown: Recessed
  • Butt Stock: Pistol Brace
  • Fore-end: Forearm brace
  • Action Materials: 7075 Aluminum hard anodized
  • Metal Finishes: Hunter Black Nitride on SS parts
  • Swing Swivel Mounts: Integral rear
  • Mag Capacity: Five
  • Overall Length: Varies
  • Weight: 8.1 lbs.
  • MSRP: $2,199.00
For more on Big Horn Armory, visit or any of their social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.

About Big Horn Armory:
Big Horn Armory was founded in 2008 with the expressed intention of designing a Browning-type lever-action gun chambered in 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum. The Big Horn Armory Model 89, made in America, closely follows the work of John Browning with refinements courtesy of modern metallurgy and machining capabilities. The first rifles began shipping in September of 2012 and since then, BHA has added to their big bore lineup with a Model 90 Carbine in 460 S&W, the Model 90A in 454 Casull, the Model 90B in .45 Colt, the Model 89A in 500 Linebaugh and the Model 89B in .475 Linebaugh. In 2017, Big Horn Armory took a departure from its lever-action series and developed the AR500 Auto Max, the most powerful short-range, semi-auto based on an AR .308 platform.

Posted in Industry News Tagged with: ,

February 25th, 2020 by AmSJ Staff

Lever-Action Jurassic Thumper

Big Horn Armory’s Model 89 Chambers The .500 S&W Magnum For Really Big Game


Story and photographs by Dave Campbell

Ever since the .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum came on the scene in 2003, there have been a bunch of folks trying to figure out how to cram this über-powered revolver cartridge into a rifle – especially a lever-action rifle. It’s been an American obsession ever since the cowboy days: A guy “needs” to have a lever-action rifle chambered for his handgun cartridge. Whether that need is real or not can be debated elsewhere, but the perception remains steadfast. Most of the popular revolver cartridges – from the .32-20 to the .45 Colt – have been made in a lever-action rifle. But there’s another advantage with the .500 S&W Magnum. In a rifle the .500 S&W begins to crowd the .458 Winchester Magnum in performance. Problem is, the .500 S&W Mag has a few dimensional issues to fit it into an established platform.

Model89 Rear sight

In terms of real-world practicality the Model 89 is something of a niche rifle. It most certainly is not the all-around deer, elk and pronghorn rifle so popular in the West now. Rather, it is a rifle designed to deliver a solid punch to large, tough animals at moderate range — say, 200 yards or less.

Frank Ehrenford, owner of Big Horn Armory, was one of those who dreamed of a lever gun in .500 S&W Magnum. In 2008 he partnered with Greg Buchel, master machinist and engineer, to see the project come to fruition. They tested a variety of lever-action rifles from the Marlin 336 to the Model 1895, but none were deemed suitable. So a year later they decided to build their own rifle from the ground up.

As a starting point they chose the Winchester Model 1886, the Browning-designed lever gun that features dual-opposing locking lugs to contain powerful cartridges. The Model 1892 is the same action scaled down to handle pistol-caliber cartridges. Unfortunately, the Model 1892 is too small for the .500 S&W Magnum.

Ehrenford, Buchel and Dan Brown, their machinist, decided to upsize the Model 92 to harness the new chambering. One regular complaint about the Model 92 is the dinky loading gate. Especially with larger cartridges like the .44-40, .44 Special/Mag and .45 Colt, it can become downright painful to load the magazine more than a couple of times a day. To address that issue, the team decided to adapt the loading gate design on the Model 86 to the new action. Loading the Model 89 is not as challenging as it can be with a Model 92.


What they ended up with is a rifle about halfway between the size of an 86 and an 92 Winchester, hence the moniker Model 89. Parts for the rifle are made by stock removal on CNC machinery. There are no investment cast parts in this rifle, nor are there any forgings. As the company gets on its feet parts are made by an outside contractor located in the United States. Receivers are manufactured in Wyoming, and the stocks are made in Texas. Big Horn Armory began shipping completed rifles in 2011.


My range time showed me that a careful shot with superb eyesight might be able to stretch the range to as much as 300 yards, but for most of us mere mortals, two football fields should be considered max. I was able to hit an 18-inch square gong at 300 yards about four shots out of ten from a benchrest. A younger shooter with better eyes probably might pick up perhaps three more of those dingers at that range.

My sample Model 89 showed superb workmanship throughout the metal and wood. I had some initial concerns that the curved lever might prove painful under the stout recoil of the big .50 caliber, but those concerns proved meaningless. There’s plenty of room even for my bratwurst-sized digits in the loop, and the pistol grip helps greatly in controlling the rifle. The otherwise traditional look and lines of this rifle are melded with a couple of modernizations to help in its handling.

First, the traditional two-piece walnut stock is shod with a 1-inch-thick Pachmayr decelerator recoil pad. As a traditionalist, I normally tend to favor the old crescent-style steel buttplate – wickedly beautiful and equally wicked on the shoulder. Here is where good sense trumps tradition: the substantial recoil pad allows one to run this rifle without bludgeoning one’s shoulder into a massive hematoma. Too, a Marble receiver-mounted aperture sight replaces the traditional buckhorn or semibuckhorn sight usually seen on a lever action. This one is threaded in case you want to add a smaller, more precise peep to it, but the ghost-ring sight picture is perfect for this kind of rifle.

There are two basic versions of the Model 89 – rifle and carbine. Interestingly, because the rifle has a half magazine and the carbine is full length, the carbine holds two more rounds than the rifle. On the company’s website, BHA offers a plethora of options and upgrades. Buchel even showed me a prototype receiver with color case hardening for those customers who demand the most beauty in their guns.

Cut out hunter black carbine #1 walnutCROPPED

Model 89 – Rifle

Hunter black carbine #1 walnut

Model 89 – Carbine

As lever actions go, the stock on the Model 89 is straighter than on most other lever-guns – noticeably straighter than on a Model 94 Winchester, for example – and this helps with handling recoil. The drop at the comb is but ¾ inch. Nonetheless, the Model 89 turned in a respectable average of 2¼-inch groups at 100 yards. That’s plenty good for the brush where 100 yards is a long shot.

The 7¾-pound weight isn’t too much of a burden to pack, considering the power this rifle delivers. If I were traipsing around bear country in Alaska, the stainless-steel version would be a very comforting companion. Last year Big Horn Armory added a couple of new versions of its flagship rifle, the Model 90 in .460 S&W Magnum and the Model 90A in .454 Casull. For more information and an exhaustive list of accessories and upgrades check out AmSJ

About the author: Dave Campbell began his hunting career with a spear off the southern California coast in the late 1960s, eventually graduating to the gun on land. Campbell is the founding editor in chief of the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated magazine.He returned to his beloved Wyoming in 2007 as a freelance writer, though he usually refers to himself now as an “editor in recovery.” You can keep up with Campbell at

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