The recoil of the s&w .500 mag is manageable but pretty stout in the full power heavy bullet loads. A well built set(NOT wal-mart specials)of muffs is required. If you are wearing cheap muffs,it's advisable to wear plugs also.
The recoil of the 500 pushes back instead of just muzzleclimb. I cannot imigane any situation where a good hardcast or expanding bullet from my .454 casull won't do the job and you can also shoot .45Lc from it for plinking and practice.
I purchased a Smith & Wesson 500 two years ago, I probably shoot it every 2-3 months, and every time I drop the hammer on it, I am just amazed at the power and the report, I could not amagine putting a muzzle break on it, and making it even louder, people three benches down at the range I shoot at flinch everytime it goes off!!! To tell the truth the recoil is not really that bad after you run a few rounds through it, and get used to it, you just have to get used to expecting what it is about to deliver, It's not your Daddy's 44 Mag, but you can leard to controle it with a little practice, I let a buddy of mine that is a avid shooter crack off a shoot with it the second time I had it out, the first week I had it mind you, And when he pulled the trigger, he strait droped my brand new gun on the concrete, and put a few scuffs in it, I was just sick everytime I thought about it, But I will never forget the look on his face, And that my friends was priceless
I just bought mine about 2 weeks ago. I fired it last Saturday and nearly a week later can still feel it in my hand. I wouldn't be too shocked that half of that was my technique (or lack thereof). I was shooting the 400 gr Magtech soft tips. Since I haven't shot any other 'large' handguns, I have no comparison to say "it kicks more than a . . .". As I understand it from those who have compared, there are some lightweight 357's and 44's that kick harder, that being only because they are smaller bodied revolvers. Mine is a 8 3/8" with the hiviz sight and ported barrell.
It hurt my hand after 5 rounds, but I enjoyed every bit of it. It's VERY accurate too. I have no regrets for getting it, although I may just wimp out and shoot with a glove next time.
I did double up on hearing protection and yes it was the loudest thing on the range.
I have three .500s: a standard 4", a 5" John Ross Special, and a 6 1/2" PC Hunter. The 4" and 6 1/2" have muzzle brakes. They are very loud. I wear plugs and muffs when shooting. I also do most of my shooting with reduced loads. I don't see any point in shooting full power ammo all the time. I don't do it in any other hot caliber.
I have shot the 4" barreled version with the break. I had plug on and I would tell anyone that you should wear plugs and muffs. It is not all that bad if you know how to shoot a handgun that has a lot of recoil. I was shooting full power 350gr loads I believe. I did fire some hadloaded godzilla stomper loads as well they were 500gr and very stout loads. The size of the revolver and design of the grips go a long way towards taming the recoil of that 500 smith.