The Most Powerful Guns You Can Buy

If you stick around the gun industry long enough, you’ll see some examples of massive power and capacity. What are the biggest and the most powerful guns out there? More importantly, what are the biggest, most powerful guns you can own? Yep, you. We are not counting firearms made for military forces, but firearms you can purchase as an average person. Some might require a tax stamp, but they are technically available for sale. We found five of the most powerful guns on the market in a number of different genres.

Desert Eagle .50 AE

I’m going to ease you into the world of ultra-powerful weapons. The Desert Eagle is one of the most predictable options for this list. It’s not the most powerful handgun out there, but it’s the most powerful semi-auto handgun on the market when it chambers the .50 AE cartridge. Making uber-powerful semi-auto handguns is tricky, but the folks at Magnum Research make it happen. 

To make it work, the gun uses a gas-operated system, which is a bit more akin to a rifle than a handgun. When the weapon is fired, the gases produced by the round are sent through a gas port, which then pushes a piston rearward to operate the slide’s action. This not only makes it decently reliable but also reduces recoil and makes the weapon fairly easy to shoot. 

steampunk desert eagle
The latest Desert Eagle from Magnum Research is a special Steampunk edition. (Photo credit: Magnum Research)

The massive .50 AE projectile has a 33mm case and weighs anywhere from 300-grain supersonic loads to 460-grain subsonic. These projectiles move anywhere from 1,475 feet per second to the slower 1,050 feet per second. They pack a ton of energy, with up to 1,600 foot-pounds of energy hitting your target. The big .50 AE round penetrates even the biggest animals, and it’s a very capable hunting round. 

The Desert Eagle is, by far, the most common gun on this list and the easiest to find by a long shot. It’s available in all sorts of colors and configurations. The .50 AE version can be converted to a few other calibers, including the .429 DE, in case you want a lighter, faster projectile. The Desert Eagle is perfect if you want an uber-powerful handgun that can also be gold tiger striped. 

Magnum Research .500 Bushwhacker 

When S&W released the .500 S&W, they did so for the ability to claim they had the most powerful production handgun on the market. That might be true, but Magnum Research makes the list twice because they saw the .500 S&W, spat at it, and went back to the shop to do better. Magnum Research teamed up with TII Armory to develop the .500 Bushwhacker. This round is specifically designed for the Magnum Research BFR series. BFR stands for Biggest Finest Revolver and not what a more immature mind would have you believe. 

The .500 Bushwhacker is still new, only coming to life in 2021. The .500 Bushwhacker used the .500 S&W cartridge as its baseline and used a .375 Ruger case to stretch the thing to its limits, and measures out to 2.95 inches in total overall length. It packs projectiles that weigh anywhere from the light 275-grain rounds to the hefty 510-grain cartridges. Those rounds can move at 2,600 feet per second and deliver up to 5,100 foot-pounds of energy. 

Magnum Research BFR in .500 Bushwhacker
The .500 Bushwhacker might just make your day. (

What’s the point? Officially, it’s to take large and dangerous game in an ethical manner. The cartridge hits hard and penetrates with ease through thick hide, muscle, and bone. It hits organs like a hammer and turns solids into liquids. Not only is this one of the most powerful revolver rounds ever produced, but it outperforms the .45-70 rifle cartridge. 

The BFR revolvers come in all sorts of calibers. They are big, massive things that pack a punch. The BFR series are very well-made revolvers, and they are defined as rugged. Its plates of thick steel and massive, heavy cylinders can absorb the blast. These guns are super accurate with wonderful single-action triggers. If you had to shoot a super powerful caliber, then the .500 Bushwhacker would be my weapon of choice. 

Noreen ULR Mini .50 BMG

There are lots and lots of .50 BMG rifles out there. What puts the Noreen ULR on the list is its size per power ratio. This is the smallest .50 BMG rifle I’ve ever seen. While most of these guns are hefty and weigh tens of pounds, the Noreen ULR weighs 16.5 pounds in total. The barrel is 16.5 inches, and it comes with this massive muzzle brake. It’s micro-sized for a .50 BMG rifle, and the overall length is only a little over 26 inches with the stock folded or removed. 

This ultra-small .50 BMG is a handful of a gun and absolutely absurd. Who needs a .50 BMG carbine? The purpose of the round is long-range engagements, but hey, who am I to judge? It’s certainly a fun gun. With the brake, it generates a massive wave around you. It throws dirt and debris everywhere if you let it. 

ULR Mini 50 BMG
The ULR Mini .50 BMG is quite the rifle.

This is a single-shot, bolt-action rifle. You get one shot, but luckily, it’s a huge one! The ULR Mini is optics-ready, and there is a small rail under the barrel. You can equip a bipod or a grip, but I think Brandon Herrera did it right with the mounting of a chainsaw-style grip for firing from the hip. The ULR Mini is super powerful and quite lightweight for the caliber. 

The .50 BMG is famous for being an incredibly powerful long-range rifle round. It reaches out quite far and is known as an anti-material rifle. It’s been used to stop light armored vehicles and even to disassemble explosives. For most average shooters, it’s a great choice for smashing targets and shooting at long range. It’s a plinker, and the ULR Mini offers you a shorter, lighter .50 BMG that’s even fairly affordable at about 1,700 dollars. 

Anzio Ironworks 20mm Rifle

Now, we are getting into the big, powerful, and nutty world of NFA powerhouse weapons. Anzio Ironworks is a custom rifle creator. They make .50 BMG rifles, but they are the only guys making a 20mm rifle, as far as I know. Since 20mm is larger than 12.7mms, or .50 caliber, it falls into the destructive device category, the same as grenade launchers. That makes it among the most powerful guns in the rifle category. 

The Anzio Ironworks 20mm rifles come in both take-down and magazine-fed variants. The 20mm round requires a fairly big rifle. How big? Well, the mag-fed variant is six feet, eight inches tall. That’s absurd, but so is the 20mm round for a basic rifle use. It makes .50 BMG rifles look like a toy. The maximum range of the rifle is 5,000 yards! Lord knows how much energy and power the round is carrying, but I assure you it can knock down whatever needs knocking down. 

20mm Anzio Ironworks
Look at this beast of a rifle. (Anzio Ironworks)

The rounds cost anywhere from 10 to 15 dollars a pop. It seems like they are pretty tough to find, and maybe Anzio Ironworks is the only firm producing the rounds. I can’t say for sure, but you won’t find the ammo at your local Bass Pro. The 20mm rifles can be converted to 14.5 if you so choose, although I doubt that ammo is cheaper or easier to find. 

How much does it cost? Well, if you have to ask…you probably can’t afford it. You can own one for the price of a Kia. The price on the website is $13,000, and the addition of a suppressor is another 3,200 for the tax stamp. Honestly, at that point, the 200-dollar tax stamp seems closer to a rounding error than anything else. 


Last on our list of most powerful guns is the KS-23. This is probably one of the hardest guns on this list to buy, so it gets the last spot. The KS-23 in sporting configurations known as the TOZ-123 were imported in very small numbers decades ago. Not only are they NFA items, but they are also Russian-produced, and if we can’t get Saigas, you certainly can’t get the KS-23. Clinton banned them from imports in the 1990s. Clinton really hated shotguns. 

The TOZ-123 series of shotguns was the civilian sporting version of the more ‘tactical’ KS-23. The TOZ-123 is one of the most powerful shotguns ever produced to be hand-fired. It’s a 6.278-gauge shotgun. Yep, it’s 6.278 gauge, meaning it’s a little more than twice the size of a 12 gauge.

KS-23 rifle
The KS-23 is the military version of the TOZ-123. (Wikipedia)

Every pull of the trigger delivers a smackdown of lead. That’s insane for a weapon meant to be fired from the shoulder. The TOZ-123 shotgun uses anti-aircraft barrels that were rejected for anti-aircraft use. 

The TOZ-123 utilizes a pump action design, and the shells aren’t your typical plastic hulls. They are brass and not exactly widely available. I think the few owners of TOZ and KS 23 shotguns are reloaders. It’s tough to find how much buckshot you can fit in one of these shells, but the most popular round is the massive slug it fires, which is designed to stop cars at 100 meters or so. The KS-23 is a shotgun but acts more like a small launcher. 

Too Big? 

What are the most powerful guns? Is there such a thing as too big? Too powerful? That’s the question. I guess it all depends on your opinion of what’s too big. The gun industry has a small fascination with producing bigger and better calibers and cartridges, and I think that’s beautiful. But at what line do you draw? Let us know below. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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