Big Horn Armory Model 89 White Lightning, lever-action rifle in 500 S&W Magnum

Wyoming-based Big Horn Armory company was founded in 2008 with the expressed intention of designing a Browning-type lever-action gun chambered in 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum, and that's exactly what they did: their Model 89 was introduced in 2012. They then added a Model 90 Carbine in 460 S&W, Model 90A in 454 Casull, Model 90B in .45 Colt, Model 89A in 500 Linebaugh and Model 89B in .475 Linebaugh – all lever-action. In 2017, Big Horn Armory took also developed the AR500 a semi-auto rifle based on an AR .308 platform but chambered for the powerful AR500 Auto Max, the most powerful handgun cartridge in the world.

Back to lever-actions, for this 2024 the company is bringing out the Model 89 White Lightning rifle in 500 S&W Magnum.

Big Horn Armory Model 89 White Lightning, massive power

On the Big Horn Armory Model 89 White Lightning the grey laminate stock is protected by mu ltiple coats of a durable synthetic satin finish.

The claim leaves no doubt about the nature and purpose of the gun: “Made to handle whatever one gets into or needs to get out of”. Extremely massive and beefy, the Model 89 White Lightning is impressive indeed, even more so than the already impressive original Model 89, due to its grey laminate stock and forend fitted with integral front and stud rear sling swivel mounts, 17-4PH stainless steel receiver, and 416 stainless steel barrel with a “tank” style brake at the muzzle. Magazine capacity is six rounds.

The massive “tank” style muzzle brake Model 89 White Lightning, to tame the recoil of the 500 S&W Magnum cartridge. Three 2.5” Picatinny accessory rails are mounted to the forend tip.

To manage the huge recoil, besides the aforementioned brake, the manufacturer has equipped the pistol grip buttstock with a 1” Pachmayr Decelerator. You must bear in mind that the 500 S&W Magnum chambering lets the White Lightning shoot bullets up to 700 grains (!), which surely makes the rifle “capable of taking any game animal walking the planet” as claimed by Big Horn Armory, but also takes a toll on the shooter.

The receiver of the Big Horn Armory Model 89 White Lightning is machined from 17-4PH stainless steel, barrel is 416 stainless steel. A Skinner rear ghost ring and a green fiber optic front sight are standard, the optics rail is also factory-installed.

Talking of ruggedness, receiver and barrel are precision machined and surface hardened to Rc82 using BHA’s nitriding process for a corrosion-proof finish. The curved lever enables ease of operation even with gloved hands. The grey-stained buttstock and forend are protected by multiple coats of a durable synthetic satin finish, and then glass-bedded to the metal parts for extra accuracy and durability. Sights include a standard Skinner rear ghost ring and a green fiber optic front sight. A factory-installed scout rail allows for the mounting of scopes or red dots, while for lights, laser sights, or any other accessory there is an M-LOK rail on the front of the forend. Other three 2.5” Picatinny rails are mounted to the forend tip.

As can be expected, price is commensurate with so much substance and power: $3,699 (MSRP in the U.S). Big Horn Armory is now accepting orders for the new Model 89WL White Lightning, and a deposit of $1,849.50 is due at time of order. (Balance is due when gun production is started.)

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