The .460 S&W round is a lengthened, more powerful version of the popular .454 Casull, itself a longer and more powerful version of the .45 Colt. Consequently, firearms that fire .460 S&W are usually capable of firing the less powerful .454 Casull, .45 Colt and .45 Schofield rounds, but this must be verified with each firearm's manufacturer. For instance, some lever-action firearms are designed to handle cartridges within a certain length and bullet profile range. The reverse, however, does not apply: .45 Schofield, .45 Colt and .454 Casull handguns generally cannot safely fire .460 S&W rounds—nor can they even chamber the .460 S&W because of the longer case length. The length of the .460 S&W was intended to fully use the overall length (2.30") of the S&W X frame cylinder thereby increasing its powder capacity.
The .460 cartridge achieves high velocities by operating at pressures normally reserved for magnum rifle cartridges.
Smith & Wesson says that the .460 S&W is the highest velocity revolver cartridge in the world, firing bullets at 2330 ft/s. With Buffalo Bore's new loading, the .460 S&W can achieve nearly 2900 ft-lb of energy by driving a 360 grain bullet at 1900 ft/s. For comparison .500 S&W Magnum offers slightly more energy at the muzzle, driving a 350 grain bullet at 1975 ft/s for a total of 3031 ft-lb.