My favorite shotgun was the Central Arms and Bicycle Works (I kid you not!) 12-gauge side-by-side I grew up with. Straight grip, splinter-foregripped takedown.
After that, my favorite is the one I now have: Stevens 311 12-gauge side-by side, another no-frills weapon.
I really like plain-Jane 12-gauge side-by-sides. Features I like are the absence of features: Like double-trigger better than single, like extractors better than ejectors, like manual better than automatic safety. The Central Arms and Bicycle Works had none, the 311 alas has an automatic safety.
Traded a Winchester '97 take-down slug gun for the Stevens. It was a marvelous weapon for shooting people or for slug-hunting deer, but I do neither.
Vis, does the 500 take easily-interchangable barrels? If so, that would be a really nice feature - able to go from slug-gun/defense configuration to sporting configuration easily. I had hoped to do that with my '97, but finally gave up on finding a sporting configuration barrel/magazine assembly from someone who'd somehow destroyed their '97's receiver.
Here's a few pics of my Maverick 91. Chambered for 2 3/4, 3, & 3 1/2 shells. Also very easily changed barrels. Takes a grand total of about 30 secs to swap one. 3 1/2 Mags are definately turkey getters, but you need to order a new shoulder before shooting. I filled the hollow cavity in the stock with shot to give it a liitle weight. Makes it a little heavy to carry but saves the shoulder. Hey Cephus, been a while since you've fired this one. Want me to bring over some 3 1/2's for New Years?