Ammo Brief: Going The Extra Mile With The .50 BMG

Gun News

Originally designed for Browning’s heavy machine gun, the .50 BMG more recently has become an extreme long-range wunderkind.

What The .50 BMG Capable Of:

  • Armor-piercing capabilities when loaded with a sabot round.
  • Accurately achieving hits well past the 1-mile mark.
  • Pushing a 675-grain projectile 3,000 fps at the muzzle.

Historical Notes

The .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) was invented by its namesake and adopted into United States military service in 1918 for John M. Browning’s famous heavy machine gun. His attentions in this area were prompted by a battlefield need recognized during World War I. There have been other developments; and, at least once, the Pentagon considered dropping the .50 BMG in favor of more-modern and generally bigger chamberings. However, the .50 BMG has remained. The advent of saboted loads generating 4,500 fps muzzle velocities and having devastating armor-penetration capabilities, as well as its performance in the Gulf War, cemented its continued existence as a stable part of NATO’s arsenal.

Related GunDigest Articles

Battlefield use is against light-armored vehicles to ranges of a mile or more. And, used against the unprotected foot soldier, it’s effective to several times that range.

Check Out Our: Reloading Data Center

General Comments

There’s long been interest in the .50 BMG as a quasi-sporting round. Today, the most significant sporting use for this chambering is long-range accuracy shooting, with some competitions exceeding one mile, and there’ve been a couple of King of 2 Mile matches held. The 1,000-yard .50-caliber record, as of this writing, is a five-shot group of just under 2 inches on centers.

You Might Like

Several bolt-action rifles are currently available for the Big 50. The .50 BMG easily launches the 750-grain bullets available for it at 2,700 fps. The lighter, 647-grain bullets available can be launched at 3,000 fps. For obvious reasons, sporting rifles chambered for the Big 50 uniformly feature muzzle brakes and weigh 20 pounds or more. Recoil is harsh until the rifle’s weight approaches 30 pounds.

Commercial ammunition is available for the .50 BMG from PMC and Hornady, among others, that are loading both once-fired and new brass and calling their offerings “factory new.” Components and specialized tools and equipment to handload this cartridge are available to the advanced reloader.

50 BMG Load Data

Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from Cartridges of the World, 16th Edition.

Raise Your Ammo IQ:

We Found Bulk Ammo In Stock:

Disclosure: These links are affiliate links. Caribou Media Group earns a commission from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

44-Targetposters-pack-GD-reduced-300NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Storm Tactical Printable Target Pack

62 Printable MOA Targets with DOT Drills – Rifle Range in YARDS This impressive target pack from our friends at Storm Tactical contains 62 printable targets for rifle and handgun range use. Target grids and bullseye sizes are in MOA. Ideal for long-range shooting! Get Free Targets

You Might Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *