USA –-(Ammoland.com)- The .50 Beowulf is a proprietary cartridge designed by Bill Alexander, the chef de la maison of the eponymous Alexander Arms.
As a big, powerful but slow, short- to medium-distance round that’s about the size of a cocktail weenie, the .50 Beowulf is reputedly versatile enough to do the business on elk, grizzly, bison, hogzillas and your brother-in-law’s big block Chevy . . .
That’s good news for anyone who might find himself confronted by a savage Silverado. The icing on the cake is Alexander Arms’ contention that its complete Beowulf Overmatch upper will mate perfectly and shoot properly on all the milspec 5.56 lowers that you might have laying around in your garage or closet, and that you won’t need to modify a damn thing, including the seemingly wimpy 5.56 recoil buffer.
Well, color me slightly skeptical. To put Alexander Arms’ claims to the test, I joined TTAG commenter Greg in Allston and his pal Dave for an afternoon of blazing away with this interesting and capable cartridge. Dave brought his .50 Beowulf upper, Stag Arms lower and a lady friend, while Greg and I brought a complement of lowers ranging from basic to upscale.
A Big Bore AR-15
We’ve all known for some time now that the AR-15 platform is as adaptable as bacteria. It’s been exploited by creative designers to chamber more and more specialty cartridges such as the 6.5 Grendel (co-created by the aforementioned Bill Alexander), 300 AAC Blackout, 6.5 Creedmore and 6.8 Remington SPC. I also hear tell that it’s a fine platform for traditional rounds such as the .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, .338 Federal, 7mm-08 Remington, the little .22LR, pistol calibers such as the 9mm and, for all I know, would make a great base for a phased plasma rifle in the 40 megawatt range. The big lummox of a .50 caliber cartridge is merely another step in the evolution of the exceptionally flexible Eugene Stoner design.
The .50 Beowulf cartridge is based on the .50 Action Express, a large pistol cartridge that’s the source of the Desert Eagle’s legendary power and even more legendary recoil. The .50 Beowulf’s rebated rim matches the rim of the common 7.62×39 commie cartridge. I don’t know what satanic forces inspired Mr. Alexander to consider the unlikely union of an Israeli .50 AE pistol round and a Russian carbine cartridge, but he did, and the result is the .50 Beowulf.
The family resemblance between the Beowulf carbine and your basic AR-15 is obvious. In fact, at first glance the Beowulf looks like any other AR-15, save for a barrel that looks like it was borrowed from a shotgun and a shoebox size tank-style muzzle brake pinned (at least in Massachusetts) to the muzzle. In fact, the muzzle diameter of the .50 is closer to that of a 20 gauge than it is to a 5.56, but it’s not really shotgun-sized. Finally, there’s no dust cover on the receiver, which I hardly missed.
Removing the bolt carrier group for a look-see, there’s another apparent difference. While the bolt carrier, firing pin and little bits seem familiar, the bolt face is sized for the 7.63×39, which has a larger rim than the 5.56. Like a good facelift, there’s a visible but not a dramatic difference.
As noted, the straight-sided .50 Beowulf cartridge features a rebated rim — the rim is narrower than the case. It looks odd, but it isn’t. The photo above also illustrates the other obvious difference between the 5.56 and the .50 Beowulf. The 5.56 looks as sleek and racy as a cheetah while the .50 Beowulf resembles a caballito.
We shot hollow points, but you can have your .50s with brass or lead solids or FMJ if you prefer. Any way you want it, the .50 Beowulf is a reloader’s delight because of its case design and the ready availability of .50 caliber bullets.
Alexander Arms will sell you .50 Beowulf mags that they claim will not handle 5.56 ammo. Rest assured that standard 5.56 mags can handle the Beowulf effortlessly. We know, because we used traditional double-stack 5.56 mags, including PMags and C-Products metal mags, and they all functioned perfectly as single-stack .50 Beowulf mags.
For shooters who live in AWB states, having Beowulf-only magazines may be an advantage. A 30 round 5.56 magazine might be a ticket to prison in AWB states even though it only holds 10 rounds of .50 Beowulf. In contrast, a 10 round Beowulf magazine, which is identical in all respects to a 30-round 5.56 mag except for the feed lips, may be legal. It’s a perfect illustration of why mag limits are stupid and any politician who votes in favor of them should be recalled….
Read the rest of TTAG’s Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf AR Upper Review at The Truth About Guns Blog: http://tiny.cc/8e9d8w
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Robert Farago founded The Truth About Guns in February of 2010 to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns. The TTAG team’s been at it ever since. We’ve built the site on word-of-mouth, strong writing, and a no-holds-barred attitude. Visit:www.thetruthaboutguns.com