The 50 BMG, also known as 50 Browning Machine Gun, 12.7 x 99mm, or 50 Browning is a bottle necked cartridge designed by John Moses Browning in 1917 for use in an early .50 caliber anti-aircraft machinegun during the final days of World War I.
Browning was said to have scaled up the 30-06 Springfield cartridge to .50 caliber in order to use it in a scaled-up version of the Browning M1917 machinegun. Winchester Ammunition worked with Browning to improve the original concept.
The cartridge was formally introduced in 1921 for the Browning M1921 Machinegun that would eventually evolve into the M2 (Ma Deuce) heavy machinegun of World War II. The M2 is a crew-served weapon still in service today as the Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible. It has one of the longest service histories in the US Arsenal surpassed only by the M1911 pistol, coincidentally another Browning design.
The round was designed to penetrate light armor in aircraft, military vehicles such as trucks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) and other hard targets and equipment as opposed to being a typical antipersonnel round.
In the years since its introduction, this round has been chambered in various single shot, semiautomatic and bolt action rifles for both the civilian and government markets.
As a rifle caliber, 50 BMG is generally considered the largest caliber for use in Title 1 firearms, that is to say, common firearms in general use that do not require a federal tax stamp for transfer. Although, this has not prevented a few states from restricting their transfer or ownership.
Aside from the great power in this round, it has proven itself to be extremely accurate in long range shooting.
Barrett Firearms is probably one of the best-known manufacturers of rifles chambered in 50 BMG. The company manufactures single shot, bolt action and semiauto rifles capable of firing this round.
As a hunting round, it may be overkill for ground squirrels or anything less than 100 pounds of body weight. Anecdotal evidence states that Coastal Grizzly Bears in Alaska have been taken with the 50 BMG as well as elk, white tailed deer, feral hogs and black bears. If anything, the bullet from the 50 BMG has excellent penetration characteristics.
Law-enforcement has fielded the 50 BMG in sniper rifles for extreme long-range shots against vehicles and for shooting explosive devices at great distance.
In the US Military, the 50 BMG is still used in the M2 machinegun, in a variety of sniper rifles used to engage enemy vehicles and personnel at distance, as well as to detonate IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), land mines and other hazards to troops. It is used by all branches of the US Military including the US Coast Guard who use it to great effect on the outboard engines of drug smugglers during interdiction operations.
The 50 BMG is a performer if there ever was one fully embracing the attributes of power and accuracy. Its maximum effective range is about 1800 yards, but the bullet can still pose a threat for as much as 3 times that distance.
In addition to using a .50 caliber bullet, the cartridge has an overall length of 5.45-inches with an overall case length of 3.945-inches. Case capacity for powder is 290 grains.
The recoil generated by 50 BMG is subjective to the weight of the rifle or machinegun from which it is fired, barrel length, use of a muzzle brake or a silencer and other factors.
It has been compared to being to the recoil of a 12 Gauge shotgun shell. Still, it generates in excess of 50,000psi (pounds per square inch) of chamber pressure on average.
Depending upon the bullet and powder used in the loading, 50 BMG can generate between 10,000 and 15,000 foot pounds of energy.
SBR Ammo offers 50 BMG Ammunition in the form of a 750 grain copper solid projectile. This round is noted for its long-range accuracy as well as its effect on targets.