by David Crane
defrev at gmail.com
Let me say right off the bat that this gun doesn’t just fill an existing niche. It, along with one other competing weapon(read "Addendum"), literally creates its own new niche. I’m talking about
the .50 Beowulf "Entry" Carbine by Alexander Arms that I had the intense pleasure to shoot at SWAT Round-Up 2002 in early November of last year. Please allow me to describe the experience of firing this gun in one word: AWESOME.
The .50 Beowulf Entry carbine launches a 325-400 grain half-inch slug downrange at 1900-2000 fps. Now, without doing the actual math, that translates to some serious energy numbers. Suffice it to say, the .499 cal. is one powerful little pellet.
Recoil on the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf was about the same as a 12-guage shotgun, however the .50 Beowulf has more energy and greater range than any 12-gauge slug gun. The .50 Beowfulf is also box magazine fed, so it can be reloaded more quickly than a tube-fed 12-gauge shotgun. The Beowulf utilizes a modified 30-round 4179 STANAG NATO-spec box magazine. These mags hold 7 rounds. With an additional round up the pipe, that gives the operator a total of 8 rounds before having to reload. That may not sound like a lot, but remember, we’re talking about full half-inch of hand cannon. This gun is one shot per customer, folks.
The particular .50 Beowulf carbine we got a chance to run at SWAT Round-Up was was semi-auto only. It was also equipped with the excellent and now combat-proven Aimpoint CompM2 red dot optical gunsight. The Aimpoint allowed me to zero the gun quickly on the target while keeping both eyes open. We didn’t really get a chance to test the gun for accuracy, but the gun seemed to put the rounds where we pointed it. We would have to do a much more extensive test to really comment on the .50 Beowulf’s accuracy potential with any level of authority.
What we can comment on, however, is what it was like to fire this thing. I’ve got one word for ya’–FUN. Firing the .50 Beowulf Weapon System/Carbine is, to this day, one the most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever had sampling a weapon. It was nice and loud (just like a .499 cal weapon should be), and the gun gave such a reassuring rearward push upon firing, that I just had to smile. While the felt-recoil wasn’t what I would necessarily call "light", it wasn’t at all uncomfortable. I would say the recoil impulse was relatively light for such a powerful cartridge. A Defense Review associate who also fired a few half-inch projectiles downrange can attest to the same pleasurable experience. We both enjoyed the fact that when we pulled that trigger, we really felt like we were shooting something. It must be noted that the muzzle on our sample .50 Beowulf Entry Carbine was fitted with a compensator.
So, what’s my analysis regarding the viability of the .499 cal. .50 Beowulf Entry for military Spec-Ops and LE SWAT use? I’m not quite sure yet. A .50 Beowulf Entry model might be a welcome tool if a unit had to go up against a well-armed and armored threat, or one barricaded behind a car or inside a dwelling of some kind, particularly if the good guys wanted to be able to put the threat down with one shot. For this use, I’d definitely want some rounds designed specifically for AP (Armor-Piercing) employment, although the standard rounds would probably still penetrate most vehicles and walls quite effectively. Anyway, that’s the primary scenario I can see at the moment.
CQB (Close Quarters Battle) against a determined enemy or criminal subject wearing heavy body armor and/or hyped-up(on drugs) might be another niche use–especially if they’re holed up inside a structure like a business building or bank.
The .50 Beowulf would appear to render body armor fairly irrelevant. Even if the .499 caliber round failed to penetrate the armor, who cares? That 325-400 grain round would hit the target with so much energy/force, it would probably take all the fight right out of the badguy, penetration or not.
What about the .50 Beowulf as a "homeland defense"/anti-terrorist/anti-riot tool for civilians? Well, all I can say is life is uncertain and precarious, so I give the .50 Beowulf the "thumbs up" for that role as well. It would absolutely intimidate the hell out of any mob that was previously intent on harming you or looting your home or business.
For just plain home defense against an armed intruder or multiple intruders, the Beowulf might be workable, provided you a)use lighter hollowpoint or frangible rounds that won’t over-penetrate your intended target, b)none of your friends or loved ones are standing sitting, or sleeping anywhere behind the target, and c)you don’t mind blowing your own eardrums out(it’s LOUD, remember?).
O.k., maybe there are better choices out there for home defense.
I can guarantee the reader one thing: this gun is worth obtaining simply for the sole purpose and pleasure of recreational plinking. It’s simply a BLAST to shoot–excuse the pun. And, the possibilities in terms of creative and safe inanimate targets, under well-controlled shooting conditions in the vast wide open spaces of the great outdoors, is virtually endless.
Oh, I almost forgot about hunting. I’m not a hunter, so I don’t know what you could hunt with it. However, I’m sure that any experienced and proficient big game hunters reading this article can figure something out. I’m thinking elk or Grizzly bear. Mabe even Bison at close range, especially if you’re shooting at them from horseback(I saw it in "Dances with Wolves", o.k.?)
DefRev will post the SWAT Round-Up pics on the .50 Beowulf Entry carbine as soon as we can. In the meantime, Bill Alexander, owner of Alexander Arms, can be reached via email at [email protected], or by phone at 540-639 8356.
Click here to visit Alexander Arms’ main page.
Click here to visit Aimpoint’s website. DefRev highly recommends the Aimpoint CompM2 red dot optical gunsight to anyone interested in a top of the line tactical red dot site for CQB or recreational plinking. The Aimpoint CompM2 is the absolute state-of-the-art for red dot tube sights, and can be used in conjunction with weapon-mounted night vision scopes. Our other favorite optical sight for CQB and recreational plinking is the EOTech 552 Holographic Weapons Sight (HWS) a.k.a. Holographich Diffraction Sight (HDS). The EOTech 552 is currently the state-of-the-art in holographic sighting technology for small arms, and can also be used with night vision scopes. Both sights are available from Lightfighter.com. Lightfighter.com is one of the best sources for any type of professional-level tactical equipment.
Addendum: The competing weapon I mentioned at the beginning of this story is the phantom-like Leitner-Wise LW15.499 Mini-.50. Paul Leitner-Wise, the owner of the company, actually stated to the author that he would supply a Mini-.50 (along with some ammo) first for a DefRev review article, and then for a "Gun World" article that I was approved to write by that publication’s editor, Jan Libourel. I was supposed to receive the Mini-.50 "within a couple of weeks." Well, it’s now been over six months, and still no gun. This may not be Leitner-Wise’s fault.
Recently, the author has learned (from a highly trusted industry source) that Leitner-Wise’s failure to deliver a gun to us may be due to some kind of reliability/functioning or durability problems with the Mini-.50 that the company could be experiencing. However, to date, DefRev hasn’t received any solid evidence, i.e. proof, of any problems with the Mini-.50. That said, DefRev also hasn’t received any proof or confirmation that there are indeed any Mini-.50′s currently employed by/deployed with any federal LE agencies or any branch or unit of the U.S. Armed Forces. We had heard reports that the the U.S. Coast Guard was purchasing a large number of Mini-.50′s, but we don’t know if any purchase contract actually went through, i.e if the U.S. Coast Guard actually has purchased and acquired any Mini-.50′s to date.
For the record, DefRev hopes the Leitner-Wise Mini-.50 can indeed live up to all the hype that has surrounded it since it was first reported by Defense industry sources like AFJI(Armed Forces Journal International), because we believe the .499 caliber concept to be a viable one. We’ll keep you posted.