by David Crane
September 03, 2002
Well, the folks at Leitner-Wise Rifle Co., of Alexandria, VA, have certainly been keeping busy over there. They’ve just come out with two new weapon systems speciifically geared for military Spec-Ops and LE tactical use.
We’ll start with the Leitner Wise LW15.499 Mini-.50(or .499), a.k.a. Multi-Level Threat Response System (MLTRS). As this is written, this weapon is being looked at very closely by military special operators. Based on the AR-15/M16 design, the MLTRS Mini-.50 fires…
a 12.5x42mm round that’s been developed from the .50 Action Express (AE) handgun round. The cartridge case on the 12.5x42mm round has gone through a redesign from the .50 AE to enhance reliable feeding and extraction. The Leitner-Wise Mini-.50 currently sports a 16.1 inch barrel, making it civilian-legal, as far as we know. Other barrel lengths may be available for military special operators and LE SWAT/SRT units. The 12.5x42mm ammunition is 325 grains(which reportedly achieves 2000 fps), and 400 grains(which reportedly achieves 1,980 fps).
When AFJI(Armed Forces Journal International) did their annual shootout recently, they were extremely impressed with the Mini-.50. The fired rounds apparently penetrated level IIA body armor at 25 yards, disintegrated cinder blocks, and did considerable damage to vehicle engines. According to AFJI, the Mini-.50 is accurate out to about 250 yards. It is DefRev’s understanding that a full-auto version of the Leitner-Wise .499 Mini-.50 is currently being developed for military end-users.
Interestingly, Alexander Arms LLC(out of Radford, VA) is currently marketing a competing and virtually identical product called the .50 Beowulf. The .50 Beowulf is chambered for an extremely similar cartridge to Leitner-Wise’s .499 Mini-.50, and is also based on the M16/AR-15 platform. It is DefRev’s understanding that this is not a coincidence, but we haven’t as yet looked into the matter.
Leitner-Wise’s second offering is also pretty interesting. It’s called the LW 15.S CAW. CAW stands for "Compact Assault Weapon". Comparable in size to pistol-caliber submachine guns, the LW 15.S CAW features a telescoping stock and 7 1/2" lightweight barrel, and is chambered for the LW7.82S x 24 round. Together, the LW 15.S CAW and LW7.82 x 24 round combine to form a system which appears to have been specifically developed to compete in the PDW game against the FN P90 PDW and Five-SeveN pistol in 5.7x28mm, HK MP7 PDW in 4.6x30mm, and Civil Defence Supply’s .224 BOZ project. Another name for the new Leitner-Wise PDW/ammunition concept is "Advanced Sub-Compact Ammunition Concept for Close Assault Weapons(CAW)". The company claims the LW7.82S x 24 round to be "superior to all current and prototype munitions in its class." The new round typically weighs 50 grains, and has a muzzle velocity of 2400 fps at this grain weight, out of the LW 15.S CAW. It is of course intended to be a low-recoil cartridge capable of defeating CRISAT body armor, just like all other PDW munitions. Both M16/AR-15 rifle/carbine variants and 1911 pistol platforms(hi-cap and single-stack) can be retrofitted for the new cartridge, allowing for operators to have ammunition commonality between pistol and rifle/carbine.
It’s DefRev’s opinion that the .499 Mini-.50 concept will catch on in a big way with both military Special Operations and Police SWAT/SRT teams, and thus has a very bright future–although, DefRev would like to see magazines with higher capacities be developed. The fate of the LW 15.S CAW/7.82S x 24 System concept, on the other hand, is, in our opinion, much more precarious. The velocity and energy of this new PDW round seem promising, but we simply don’t have very much information on it yet.