.50 Action Express

From Academic Kids

The .50 Action Express (AE, 12.7 mm) is a cartridge used in a small number of large handguns, notably the IMI Desert Eagle. It is one of the largest handgun cartridges in use and is close to, or perhaps beyond, the limits of usability. IMI factory loads have a muzzle velocity of 425 m/s (1,400 ft/s) with a 325 grain (21 g) bullet and 1917 J of energy (1414 ft·lbf). Handloading can even further develop the cartridge's potential. It is the most powerful commercial cartridge in use today for a semi-automatic handgun. Only two commercial cartridges designed for handguns exceed its ballistic performance: the .454 Casull and the .500 S&W, both of which are used strictly in revolvers.

Missing image
50_AE.jpg
.50 AE round from Desert Eagle pistol (left) next to 7.65x17 mm Browning (right).

The cartridge was developed in 1988 by Evan Whilden of Action Arms, who chose the gas operated Desert Eagle as the development platform, and first sold in 1991. The actual cartridge is .547 inch (13.9 mm) diameter at the base, but it has a rebated rim giving it the same diameter as the .44 Magnum. The case length is also identical. This was to allow Desert Eagle pistols to be upgraded to the new cartridge with only a barrel change. Nominal bullet diameter is 0.500 in (12.7 mm).

The principal uses of the .50 AE are metallic silhouette shooting and hunting. The .50 AE has developed a reputation for superb accuracy, no doubt due to the high-quality, expensive firearms that have chambered it. The cartridge is too powerful, the bullets too heavily constructed and the guns too large to be considered practical for defensive or tactical type weapons. Other Firearms chambered in the .50 AE include the AMT Automag V, LAR Grizzly, Freedom Arms model 555, Magnum Research BFR and some other, lesser known handguns. Upper receivers for AR-15 rifles have also been chambered in this round. Wilderness makes a bolt-action rifle in this chambering.

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