One solid lesson from history is that overwhelming force is the most effective strategy because it most likely won’t be necessary. Just ask Generals Patton and MacArthur, or Napoleon. A related philosophy comes from the Cold War: Mutual Assured Destruction. While it primarily meant that no one would use nuclear weapons if they knew they would be destroyed in the counterattack, it also meant that the more capable one’s weapons are, the more likely those weapons will never be used.
The All-Powerful .50 BMG
This brings us to the .50 BMG, which was developed about 100 years ago as a “supersized” version of the .30-06. It was another fantastic idea from John Moses Browning, and its original purpose was to down aircraft. Later, it was enhanced to become an armor-piercing round as well, able to puncture nearly an inch of hardened steel plating at 100 yards. The round is now produced in at least 20 different variations, such as incendiary, sabot and high-explosive incendiary.
The .50 BMG screams overwhelming power and accuracy. A big-game round like the .30-06 produces 2,000 to 3,000 foot-pounds of energy (fpe). That’s a lot of punch—enough to stop a charging grizzly. But the .50 BMG produces more than five times as much—10,000 to 15,000 fpe—which is more than enough to stop a momma bear, and her truck, a mile away, behind a wall!
As gun writer Bryce M. Towsley once wrote, “Assume you shoot several calibers at targets a mile away, all with similar accuracy … a 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win bullet arrives with less than 300 foot-pounds of energy. That’s a .38 Special +P handgun hit. If you have a .300 Win Mag, the bullet impacts with 385 foot-pounds—about the same as a 9mm handgun. The .338 Lapua Mag. is a touch better; it hits with 745 foot-pounds, a little less than a .44 Magnum … [With a .50 BMG] the half-inch diameter bullet impacts with 3,790 foot-pounds of retained energy—at 1 mile. That’s more than double the energy of all four of the other cartridges combined. At a mile, the .50 BMG has the same energy that the .338 Win Mag, a cartridge capable of hunting dangerous game, has at the muzzle.”
One Serious Serbu BFG-50A
The Serbu BFG-50A retails for $7,350. Its fixed barrel and gas operation allow shooters to regularly achieve 0.5-MOA accuracy at 400 yards. Some report 1-MOA results at 1,000 yards.
This beast weighs 23 pounds unloaded, and when you pick it up, it feels as solid as a slab of granite. It’s over 4 feet of machined masculinity, including a 26-inch barrel terminating in the most aggressive eight-port Shark brake.
When you shoot it, the felt recoil is comparable to a 12-gauge shotgun’s thanks to the effective brake, a thick buttpad and a hydraulic buffer. In fact, it’s currently the lightest-recoiling .50 BMG rifle available. The BFG-50A also uses a nitrided alloy steel barrel with a 1-in-15-inch twist rate. The proprietary chamber lets it fire both standard surplus and match ammunition much better than guns that use machine gun chambers. It will also accept standard Barret M82 magazines.
The rifle’s controls, including the safety, are based on the familiar AR platform. The BFG-50A sports a 3- to 4-pound adjustable trigger. Other features include dual-plunger ejectors, a sliding plate extractor and a three-lug rotating bolt.
On the Lighter Side
Serbu also makes a single-shot .50-caliber rifle called the RN-50. A modified break-action design with a threaded breech, the RN-50 weighs in at 17 pounds unloaded and can use a variety of barrels ranging from 18 to 36 inches long. The RN-50 will set you back $1,199—not a bad option if you don’t have $7,350 lying around. For more information, visit Serbu.com.
This article is from the February/March 2019 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get physical copies and digital subscriptions at OutdoorGroupStore.com.