Military Wiki
.50 Beowulf
Beowulf Cartridges.JPG
5.56 mm compared to .50 Beowulf cartridges.
Type Rifle
Place of origin United States
Production history
Designed 2001
Produced 2001
Parent cartridge .50 Action Express
Case type Rebated rim, straight
Bullet diameter .500 in (12.7 mm)
Neck diameter .525 in (13.3 mm)
Base diameter .535 in (13.6 mm)
Rim diameter .445 in (11.3 mm)
Case length 1.65 in (42 mm)
Overall length 2.125 in (54.0 mm)
Primer type Large pistol magnum
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
300 gr (19 g) Speer Gold Dot 1,870 ft/s (570 m/s) 2,330 ft·lbf (3,160 J)
325 gr (21 g) Speer HP 2,010 ft/s (610 m/s) 2,916 ft·lbf (3,954 J)
334 gr (22 g) Rainer FMJ 1,980 ft/s (600 m/s) 2,908 ft·lbf (3,943 J)
334 gr (22 g) Rainer HP 1,980 ft/s (600 m/s) 2,908 ft·lbf (3,943 J)
400 gr (26 g) Hawk JSP 1,875 ft/s (572 m/s) 3,123 ft·lbf (4,234 J)
Test barrel length: 24 (discontinued)
Source(s): Alexander Arms

The .50 Beowulf is a rifle cartridge developed by Bill Alexander [1] of Alexander Arms for use in a modified AR-15 rifle.

Design and specifications[]

The cartridge utilizes a rebated rim, sized to match the rim of the 7.62x39mm and 6.5 mm Grendel rounds. The case body is very similar in dimensions to the .500 S&W Magnum revolver cartridge, being slightly longer and fully tapered for automatic feeding in the weapon.

The round is intended to improve stopping power greatly at short- to medium-range as compared to the standard 5.56×45mm NATO round. One of its advertised uses is at vehicle checkpoints, since the heavy bullet's flight path is not easily deflected by auto glass or standard vehicle body panels.

Design limitations[]

With normal bullet weights between 300 and 400 grains (19 and 26 g), overall cartridge length shorter than that of an AR-15 magazine well, and holding to pressures of 33,000 psi limited by the AR bolt strength system,[2] the .50 Beowulf is best described as a low-velocity, heavy caliber, making its ballistics roughly equivalent to those of early .45-70 Government rounds rather than the higher pressure rounds tolerated by modern lever action rifles such as the Marlin Model 1895.[3] Adaptability is limited due to its use of the 7.62 x 39 bolt face.[4]

Proprietary status[]

.50 Beowulf 334 gr. hollow-point shot from 16" Barrel Beowulf rifle at 36 yards penetrated 1/4" (approx. 6.35mm) thick steel plate.

The .50 Beowulf is a proprietary caliber developed as a specialized cartridge and weapon. Alexander Arms oversees all aspects of the production of the system and related accessories. Their reluctance to divulge information has been a source of irritation to some writers.[3]

Sporting uses[]

Although much has been written about its tactical uses, the .50 Beowulf is gaining recognition as a sporting cartridge. By virtue of its ballistics[5] which are similar or superior to those of the venerable .45-70 Government[6] cartridge it is becoming more widely recognized as being usable for a wide variety of North American game,[7] including deer, moose and black bear.[3]

Similar Cartridges[]

The cartridge has its lineage in the .50 Action Express, a cartridge originally developed for the Magnum Research Desert Eagle pistol, with significant modification to improve functionality and safety in the AR-15 platform.[8]

See also[]


  1. Berger, Matt (December, 2011). "ALEXANDER ARMS .50 BEOWULF". Special weapons for military & police. Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  2. Cutshaw, Charlie (Jul/Aug 2006). ".50 caliber Beowulf". Article Archive Details Published in Tactical Response. Hendon Publishing. Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 D'Alessandro, Joseph. "The 50 Beowulf: A Reluctant Retrospective". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  4. the .50 Beowulf
  5. 50 Beowulf ballistics table
  6. .45-70 cowboy load ballistics
  7. Youngblood, Paul (July 14, 2011). "What's the .50 Beowulf good for?". Guns & Ammo. The Guns & Ammo Network. Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  8. "Alexander Arms - Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2012-01-11. 

External links[]

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