HGR 050 - Fifty Caliber Handguns

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wilds of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world.

This week, it’s the 50th episode of Handgun Radio! Weer’d Beard and I will discuss the various .50 Caliber handguns & cartridges that are out there!

Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network

Brownells helps make Handgun Radio possible. Selection, service, satisfaction. Find it all at Brownells! If you are doing any shopping with Brownells please use our affiliate link www.handgunradio.com/brownells to help support the show!

Week in Review:


-Did the We Like Shooting June Shootout challenge! Used my Blackpowder revolver. Go check out the video!!

Weerd:  Finally got to the range.   Did some basics with my S&W617 and my Ruger LCR .22.   Also brought the Beretta 21A along because it’s too much fun.    Also test fired the new-to-me (Tho I had shot them when they belonged to the Previous owner) S&W M&P9c and NAA Mini .22.  (HOW DO YOU SHOOT THESE GUNS???  I couldn’t find a good way to grip and sight the thing, still fun!)

Last, the M&P9c had a magazine disconnect, and I removed it and replaced the parts with a trimmed pen spring.   Then back to the range for a test firing.  It all worked!

Main Topic: Fifty Caliber Handguns

We will probably stick with the various .50 caliber cartridges rather than trying to look at the specific guns first. Note that some calibers cross-over between different handgun platforms.

.50 AE (Action Express):   Developed in 1988 by Evan Whildin of Action Arms, and specifically Invented for the Desert Eagle.  Similar overall Size at .44 Magnum but a bit more powerful. Rim diameter of the .50 AE is the same as the .44 Magnum.    A few other pistols and rifles are chambered for this, but overall the Desert Eagle is the primary pistol. When originally introduced, the .50 AE Desert Eagle was fine with traditional rifling, but when the ATF tested the gun with polygonal rifling, the gauge plug fell through, thereby rendering the pistol a Destructive Device. They redesigned the .50 AE slightly and added a slight taper to the round to allow for a slightly smaller bullet that wouldn’t cause the DE to be considered a destructive device.

.500 GNR (Gary Reeder Express):A custom caliber designed by Gary Reeder, a custom revolversmith. The .500 GNR uses a 350 grain .500” bullet coming out of the revolver at 1250 FPS.

.500 Smith & Wesson: One of the most powerful production handguns on the market.   Most of the factory loads are .45-70 power level, but with VERY careful reloading you can go way beyond that.WARNING only attempt these loads if you are a VERY experienced handloader!

.50 GI:  Created by Guncrafter Industries for their No. 1 1911 patter which is a slightly scaled up .45 ACP 1911.    It uses a rebated rim so the head is the same size as the head of a .45 ACP.    The .50 GI 1911s can be converted to .45 ACP with just a few parts swaps, but this cannot be done with a conventional .45 ACP 1911.    They also make conversion kits for the Glock 21 and 20 where a replacement slide assembly and magazine are supplied to convert these double-stack guns to single-stack .50 GI.    It is a big slow bullet, but it offers .44 Magnum power levels.

.500 Linebaugh: The 500 Linebaugh is an absolutely massive and hard hitting round. It uses a .348 Winchester case as the parent brass, trimmed down to 1.405” and the rim thickness is trimmed as well. The case mouth is opened up to accept a .510” bullet. The .500 Linebaugh shoots a 400 grain JHP bullet at 1,400 fps out of a VERY stout single action revolver, most always of a Ruger design.

.500 Wyoming Express: The .500 WE was introduced by Freedom Arms in 2005 for use in their Model 83 Revolver. It shoots a .500” 440-grain bullet at 1,450 fps. The Freedom Arms revolvers are extremely stout and well built firearms.

.500 Maximum: The .500 Maximum is a .500 Linebaugh round that has been lengthened, and was used most often in Hamilton Bowen custom revolvers. It is one of the most powerful rounds that can be shot out of a handgun, propelling a 580-grain bullet at 1,202 fps!

Black Powder Pistols: Most classic black powder guns were in calibers larger or smaller than 0.500”  still there were many made in this caliber.   One REALLY cool black powder pistol is the Pedersoli Howdah Pistol.   This gun is a .50 Caliber percussion double-barrel pistol.  It’s rifled for extra accuracy.   Most Howdah Pistols were of a much bigger bore, and smooth-bore so they could be loaded with balls, shot, or buck-and-ball combo loads.   They get their name from the basket one rides in on the back of an elephant.   These massive pistols were designed to be used to fend off Tiger attacks in India.   I guess those big kitties have little trouble scaling an elephant to eat the soft treats riding in the basket.     Nice to have two quick shots of MASSIVE power to keep from becoming tiger poop!


Until next week, have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!!!