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Who knows the history of the 50 bmg cartridge?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by CharlieDeltaJuliet, May 11, 2012.

  1. CharlieDeltaJuliet

    CharlieDeltaJuliet Well-Known Member

    I have read in a few articles that the 50 bmg was a scaled up 30-06, I was wondering if anyone knows the definitive truth on the matter. Just curious. When I compare the 30-06 and the 50bmg, it seems the 30-06 is longer for its scale that the 50 is. here is a photo of a .308 168gr. A-Max and a 50 bmg 750gr. A-Max. they look more to scale. I know its a 12.7x99mm. I have searched and to be honest, just dont trust Wiki and the few places I find info on it. I thought some of the Military history buffs on here couls explain how J.M.B came up with the design. Thanks

    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  2. Tex4426

    Tex4426 Well-Known Member

    About all i know about the history of berret is his first gun was built with a ruler and was extremelly ugly...he sold them to the military for 800 bucks to get the name out ther he lost almost 2million dollars before he started selling for a profit...now hes rich and working on if not already done a 50 bmg that has a secondary 308 barrel that is easily changed on the battlefield
  3. Ron James

    Ron James Well-Known Member

    I don't think the 30-06 even entered into the picture, The army wanted a heavy machine gun and cartridge and he gave it to them. Let's face it , how many ways can you design a modern cartridge so that it doesn't ook like a relative of the 30-06?
  4. sniper762

    sniper762 Active Member

    you cant get any more truer info than wiki
  5. Vaarok

    Vaarok Well-Known Member

    The BMG cartridge was first prototype tested using TuF Gew 1918 actions captured by the Germans, and may've been at least in part based on the 11mm antitank round the Germans were experimenting with at war's end.
  6. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    How about it was a scaled up .30-'06 round? What is so hard to understand about a designer, asked to produce a large caliber cartridge, simply taking a common round, having a known effectiveness, and scaling it up? (The .50 round shown by CJohnson does not have the standard military bullet and the shoulder angle looks too shallow.)

  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    If it was based on anything American, it had to be the 30-06.

    Notice the short case neck of the .308, that became a U.S. service cartridge about 50 years later.
    Not even close to the design of the .50 BMG.

    No doubt the German Mauser anti-tank round of WWI play into the design.
    But I would tend to believe it was far simpler to scale up the 30-06 to .50 cal then change the Metric German Tankgewehr M1918 13.2 x 92mm (.525-inch) cartridge to U.S. .50 cal BMG.

  8. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth; In Melvin Johnson's "Automatic Arms..." He states:

    the .50 MG round was ..."perfected from the German 13mm wartime antitank cartridge..."

    Then - "The Colt company developed a enlargement of the regular Browning .30 caliber machine gun to take the .50 caliber cartridge..."

    So, if Mel is correct (and being Johnson, he probably is) the mimicry is in the gun more than the cartridge while the cartridge takes its cues from the German 13mm. But of course the cartridge running through an enlarged 1917 would be an enlarged 30-06 round... Kinda gets all chicken and egg without dated drawings I guess.

    And remember Johnson was at the forefront of machine gun design and development at the time and this was written in 1941 while some of the information had yet to be diluted by lore.
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    An article - maybe Wiki - says the .50 was under development before the 13mm Mauser was much known. The German round is more tapered with a semi-rim. I think the .50 is based on the .30-06 even if not an exactly proportional scaleup.
  10. CharlieDeltaJuliet

    CharlieDeltaJuliet Well-Known Member

    The 50 round in the photo is an A-Max Jim K, the brass is exactly the same but the projectile is a finer sharper design, mainly for co-efficent. I have a ton of 662gr ball ammo I can photograph, I was just mainly looking at the two A-Max rounds to compare the size and scale. The shoulder angle is exactly the same as the ball ammo though. I have been shooting the 50 bmg for years, just wanted a history lesson on J.M.B's design. I was mainly wondering if it was really a scaled up bersion of the 30-06 or if that was wiki crap. I was curious if it had more history.
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  11. 303tom

    303tom member

    Yes the .50 BMG round is a scaled up .30-06, just like the .308 is a scaled down .30-06.
  12. Ditchtiger

    Ditchtiger Well-Known Member

    Been a while but I think the main request was a round that would go 3/4" steel at 1000 yards, in that general caliber.
  13. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Well-Known Member

    The JMB designed .380ACP and 25ACP are downscaled from the 45ACP and accurate within 1% in almost all dimensions. (~78% and ~59% respectively). The 50BMG does not have the same close scale relationship to the .30-06. The dimensions can be 4-10% off depending on dimension compared. The 50BMG may have been based on the .30-06, but if so, some dimensions were subsequently changed and the result is not just an upscaled cartridge.

    In some dimensions, the .30-40 Krag seems a better candidate if made rimless.
  14. CharlieDeltaJuliet

    CharlieDeltaJuliet Well-Known Member

    I knew they were used on aircraft and against the very early tanks, but thats about all of the history I knew. Thanks guys. Thanks ApacheCoTodd, that was the kind of info I was looking for. Now I have a platform to start with on some research.
  15. 303tom

    303tom member

    I Looked it up.........

    A Brief History of The .50 BMG Cartridge Development;
    Initial Development :
    Tradition has it that the cartridge that was to become the .50 BMG we know today, was initiated at the personal request of General John (Blackjack) Pershing. This request for a heavy machine gun cartridge came in light of American experiences with the large-caliber weapons employed by the European nations during WW1. The request, in April 1918, for a weapon with an effective range of 6,000 meters and a muzzle velocity of 2600 fps was contracted to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The proposed cartridge was to have both machine gun and anti-tank capabilities.

    Later that same month, Winchester began the fabrication of test cartridges to obtain ballistic data. Initially they used 16-gauge, brass shotshells, necked down to accept commercial 500-grain lead 45-70 projectiles. Propellant charges used varied from 120-150 grains, developing 2485 to 2944 fps muzzle velocity, and generated a (probably wildly overestimated) breech pressure of 90,000 psi !!

    In late 1918, work on the cartridge was transferred from Winchester to Frankford Arsenal, where it remained (almost exclusively) until well into WW2. Design work on the weapon itself was performed by John Browning and Colt.

    During the ensuing years of development, the cartridge case design went through a series of metamorphoses. Case lengths from 4.08 inches to 3.80 inches were tried. Rimmed, semi-rimmed, and rimless case designs were considered. Both the 13mm German anti-tank round and a scaled-up 30-06 cartridge design were copied, with the latter finally winning approval. Projectile weights from 800 to 508 grains were tested. And cartridge overall lengths from 5.51 to 5.00 inches were explored.

    Eventually, advances in tank armor outpaced that of anti-tank rifles, so the .50 BMG became, exclusively, a heavy machine gun caliber cartridge. The first machine gun was standardized as the M1921 and, in 1924, the Caliber .50 Browning Machine Gun Cartridge was adopted in the form pretty much as we know it still today.
  16. CharlieDeltaJuliet

    CharlieDeltaJuliet Well-Known Member

  17. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Well-Known Member

    I heard a story that when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 there were crates loaded with M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Guns and Thompson Submachine Guns sitting on the docks in New York City waiting to be shipped to Europe.

    The Germans and Austro-Hungarians lucked out surrendering when they did.

    Just my .02,
  18. Ron James

    Ron James Well-Known Member

    Seeing that both the Thompson and the .50 caliber Heavy machine gun were both developed after the war was over, I really don't think there were very many crates setting on the dock of the bay in 1918:)
  19. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Well-Known Member

    There were also full troop ships moored off NY Harbor that were waiting to go, too.
  20. J-Bar

    J-Bar Well-Known Member

    thanks for this info; what is your source please?

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