Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why hasn't the .50 GI caught on?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Skribs, Jul 18, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Skribs

    Skribs Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    5,807
    Location:
    Lakewood, Washington
    I'm just curious as to why the .50 GI seems to be such an obscure round, since it seems to fit a niche that I would think would be very popular. I've read time and time again that the reason some people carry a .45 is because "they don't make a .50"...but they do!

    Is it because this round is propriatary and nobody but GI can make guns for it? Is it because the round just hasn't caught on with a major manufacturer and people don't want to pay $3K for a 1911 or $1200 (Glock+Conversion kit) for a Glock-ish? Is it because the lack of capacity even in a Glock platform (8 round in a magazine flush with the G21, compared with 13 in .45) isn't made up for by the extra 0.05"? (or is that issue an engineering issue).

    I just think it's an interesting round, and it offers something different - a bigger bore than the current "big bore". It's just not caught on yet.
     
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    You've got the idea, I think. Expensive to buy, expensive to shoot. Not common anywhere at all. A big bore but not impressive performance in any other way. About all it does well is BE .50 cal.

    It can only appeal to the novelty buyer who wants something strange. No defensive-minded user is going to believe it does anything at all better than a .45ACP does -- a round that's already considered a bit on the wrong side of the weight/bulk -to-terminal performance balance. As shooters evolve toward an understanding that something in the 9mm-.40 end of the spectrum is more than plenty to get the job done, even a .45 starts to look a bit like a dinosaur, a nostalgic hold-over from the Cooper era. An even bigger, oddball round is just for yukks.

    Hunters will tell you the .460 and .500 S&W Mag cartridges are largely silly overkill for almost all purposes -- but at least they actually ARE more powerful than other similar handgun rounds. The .50GI doesn't even have that on its side.
     
  3. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    13,233
    Location:
    Richmond, Virginia
    :eek: I've never heard of it.
     
  4. Fishslayer

    Fishslayer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    1,955
    Location:
    People's Republik
    It's around. I've found a few cases policing my .45 brass. Pretty impressive hunk of brass I must say.:eek:

    Not really interested though. .460 Rowland or 10mm hold way more interest for me and I wouldn't recommend either of those to anybody who doesn't handload.
     
  5. Skribs

    Skribs Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    5,807
    Location:
    Lakewood, Washington
    Really interesting seeing the guy with 1911 in his name talking about the .45 being a dinosaur ;)

    I guess I was wondering if there were an option out there for the same price as a current production model, say a XDm 50 or a M&P 50 for the same price as the .45 models, would there be a bigger interest in the round?

    I thought that was the whole point of the round, was to take the .45 performance, platform, and recoil and only trade capacity for a wider hole. I think it offers the same advantages over .45 as the .45 does over .40, but with a bigger loss of capacity. How much of a difference it would actually make we will probably never know.

    I'm with you on the .40 or the 9, I just thought a lot of .45 fans would like the .50 for the same reasons they like the .45 - bigger hole.
     
  6. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    Hey, there's a difference between loving a gun and cartridge and deluding yourself that it is THE BEST THING in the world. It works just fine. Other things do to, and maybe better.

    Yup!

    Take your Glock 20 and toss this on: http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=27083/Product/50-GI-reg-CONVERSION-SYSTEM-for-GLOCK-reg-

    Just add $600 to the cost of the Glock for a cartridge that's less impressive than the 10mm you started with. Oh...don't forget to pick up a few of those $50 mags.

    But that works backward, doesn't it? You're giving up sectional density by going to a stubbier, wider bullet. Poorer penetration with all the same recoil.

    Oh sure! The few that may have adopted it probably do. But that's a pretty limited view of the utility of the thing. As others said, a .460 Rowland or a 10mm will be a better gun, and a WHOLE lot cheaper.
     
  7. Skribs

    Skribs Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    5,807
    Location:
    Lakewood, Washington
    I'm pretty sure those 300-grain bullets don't have too bad sectional density. It's just moving slower is all. The heavier .50 GI bullets meet the FBI penetration standards. The lighter, all-copper bullets don't have nearly enough penetration.
     
  8. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    Ok. I haven't looked up any comparison of the .50GI bullet SDs to debate that point on.

    But the question still would remain for most shooters -- so what? So you have a .300 gr. .50 cal bullet. What does that do for you in the role a handgunner will use it for?

    Is this a hunting round? Doesn't really seem to be intended for that.

    Is it a self-defense round? WHY? Is there a terminal effect created by these huge, lumbering bowling balls when they strike a person that isn't equalled or bettered by much more common 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45ACP loads? (To again say nothing of the 10mms, .44s, and other big guys.) Is putting this round in officers' and defensive carriers' guns going to directly increase lethal encounter survival?

    Maybe there just isn't enough ballistic testing yet that would prove that the cartridge actually does get the job done better than more common rounds, to justify the cost and lower capacity. Maybe it finally IS the "one shot stop" round we've all been looking for. ;)
     
  9. Skribs

    Skribs Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    5,807
    Location:
    Lakewood, Washington
    I think if there were a way to definitevely prove how big of a difference caliber makes in a handgun, then one caliber (be it a .50 or be it a 9 or smaller, whichwever the answer led us to) would hold 90% of the self defense market.

    Bullets like the .357 sig or 10mm, which are essentially, IMO, a faster version of a "standard" pistol cartridge with extra recoil and another disadvantage (capacity in the case of .357 sig over 9mm, grip size in the case of 10mm vs. .40 s&w), which offer a bigger TWC and more potential for penetration, but not really a bigger crush cavity. The .50 GI offers that bigger crush cavity...how much benefit that provides is obviously up for debate.
     
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Several factors play into the reason that it's not taking the country by storm.

    A very limited number of (expensive) guns means a niche market...which means that ammunition will be both scarce and expensive while .45 Auto is everywhere you look from the Florida Keys to Nome, Alaska at an inflated but still comparatively reasonable price.

    Simple logistics. Are you better off with a 300-dollar Winchester .30-30 or a 3,000-dollar Stutz Superschutzen 7.88mm that you have to special order your 50-dollar a box (20 rounds) ammunition for?
     
  11. CountGlockulla

    CountGlockulla Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Texas
    Its expensive and you cannot buy it at Walmart.

    Guncrafter makes some of the best 1911s in the business though. Here is a .45 No Name

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Skribs

    Skribs Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    5,807
    Location:
    Lakewood, Washington
    I always wonder about specific cartridges if they would have a larger market for them if that market was available. In other words, offered by more reputable companies at a moderate price instead of one company at a very steep price, would people buy it?

    Part of my question, which hasn't been answered yet, is whether the reason that variety doesn't exist is because:
    A) The .50 GI is propietary, which means it legally can't exist...
    -or-
    B) The .50 GI isn't popular, and nobody else wants to take the plunge to try to give it a bigger spot in the market.
     
  13. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    The market is driven by supply and demand. If the demand was there for the pistol, somebody with the necessary production capacity would have stepped up to fill it by now.

    As near as I've been able to tell, it was pretty much met with a collective yawn.
     
  14. Skribs

    Skribs Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    5,807
    Location:
    Lakewood, Washington
    Maybe not specifically this cartridge, but there are others out there that I feel would do better if another reputable manufacturer put some faith into the cartridge and offered a model. Because there are no models available for $600, there's no way to say whether or not people would buy a $600 model. I understand you can get a conversion kit for that price, but not a full gun. It's sort of a circular problem - it isn't popular because it isn't popular...if that makes sense. It's my theory as to a possibility, anyway.
     
  15. firesky101

    firesky101 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    1,433
    Location:
    California
    I remember when it came out thinking "for that kind of money/availability of ammo, why not just get a .50AE".
     
  16. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    9,631
    Location:
    Forestburg, Texas
    LOL, that will slow down its popularity...assuming you even would like it if you did hear/see one.

    This sort of goes hand-n-hand with the less than amazing ballistics. I thought a .50 GI might be a nice upgrade. You get a bigger and heavier bullet, but less velocity. The result (at least early on when these came out) was that you got about the same energy on target. However, the larger diameter and slower velocity meant an even more pronounced trajectory arc at shorter ranges. The larger cross section also mean have more trouble penetrating barriers. On top of that, it was suggested by one reviewer that the large diameter and slower velocity, especially with a hollowpoint, would likely be stopped by a flak vest which is a fairly low level of protection.

    So the .50 GI looks like it has been relegated to the likes of being more of a novelty than a serious combat gun.
     
  17. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    I'm afraid in the present economy, there just aren't many speculators out there willing to sink that kind of money into something like that without at least a good chance of a demand. Ain't gonna happen.

    Bingo. It's cool to be the first kid on the block and all...but oft times, it's just not practical.
     
  18. NG VI

    NG VI Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    Messages:
    4,884
    Location:
    Maine

    I think you'll find that there isn't a whole lot of objective data showing the .45 to have any greater effect on the human target than .40, and honestly if you're looking for real data, there's basically nothing that definitively shows the .45 to be in any way an improvement over 9mm either.

    However, with this .50, you get pretty poor penetration, or no expansion, along with greatly reduced capacity, greatly increased price, and a single manufacturer offering guns and conversions for it.

    One of the reasons a growing number of people are questioning the real benefit of the .45 for a defense or duty caliber is because all service calibers are a game of diminishing returns, and with the .45 you have to give up a lot of capacity or have a very large grip, and you have to give up a good amount of velocity or a good amount of bullet weight or gain a large amount of recoil in order to stay in the same 1000-1300 foot per second velocity range of the other competitors, and it's more expensive.

    It's all diminishing returns, and even the .45 has some easily seen diminishing without honestly offering much in the way of returns. It's a great old caliber, but to say it's terminally better than the 9mm and .40 isn't a statement with a whole lot of hard fact behind it besides starting diameter, which is basically irrelevant unless you can only use solid bullets.

    To say it doesn't give up very real benefits to the 9mm and .40 isn't honest, whether you personally believe you would benefit from having thirteen to sixteen rounds in your carry pistol is irrelevant, because it will depend on the exact situation you find yourself in, and the honest answer is, yes, it will be better for your survival rate to have more rounds in your gun. Even if in your specific defensive use you don't need more than a couple of shots, your chance of survival rises the longer you can fire before running dry.

    Basically the .50 is too wide a bore to use for a service cartridge, the only way to get definitively better terminal performance out of it is to jack up the recoil to unacceptable levels, and regardless it's not size-efficient for the task at hand.

    That's what's going against the .45 as a service round as well, it's just not as size-efficient as other calibers which have been getting the task at hand done just as well.
     
  19. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    Add to that the fact that there are about 5-6 primary (and what, ~20? second tier) cartridges that already are very well established with all the manufacturing, supply, and "social" infrastructure that supports and perpetuates them. Anything new has to compete for attention with all the well established choices on the market.

    AND, that what is "wrong" with defensive handgunning ISN'T their cartridges. The reasons that handguns fail to meet their users' needs from time to time isn't because the cartridges need to be better. It, for that matter, isn't a factor of the mechanical accuracy or precision of the guns themselves either. The reasons handguns seem to need "improving" is that the users aren't sufficiently trained, sufficiently skilled, sufficiently cool-headed, sufficiently wise or sufficiently ... whatever...to make the shot they have to make under life-or-death pressure. In other words, they're human and thus the weak link. Bulking up on the cartridge we're shooting won't be the fix for that.

    Perhaps the next step is some new system that delivers a projectile in some way that eliminates the human failings. Until then, further developments in conventional handgun cartridges (especially what appear to be retrograde developments like the .50GI) are going to be false promises.

    So, why isn't .50 GI more popular? Because it doesn't fix what's wrong.
     
  20. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Messages:
    4,512
    Location:
    TEXAS!
    Why?

    Cause the +p .45 ACP loads are plenty for defense and the .50 is a defensive cartridge in configuration.

    It's like the .30-06. It does the job so well alot of the newer rounds just don't give any real advantage.

    Besides, not much can't be handled with seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six (and a .45 to boot.)

    Deaf
     
  21. Prosser

    Prosser Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    1,451
    HMMM.

    Having been in discussion with someone that actually built a .475 Short for the 1911.
    His first theory was the 300-325 grain bullets were going to be the way to go.
    In practice, 250-275 became the rounds that actually worked. It's still a short cartridge, and even though you get a geometric increase in case capacity, likewise with the .50GI, I don't think you can generate enough velocity to justify hollow points. Yes they look good in ballistic gel, but, adding Barnes bullets to the mix just adds another cost to a already very expensive package.

    The good news is with a flat point bullet in the 250-275 range you generate .45 Colt like rounds, with more velocity.

    As for caliber:

    Those few people that actually shoot things with .475 and .500, or .510
    handguns will swear these hit like the Hammer of Thor, and the bullets they use are hardcast, not HP's. Yes, caliber at these levels appears to geometrically be more effective then the lesser cartridges, MUCH more so then the .45 to .475, or to .500 diameter jump justifies.

    Others that hunt with HP's use the very heavy Hawk HP's to aide penetration, not practical in a 1911 based cartridge.

    The round I discussed was the .475JRH from Jack Huntington Advanced gunsmithing. I had my gun up there to be the second one.

    It took a long time, and I finally decided .45 Super was adequate, and economical enough to shoot, vs. the novelty of having a huge 1911 cartridge.

    The appeal of the .475 was cheap magazines, existing guns, and a much bigger bullet.

    The 275 grain Speer HP's I use in .475 open up to over the size of a quarter, and are about 2 bore in diameter. Your .45 is NOT going to do that.

    However, that comes with a penetration concern.

    Much as .45 Super is owned by a bunch of lawyers, and their oppressive legal practices, and royalty request add an unwanted financial burden to production, I suspect the same is true with the .50GI.

    I would consider buying a .50, even a Glock. But, the extreme expense of ammunition is a factor.

    The expense of EVERYTHING on their price sheet indicates they are trying to keep this a VERY expensive, very limited production pistol/ammunition combination. They are targeting a very small, very rich group. That is their choice, and says nothing about the potential popularity of a .50 round
    that would work in 1911's that don't cost 3k, and have 50 dollar magazines.

    It looks like their business model is along the lines of Freedom Arms original
    setup.

    As for the theory that the public won't buy .50 caliber cartridges:

    The .500JRH, the first .500 caliber cartridge that fits in a gun that doesn't require a carriage and horse like the .500 S&W, is selling like crazy.
    It's very difficult to even find a .500JRH Magnum Research revolver at this point. Hunter's have taken like a duck to water for this gun.

    The only other caliber in a reasonable gun under 1000 dollars is the
    MR .475 Linebaugh. Why settle for a .475 when you can get a .500
    with the same ballistics, and heavier bullets?

    Since the ammunition doesn't require a royalty to my knowledge, the ammunition is being produced by more and more companies.

    The combination of an affordable .50, in an affordable gun, will eventually create enough demand to create a reasonable priced ammunition market, and has done so pretty much already.

    I suspect, given similar circumstances, a .475 or .50 drop in kit for the 1911
    or Glock at a reasonable price would sell like hot cakes, provided ammunition was around for less then an arm and leg.
     
  22. Rexster

    Rexster Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,949
    Location:
    SE Texas
    I started handgunning in 1982 or 1983 with .45 ACP in a 1911. Even in those days, when I believed in big bores for defensive use, I did not want a .46 or a .50; .45 seemed such a practical and balanced formula. I learned, over time, that bore size is just one part of the total equation, and that smaller bores can be effective for defense against erect bipeds. I still like the .45 ACP, with its gently-accelerating recoil and relatively mild flash and blast, and have no desire for a .46 or a .50 in a practical-sized autoloading carry gun.

    This does not mean I may not someday play with some of the larger bores in revolvers or single-shot pistols, but more for fun than practicality. Fun guns can be heavy, to mitigate recoil, and the weight does not affect carry, as they need not be carried in belt holsters.
     
  23. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,206
    Location:
    Brandon, Florida
    I can't say anything in the matter, but now that CountGlockulla pointed it out, I suddenly wish I could have a 1911 just like that in .50 GI.
    Just say that out loud to yourself, and tell me it doesn't sound like the manliest handgun ever. :D
     
  24. FIVETWOSEVEN

    FIVETWOSEVEN Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    5,056
    It's a good option for the Mall Ninjas. I remember seeing one talking about how it could be used to crack engine blocks in a SHTF scenario. :rolleyes:

    I only see novelty in this round.
     
  25. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,093
    Location:
    Tidewater
    I wonder how many niche chamberings have been created over the years that are now extinct. Will the .50 GI be next?

    Somebody should start a thread about that.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page