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Old March 20, 2009, 11:23 PM   #1
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.50 BMG options - Reviews and Experience

In anticipation of gun control measures that are sure to come from the current Congress and President, I am in the process of acquiring some firearms that are likely to fall under a ban. One of those is the .50 BMG. Of course, this is not just an investment and I expect to derive quite a lot of enjoyment from these acquisitions.

I have no experience with the .50 BMG. I see a lot of options and would like to hear the opinions of people who are knowledgable in this area.

Some of the choices include:

Barrett (M107/82A1, M95, M99)
Safety Harbor

Anything you have to say is appreciated but in particular, I would like to know about
1) Safety and Reliability;
2) Durability;
3) Recoil reduction; and,
4) Value in relation to other options

Thank you in advance,

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Old March 21, 2009, 03:33 AM   #2
wayne in boca
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Serbu BFG50.
Built like a tank.Will last 100 years.
Accurate as all get-out.Reliable as an axe.Durable as an anvil.
An 18 year old girl shot mine.Low recoil.
Excellent value.
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Old March 21, 2009, 10:50 AM   #3
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I have a Ferret 50 AR upper.
(I have yet to fire it )
I still need to get a scope and rings before I fire it.
It's very well made, though.
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Old March 21, 2009, 03:40 PM   #4
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Starting from the top.
Barrett's will always hold their value due to name recognition. The M82 isn't that accurate, at best it's a 2 MOA rifle (some have achieved better but that's the norm) because of it's design. The M99 is probably the best bet out of all the Barrett's as the mag fed M95 adds about 2K to the price.

Ferret is just an upper but they are accurate and the best way to set up an upper is to buy another lower to have it dedicated to the upper. Ferret's have done well at matches and will hold their own against any other .50 on the market w/o spending the same amount of money.

Bushmaster, I shot the early Cobb50 and was less then impressed as the two at the range had the same problem. Hopefully Bushmaster has made improvements to the design to get away with the main problem which was reliability with different ammo types.

Armalite AR-50 is probably the most prolific .50 on the market, people love that there's practically no recoil. The rifle will hold MOA or better with quality ammo. There's plenty of aftermarket products for it including swapping the trigger (uses a Rem. 700 type), bipods, monopod... This is another rifle that can hold it's own against more expensive .50's. Very user friendly and about the only complaint is the weight. Coming in at about 40 pounds it's not lite but most .50's aren't and the added weight helps reduce the felt recoil.

Anzio is basically a copy of the Serbu BFG with a couple minor changes, plus they make a mag fed and a breakdown version. They're solid guns but aren't considered match grade. You can spend the money to get them to install a match grade barrel, not sure what they offer as far as a match trigger.

Safety Harbor uppers are nice, a friend has one and it's nice to shoot. Here's a range report that he did.

Vulcan, what more is there to say... they're Hesse, just changed their name as they have the worst rep in the firearms industry. Stay away if you don't feel like buying a pig in a polk.

Steyr's are nice but the trigger can't be adjusted and you can't replace it with an aftermarket one. They cost more but don't offer anything better then any of the current American made rifles. If you're a Steyr person then you wont be disappointed in the quality, it just doesn't out shine in the market they're in.

Serbu, great guns, big following. They're more of a all around gun, they'll hold MOA with quality ammo but again it's not a match grade rifle. Mark will install a match grade barrel and now markets an aftermarket match trigger. I think of them as more of a rifle that delivers decent accuracy and wouldn't be afraid to beat it up.

ALS is another upper, these are probably the cream of the crop when it comes to uppers. They've won many matches and make more expensive rifles look like crap or leave you wondering why did I spend so much. The biggest drawback to them is the wait time to get one, right now it's running at around 18 months or so.

EDM rifles are very nice, very accurate and very expensive. They will hold MOA or better (usually better) with quality ammo and the shooter doing his part. The breakdown feature is another one of those cool factors built into the rifle. They're also machined to tight tolerance so that it will shoot the same every time you put it back together. These can be ordered with a match barrel, trigger... The other unique option is the caliber swap, on the .50 you can have a bolt and barrel made for other calibers.

McMillan rifles have won plenty of matches, that and rifles built using one of their actions. Definately built to high quality standards, the ones that I've shot had no problems holding MOA or better. Plenty of aftermarket options or options that can be done at the factory before you get it.
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Old March 21, 2009, 03:47 PM   #5
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The EDM Arms Windrunner with the 50BMG barrel and bolt fitted is a real nice (and rather expensive) setup. The rifle weighs somewhere in the area of 36 lb. without scope. Recoil is manageable but can be a rear eye opener if your used to smaller calibers, like 338 Lapua or one of the 300 magnums. Probably the hardest part to overcome is the monetary expense that comes with 50BMG. An EDM will set you back about $7500 (+ a 1 year wait). Then you'll need a good scope; a $2500 Zeiss sits on mine. Military surplus ammo could be found for about $3 per round but expect to pay a lot more in today's market. Don't expect great accuracy from military surplus ammo. Reloading requires a press that can handle the length of a 50BMG case...each round can take about 230 grains of powder . If you have the cash then is a fun extension of our chosen sport
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Old March 21, 2009, 07:36 PM   #6
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Thanks all - especially 50 Shooter. I'll continue to watch this thread but you guys have given me a lot to go on.
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Old March 31, 2009, 01:56 AM   #7
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Big trouble guys - I purchased the Barrett M107, NIB. It arrived. I put it together. I got the ammo. I looked it all over, salivated and now can't bring myself to shoot it!

This gun is still NIB and once I pull the trigger, I'm out $4 for the cartridge and $1500 for the "new."

SO - now I'm going to have to buy a Serbu or Armalite so I can shoot the 50 BMG.

Is this what happens to everyone???
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Old March 31, 2009, 02:07 AM   #8
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If where you live allows it, get a suppressor for it. The muzzle blast has been measured to be equal to 1/2 stick of dynamite at 3 feet away. Putting a can on it will make it MUCH more pleasant and actually save your body some abuse.
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Old March 31, 2009, 10:51 AM   #9
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Great write up by 50shooter.

I know you didn't ask, but I'd add two more brands to your list - State Arms and Bluegrass Armory.

State Arms has a reputation for making accurate rifles at a reasonable price.

Bluegrass Armory Viper (which I own) is similar in appearance to a Barrett, less money, and usually more accurate. It won't have the name recognition (and therefore resale value) of a Barrett, but IMHO it is a better value. One word of warning though, Bluegrass is a very small operation, and 2 years ago their wait times were 6 months. I can't imagine that its improved given the current climate. Also, when you talk to them they tend to be VERY optimistic in estimating delivery times.

BTW - be sure to leave some $$$ for scopes, ammo, and accessories. For scopes - Nightforce if you've got the money and Supersniper if you don't.
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Old March 31, 2009, 12:34 PM   #10
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i shot a armalite in 50 for about two years. finding a place that allows it on thier range can be a problem. after the initial thrill is over, any thing less than 600 to 700 yds is not challenging. bullet skip was the excuse handed to me. i sold it eventually. fwiw. bobn
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Old March 31, 2009, 05:57 PM   #11
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I'm happy with my AR-50. Have had it for five or six years now. Two other friends have the same and one guy has an older Grizzly. At 39 pounds, I don't do a lot of "off hand" shooting with her. 50shooter's comment about recoil is correct. It has less recoil than my Mossberg 835 12 ga with 2.75" field loads. We have a 500yd range and would like more but it's fun a 500.
I don't want to steer you away from the 50 but one of my buddies has the AR-30 in 338 lapua. Wow, what a rifle and what a round.
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Old March 31, 2009, 08:35 PM   #12
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I have a ten year old LAR Grizzly. It is an ok gun, but I can only shoot about 2 moa with it. The bull pup design makes it short. The small muzzle brake makes this one the heaviest recoiling 50 cal I have shot.

The M82 is fun, but the only time I did not see it come in last at matches was when a bolt gun broke.

The AR-50 is the best one I have shot, but it has (or used to have) a very long throat that did not allow seating the bullet to touch the lands. The AR-50 and the M82 had the lowest recoil of the 50 cal guns I have shot.

I liked the Serbu, did not have a chance to shoot match grade ammo in it though.

I have heard good things about the ALS and Mcmillians. I have only heard bad things about the Vulcan (Hesse). The Vulcan is the only one I have heard (nothing proven) anything unsafe amount.

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Old April 9, 2009, 01:59 PM   #13
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Great comments and thanks again.

As a matter of fact, I have a Blaser Tactical II in .338 Lapua on the way so - yes - I am very excited to shoot it. As far as BMG's, I've got a McMillan on order and will be getting an AR-50 this week. Serbu would have been my first choice over the AR but they are tough to find.

Anyway, thanks for all the posts.
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Old April 9, 2009, 02:12 PM   #14
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I've shot the Armalite 50 and it was all smiles.

Unfortunately the "friend" who owned it is no longer a friend.

Plus my private gun club banned them from the range.

Good luck

Have to agree with chuter, I have shot the AR-30 in .308 (older nicer gentleman at the range), it was all that and a bag of chips. I can only imagine it in .338, smoking I'm sure.
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Old May 6, 2009, 12:45 AM   #15
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50 BMGs

Forget the Barrett. It feels like it has twice the recoil of an UltraMag (Safety
Harbor) with a 22" barrel that is half the weight. It's muzzle break is purposely
inefficient because it needs the recoil to operate the action. And when you finally get one in your hands the first thing you'll say is "$9000. ?!?!"
The finish quality of the Ultramag is superior to the Barrett. As far as comfort goes and quality of construction, nothing quite beats the RAP (later called the AMAC) which is really the rifle that started the personal 50BMG thing.
Now if Mark Serbu would ever really get his 50 semi-auto done, that's a rifle that could be very interesting...and accurate!
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Old May 6, 2009, 12:50 AM   #16
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50 BMGs

Yes, I know, it's its, not it's (must proof-read next time).
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