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Low Pressure, High Stopping Power: 50GI Cartridge

By Oleg Volk

Handguns are almost always weaker than rifles, yet defensive fighting usually happens so close that stopping power is paramount.

Unfortunately, few of us can carry long guns legally, and such carry would not be very comfortable. The solution has long been to use the most powerful handgun that’s still practical for unsupported firing, starting with the .476 Eley, .455 Webley and .45Colt revolvers. Guncrafter Industries pistols in 50GI improve on those with a .50-caliber bore, the largest legally possible without National Firearms Act paperwork. The rebated rim allows a 45ACP-sized breechface, while the blown out straight-walled casing accommodates much larger bullets than John Browning’s brainchild. The portly projectile loaded into a rebated rim case has an impressive frontal area, 23 percent wider than .45 ACP, and boasts 1000fps velocity–15% higher–for the same 230-grain bullet weight. Actual measured velocity was very close from a 4.5-inch Glock barrel and higher from 5-inch and 6-inch M1911 barrels. For antipersonnel use, a wide range of highly expansive all-copper hollow points from 185 grains to 275 grains are available, all alleged to provide massive tissue displacement. Light for the caliber, 185gr stops at 9 inches in 10% ballistic gelatin, but makes an even wider path. The expanding bullets are all optimized for thin-skinned humanoid foes, with the 230-grainer making holes a foot deep and almost an inch wide. For hog hunting use, slower but much denser 300-grain bullets are available. At 700fps, this heavy FMJ load is on the same power level as 44 Special–a mild, easy shooting round that penetrates deeply even through gristle plate and works well for rapid second and third hits if necessary.

50GI is a low-pressure caliber along the lines of the classic .455 Webley. At the same pressure as 45ACP, it’s easy on the shooter and gives equally quick follow-up shots that are difficult with 50AE or 50S&W. While less energetic than a hot 10mm auto load, the 50 GI is more efficient by not having to use as much of the kinetic energy to expand the projectile. Muzzle flash is minimal with...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N5 (June 2017)
and was posted online on April 21, 2017

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