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10-14-2008, 12:38 PM #1
.50 Beowulf (and a comparison to the S&W .500 Magnum)
Had a PM ask me about the Beowulf and I took this photo to show them side by side.
ON THE LEFT: Hornady S&W .500 Magnum 500 grain FP XTP
ON THE RIGHT: Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf 400 grain FP Hawk
Since S&W used the OAL of the 5.56 round as the design standard when they built the cylinder of the X-frame revolver (apparently wanting to one day chamber the 5.56 in that pistol - WOO HOO) and the Beowulf had to fit the AR mag, the physical constraints of both cartridges are virtually identical. The end result is a very similar cartridge. In fact you can use .500 Magnum bullets in the .50 Beowulf cartridge. (I don't think the 700 grain "trainstoppers" would feed very well)
The most noticeable difference is the rim. The S&W uses a semi-rimmed case (similar to the .32 ACP) while the Beowulf opted for a rebated rim so that the upper could use a slightly modified 7.62x39 bolt. You can actually use an off the shelf 7.62 bolt with a slight chance of ejection problems.
The largest difference between the two rounds isn't physical. It is that the peak pressure of the Beowulf is significantly less than the S&W. This is due to the design of the AR. A S&W .500 Magnum can be loaded to a chamber pressure of 60,000 psi (some argue that the X-frame can be loaded even higher) while the Beowulf can 'only' be loaded to about 52,000 psi. However, this does not take into consideration the fact that the Beowulf can use a slower powder and has at least 16" of barrel to accelerate the round where the .500 is loaded for about half that length, so while the max pressure may be less, the muzzle energy that can be obtained is very similar.
By rifle standards, the Beowulf is a very slow round traveling less than 2000 ft/sec. Out at 200 yards, you are down to 1300 fps and looking at roughly a foot drop. At 300 yards, you are in a 4 foot drop and go subsonic. At 500 yards, the drop reaches 200 inches and down to 800 ft lbs of energy. This is not a long range round like the .50 BMG. In fact, the ballistics are more like a shotgun slug than a rifle.
That said, within about 250 yards, anything that is hit with the Beowulf is hit hard. If you accept traditional ballistics used for a deer's vital area (8") you can zero for about 23 yards and know that from 0 to about 190 yards your point of impact is within 4" of the point of aim. In fact, at just about 100 yards, the bullet is about 4" high, so a standard MOA adjustment for 100 yards works great if needed.
Here is a section of the front wheel from the Athol Truck Shoot where I placed four 337 grain (light load) rounds in an attempt to blow out the wheel lug. I missed the lug, but you can see the damage to the aluminum rim where just 4 rounds almost cut the bolt flange around the lug.
Last edited by Chris; 10-14-2008 at 01:11 PM.A clip is not a magazine, a mag is not a clip.
Neither is a grip a stock, and "stock" does not mean grip.
A bullet is not a cartridge, nor is the converse true.
Folks should be more careful when they use the words they do.
A revolver has a cylinder, but only one you see,
and cylinders have chambers, five or six most commonly.
I do not wish to nitpick, but improvement would be seen,
if we could bring ourselves to say exactly what we mean.
- Lieutenant Colonel John Dean "Jeff" Cooper
03-30-2014, 09:32 PM #2
Bringing it out of the grave.. Nice post Chris!
03-30-2014, 09:51 PM #3
Not sure how I missed this but I enjoyed the write-up. Thanks.
-Proud to be dad every day, a licensed plumber most days, and wish I was a shoemaker on others.
Last edited by Fixxah; 03-30-2014 at 10:20 PM.Licensed Journeyman.
03-30-2014, 10:03 PM #4
03-31-2014, 10:32 PM #5
04-01-2014, 08:30 AM #6
Nice job on the write up..... I have both the 500 mag and the Beowulf and they are both a lot of fun to shoot....
04-14-2014, 06:23 PM #7
I love my Wulf.. What's your favorite reload recipe? Did you try the solid brass slugs Athol Truck Shoot?
04-15-2014, 06:32 AM #8
I shoot a 450 grain 500294 LRNGC that I cast over 44.4 grains of RE7 and a magnum primer..... The round nose feeds well and the accuracy is very good....;- )