At 10:00 on Sunday morning, the airspace above Marine Corps Base Quantico was closed. The reason? I had just stepped to the firing line with my ArmaLite AR-50 chambered in 50 BMG (using Magtech 624gr M33 ammunition provided by LuckyGunner.com). Range control decided that I might be a danger to airplanes and so diverted air traffic while I had some fun competing in a modified Palma match. It was my first time shooting a 50 cal, and let me give you some of my impressions.
Before firing the first shot I watched some videos online of other people shooting the same rifle, and there was a pattern. Knowing 50 cal owner invites newbie to shoot the 50. Newbie hesitantly gets behind the gun. Loud explosion. Newbie laughs and complains about the recoil. It led me to believe that the experience wouldn’t be one I’d want to repeat very often.
When I pulled the trigger for the first time, I was pleasantly suprised at how mild the recoil felt and how quiet the report was to me. I was expecting a punishing kick that would leave my shoulder red for weeks but instead it was more like a gentle shove, less than an M44 Mosin Nagant’s recoil. Even the sound of the rifle going off was quieter than I expected. For the first two stages I had foam earplugs with earmuffs over them, but when we got back to 1,000 yards I decided that the earmuffs were actually overkill.
While the experience may be more or less pleasant for the shooter, the same cannot necessarily be said for the observers. Just like the RSO (who wants my “deck gun” as far away from him as possible), most people stayed away from my firing point. The match director even put a couple empty lanes between me and the next competitor. Even the people on the shotgun range down the road seemed to think the report was more than a little obnoxious.
Looking back at my scores, an interesting trend develops.
- 800 Yards, 15 rounds – 124 0x
- 900 Yards, 15 rounds – 125 0x
- 1,000 Yards, 20 rounds – 161 4x
The further back I go, the better my score gets. This I think I can attribute to getting used to the gun, as by the end of the day I was nice and comfortable behind that mammoth rifle.
What’s really interesting (and I’ll go into this a little bit more when I write my review of this gun) is that even with machine gun quality ammo, ammunition which wasn’t really intended for accurate shooting, I was able to consistently hit in and around a dinner plate sized scoring ring from 1,000 yards.
On Saturday, everything seemed to go wrong at once. On Sunday, with the 50 cal at 1,000 yards, all seemed right with the world once more. Hopefully some nice ammunition supplier will throw me enough ammo to use this in the 50 BMG match on Father’s Day.