A weekend, a BIG gun, barbecue and lots of ammo. And some people wonder why I went to all the trouble to get a German gun license. The gun in question: a “Heinrich Fortmeier single-shot rifle. Specifically, a custom-made rifle calibered in 12.7x99mm, better known as .50 BMG . . .
This gun is based on the Fortmeier 2002, which is identically constructed to the Steyr HS50 precision rifle. And no wonder: Steyr commissioned Herr Fortmeier to develop the 2002 gun for the Las Vegas SHOT Show. After finishing this project, Fortmeier was allowed to build a small amount of similar rifles on his own, sold under his name. Flash forward seven years, and the second generation “2002” is now available as the Fortmeier 50BMG.
Like its twin brother from Steyr (except for some design details), the 50BMG is a bolt-action rifle. With its 830mm barrel, there is almost no waste of propellent; all the power out of 250 grain 20N29 goes into the bullet and (for sure) backwards into your shoulder. The force is checked of only by the giant muzzle break at the bad side [sic] of the barrel.
The barrel is one of the key differences between the Fortmeier 50BMG and the Steyr HS50. The Austrian gun builders build their own barrel. Fortmeier uses a similar one made by the German barrel pioneer Lothar Walther. The cold-hammered, free-running, unflooded barrel is approximately 70mm longer as the Steyr. It has eight grooves and a twist of 15 inches.
The manual bolt uses two massive front lugs. I mounted a Leupold Mark 4 Ultra M1 Tactical 10×42. Although rifle has a detachable bipod, shooting freehand is not an option. The Fortmeier’s overall weight is near to 16kg including scope, bipod and cartridge. You disassemble the Fortmeier by unlocking two screws under the stock. Taken apart, it fits the largest gun case I could find perfectly.
Herr Fortmeier doesn’t give any “precision guarantee” or “accuracy promise.” He’s confident his rifle shoots under 0.5 MOA (aside from natural and human interference). Gehen wir.
I started by shooting some surplus ammo: WRAs from 1954 and some Lake City of 1981. I put this “sausage” into the chamber and closed the bolt assembly, which has an 90 deg. opening angle. The pressure point of the one-stage trigger falls at approximately 1000g.
We didn’t get any pictures of the gun’s accuracy. But there were some target papers with bullet holes CTC which fit on a beer mat (approximately 80 x 80mm). We shot at 300m on an open range, light wind (3 m/s), no rain, 24°C.
Firing this gun can’t be compared to anything else. It’s not the kick of the rifle nor its astounding accuracy nor the noise of the 250 grain powder detonating next to your head that puts a grin on a shooter’s face. It’s the blast wave. It kept me amused until I was sitting back having a medium-rare steak, pondering my score. And remained long after my colleague found the last of his .308 brass, which flew away in my shot.
We had another rifle 50 BMG rifle with us: a Kilic UltraMag 50 with a 565mm barrel. Compared to the Fortmeier it looked like a toy. But it was fun to shoot. Because of the short barrel, most of the propellant burned outside the gun. The kick was not comparable as it has a good working muzzle break.
Non-CA dwelling Americans can buy a Fortmeier 50 BMG of their own; our Federal Chancellor has made no export ban to the U.S. on .50-caliber guns and parts. Not yet, anyway. Germany’s extreme limits on the right to bear arms are a pain for its law-abiding citizens, but capitalism is good for all.
RATINGS (out of five)
Style * * * *
Big. Black. Giant Muzzlebreak. All this goes to making a bad-ass-looking rifle for bad-ass boys and girls. So it doesn’t mind that there is no magazine port. All in all very clean, very simple. German gun power in a Bauhaus-school style.
Ergonomics (carry) * *
Noooo, you don’t really want that howitzer to carry, neither CC, nor open with a sling on your back for more than 300 yards. Better use a good ol’ pickup to transport. The second star is for the possibility to disassemble it into two parts.
Ergonomics (firing) * * * * *
The big muzzlebreak and heavy weight reduces recoil to manageable levels. All you have to handle (besides the uneconomic ammo-costs): the blast wave. Well, your neighbours on the range have to handle it too but that’s half the fun.
Reliability * * * * *
Approximately 150 rounds left the barrel without any problem. When you use surplus ammo, you’ll have to clean up the grease. Otherwise the brass could stack into the chamber after firing and you’ll need a massive hit to the bolt to open the action.
Customizability * * *
Everything which fits on a picatinny rail could be fixed on the gun. Unless there is only one rail on the top, your possibilities are limited. Besides a shot-proof scope, what would you want to fix onto a Fortmeier 50?
Overall Rating * * * * *
For about 3500 US$, the Fortmeier 50 is excellent value for money. The fun, you get out of it without hitting any target constitutes adequate countervalue [ED: makes it worth the price]. On the range you soon recognize that there is no problem for 0.5 MOA with handcrafted ammo. What’s not to like?