Gun Review: .50 Beowulf Overmatch Upper

73 responses

  1. avatar
    Guy
    December 19, 2013

    I’m all for novelty, but the price tag just doesn’t make sense. A normalslug gun runs in at less than half of this price, and shoots ammunition that’s commonly available – so, you can have more fun, cheaper, than with this thing.
    What am I missing?

    • avatar
      Duke of Sharon
      December 19, 2013

      If I lived in a rifle deer zone I’d own one because:

      1. I have a .223 AR which I enjoy and am proficient with.
      2. When I take government sponsor trips to interesting places, I carry an AR.
      3. Hunting with an AR would make me more proficient and would be more realistic training for when it really counts.
      4. I’d like to deer hunt with an AR but I’ve seen deer shot but not killed with a .223 (I know, shot placement, but nobody’s perfect.)

      • avatar
        Guy
        December 19, 2013

        That’s fair. Thanks for taking those trips for us.

      • avatar
        Duke of Sharon
        December 19, 2013

        I appreciate your appreciation . . . and on behalf of the Federal Government, please accept my sincere apologies for running up a national debt which neither you, nor your children, nor their children will ever be able to repay.

      • avatar
        Jacob
        December 19, 2013

        That’s actually a lot more practical than I thought after all. Good points

    • avatar
      Accur81
      December 19, 2013

      Good point. .50 cal sabot slugs from a semi auto 12 gauge aren’t all that much different. The .50 Beowulf is interchangeable with AR-15 lowers and uses box mags.

      • avatar
        ropingdown
        December 19, 2013

        If hunting is the point, there are at least three saboted .50 caliber 375-385 grain bullets (Rem’s Accutip, for example, or Winchester Partition Gold) that provide similar velocities and greater energy. You don’t absolutely need a fully rifled barrel, but do need at least a 4″ rifled choke. The 600 grain Brenneke slugs for smooth bores carry less velocity but more energy. The areas I hunt require either a shotgun or a rifle, and semi-auto rifles are not permitted in either jurisdiction (PA and Sweden). A light 235 grain bullet in a .375 H&H cartridge offers much better range and energy, and a new bolt gun can be had in a good Winchester Model 70 for the same price as the loaded Beowulf upper. There’s a lot of “Why? Because I can!” in the Beowulf, the fun of which I can understand.

  2. avatar
    Paul B
    December 19, 2013

    Wow. What will they think of next. Maybe redo some of the old muskets that shot .75 caliber balls. Wonder what that would do.

    • avatar
      Guy
      December 19, 2013

      I’d sure like to have a few of the old big-bore double-rifles. We all need a rifle that hurls a 2000 grain bullet.

      • avatar
        Pwrserge
        December 19, 2013

        At that point, you are blurring the line between rifle and portable cannon.

      • avatar
        Guy
        December 19, 2013

        Yes, precisely. While we’re wishing, make mine belt-fed with HE rounds.

      • avatar
        Steve Truffer
        December 19, 2013
      • avatar
        rawmade
        December 19, 2013

        Look up .950 JDJ. Based off a 20mm case.
        3600gr bullet, 38,000ft lb

      • avatar
        Guy
        December 19, 2013

        Way cool- but if I’m looking for a rifle that weighs over 100 lbs, I’m looking for a Solothurn. That’s a classy, classy weapon.

  3. avatar
    peirsonb
    December 19, 2013

    Hmmm….I see a new legislative agenda in the works. Mandate .50 Beowulf as the round allowed for civilian use and no one will be able to carry more than ten rounds…

    • avatar
      Drew
      December 19, 2013

      .50 plus a drum mag :)

      • avatar
        peirsonb
        December 19, 2013

        = throwing your back out :)

      • avatar
        C
        December 19, 2013

        Not to mention having to walk around with a massive erection from carrying that much problem solving.

      • avatar
        Jacob
        December 19, 2013

        You’ll need a drum mag to carry more than 10 rounds (40 round pmag not included).

    • avatar
      Dave78
      December 20, 2013

      Only if I can get it in a pistol version. With a suppressor.

      • avatar
        Knitepoet/Paul
        March 28, 2014

        Dave78,

        12″ pistol upper w/ pepper pot brake $921.99 from Midwayusa.

        AWC makes their “Thundertrap” suppressor in 50 Beowulf as well. $995 + $200 tax stamp + 12+ months wait on paperwork

  4. avatar
    ErrantVenture11
    December 19, 2013

    I propose a moratorium on new rifle development. I’m having a hard enough time deciding on my first new rifle without all these new calibers and models popping up left and right…

    • avatar
      Hkfan
      December 20, 2013

      Still with tried and true calibers for your first rifle. 223, 308, or 243. That’s it.

    • avatar
      Knitepoet/Paul
      December 21, 2013

      It’s not “new” I’ve owned my AA 50 ‘wulf upper for 7 years or so.
      The Ranier 335gr HPs make FINE whitetail medicine. Especially for folks like me who HATE tracking. Of the 3 deer I’ve killed with mine, the furthest any have made it was one jump.

      On an episode of some weapons show on the Military Channel, Mr. Alexander described the Beowulf as, “a wrecking ball” I wholeheartedly agree.

      I’ve also spoken with him on the phone when I was having some trouble with my Grendel, he’s a great person to deal with.

      Concerning the weight of the ‘wulf upper. I have the basic “Entry” model and it’s listed @ only 4.5pounds w/o optic

  5. avatar
    Culpeper Kid
    December 19, 2013

    I donno, it sounds like perfect hog medicine to me.

    • avatar
      Jacob
      December 19, 2013

      And thus, we have it. The perfect niche for such a weapon that otherwise seems unnecessary, but fills a specific role most don’t consider better than most other rifles can. Now if we could just drop that price down…

  6. avatar
    Andrew
    December 19, 2013

    I don’t see really see the “niche” where this cartridge fits in:

    Close Quarter engine-block battle?

    Long Range poorly-aimed sniping?

    Once you get over the giggle/fun factor, is there any application that this would really excel in?

    • avatar
      Joe
      December 19, 2013

      It’s for when the fence breaks down in Jurrassic Park… T rex? 308 would barely scratch the surface and 338 lapua is too expensive

      • avatar
        Andrew
        December 19, 2013

        “…Clevah Girl..”

      • avatar
        Stilicho
        December 19, 2013

        Its for when the Terminators come. Even Arnold can’t handle fifty cal, right?

    • avatar
      Kevin A.
      December 19, 2013

      For the civilian market, it looks like something a hunter would enjoy- especially a hunter who mostly uses ARs and doesn’t want a bolt gun for whatever reason.

      • avatar
        Jacob
        December 19, 2013

        Hunting hogs in the Southeast US. Lots of brush, big tough animals (“game” is to respectful for those vermin), and the need to not any get away if avoidable. Enter the big bore, semi-auto rifle, that doesn’t need a ton of range.

  7. avatar
    505markf
    December 19, 2013

    An excellent candidate for some “recoil therapy”. Maybe half a box ought to re-balance the old Yin and Yang, I’m thinking. But there is a charm to a .45-70 in a big, honkin’ lever action (yeah, I know… old school).

    Great review!

    • avatar
      Andrew
      December 19, 2013

      Half the fun of old cars is the manual transmission. I would rather shoot the lever gun and feel more “connected” to the experience.

    • avatar
      Ing
      December 19, 2013

      Glad to know I’m not the only one that was thinking 45-70 the whole time.

    • avatar
      Ralph
      December 19, 2013

      @505markf, I love lever guns and I really enjoy shooting the .45 Gov’t. But if I could only own one or the other, I would have to choose the .50 Beowulf.

      It duplicates .45-70 performance from a modern platform that can morph into a 5.56 in less than ten seconds and (when separated from the lower) fits inside my backpack.

      FWIW, good quality .50 Beowulf ammo is a bit cheaper, too. Which doesn’t matter a lot unless you’re throwing a lot of ammo downrange.

      None of which has an adverse effect on my love of lever guns.

    • avatar
      Jacob
      December 19, 2013

      Its old school and new school. In my mind, the two may have similar ballistics, but are different enough in charm that they both have room in my safe. Not my wallet, though.

  8. avatar
    uncommon_sense
    December 19, 2013

    Now here is a serious question. Must the base of brass casings be “small” (on the order of .30 caliber) in order to be compatible with the AR-15 platform? If not, I would much prefer an upper in .45-70 Government over .50 Beowulf. The .45 caliber bullets are still plenty huge for knocking down a bison, grizzly, or anything else on the face of the Earth. There are lots of .45 caliber bullet choices for reloading. It obviously retains more velocity down range because it has a smaller cross section than .50 caliber bullets. And I have to believe that .45-70 Government factory ammunition is much more readily available at local stores than .50 Beowulf. I would also guess that .45-70 Government factory ammunition is less expensive than .50 Beowulf as well.

    As for knock-down power, 50 caliber bullets are second to none. Hunters who use full caliber bullets in their .50 caliber muzzleloaders can attest to that. Of course 300 grain .45 caliber bullets are a darn close second.

    At any rate, back to my original question, if it is possible to use .45-70 Government cartridges in the AR-15 platform, I would be supremely interested such a configuration. Along the same lines, an AR-15 chambered for .454 Casull would also be interesting.

    • avatar
      C
      December 19, 2013

      You can have an upper chambered in literally anything, it just might only be single shot. The limiting reagent is the magwell. If you want to have multiple rounds ready to go, they have to be roughly the same length as the 5.56 to fit through the hole in the bottom. But there’s really nothing stopping you from feeding it through the ejection port.
      There is one company making a side feeding bolt action upper (the idea of which i love, but it only comes in anti-material rounds and i’m not in the market)

    • avatar
      Accur81
      December 19, 2013

      See the .458 SOCOM or .450 Bushmaster. The .45-70 is too long to fit into the mag well of an AR-15. I have a .45-70 Marlin XLR and the .50 Beowulf. Since I can shoot +P .45-70 Grizzly and Buffalo Bore, and have more case capacity than the .50 Beowulf, the .45-70 is better in many respects as a big game gun. The rapid fire capability and fun factor of the .50 is unparalleled. Enjoy.

      • avatar
        uncommon_sense
        December 19, 2013

        Thank you for the details Accur81 … now I can stop fantasizing about an AR-15 in .45-70 Government!

    • avatar
      Knitepoet/Paul
      March 28, 2014

      Uncommon_sense,

      The reason Mr. A went with the 7.62×39 head size was, per an interview he did about it, because that’s the largest he could make an AR bolt without significantly weakening the lugs.

      That’s also why AA’s Grendel and Beowulf barrels/bolts aren’t compatible with other “Grendel” and “12.7×42″ (Beowulf w/o the copyright) barrels/bolts. He changed the bolt dimension/head space to leave a little more metal in the lug area which means they won’t head space properly when mixed (AA bolt, “other” bbl or AA bbl and “other” 7.62×39 bolt)

  9. avatar
    Jim R
    December 19, 2013

    The wrong, stupid part of my brain took one look at that sucker and thought “Well that’ll definitely get rid of the squirrels in the backyard..” then the rational part said “Does the phrase ‘pink mist’ mean anything to you?” and the stupid part said “You going somewhere with this or are we gonna get to blast some tree rats?”

    So my professional conclusions are A: I’m possibly insane and B: this thing sounds like a whole lot of fun.

    • avatar
      Soccerchainsaw
      December 19, 2013

      Ssshhhhhh.
      The NSA is in the room and they blab everything to the keepers of the NICS…

    • avatar
      DJ
      December 19, 2013

      Awesome!

    • avatar
      C
      December 19, 2013

      I want to party with the stupid part of your brain.

      • avatar
        Jacob
        December 19, 2013

        I want to take classes taught be the “stupid” part of his brain…

    • avatar
      MrVigs
      December 19, 2013

      I totally lol’d.

      I can see it now on my shopping list – 1 box of Hornady Pink Mist Beowulf.

      Thanks for that!

  10. avatar
    John
    December 19, 2013

    Terminator reference. awesome.

  11. avatar
    Accur81
    December 19, 2013

    Thanks for the review!

    Some observations: the pictures upper looks like the 16″ Advanced Weapons System upper with the tank brake muzzle brake. That upper costs $1,012 plus the cost of upgrades. The Overmatch Plus starts at $968, and the cheapest upper is the Entry at $759.00.

    The .243, 7mm-08, etc. run off AR-10 platforms. Anything .308 / 7.62 x 51 based will not fit into an AR-15 mag well. The .50 Beowulf is the biggest, nastiest cartridge that actually cycles out of the AR-15 platform.

    An H3 buffer and heavy duty buffer spring mitigates recoil quite a bit. I agree with 2 MOA, which is roughly what mine shoots, but mine wears Troy back up iron sights.

    • avatar
      Dave78
      December 19, 2013

      I still haven’t built a dedicated lower for it.. I stole one from an inexpensive starter AR(Stag model1+) I have a 2 stage tactical trigger and an PRS stock ready to assemble for it..

  12. avatar
    PeterC
    December 19, 2013

    I bought one of Mr. Alexander’s early .50 Beowulfs, and I’m here to tell you, they’re a ton of fun. I took a buffalo with it, and have reduced numerous metal plate targets and bowling pins to scrap. At a glance, it looks like every other EBR on the range, but after the first shot, a crowd begins to gather.

    • avatar
      Jacob
      December 19, 2013

      Pardon my ignorance, but “EBR”?

      • avatar
        Gyufygy
        December 19, 2013

        In this context, “Evil Black Rifle”.

      • avatar
        Greg in Allston
        December 19, 2013

        EBR = Evil Black Rifle. An AR by any other name will cause PSH in the faint of heart and rationality. So much the better.

  13. avatar
    Dave78
    December 19, 2013

    I love the Wulf. It’s a heavy hitting, short range mag fed AR. Easy to reload(no shoulder to reshape) Slugs and powder are easy to find(thank you 500 s&w). Every single person who has shot it, loves the gun.. And I always bring extra ammo for the range for them to try.

  14. avatar
    tdiinva
    December 19, 2013

    “…I also hear tell that it’s a fine platform for traditional rounds such as the .243 Winchester…”

    You cannot run a 243 Winchester through an AR-15. You have to use a long action AR-10 platform because the 243 is nothing more than a necked down 7.62 NATO cartridge.

    • avatar
      Ralph
      December 19, 2013

      Yes, agreed. I should have referenced the Stoner AR platform and not the AR-15 specifically.

  15. avatar
    ensitue
    December 19, 2013

    Ha!
    Ralph said “weeni” ! :)

  16. avatar
    Bob H
    December 19, 2013

    Ralph bought all the .50 AE. All of my online sources are sold out!

  17. avatar
    Joe Grine
    December 19, 2013

    Great review, Ralph. Another gun to add to my “need to get” list. S**t.

    • avatar
      Jacob
      December 19, 2013

      If yours is anything like mine, it’s already too long.

      • avatar
        M60E3
        December 22, 2013

        Shoot, i haven’t updated mine in years, and it was still six pages long. This however has been on it for quite some time. A Safety Harbor .50BMG upper would also be nice.

  18. avatar
    ensitue
    December 19, 2013

    In Alyaska this would rock!

    • avatar
      jwm
      December 19, 2013

      Wouldn’t be bad in Alaska, either.

  19. avatar
    DrewN
    December 19, 2013

    Not enough accuracy? My “entry” upper will put every round into a cloverleaf (granted it’s a BIG cloverleaf) at 100 off the bench all day long. I use a Leupold 1×4 shotgun scope and it’s plenty of magnification.

    • avatar
      Jacob
      December 19, 2013

      A cloverleaf of 50 Beowulf is almost a full 2″. Its not really a measurement of error, so much as an estimation of destruction.

      • avatar
        Greg in Allston
        December 19, 2013

        “estimation of destruction”; yes, when you’re running this round you’re truly on the Eve of Destruction.

  20. avatar
    FLResident
    December 19, 2013

    This a great article but it’s th3 quality of the comments that boosts it’s awesomeness by a factor of 10

  21. avatar
    Tom in Oregon
    December 19, 2013

    Guess I’m one of the few who noticed.
    Your deck photo looks like the floor of my boat. Littered with spent .22 casings.

    I’ll be hitting the gun show this weekend. I’ve been toying with a .458 socom, but it looks like the .50 ammo is a bit cheaper.

  22. avatar
    Bkbear1
    December 19, 2013

    Got lucky at a gunshop 2 years ago and picked up my Beowulf on a S&W MP-15 lower plus 60 rounds of ammo, soft case , bipod for $700.00.

    Love to go to our farm and hit coyotes and feral dogs..rolls them up like a .22 does a soda can.

  23. avatar
    rogertc1
    December 20, 2013

    Mine is on a RRA receiver. (Since 2007) And 600 rounds… neat engine block gun… not a long distance hitter.

  24. avatar
    Nicole B
    January 22, 2014

    Hey Ralph, I really love your review! I have a question about your writing availability. Could you shoot me an email so we can touch base? nicole.bowen at ccaofnc dot org.

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