.50 GI: .45 ACP’s Odd Cousin


Question: “Why do you carry a .45?” Answer: “Because they don’t make a .50.” Well, that answer doesn’t hold water, and hasn’t since 2004. Thirteen years ago, Arkansas-based Guncrafter Industries began modifying M1911A1 pistols to shoot a new proprietary cartridge that they call .50 GI (for Guncrafter Industries, not government issue).

Obviously, a standard 1911 isn’t designed to shoot something that large or something with that much muzzle energy, so they beefed up the guns internally to handle an increase of muzzle energy that is up to 31% more than a .45 ACP round.

Externally, GI’s guns look normal. Their Model No. 1 and Model No. 2 look like full-size, run-of-the-mill 1911s upon first glance. Even their Model No. 3 looks like a regular Commander-size 1911. The Model No. 4 features a slide and barrel that is 6” long instead of 5”. Finally, their Model No. 5 is designed for concealed carry, featuring a full-size frame with a 4.25” barrel and slide.

But that’s where the similarities end. The mag well in the frame is thinner, the internals have been modified, and the feed ramp has different contours to accommodate the larger cartridge.

Speaking of the cartridge: the bullet diameter is .515” and is seated in a case that’s slightly shorter than a .45 ACP, but is noticeably wider. Bullets range between 185 and 300 grains. The 185-grain CHP travels at 1,200 fps. The case itself has a rebated rim that is the same size as a .45 ACP (or .480”) and the rest of the case is .526”.

These big caliber pistols come at a big price, too. The base prices of the five models run from $3,499 to $4,499; and $3,799.

Don’t want to shell out that kind of cash? Conversion kits are available for GLOCK pistols. Prices hover around $600 per kit. Complete GLOCKs that have been converted run about $1,000.

As you’d expect, ammo isn’t cheap either. A box of 20 300-grain JFP cartridges will set you back $30.30 – or $1.51/round. A box of 20 185-grain or 230-grain CHP cartridges cost $50.70 – or $2.53/round.

Overall, the .50 GI is a neat idea, but I don’t have the desire to run out and buy a complete gun or conversion kit. Now, if it were a little more affordable, then I might be tempted to give in to the novelty of such a design.


  1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

    I went the other way, thanks. I like my .40S&W

  2. avatar eremeya says:

    Unfortunately some states (Oklahoma) forbid carry over .45.

    1. avatar Angry D says:

      Huh. I don’t see the ability to restrict carry caliber in the Constitution. In fact, it expressly says, “Shall not be infringed.”

  3. avatar Gary Howell says:

    I don’t think you can afford that; as the SR1911 in 10mm will out perform, and have considerable less expenditure for a factory gun. Ruger seem to always perform well.

    1. avatar Austin says:

      I am also excited for that gun.

      Hopefully the Para Ordnance/ Remington Frankenstein monster will put out a 10 mm double stack 1911 while keeping their quality control in order.

      Google “Para Ordnance is born again” and you will find an article on Remington’s new Para Ordnance style 1911s on TFB.

  4. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    I’d rather have a LAR Grizzly in .45 WinMag.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      Me also. I am always wary of any rebated rim design. To feed such through a non-tubular magazine seems like just asking for trouble.

  5. avatar TruthTellers says:

    The .45 is already a big, slow moving bullet, but a .50? No, I dropped interest in the .50 caliber, both pistol and rifle, after I thought it over and said to myself there’s nothing the .45 or .338 can’t do that I ask it to and do it for much less money and materials.

    The only .50’s that interest me now are muzzleloaders and black powder guns.

  6. avatar Ian says:

    Interesting concept but does it fill a niche or gap in the market? Who’s it for? Maybe Big Game hunters or Law Enforcement in deep country areas where the biggest threats are quadrupedal.

    1. avatar Button Gwinnet says:

      In that case, a .44 Mag is your best bet.

  7. avatar JDS says:

    If Harry Callahan hadn’t retired he would use one to blow a punks head clean off.

  8. avatar Accur81 says:

    I’d like one as a novelty / HD / blowing up water jugs gun, but a 10mm that can shoot .40 makes a lot more sense.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      One cannot shoot .40 S&W in a 10mm chamber. Semiautos headspace on the case mouth so the case length is a critical dimension, unlike revolvers that headspace on the case rim.

        1. avatar kenneth says:

          Not counting the magic inherent in all glocks, naturally. They are simply immune to physics, as every glocktard knows.
          But seriously, most any any 10mm firearm MAY shoot a .40 as the extractor might hold the round securely enough to allow ignition. But it is neither safe, accurate, nor recommended. Glocks included.

  9. avatar Sid says:

    I seem to recall that the original men was “Why do I carry a .45? Because they don’t make a .46.”

  10. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    Hamilton Bowen converted a blued Redhawk to .50spcl and used a 4″ full lug S&W barrel. I think it had Roy Fishpaw snakewood grips. It looked like something the Joker would be proud brandish. If I had money to throw around, I think that is the .50 I’d get.

  11. avatar Libertarian says:

    460 rowland

    1. avatar binder says:

      Hell, this “50” is not even better than .45 super

  12. avatar Steven G. Stein says:

    This basically seems to be a solution in search of a problem; and bragging rights too, of course – “My 1911 is bigger your 1911!”.

  13. avatar js says:

    The joke is “…because they don’t make a .46”. Not fifty.

  14. avatar GS650G says:

    “Why carry a .45?”
    “Because a cop is too heavy”

  15. avatar Scotty Crawford says:

    This is a really bad article. All the articles I’ve collected on .50 GI mention the same benefits, and they’re not even mentioned at all in this one.
    There isn’t any evidence the author even bothered to shoot one of these bullets out of a gun.
    He also, somehow, even got the size of the bullet wrong in an article about a different bullet size: It’s .500 inches in width, not .516.
    Why? There are legal restrictions against making, owning, or using bullets that are wider than .500″. That’s a very relevant fact; author didn’t mention that either
    I guess the author wanted to know why anyone would get a .50 GI. Ever hear of asking? When I called Guncrafter Industries with technical questions, Jason…formerly of Wilson Combat…came on the phone himself and answered them.
    As to the benefits of .50 GI:
    For starters, when Guncrafter Ind. invented the .50 Gi, it also invented a completely different bullet for it, and that bullet is rated as the best manstopper ever tested by youtube and TTAG contributor shootingthebull.com (It’s the all-copper bullet that looks like a 4-petaled daisy after expansion.)
    The .50 GI produces a lot less muzzle flip after every shot, so you’re a lot more likely to hit an attacker with your followup shots. On youtube, there’s a video of Jason, who’s a skinny guy shooting two .50 GI guns at the same time. Watch the muzzle flip carefully. There pretty much isn’t any: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB1veQb29AE
    You can also get a .50 GI bullet that’s 30% heavier than a heavy ACP bullet, and 11% wider, too. Other articles mention that this bullet drives a heavy steel sled target for several feet when it hits home; that impresses the hell out of people who do actually bother to shoot one.
    That 300-grain bullet may be a manstopper against an attacker wearing body armor, and it should also stop most huge animals that attack woodsmen a lot better than .45 ACP,. It will penetrate for several feet, not several inches.
    In .50 GI self-defense emergencies,you can fire the best bullet that does not break the speed of sound. If you do, you won’t produce a second blast of sonic-boom sound (the “crack”, like a rifle makes) so you won’t lose twice as much of your hearing every time you pull the trigger.
    Finally, I think the author should have mentioned the reason why you can’t get a .50 GI conversion kit for a 1911: a 1911 has to be wider internally to take .50 GI, a .50 GI 1911 has to be designed that way from the ground up.

    1. avatar binder says:

      You can get 275gr rounds for a .45 super and 460 rowland. I think some people run 300gr out of them too. Why mess with all the stuff you have to for .50 GI?

      1. avatar Ralph Mouth says:

        You are correct. The .460 and .45 Win Mag are FAR superior to the .50 GI. It would have been nice if the author could have bothered to put in a chart comparing .50 GI muzzle energy and velocity to; .45 ACP+P, .45 Win Mag, .460 Rowland, .50 AE but then that would defeat the whole argument in favor of .50GI as everyone would see how useless of a cartridge it really is aside from a bigger footprint on paper targets.

  16. avatar Will says:

    Huntsville, AR. I wonder why the upper left corner of Arkansas is such a hotbed of gun makers?

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