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.