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50 AE vs 50 BMG Comparison

When it comes to comparing two of the most powerful cartridges in the firearm world, the 50 Action Express (AE) and the 50 Browning Machine Gun (BMG) hold a significant place. In this blog post, we delve into the detailed histories, the differences, and similarities, and try to ascertain which of the two is the superior caliber.

Is 50 AE the same as 50 BMG?

No, the .50 AE (50 Action Express) and the .50 BMG (50 Browning Machine Gun) are not the same; they are distinctly different cartridges designed for different firearms and applications.

The .50 AE is primarily used in handguns and is known for its high stopping power in self-defense and hunting applications. It was developed for use in the semi-automatic Desert Eagle pistol, and it’s indeed a large cartridge for a handgun, with a significant recoil as well.

On the other hand, the .50 BMG is a much larger cartridge that is used in machine guns and sniper rifles. It was developed for use in the Browning Machine Gun in the early 20th century. Its applications are primarily in the military, for anti-material and anti-vehicle purposes, but it is also used in long-range target shooting.

To give you a perspective on the size difference:

  • .50 AE
    • Bullet diameter: .500 in (12.7 mm)
    • Case length: 1.285 in (32.6 mm)
  • .50 BMG
    • Bullet diameter: .510 in (13.0 mm)
    • Case length: 3.91 in (99.5 mm)

As you can see, the .50 BMG is substantially larger, with a longer case and slightly larger bullet diameter, and it is used in entirely different types of firearms for different types of shooting applications. It is essential to never attempt to interchange these rounds as they are not compatible, and doing so would be extremely dangerous.


Ballistics Chart

To give you a precise idea of how these two powerful calibers stack against each other, let’s look at a general ballistics chart:

Aspect 50 AE 50 BMG
Bullet Weight (grains) 300-325 647-800
Velocity (fps) 1,400-1,500 2,800-3,100
Energy (ft.-lbs) 1,400-1,600 10,000-15,000

Similarities and Differences


  • Reputation: Both calibers are renowned for their stopping power and are recognized as superior choices in their respective fields.


  • Usage: While the 50 AE is primarily used in handguns, the 50 BMG is used in machine guns and sniper rifles, offering a longer range and higher stopping power.
  • Recoil: Given the power behind the 50 BMG, it has a substantially higher recoil compared to the 50 AE.
  • Availability: 50 BMG ammunition and firearms are generally less available to the general public compared to 50 AE due to its military-grade specifications.

The Histories Unveiled

50 Action Express (AE)

The 50 AE was designed in 1988 with the handgun enthusiasts in mind. It aimed to provide an extremely powerful cartridge for semi-automatic pistols. This caliber quickly became synonymous with power and precision in the handgun world.

50 Browning Machine Gun (BMG)

On the other hand, the 50 BMG has a much longer history, having been developed during the late stages of World War I to offer an advantage in anti-aircraft and anti-vehicle roles. It has been a part of various military arsenals around the world and has proved its might in numerous conflicts.

Which is the Superior Caliber?

Determining the superior caliber between the 50 AE and 50 BMG hinges largely on the specific use case:

  • For Handgun Users: If you are a handgun enthusiast, the 50 AE stands unrivaled in terms of power and precision.
  • For Long-Range Shootings: When it comes to long-range shooting and anti-material applications, the 50 BMG is your go-to caliber, offering unmatched ballistics and stopping power.


While choosing between the 50 AE and 50 BMG, it is important to consider the specific requirements of your shooting application. Both these calibers offer unprecedented power in their categories, defining the upper echelon of ballistic performance. Regardless of your choice, both these calibers guarantee an adrenaline-fueled shooting experience with power and precision at the forefront.

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