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About .50 AE

about .50 ae

Table of Contents

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy are going to talk about .50 AE today. The cartridge is an iconic magnum pistol round which is popular among shooters due to its own merits and its inclusion in popular culture. Our goal with this blog post is to provide a brief overview of the cartridge while delving into some of its traits, features, use cases, and more. Without further ado, let’s talk about .50 AE.


What is .50 AE?

The .50 AE is a big bore handgun cartridge which was designed and introduced in 1988 by Evan Whidin of Action Arms. The full name of the round is .50 Action Express, often being abbreviated as .50 AE. Since its introduction, the caliber has been employed by a wide variety of shooters for many purposes. Hunters, recreational shooters, and collectors alike have adopted firearms chambered in the round for one reason or another.

When the cartridge was initially designed, it ran into complications with the ATF due to its diameter. Per federal firearms regulations, firearms may not be over 0.500 inches in bore diameter, otherwise they are deemed destructive devices. This was initially the case with original .50 AE Desert Eagle offerings which allowed a gauge to pass through their polygonal rifled barrels. The gauge ultimately determined that the initial diameter of the .50 AE bore was more than 0.500 inches and needed to be remedied. In response to this, the actual bullet diameter of the cartridge was made to be 0.500 inches, or 12.7mm to comply with regulations. This also explains the tapering visible on the casing.

The .50 AE features a substantial recoil impulse, even when utilized in a semi-automatic firearm. When compared to something like the .44 Magnum, the .50 AE will generally boast a stouter recoil impulse. This is mainly due to the heavier projectiles utilized by most .50 AE ammunition offerings. Most firearms chambered in .50 AE will feature some form of muzzle brake, porting, or compensator to combat muzzle rise and recoil. The cartridge will also impart a considerable degree of energy as factory .50 AE ammo offerings can generally produce 1,800-foot pounds of muzzle energy. This translates to a devastating and substantial effect on target.

AMT Auto Mag V in .50 AE
AMT Auto Mag V in .50 AE
.50 AE Underwood Ammo
.50 AE Underwood Ammo

An Interesting Fact

While the .50 AE is most associated with the Desert Eagle line of handguns, the Desert Eagle was not the first handgun chambered in the cartridge. The first pistol designed to accept .50 AE ammo was the AMT Auto Mag V, a large semi-automatic handgun. The handgun features generous porting in the barrel to help tame the potent .50 AE cartridge.


Who Makes .50 AE Ammo?

The .50 AE cartridge is currently supported by several ammunition manufacturers. Companies such as Hornady, Magnum Research, Armscor, Federal, and Underwood are among the producers of .50 AE ammunition. These loadings are produced in a variety of forms which range from full metal jacket (FMJ) loadings, offerings which include Hornady XTP projectiles, and in jacketed hollow point (JHP) form to name a few. .50 AE ammo offerings will generally feature heavy projectiles which typically weigh between 300 and 460 grains. Like most calibers, some lighter and heavier projectiles exist beyond the established range and are often found in specialty ammo offerings.


How Available is .50 AE Ammo?

At this point in time, .50 AE ammunition is not nearly as plentiful as some of the more contemporary rounds on the market. For example, ammo for .50 AE is going to be harder to track down than ammunition for calibers such as 9mm Luger, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum, and 10mm Auto. This is not to suggest that .50 AE is impossible to get by any means, one will simply have to search a bit harder to find some. It may not be present in inventories of brick-and-mortar gun stores due to its more niche nature. Ammunition for .50 AE firearms can be found occasionally on shelves and one can certainly buy ammo online to save oneself the effort of calling or checking inventories of local shops.


How Available are Firearms Chambered in .50 AE?

Shooters today will find that, like ammunition, there are not many firearms available which accept .50 AE ammo. At this point in time, the most common handguns available chambered in .50 AE are going to be Desert Eagle pistols. These pistols are available in a variety of sizes and finishes, allowing an end user to find a Desert Eagle which best fits their needs and preferences. On the used market, a shooter can potentially encounter old production handguns such as an AMT Auto Mag V. Additionally, revolvers such as the Magnum Research BFR have been produced to accommodate the .50 AE.

Beyond complete firearms, there are also official kits available which allow an end user to convert a Desert Eagle pistol to accept .50 AE ammunition. These kits can be utilized on Desert Eagles which are not originally chambered in the .50 AE round such as factory .44 Magnum Desert Eagle pistols. At the end of the day, one can certainly find a firearm in .50 AE if they truly want to.

AMT Auto Mag V in .50 AE
AMT Auto Mag V in .50 AE

What is .50 AE Used For?

The most common and practical use cases for the .50 AE include hunting and target shooting applications. The production of various types of hollow point loadings and other types of ammo designed to expand and impart a staggering impact on target increase the cartridge’s viability in the field. Medium to larger-sized game can be dispatched by the .50 AE when the right loading and firearm are utilized at an appropriate range. When hunting, one should ensure that they are utilizing a loading and caliber appropriate for the game they are after to ensure both an optimal and ethical hunt.

As far as being utilized for target shooting, the .50 AE is more than capable for this application. The bombastic report of the firearm and incredible effect on reactive targets makes .50 AE a joy to shoot. The only downside to employing the cartridge in this use case is the fact that .50 AE ammunition is more expensive than most other calibers used for target shooting. Simply put, you will be spending more money on .50 AE ammunition than you will on something like 9mm Luger ammo.



All in all, the .50 AE is a popular magnum handgun cartridge which continues to enamor many shooters. Whether you want to adopt the round for a practical purpose or want to get into it due to its popular culture influence, the .50 AE will not let you down. We here at True Shot Ammo typically have .50 AE ammo for sale in addition to our other ammunition offerings. Whether you want to pick up some .50 AE ammunition or ammo of a different type, we have got you covered. As always, happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.


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