Care and Feeding of the 50 BMG — A Look at Big Bore Shooting
Last year we published an Introduction to .50-Caliber Shooting authored by James Patterson. James has written a companion piece for Sinclair’s Reloading Press that covers the “care and feeding” of the big .50 Cal match rifles.
Owning and Feeding ‘The Big Bore’
Is The Challenge Of Big Bore Extreme Range Shooting And Hunting Right For You?
By James Patterson
Handling a 50 BMG
Is a 50 BMG caliber rifle difficult to shoot? Not at all. The relatively heavy weight of a standard rifle at 30 pounds or more combined with a very efficient muzzle brake makes it a pleasure to shoot. The typical recoil can be compared to a .243 rifle or a 12 gauge trap load. On the other hand, the burning of a typical load of 230 grains of powder combined with that muzzle brake makes the muzzle blast experience exhilarating. A first time shooter will fire, pause for a moment in awe at the muzzle blast, and then break out into what has become known as “The 50 caliber Grin”, almost impossible to wipe from ones face. My daughter started competing with the 50 BMG at 18 (115 lbs of tall skinny girl) and happily shoots 100+ rounds in the course of a match, her grin on the last round is as wide as on the first! Many members and competitors in the FCSA are women and many have distinguished themselves as excellent marksman having set world records on numerous occasions.
Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a 50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $7000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. A good scope will set you back $500 to $1500. And while excellent commercial ammo is available it runs from $3 to $5 a round. Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo. I recently compared the cost of my hobby — owning, shooting, and competing with the 50 BMG — with a friend whose hobby is snowmobiling. Factoring in the cost of equipment, licensing, gasoline, clothing, etc. it was soon obvious that my hobby was significantly less expensive than his.
So how does one get started? You could do as I did, purchase a rifle not knowing what you were really getting into; or you could come out to a FCSA-sponsored event, shoot a number of different rifles, rub shoulders with those who have already taken the plunge, and see if this sport is right for you. While membership in the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FSCA) is required to compete at a FSCA event, membership is not required to come and experience first hand what is going on. If you have any inclination that you are interested in the extreme sport of long rang, big bore shooting then a year’s membership in the FCSA is only $60 ($20 for active duty military) a significant bargain if it helps you make just one well-informed equipment choice. In addition one of the primary functions of the FCSA is helping to identify active members near you who can help you understand just what is involved and help you ‘get your feet wet’ in this challenging sport.
Photos courtesy FCSA Photo Gallery.
- Introduction to the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA)
- ‘Big Boomer’ Galleries on Updated FCSA Website
- Rasmussen Shoots 1.9557" group at 1000 yards, and sets Four 50-Caliber World Records
- Resources for 50-Caliber Shooters
- .50 Caliber Shooters Association Photo Galleries Unveiled