Bullet Caliber - 50 Caliber Bullet Information | Dimensions | Weight

The .50 Caliber Browning Machine Gun (12.7x99mm NATO) or .50 BMG is a cartridge  (Bullet Caliber)developed for the Browning .50 Caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. The round based on a greatly scaled-up .30-06 cartridge entered service officially in 1921.

The .50 BMG has been made into many variants like Brass Bullets multiple generations of regular ball, tracer, armor piercing, incendiary, and saboted sub-caliber rounds. Metallic links are used for rounds intended for machine guns. It is widely used in long-range target, sniper rifles and other .50 cal machine guns. Many specialized match-grade rounds have evolved out of its use in single-shot and semi-automatic rifles which were not conventionally used for .50 machine guns.

John Browning conceptualized the .50 BMG round during World War I when asked to design an anti-aircraft weapon. The round is based on a scaled-up .30-06 Springfield design while the machine gun was based on a scaled-up M1919/M1917 that he initially had developed around 1900. Though used in abundance in aircrafts at the time of World War II, its present airborne use is limited to helicopters. It is commonly used on ground, vehicle mounted, in fixed fortifications and sometimes carried by infantry.

Basic dimensions of a .50 BMG cartridge are:

  • .50 Cal Bullet Diameter: .510 inches
  • .50 Cal Bullet Length: 2-3 inches
  • .50 Cal Bullet Weight: 600-800 grams
  • Proof/test pressure: 65000 psi
  • Common rifling twist rate: 1 in 15 inches with 8 lands and grooves.
  • Primer type specified: Boxer primer with a single centralized ignition point (US and NATO countries)

50 Caliber Bullets - Information & Weight

  • L to R: 750gr.
  • Hornady Amax,
  • AP,647gr. Ball,
  • 773gr. LRBT 'J40',
  • 705gr. AAA-ammo 'Harlow',
  • .357 ProLoad

Most .50 BMG bullets are .510" in diameter, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3" long and its weight  is 600-800grns. Outlined below is various facts and figures about the .50 bullet.

Hornady AMAX

  • The basics:
  • weight:750gr
  • BC:1.050

The AMAX (Advanced Match Accuracy) Bullet_Back_Side is arguably one of the most popular 'match' bullets produced for the .50 Caliber Bullet, and one of the first jacketed bullets produced for non-military use.

The AMAX bullet features an aluminum tip and a lead core.

Barnes LRS Borerider

  • weight: 750gr.
  • BC: 1.070

Barnes LRS Borerider

  • weight: 800gr.
  • BC: 1.095
  • A 'solid' or monolithic bullet.

Barnes LRS Standard Throat

  • weight: 750gr.
  • BC: 1.070
  • A 'solid' or monolithic bullet.

Barnes LRS Standard Tangent

  • weight: 750gr.
  • BC: 0.766
  • A 'solid' or monolithic bullet.


  • weight: 600gr.
  • BC:
  • A 'solid' or monolithic bullet.

AAA-Ammo "Harlow"

  • weight:705gr.
  • BC:
  • A 'solid' or monolithic bullet. AAA Ammo bullets are neatly turned, with a very fine finish.

Lost River Ballistic Technologies J40

  • weight: 773gr.
  • BC:1.06
  • A 'solid' or monolithic bullet. The J40 is also a turned bullet. The surface is a bit rougher than the Harlow, but consistent. Watch for a review of these bullets.


This isn't really a brand, it's a style. Barnes makes them, AAA-ammo makes them and others. Boreriders are thinner (around .5015" as opposed to .510") for most of their length, with a 'normal' diameter (.510") band at the rear. This design lets the bore center the projectile better, reducing precession, nutation, and other factors that have negative affects on accuracy. Rifles that use boreriders have special chambers for this particular type of bullet, so if you're shooting an "off-the-shelf" rifle you needn't concern yourself with them.


  • weight: varies 125gr - 220gr typical. (.308 cal projectile)
  • BC:

Another 'style' Sabot rounds use a plastic (or light-weight, in any case) 'sabot' to accelerate relatively light, relatively small projectiles to higher-than-normal velocities. In the .50 BMG this means that you might achieve velocities of ~4000 fps! There are multiple disadvantages to sabot rounds: The sabot could potentially get caught by the muzzle brake (assuming such exists),they aren't very accurate, they're painfully tedious to reload to anything resembling accuracy, and they won't feed well from a magazine. That said, a lot of folks need to fire at least a few, just so they can say they did.

Military Bullets

  • M33 Ball
  • weight: 647gr.
  • BC: 0.670
  • ID:none
  • M2 Ball
  • weight: 700gr.
  • BC: 0.670
  • ID:none
  • Tracer
  • weight: 630gr.
  • BC:
  • ID:
  • Armor Piercing (AP)
  • weight: 708gr.
  • BC:
  • ID: Black Tip
  • Armor Piercing Incendiary (API)
  • weight: 649gr. / 622.5gr.
  • BC: 0.650
  • ID: Silver Tip
  • Armor Piercing Incendiary Tracer (APIT)
  • weight: 619gr.
  • BC: 0.650
  • ID:
  • SLAP / SLAP - T
  • weight: 355gr.
  • BC:
  • ID:
  • Raufoss MP
  • weight:
  • BC:
  • ID:
  • Spotter / Tracer
  • weight: 828gr.
  • BC:
  • ID:

The Spotter/Tracer was not really made for the .50 BMG, but shooters who like a little puff of smoke downrange are enthralled with them, so the projectiles are often loaded into .50BMG cartridges.

A .50 Cal BMG round can produce between 10,000 and 13,000 foot pounds (between 14 and 18 kilojoules) or more, depending on its powder and bullet type, as well as the rifle it was fired from. Due to the high ballistic coefficient of the bullet, the .50 BMG's trajectory also suffers less "drift" from cross-winds than smaller and lighter calibers, making the .50 BMG a good choice for high powered sniper rifles. The record for longest-range sniper shooting distance with a .50 BMG was set by Canadian Corporal Rob Furlong. He shot a Taliban insurgent from a distance of 2430 meters with a McMillan Tac-50 .50 BMG sniper rifle.

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