.50 AE Ammo

50 Action Express: In Depth

The .50 Action Express (.50 AE) caliber is a formidable and well-known ammunition type in the world of firearms. Renowned for its substantial stopping power and use in powerful handguns, the .50 AE has carved a niche for itself among firearm enthusiasts, particularly in the realms of self-defense and recreational shooting. This guide provides an in-depth look at the .50 AE caliber, exploring its history, performance, applications, and more.

History and Development

The .50 AE was developed in the late 1980s by Evan Whildin, former vice president of Action Arms. It was created to provide a high-caliber, high-power option for semi-automatic handguns, specifically designed for use in the iconic Desert Eagle pistol. The cartridge was introduced in 1988 and has since become synonymous with the Desert Eagle, though it is also used in other firearms. The development of the .50 AE was driven by a desire to create a semi-automatic cartridge that could deliver magnum-level performance, offering a unique blend of power and practicality.


The ballistic performance of the .50 AE is impressive, characterized by its high velocity and significant energy transfer. The cartridge typically fires a 300 to 325-grain bullet at velocities ranging from 1,400 to 1,600 feet per second (fps). This results in muzzle energies exceeding 1,500 foot-pounds, providing considerable stopping power. The .50 AE's trajectory is relatively flat over short distances, making it effective for close to mid-range engagements. However, its substantial recoil requires skill and practice to manage effectively, particularly in rapid-fire scenarios.

Key Ballistic Performance Metrics:

  • Bullet Weight: 300-325 grains
  • Velocity: 1,400-1,600 fps
  • Energy: 1,500-1,800 foot-pounds


The .50 AE is primarily used in the following areas:

  • Self-Defense: Its stopping power makes it a formidable choice for self-defense, particularly against large and potentially dangerous threats.
  • Recreational Shooting: The sheer power and unique experience of shooting a .50 AE chambered firearm make it popular among shooting enthusiasts.
  • Hunting: While not common, it is used for hunting large game due to its substantial energy and penetration capabilities.

Available Firearms

Firearms chambered in .50 AE include:

Desert Eagle

  • Manufacturer: Magnum Research Inc.
  • Features: Gas-operated, rotating bolt, large frame
  • Capacity: Typically 7+1 rounds

Magnum Research BFR (Big Frame Revolver)

  • Manufacturer: Magnum Research Inc.
  • Features: Single-action revolver, designed to handle high-pressure rounds
  • Capacity: Typically 5 rounds

Other Custom and Conversion Kits

Several manufacturers offer custom firearms and conversion kits for other models to accommodate the .50 AE round, catering to enthusiasts who desire versatility and customization in their firearms.


Ammunition for the .50 AE is produced by several reputable manufacturers, offering a variety of bullet types and weights. Common brands include Hornady, Federal, and Magnum Research.

Types of Ammunition:

  • Full Metal Jacket (FMJ): Ideal for target shooting and practice
  • Hollow Point (HP): Designed for self-defense with enhanced stopping power
  • Soft Point (SP): Suitable for hunting with controlled expansion

Common Bullet Weights and Velocities:

  • 300-grain HP: ~1,500 fps
  • 325-grain FMJ: ~1,400 fps


When compared to other calibers, the .50 AE stands out due to its high power and large bullet diameter. Here are some comparisons:

.50 AE vs. .44 Magnum

  • Power: The .50 AE generally offers higher muzzle energy.
  • Recoil: Both have substantial recoil, but the .50 AE can be more challenging to manage.
  • Applications: Both are used for hunting and self-defense, but the .50 AE is often seen as a more specialized round.

.50 AE vs. .500 S&W Magnum

  • Power: The .500 S&W Magnum typically exceeds the .50 AE in terms of power and energy.
  • Recoil: The .500 S&W Magnum has even more recoil, making the .50 AE a slightly more manageable option.
  • Firearms: The .500 S&W Magnum is primarily used in revolvers, while the .50 AE is commonly used in semi-automatic pistols.

.50 Action Express Ammo FAQs:

Due to its significant recoil and power, the .50 AE is generally not recommended for beginners. It requires experience and proper handling techniques.

The .50 AE is effective at ranges up to 100 yards, but its primary strength lies in close to mid-range engagements.

No, .50 AE ammunition is specifically designed for firearms chambered for this round. Always check your firearm's specifications before using any ammunition.