The .50 Action Express (AE)

By Chuck Hawks

Evan Whildin, Vice President of Action Arms, Ltd., designed the .50 AE in 1988. It was intended for use in the huge Israeli Military Industries (IMI) / Magnum Research Desert Eagle pistol. The intention was to improve the ballistic performance of autoloading pistols. To this end Mr. Whildin developed a line of new auto pistol cartridges for Action Arms, including the 9mm AE, .41 AE, and .50 AE. Only the latter has shown any staying power, the others are already obsolete.

Speer offers .50 AE factory loaded ammunition, developed in conjunction with IMI, using a 325 grain JHP bullet (SD .186) at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 1400 fps from a 6" barrel. The muzzle energy (ME) of this load is 1414 ft. lbs. At 100 yards the figures are 1138 fps and 930 ft. lbs. The trajectory of this load from a scoped pistol is as follows (Speer figures): +2" at 50 yards, 0 at 100 yards, -8.7" at 150 yards.

The reloader can essentially match the Speer factory velocity figures using the same Speer bullet in a Desert Eagle pistol, or slightly exceed them in the longer barrel of a Freedom Arms revolver. The Speer Reloading Manual #13 shows a MV of 1324 fps for their 325 grain JHP bullet on top of 29.4 grains of H110 powder, and a MV of 1475 fps and ME of approximately 1572 ft. lbs. for the same bullet on top of 32.6 grains of H110 in the 7.5" barrel of a Freedom Arms revolver. The same loads can be used in the Desert Eagle pistol with a velocity loss of about 26 and 38 fps respectively. As with most magnum handgun cartridges, Winchester 296 and Hodgdon H110 are the powders of choice for top performance.

Note: A complete article about the .50 AE can be found on the Handgun Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.