Gun Test: Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter
By Gun Digest
Rugged, precise and with brute power to spare, the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter is ready to tangle with the nastiest game North America can throw at you.
“This rifle makes me feel like Thomas Jefferson,” exclaimed my friend Cody, ret. U.S. Marine Corp., after he blasted seven rapid-fire rounds of .50 Beowulf into the Arizona dirt. “I might as well have a bald eagle perched on my shoulder right now; there’s a whole lot of freedom going on here,” said Cody as he gazed into the vast desert of the Prescott National Forest with the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter.
Cody was not alone in his charismatic reactions from shooting the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf rifle for the first time. The brute power of the Beowulf cartridge results in a dramatic report that seems to make shooters howl like a werewolf after every trigger pull.
The rifle produces a distinct thumping muzzle blast that literally makes shooters feel the hair on their head move. Surprisingly, although the .50-caliber cartridge produces a whopping 2,400 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, its felt recoil is comparable to a 12-gauge shotgun with 2-3/4-inch bird shot.
Howl at the Moon
Exotic as it may be, the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter AR-15 still oozes practicality. Chambered for .50 Beowulf, the beastly cartridge undoubtedly has the ability to harvest every big game animal in North America. According to Alexander Arms, “The heavy bullets from the Beowulf are quite capable of breaking both shoulders of a moose.”
Retaining the familiar dimensions and ergonomics of a standard AR-15 carbine, this rifle’s big bore is one of the only components that distinguishes it from typical ARs. In fact, the .50 Beowulf is compatible with standard AR-15 upper and lower receivers, handguards, buffer systems and small parts.
The only major differences between the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter and a standard AR-15 are its barrel, bolt, gas block and magazine. In fact, it is entirely possible to slap a complete .50 Beowulf upper receiver onto a standard AR-15 lower receiver and maintain total functionality.
While the .50 Beowulf cartridge adds an extraordinary “wow” factor, the rifle comes packed with more mouth-watering features right out of the box.
Most notably, its stylish and functional Kryptek Highlander Camo finish makes this rifle a true hunting tool. Hunters will also enjoy the lightweight G10 composite mid-length free-floating handguard that includes a built-in sling swivel stud and rail attachment points at 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-o’clock positions.
Under the handguard, a 16.5-inch chrome-moly button-rifled barrel with a 1-in-20-inch twist rate launches massive 335-grain projectiles at 1,800 feet-per-second.
Threaded to the barrel for recoil reduction and muzzle rise mitigation is an Alexander Arms Millenium Compensator, which disperses energy through an oversized four-port design that billows visible flames in daylight conditions. At the rear of the rifle, a B5 Systems SOPMOD adjustable buttstock provides counterbalance to the rifle and offers ample comfort for the shooter, despite the Beowulf’s significant recoil.
Interestingly, Alexander Arms purposely omits an ejection port cover from the upper receiver, even though it maintains hinge points where an ejection port cover traditionally attaches.
According to Alexander Arms, “the hinge points are left on the receiver because the upper receiver would cost more to manufacture by removing them from the design. They are not left specifically so that port doors can be retrofitted to the upper, and we do not encourage this retrofitting.”
Given the enlarged size of the ejection port compared to a normal AR-15 to account for the Beowulf’s larger brass, a standard dust cover would not fit, nor is it really needed.
Inside the hand-fitted receivers, a specialized bolt face and extractor cycles .50 Beowulf rounds from proprietary magazines each time the shooter pulls Alexander Arms’ Tactical Trigger. The standard AR-15 fire control system includes a lightweight hammer and a single-stage, blade-style trigger that consistently measures just less than 4 pounds of pull weight.
Overall, it’s quite clear Alexander Arms has gone to great lengths to ensure the proprietary components of the .50 Beowulf Hunter rifle coordinate perfectly with its standard AR-15 parts. Premium components and custom refinement make this firearm a truly unique rifle that combines exotic details with unmatched utility.
Unrivaled endurance gives wolves the evolutionary advantage to take down game much larger or faster than the wolf itself. Throughout testing of the Beowulf Hunter rifle, the gun showed no signs of slowing down after several hundred rounds, and had zero malfunctions.
Although the .50 Beowulf cartridge operates at relatively low pressures given its muzzle energy, its brute power provides plenty of thrust to push the bolt carrier group out of battery and rearward to initiate reliable cycling. The 37 grains of powder that propelled the 335-grain FMJ load during testing provided plenty of power to keep things moving consistently.
While the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter is capable of anchoring big game at distances of 200 yards, the cartridge really shines inside 100 yards. It’s for that reason we decided to use a zero magnification Aimpoint Micro H-1 optic for testing.
Although the rifle is certainly capable of greater accuracy with a magnified optic, the configuration used for testing would be highly effective for objectives such as close-range feral hog control or even home defense applications.
One might think this rifle is much too beastly for home defense; however, when loaded with 200-grain Polycase Inceptor ARX ammunition, the typical risks of over penetration are greatly mitigated compared to FMJ ammo.
By their nature, the terminal ballistics of Inceptor ARX bullets includes extreme fragmentation in soft targets. In exchange for deep penetration, the bullet rapidly dumps its energy into the target, creating dramatic tissue damage and massive wound channels.
Given its ability to excel at a variety of objectives from hunting to home defense, it’s quite clear the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter would make for a great truck gun. While there’s no real definition of “truck gun,” this rifle is a solid example of a reliable all-purpose tool that can go anywhere and do anything.
If you live among wolves, you have to act like a wolf. The .50 Beowulf Hunter rifle from Alexander Arms is truly the alpha dog of the pack, making typical AR-15s look like toy poodles in comparison. With its custom touches and big-bore barrel, Alexander Arms sets the standard for the level of craftsmanship and reliability that should be expected from an AR-15.
Literally the only thing the author doesn’t like about this rifle is the cost and availability of .50 Beowulf ammunition. The author has fired nearly every AR-15 on the market today, and the Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter ranks in his Top 5 overall favorite production ARs to date.
Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf Hunter
Caliber: .50 Beowulf
Action: Direct Impingement Gas, Semi-Automatic
Finish: Kyptek Highlander Camouflage
Length: 37.25 in. extended; 43.125 in. collapsed
Trigger: Alexander Arms Tactical Trigger (3 lbs., 15 oz. pull weight)
Stock: B5 System SOPMOD Bravo Collapsible
Barrel: 16.5 in., chrome moly, 1:20 twist
Muzzle: Millenium Compensator, 49/64-20 RH thread