How Far will a .50 Kill? – .50 S&W Edition

Most shooters will recognize that a .50 BMG can reach out and touch something. In fact, four of the five longest confirmed sniper kills in the world were recorded with a .50 BMG, one of which was launched from a Ma-Duece by none other than Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock.

But, the questions is how inherently deadly is the .50 size? At half an inch in bullet diameter, there is a lot of space for powder, even in a straight-walled cartridge. Looking to answer the question, IraqVeteran8888 stepped up to shoot a single-shot rifle, specifically TheGunCollective’s Thompson Center Encore in .50 Smith & Wesson, equipped with a suppressor no less.

Turns out the only real inhibition of the cartridge reaching out as far as the BMG is its bullet design and maximum velocity. Being a round tip bullet, the .50 S&W has significant drag and when combined with relatively low exit velocity, drops like a son-of-a-gun. At 400 yards, the 1-8x US Optics scope was nearly bottomed out at 8 mils. At that range, the weapon has a nearly 1 second time of flight.

At 600 yards, getting the shot on target was quite the challenge, especially when one forgets to cock the hammer on the single-shot rifle. Flinch!

Hit the video below to see the results of the .50 S & W vs plywood.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • JustAHologram

    Out of a 16″ barrel it should be doing a bit better than .50-90 Sharps

  • Edeco

    Interesting. I would think a mile, ideally, because of Billy Dixon shooting Quanah Parker. Didn’t kill him, but could have if hit elsewhere.

    • JustAHologram

      Well he did have a 1538yrd kill with the .50-90 at The Second Battle of Adobe Walls

  • Anonymoose

    Well you certainly won’t have to worry about wind-drift…

    • JustAHologram

      Even less so if you use the 700gr Underwood loads

  • Dougscamo

    This was 17 1/2 minutes of my life that I will never get back….

    • iksnilol

      you actually watched it?

      That’s slightly masochistic of you.

      • Dougscamo

        I ain’t like that no more….nor will I be like that in the future….apparently, I’m one of the few, the abashed, the abused

        • iksnilol

          Really? You watched 17 minute video based entirely on flawed concepts and you’re still saying you aren’t masochistic?

          Dude, ain’t nothang wrong with it. Gotta accept yourself, hombre.

          • Dougscamo

            Taking the first step to deal with this affliction….Hi, I’m Dougcamo and I’m….

  • Jim B

    Yeah, you gotta avoid certain ones and you found it

  • Sledgecrowbar

    I was hoping to see IV aiming a .50 BMG up at 45 degrees trying to hit a painted bull’s-eye on a sheet of plywood several miles away. I’d still like to see that done, hopefully on a less-windy day when it’s not too cold out to affect the powder.

    • Edeco

      I think maximum range would be something like 40 degrees, because of air resistance. 45 would be best in a vacuum…