Sheriff's arming themselves with .50 AR-15 … to shoot elephants!

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has bought 14 Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf AR-15 rifles.

The article is obviously written by someone with no clue about firearms. For example “…the new semiautomatic, .45-caliber Heckler & Koch machine pistols.”. I can’t be sure that the journalist understood the real reason why the Sheriff bought the .50 Beowulf rifles.

The journalist claims that the rifles are for ridding the expressway of cows and exotic animals, who sometimes escape from the local theme parks, such as elephant and lion.

I do not think killing cows would be money well spent on these expensive rifles. Surely a .308 will dispatch a cow just as fast and at a longer range. They are sure to have tactical rifles in their arsenal.

(Disclaimer: I have never hunted exotic dangerous game … the following is just my uninformed opinion)

If they were really worried about dangerous game a few .375 H&H rifles would be more effective.

According to Alexander Arms and Cartridges of the World 11th edition this is how the .375 H&H and the .50 Beowulf compare

Bullet (grains/type)VelocityEnergy
.375 H&H300/SP25304265
.50 Beowulf325/HP19502743

The .375 H&H also offers much greater penetration due to the smaller caliber.

I do not think the Sheriff is really planning on using his new AR-15 rifles on elephants or lions! It is most likely for use against people and vehicles.

From Alexander Arms:

The external ballistics of the Beowulf® cartridge are well suited to urban environments where the shorter range template allows for more flexible application and the large projectile energy delivered by the ammunition can disable both motor vehicles and assailants with body armor. Windscreen glass does not affect the trajectory of the bullet nor does automotive body panels.

The .50 Beowulf AR is defiantly a very nice rifle 😀 Here is a video of is being shot:

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • Crisara722 Crisara722 on Mar 10, 2011

    well, what can i say, this rifle must have a great stoping power and a pretty good performance against ligth armor and barriers (not talking about vehicles), in my concern its a pretty good choice for some security agencies and police forces around the world, any way im not very convinced about its usage by a military force.

    • Uberyeti Uberyeti on Jul 04, 2012

      @crisara722 I just don't see how this expensive and rare calibre is a better choice than something like 7.62x51 AP against light armour.

      I do understand that the Russian 9x39mm round is excellent for its intended purpose (close range, suppressable, hard-hitting, AP), but the .50 Beowulf is just... well... frankly I'm not sure what the point of this cartridge is in the first place beyond, "it's cool".