[SHOT 2019] Condition Red’s Zero Dark Fifty, a 10lb AR Firing subsonic .50 BMG bullets

    Long range subsonic

    Condition Red Ordnance Manufacturing (CROM) has this “riddle of steel”: how to create a highly portable platform that can fire .50 BMG bullets quietly.  The answer is the .500 Blackout chambered Zero Dark Fifty.  CROM already manufactures a .338LM chambered AR with their CR-7 platform, and were wanting to expand that platform to other possibilities.  After some experimentation, they came up with the .500 Blackout.  The 911gr bullet they have as their primary load produces 2385 ft/lbs at roughly 1085 ft/s, roughly 5x the energy of subsonic .300blk.  CROM claims a max effective range of 1000m, and a velocity loss of only 9% at 400m.  COAL is 3.8″.

    Final barrel selection is still in the works, but they showed off two barrel lengths, and both were very portable even with a suppressor attached.  After experimenting with a few different twist rates, they are preferring to use a 1;9 twist for now.  CROM has a target weight of 9.5lbs and a target price of roughly $5500.00 when they bring the rifle to market.  SAAMI certfication of the .500 Blackout is not complete and still in the works.  Besides using existing .50bmg bullets, they’ve also experimented with a 600gr solid copper flat point producing 6000ft/lbs of energy at short range, and a 200gr aluminum HP designed to shatter on impact.

    feeding the fifty

    The 10 round magazines to feed this beast are made of compression molded carbon fibre composite, with seriously thick sidewalls.  The rifles will have MFT stocks and Geissele SSA triggers.  I personally handled the two configurations of this rifle at SHOT.  It was pretty unique to be able to comfortably shoulder a somewhat compact rifle that can fire such a bullet.  Possible utility could be for disabling vehicles in a quiet fashion with a shot to the engine block.  Though a seriously light platform for such a bullet, CROM tells me that recoil is similar to a 20-gauge shotgun.

    For more information as this project develops, keep an eye on CROM.

    Rusty S.

    Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. Editor at Outdoorhub.com