The Cadex CDX-50 Tremor is designed to deliver the massive .50 BMG payload with extreme accuracy. The newest variant to the Tremor lineup is the compact 20″ barreled one that’s designed specifically for Law Enforcement and Military applications. Manufactured using both Canadian and American parts, the Tremor series promises extreme range supremacy. Eager to see how this rifle performed in civilian hands, Cadex was kind enough to send over the new 20″ Tremor for review.
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TFB Review: Cadex CDX-50 Tremor
The Tremor features a folding buttstock with all the adjustments you could ever want. This includes an adjustable butt pad, length of pull, and cheek rest. All of these adjustments are completely tool-free and incredibly simple. The bottom of the stock features a removable Picatinny rail that can be swapped out for a bag rider.
The trigger is Cadex’s own DX2 Evo Selectable Single/Double Stage trigger. This allows the shooter to convert the trigger pull from the factory two-stage to single-stage depending on shooter preference. The trigger weight can be adjusted on the fly from 1.5 to 2.5 lb using the supplied Allen key. The entire bottom of the receiver can also be removed using the supplied Allen keys. This allows for easier access to the full trigger assembly for the full range of adjustment.
Forward of the magazine and mag release is a two-screw attachment point on the receiver. This allows for the attachment of a bipod rail, ARCA tripod adapter, or RC2 tripod adapter. This attachment point on the receiver is an excellent design feature and allows for a greater range of traverse and elevation adjustment.
The CDX-50 Tremor ships with a steel single-stack five-round magazine. With locking tabs at both the front and the rear, the magazine construction is incredibly robust and very easy to load and seat. This two-tab design allows for the mag to be inserted directly into the receiver. There are two audible clicks that let you know the magazine is fully seated.
Underneath a specialty-built mirage control tube sits a 1:15 twist fluted Bartlein match barrel. This design helps by venting latent barrel heat away from the optic, thus reducing mirage and image distortion as the barrel heats up.
At the end of the Tremor’s 20.6″ barrel sits Cadex’s own MX1 muzzle brake. Built from 416 stainless steel, this three-chamber design aims to reduce recoil without kicking up excessive dust when firing prone.
The Tremor 50 uses a safety mechanism built directly into the bolt assembly. With the safety engaged, the bolt is locked in this position and cannot be cycled.
The safety has a fairly heavy engagement but easily pops off safety when you’re ready to fire. It’s a different design that I came to like but certainly takes some getting used to.
The fluted bolt on the Tremor is the stand-out feature when handling the rifle. It’s hands down the smoothest bolt throw I’ve ever experienced in a bolt-action rifle. Even with the bolt weighing 2.26 lbs alone, the bolt unlocks and throws almost effortlessly.
Bolt removal is simple and efficient for disassembly and service. With the stock folded 90 degrees, simply pull the bolt rearward while pushing the bolt release to remove it from the receiver.
The CDX-50 uses an extremely heavy-duty 4-lug bolt with a very smooth 50-degree bolt throw.
The folding stock on the Tremor unlocks by pulling the hinge rearward while gently pushing the stock towards the left-hand side of the receiver. Two white polyurethane spacers located on the top and bottom of the hinge assembly eliminate any movement. This gives the assembly a very smooth soft-close feel when locking the stock to the rear.
The stock has a very pleasant audible click when locked open or closed. Throughout the entire review, the elegance of this hinge mechanism never ceased to amaze me.
With the stock folded the overall length of this 20″ CDX Tremor is only 37″. This marking it perfect for transport and storage in smaller more confined spaces.
Cadex was kind enough to send both their factory soft case and custom hard cases for the Tremor review.
Their factory hard case was this Nanuk 990 with custom cut case foam that I was incredibly impressed with. The case features a hinged lock-open lid with spare magazine storage, and built-in locking clasps (alongside four additional external lock points). This was an excellent way to securely transport the Tremor during the review.
The .50 BMG is far from new as far as calibers are concerned, but its popularity is well deserved. Entering service in 1921, .50 BMG has now seen a hundred years of military use and remains one of the most prolific cartridges used by the military today.
This scaled-up .30-06 Springfield cartridge is available to the civilian public with a myriad of projectile choices. Everything from match grade Hornady A-MAX to simple ball ammo and all the way to armor-piercing incendiary. If you want the largest variety of projectile types, .50 BMG is the way to go. The ball ammo (pictured far left) cost me $2.65 each in 2020 and was cheaper than .300 Win Mag ammo at my local sporting goods store.
Before grouping this rifle for accuracy I wanted to take it to the range a few times. This would allow me to put a nice layer of copper fouling in the barrel while also getting used to the recoil impulse behind the rifle.
As I’d prepared myself for a far harsher recoil impulse, I found the recoil to be incredibly manageable. As pictured, the rifle weighs only 26.6 lbs (very light for a bolt action .50 BMG) and the MX1 muzzle brake does an excellent job of mitigating recoil. All without kicking up a massive dust cloud and very little backblast.
Running rounds quickly is incredibly easy thanks to the short bolt throw, smooth bolt, and very manageable recoil. After a couple trips to the range, and just over a hundred rounds, it was time to see just how accurate this Tremor 50 was on paper.
Touting a 1.050 G1 (or 1.1 G7) ballistic coefficient and extreme tolerances, Hornady 750 grain A-MAX is the gold standard in .50 BMG projectiles.
Hornady was kind enough to sponsor this review and sent over some factory A-MAX ammunition. Additionally, and with the help of .50 BMG enthusiast Mike Pappas, a load was worked up specifically for this rifle.
With a factory 5-round group on paper, I proceeded to work through each series of hand loads. With each case weighed to eliminate any possible variables, this would allow me to find that sweet spot for the shorter 20.6″ barrel.
If you’ve never shot a short .50 BMG in a tunnel, it’s certainly not something I recommend you do often. Apparently, I managed to “shake the break room” at TNT Guns and Range, that located on the floor above me while firing these shots.
The end result? An average grouping of .76 MOA using factory Hornady A-MAX loaded ammunition and hand-loaded A-MAX groupings of just .68 MOA. Not bad considering all the micro-concussions I’d probably given myself during the testing process.
In the weeks that followed, a skilled .50 BMG shooter was able to put a 3-round group (pictured above right) measuring just .52 MOA at 100 yards, this time using only bulk 660gr ball ammunition.
So is the Tremor 50 accurate? Yes, incredibly.
Extended Range Performance
While the 20″ version of the CDX-50 isn’t exactly optimized for extended ranges, I decided to push the rifle just a little bit farther just to see what it could do.
An undisclosed location in Wyoming would act as the perfect proving ground for this rifle at extended ranges. Using Hornady’s 4DOF Ballistic Calculator I set my sights on an 8in steel plate at 800yards.
With a downrange target size of just 1MOA, there’s no room for error. So after having to favor just slightly for a gusting crosswind, I managed to connect with the plate to devastating effect. The 750-grain A-MAX left the barrel going 2,527 fps with 10,633 ft-lbs of energy and hit the steel going 1,842 fps with 5,650 ft-lbs of energy. Those poor target chains holding the steel never stood a chance.
Feeling both ecstatic and apologetic (these weren’t my steel targets), I decided to range and devastate a few boulders just past 1,000 yards with the remaining ammunition (rather than rip any more steel off the chains). Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more impressed with how accurate and repeatable this setup was, especially in this shorter barrel configuration.
Pro’s and Cons
Everything from the chassis down to the magazine on this CDX-50 was absolutely incredible. The bolt feels like it’s riding on glass even when dirty, and the Bartlein barrel consistently grouped any ammo I put through it. I spent hours looking at this rifle for things I didn’t like and came up empty-handed. Well, almost empty-handed.
As the safety can only be engaged with the bolt closed, there’s no way to chamber a round with the safety engaged. This design is certainly far from unsafe, but being forced to chamber .50 BMG with the safety off does take some getting used to.
As you might imagine, the Cadex CDX-50 Tremor isn’t cheap and has an MSRP of $8,069.95. The rifle as configured in the above photos would set you back around $12k. Although the base price tag may be high, I honestly believe this price tag is fair given the components used and overall quality. I put just under 300 rounds through this rifle by review end and was absolutely stunned by how well it performed.
The 20″ version did have me wanting that added bit of velocity, but Cadex offers this rifle in a 29″ or 32″ barreled configuration. These rifles are tailored to the end-user by Cadex, and everything from barrel length to the color is customizable direct from the factory. So if you’re especially interested in a precision bolt action, magazine-fed, .50 BMG rifle that shoots as good as it looks. I’d say look no further.
Special thank you to Robert at Cadex for making this review happen, and to Hornady for supplying that sweet sweet 750-grain A-MAX ammunition. For more information on the Cadex CDX-50 Tremor head on over the Cadex Defence product page linked here. Thanks for reading.
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