“Why do I carry a .45? Because they don’t make a .46!” is one of the popular sayings among large-caliber enthusiasts, almost right up there with, “…because shooting twice is just silly.” We’ve all seen and heard them – and some of us will even admit to haven said them. Well, folks they may still not make a .46 – but guess what? You can get a Glock in .50! Guncrafter Industries has been making the .50 GI round for over a decade, and first offered their own specially chambered M1911 pistol to shoot it with. For those who would love to have the bragging rights of shooting .50 caliber on a more modest budget, Guncrafter also makes a conversion kit for the Glock 20/21 and 40/41 pistols. Or, if you prefer you can buy the complete gun.
The latter will cost you $975 with the stainless steel slide, or $1,035 for the Melonite-coated version. If you already own a Glock 20 or 21 and want just the upper for quick conversion, they can be had for $595 stainless steel and $660 Melonite. Gen4 kits are available but not compatible with pre-Gen4 pistols and vice versa. Our test gun was a pre-Gen4 Glock frame with both the stainless steel and Melonite uppers. It comes with a nine-round magazine of excellent quality. Extra mags will set you back $49.95 each. But that’s nothing compared to filling them – the ammo is not exactly cheap. More on that in a bit.
In an age seemingly dominated by knock-offs and quick-to-market parts, it is refreshing—almost surprising—to pick up and hold something of substance. As I turned the slide assembly over in my hand and viewed it from different angles, I could see that this is no mere copy of a Glock slide. There are subtle bevels and rounded edges, carefully milled gripping serrations, and tight tolerances that indicate that this is a carefully milled and fitted assembly—not a mass-produced part. If you are familiar with the components of a Glock then there is nothing new to see here—all the same parts in the same places, performing the same functions. Yet, you can tell that these parts fit just a little bit better and were given more attention to detail. This gave me high hopes, and frankly, high expectations.
Having only a Glock 21 Gen4 for comparison, I had to accept that there would be some inherent differences between the Gen3-ish .50 GI and my Glock. But those differences would be small and for the most part, obvious—like the dual recoil spring/guide rod assembly of the Gen4. Putting both on the scale, I was almost surprised to note only a 0.3-ounce difference. The G21 slide weighed 1 lb., 5.55 oz. and the .50 GI was 1 lb., 5.85 oz. Both the stainless and Melonite versions produced the exact same number. Not sure why I expected a bigger difference, but I suspect it is that sense of extra quality and tough construction. Of course, the parts are essentially the same size with the variation of a few thousandths of an inch here and there. Ballistically, the .50 GI operates at pressures not far above most .45 ACP loads, so it’s not as if a heavier slide is necessary.
SHOOTING THE .50 GI
As I was loading the magazines, I mentally prepared myself for the experience of shooting the .50 GI for the first time. I try to “roll with it” when it comes to high-pressure loads, like magnums and +Ps. Rather than try to overcome the laws of physics and bend the gun to my stronger will – I have found it much more productive to allow the gun to recoil, using my elbows as shock absorbers. This is how I can spend a day shooting .44 magnum instead of shooting six rounds and going home. As a fictional character who was no stranger to shooting high-powered handguns famously said, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Levity aside, that’s very true. If I cannot overcome physics and hold a heavy recoiling gun flat while shooting it – why try? Why force that energy into my joints and bones like I would with a competition 9mm load?
So, with that thought process in mind, I faced downrange at my target and raised the sights to eye level. Feels like a Glock 21… same sight picture… trigger feels the same… BANG! Hey, that wasn’t so bad. I’ve shot .45 loads that felt this hot. Okay, this is going to be fun!
One of the reasons the gun shoots as nicely as it does is due to the 24-lb. flat-wire recoil spring that Guncrafter uses. That soaks up a whole lot of energy as the slide starts to cycle, and unlike a traditional round-wire spring that has a resistance curve, a flat-wire spring has linear resistance. What this means is that it is applying its maximum strength against the force of recoil from the first instant and evenly through the stroke. Another reason is the Glock frame itself, and all the same benefits that it gives us generally. The polymer frame flexes to absorb some of the recoil. The width of the G21 frame spreads the energy out over a wider surface of your hand than something like a 1911 would. Have someone slowly swing a baseball bat to you and catch the thick end with one hand. Then reverse it, and using the same swing, catch the narrow handle. Feel the difference?
After spending part of the day shooting this pistol off-hand from about 12 yards, I was convinced of a few things. It’s fun to shoot. Not the “I’ll pretend it’s fun in front of my buddies” kind of fun, but I mean shooting a hundred rounds or more by yourself fun. It seems pretty accurate. Given that I am always the weakest link in the accuracy formula, the .50 GI puts ’em pretty much where you point it. It seemed to like a tight six o’clock hold and kept the hits within shooter error distance consistently. Perhaps most importantly, it just plain works. Not a single malfunction of any kind all day. The feel of the cycle is sound and deliberate. I’m betting the mean time between failures is very low for this gun.
Down sides – there are a couple. First off, though the pricing is certainly justifiable and reasonable, it is an extravagance. Add in the cost to buy ammo or even the components to reload it, and it is an expensive gun to shoot no matter how you slice it. Lack of commercially available ammunition means that you are not only bound to using GI’s brand but if GI should cease to be, so will your ammo supply. Honestly, I think for the folks that would be interested in the .50 GI, this writer included, those down sides are obvious and insignificant. Whether you would want the Guncrafter .50 Glock pistol to defend hearth and home, or just to get your man card stamped at the range, it delivers.
And whether you purchase the full pistol or conversion kit, you still have a Glock frame to which any number of available uppers can be mounted. It also accommodates the rich world of Glock parts and accessories. My Blade Tech holster and mag pouch for Glock 21 fit the gun and magazines just fine. Glock or aftermarket sights are interchangeable too, and even your custom back plate will slip right on. Whether your interest is in having the most stopping power you can get in a manageable and reliable handgun, or just another range toy with bragging rights, the .50 GI is legit and top quality. So, if you want a Glock pistol that will stand out from the crowd, definitely five this one a look.