This week, I drew the assignment of shooting a light weight .50 BMG. For those who aren’t familiar with this powerhouse cartridge — the .50 BMG and light do not belong in the same sentence — certainly if you also include single-shot or bolt-action.
- Type: Modified break-action with a threaded breech
- Chambering: .50 BMG (tested); .50 DTS
- Barrel Length: 29.5 in.
- Overall Length: 39 in.
- Trigger: 8 lbs. (tested)
- Weight: 17 lbs.
- Sights: None
- Finish: Magnesium phosphate and hard-coat anodized
- Capacity: 1 rd.
- MSRP: $1,199
- Manufacturer: Serbu Firearms, Inc.
The .50 caliber in question was the RN-50 from Serbu Firearms, Inc. This Tampa, Florida based company is one that I have a great deal of respect for. The founder Mark Serbu is a mechanical engineer that is best known for producing the BFG-50: a .50 BMG caliber, single-shot rifle. Serbu Firearms has always strived to produce high-quality firearms that are either: cool, unique affordable and specifically engineered to stick-it-to-the-man. The RN-50 accomplishes all four.
My guess is that the development of the RN-50 is the belief that everyone should be able to afford a .50 if they want one. The market is never wrong, and this is America damn it. If such a thing exists, the local citizenry should be able to buy it. We tossed off the yolk of monarchy if Uncle Sugar can have something, by God, we all should be able to have it. The big problem with .50-caliber rifles is that they’re typically cost prohibitive.
Article Continues Below
The pressures produced by John Moses Browning’s greatest gift are enormous, and there are some places you just can’t shortcut the process. Even a traditional bolt action needs some “beefing up” to handle this monster of a cartridge, and that means more machining time.
Enter the RN-50
Serbu looked at this problem and solved it in a brilliant way. The RN-50 is a single shot that you load through a breech plug. Obviously, this is not the quickest reload but gets the job done. An extremely large thread pitch ensures enough metal is present to handle the pressure of the .50 firing. The trigger group is mostly AR-15, with an oversized hammer to reach the firing pin that is embedded within the breech plug. The buttstock is attached with an AR-15 castle nut and is interchangeable with your favorite AR parts. There is so much metal removed, there is nothing over the top of the trigger group. The barrel looks suspiciously like the same contour as an M2 machine gun, but there’s nothing wrong with that. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Sgt. Carlos “White Feather” Hathcock set the longest kill of the Vietnam War and made his famous 1-mile shot with a scope mounted on an M2. They are nothing if not accurate, and they will take all the abuse you can throw at them. At the end of the RN-50 barrel sits a simple but effective muzzlebrake. It comes standard with a 29½-inch alloy steel barrel with 18-inch, 22-inch and a 36-inch heavy barrels as options. The RN-50 features a 1:15-inch button rifling and the chassis is a heat treated steel and aluminum construction. With an MSRP of a little less than $1,200, it’s a hard option to beat for those looking to get into the .50 caliber market.
It’s a classic Serbu, that can be had throughout the United States. Our test model was chambered in .50 BMG, but for those living in the Peoples Republic of California, it is also available in .50 DTC. What is .50 DTC exactly? In layman’s terms, the .50 DTC is a round specifically made to get around the red tape of places that have banned .50 BMG. The .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) or 12.7x99mm NATO was developed in the late 1910s for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun. The .510 DTC, also known as the .510 DTC EUROP was a French rifle cartridge that was developed to comply with firearms legislation in Europe that regulated .50 BMG. When the .510 DTC was brought over to the U.S., it was modified to the .50 DTC. The .50 DTC is nearly identical to the .50 BMG but you cannot fire them in the same chamber.
I am not going to lie to you, this gun has punishing recoil in a light package and is not the most fun to shoot. At 17 pounds, it is a full 10 pounds lighter than a McMillan TAC 50. It is the lightest .50 single shot that I have ever fired. Without the muzzlebrake, I don’t think you could fire this thing without body damage resulting. I have burned up some magnum rifle ammo in my day, so this isn’t new guy jitters. During testing, I shot less than 40 rounds, which is not a lot. Still, it performed like it said it would. My three-round post-zero group was exactly 1 inch, so it meets a 1 MOA standard. I am actually amazed by that, considering how hard I was flinching after the first two rounds. This is not something you want to shoot on a daily basis. But if you are in need of a .50, and you don’t have a lot of money to spend, it gets the job done. Given the price tag attached, I am extremely impressed.
This rifle is a testament to American ingenuity, and I give it 5 stars, but please don’t make me shoot it again.
For more information about the Serbu RN-50, click https://serbu.com/products/rn-50.
To watch Clay’s interview with Mark Serbu at SHOT 2017, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/serbu-cqb-50-cal-super-shorty-mossberg-bunch-cool-shit-shot-show-2017/.
For more information about Steiner scopes, click http://www.steiner-optics.com/riflescopes/miltary/m5xi-military-3-15×50.
For more information about Hornady ammunition, click https://www.hornady.com/ammunition/rifle/50-bmg-750-gr-a-max-match#!/.
To purchase a Steiner scope on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=steiner.