ArmaLite AR-50A1 National Match

ArmaLite Inc.

If something ain’t broke there is a strong argument to not fix it. Fortunately for .50 Caliber match shooters though, the team at ArmaLite must have played hooky the day they learned that in 2nd grade. Even though their ArmaLite AR-50 has already been a strong competitor in national matches, they decided that it had to be improved for the most elite competition shooter.

Guns in general have to be built with tolerances that reflect differences in manufacturing tolerances for ammunition. Things like case head thickness, width at the bottom, width at the shoulder, shoulder angle, and even brass thickness can fluctuate sometimes several thousandths of an inch. There are specifications for cartridges put out be the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI), but some play is assumed when you cut a chamber for a rifle in a standard caliber.

To competition shooters these tolerances can be a headache because if you use “match” ammunition, it is all one size, and if the chamber of your rifle has a lot of sloppy “tolerance” room, the cartridge can be canted in the gun to one side or the other of that several thousandths of tolerance without you being able to control it. The same is true if you full length re-size a round in your .50 caliber reloading press. The resulting cartridges will be perfect SAAMI specs.

National Match rifles don’t have this tolerance built in. The downside is that you can’t just order a case of surplus ammo on the internet for them and expect them to always fit your gun. But the upside is that you have a perfectly reamed chamber that will exactly match your match ammo, or your full length re-sized reloads. So if you miss, or your score isn’t what you want it be, you can assume it was your fault and not the fault of the gun.

Now, you may be wondering, if this is true, how is it that people have been winning matches with these standard chambers in AR-50 rifles. There is a caveat to this explanation. Many competition shooters hand load their own cases. Your chamber, if it is not a National Match chamber, is unique, and once you fire a round of ammo in it, the pressure will shape that brass casing to exactly match your chamber. If you then full-length re-size that case, it will no longer match your gun, but if you only use a neck sizer to expand the mouth of the case to hold your bullet, the rest of the case will stay the size of your chamber, and have zero tolerance. It will be as if the chamber is reamed exactly to the ammo you are using.

The AR-50 National Match gives you the option to use pre-made factory “match” ammunition that will fit just as perfect, or theoretically just as perfect. It also gives the hand loader the ability to full length re-size fired cases, which can have its benefits (outside the scope of this article). Again, don’t forget, a National Match chamber may not fit some surplus ammo that you may find for sale, so don’t buy one of these guns thinking that it is the “extreme accuracy” version of the gun suitable for all shooters. It actually is the extreme accuracy version, but specifically for competitive shooters in a controlled environment with standardized ammo. If you are buying a .50 just because you can, and you hope to shoot it for fun and keep it “just in case,” you are better off with a standard AR-50 chamber that will still yield better accuracy than 99%+ of shooters can shoot.

This new ArmaLite comes with some other non-standard features as well. ArmaLite has built a new skid plate system for bench rest shooters to allow the gun to sit flat easily and naturally slide with recoil. This slide plate system will also be available to retro-fit existing guns. It has a match trigger group, and the barrel on the National Match is three inches longer than the standard 30″ The MSRP is $4,230.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Hawk November 22, 2016, 10:13 am

    I have started doing some experimenting with the AR50A1B. 100 yard groups are consistently one hole that can be covered with a thumb. That is for off the shelf ammo. I will be neck sizing cases and look for the “sweet spot” with site in at each 100 yard increment out to 1000 yards. I think the potential of this rifle is very high. There seems to be a number of powders that look promising, but H50BMG looks like big one.

  • Tom Chapman February 2, 2011, 7:11 am

    Another AMEN to D Ray comments! I like this rifle alot for the price point and bet we will sell a few!

  • markej4801 February 1, 2011, 11:04 am

    LOL–every brain cell sucked out by the muzzle blast!!!

  • D Ray East February 1, 2011, 3:01 am

    This is just like those of us who became the first group of snipers during Vietnam taught our elders. The Bozo’s with the brass hats. What we asked for and explained to them was. Send us 200 loaded rounds to go with our new rifles. Then send us enough powder to load those 200 rounds 10 times. so we got a keg of powder and four boxes of primes and bullets plus a Lee load all hand-loader. we simply trimmed and cut the cases to let the bullets fit rolled the necks to hold the lead in and generally our load was simply dip the case in the powder and level it off at the top of the neck. It gave us a compressed load kept the moisture out of the round if we dipped the tips in the “juice of the fatted calf”. You do not want me to explain the facts of life to you from the real world. I still use short pig fat and not long pig fat to seal my rounds. That was not always the case for many. I do have one prayer that I hope is heard. It is that is for one wish that more of our politicians would read the papers and writings of the founders of this country. I for one wish that our people in power would realize that this house of cards we live in could and will come tumbling down so fast if they do not treat the second amendment with care and caution. The only thing the terrorists have done is make a whole new generation able to use the 2nd Amendment as it was meant to be used.

    73 and 76


    • Metalchemist February 2, 2011, 1:08 am

      AMEN !

  • uglygun February 1, 2011, 2:57 am

    Make one in 510 DTC so it will be a California legal variant.

    There’s a market for it, guarantee it.

    • Metalchemist February 2, 2011, 1:07 am

      I’d buy one for sure.
      Of course I’d love to have a Mc Millan, but that would cost a but more.

  • Ronald Williams February 1, 2011, 1:53 am

    I would like to see a Armalite AR50A1 National Match rifle made with the Front Tri-Pod and a Rear elevation Pod or Arm. What would it cost to put a Swarovrki 5×30 50MM scope. It also needs to be range sited before shipping, It’s needs to have a Americas made for it. Last but not least you need to send reloading data, dies, for the rifle, it would not hurt to offer some loaded ammo for the rifle as well. I could talk more but I had CHEMO today and getting a little tired. Thanks Ronniea

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