I take in a deep breath, steady my sights on the steel silhouette and squeeze off a round. The Glock 21 bucks in my hand with a fast, sharp recoil. As I watch the large, brass casing fly through the air I hear the loud “PONG!” of the 300-grain .50 caliber bullet slamming into the target 75 yards away…what, did he just say “.50 caliber?” Yup!
As if a .45ACP caliber Glock wasn’t perfection enough Guncrafter Industries decided to take the proven Glock 21 design and couple it with their masterfully engineered .50 caliber munitions into a drop in conversion unit. I happened upon this kit at a trade show and it took me a moment to realize that the large cocktail-olive-sized rounds on the table were not mock-ups but actual working production rounds. I immediately placed a request for a unit and waited for my kit to arrive. When it did a few weeks later it was like Christmas morning. I love this thing!
The slide and barrel are beautifully machined from stainless steel forgings, and are completed with a matte, brushed finish. The assembly comes complete with slide, barrel, spring assembly, and an 8 or 9 round magazine your pick. The assembly slides neatly onto your existing Glock 21 lower, and behaves exactly like the original. The fact that you instantly have 9 + 1 rounds of .50 caliber at your disposal makes this weapon more than just a really cool conversation piece.
Does it have curb appeal? Oh yes, in spades! The first time I assembled the weapon and slid a magazine in, it felt exactly like a standard Glock 21. The Glock 21 coincidentally is a weapon that I know better than any other in the world. I was impressed that someone could actually take a weapon that I find to be perfect and actually improve upon it. It’s the Glock platform that is the standard by which all other pistols are judged. The question that I really had, though, was recoil.
It’s a whale covered in Vaseline. I’ll wait ‘till you have that mental image…are you there yet? Alright, that is how I liken the experience of handling a fully loaded Desert Eagle. They’re quite the eye candy but aren’t practical weapons. Take the Glock 21, however, and you have a large, but not impossibly so, handgun. It can easily be concealed in any number of ways. I’ve always wanted to see a .50 caliber that could really be worked with by most average-sized folks. Guncrafter has found that balance in the Glock 21.
Recoil, I must tell you, was not as expected. I braced myself expecting a real wrist splitter but instead got a fast impulse just a hair’s breathe over that of a 230-grain .45ACP. This is due, in part, to the polymer construction of the Glock. The receiver absorbs a great deal of the recoil generated by the massive .50 GI round and saves the shooter from the abuse. The interesting part with this particular round is that it’s really s-l-o-w. The 275-grain JHP flies through the air at about 875 fps. The 300-grain JFP, however, lumbers along at an incredibly slow shuffle of 700 fps. It’s a slow little donkey of a round hits like you would not believe. It actually pounded my steel target with so much force that it knocked the entire 100-pound plate and stand combo hard enough to make it furrow the ground it stood upon. I would suspect that even if a home invader were wearing body armor this round would probably split his sternum and disrupt the heart’s rhythm enough to possibly cause unconsciousness. Folks, these .50 calibers really do hit that hard. They caused dings in steel targets that normally fracture .40 and .45 cal rounds into so much dust.
.50 GI Details
Guncrafter is a progressive company sought to stand out in the already busy crowd of custom 1911 variants by introducing the Model 1 as a dedicated .50 caliber weapons platform. Designing a gun around a bullet is sort of like GE building the GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling Gun and then Fairchild Republic building the A-10 Warthog aircraft around it. Essentially, Guncrafter found something that was already out there and made it unique and reliable. Not to mention very desirable.
Wouldn’t it be cool to have a weapon with high round count, capable of enough energy to punch into an assailant with the same force as a .41 Mag but in the controllable envelope of a polymer-framed Glock? Yeah, that’s a tall order. Isn’t it? Well, you’re looking at it.
The .50 GI round was designed from the ground up specifically for the Guncrafter’s Model No.1 pistol. It’s a very strong, thick-walled cartridge which when loaded is approximately the same overall length as a standard .45ACP round. To me, they look like .45’s that rode the short bus to school. Due to the larger caliber, the cartridge operates at a relatively low pressure and has a long reloading life. The rounds can be purchased from Guncrafters at a reasonable cost as can all supplies for reloading purposes.
The concept was to create a practical .50 caliber 1911 without unnecessary bulk and weight but with the benefits of increased knockdown power while still being completely controllable during rapid fire. The design of the M1 is such that recoil is controllable even with the more powerful round. The .50GI was intended primarily as a self-defense round but is still very versatile and can be loaded to higher or lower levels if desired. Guncrafter’s standard power factory round drives a 300-grain bullet at 700 to 725 fps, which translates into a 210 power factor. Felt recoil is comparable to a 230-grain .45ACP hardball factory round. The 275-grain bullet at 875 fps delivers even more serious stopping power while having felt recoil similar to a 10mm. Guncrafter has cornered the market in 1911-style .50’s. Not resting on their laurels, they’ve moved ahead and now have this outstanding Glock conversion kit.
My testing tends to be as real world as I can make it. I don’t really mess around with bench rests mostly because I really don’t give a hoot about taking measurements and the like. I prefer to shoot the weapon as if I were defending my home, fast and furious. I stepped up to about the 7-yard line, which is about the length of some of the rooms and stairways in my home. I drew the weapon, got a rough sight picture, and started squeezing off rounds as fast as I could get the gun back on target. I won’t lie to you: it has a bit of a bite to it when it goes off. The harmonic resonance that passes through the gun is enough to give your trigger finger a little sting. It’s nothing you can’t handle, though. The end result on the target is something to behold, however.
The 50 GI can really put a lot of punch on a subject. This round can tear into an assailant’s vehicle with incapacitating force to the engine block and cooling system, thus taking the vehicle out of commission quickly. Where I think this round would really prove useful is as a secondary weapon for a SWAT officer. The fact that it fits the G21 platform means that it has the potential for integration into the ranks of LE agencies that are already carrying the G21. And now with the G21 SF, which employs the G21 frame, I see no reason why this kit couldn’t be used by even smaller statured officers who have difficulty hanging onto the very-large-framed G21.
As a SWAT operator the only reason that you may have to go to your secondary weapon is failure of your carbine, or close in fighting where a long gun isn’t a good idea to be poking around corners with. Either way stopping power is what you’re looking for here, right?
The Guncrafter’s Glock 21 Conversion Unit is a well-put-together system that bares consideration for the shooting enthusiast, and LEO. With the proven stopping power of the massive 275/300-grain projectiles it’s a fair bet that you’d come out on top in a gun fight. For the sportsman this is a round that needs to be explored. I do believe that this bullet might even be able to put a tough-skinned wild bore down in one hit. It really is a versatile round and I’d love to see its power displayed in an SMG of some sort but, alas, I’m getting ahead of myself. I found the kit a pleasure to work.