Winchester's Big 50

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It took the Winchester Arms Company a year to begin offering their popular Model 1886 lever-action rifle in the .50-110 chambering. And for 30 more years, Winchester produced a limited number of rifles in this impressive caliber.

The Big Fifty was Winchester's attempt to match several British express rifle loads intended for taking big African game. It had a factory 300-grain bullet pushed by smokeless powder at over 2,200 feet per second at the muzzle. Nevertheless, the .50-110 cartridge lingered in domestic production until 1935. It was one of the last of the "half-inch" loads harkening back to the days of buffalo hunting on the Great Plains, but only a small fraction of the nearly 160,000 Model 1886 rifles made were .50-cal. guns.

Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, July 2009.