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....That's right! I said .50 caliber.
As if a .45 caliber Glock wasn't perfection enough, Guncrafter Industries (GI) decided to take the proven Glock 21 design and couple it with its .50 cal 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 mockups 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, a "beefed up" spring assembly, and an eight- or nine-round magazine. The assembly slides neatly onto a Glock 20, 21, or 21SF lower with ambi safety and behaves exactly like the original.
GI's slides and match grade barrels have recently had an additional upgrade. An internal clearance cut on the barrel now allows for easier ejection of live rounds. GI's customers spoke and the company listened, then it designed and implemented a fix to the problem of clearing live rounds from the chamber.
GI also responded to the requests of end users to add a conventional finish so as to more closely match the look of a factory Glock. The end result is an almost identical match to a stock Glock. While stainless is sexy as evidenced by my wife's affinity for this gun, it's not a practical finish for a law enforcement weapon. Stainless steel doesn't do well under the daily stresses of duty use. GI has therefore implemented a black Melonite finish that is incredibly tough, much like Glock's own Tenifer finish.
The first time I assembled the weapon and slid in a magazine, 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. So I was impressed that someone could actually take a weapon that I find to be perfect and actually improve upon it.
No Recoil Fear
I really liked the fit and finish of the GI .50. But I needed to know how it fired. Was it going to put me on my rear as one tends to see the .50 Desert Eagle do to some folks?
I liken the experience of handling a fully loaded Desert Eagle to trying to hold a whale covered in Vaseline. They're quite the eye candy but aren't practical weapons.
The Glock 21, however, is practical. It's a large, but not impossibly so, handgun. And it can easily be concealed in any number of ways, even when fitted with a .50 caliber conversion kit.
I've always wanted to see a .50 cal that could really be shot by most average-sized folks. Guncrafter Industries has found that balance in the Glock 21.
And yes, the Glock frame can easily handle the .50 GI. Though quite powerful, the .50 GI cartridge is not a Magnum round. It operates at low to medium pressures and is well suited for both the Glock and the 1911 platforms.
Recoil I must tell you was not as bad as expected. I braced myself expecting a real wrist splitter but instead got a fast impulse just a bit over that of a 230-grain .45 cal +P. This is due in part to the .50 GI loads and of course the polymer construction of the Glock frame. The receiver absorbs a great deal of the recoil generated by the massive .50 GI round and saves the shooter from the abuse.[PAGEBREAK]
The interesting aspect of the GI .50 round is that it's really s-l-o-w. The 275-grain JHP flies through the air at about 875 feet per second. Yeah, that's slow. The 300-grain JFP is even slower; it lumbers out at 700 fps. I've taken to calling it Eeyore after the donkey in the Winnie the Pooh stories.
Of course speed isn't everything. Eeyore, while being 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.
I would suspect that even if a bad guy were wearing body armor this round would probably split his sternum and disrupt his heart's rhythm enough to possibly cause unconsciousness. Folks, these .50 cals really do hit that hard. They caused dings in steel targets that normally fracture .40 and .45 cal rounds into so much dust.
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 myself, fast and furious.
I stepped up to about the seven yard line, and 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 most shooters can't handle, though.
And the end result on the target is something to behold. The GI .50 can really put a lot of punch on a target.
Where I think the GI .50 Glock conversion would really prove useful in law enforcement is as a secondary weapon for a SWAT officer. As a SWAT operator the only reasons that you may have to go to your secondary weapon are failure of your carbine or close-in fighting where a long gun isn't very practical. Either way, stopping power is what you're looking for when this happens. And the GI .50 round offers that in spades.
The Guncrafter Industries Glock 21 Conversion Unit is a well-designed system that could prove popular with shooting enthusiasts and law enforcement officers. And for the hunter, this is a weapon that needs to be explored. I do believe that the GI .50 bullet might even be able to put a tough skinned wild boar down in one hit. It really is a versatile round and I'd love to see its power displayed in a subgun of some sort, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
All in all I found the kit a pleasure to work with and I'm very sad to send it back. On second thought...maybe I'll buy it.
Abner Miranda is a patrolman for the Signal Mountain (Tenn.) Police Department. He is a Spanish interpreter, an FBI trained hostage negotiator, and an AR-15 armorer.