We recently received the following letter from Henry G. (Gene) Ramirez, and decided to publish it in its entirety. It is an interesting development, albeit not entirely new, which we do believe to be of interest to our readers.
I have developed a line of .50 caliber cartridges to replace the .50 BMG. The first cartridge I developed was the .510 FASCAP, followed by a shorter series of cartridges called the FASCAP II series. All of my designs are patent pending. My first cartridge was designed to turn an ordinary hunting or target bolt-action rifle, which is still the type of rifle most commonly used today, into a single-shot .50 caliber rifle. The second series of cartridges was built to function through a standard length Mauser-type magazine-fed rifle. As Congress attempts to take the .50 BMG out of civilian hands, my new series of cartridges opens up a whole new avenue to .50 caliber shooting that is also very cost effective for the average handloader.
The line of cartridges that I developed does to the .50 BMG what the .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO) did to the .30-06 Sprg. The .308 Win. is 1/4" shorter than the .30-06, which allows for a lighter and smaller firearm and a faster cyclic rate in machine guns. By using a better-designed and more modern case, I have developed a .50 caliber cartridge that can function through the magazine of a Mauser-type rifle. This affords several advantages over the .50 BMG: a smaller and lighter weapon, easier portability, lighter ammo weight, less muzzle blast, longer barrel life, second shot capability, and cost efficiency.
The .50 BMG, as a military round, is outdated. It is extremely overbore and very inefficient (overbore and inefficient are terms used to describe a cartridge that holds more powder in the cartridge case than the bore can consume). The 750 grain bullet has limited applications these days. It can't really be used as an anti-tank weapon because of the advent of new tank armors. It is not used as an anti-aircraft battery anymore. It is not mounted on planes for combat fighting, nor are there any more ball turrets on bombers. Additionally, the .50 caliber machine gun is just too large for a single person to carry, set up, and operate.
Most people wouldn't compare the .50 BMG to the .220 Swift, but they have one distinct similarity: they are both extremely hard on barrels because of their high powder-to-bore ratio. The .220 Swift is known as a "barrel burner." Yet, the .50 BMG's powder-to-bore ratio exceeds that of the .220 Swift. That's something most people don't talk about. A .220 Swift would never be considered for use in a machine gun because of its barrel overheating and throat erosion problems.
As a cartridge for reloading, the .50 BMG is expensive. It takes a monstrous press and costly components, neither of which is found in your typical Mom-and-Pop gun store. The only unique item to my first cartridge, the .510 FASCAP, is the bullet itself. Cases, primer, and powder can all be found at most sporting goods stores that sell reloading equipment - and it can be loaded on a standard press.
But the .50 BMG does have tremendous firepower. What needed to be done was to harness that firepower in a smaller weapon, a rifle that military troops and law enforcement departments can use more efficiently and effectively.
The idea behind my first cartridge was to design a round that would function through a single-shot or bolt-action rifle, but still be able to throw a 647 grain FMJ .50 caliber bullet at a reasonable velocity. My target velocity for the first cartridge was 2500 fps. I picked this velocity because the most popular 168 grain match load for the .308 Win. has a muzzle velocity of 2450 to 2550 fps. My belief was that if my .50 caliber rifle could fire a 647 grain bullet at the same muzzle velocity as a .308 Win fires a 168 grain bullet, my cartridge could do at 2000 yards what the .308 does at 1000 yards.
In my load development, I was able to get 2600+ fps with a 647 grain FMJ bullet, and was able to shoot at 2550 fps quite comfortably and accurately. Now consider this: a .50 BMG with a 47" barrel pushes the same 647 grain bullet at 2900 fps. But, cut that barrel down to the size of a standard rifle (which means you loose about 20 inches), and the velocity goes down about 300 fps. These figures put me close to .50 BMG performance in a standard-grade hunting rifle with over-the-counter brass and standard large rifle primers - and I did it with 120 grains less powder than the .50 BMG.
When working up loads at the range, people - including .50 BMG shooters - often told me that what I was trying to do was impossible. Well, it's not impossible, and I have done it. In fact, on two occasions at the range I compared my rifle (which weighs 16 lbs.) to a 39 lb. McMillan and a Barrett Light 50. My accuracy wasn't quite as good as the McMillan, but my velocity was within 100 fps using the same bullet. My test gun was intended for velocity testing only, not for accuracy, yet I did obtain several 5-shot 1" groups. My .510 FASCAP cartridge has a great deal to offer the company or companies that might be interested in filling the market with a new .50 caliber where there really has not been a choice up till now.
The only drawback to my first cartridge is that it turns any rifle into a single-shot because of its overall length. Several companies are interested in this cartridge (Civil Defence Supply, Anglo American Small Arms, Anglo American Ammunition, and the PMP Division of Denel of South Africa), but the comment has been that they want second shot capability. Thus, my focus went from the handloader trying to compete with the big .50's to companies who were talking about the military and law enforcement market. They found my rifle to have several big advantages over the .50 BMG, mainly less muzzle blast and throat erosion due to using 120 grains less powder, and more mobility due to a smaller, more efficient case design.
My second line of cartridges, the FASCAP II series, was developed to work through large Mauser and Mauser-type actions, as well as large Ruger, P17, and Weatherby actions. I made a series of cartridges, two of which were my main focus. One was a 1.9" overall length cartridge that could be fired from a smaller, lighter weight, lighter recoiling weapon. The other was a 2.35" overall length cartridge intended as a long range sniper-type round capable of duplicating or even surpassing the .50 BMG in a 28" barrel.
For the 1.9" cartridge in my series, I looked at one of the world's most popular military cartridges, the 7.62X39 with its steel-cored 123 grain bullet and a muzzle velocity of around 2200 fps. This little cartridge is capable of penetrating vehicle engine blocks and has adequate accuracy out to 300 yards. I reasoned that the big .50 BMG with its 750 grain bullet is not necessary for most of the tasks for which it is presently employed, and is too big and bulky. Taking inspiration from the 7.62X39, I designed 500 and 550 grain steel-cored FMJ bullets that would develop a muzzle velocity of about 2450 fps from a 22" barrel. Using these lighter .50 caliber bullets in a 22" barrel, the 1.9" cartridge would still have tremendous firepower, and be in the field what the military calls a force multiplier. It would be capable of penetrating heavy doors and disabling automobiles and armored vehicles, but it would have a large urban advantage over the .50 BMG: it would be mobile.
The larger cartridges in my FASCAP II series were designed to duplicate or surpass the performance of the .50 BMG in a 28" barrel. These cartridges would utilize a much smaller action and an altogether smaller and lighter rifle, but still be capable of easy 1000 yard shots. Using the 550 grain steel-cored FMJ bullet, muzzle velocity would be 3100+ fps - which would be devastating in an armor piercing configuration. The lighter bullet at this higher velocity would penetrate heavy armor more easily than the 750 grain bullet at 2800 fps.
Recently I had the opportunity to correspond with J.D. Jones of SSK Industries. Mr. Jones has developed a cartridge he calls the Peacekeeper that mirrors the first cartridge I developed. Mr. Jones has demonstrated his cartridge twice for the military and indicated that he will demonstrate it a third time in August. There are two problems with J.D. Jones's cartridge, though, just as there were with my first cartridge: it turns a rifle into a single-shot, and it headspaces on the belt instead of the shoulder. Addressing those two problems a few years ago led to the development of my FASCAP II series of cartridges. These cartridges headspace on the shoulder, and the maximum overall length is 4" (bullet included) for the largest of the series. The Halo Group of Concord, California, which specializes in tactical weapons training and consulting, tested my rifle at night and found the muzzle blast to be less than an M-16 with a 20" barrel, and closer to that of a .45 ACP. The Halo Group indicated they will do further tests on my rifle in the near future.
I hope I have captured your interest. If so, I would be pleased to discuss my series of cartridges, which are patent pending, in detail upon completion of a Non-Disclosure Agreement. You may reach me by e-mail, or write me at the address listed above. I look forward to hearing from you.