11 Most Powerful Rifles You Can Buy in 2018
There’s just something about the biggest, powerful guns in the world that turn us into giggling kids again. Big guns are exciting, visceral, dramatic and spectacular.
Firing powerful guns, though, takes commitment. And space, but mostly commitment. Recoil goes with the territory, the ammo costs so much your family might go hungry and your neighbors might stop talking to you.
But you won’t care. You’ll be there with no hearing, grinning from ear to ear as you fire off another round from the biggest, most powerful gun in the world. And if you can’t go that far, we’ve got big bore hunting rifles you can get started with for less than $450.
So what are the most powerful rifles you can buy in 2019?
We know there are other mythical guns that people have seen, or heard about, and custom build rifles. But we wanted a simple rule, we want you to be able to buy guns online, not just look at them. So all these guns are for sale, right now…
Some of them are seriously cheap, too. You can get started in big bore hunting and shooting for just $450, although powerful rifles are an addiction that might well cost you more down the line. We have $12,000 guns here, too.
Here are our picks for the best large caliber rifles in the world.
1. Accuracy International AX 50
- Price: $12,130
- Caliber: 50 BMG
- Barrel: 27″
- Length: 54 inches
- Weight: 26.1lb
- Muzzle Velocity: 5,988fps
The Accuracy International AX 50 is pure military hardware that you just happen to be able to buy.
The rank and file use the Barrett. The Accuracy International gets fired by the shadowy Black Ops guys you hear about, but never see.
It’s not a gun you need to justify, then, it’s just the best 50 Caliber rifle in the world. It’s unique, it is widely considered the most accurate 50 Cal. rifle of all time and that is the end of the matter.
It’s a beautiful looking thing and you can buy one, but the price might make you cry. If it does, you need to take a closer look. This is craftsmanship, durability, explosive force and a near force of nature in rifle form.
Put simply, it’s the most spectacular rifle you will ever own. Maybe not the best, but certainly the most spectacular. It’s a demolition crew on a bi-pod…
The AX50 has a detachable five-round magazine, too, which slots home in a conventional AR-style. The company pitches it as an anti-material sniper rifle, with a monster of a cartridge that can go straight through walls.
AI claims a muzzle velocity of 5,988fps, which is almost 50% more than the Barrett. In the real world, they’re probably much closer than that. This gun should be good for every bit of the 2,700-yard effective range, though. Just think about that for a moment. It’s crazy isn’t it? Almost makes the gun worth buying…
It’s up to you what rounds you put through there, but it’s designed to cope with the most heinous 50 BMG that the active fighting forces round the world can throw at it.
These 50 Caliber rifles are some of the most versatile weapons in the field. They’re basically a mortar, RPG and big bastard gun in one seductive package and it’s not hard to see why soldiers love them.
Accuracy International’s badass sniper rifle weighs in at 26.1lb and it’s more than 54 inches long. It is, though, a traditional sniper rifle with a vicious payload. Account for the recoil, which actually is pretty controlled and distributed throughout the heavy frame, and this incredible weapon functions just like a much smaller caliber.
The AX50 is a much more elegant firearm than the functional Barrett, which tends not to matter to the military. The way the world’s armed forces have voted en masse for the 10-round Barrett speaks volumes for its reliability and consistency.
You have to hunt for an AX50 these days and if the main button leads to a sold gun then try this one.
If you are the kind of contrarian who would have a functional gun as an art installation, though, then this one could certainly stake a claim. It’s beautiful, it’s an engineering masterpiece, man’s victory over Physics, and it’s a little slice of human achievement in rifle form.
This is what peak performance looks like, and that might be reason enough to own this little slice of history.
2. Barrett M107A1
- Price: $11.914
- Caliber: .50 BMG
- Barrel length: 29 inch
- Total length: 57
- Weight: 28.5lb
- Cost per round: $3.30
- Muzzle Velocity: 4000fps
The legend. Simply put, the Barrett 50 BMG has become an icon in the military and for collectors who just like cool shit.
Accuracy International brings a sportscar to the party, Barrett’s M107 is more of an overpowered truck. It’s overnegineered, it’s strong and it won’t break. It’s not a thoroughbred like its rival, it’s a carthorse.
What could you possibly use a 50 BMG rifle for? Well that’s a fair question actually.
I mean just look at the ammo…
Even the military doesn’t use them for shooting at people, much. If they did, they’d probably end up staring at a smoking pair of boots and a noxious cloud where the person used to be.
The Barrett is exceptional at laying down cover fire, and it can take out more or less anything. Watch it in action in the field here:
This is an ‘anti-material’ gun, which basically means vehicles, walls, doors and armor-plated, well, anything. Just watch this thing in super slow-mo. It’s fascinating. This is how normal, non-gun people react to this beast.
You can get incendiary, tracer, armor-piercing and just about any other kind of round you want to run through it. Well, actually that’s the tricky bit. You can probably get normal Hornady bullets in 600 or 750gr. Incendiary rounds can be tricky to get hold of for the Average Joe.
They turn it from the kind of overpowered rifle you’d normally rock in a video game, into a long-distance, ultra fast, armor-piercing mortar round. It really is a rocket launcher with a 10-round mag that you can aim. But a lot of Youtubers have found true joy shooting explosives and filming the carnage.
This is a sniper rifle, it’s that accurate, but it’s not meant for people. Or hunting. You could try it, but you’ll end up blowing the back end off deer and you’ll turn the meat into sausage patty on the spot.
Some wildlife and game reserves have become one of the more unusual customers, though. For them, the 50 BMG is a humane way to cull the excess deer and it’s the only thing that can guarantee to deal out instant death to big bears and Elk.
It’s a bad day at work, but sometimes it has to be done and the theory seems to be that taking them out in a flash with this absolute cannon is the kindest way to do it.
If you want to see a Whitetail look like it has been hit by a truck in all its gory detail, it’s here. It’s a slightly graphic video, so you have been warned.
Here the rifle literally blows a cinderblock wall apart, piece by glorious piece.
In the military setting, it’s a rifle that one soldier can carry and set-up without help. When they’re in position, they can take out vehicles up to a mile away. Seriously, you read that right, a mile. So if your neighbour is a dick, you can drive a mile away, and then shoot their car.
You can even shoulder this gun and shoot standing if you really want to, or mount it to a Jeep.
Helicopters, planes, even dugouts, buildings and walls are all fair game. If you can get on your roof and get good coverage, then if shit really does hit the fan then you might actually have a practical purpose for the big 50 BMG rifle.
Before then? It’s just a lot of fun.
This is the kind of gun I would expect to find at the front gatehouse of a Mexican drug lord’s country retreat. Remember the bad guy in Bad Boys 2? He was Cuban, but that kind of guy. He’d have a rifle like this.
It featured in Jurassic Park, too, and Godzilla. In fact pretty much any recent film with a monster in it has this gun. Could the 50 BMG bring down a charging T-Rex? We have no idea, but it’s probably your best shot at that point if you don’t have a missile-launcher to hand.
You might not need a 30lb weapon that can launch lethal projectiles over a mile in normal life. But who gives a damn about need? If I had ridiculous amounts of free money and a massive ranch, yeah I’d have one for fun.
You get a 10-round magazine, and if you can rattle through 10 shots with this juggernaut then you’ll feel it for days.
Each round of the basic 660gr FMJ costs $3.50. If you want the Hornady Match A-Max 750gr good stuff then it’s $6 a round. So you really do have to make every shot count with this gun. Then again, it costs more than 11K to buy one in the first place.
If you really want a 50 BMG. If you want to leave comedy dark spots in the ground where deer used to be, if you want to take pot shots at old cars in the middle of the desert, if you want to blow holes in your own house, well you can do that.
It’s an expensive toy, but it’s cool that we can buy this gun online and get it delivered to your local gunshop to complete the paperwork. It’s really that simple, just pay, tell us which gunshop or pawn shop with an FFL license we need to ship to and we’ll deal with the rest.
This is America, and you’re free to do as you please. If you want to buy an absurd military gun, that’s your right.
So where can you buy a Barrett 50 Cal rifle? Step right this way…
3. Noreen Firearms ULR 50BMG
- Price: $2,050
- Barrel Length: 34 inch
- Total Length: 36.5 inch (Collapsed)
- Weight: 34lb
- Capacity: 1
It’s basically a barrel with a bi-pod, an A2 pistol grip and a Noreen AR pistol style collapsing stock. And you have to admit it’s kind of bad-ass.
That stock contains springs, the muzzle brake belongs on a boat gun and there’s place for a scope. The Timney Sportsman Trigger is pretty much the technical highlight, because there really isn’t much else. But it’s a cheap 50BMG that I’d actually trust 100% and with a 34 inch barrel it’s going to be accurate as all Hell.
4. Safety Harbor SHTF50 Pistol
- Price: $2,500
- Caliber: 50 BMG
- Barrel Length (Inches): 12-29
- Total Length (Inches): 19-55
- Weight: 12.5-22lb
- Cost per round: $3.35
- Muzzle Velocity: 2561.91fps
Update: It seems the authorities weren’t 100% happy with the Safety Harbor 50 Cal pistol. Due to ‘complications’, you can’t order one right now. but it’s so much fun we decided to keep it in.
This, right here, is a 50 Cal pistol. It’s the only legit one I know of, that you can order right now. It’s unique, and that alone means it’s worth having for plenty of gun collectors out there.
Put a stock on this 12″ barrel and you’ll need to register it as an SBR, so it kind of slips under the bar and gets in to this list. That’s a full-bore 50 Cal SBR. Honestly the only reason this isn’t number one is that it is an unknown quantity.
I’m not sure I would trust it entirely, I have to be honest with you.
You also have to put up with a bolt action and a five round capacity in a magazine that juts out the side. You’re giving up an awful lot in terms of convenience and packaging for that extra power. But there really is nothing else like this.
I look at guns like this and I want them to work. It’s just wonderful.
You have to wonder about the long-term reliability. You just do… But then it’s just about priced right, so it’s worth a gamble at less than $2,500 all in.
You can just order the upper, too, and strap it all to a Mil-spec AR-platform you have at home. That’s a bit brave, but it’s also seriously cost effective.
So if there’s a lower receiver that you think can take a kicking and you’re not using it much, then this $1850 upper conversion kit will turn it into a SHTF50 5 shot rifle.
You want the 29″ Big Bertha? That’s $2000 and you seriously can put it on a lower receiver you have at home.
Technically this rifle can do everything the Barrett can, so you should be able to hit targets more than a mile away, if you’ve got the scope system to support that.
The SHTF50 fires the same 50 BMG rounds, so you’re paying $3.35 a round remember. That limits you, but the actual gun itself is pretty portable and the layout is flexible, depending on your needs.
You can order the 12, 18, 22 or 29 inch barrels, which takes this gun from a pistol right through to heavy artillery. We don’t have the final figures on the muzzle energy with the higher grade ammo, but the company has claimed a muzzle velocity of 2561.91fps with the 29″ barrel.
That’s a long way down on the Barrett, but then this is about 20% of the money.
With a 750gr Hornady Match grain bullet, even in the 12″ barrel, you’ve got the recipe for the kind of power that the Bushmasters and even the 458 HAM’Rs of this world can’t get close to.
Go for the shorter barrels, and this is a fairly lightweight rifle/SBR/Pistol. Inevitably it’s produced from 4340 Chromemoly Steel and it is stronger just about everywhere than a standard AR pistol. But with the 18″ barrel it weighs in at just 15.5lb. With the 22″ barrel it’s 17.5lb, so it’s fair to assume that the 12″ barrel pistol weighs in at around 12.5lb.
For this kind of firepower, that’s actually not bad.
If it works like a dream, then you will have a 50 Cal long pistol that you can technically use with a tactical brace. I don’t think I want to know what the recoil would feel like through a brace, though, and you might end up going the full SBR route. Even then, it’s a spectacular weapon.
Is it a hunting rifle? Is it the ultimate in home defense? Probably both, and neither. It’s more of a curiosity for the collector than a real, functional hunting weapon. But wow what a thing it is.
Most of us will never own the battle-perfected Barrett. It’s just too much money for what is, almost certainly, a passing curiosity. Safety Harbor Firearms can help you scratch the 50 BMG itch for just $2000, though, and that makes it a realistic proposition.
Buy one, enjoy it with your buddies and appreciate it for what it is, a truly unique firearm that I can see taking pride of place in any collection.
While the Barrett looks like industrial machinery, the SHTF is a truly elegant firearm. It’s slim, the 8-port machined muzzle brake is a work of art. It’s a little clunky when it comes to the operation, and it looks like an absolute beast.
So you’re not going to have ultimate control with this pistol, but it’s one of those guns you just need to own to show to everybody and just occasionally let rip with one or two of those $3.35 artillery shells.
5. Barrett M99
- Price: $3,900
- Caliber: .50 BMG
- Barrel Length: 32 inch
- Total Length: 50 inch
- Weight: 25lb with 31 inch barrel/ 23lb with 29 inch barrel
- Cost per round: $3.05
- Muzzle Energy: 3,500lb/ft+
The Barrett M99 is the stripped down, single shot version of the paramilitary M95. For a hunter, it’s more than enough. For a casual 50BMG hobby shooter, it’s more than enough.
If it’s part of your SHTF defense package then you might want to spend more and get the M95 with a magazine, or the full-bore M107 that can take out the enemy while they’re still a speck on the horizon.
This is a fun gun, or a serious hunter, but just now that it will turn most animals into sausage patties right there and you have to be hunting some seriously big game to justify this gun. So, is one shot good enough? Do you feel lucky?
Its too heavy to really treat like a hunting rifle and you’ll need to set up with supports, or the bipod, to make the most of this supremely accurate 50BMG rifle.
Up to 1000m and beyond, it’s devastating, and it’s an affordable, proven system that shouldn’t blow up on you.
5. Wilson Combat 458 HAM’R Ultimate Hunter
- Price: $3,055.00
- Caliber: 458 HAM’R
- Barrel Length: 18″
- Total Length: 36.5″
- Weight: 7lb 4oz
- Cost per Round: $3
- Muzzle Energy: 3000lb/ft
Watch the HAM’R blow a lot of stuff apart in this video before we get started. It’s a pretty decent introduction to this big bore hunting rifle.
At Shot Show, Wilson Combat stole the show with the ultimate AR-15 build. The 458 HAM’R was designed to beat the 458 Socom, 450 Bushmaster, 50 Beowulf 450 Marlin and just about everything else.
The goal with the 458 HAM’R was clear, Wilson Combat wanted to create a splash with the most powerful hunting rifle in the world in 2018.
It’s a hybrid AR-15/10 with the bolt from the AR-10, which can withstand pressures of 46,000psi, which does make it the clear winner in the ‘sub 50 Cal’ section of this competition.
Wilson Combat makes its money from 1911 parts, together with custom work on the 1911 and now the Glock. This is a different ballgame, but the Wilson Combat 458 HAM’R looks like a winner and that ammo can drop ANY American game on the spot at 250 meters.
It’s a convenient AR package and we can easily see this taking over as the big game hunter’s weapon of choice, or a combination of this and Creedmoor for two totally different ranges and impacts.
They will be limited on ammo to begin with, but then that’s kind of the point. Wilson Combat developed this new AR carbine around the new round.
You get 3000lb of muzzle energy and this gun is fully capable of dropping Elk where they stand. It has been tested, too, and it can stop a truck in its tracks if you get a solid shot at the engine. Again, why you’d want that is up to you. But you can, and sometimes that’s enough.
This is an expensive rifle that costs $3,055.00 in its most basic form. The ammo, too, could make you think twice about this extreme of power. The Polymer-tipped 300gr monsters are works of art. But at almost $3 a round, they really should be.
They travel at 2100fps and it probably leaps tall buildings with a single bound, but that ammo price is painful and Wilson Combat needs a budget alternative if this is going to be a proper hunting rifle.
The rifle is a surgical tool and it should drop anything at 250m and most things at 400m. Well, it’s a Blunderbuss that slams the biggest projectile it can into whatever you’re shooting at. It has a real knockout punch, but this combined with a Creedmoor rifle for longer distances could be all you need for mid-large game hunting.
There are cheaper options with almost the same power, is the only problem with the Wilson Combat HAM’R. But for competitive and fashion conscious hunters, that might be part of the appeal.
6. Radical Firearms Beowulf
- Price: $749.99
- Caliber: Beowulf 50 Cal (12.7x42mm)
- Barrel Length: 16″
- Total length: 36.75″
- Weight: 6.9lb
- Cost per Round: $1.40
It’s just a step down from the HAM’R, but look how convenient this package is in comparison. Then look at the price. Then look again at the price.
This is the biggest bore rifle that’s sort of affordable. $1.35 gives you the basic flathead rounds. For $1.45, you get massive, 350gr hollowpoints that look wicked bad. They’re like a hybrid between the 50 AE shells in the Desert Eagle and AK-47 ammunition.
This is a big AR-15, basically, and it’s a rifle you could easily use for big game hunting.
This is not a gun you need to set up on sandbags. It’s an AR-15 with a mil-spec upper and a lower that can handle the power of this audacious round. It’s really not built like a tank and in fact it weighs in at 6.9lb.
If you already have a Mil-Spec AR-15 in the house then you can order an upper from Radical Firearms for just $600. That’s a cheap way into the world of powerful rifles.
Radical Firearrms has turned into a specialist and they can sell you an upper that fits on pretty much any AR-15. It’s not nearly as intimidating as you might think to shoot and it is a serious hunting round that gives you the right balance of power and price.
So sign you up right? At this price, we think so yes.
There’s a decent range of ammo that might even give the Beowulf an unfair advantage when you look at the bullets. You can get a 50 Cal hollowpoint, which is actually pretty sexy.
You can also buy a 325gr round called the X-treme Penetrator. I’m not even kidding. It promises a wound cavity that is two to four times bigger than a standard bullet, but it sounds like a porno.
Radical Firearms have created an AR pistol/SBR from the Beowulf, too, and you can see that in action here.
7. Browning BLR Lightweight 81
- Price: $1009.01
- Caliber: 450 Marlin
- Barrel length: 20″
- Total length: 40″
- Weight: 7lb
- Cost per round: $1.80
Well this is a refreshing change. It’s a traditional hunting rifle, with a lever action, and a 3-round magazine. You might recognize it from Jurassic Park…
The low capacity is a bugbear in this company, but it keeps the weight of the rifle down and that’s important for longer shots and keeping steady.
The 450 Marlin cartridge is a development of the Wildcat 458×2. It has similar ballistic properties to the much-loved 45-70 Government and it’s a joint venture between Hornady and Marlin. So you know this cartridge is a peach.
It is $1.80 a round, which is just a touch on the expensive side. But you do save a lot on the rifle if you go for this supremely basic and yet well-respected hunter.
Just over $1000 is a bargain for an 800-1000 yard gun. I think there’s a better way to hunt mid-sized and large game, though.
I’ll talk more about Creedmoor somewhere else, but right now we’re on to the next most powerful hunting gun in the world.
8 Alex Pro 450 Bushmaster Carbine
- Price: $1079.99
- Caliber: 450 Bushmaster
- Barrel length (Inches): 16
- Total Length (Inches): 36.5
- Weight: 7.6lb
- Cost per Round: $1.40
The 450 Bushmaster might be theoretically down on power in this company, but it’s cheap to get started with a rifle and the ammo comes in at $1.40 a round for custom Hornady ammunition with a polymer tip.
This rifle is really a classy little AR-15 with a big barrel. It comes with a 25+1 capacity and now we’re getting into the realm of weapons that really don’t need any special treatment. They’re AR-15s, or more accurately AR-10s, at this point.
Those 250gr rounds look almost as evil as the bigger cartridges, especially with the Polymer tip covering a pinched claw that should open on impact and do horrendous things.
They are The Thumper, a 45 Professional cartridge commissioned by gun writer Jeff Cooper, and designed by Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms. It had one purpose, to drop any animal at 250 meters. Living in Africa, Cooper found himself frustrated with standard 5.56 NATO and wanted something tougher.
Hornady made some minor changes to the design to lower the price, and the 450 Bushmaster was born. It looks like a round that’s going to get traction and this doesn’t feel like a fashion thing. If anything, the price of the ammo could come down with mass adoption and we could have Bushmaster rounds for less than a buck to look forward to.
This cartridge is seriously good for relatively close range hunting. Seriously it will drop anything within a few hundred meters.
This is a pretty close up video of harvesting a hog with a 450 Bushmaster and shows just how fast the animal goes down. It’s a more humane way to hunt, but don’t watch the video if you’re the precious type…
Bushmaster is an intriguing round that was conjured up as an AR-15/AR-10+ round. It can be used in a wide variety of platforms, a lot of different manufacturers have made firearms for this round and you can get everything from a traditional hunting rifle through to a cutting edge AR.
Barrels range from 16″ through to 24″, for the most part, but we can expect a pistol and a few longer guns too.
As long as they’re built to withstand the force, just go with whatever gun makes you happy. This one, though, looks a really solid option.
9 Ruger American Ranch 450 Bushmaster
- Price: $443.99
- Caliber: 450 Bushmaster
- Barrel Length: 16 inches
- Total Length: 36 inches
- Cost per Round: $1.40
Just a minute ago we were talking $11,000 and up and here were with an absolute cannon that costs less than $450. This is a cheap Bushmaster rifle, perhaps the cheapest 450 Bushmaster rifle you would want to buy.
The Ruger is a basic 3+1 round hunting rifle, but it has everything you need for brutal close-range hunting and you’ll be able to take anything in North America with this relatively budget rifle.
That includes bison, bear and anything we’ve got, by the way. The Bushmaster was designed to take big African game at 250 meters and we haven’t got anything to compete with elephants and rhinos.
Bushmaster is just about affordable, the gun doesn’t kick too bad considering the payload and it’s a fun round to shoot. It’s infinitely more manageable and accessible than the big 50 BMG rounds and this is pretty much the big bore rifle you should start with.
If you’re not sure you’ll like it, start with the Ruger. It’s about as cheap as a 450 Bushmaster rifle can get.
10. CMMG Anvil 458 Socom
- Price: $1,608.00
- Caliber: 458 SOCOM
- Barrel Length (Inches): 16.1
- Total Length (Inches): 33.5
- Total weight: 7.5lb
American firm CMMG has made this one platform its life’s work and converted it into everything from an AK-47 to thee 458 SOCOM.
Task Force Ranger came back from active service in Mogadishu and weren’t happy with the standard AR-15 5.56 NATO cartridge. In the year 2000, the next gen AR round came to life and the 458 SOCOM was born.
Essentially, it’s a longer version of the 50AE that fires out the hot end of the Desert Eagle handgun. Bullets range from 140gr right through to 300gr and this is another weapon that can drop pretty much all American game at 250 meters.
The difference between the 458 SOCOM and 450 Bushmaster is going to be pretty negligible in the real world. With the greater consumer support for the Bushmaster, I’d say that’s the one to go for.
You can order a 458 SOCOM upper from CMMG for your existing AR platform, too, which will save even more money. You can get a complete upper for just $1000 right here, there’s no paperwork to fill out and you can turn your AR-15 into a big bore hunting rifle right now.
The round was designed to work with the M4 Carbine that the military already had, so this isn’t some kind of modern miracle that you can strap this upper receiver to your AR-15. It isn’t dumb either, that’s what the caliber was meant to do.
You get a solid gun if you buy the whole shooting match from CMMG, but this upper and barrel, complete with muzzle brake, will go together with your favorite AR-15 without too much drama. At $1000, this is a cheap way to get into big bore shooting.
- Caliber: 50 BMG
- Price: $4,499.99
- Barrel Length (Inches): 28
- Total length (Inches): 45 Est.
We’re including this one out of the goodness of our heart, and because we love the batshit craziness of Brandon Herrera’s creation. It’s not even close to finished and you can’t buy it yet, but we think he’s going to get there.
Brandon is ‘The AK Guy’ on Youtube and after selling and modifying rifles for customers, he decided to make his own 50 BMG AK.
This is a serious gun, it’s going to happen. Will he be able to put it into production? We hope so. It’s a classic AK that’s just bigger and stronger more or less everywhere. He reckons on a $4,500, much cheaper than the near $7000 original asking price.
This is a gun that could theoretically make him famous, and his test fires have the whole thing hanging off a tire and he’s pulling the trigger with string. This is proper gunsmithing, but it also has an element of Junkyard Mega Wars.
Herrera has some choice language and he’s like an X-rated Fast’n’Loud, for guns, but it’s kind of addictive.
Herrera has been working on the AK-50 for more than two years and it’s not even close to ready. But it is feeding from a mag, it is firing and really all Herrera needs to do is make this monster Russian cannon consistent, and safe, and functional. No big deal, right?
Strangely, I think he’s going to do it. So watch out for the production version that should be an interesting option to the Barrett. It will also cost less than half as much, but won’t have the military pedigree.