50 AE experimental

Here are the dimensions for a regular 50 AE ctge (hstp IMI 50 AE) with tombac bullet flat soft nose
Rim diam 12.95
Base diam 13.7
case length 32.50
bullet diameter 12.65

Here are the dimensions for what I was told was an 50 AE experimental ctge with tombac bullet flat soft nose

(hstp AAL 50A.Exp)
Rim diam 12.95
Base diam 13.8
case length 32.30
bullet diameter 12.7

The story said the diameter of the bullet being .50 and because of the us law, they redisigned the ctge to decrease the diameter.

Right or false ?



Right. As I understand it, the pistol was developed with a polygonal type of rifleing and when the ATF&E measureing rod was inserted in the barrel it went all the way thru which, to ATF&E, meant the bore was larger than 50 caliber, even though it wasn’t. But, rather than fight it, they gave in and made the changes, incuding a smaller diameter bore and bullet.

That, of course, was good for cartridge collectors because the original cartridges are now hard to find. Except for the headstamp, it’s hard to tell the two apart, and many collectors will pass by a very nice cartridge.

I could be wrong on the exact details, but I think the basic story is correct.


thank you Ray

OK, I have to jump in on this one.
First off I don’t think I know what a “tombac” bullet IS but we will go from there.
If your cartridge is one of the first 50 AE’s it will have a Barnes 300 gr. Flat nose S.P. bullet #5011010 it was made by Barnes for the 50/110 Win. Rifle.
I know this because I had the privilege of calling the designer of the cartridge a very good friend Mr. Bob Olsen. I bought from him the first (or prototype) Desert Eagle in 50 AE pistol and most if not all of the components and the first set of dies made.
I tried and tried to get Bob to write an article about the development of the cartridge and he would always say “nobody’s interested in that stuff”. On this subject is the only time we disagreed with each other. After I took him down to Tucson to visit the Woodin lab he started an article but it falls way short in the 50 AE part (he also designed the 41 AE and in the article he starts telling about IT inside) so I will not include it here.
Ray you are “part correct” if I may say so, and this where “Caridiges of the World” is wrong in putting it in their book as well.
Bob started with a polygonal rifled barrel but it was a 44 mag polygonal rifled barrel and then had it bored out to fit this Barnes bullet stated above. Why? Because at the time that was the only .50 cal. Bullet that was being made that was about 250 to 350 grains which was his target weight size that he had in mind (or his concept if you will).
So he shipped 3 44 mag. Barrels to Fred Wells in Prescott Arizona to be bored out to .510”. He knew Fred well already and Fred Wells had been making the 510 Wells Express for years (a wilcat 460 Weatherby mag necked up to .510). So the 3 44 mag barrel came back as .510” bored Desert Eagle barrels BUT Fred only “did cut rifled barrels” so they are the only Desert Eagle barrels ever with cut rifling, that I know of anyway. And one went into the protype gun that I bought from Bob and he “does not remember what ever happed to those other two“. He would always say
Then he went to Starline brass and ordered 500 case made to his specs at $5.00 each just for the brass.
He made up a test chambered barrel out of a modified Mauser 98 action (I never laid eyes myself on this tool) and did the load development work, then made up a magazine from a 44 mag he beat out the sides very ugly, but made a mag that would hold 3, 50 Ae cartridges and went to test shooting.
This was all done while he was working at Action Arms in Pa.
Evan Whildin is always credited in cartridge books as doing the development work, that’s because Evan was the “President of Action Arms” I asked Bob many times doesn’t this bother you? Bob said he was alright with this because Bob thought very highly of Evan and after all Bob was only a worker for Evan.

When Evan went to sell the “concept” was when they ran into the “destructive device” problem, BUT Magnum Research never planned to make “cut rifled” barrels anyway so that’s when the bore changed to .500” when Speer started making factory ammo and a new bullet for that use was made by them in .500” done deal.

Bob Olsen passed away a few years ago so he’s not here to kinda set the record straight, so I feel honoured to show him “the respect that he never received or asked for” to help him out. I’m am writing this from my memory and my files are in a box so I might have to edit a little but not much. Steve

[quote=“stevesummers”]OK, I have to jump in on this one.
First off I don’t think I know what a “tombac” bullet IS but we will go from there.
If your cartridge is one of the first 50 AE’s it will have a Barnes 300 gr. Flat nose S.P. bullet #5011010 it was made by Barnes for the 50/110 Win. Rifle.
. Steve[/quote]

thanks for the explanations
I wrote “flat soft nose” but yes it is “tombac flat nose soft point”
“tombac” means it is copper jacketed.
'I said “tombac”, the people will say perhaps “copper”.)

To tell you if it is a 300g Barnes is another story!

thanks again


Great explanation!!

So, it raises a question :

Are the original 500 Starline cases the same as the ones that JP and I have? If so, that would make them even more rare than I had thought.


Ray I have a picture somewhere but the headstamp is A.A.L. 50 A. EXP.
Which stood for Action Arms Limited and 50 A for Action and EXP for express.
I will have to check I may still have some of those cases around here, I still have about 1200 of the Barnes bullets in .510 dia. even though I sold the pistol 4 years ago.

Steve- That’s the headstamp that JP sys he has, and it’s the one I have. I have one loose bullet but I never bothered to measure it. I’ll have to find it and see.


No intent to contradict Steve, but the info I got during some visits to Action Arms is a bit different. I had occasion to visit the owner/founder of AA, Harry Stern, every few months from about '91-'95 on non-gun business. I got to know Evan Whilden on one of the earier visits and spoke with him a bit on the development of the 9mmAE, .41AE, and the .50AE. He never mentioned Bob Olsen, and led me to believe that he, Evan, invented and developed the concept. While I spent more range time there on Uzis, I did get to try the .50AE in the only weapon they had for it, a TC Contender. I never saw or heard of any other gun at AA chambered for the round. The construction of the early AAL rounds was pretty poor, and I do recall some discussion about sizing problems.
I believe Evan is now gone also. It would have been interesting to have both gentleman around to compare the stories.

No problem jonnyc this is one of the big reasons I begged Bob to write the history of all the rounds that were developed while he was at Action Arms.
He just made no big deal out of doing the work there, it was just a job. I do know that Bob was a ballistic engineer or somewhere on that level, he worked at Frankford Arsenal during World War II, worked on or developed the 30 Carbine High Pressure Test round while there, Colt’s , Dan Wesson Handguns developed and patented the invicta rounds while there, and I don‘t recall now what else.
My files show that Harry Stern sold the company in 1985 stayed on for 3 more years for consulting work. His son Jerry still worked there and became manager or President in 1990 when Evan Whildin went to work for Colt’s, I remember Bob telling me Evan passed away sometime in the first part of the 1990’s (this is what I remember, I could be wrong) it was about 1995 to 1998 when I bought the pistol from Bob and he had said at that time that Evan had died.

I never met these other gentleman so I really don’t have any reason to comment anymore on them but I know from my files that Evan was a ATF agent in 1982 when he went to work for Action arms I’m not aware that he had any ballistic engineering back ground, but that of course does not mean he was not able to do any or all of the research and development work involved in the work that he was given credit for, and I have no reason at all in trying to discredit his name at all here.
Many people in all fields of work do “some or all” of the back ground work and never are mentioned and sometimes don’t want to be mentioned either, I don’t know what was the case here because Bob did not make a big deal of it.
As far as the history of the 50AE cartridge development went I wanted all the information I could get from Bob or whoever, because I had just made a large investment in buying the prototype pistol from Bob and I am a cartridge collector ta boot. Bob had retired and moved to Prescott Az. when I met him and we together went to Fred Wells shop to verify that part of the story at least and they got to talk about old times and then the other details fell into place. Heck, Fred Wells is not even alive anymore.
I remember very well Bob telling me about the first order of headstamped cases and it being 500 rounds and at $5 each just for the brass. And the records (if there is any) very well may show that Evan made the purchase of these cases, because he was President of the company at the time.
Anyway you get the idea if only Bob had typed out the story years ago I would not be doing it now but that’s the way it turned out.
There was a write-up in Gun World magazine by Dean Grenell when the pistol was released by Magnum Research it tells the story very clearly and shows pictures of both Bob Olsen and Evan Whildin as the developers. I have a copy still somewhere here but I don’t think it would fall into IAA rules to show it here.

Harry Stern was still there and pretty active at AA in the early '90s, and I don’t actually recall if I ever met his son. By the time I stopped going there, '94-'95, Harry was slowing down and spent most of his time down south. I think Evan went to Colt later than that, and he was still going to PA gunshows as late as '96-'97, if I can recall with any accuracy. He didn’t fare well in CT, and wasn’t happy about he experience with Colt. When I last saw him he was just over some cancer surgery and he didn’t look well at all. I got the idea it was related to Agent Orange exposure while he was in Vietnam, but I can’t be sure about any of that.
Well, lots of info flying about here, but I’m not sure if any of it is really relevant to the original question.

Here is a picture of the headstamp from a previous thread.


When I saw this old post I said to myself : I really loose memory because it was my post!!
(We can attenuate that a little bite (just a little…) knowing this last post is dated from 2008 which is pretty old, at least for me)

Now, the next step is : How much money is this ctge ?


Now, the next step is : How much money is this ctge ?

On that I can only say I had a box of about 200 of the AAL cases new unsized that I got with the prototype pistol, I tried to sell them at some cartridge and gun shows in Ca. and Az. at 2 dollars each with or without a bullet seated in them and I only sold 3 or 4 in about 2 years time so when I sold the pistol I just gave the new owner all of the cases too.

I guess one either loves or hates a Desert Eagle pistol and maybe that goes for the 50 AE as well, there just seems to be no interest in the cases.

I would love to have the chance to own one of those cases or loaded rounds. I am pretty sure you will find more then a hand full of guys on this forum that feel the same way. specially at that price.

I need to awaken this long dead thread. I am Evan Whildin’s son, Dave, and had to laugh stumbling on to this page while searching for threads that mention my father. In this particular instance I was googling his name incorrectly spelled with an “en” (because you just never know). To set the record straight, my father passed in 2000 shortly after his 7th brain surgery. He did have a tumor that was most likely the result of exposure to Agent Orange. Bob Olsen was one of his dearest friends and he would tell people Bob was who he wanted to be when he grew up. Most, if not all, ballistic development for the 50 and 41 AE were done at ODL (Olsen Development Laboratory) by both Bob and my father. Bob was contracted by Action Arms as a consultant on a piece by piece basis (I have my father’s files and there are MANY ODL contracts).

As for my father, he was not just VP and COO of Action Arms. He testified as an expert witness in small arms multiple times for federal court, he developed training manuals for the Secret Service, he trained FBI, DEA, and State Police in full-auto fire. When he went to Colt he was head of Marketing Advertising and New Product Development. They even went as far as to make him a ream of business cards that simply stated “mad scientist.” Even while at Colt, however, my father talked to Bob on the phone nearly every day.

I say all that because to try and argue that one of them did more than the other is crazy. I think my Dad knew more about what would sell and what he could market and Bob knew more about how to achieve superior ballistics, but they were working together. The development was truly achieved by constantly bouncing ideas and designs off each other. My dad drove Bob, his wife Helen, and our Siamese cat (chan-two) who they adopted after it bit my little sister, to Arizona. Helen was sick and they were hoping the dry climate would help. It was the last face time they had together.

I appreciate this thread mostly for even mentioning the name Bob Olsen. My father got lots of attention (and ate it up) but Bob was in the shadow (where he wanted to be) but needs to be remembered for the sake of accurate history, if nothing else.



Thank you for your addition. There are many of us that are even more interested in this kind of history of various companies, associations, and cartridge development than we are in the purely technical aspects of the ammunition. Your comments were fascinating and important.

Thanks, Dave. That does clarify a lot.
A number of us had parts of the story but didn’t understand the connection between Bob and your father.

I met Bob, who was a next door neighbor to the guy who influenced my move to AZ, in 2001. When I got together one day with him, he related an experiment he did with velocity & barrel length. He kept cutting inches off till it was gone (revolver). Not much change was noted. He did it to prove some of the gun writers wrong.

A VERY interesting man.

Amazing designer.

This is in reply to the OP and may be of interest to others. Pictures show the head stamp, load data, and bullet used. Case dimension are close enough (<+/- .1mm) to those listed under the “experimental.”