Featured Bowers Big Bore Big Lebowski Mike Searson January 6, 2017 Big Bore AR-15s are pretty damn impressive when you get up into calibers like 458 SOCOM and 50 Beowulf. Hunters have been using them on feral hogs for over a decade; they put the power of a 45-70 into your 223 “poodle shooter” blaster. And yet, very few manufacturers offer a decent suppressor for ’em. In fact, as far as we can tell, there’s just a handful of companies — and one of the best of those is Bowers. Bowers Big Bore Big Lebowski – Mighty Rifle Can…Dude Bowers is mostly known for their submachine gun silencers. Very few manufacturers cater to the civilian SMG market, and the consensus among heavy hitters in the silencer world has often been, unfortunately, to assume that “everyone who has a sub gun already has a can.” That too was a problem Bowers attempted to solve; we sampled Bowers’ Vers-9 and Vers-9S cans last year and walked away extremely impressed. Happily, like the subgun, the Big Bore AR is another niche market and Bowers is more than happy to fill their needs for 458 SOCOM and 50 Beowulf. Our good friends at Silencershop.com saw this need and heard about it constantly. The problem was that not too many shooters have big bore uppers laying around for testing purposes, so they got a few uppers, a few cans and the right amount of ammunition out to us. 458 SOCOM Due to the name, many people think the 458 SOCOM is only in use by SOCOM troops. While the concept was certainly developed with input from USSOCOM (specifically Task Force Ranger), the round is not currently used in any official capacity that we know of. In fact, one silencer manufacturer told us they would start making silencers for the round just as soon as USSOCOM places an order for them. Interesting bit of history: Marty ter Weeme of Teppo Jutsu came up with the ammunition and Tromix of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma built the first rifles. 50 Beowulf Around the time that the 458 SOCOM was kicking around, another inventor was tinkering with the same concept. Alexander Arms brought their 50 Beowulf to market in 2001 with a cartridge that performs similar manner to the 500 S&W, but with a base that fits the 7.62 X 39 bolts used in ARs in that caliber. It accomplishes that by using a rebated rim. Why? According to Jeremy Mallette of Silencershop.com, both rounds are a hit with hog hunters. Basically you get 45-70 Government ballistics and performance, but from an AR15 platform rifle (out to about 250 yards). You’re prob’ly not going to make the long range Matthew Quigley type shots as you could with a Sharps rifle, though if someone were to apply himself to that task it could probably be done with enough hold over. These were designed to be compatible with AR15s when it comes to magazines, buffers and lower receivers. A 20 round AR magazine will hold 7 rounds and a 30-rounder will hold 10. For those who live in states that restrict magazine capacity, that might just give you a valid argument not to surrender your magazines (assuming you have a 458 SOCOM upper on hand). Bowers Group There is a silencer manufactured for each of these calibers by Bowers Group: VERS458 and VERS50. They measure almost a foot in length and tip the scales at close to 2 pounds. That’s basically what you need to counteract the psi generated from these two rounds, even in their subsonic incarnations. The Big Lebowski Our first introduction to the 50 Beowulf occurred over a decade ago when we saw uppers being produced by a local manufacturer called BOHICA Arms. In addition to having rifles, ammunition and videos on display, he toted around shattered cinder blocks. When we asked him what he used for a backstop to his range he chuckled and said, “California.” That appealed to us. We had another idea in mind for a target and found it in the form of a bowling ball. Some of us were pretty hard on the pins at the local bowling alley in our youth, so much so they eventually refused to stop selling us their old ones. We’ve always sort of wondered what it would be like to shoot an actual bowling ball. Why? Do we need a reason? Setting the ball out at 50 yards, we fired a single round of 458 SOCOM. That cracked the surface. Our second and third shots broke off more so we set the rifle down and grabbed the 50 Beowulf (after all, we had just the one bowling ball). We centered the red dot of our Aimpoint on the ball and the hit literally pulverized everything that was left. In fact, it sent it in every direction imaginable. We spent the rest of the day blowing up watermelons in a way that would give Gallagher a stroke. Is this proper ballistic testing? Of course not. But it’s fun, and plenty of times that’s reason. Some time later we also cracked off a few rounds without the cans. but quickly put them back on, albeit not for the reason you’re probably thinking. The Difference The rounds were not excruciatingly loud (unsuppressed the 458 SOCCOM is over 160 Decibels, bowers takes that down to 134 DB with this can), but you have to remember another function such silencers perform. It’s something we often take for granted on smaller cans with smaller calibers: they act as the ultimate compensator. The suppressors cut felt recoil at least in half, so much so we actually found the 458 SOCOM pleasant to shoot — of the two, if we needed a short range hog buster, we’d go with the 458 SOCOM. Can or not, there’s no mistaking the Beowulf for anything but a fifty. Now, our setup might not have been the best (we threw the uppers on an Anderson lower with a six-position collapsible stock), so it’s possible these cans would perform at least a little differently on a dedicated rifle. Our build would certainly be different if we were building one to keep. Still the VERS-50 cuts about 30 Decibels and drops it down into the 140 DB range. That makes it hearing safe for some of our guys; you might want to wear ear pro even with the can, but the can will definitely make your shooting experience more pleasant. There may very well be a military application for these, but in a specialized role to be sure. This is not for the rank and file troops…well, unless we deploy to do battle with an army of feral hogs somewhere. We would like to thank both Bowers Group and Silencershop.com for getting all components (uppers, Aimpoints, silencers, and lots of ammunition) to us. It was an informative and interesting range day. 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