The author prepares to fire the massive Grissly Big Boar .50BMG rifle. Photo by Barry Sturk.
By Jeff W. Zimba
If you come from the school of “Bigger is Better” the Grizzly Big Boar is the first step towards earning your Masters Degree.
The first time I saw the Big Boar first hand was at the LAR Manufacturing display at S.H.O.T. Show ’97 in Las Vegas. I was walking around with a camera on my neck in absolute awe of the enormity of the show, and basking in the glow of the fact that I was actually in T-shirt weather in January. Being from the snowy State of Maine, it was a coin toss as to which was more impressive. I rounded the corner of an aisle and the LAR booth stood out among all others. It was a huge display decorated with mounts of many different species, and a few huge rifles on tall tripods in the center.
The rifles were in fact the Big Boar models, and the mounts were trophies taken with these rifles. Under the mounts were tags with the distances they were taken at. The ranges of the shots were incredible. A sampling of the tags was 418 yards, 425 yards, 660 yards, 753 yards, 880 yards and even an impressive 1100 yards! Upon closer inspection of the booth, there was even a hunting video playing, showing many of these shots as they happened. I think this was the first time I heard the word “hunting” and .50BMG in the same sentence. I left the display, and the S.H.O.T. Show that year with a new perspective on an old caliber.
Through the past few years more and more attention is being focused on the .50 BMG cartridge. Once a round originally designed for military application (see related story on the .50 BMG M2HB on page 31 in this issue), many sporting, hunting and target rifles are now being built around it. It’s popularity among the civilian shooting population is growing all the time, and with this increased interest come many new designs and ideas.
One organization dedicated to promoting the sporting uses of the .50 BMG cartridge is the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association. Based in Riverside California, they are a non-profit organization, and publish for their members the quarterly magazine Very High Power. They sanction shooting matches open to members, answer general questions from members over the internet related to fifty caliber problems, and have even compiled a supplier’s list providing detailed information on more than 135 manufacturers of fifty caliber related equipment. Their annual membership is only $25.00 per year. Their contact information will follow this article.
One of the downfalls of the rifles designed to fire the .50 BMG cartridge is that they have typically been viewed as long, heavy and cumbersome. While the weight is a downfall while transporting the firearms, many will argue in it’s defense for the purpose dampening the recoil, especially in the manually loaded models. LAR has addressed these factors very well. The Fifty Big Boar is a bullpup design, single shot bolt action. The overall length is 45.5” with an overall weight of 30.4 pounds. While the weight is on the low side for a rifle of this caliber, their new muzzle brake design dampens the recoil to a tolerable level.
The rifle is shipped with a modified Harris Bipod. Their modification allows the bipod to be locked in place by inserting a pin in each leg stopping the bipod from folding under the weight and recoil of the Big Boar. LAR also offers a custom lightweight tripod and pintel mount for the same rifle. The tripod is adjustable in height from approximately 21” to a whopping 48”. This will allow you to fire it from a bench or table, or stand up behind it when it is directly on the ground. Each leg is independently adjustable allowing you to level it on uneven ground. Once the legs have been positioned and locked, the mount is still fully adjustable for windage and elevation with a positive lock system. You can actually lock the rifle on a target with this mechanism. While the tripod is an excellent accessory, it is not designed to dampen the recoil or hold the rifle still under fire, but to simply support the weight of the rifle and steady it for you.
When the test gun came in I called a few friends and we headed right out to the range. After careful inspection of the firearm, and the owners manual that came with it, we set it up on one of their custom tripod mounts and put a few rounds downrange. The objective that day was to get the feel of the rifle and snap a few photos at the same time. My concern was primarily comfort and recoil on this trip and we got right to it. While I loaded the round into the shell holder of the bolt and inserted it into the rifle, you could have cut the air with a knife. I have been behind a few .50 caliber rifles that hurt to shoot and other than the shock factor from curious onlookers I have gotten little pleasure from them. I rested on a short stool behind the tripod mounted Grizzly and looked through the scope. I sighted in the Leupold Mark 4 on a paper target placed well below a berm at 200 yards out. I took a deep breath and snapped the safety lever to “Fire”. I brought the crosshairs back to center, gently squeezed the trigger, and launched my first 750 grain Hornady A-Max in to the target.
While the report was tremendous, as expected, there was something missing. It was the pain. There was no pain. The muzzle brake had done its job of redirecting the gasses tremendously. I was pleasantly surprised. “Well?”, asked everyone present “How was it?” My answer was smile and a big thumbs up. I took my hearing protection off, put in a set of plugs, put the other ones back on over them and loaded another round. Another deep breath, and “Boom” another round in the target. By this time, everyone at the range (there just so happened to be a pile of Maine State Troopers there qualifying that day), had eyes as big as saucers and all attention seemed to be focused on the source of it. I asked if there were any takers as I gestured toward the rifle, and my friends Barry and John were both eager to get behind it. They each took a few shots and basically came to the same conclusion as I, that the bark of the Grizzly was much louder than the bite. (At least on the giving end).
The second trip to the range I was a little more interested in accuracy. The gun is manufactured with a match grade chamber, and the ammunition we were using was the LAR reccomended ammo by Arizona Ammunition, Inc. in Phoenix, AZ. They offer 3 different loads in .50BMG. 1.) A Practice load: 650 grain ball, moly coated, in mixed cases at $2.50 per round. 2.) A Hunting Load: 570 grain soft nose, moly coated, in PMC Benchrest Prepared Cases at $4.75 per round. And 3.) A Match Load: 750 grain Ultralubed Hornady A-Max in PMC Benchrest prepared cases at $4.75 per round. (Arizona Ammunition offers a $.25 per round discount to owners of the Grizzly Big Boar rifle.) The one we were using was their Match Grade Load. Muzzle Velocity is @2800 fps. We set up at 220 yards and dialed in the scope. After a short period of time the groups were so small that the holes were touching downrange. It was painfully obvious that the gun/scope/ammo combination could outshoot me hands down. What we really needed was another range with a little more distance to unleash this beast, but due to ammo constraints and deadlines on press time we had too settle for what we had.
While at the range this 2nd time I met a Trooper from the Maine State Police Tactical Team sighting in his duty rifle. He was immediately interested in what I was doing after seeing the rifle, and VERY interested after hearing it. When I asked if he wanted to give it a try, I hadn’t gotten the last word out of my mouth and he was nodding his head “yes.” I gave him a quick “once over” on the rifle and he was ready to go. He sighted in on an extra target at the 200 yard bank and got ready to fire. Just as I was anticipating the muzzle blast he put it back on safe, looked at me and asked “Now if this thing were going to set my eyeball back into my head, you would tell me, right?” I assured him that it really was a kitten to shoot compared to the amount of noise it makes and he went foreword with that first round. After he fired it, he kept looking through the scope but said nothing. He was looking for the hole in the target he was shooting at. Another big advantage with that large of a caliber is you really don’t need a high powered spotter scope to see your holes within 200 yards or so. When he put it down, I asked him what he thought. His reply was that I was right about the light recoil, and the anticipation of it was far worse than the recoil itself. I handed him another round and he gladly accepted. When he left the range, we were trying to figure out how he could convince his wife that he really NEEDED one of these and that it wasn’t a toy, but a tool. (Yeah, like we haven’t all used that one.)
I have fired many .50 caliber rifles over the past years, and the Grizzly Big Boar seems to be the lightest recoiling of any of the manually loaded guns. The recoil is similar to that of a shotgun as it is more of a push than a quick snap. LAR gets an A+ in my book for the muzzle brake for both effectiveness and asthetics. There are a lot of ugly muzzle brakes out there and this is not one of them.
The bullpup design drops the overall length to a reasonable 45.5”. This makes transportation easy in a standard 48” case and the gun even comes from LAR in a lockable Doskocil Gun Guard hard case. Rifle, with scope, bipod and tripod can be transported in this case with a little careful arranging. Ease of transporting gets a high mark as well.
The rifle has a leather cheek pad that comes with it, and in my opinion it is necessary equipment. The scope mount is integral and a little high to be real comfortable, and the cheek pad helps to overcome this a little. I think a little thicker pad or a little lower mount would it more comfortable to shoot. Even though a little awkward at first you overcome it pretty quick.
For accessories, I am impressed with their tripod, and pintel mount. At $329.00 I believe it is also a necessary feature. If you don’t want to spend that much more when you buy the rifle you can always purchase this later. LAR makes all their Grizzly Big Boar rifles compatible with this and the pintel adapter is added to the standard rifle with only 2 bolts. As mentioned earlier in the article it is very light weight and is not intended for holding it rock steady under fire, but it would otherwise be almost impossible to fire in the field where grass or terrain does not allow the use of the bipod. No one smaller than Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to fire this unit off-hand. As for the bipod, their solution for adding a locking mechanism to the Harris Bipod is very quick and effective also. The modified bipod is included with every gun.
Everyone I have dealt with at LAR has been courteous and informative. This goes way back to that first meeting at S.H.O.T. Show ’97, so they are not just turning on the charm because I am reviewing one of their products. They have answered my questions for other publications and to satisfy my own curiosity for a few years now so this is nothing new. At a retail price of $2,570.00 I personally think the Grizzly .50 Big Boar is money well spent as an introduction into the world of .50 BMG shooting.
L.A.R. Manufacturing, Inc.
4133 W. Farm Road, Dept. SAR
West Jordan, Utah 84088
Arizona Ammunition, Inc.
The Fifty Caliber Shooters Association
P.O. Box 5109
Riverside, CA 92517
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V3N4 (January 2000)|