At so many levels, respect is what we all want. Somehow that gets extended to our choices in vehicles, dogs and guns. Every now and then we discover something that simply requires respect. Perhaps in the vehicle world that’s a Cadillac CTS-V beefed up by Lingenfelter. Maybe a Rottweiler or Mastiff in the canine realm. In the gun world, it’s the .50 BMG. Even in that lofty league, one stands out, unique in an exclusive world of heavy hitters – the .50 BMG XKaliber by King’s Arsenal. It really is one of kind. Slipping in behind the scope of this mega rifle really makes you think shooting a giant wild boar at 750 yards would be something to write home about. More on that later.
Jordan King, founder of King’s Arsenal, spends a lot of time thinking outside the proverbial box. He’s always looking for what’s not being done in the firearms world, then doing it with excellence. I initially met King at the first annual Silencers Are Legal Shoot in Dallas last Spring. He showed off his signature piece, a 300 Blackout AR pistol running a Silencerco Osprey suppressor. It was unlike anything else I’d seen and uniquely well made and smooth running.
King’s latest creation is the XKaliber, chambered in .50 BMG. Like the other King’s Arsenal guns I’ve seen, it’s rock solid. The gun is a magazine fed bolt action with a folding stock. If looks could kill, the XKaliber’s would do the job. King likes his guns to be distinctive, and this one certainly meets that criteria. It’s distinctively large compared to the AR-15s that we all know well, and it’s skeletonized chassis is a clear departure from tradition. The fluted bolt contrasts nicely against the tan Cerakote finish. Beauty in this case is anything but skin deep.
The XKaliber stands alone amongst the exclusive league of .50 BMG rifles. It is the first production rifle available to civilians utilizing the new style McMillan Tac 50 action in the Cadex Defense Strike 50 chassis.
The action is a work of art in its own right. The bolt is fluted both to reduce weight and clear grit, aiding in reliability. The action is a foot long, and weighs eight pounds. Impressive indeed. I talked with Andy Brown at McMillan to find out what really makes this action on the King’s Arsenal XKaliber unique. While pointing out that there are numerous quality options in the .50 BMG industry, the McMillan magazine fed bolt action was designed from the ground up for accuracy. Based on a Remington 700 action, the tight design tolerances were meant to meet the demands of army accuracy standards.
Not only are these actions accurate, they are tough. Brown has never heard of a single failure on one of these, a byproduct of purposeful over-engineering. The receiver is precisely machined from 4340 chrome moly steel and heat treated to 45-48 RC. The bolt is even more robust, using 9310 steel, carborized to 60 RC.
King put the McMillan action on a fourth generation Cadex Defense Strike 50 chassis. It is a skeletonized workhorse, also a work of art in an industrial, tactical way. It is shorter and lighter than prior generations of the Cadex chasis. Perhaps its most striking feature is the folding stock which creates modularity and portability for the precision rifle. In the interest of precision shooting, both the height and length of the butt pad are adjustable. The cheek piece adjusts vertically. Each adjustment is done quickly, simply and without tools. Once locked down, there is no play in any of the movements on this chassis.
King is the first to mate this gen four chassis to the new style McMillian Tac 50 action in the civilian market. The barrel for this beast is a twenty-eight inch Lija with a lighter contour. You might not have heard of Lija, but you may know of their exploits. Their website proudly points out that Lija barrels “were used by Canadian Special Forces Snipers during Operation Anaconda in Afganistan at distances out to 2430 meters!” The XKaliber’s barrel has a 1:15 twist and will stabilize the Hornady A-MAX 750 grain ammunition. Here’s a bit of perspective – that 750 grain bullet is basically the equivalent of fourteen .55 grain bullets common to the .223 world! The muzzle of the XKaliber is fitted with a McMillan muzzle brake.
In order to maximize the accuracy of this rifle, King chose a Shilen trigger, tuned to a crisp thirty-eight ounces. Shilen triggers are widely known as high quality extremely reliable triggers. The moving parts get heat-treated. Sear surfaces ground and polished. The results are impressive . When shooting the XKaliber, I found no creep. None. Just a perfectly crisp break that was consistent both dry firing and using live ammo.
Here’s how it all adds up: The XKaliber with the stock locked open is fifty-six inches long. Folded, the length is reduced by eleven inches! Unloaded and without optics, the rifle weighs twenty-five pounds, making it one of the lighter magazine fed .50 BMG rifles available. Compare that to the famous Barrett M82A1. With a twenty-nine inch barrel, the latter weighs 31 pounds.
So how does it shoot? Like a sledgehammer! Shooting a .50 caliber rifle is something everyone ought to do at least once. If it’s your first time on a .50 trigger, the anticipation alone is memorable. Then setting up the chassis butt pad and cheek piece to fit you precisely gives the feeling that you’ve left behind the bolt action rifles of old.
Shooting from the prone position, you slide the XKaliber’s bolt forward for what seems like forever. The .50 BMG round is about twice as long as a 5.56 round. Next you forcefully lock the bolt into place. Make no mistake, this rifle is tight. Making sure the rifle is stable on the bipod and against your shoulder, you gently place your finger on the trigger and then squeeze.
The concussion from this rifle demands respect. It’s more of a boom, a cross between BANG and ROAR. Shooting 650 yards at the King’s Arsenal private range, King and I concurred shooting this rifle was a great treatment for clearing sinuses.
What motivates a builder like Jordan King to build such a rifle? He cites a few factors that the military would like: lighter weight than the typical .50 caliber, shorter and easier to transport, and therefore more versatile in mission options. But ultimately, the real beauty of this rifle may be that this is a production gun that a civilian can purchase in most states, one that commands respect. And that opens up a whole new world of tactical hog hunting.
Long range hunting has its detractors, but if you want to drop a hog at 450 yards or more, the .50 BMG would be a great ticket. Much to the surprise of many, it does not necessarily turn the hog into red mist at long range. While hiking any distance with an XKaliber might be more than a lot of people would want to do, long range shots also allow easy conversation with your hunting partners to set up the shot, coordinate video, etc.
Do you know how the big old hogs get so big? By being smart, and staying far from hunters! The biggest hog I’ve personally seen earned the name “Cow Pig.” It would show up in a variety of fields, always close to cover, always out range. Closing distance, something I’ve done plenty of, and plenty effectively, always gave Cow Pig the alert and the time to move out. I wish I’d had the XKaliber with me then. There’s always next time…
On the web: http://www.kingsarsenal.com