Barrett M82A1: A misunderstood legend

This weapon, which can disable a multi-million dollar jet on the ground with a two-dollar bullet, has repeatedly proven its worth in numerous conflicts, including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan.
Interesting Engineering

A popular weapon in computer games like Call of Duty 4 and the movie Battleship, the Barrett M82 is now a living legend of a weapon. But what makes this gun so popular?

Put simply; it is almost unparalleled in its firepower.

The Barrett M82 is a recoil-operated, semi-automatic anti-materiel rifle developed by the American company Barrett Firearms Manufacturing. It is chambered in .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) and is known for its long-range accuracy and powerful cartridge.

It is primarily used by military and law enforcement for long-range target engagement, including taking out equipment and fortifications. It is also used for hunting big game and for long-range shooting competitions. The U.S. military also refers to the M82A1 as the SASR—"Special Applications Scoped Rifle,” and it is still utilized as an explosive ordnance disposal weapon and an anti-material rifle.

The weapon is also known as the "Light Fifty" since it fires the.50 BMG 12.799mm NATO round, comes in three different variations: the original M82A1 (and M82A3) models, the bullpup M82A2 model, and the Barrett M107A1 with an added muzzle brake (designed to accept a suppressor, and made out of titanium instead of steel).

But where did this mighty weapon come from?

Barrett hand-drew a design for a. 50-caliber rifle despite having no background in or training in firearms design. Barrett drew it in three dimensions to demonstrate how the weapon should operate. He then presented his concept to nearby machinists.

Nobody wanted to assist him because they thought a. 50-caliber rifle would have been invented when he needed one. Bob Mitchell was the sympathetic machinist Barrett eventually located, and the two got to work. After less than four months, they produced a working rifle prototype.

The Barrett.50 BMG, Barrett's first firearm, was finished in 1982. The Barrett.50 BMG was a semi-automatic shoulder-fired rifle built for the.50 BMG round. The Barrett rifle's barrel recoiled after shooting, which is unusual among guns.

A rotating-lock breech block with an accelerator arm used some of the energy from the recoil to push the block back after firing. This loaded a fresh bullet from a steel magazine holding ten rounds, cycled the action, and cocked the firing pin.

The result was a weapon that should produce enough recoil to cause discomfort during repeated firings but felt recoil was decreased due to the weapon's weight and utilization of recoil energy to cycle the action. Later, a double-baffle muzzle brake with exhaust gas vents to the left and right was installed to lessen recoil further.

Barrett published an advertisement in The Shotgun News after producing thirty initial production rifles. As soon as the initial order ran out, Barrett expanded production. After noticing the advertisement, the Central Intelligence Agency ordered firearms to supply the Mujahideen rebels battling the Soviet Army occupiers in Afghanistan.

The CIA deemed the Barrett rifle the best weapon for long-range combat with the Soviets. The Barrett's capacity to use heavy weaponry to destroy enemy battle equipment, including trucks, guns, and other things. The antimaterial rifle was a new weapon made possible by the 50 BMG bullet.

Since its production, the weapon has seen many major actions over the last few decades.

For example. during the “Desert Shield” and “Desert Storm” wars in Kuwait and Iraq in 1990, the US military put the M82A through its paces. The American Marine Corps first purchased 125 rifles, and the Army and Air Force soon placed orders. Today, military and police forces from at least 30 nations, including Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, and others, purchased Barrett M82 rifles.

The rifle's extreme range and stopping power have made it popular among long-range shooters, law enforcement, and military units.