FARC using .50 Cal AR-15 rifles ?!?!?

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This rifle was among weapons seized by Columbian Military Police from FARC guerrillas. A .50 cal upper sitting on an AR-15 lower was just about the last gun I would have expected to find in service with South American guerrillas. The single shot “shell holder” design would be slow to reload – not a good design for military engagements.

[Hat Tip: santana @ MP.net]

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Doug

    Actually, I’m not surprised to see it in the FARC service and even though it’s slow to reload, it would probably be supported by teams of M16′s, AK’s and other weapons.

    Even in that slow of a configuration, if it’s used in an anti-material role as it should be, you could make sitting ducks of civilians and troops alike if you can disable vehicles from a distance, allowing the smaller caliber weapons to complete the anti-personell role.

    Of the country roads I saw of Colombia, that rifle would be well deployed from the vast hills and mountains onto the roadways below.

    • Nater

      Yes, a couple of them would work fine for the opening shots in an ambush of government troops.

      I’ve always wondered how well the AR lower receiver would hold up to fairly active firing schedules with a .50 BMG upper. It’s a strong piece, but I don’t think it’s nearly strong enough for that.

  • Reverend Clint

    hit a chopper or a truck then scoot on out

  • David

    I’m pretty sure that the mags beneath it are side mounted in-line with the bolt so it would be a mag fed bolt action rather than the shell holder design

  • Komrad

    Why not?
    My understanding is that .50 BMG (or .510 DTC) AR uppers are cheaper than most dedicated .50 BMG rifles and still accurate enough for most applications. Anti-materiel would be very important for irregular forces who can’t get access to the stuff they’re destroying.

  • jd

    I believe that is a side feeding magazine equipped conversion.

    And is it just me or does that look like a Tavor with some short cartridge low capacity magazines?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      I don’t think that tavor is loaded ;) Journalists feel safer with “armed” guards to protect them.

  • jd

    It looks to be the Tactilite upper conversion after researching it.

    • Mike Knox

      Noat actually, Tactilite’s receiver port has a bolt handle rest at the back end. This one looks like a custom upper..

  • KBCraig

    It was probably delivered courtesy of Eric Holder and Nancy Pelosi, with a simultaneous snitch note to the Colombian government telling them where to find it before it had even been opened.

    The note would have read: “Don’t forget to blame American gun culture!”

    Note to the blog author: it is “Colombian”, not “Columbian”.

    • Doesitmatter?

      Yeah you are right; it was Cristoforo Colombo, not ‘Columbo’ who landed in Hispaniola. Favored word Columbia with its derivatives means something quite different. I made same ‘error’, pretending to protect editor. ))

  • jd

    Well how the FARC is he going to protect the public with an empty rifle? :p

  • Trev

    Now I wonder how they got that…*cough* Fast and Furious *cough*

  • D

    .50′s an AMR; having only one shot is problematic, but in many cases that’s all you need. I could easily see guerrilla’s getting a lot of mileage out of it.

  • http://www.ModernSelfProtection.com Ben Branam

    I would be worried if there is one, there may be more, and are they getting training in using the weapon. That would be the worry.

  • Nick W.

    You misspelled the name of the country in the first sentence. The word you were looking for is ‘Colombia’, not “Columbia.”

    • matt

      Those damned colleges shooting at low flying helicopters.

  • Nick W.

    Oh, also, the Navy’s .50 caliber MK15 rifle is a single-shot weapon. It’s a perfectly “…good design for military engagements,” when properly employed. You’d be better serving your readers if you focused more on reporting facts, and less on injecting personal opinion or speculation into your writings.

    • matt

      According to Wikipedia, the McMillian Tac-50 Mk-15 has a 5 round magazine. A free floated bolt gun is much different that a break open AR with a hand guard that may or may not be free floated. Youre really comparing a McMillian rifle with that thing?

      • Nick W.

        Yes, I just noticed that as well. I could have sworn that the Navy fielded a single-shot version, but I’m willing to concede that I may have been mistaken.

      • matt

        Not a big deal, according to the people below, and after taking another look at the pic, there are magazines visible on the table, so chances are that AR is mag fed as well.

      • David/Sharpie

        I think I’ve seen this before, the mag would stick out the left side of the gun.

    • matt

      The magazine is clearly visible in this pic
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mk_15_sniper_rifle.jpg

    • A GIANT JERK

      Doesn’t the Navy also use the .50 Beowulf on certain ships, which is an AR-15 design? Granted, it’s not .50BMG, but still.

  • Mike Knox

    I’ve been thinking about getting a Large Caliber Breech Loading Upper for my Mk18..

  • bob

    Just because the FARC have .50 BMG sniper rifles does not mean they know how to employ them tactically in a jungle or urban environment in which they operate. Sniping is an art and a science that is very difficult to master and that requires constant practice. Never mind that a .50 cal sniper rifle in a jungle environment has limited usefulness. To my understanding the U.S. trained Colombian SF groups are decimating FARC to such an extent that FARC now has to operate out of Venezuela partially for ops.

    • Nater

      The FARC are tough as hell. They’ve always operated out of the border area, it doesn’t sound like anything new. They’ve also been fighting since 1964, have controlled as much as 35% of Colombia, and many of their fighters have years of combat experience. In general, more experience than any of the Colombian soldiers fighting them.

      I’m sure they know how to properly employ heavy weapons. Anyone who would underestimate them does so at his/her own peril. I don’t foresee the Colombians attaining any sort of victory without a political process. Their situation is somewhat analogous to the US in Afghanistan except that the tactical advantage enjoyed by the Colombian armed forces over the FARC is significantly less than what the ISAF enjoys over the Afghan insurgents.

      • Alex-mac

        FARC have been outgunned and it’s only a matter of time till they are virtually wiped out.

        Colombian forces have nightvision, thermal vision, helicopters, UAV’s, sniper rifles and trained tracker and sniffer dogs.

      • Nater

        That’s why the US is withdrawing from Afghanistan in victory just as they did from Vietnam; because high-technology wins guerrilla wars. You apparently don’t know a whole lot, so let me explain a simple fact to you.

        Tactical victory does not win guerrilla conflicts. War in general, and low-intensity wars in particular, are political in nature. No political victory? No victory at all. Colombia is no closer to a political settlement in this matter than they were forty years ago. All the high-tech in the world isn’t going to win them anything. FARC and ELN will persist, as they have persisted, simply because the Government forces can’t hold large swathes of jungle.

      • PT

        High technology doesn’t win wars.

        The willingness to use absolute total war on a population wins guerrilla wars.

        Most governments (including the US) are not willing to use absolute total war on a population to win a guerrilla war. When you literally crucify the insurgent along with their family you win the population out of sheer terror, just like the Romans did.

      • Nater

        Apparently you do not understand something called “sarcasm”. I’m by no means an expert on Roman history, but I can only think of one example where an enemy that didn’t want to be part of Pax Romana didn’t meet the Romans on an open battlefield. Rebellious tribes meeting the Roman war machine on open ground is akin to the Taliban fighting a conventional war with the US military.

        The one shining example where this didn’t happen is the battle that took place in the Teutoburg Forrest between the 17th, 18th, and 19th Legions and the warriors of the Cherusci tribe. The Romans were slaughtered, nearly to the last man.

        That said, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was exceedingly brutal as was the US war against North Vietnam. Neither were successful.

      • Doesitmatter?

        This should be about guns, not politics; but I wish to add one more observation. Columbia presents itself as a democracy. As such, its government to be legitimate, it MUST have backing of majority of populace. Should it loose it, it turns itself into dictatorship with all undesired consequences.

        In my view (and I admit am just distant observer) this conflict is indeed a competition (as strange as it may be) for hearts and minds of Columbians. Start some “total war” as some tactical shooters suggest and you have lost big time. Let’s be little insightfull here: there is plenty of material to see on net which suggests that FARC has reasonable support base among poor viligers. They know who is closer to them. Without them the FARC would have lost already long time ago.

        As some more informed say, yes this is primarily a political war. Bit absurd to western standards, but it suits to latin nature, obviously. Mixing ourselves into their issues does not make lots of sense. This is not a range story.

      • W

        nater is talking about 4th generation warfare as colorfully described by John Poole.

        The fact is that firepower and technology do not win 4th generation wars, and neither does unparalleled brutality. The Russians shelled and bombed Grozny, though politically the situation still remains unchanged in Chechnya. The tactic didn’t work well in Afghanistan for them either.

        Guerrillas and insurgents remain persistent as long as the population doesn’t completely recognize the government as legitamite. Colombia is a perfect example of the corrupt government being scrutinized as illegitamite.

      • Rangefinder

        I believe nation states learned a valuable lesson from the previous world war. You are better off establishing a general peace through strength and pushing your agenda incrementally through calculated diplomatic and small scale engagements. The Axis powers may have persisted had they taken this approach verses total war.

  • Tinkerer

    Looks like a Safety Harbor SHTF50 upper receiver conversion -which, by the way, comes in single-shot and side-loading magazine-fed versions.

    http://www.safetyharborfirearms.com/products/uppers/uppers.html

  • Lance

    many terrorist groups moved to .50 cal BMG weapons they can damage light armored vehicles beater than a .30 cal can anytime.

  • John Doe

    It may be heavy, but it’s probably a hell of a lot cheaper than a Barrett or McMillan.

  • mechamaster

    I wonder how strong the AR lower receiver may last the brutal recoil of the gun ? It could be cracked the two push-pin connector.

    • jdun1911

      The lower will last pretty much forever. The vast majority of stresses that the AR experience is on the upper receiver.

  • Chase

    How do we know it’s a cartridge holder action, instead of a normal bolt action that ejects?

    • matt

      read the comments below. its a bolt gun, there are magazines on the table.

      • Joe Schmoe

        Except for the fact that the magazines look too thin to hold .50 cal rounds?

      • matt

        The manufacturer is listed in another comment below, its a single stack magazine moron. Check their website, its definitely mag fed.

      • matt
      • Joe Schmoe

        Hello Matt,

        While I thank you for the needless insult, you are still wrong. The magazine you linked to is not the one (or even close to resembling it) on the table. The one on the table is too thin for .50 cal rounds, period.

      • matt

        cause you know they are just going to put really really long magazines for a unknown gun & cartridge on the table next to the 50 cal. ones that happen to be the same width as the 50 cal rounds on the table…

      • David/Sharpie

        Joe: To me it does look very similar, if not the same as the ones on the table.

        Also the upper is the same as the one on the site that Matt linked.

    • SBeck

      Magwell is far to short for a .50. This may be a bolt but it is a single shot.

      • Ben

        It’s side fed, it doesn’t use the AR-15 magwell.

  • Clark

    Is the pictured soldier’s optic backwards?

  • http://Unknown Colombiano

    FARC has money to buy any gun or have it custom design. They have the same kind of income Pablo Escobar had.