Philippines Military Don’t Think .50 Cal Armed Rebels Are Playing By The Rules

philippines rifle

A reader emailed us the above photo of Filipino rebel troops belonging to the the unfortunately named MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). The man on the left is carrying one of the .50 Caliber backyard workshop rifles that seem to be popping up frequently in the Philippines.

I am told that members of the Philippines military are not pleased with the state of affairs. They do not believe the rebels are “playing by the rules”. Because of the peace negotiations with the various rebel groups the military has strict limitations on the deployment of their Barrett M95 .50 BMG rifles. The rebels don’t appear to be reciprocating.

Now .50 Caliber bolt action rifles are not ideal general purpose marksman’s rifle. They are large, heavy, the ammunition is heavy, they are loud and they make a large flash. These rifles are probably not accurate enough anyway to shoot accuracy at the extreme end of the .50 BMG cartridge’s range, negating that benefit. So I wonder why they are busy building these rifles when they could be building more versatile 7.62x51mm rifles. Could it be because they are running out of other types of ammunition, cannot risk shooting up large quantities of .50 BMG in machine guns or because their machine guns are falling to pieces?

Many thanks to Reuel for the photo.

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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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  • Joe Schmoe

    I can’t see many supporters running around with T-shirts or signs saying “MILF”…

    • AnoSynum

      Actually, their merch sells like hot cakes all over America’s Campuses.

  • Giolli Joker

    I’d guess the advantage is to have a long range gun able to incapacitate a the first vehicle of a convoy getting into a narrow path in the jungle… maybe it’s not as accurate as western counterparts, but military vehicles aren’t tiny targets…

  • JT

    you’d have to be a pretty lousy shot to miss a vehicle engine from behind a tree on a vehicle path

  • Axel

    My perception of asymmetric warfare is that the smaller force get to choose when to engage and thus can benefit from specialized equipment. When planting a car bomb you’re using a very specialized type of weapon, but a car bomb planter does not miss having a carbine, because the car bomb planter had the opportunity to decide what type of engagement there would be. When you have that advantage there is less of a need for general purpose equipment. Beacause guerillas often lack logistics and modern equipment the ability to specialize is vital.

    The .50 rifles are probably great for some anti materiel purposes.

    This is coming from a lifetime civilian, so I might be wrong.

    • Anton

      That probably means you are more objective. I sometimes scratch my head when my brother, who is in the military, tells me about some tactics. :p

  • Eric S

    What was that about the best weapon being one that you never need to fire? It may be for more of a psychological reason than not. You feel empowered by slinging around such a hefty weapon and your opponent gets to be slightly more intimidated by you.

    • Leoon

      well yes knowing that the enemy can destroy your car at any time is scary,
      also just think what psychological effect this would have on surounding troops if you used it to kill an officer

  • MARKSMAN700

    LOL ” the unfortunately named MILF “

  • jabrauwnie

    milf’s die from their own KABOOM backyard guns….

    • Leoon

      I imagine they do somtimes but its probobly worth it as the “KABOOMS” would rarely be fatal

  • jabrauwnie

    mga gago kayo ,mgtinda or mg trike driver na lang kayo

    • MOG

      And may your shorts bunch up too.

  • Frosty_The_White_Man

    Consider the following scenario:

    Five MILFs (couldn’t help it!) are dropped off near a government facility. Three are escorts, one’s a spotter, and the other is a marksman. They perforate as many engine blocks as possible within a 30-59 second window and skeedaddle. It doesn’t risk massive retaliation and there’s a lower risk to the MILFs. Everyone gets to feel like a badass and live to tell the tale.

    • orly?

      Now you see why they want this banned around the tri-state area.

  • Lance

    Most Islamic rebels in these areas of the world lack skill anyway. Many do close ambushes of Army troops and flee. Most dont care fro there weapons and in the jungle weapons have short live when uncared for.

  • MOG

    Rules?

  • ChuckyTee

    Don’t know why they would use a 50 cal? How about,, they are just super bad@ss. Watched a video from vice, had a bunch of these milf guys. Lots of 7.62 and 50 cal rifles. So I don’t see it being over ammo.

  • Anon

    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

  • dan citizen

    One benefit of the .50 caliber rifle to rebel groups is psychological. No longer can a person behind a wall or tree feel safe. An acquaintance of mine used a .50 rifle in Bosnia defending a small town. At first the ner-do-wells approaching town with naughty intentions would hide behind trees and try to pick off security forces, medics, or the occasional villager. Once the .50 came on scene they soon learned that trees offered no real protection and started giving the town a wide berth. Most of the shots taken were under 200 yards.

    • Man pippy

      Yep it’s just psychological, no practical use. Specifically I imagine they want to scare the Indonesian elite who travel in armored cars, .50 BMG can penetrate them.

    • iksnilol

      Interesting story. I know its 3 months since you posted but what town was it?

      • dan citizen

        I don’t recall exactly. He did not survive the conflict so I can’t ask him (encountered a landmine while relaxing on a day off), I think his sniping/countersniping work was either up near Prijedor or over by Bratunac/Srebrenica region (only approximate spelling).

        • iksnilol

          Thanks anyway, sorry for your friend.

  • John Dennis

    Governments the world over are the same. They think just by coming up with a law, treaty or agreement, everyone, including outlaws, revolutionaries and rebels will play fair. Goes against real world logic.

  • HSR47

    What about the M1 rifle in that picture?

  • JP

    Machinist here: If these rifles are in fact made in a backyard workshop (which it appears to be) the ability to machine a .50″ bore is probably easier than a 7.62mm or what have you.
    Also, I think anti-materiel capability would be a huge asset to a guerilla squad in any fight. Plus, well, hey. It’s a Big Fifty.