Barrett .50 Caliber Overview (M107 and M82A1)

The Barrett .50 caliber anti-material rifles are truly icons in the firearm world. These man portable cannon allow an individual to have 10 rounds of earth-shattering .50 BMG ammunition on tap to destroy enemy equipment, vehicles, and so on. With too many movie and video game appearances to count, the Barrett .50s certainly get lots of due attention from the public. But what are these rifles really used for? How do they work? What’s in the box? Well, let’s have a look!


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So here it is: The legendary Barrett .50 Caliber Anti material rifle.

If you ever wanted to buy a gun for the sole purpose of inconveniencing you by having to lug it back and forth in a giant case, weighing over 30 pounds, and chambered in 5 dollar bills, this rifle has your name written all over it.

First and foremost, the Barrett .50 caliber rifles are not (and were not designed to be) sniper rifles, despite what video games and movies have led many to believe. In fact, I checked Barrett’s current sales literature I could not even find the word “sniper” anywhere.

These guns were designed with destruction in mind: That is, destroying or disabling light vehicles, satellite arrays, and if you need to destroy a canteen or zipper that just so happens to be attached to an enemy combatant, that’s fair game.

The Barrett .50s were designed by Ronnie Barrett in 1980 to allow shooters to lob .50BMG with more accuracy and precision than an M2HB generally allows for, and at a quarter of the weight. The rifles were an almost immediate success, and even the CIA acquired some to deliver to the Mujihadeen in their fight against the USSR. Battle proven, the Barretts were catching the eyes of militaries and police units around the world.

Inside the included transit case, the consumer is provided with the barrel assembly, upon which is a long picatinny rail for mounting an optic of the user’s choice, a large and prominent muzzle brake, backup iron sights, and the barrel return spring assembly.

The lower group features a bipod, the recoil assembly, monopod, and trigger group.

The bolt group is quite hefty as well, and features a very large triangular bolt head that is reminiscent of the Austrailian Leader Rifles (whose designer worked at Barrett).

Barrett magazines hold ten rounds of ammunition and are quite large. Overlaying an M16 magazine conveys the sheer size…. As does an M14 magazine. 50 BMG is not exactly a cartridge for a frontline infantryman’s rifle.

Loading the magazines is also quite easy. They are staggered, double column, double feed and load like a larger version of an FAL magazine.

The rifle is assembled by first pulling the barrel out of the receiver all the way, and pushing the black polymer bushing all the way to the rear.

At this point, the user hooks the barrel return spring assembly onto the barrel.

There is a hook on the upper that allows it to mate to a cross pin on the lower assembly, and the user should lock the upper into the lower.

At this point, draw the bolt to the rear and lower the upper onto the lower.

A non-captive pin will secure the two assemblies at the rear, and an additional pin secures them at the center.

The final step is rocking in the magazine, and you are good to go.

Now in front of us is a fully assembled Barrett M107 rifle, which is the latest military version of the M82A1.

The barrett is easy to operate and features a large charging handle on the right side of the gun.

The safety is very reminiscent of an M16 rifle, and positively clicks into fire.

The M107s large picatinny rail allows users to mount an optic of their choice.

And the M107s giant muzzle brake allows the mounting of a sound suppressor.

The bipod is easily deployable, and when combined with the rear monopod creates a very stable shooting platform.

Now there are two basic models of the Barrett that are available: The M82 and M107 rifles. Differences are relatively minor, but let’s take a look.

First, the M107 has a rear mounted cheek rest.

The most obvious difference are the rifles muzzle brakes: The M82’s is belled out while the M107s is cylindrical.

The coloring on the two models is slightly different as well, as the M107 features a coated barrel, rail, and furniture.

That said, both rifles function via the same short recoiling action and otherwise both provide a very similar shooting experience.

There is an interesting dichotomy here: I would place these rifles on a list of 10 guns to shoot before you die, but also on a list of 10 firearms that aren’t as fun as you think.

Shooting a barrett can be quite thrilling, but finding a range where you can really stretch its legs is incredibly difficult, ammunition is expensive, and the concussive blast begins to rattle the hell out of your brain the more you shoot. That said, recoil is not as bad as you would think and a shotgun firing 3 and a half inch magnum shells is much worse in my opinion.

So we hope this overview provided you with some good information about the two predominant Barrett rifles on the market. Which one you prefer is up to you, but from a shooters perspective I can tell you that I have never noticed any noteworthy differences.

They are big, heavy, expensive, and incredibly badass.

This is Alex C. with TFBTV, thank you to Ventura munitions for providing ammunition for our shooting videos, and thank you very much for watching.

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Jonathan Ferguson

    The designations are confusing, but I think Barrett’s website disagrees with the IDs in your video. Their site lists the M82A1 and the M107*A1* (not M107) as the two main variants. Under M107A1 it has the M107 and the M82A1 as the same weapon, with the M107A1 as the redesign. I believe (& have so far presumed) that this is because M82/M82A1 was Barrett’s own designation, and after years of using ‘M82’, M107 was the official US mil designation for the A1 variant (which denoted picatinny rail +?). Whereas Barrett has given the further improved & lightened gun a new name (M107A1) based on the mil one – like Colt and their original M16A2 (pre the actual mil M16A2).

    My brain now hurts.

    • Its ok, my brain always hurts.

      • Tassiebush

        Glad I’m not alone in that.

    • iksnilol

      I am either too sober or too affected to understand what you just wrote… so have an upvote and a good day/night.

      • Jonathan Ferguson

        Basically, the M82A1 & M107 are the same gun. The M107A1 is the other current variant, & is 5lbs lighter with suppressor-ready brake.

    • Anonymoose

      The M107A1 is basically just an M82A3 painted tan. The M82A3 was the improved M82A1. The M82A1 was the original M107 officially adopted by the US Army in the 2000s, and they still use only the basic M82A1 as the M107 in US military service afaik. Originally they were going to adopt the Barrett M95 (bolt-action bullpup .50) as the “M107,” but they changed their minds, since spec ops EOD guys had already been using the M82A1 since sometime around Desert Storm.

  • Trey

    I had 2 .50bmg rifles bracketing to me on the range .. after 15 min or so I went for a walk as the amount of exhaust gasses was beginning to make me feel queasy plus the sheer blast effect.

    • FarmerB

      I was next to one with a 17″ barrel. Concussion was enormous.

  • toms

    speaking of the designer St. Cloud what happened to his leader 50 rifle?
    It looked like a real winner at 20 lbs, I know saber produced a few before the ATF reamed em, but Micor never produced any and the current company has not produced any AFAIK.

    • Tassiebush

      I’m guessing you meant StGeorge rather than St Cloud and your device probably changed it on you. I got all excited about that being mentioned about the triangular bolt head.
      good question about the Leader .50 btw.

  • The M107 is suppressor ready out of the box and the installed brake serves as the quick attach for the Barrett suppressor. The suppressor comes with a single vane brake on the front that can be removed if maximum blast reduction is desired. Recoil is a bit more with the suppressor, but not terribly so. When spotting others shoot, it makes a huge difference in reducing fatigue. Here’s a video showing shots with and without the can:

  • Al

    Indeed, years of exposure to the blast wave from the Barrett has rendered solders with long term concussion damage not unlike boxers and football players. Of course this is firing thousands of more rounds than any civilian.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Really, were do you get this information?

  • tincankilla

    my understanding is that the .50 is designated as anti-materiel and not a “sniper” rifle thanks to the Hague Conventions (that the right one?). Anyway, no shooting soldiers fighting under the flag of another signatory, but you can shoot all the insurgents, terrorists, and citizens that you’d like.

    • Tassiebush

      My understanding is that inadequate accuracy is the main excluding factor as a sniper rifle. I think that calibre restriction only comes in above 37mm.

      • Uniform223

        Its not like you’ll know the difference when you’re being shot at by one. As far as accuracy is concerned… there has been plenty of hits recorded by snipers with this .50cal well out to a mile and beyond. Its not as accurate as other platforms but its accurate enough to make all natural mulch with Taliban/Al Qeada as the main ingredient.

        • Tassiebush

          It’s a good weapon for sure and a good long range weapon. It’s just that it seems to be more of a multiple long range shots till they connect where needed than a first round kill weapon. Miles Vining who I recall was/is a sniper pointed out that it’s an anti material rifle not a sniping rifle and a lot of Barretts only group around 3moa.

      • FarmerB

        My understanding is that the question of its legality depends on the ammunition. Because the Raufoss projectile (Mk 211 Mod 0 in US parlance) has an explosive effect it’s not supposed to be used on personnel. I don’t think the US follow that line, but the Norwegians (where the round comes from) don’t like you doing it.

        I have friends with quite a few examples, I’ve shot the M107A1 a lot (even surpressed) and spotted hundreds of rounds. I don’t like it at all. By the time the 50BMG starts to shine, it’s not accurate enough to hit anything meaningful. I suppose the Raufoss would still be effective on vehicles etc beyond 900-1000m, but in my experience it’s borderline ineffective on torso sized targets at 1000m.

        Sniper rifle it isn’t.

        • CommonSense23

          Still legal to shoot people with the Raufoss round due to the round “supposedly” not going to detonate if it hits flesh. And the Raufoss round is actually one of the more accurate .50cal rounds for precision shooting in terms of military issue.

        • iksnilol

          Of course not, why waste expensive high tech ammo when boring old FMJ does the same thing?

          • FarmerB

            I think you misunderstood my comment.

            I don’t know the accuracy of Mk211 Mod 0, for obvious reasons. But I imagine it’s nowhere near that of premium 50 Match ammo or reloaded custom turned bullets. And a Barrett struggles with that, and we certainly know how poor M33 ball and other NATO FMJ ball is.

            My point was that terminal ballistics give a big advantage to the 50, esp with the Raufoss projectile. But not much else going for it at longer range. Sure, it’s fairly effective against personnel (meaning accuracy wise, terminal ballistics mean nothing until you hit something) within 900-1000m, but then so is a 7.62.

          • iksnilol

            I meant to explain why the Norwegians dislike you using the fancy 50 BMG for non fancy targets.

          • FarmerB

            Ahh, that makes sense, but since the Norwegians are making money out of it, you would think they’d be happy to let you bang away with ’em.

          • iksnilol

            Not when they pay for ’em 😛

      • bert

        What caliber restriction? Where in the Hague convention did you find a caliber restriction?

        • Tassiebush

          I’ll have to remember and check my source so don’t hold me to it.

        • Tassiebush

          Okay Bert I found my source and I was off the mark.
          The significance of 37mm was back in the Declaration of St Petersburg of 1868 the major powers agreed to prohibit the use of any projectile of a weight below 400grams which was either explosive or charged with a fulminating substance. At the time 37mm was the smallest calibre that could produce a stable projectile of 400grams weight so it became a common calibre for rapid fire cannons like the hotchkiss revolving cannon.
          The source was Machine Guns by Ian V Hogg page 25

    • The US DOD has taken the opinion “Since the JAG Corps reviews the legality of any weapon before it is adopted, any issued weapon is legal for use against any enemy combatant. It may not be practical or cost-effective, but it is legal.”

      • Nashvone

        “You can shoot his helmet. If his head just happens to be in it, well…you got lucky.”

        • No, the prevailing doctrine is that you can shoot him in the face with anything allowed under the rules of engagement. There is no requirement to aim at materiel instead.

    • CommonSense23

      Anti material doesn’t mean you can’t shoot people legally with it. The gun is lucky to be shooting 3MOA, compared to the MK15 which shoots around 1MOA and is bolt action. The Barret is great for shooting lots of jeeps and such, but for people it gets out classed by other 50 cal rifles such as the MK15.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Now that the M82A1 is no longer in use in the IDF, I can clarify some stuff:

      1) – The gun doesn’t have THAT much recoil.
      2)- When using it, the legality is that you are shooting at the enemies “equipment”, whether it be a gun, helmet, vest, ammo, etc.
      3)- It’s accuracy is just fine and easy for under 1000 meters or so, problem is the noise and backblast.

    • bert

      Why would it matter? Where in the hague convention did you find a rule against shooting people? How is it different shooting someone with a .50 than a 152mm artillery shell?

  • Some Guy

    Having had the opportunity to fondle one of these at my LGS I was surprised by how small they were. Granted I could only shoulder it for 30 seconds or so but looking at them in pictures you kinda expect a truly huge rifle and it just isn’t THAT much bigger than a FAL

  • ostiariusalpha

    So… how’s it coming along, convincing Ventura to support a run and gun vid?

    • I dont think I am physically strong enough to do it with the 29″ barrelled version. Could do it with the CQB I bet.

      • Anonymoose

        Make sure you triple up on earpro!

  • Flounder

    ALEX!!! We require a run and gun with this gun!

    • Kevin Harron

      Tags say no run and gun. I wouldn’t want to run with the M107 either.

  • Lance

    Yes, Alex do a run and gun with this, double time on the running be fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Geoffry K

    Fixed it for you.
    An anti-materiel rifle (AMR) is a rifle that is designed for use against military equipment (materiel), rather than against other combatants (“anti-personnel”).

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I put a towel on the stock to keep the sweat off the gun.

  • Cal.Bar

    So…. it’s NOT a sniper rifle??? Despite it’s being widely used as such by the US and other armed forces for years, and despite being credited with 5 of the 10 longest sniper kills? Come on. Do you really think the world really needed a rifle to stop jeeps at distances of a mile+ ? Regardless of the fact that the manual doesn’t call it a “sniper rifle” do we really have to play the game and call it an “anti-material” rifle?

    • iksnilol

      Yup, because it is horribly unsuited for the task. Crappy precision + crappy ammo does not a sniper rifle make.

    • CommonSense23

      Might want to read up on those kills and see how many shots they needed to make hits. If I put a M2 .50 cal in single shot life does that make it a sniper rifle?

      • Giolli Joker

        ” If I put a M2 .50 cal in single shot life does that make it a sniper rifle?”
        Nope, but with an Unertl scope on top and Hathcock behind it it makes a deadly long range tool.

  • HH

    I agree with your general sentiment that everyone needs to shoot one a few times …but at the same time it grows old quickly and prob. wont see a lot of range time at all if you own one. That describes me perfectly. I bought my M82A1 setup maybe 7 years ago. I’ve taken it out 5 times for maybe 50 rounds total. In fact I loaned it to a friend in another state simply bc I was never using it. My local range doesnt allow .50 and I’m a MG’er at heart anyway.

    What is interesting however is that guys at MG shoots love it. It’s always a highlight in fact. I mean we’ll have M60s, 1919s, HKs galore, you name it…but the Barrett brings out all the cameras. It’s funny. And it happens every time.