TFB Review: American Marksman's .50 BMG through Mike Pappas' Accurized Barrett M82A1

Austin R
by Austin R
TFB Review: Mike Pappas’ Accurized Barrett M82A1

The Barrett M82A1 is one of the most iconic and recognizable rifles on the planet today. Since 1989 they’ve been the go-to anti-materiel rifle for various military and law enforcement agencies. Mike Pappas of Dead Air Silencers is certainly no stranger to 50 BMG and has been a Barrett M82 enthusiast for years. Except he decided the best could be even better and decided to overhaul his own M82A1.

The Best Gets Better

Barrett M82A1 broken down

The Barrett M82A1 uses two pins at the front and rear of the receiver that allows the gun to be broken down for easier transportation and storage.

Barrett M82A1 action and receiver

The M82 feeds from a 10 round double-stack double-feed magazine that rocks into place just like an AK or FAL magazine. It features a rotating and locking bolt assembly that safely feeds whatever flavor 50 BMG you want to feed it.

Barrett M82A1 recoil spring

At the rear of the receiver is the second half of the recoil operation. When the gun is fired the barrel recoils roughly 1 inch rearward to unlock the bolt. From there, the buffer and buffer spring carry the bolt rearwards. At the end of the stroke, the loaded spring sends the bolt back forwards stripping off another round from the magazine. It’s a simple but robust design.

Anti-Materiel Accuracy Overhaul

Barrett M82A1 barrels

After wearing out the first factory Barrett barrel (pictured top), Mike decided he wanted something a little more precision-oriented.

Barrett M82A1 custom barrel

To accomplish this, Mike ordered barrels from custom manufacturer F.J. Feddersen. This particular barrel was made back in November of 2004.

Barrett M82A1 custom barrel bushing

As the barrel recoils forward and rewards during firing, the barrel position on a Barrett can and will shift off-center just slightly during firing. In order to mitigate this, a copper linear bearing was needed to hold the barrel center.

Barrett M82A1 spare copper rings

Mike sourced some appropriately sized automatic transmission bushings that would act as linear bearings, with a couple additional spares so they could be swapped out during normal wear.

Barrett M82A1 copper rings and reamer

In order to fit the bushing to the barrel, a custom reamer was also constructed to evenly cut the copper bushing.

Barrett M82A1 reamer receiver housing

The reamer uses a steel fitting at the rear that was machined to fit the rear barrel housing on the upper receiver.

Barrett M82A1 reamer installed

With the reamer and ring inserted, the reamer is then turned slowly to cut off the the excess copper until it matches the barrel diameter.

Barrett M82A1 barrel installed with copper bushing

With the barrel installed you can see just how snugly it fits against the linear bearings. This helps to eliminate any excess play and keeps the barrel aligned during firing.

Barrett M82A1 muzzle

The Feddersen barrel features the same 7/8×14 thread pitch as a factory Barrett M82A1 but plays host to a different muzzle device.

Armalite AR50 muzzle brake

Rather than running the factory muzzle brake, Mike opted to use an ArmaLite muzzle brake instead. The large plate at the end of the brake does a better job of deflecting the blast and concussion away from the shooter.

At The Range

Nightforce NXS 5.5-2256 atop the M82A1

Going to a public 100yd gun range with a Barrett 50 is a lot like showing up to a Starbucks in a muscle car with straight pipes. It is very loud and exciting, but sooner or later everyone is just hoping you’ll leave. Lucky for those bystanders, this Nightforce topped Barrett had been shot earlier this summer and had a nice ready to go zero.

50 BMG ammo provided by American Marksman

Mike had cleaned the M82 the night before the shoot, so a little copper fouling needed to be built up before the rifle would group consistently. American Marksman was kind enough to send over 50 rounds of their 660 GR FMJ 50 BMG ammo. After about 15 rounds, the barrel had built up just the right amount of copper foul and was printing consistent groups.

Grouping an Anti-Materiel Rifle

5-round American Marksman group

Shooting an M82 requires a different style trigger pull to control the heavy trigger break. Squeezing the first round off confirmed that I wasn’t wrapping my finger around the heavy trigger correctly, and the shot landed low right. The subsequent three shots printed a nice group just to the left of center, with the fifth landing just to the right of the bullseye.

3-round handloaded group

While I was happy with my grouping, Mike was quick to retrieve some of his hand loads to show what the gun was really capable of. Putting -5 MOA of elevation in the scope he printed the above three-round group just below mine. Yes, you’re looking at a Sub-MOA group out of a Barrett M82.

The Verdict

M82A1 range day wrap-up

The Barrett M82A1 was never designed to be a precision rifle. Rifles like the Barrett M99 are a simpler design and more accurate right out of the box. Still, nothing comes close to the man-portable semi-automatic sledgehammer that is a Barrett M82A1. You can shoot it all day and go home without a bruise. Combine that with the surgical-grade accuracy Mike has been able to add, and you find yourself wishing you had more targets at extended ranges. All of the ammunition was inspected before and after firing, and the ammo was consistent in every way. The next time I need bulk 50 BMG, I’ll be buying it from from American Marksman.

Huge thank you to American Marksman Ammo for sending over the ammo for this review. Their ammo performed perfectly and if you need bulk ammo, be sure to check out their website.

Austin R
Austin R

The author is a military contractor who enjoys conducting independent firearms research and reloading. Article inquiries and suggestions are welcome at austinjrex at

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2 of 17 comments
  • Tony Tony on Mar 13, 2020

    i remember reading somewhere else that people would chrome plate the barrel portion that mates with the receiver to have a tight fit. That was many years ago.

  • Giolli Joker Giolli Joker on Mar 15, 2020

    This stuff is awesome!