Shooting a .50BMG is on every shooter’s bucket list. I was to able to check it off my list when I participated in Top Shot with the McMillan Tac-50 but to be a bit honest I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t the legendary Barrett semi-auto M82A1 that we shot. But this weekend things got a bit better when I got a VIP tour the Barrett factory in Tennessee.
The tour started off with us learning the history of the company and Ronnie Barrett’s story, then we started drooling over the rifles. Of course these suckers are heavy, you are looking at 30 pounds naked. And after initial inspection of the M82A1 semi-automatic .50BMG the most interesting thing I found was that the barrel has coiled springs between it and the hand guard attaching further down to the stock. If you stand the rifle on it’s butt you can actually push the barrel down about 5 inches like a pogo stick. This is how the action works and manages recoil- no piston, no gas system, just blowback. Crazy unique. You can have one if you want to plop down $12,000.
The MRAD in .338 Lapua Magnum was a bit more practical in size, weighing in right under 15 pounds with an excellent trigger. When we fired this one it impressed us with it’s amazing accuracy proven by holes stacked on top of each other. But if you think you would be saving money on ammo with a .338 think again, I have found it to be just as costly if not more than .50BMG. This rifle starts at $6,000.
The factory itself was impressive. I can’t show any pictures due to confidentiality. It sure was tempting to grab rifle parts and try to build you own rifle as you walked through! It was also a privilege to meet the welders, assemblymen and testers. Three of each who personally handle every single rifle that leaves the factory.
The range testing tunnel was very advanced. We only got to fire 3 rounds each but considering the value of the previous metal you are throwing downrange we were gracious for anything. The 100 yard tunnel has a state of the art computer system that automatically calculates and prints a report card on each round and group fired. Even more impressive is that it measures the groups by an acoustic system with microphones on the target that “hear” where the bullet strikes. I was having too much fun shooting to take a picture of the system.
Recoil of the M82 wasn’t bad thanks to the effective muzzle brake that takes about 70% of the felt recoil out of the equation. It’s just a steady push. The most hurtful thing when shooting a .50 is the concussion from the muzzle brake that slams you in the face, luckily we were shooting through a small hole so it wasn’t too bad at all.
I made a ringtone from the video. Enjoy if you wish.