I have been getting a lot of comments and requests about the Barret lately for some reason and I realized I have never really talked about it. So we will do that today.
I’m not going to bother with any historical background on the M82, everyone knows that or can find it pretty quick on wikipedia or some such. Instead I’m going to talk about my experience with them.
The M82 is almost always thought of as a heavy, long range sniper rifle. And while that is true it also causes misunderstanding. it is meant for sniping, but it was really meant for the kind of sniping that is more concerned with hitting truck engines, Jets sitting on runways and SCUD missiles at long ranges Big targets. Not individual human targets. Can you hit people with it at long range? Yes. Is it easy ? Not really. Truth is, they really aren’t accurate enough to easily hit a man sized target at ranges that exceed 300 win mag ranges. Yes some will shoot better than others and ammo matters but it’s not as easy as Hollywood would have you believe.
I remember when one of my best friends bought his. We set up a steel gong at 750 yards. The target was the size of a man from beltline to top of head. Shaped vaguely like a human of course. USGI ball ammo was used to zero and shoot at the target. After about a dozen rounds we got one hit. At the bottom left edge. Of course that would have ruined a person day. The point is after 15 or so rounds, they would not have been standing around waiting to get hit. The other point is, either one of us would have made a first round center mass hit on a target that sized with a 308 bolt gun at that range. Likely I could have made a 1st or 2nd round hit on it with an open sight A2 at that range. That’s Ok though, The gun is for hunting much bigger game.
Above is a picture I took in 2008. I stood behind my friend while he fired an Armor Piercing Incendiary Trace (APIT) round at a target 1,000 yards away. The round was about 500 yards away when the picture was taken and you can see a small white dot on the hillside in front. That was a man’s chest sized steel target. When using APIT or AP, the gun gets a decent bump is accuracy. From my observations I would say its about 50 percent increase in accuracy if the ammo is handloaded using AP or APIT projectiles. Using the 750 gr A-MAX bullets it’s supposed to be considerably better.
I have been pretty lucky. Two of my friends have Barretts and I have gotten to spend a lot of time around them. That’s why you see a painted one and a newer onein the pictures. The one pictured above has the BORS optics ranging system on it. Let me tell ya, it’s pretty damn slick. If you have the chance to spend on a M82 I highly recommend getting that with it. Once it’s set, its as easy to use as falling off a frog.
So, brass tacks. What can it reasonably do. In my opinion I would say with confidence that if you are using just ball ammo and want a first round hit with an new M82 on a standing Human man, you better keep it under 1,000 yards. In a lot of ways you would be better off with a 308 precision gun. The .338 lapua easily out shoots the Barrett on human sized targets out to 1,500 or a mile. I made my 1 mile shot on a man sized target with a .300 Rem Ultra Mag. on my third shot. Would I try that with the barrett? sure, but I would expect to use a lot more ammo and not be surprised if I ran out of ammo before I made the hit. It’s one of these things were you are missing by just enough to really frustrated you. You keep thinking if the target was just a little wider and taller you would be burning it up. And there is the thing. If you were shooting at a military truck engine cab you would be burning it up. That is exactly what the M82 was conceived to do and that is perfectly fine.
Now better ammo helps of course but we are talking about using military ammo or military components hand loaded. I am aware there is better ammo out there and I know there are reports of military snipers making impressively long shots with the M82A1 but I tend to believe those are a combinations of everything coming together just right. More of a gun that came off the line made just right, a really good lot of ammo and a very competent shooter who has used the rifle a lot and loves it. Notice most of the longest recorded kills are not made with the Barrett even if they are made with the .50BMG. The round is exception when used with match ammo and in a match quality gun.
Below are some video I have taken of us shooting the M82 over the years.