The Buzz

The Barrett M82 Sniper Rifle: The Most Revolutionary Gun Ever?

In 1989, the Swedish Army placed the first military order for the Barrett Model M82A1, ordering 100 rifles. In 1990, the U.S. Marine Corps placed an order for 125 M82A1s and the rifles participated in Operation Desert Storm, the campaign to liberate Kuwait. The Marines bought 400 more rifles in the 1990s, and the U.S. Army finally came onboard and purchased the rifle as the M107 in 2002. The utility of the heavy caliber sniper rifle, which as Ronnie Barrett once pointed out can disable a multi-million dollar jet on the ground with a two dollar bullet, has been repeatedly proven over numerous conflicts, including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and against the Islamic State.

Today the Barrett M82A1 is used by more than sixty countries, mostly NATO countries and U.S. allies in Asia and the Middle East. All the major military powers field their own 12.7mm/.50 caliber-class sniper rifles, with Russia’s OSV-96 rifle serving with the Russian Ground Forces and China’s Zijiang M99 serving with the People’s Liberation Army. The Barrett M82A1, the rifle nobody wanted to build, ended up starting a revolution.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This appeared in January. 


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