M82 .50 Caliber Special Application Scoped Rifle (SASR)
The Barrett M82A1A is a semi-automatic, air cooled, box magazine fed rifle chambered for the .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun cartridge (.50 BMG or 12.7x99mm NATO). The rifle operates by means of the short recoil principle. The complete M82A1A weapon system is comprised of the rifle with a Unertl 10-power scope and an additional box magazine. The system comes packed in its own watertight, airtight carrying case with an air release valve for aircraft transportation and the requisite cleaning rod and brushes. The basic M82A1A rifle is equipped with bipod, muzzle brake, carrying handle, metallic sights, and 10-round box magazine. There is also a back pack for cross country transport and a bandolier for extra magazines is available.
The .50 caliber Barrett Model 82 series produce modest recoil energy. The weapon operating mechanism (which includes a recoiling barrel assembly), combined with an efficient muzzle brake, reduce recoil energy to about 36 foot-pounds. When fitted with a sound suppressor, the weapon produces significantly greater recoil energy than when using the muzzle brake, and was a good candidate for recoil reduction efforts.
The Barrett Model 82 series (also referred to as the M82 series), were commercial rifles and the various M82 designations were not official designations in the US Army nomenclature system. By 2011, Barrett had folded all of its basic semi-automatic .50 caliber configurations, including the configuration formally designated by the US Army as the M107, into its Model 82A1 product line. This also included a "Close Quarters" or CQ variant with a 20 inch barrel, originally sold as the M107CQ.
The M82 series of .50 caliber rifles began development in the 1980s. Ronnie Barrett of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Incorporated of Murfreesboro, Tennessee first announced the M82 rifle in 1982. A refined M82A1 version was developed in 1986. In 1987, another new variant, the M82A2 was introduced. The new weapon was essentially a bullpup version of the M82A1, intended to be fired from the shoulder in a manner visually similar to that of a light infantry rocket launcher or recoilless rifle. A forward grip was added and no bipod was provided. The revised configuration also meant the weapon's overall length was reduced. The M82A2 generated little interest and was soon dropped from production. An improved version of the M82A1 with a new, larger muzzle brake to help with felt recoil was introduced instead.
In 1989, Barrett made the first major sale of M82A1s, totally 100 weapons, to the Swedish Army, where the weapon was designated the Ag 90. The US military special operations forces community first became interested in the Barrett M82A1 during Operation Desert Storm. Special operations forces recognized the key warfighting advantages that a man-portable, rapid-fire, .50 caliber rifle brought to the table based on previous experience with bolt-action .50 caliber types first acquired during the 1980s. The special operations forces community took the initiative of acquiring the M82A1 rifle on their own, as they had done with the earlier bolt-action weapons, and employed it with great results during the conflict in Southwest Asia.
During the 1990s, further development of the weapon resulted in the M82A1A, M82A1M, and M82A3 rifles. The M82A1A was optimized specifically for the .50 caliber Raufoss Grade A (DODIC A606; later standardized as the Mk 211 Mod 0 cartridge), which became the standard operational round. The scope was manufactured by Unertl to match the trajectory of the cartridge. The M82A1M acquired by the US Army and the M83A3 acquired by the USMC were functionally identical, and both featured extended MIL-STD-1913 accessory rails on the top of the weapon for optics and other accessories.
M82 type weapons were eventually acquired by all the major services for a variety of roles. In the USMC, the M82A1A was designed to provide commanders the tactical option of employing snipers with an anti-materiel weapon to augment the anti-personnel M40A1 7.62mm weapon. The US Army acquired M82 types for special operations forces to similarly augment the 7.62mm M24 Sniper Weapon System. Barrett .50 caliber rifles were also in service for EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) use, including with the US Air Force. World-wide users found that mounting the Barretts on vehicles was a rapid and cost-effective method of clearing military airport runways from unexploded ordnance (Barrett subsequently offered a soft-mount for attaching the weapon to vehicles). Others have found the Barrett as an effective means of detonating land mines once they have been detected.
The success of the system subsequently prompted the Army to investigate making such a weapon available and supportable across the entire service. In the mid-1990's, requirements for a new heavy sniper rifle were formalized by the US Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Georgia. They were developed in conjunction with snipers from the US Army Special Operations Command and the Army Sniper School. The project manager then began a program to verify through comprehensive technical and operational testing that a technology existed that could satisfy user needs. Supportability and training requirements also were considered.
In August 1996, the US Army stated an interest in acquiring a rifle system capable of delivering long range, precision fire on targets out to a range of 2,000 meters. This Caliber .50 Sniper Rifle (CFSR) system would have to be a man portable, shoulder fired system utilizing military standard .50 caliber ammunition. The primary components of the system were to be a rifle, optical sighting system and carrying cases. Spare parts and logistic support packages would be required as part of any contract action. The selected contractor was also be required to supply depot level maintenance support based within the Continental US (CONUS). Interested vendors were required to submit 4 bid sample systems as part of their proposal submission. These bid samples were used in evaluation testing by the government. Bid samples would be returned in as tested condition. The selected contractor was to able to produce a minimum of 20 systems per month, with a production surge capability to 30 systems per month. The schedule projected release of a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) in December 1996. Delivery of bid sample hardware was required 100 days after release of the RFP. The CFSR program evolved into the US Army's M107 program. Even with the type classification in August 2003 of the M107 by the US Army and subsequent adoption of the system, commercial M82 types continued to be used by the US military.
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