Barrett M82A1 (M107): Light Fifty

A U.S. Army sniper using an M107 (Photo: XY)

The Barrett M82A1 rifle was one of the first successful designs in an entirely new field that appeared in the 1980s. Generally referred to as a long-range sniping rifle, its purpose is not sniping at enemy personnel but at vulnerable high-technology equipment. It was standardized by the U.S. military as the M107 in 2002, while the rifle itself was introduced to the market in 1989.


The scenario envisaged for this type of weapon is a two or three-main infiltration party which can slip through enemy lines, set up on a hill perhaps a mile away from a forward radar station or a fighter airstrip or a communications center, and then, by a few well-aimed and powerful shots, wreck the equipment. The rifle than can be abandoned and the men make their escape; the loss of a few thousand dollars worths of the rifle is trifling against the destruction of half-a-dozen fighter aircraft or vital air defense radar.

Barrett M82A1 Light Fifty: Sniper and his spotter looking for targets
Barrett M82A1 Light Fifty: Sniper and his spotter looking for targets (Photo: XY)

Since it was introduced, the M82 was in the trial phase with the U.S. Army. For years, it was in the “testing” alongside Barrett M95, Barrett M99 and other .50 cal rifles and then suddenly, the Army decided on the Barrett M82, a semi-automatic rifle. In summer 2002, the M82 finally emerged from its Army trial phase and was approved for “full materiel release”, meaning it was officially adopted as the Long Range Sniper Rifle, Caliber .50, M107. The M107 uses a Leupold 4.5–14×50 Mark 4 scope.


The barrel and locked bolt recoil about 25 mm in the frame of firing, which absorbed a good deal of the recoil force, making the rifle about as comfortable to fire as a normal big-game rifle. An accelerator arm unlocks the bolt, though the recoil continues rearwards to extract and eject the empty case. The barrel is returned to its forward position by a spring after which another spring drives the bolt forward, stripping a fresh cartridge from the magazine and chambering it; finally, the bolt rotates and locks into the chamber.

Norwegian Special Operations Forces aiming with Barrett M82A1 (M107) during a long range firefight in Afghanistan
Norwegian Special Operations Forces aiming with Barrett M82A1 (M107) during a long-range firefight in Afghanistan (Photo: XY)

The barrel is fitted with a high-efficiency muzzle brake, which reduces the recoil by some 65 percent, and an adjustable bipod is fitted. A 10x telescope sight is fitted as standard, and this has a special sighting reticle that is calibrated to the particular ammunition. The manufacturers recommend using the armor-piercing explosive/incendiary bullet for maximum target effect, but the rifle will fire any type of standard Browning ammunition.


The Barrett M82A1 Light Fifty has been used by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps and it is also in use by several agencies as a device for dealing with explosive ordnance – terrorist bombs and unexploded bombs – which can be destroyed from a safe range by one shot. The rifle is also used by dozen countries worldwide.

Barrett M82A1’s Longest recorded kill

The Light Fifty is a semi-automatic rifle firing the .50 in Browning heavy machine gun cartridge and is capable of making accurate hits on ranges up to 1800 yards, depending upon the type of target. But, the longest recorded confirmed hit with a Barrett M82A1 Light Fifty (Barrett M107) was at 3,079 yards (2,815 meters). The hit was made by an unidentified member of the 2nd Commando Regiment of the Australian army. The confirmed kill occurred on April 2, 2012, in Afghanistan. The ammunition used was 12.7mm MP NM140F2 Grade A.

Barrett M82A1's longest recorded kill was set on April 2, 2012 in Afghanistan
Barrett M82A1’s longest recorded kill was set on April 2, 2012, in Afghanistan (Photo: XY)

Barrett M82 vs. Barrett M107: What’s the difference?

The M82 is a recoil-operated semi-auto .50 BMG caliber rifle. The Barrett M107 is the M82 as adopted for service with the US Army, which, for reasons best known to itself, likes to rename things it buys. For example, the Beretta 92, in service as the M9, or the SIG Sauer 228, in service as the M11. There’s no fundamental difference between the civilian or military versions of any of these. The Barrett M107 has a longer M1913 rail, a spiked bipod, and a rear monopod. There are no mechanical differences. You can have your very own M82A1 for a mere $13,000, scope extra.

Technical specifications: Barrett M82A1

Manufacturer: Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc., Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States
Type: recoil-operated, semi-automatic
Caliber: .50 in
Barrel: 29 in (737 mm)
Weight (empty): 28.4 lbs (12.9 kg)
Magazine capacity: 5- or 10-round detachable box magazine
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