The Barrett Firearms Company was founded by Ronnie Barrett for the single purpose of building semi-automatic rifles chambered for the hugely powerful .50 BMG ammunition, originally developed for and used in Browning M2 machine guns. Barrett began his work in the early 1980s and the first working rifles were available in 1982, hence the designation M82. Barrett continued to develop his rifle through the 1980s, and developed the improved M82A1 rifle by 1986. The first real success was the purchase of about 100 M82A1 rifles by the Swedish Army in 1989. Major success followed in 1990, when the US Military purchased significant numbers of the M82A1 during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Kuwait and Iraq. About 125 rifles were initially bought by the US Marine Corps, and orders from US Army and Air Force soon followed. The M82A1 is known by the US Military as the SASR — "Special Applications Scoped Rifle", and it was and still is used as an anti-matériel weapon and EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) tool. The long effective range, over 1500 m with a record shot of 2500 m, along with high energy and availability of highly effective ammunition such as API and Raufoss Mk 211, allows for effective operations against targets like radar cabins, trucks, parked aircraft and so on. The M82 can also be used to defeat human targets from standoff range or when targets are behind cover but anti-personnel work is not a major application for the M82 (or any other .50 BMG rifle, for that matter). It is a widespread misconception that a number of treaties have banned use of the .50 BMG against human targets. Recruits have been advised by generations of drill instructors to only aim a .50 BMG at an enemy soldier's web gear or other equipment worn on his body. However, the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's office has issued a legal opinion that the .50 BMG and even the Raufoss Mk 211 round are legal for use against enemy personnel.
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