I've been scoping out .50 rifles for a while now, and am planning on picking on up as soon as I get back from the 'box. I've been scoping out a Barrett M82a1. Does anyone have any experience with it? Any other option, thoughts? I'd love semi-auto, but I'm always open to bolt.
Edit: Perhaps I should clarify. I am looking for a heavy tactical sniper rifle. If .50 isn't what I shoud be looking at, let me know! Thanks again!
I have been shooting a 308 win custom tactical rifle for a few years at distances out to 1,000 yards, it can be done. The 308 as you know really is best inside 600 yards. The 308 has the distinction of having the most factory loaded match grade ammo.
For times when you want to shoot farther or when the wind is gusty or you just need more energy downrange there are really only a few well accepted cartridges (although you can use anything you like and I don't want to start an argument over calibers).
The next step up is the 300 Winchester Magnum, which will do at 1,000 yards about what the 308 does at 600 or so. Good factory match loads are available here too.
The next step is a big one, the great 338 Lapua. THis cartridge with the right bullets shoots flatter than the 50BMG, and in a custom rifle will normally outshoot the big 50 as well for accuracy. The 338 Lapua is good for 1500 yards if you have the right rifle, ammo and marksman.
Of course the top dog is 50BMG. Slinging a 750 grain bullet at 2800 fps for a muzzle energy of 12,500 foot pounds this is WAY more juice than anything else available. The downsize is a 50BMG is a big heavy rifle, most weighing over 25 pounds, some over 35 pounds when scoped and ready to shoot. But there is just something amazing about pulling the trigger on a well aimed 50BMG and getting a hit on a steel target out at 800 yards or further.
I was wanting to step up to something bigger than 308 Win for a while. In my case expense is a big deal, I really did not want to spend $3000. 50BMG allways had a special lure, but for a long time I resisted because the local ranges do not allow them. I priced a custom built 338 Lapua (about $2,800 from top tactical gunsmiths), would be about 18 pounds with a heavy 28" barrel and muzzle brake, it would look similar to my custom 308. But in the end the lure for a 50BMG won out after I read the winning scored placed by guys shooting the ALS-50 upper on a AR15 type lower receiver. These are well under the price limit I set and truly accurate rifles.
I have the utmost respect for Ronnie Barrett and his rifles, if you can afford one get it ASAP. The model 99 is a single-shot selling for about $3,300, THe Model 95 is a bolt-action repeater (about $5000, I think), and the biggest grin producing rifle ever made is the Model 82 semi-auto, now selling for about $7500 last I looked.
If it is accuracy you are looking for ask around as I have heard the M82 is not quite as accurate as the bolt-actions. But don't take my word for it as this is just internet rumor I read. If you are not shooting matches this may not make any difference to you.
If you want best accuracy you will need to handload your own ammo, and for 50BMG this is very true and saves you a lot of money. Initial expense for reloading equipment will pay for itself by the time you shoot about 800 rounds. If you are only going to shoot 100 rounds per year buy your ammo and hope it is accurate in your barrel. I figure match grade 50BMG ammo costs me $2.66 per round (3 loads per case), and economy loads (less accurate surplus bullets and surplus powder) cost $1.10 per round.
Compare those 50BMG load to my best Match load in 308 Win at $.46 each. The same factory load Federal Premium goes for $1.10 each, you can see the big 50 cost 5 times as much per pop. JUst something to think about.
Decent analysis, if I may add one thing though, if you handload for the 50BMG the cost per round goes down after the initial loading because you have already paid for your brass.
Cost should drop to around 75-80 cents a shot for handloads when doing the 2nd or 3rd loading on a case, that's with an M2 AP or M33 Ball projectile which tend to go for around 22-25 cents for a sized bullet. If you live in a state where you can make use of the very abundant API or APIT rounds you can get them for around 17 cents a sized projectile so the cost can go down even more.
That was quite possibly the most helpful post I've read in a long time. +1!!!
Perhaps I should explain what I'm looking for. I am about to leave for Iraq, for anywhere between 6-12 months. Now, this actually has zero impact on my choice, as I can't take anything over anyway. But I want something I COULD use for a military function. I keep hoping we get a command change to some Texan cowboy who'll let use use our owns stuff, Lol.
ANYWAY!!! Back to topic.
Price is less of an issue than it should be. Lure is a big facter, as you said. After thinking about it, I suppose I COULD go with a bolt action. It wouldnt hurt anyway thing. I'd have to learn how to reload, which is fine by me. After my stint in the Army, I'm planning on working my way back into Television on Film, be it FX, Weapons, or Camera Op.
I have been looking at the Springfield Socom series, but as I said, .50 just sounds so... sexy?
If you are wanting a complete rifle (I would if I had the $$) check out the Barrett and also look at the Armalite AR50 which is a great rifle on the heavy side. There are many other good 50BMG rifles as well. But while at Armalite take a look at the AR30M in 338 Lapua.
If you decide to resist the 50BMG lure, and can wait for a true custom built long range tactical rifle have a look at GA Precision custom built rifles. He is one of a few custom gunsmiths that are turnng out long range match winning rifles. If you wanted a best performance 338 Lapua bolt-action repeater GA Precision would be who I would call.
Take Care of yourself,
The M82A1 sounds like a blast. But is anyone familiar with the Steyr .50?
Just out of curiousity, is anyone familiar with D'Arcy rifles?