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M107

Anti-material and sniper rifle

M107 sniper rifle

The M107 is a Barrett M82A1 re-configured to suit US Army requirements

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 2002
Caliber 12.7x99 (.50 BMG)
Weight (unloaded, without scope) 12.9 kg
Length 1 448 mm
Barrel length 737 mm
Muzzle velocity 853 m/s
Muzzle energy 15 582 Joules
Magazine capacity 10 rounds
Range of effective fire 1 000 m
Maximum effective range 1 800 m
Accuracy 1.5 - 2 MOA

 

   Nearly identical to the preceding Barrett M82A1, the M107 is the standard anti-material rifle of the US Armed Forces. It is also referred to as the Long-Range Sniper Rifle (LRSR), although it is not as accurate as most rifles developed expressly for precision fire against personnel. The full US Army designation for this weapon is "Long Range Sniper Rifle, Caliber .50, M107", and it is also sometimes referred-to as the M107 Special Application Sniper Rifle (or SASR).

   Although the US Army had previously rejected the Barrett M82 and the subsequent M82A1 for large-scale service, the M82A1 was quickly adopted in quantity by the US Navy and Marine Corps in 1990. The M82A1's performance in the Persian Gulf War that soon followed greatly impressed the Army, and some were adopted by that branch of the US military as well. By the late 1990s, the Army decided to adopt its own .50 BMG anti-material rifle, rather than acquiring more M82A1s; this resulted in the XM107 program.

   The XM107 designation was not originally applied to a specific weapon, but rather was reserved for any weapon submitted to the Army that met the requirements and was officially adopted. The Army placed a much higher premium on accuracy than the M82A1 allowed for, and it was originally intended that the XM107 would be a bolt-action rifle. This inevitably made the Barrett M95 rifle the preferred weapon, but while it demonstrated satisfactory performance during trials, the Army reversed their previous policy and finally decided to adopt the M82A1 after all. The revised XM107 program then evaluated the M82A1, and decided that it was suitable for the required anti-material and counter-sniper missions the Army had in mind.

   Much the same as the Marines had hurriedly adopted the M82A1 in 1990, the US Army quickly type-classified the XM107 as the "M107" in 2002, and began taking deliveries later in the same year. This was likely due to the Army's sudden commitments in Afghanistan, especially given that the Taliban and Al Qaeda were known to be in possession of some 50 M82A1s (which had been supplied to the Mujaheddin resistance in the 1980s through the CIA). Though even given the urgency of the situation, the M107 wasn't approved for full-scale field use until 2005. By that time, a total of 1 998 rifles had been delivered to the Army, at a cumulative acquisition cost of $29.2 Million (resulting in a median unit cost of $14 614).

   As few changes were made to the M107, it is difficult to distinguish from an M82A1, but there are subtle "giveaways". The M82A1 had a relatively short scope mount, while the M107 boasts a long, ridged Picatinny rail that covers nearly the entire front half of the furniture. The rear grip on the underside of the buttstock has been lengthened as well, to improve handling. The bipod now has cleated shoes to allow better traction on soft ground, and a retractable monopod was incorporated into the base of the buttstock. The M107A1 also has a composite thermal cheek guard, side rails for carrying additional accessories, additional ventilation in the forward furniture, and a new cylindrical muzzle brake with four baffles. The muzzle brake on the M107A1 will also accept a suppressor.

   The composition of the M107 is essentially the same as the M82A1, with stamped and heavily-ventilated tubular sheet steel furniture, and a forged steel barrel. In the M107A1, some steel components have been replaced by titanium equivalents, resulting in appreciable weight savings. The magazine used in the M107 is the same as that of the M82A1, and is composed of stamped 1018 cold-rolled steel with a moly titanium Teflon self-lubricating finish, while the springs are composed of chrome silicone. It also goes without saying, but the M107 is very bulky by sniper rifle standards --- at 12.9 kg unloaded and without scope, its heavier than some general purpose machine guns. The operation of the M107 is unchanged from the M82A1, and employs a short recoil operation with a rotating bolt.

   Several special precautions must be taken when operating the M107. Ear protection must always be work when firing the weapon, as it is significantly louder than standard-caliber rifles. Adequate eye relief behind the scope is required, as on all rifles, but more care must be taken as the considerably stronger recoil could result in serious brow injuries; even more eye relief may be required when shooting uphill. The weapon must never be fired when any personnel are alongside the baffles of the muzzle brake, as the heat and velocity of the muzzle blast can cause serious injuries. The M107 must also never be fired without its muzzle brake fitted, as the resulting increase of recoil could overstress and seriously damage the weapon's parts (to say nothing of whomever is shooting it). The use of a recoil operation required the user to be positioned in a proper shooting stance, with the buttpad seated firmly against their shoulder; improper shooting technique not only could cause the action to fail to cycle properly, but could also result in discomfort or injury to the user as well. It must also be noted that the bolt does not automatically remain in a fully-open position after the weapon or magazine are empty.

   Ammunition is fed into the action via the same detachable box magazine used in the M82 series. This magazine holds 10 rounds, and reflecting the enormity of almost all the features in the weapon, it weighs 1.87 kg even without any rounds loaded (twice the weight of a complete unloaded Beretta M9 pistol!). A 12-round magazine was also developed and fielded for the M82A1 (and is thus likely compatible with the M107) just prior to the Persian Gulf War, but it was a rare and seldom-issued item.

   The M107 has not been approved to fire all .50BMG rounds and the user should never attempt to load a non-approved munition. Those that have been approved by the US Army include the MK211 Mod 0 Armor-Piercing Incendiary (API), the M33 ball, the M17 tracer, the M8 API, the M20 Armor-Piercing Incendiary Tracer (APIT), and the M1A1 blank. The use of Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP) rounds and all ammunition manufactured prior to 1965 is specifically prohibited, as attempting to chamber and fire this ammunition could cause damage to the weapon and injury to the user and any immediately adjacent bystanders.

   The manufacturer claims the M107 has 1 MOA accuracy using match-grade ammunition, but as noted by Mel Ewing on the Sniper Central page for the M82A1, this claim is somewhat misleading; match-grade ammunition was not available for military use at the time Barrett made that claim, and the numerous, large, and heavy moving parts in the M107 are a significant hurdle to accuracy as well. Even with no oscillation, 1 MOA accuracy would be virtually impossible to achieve without match-grade rounds, and nearly all of the .50 BMG ammunition employed by the US military is machine gun grade. It should nevertheless be noted that the M107 is fully capable of hitting a human-sized target consistently with the first round fired at 1 000 m (and has done so on an almost daily basis in some instances), and even out to 2 000 m. During the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan two long-range sniper kills were made by American snipers at ranges of over 2 000 meters, with their Barrett M82 series rifles.

   The firepower of the .50 BMG round is superfluous compared to most other small arms rounds, as it is able to penetrate thin steel armor plates even with an all-lead "ball" projectile (though only at relatively short ranges with this type of round), and the wounds it inflicts on a human target can be tremendous; and while the effective range is up to 1 800 m, the projectile is lethal out to a distance of several times that. With special ammunition such as API rounds, the damage inflicted can easily be far greater. It is typically used in the M107 to engage "soft" targets at long distances, which traditionally would have required rocket launchers, recoilless rifles, anti-tank missiles, mortars, or even artillery to engage from a distance; these include lightly-armored vehicles, pillboxes, fuel silos, parked aircraft, radar antennae, and cargo trucks. While the .50 BMG round is much more expensive than most other small arms ammunition, it is far less so than the ammunition for the aforementioned heavy weapons. These make the M107 ideal for raids, special forces applications, harassment of enemy forces, and interdiction missions. The range and overall accuracy of the M107 are also adequate for counter-sniper operations, in which enemy snipers armed with more conventional rifles either lack the reach to shoot back, or can't compete with the M107's ability to fire through cover (such as brick walls or sandbags).

   However, the popular conception of the .50BMG round's capabilities has also become wildly distorted by its portrayal in fiction, and poorly-researched articles on the matter, often to the point where it has actually affected firearms legislation. There are far to many examples of the resulting myths to recount exhaustively in this article, but a few are particularly notable. For example, while an M107 can indeed penetrate a city manhole cover with an ordinary ball round, it is only possible to do so at a very short range (perhaps as little as 50 meters), as ball rounds distort easily when hitting targets this solid, and thus don't retain enough structural integrity to effectively penetrate them. One particular news report that concerned numerous viewers was that .50 BMG weapon could be used by terrorists to shoot-down airliners, and riddle them with holes on airport tarmac from over a mile away; what was either unnoticed or omitted from this report was that even a 7.62x51 mm (.308 Winchester) hunting rifle could inflict the same damage against the same aircraft on the ground, and that to date, no one has ever managed to shoot-down any aircraft or helicopter using a .50 BMG *rifle* (the weapons in that chambering that have done so were all machine guns, most of them fitted to purpose-made anti-aircraft gun platforms, such as the M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage).

   The iron sights of the M107 consists of a hooded front post and rear peephole, with the rear sight being adjustable for both windage and elevation, and both sights having a "flip-up" configuration. The Picatinny rail (also called a MIL-STD-1913 rail) will accept a wide range of optics, with typical examples including the Leupold 4.5x14 telescopic sight, the AN/PVS-10 Sniper Night Scope, and the AN/PAS-13 Thermal Weapon Scope.

   The furniture of the M107 is basically the same as that of the M82A1, consisting of an octagonal tubular sheet steel casing, a steel and composite pistol grip, and a composite butt pad. Aside from the addition of cleats, the folding bipod remains unchanged from that of the M82A1, and it is adjustable for height, width, and cant.

   Since its introduction, the M107 has seen extensive combat use in conflicts across the world, including the Afghan War, the Iraq War, the Syrian Civil War, anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, and numerous smaller one-off missions in places like Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. As the US military continues its military campaigns, and the M107 continues to proliferate, this list is likely to lengthen considerably over time.

   One such firefight involving an M107, which is indicative of the weapon's ruggedness, is recounted in Michael Golembesky's March 6th 2012 SOFREP News article MARSOC Sniper and Barrett M107 in Afghanistan. A 14-man Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT) operating in the Bala Morghab River Valley was assigned to capture a strategic hilltop in that area, designated “Objective Pathfinder”, and their snipers soon realized that the ranges involved necessitated the use of an M107 (they also had 7.62 mm rifles). Their rifle was damaged by enemy fire in the ensuing firefight, and one magazine was destroyed by a tracer round from a Taliban machine gun (the enemy round actually cooked-off a .50 BMG round, but the magazine was strong enough to contain most of the blast), but they were able to quickly jury-rig the weapon with little effort and get it back into the fight, using only a basic set of tools. The battle continued for four days, but the snipers encountered no additional problems with the M107, and were able to devastate the enemy at long ranges, and strangle their resupply and reinforcement efforts, and the MSOT won themselves a hilltop. This same M107 also continued to see regular combat use for several months before receiving an overhaul --- all despite a gaping bullet hole in the magazine well.

   One of the most curious events in the M107's combat history was recounted by Barrett firearms engineer Don Cook, in a 2011 National Geographic interview. A retired Marine with two decades of experience working with the M82 series of rifles at Barrett, Cook once received a phone call from a Marine sniper caught in the middle of a firefight, whose M107 was malfunctioning; thinking quickly, the young Marine called him for "technical support". Cook quickly discovered the problem, and with his advice, the sniper was able to correct the malfunction and return to the battle.

   The US Army publicly pronounced in 2005 that the M107 was one of their top 10 inventions of that year --- though one wonders how the Barrett corporation who developed the M82 in the 1980s, and the USMC who adopted the M82A1 in 1990 would feel about that.

   The M107 was produced from 2002 to 2010, and was superseded in production by the improved M107A1. It is probable that the M107A1 may eventually replace the M82A1 in production and development as well. The Barrett M82 and its variants are presently in service with Germany, India, the US, and possibly other nations --- not including other M82-based rifles, which are used by nearly 60 nations.

   The M107A1 remains in full-scale production, and is offered for military and law enforcement sale, and also on the civilian market. It is tremendously expensive for a rifle, with the original price tag exceeding $8 500, while some current models are offered for an astonishing $12 500 (and some of the examples purchased by the US military ended up having a unit cost of $15 000).

   Private ownership of the M107 is harshly restricted or outright banned in many nations and regions, notably the US states of California, Hawaii, and New Jersey. It is also notable that the Barrett Firearms Manufacturing company refuses to sell any products or services to any government organizations in US states where civilian purchase of .50 BMG firearms is prohibited.

 

Variants

 

   XM107: The developmental versions of the XM107 were converted M82A1s.

   M82A1M: Barrett’s company designation for the M107.

   M107: The basic production model, with alterations to the M82A1 design proven in the XM107. It was produced between 2002 and 2010.

   Barrett M107CQ: This is a shorter version of the M107, intended for use in confined spaces in which using the regular rifle is very difficult or impossible (the "CQ" being short for "Close Quarters"). This weapon is more compact, 2.26 kg lighter, and has a barrel 229 mm (9") shorter than that used on the standard M107, and can safely be fired from vehicles, helicopters, and cramped structures. The M107CQ was a private venture by Barrett, and it is unclear if it ever entered production, or was adopted by any military or law enforcement organization.

   M107A1: The second-generation M107 has sweeping improvements, including a new cylindrical muzzle brake, a strengthened recoil buffer, a weight reduction of 2.26 kg, and the ability to accept a suppressor. The M107A1 replaced the basic M107 in production in 2010.

   XM500: First unveiled in 2006, the Barrett XM500 is a bullpup version of the M107, weighing-in at a considerably lighter 12 kg.

 

Similar Weapons

 

   Barrett M82A3: It is a US Marine Corps designation of the Barrett M82A1M. It is also officially referred as Special Applications Scoped Rifle. This weapon is almost identical to the US Army's M107 The US Marine Corps obtained significant number of Barrett M82A3 rifles. This weapon saw action during Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and the War in Afghanistan. In 2004 the US Marine Corps' sniper Steve Reichert made a kill in Iraq from 1 614 meters using his M82A3 rifle.

   Barrett M95: Another Barrett product, the M95 has an extremely similar configuration to the M107, but employs a bolt-action operation and has a bullpup layout. It is a lighter and more compact weapon than the Barrett M82. Yet it has the same barrel length and performance as the M82. Though at one time, it would have *been* the M107. While it demonstrated satisfactory performance during US Army trials, the Army decided to adopt the Barrett M82A1 instead.

   Accuracy International AS50: Developed in the UK, the AS50 is another self-loading .50 BMG anti-material rifle developed for military use. Unlike the M107, it is gas-operated, and employs a pistonless direct-impingement gas tube, much like the AR-10 or M16. The AS50 was devised as a weapon meant especially for use by the US Navy SEALs, but the US Navy ultimately never adopted it.

   PDShP: This Georgian anti-material rifle shares many distinctive design attributes with the M107, but has a bullpup layout.

   Istiglal IST-14.5: Developed in Azerbaijan, the IST-14.5 is very similar to the M107, but much more elongated in appearance, and chambered in the more powerful 14.5x114 mm round. It also employs the same general type of operation; short recoil with a rotating bolt. There is also a .50 caliber version, but it fires the 12.7×108 mm round.

   OSV-96: The Russian OSV-96 has the same general layout and mission as the M107, but its architecture is more akin to a general-purpose machine gun, and its action is gas-operated with a rotating bolt. It is also chambered in 12.7×108 mm, rather than .50BMG.

 

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