M82A1 / M82A3 Special Application Scoped Rifle

The M82A1 and M82A3 Special Application Scoped Rifles are .50 caliber long-range sniper rifles, effective against materiel and personnel targets that include enemy snipers, parked aircraft, command, control and communications computers, intelligence sites and lightly armored vehicles.

Prone Marine with M82A1 Special Application Scoped Rifle
Prone Marine with M82A1 Special Application Scoped Rifle.

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M82 .50 Cal. Sniper Rifle Family

The M82 family of .50 Cal rifles are referred to as the Special Application Scoped Rifle or SASR by the Marine Corps. The M82 magazine-fed, semi-automatic weapon and is effective against materiel targets, including light skinned vehicles. The M82A1 was fielded in 1989. The M82A3 SASR configuration incorporates safety and reliability improvements that significantly extended its service life. The related M107 .50 cal. Long Range Sniper Rifle is an upgrade to the M82A3 rifle. The M82A3 and the M107 are manufactured by Barrett Industries.

Marine with M82A1 Special Application Scoped Rifle
Marine with M82A1 Special Application Scoped Rifle.

M82 .50 Cal. Rifles Family History

The Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc. of Murfreesboro, TN developed the first version of the M82 in 1982, followed by the M82A1 improved version in 1986. In 1987, the M82A2 "bull-pup" version was introduced, designed to be fired from the shoulder as an anti-aircraft weapon. That design was not successful and was soon dropped. For the Gulf War, starting in 1990-91, Special Operations Forces became interested in the Barrett M82A1. During Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. Military purchased the M82A1 for both the Army and the Marine Corps, as well as small numbers for other services, under the nomenclature "Special Applications Scoped Rifle (SASR)". Although used as an anti-personnel or anti-matériel sniper weapon, for Operation Desert Shield/Storm the M82A1 rifles were intended to be employed by U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) units to safely detonate ordnance from a safe distance.

The M82 family advanced with the M82A1M rifle, called M82A3 SASR by the Marine Corps who have procured it in quantity.

In the mid-to-late 1990's, U.S. Army requirements for a new heavy sniper rifle were formalized by the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, GA, developed in conjunction with snipers from the U. S. Army Special Operations Command and the Army Sniper School. After initial consideration of bolt action rifles, they eventually selected the M82A1M/M82A3 for Army use, redesignated the M107 by the Army. There are some slight differences between the M107 and the M82A3, changes the Army specified to improve durability and reliability.

The Barrett M82 rifles were commercially successful, procured by military and police agencies in the United States and many other countries.

M82A1 and M82A3 Rifles Description

The M82A1 is a semi-automatic, air cooled, box magazine fed rifle chambered for the .50 cal. M2 Browning Machine Gun cartridge (.50 cal. BMG or 12.7 x 99mm NATO). The rifle operates by means of the short recoil principle. The weapon system is comprised of the rifle, two ten-round magazines, self-leveling bipod legs, carrying handle, and iron or telescopic sights.

The M82A1 operates on the short-recoil principle. The recoil of the barrel and bolt assembly acts against spring and buffer assemblies to moderate the sharp recoil impact, converting it to a longer-acting lower recoil force. A dual chamber muzzle brake on the M82A1 further reduces the felt recoil to about the same as a 12-gauge shotgun. When used with a suppressor (silencer) the recoil is significantly greater.

M82A1 and M82A3 rifles can be mounted on the M3 or M122 infantry machine gun tripods or on vehicles, using any mounting compatible with the M60 machine gun. The weight makes it difficult to carry on a sling so a transport case or tactical soft case is typically used.

The M82A1M rifle, called M82A3 SASR by the Marine Corps, differs from M82A1 in that it has a full length MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail that allows any rail compatible scope or day/night sight to be attached. The mechanism and barrel have been moderately lightened and the muzzle brake redesigned.

The folding carrying handle and folding bipod are detachable on M82A3, fixed on the M82A1. The M82A3 has a detachable rear monopod under the buttpad which also has a soft pad to cushion the recoil.

M-82A1 .50 cal. Special Application Scoped Rifle Characteristics

Overall length of M82A1 1,448 mm (57 in.)
Overall length of M82A3 1,676 mm (66 in.)
Barrel data 737 cm (29 in.) long, 1 turn in 15 in.
Weight 14.9 Kg (32.9 pounds)
Bore diameter .50 inch (12.7mm)
Muzzle velocity 868 m/sec (2,849 ft/sec)
Maximum effective range 1,800 m (1,968 yards)
Magazine capacity 10 rounds

M-82A1 / M-82A3 Special Application Scoped Rifle Ammunition

For maximum accuracy, DODIC A606 "Cartridge, Caliber .50 API MK211 Mod 0 Single Round" is used as the standard operational round if available. The M82 family of weapons may also fire the military standard .50 cal. M2 Browning Machine Gun cartridge (.50 cal. BMG or 12.7 x 99mm NATO). Use of the .50 cal SLAP (Saboted Light Armor Penetrator) round is specifically forbidden due to hazards associated with such use.

M-82A1 and M-82A3 Rifles Scopes and Optics

AN/PVS-10 Sniper Night Sight 12.2X shown on M82A1 rifle
AN/PVS-10 Sniper Night Sight 12.2X shown on M82A1 rifle.

M82 rifles are equipped with Leupold M series 10X telescope sights or the Unertl 10-power scope, the same 10x Unertl Sniper Scope was fielded by the USMC in the 1980s with the M40A1 and M40A3 sniper rifles (see top photos on this page). The M82A1M (USMC M82A3) rifles have full length MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny accessory rails mounted allowing many options for scopes and night vision equipment with compatible mounting. The AN/PVS-10, shown in the photo just above, has been used with the M82A1 and M82A3 rifles.

Folding backup iron sights are provided in case of field loss of use of the relatively fragile scope.

Recommended Books about .50 Cal. Sniper Rifles

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