.50 BMG Rifles
Barrett/McMillan Firearms

.50 BMG Rifles: The 6 Best on the Market Today


Advertisement

One of the most iconic rifle rounds in the world is the .50 Browning Machine Gun, or as it is more simply known, .50 BMG. The general idea behind this round was first developed by the legendary designer John Browning, but it was fully fleshed out by Winchester Repeating Arms. That was during World War II, when the round saw extensive use in .50 caliber M2 Browning Machine Guns. It is probably safe to say the round helped turn the tide of the Great War. The gun and round were so reliable that they are still in use with armed forces around the world today. The old adage of "If it's not broke, don't fix it," certainly has some play here. Strangely enough, it was not until the early 80s that the idea of a modern rifle in 50 BMG first gained traction with Ronnie Barrett's now iconic M82 anti-material rifle. With these types of rifles, a .50 BMG can fire huge rounds at a blistering 2,700-3,000 feet per second and hit with nearly 15,000 foot pounds of energy depending on the type of round used.

Today, the market for 50 BMG rifles is mostly United States military and law enforcement, but there are rifles that civilians can own. The market is rather niche, probably because practical uses are limited. That and the rifles can be insanely expensive, sometimes as much as $20,000. The ammo isn't much better, sometimes going for upwards of $5-$6 a round. And that's on the low end of ammunition. However, for the average citizen with deep pockets who wants to own one of the largest rifles out there, options exist on the market. Today we will have a look at some of them, their features and let you know what they will cost you.

Barrett Model 82

As we already mentioned, Ronnie Barrett was one of the first to see the potential in a shoulder-fired .50 caliber rifle. One of the more fascinating aspects of the Barret82 is this gun was originally designed in his garage! Today, the Barrett 82A1 is the civilian version of a rifle that has seen action in nearly every major conflict since both as an anti-tank and vehicle round and as a sniper rifle.

Advertisement

The M82 is a semi-automatic, short recoil-operated rotating bolt design. It cycles by using the tremendous recoil to move the barrel back and cycle in the next round. The lower receiver and other parts are made mostly of heavy sheet metal, which helps contribute to the whopping 33-pound weight. Barrett offers this rifle in a variety of finishes. It has a 20 or 29-inch fluted barrel with a 1:15 or 1:12 rate of twist. It also comes fitted with a choice of two styles of muzzle brake to help tame this rifle's awesome recoil.

This rifle has an overall length of 57 inches and comes fitted with a bipod to help you steady it for long-range shots. The Barrett M82A1 has been used by trained snipers to make shots at over 3,000 yards, and yes, it is perfectly legal for civilians to own. However, you might want to double check your bank statements before you go to make the purchase. This rifle costs anywhere from $7,000-$10,000, even used.

Barrett Model M107A1

This rifle may look nearly identical to the M82A1 to the untrained eye, but this is the slightly updated version of the classic Barrett. The biggest difference in the aluminum receiver and frame that shaves the weight down to 28.7 pounds, which is why this semi auto earned the nickname "The Light Fifty." We assume that's a joke, but we digress. The weight difference may not seem like much, but it's worth noting that most people who have handled both do say it makes a notable difference.

Advertisement

Barrett also cut weight in other areas like the detachable bipod, which is made from titanium instead. Barrett claims that through precision engineering, the M107A1 is more accurate than the M82. This gun also has a 29-inch barrel length standard, but there is also an option for a shorter 20-inch barrel. Be prepared for the extra kick that comes with that, even with the muzzle brake in place. Both come with a 1:15 twist rate. That shorter barrel also cuts the overall length down to 48 inches.

This rifle features a totally redesigned muzzle brake that also helps cut down the recoil from such a large round. Like the M82A1, this gun takes 10-round magazines and comes in a variety of Cerakote finishes. This is the most expensive Barrett on the market with an MSRP of $12,281. They can usually be found for less than that with a little shopping, but you are probably going to have difficulty finding a new one from under $10k.

Remington R2MI

.50 BMG Rifles

This rifle is essentially an updated version of the Bushmaster BA50. The first thing you'll notice is that it's comparable in size with the Barrett and Bushmaster thanks to a whopping 57-inch overall length. The big difference here is this is a bolt action rifle. The design is rather unique because Remington decided to place the bolt on the left side. The idea behind that being that it can be operated without having to lift your head to cycle a round.

Advertisement

The 30-inch barrel has a manganese phosphate finish and is free floating. The end is fitted with an AAC muzzle brake and is suppressor ready. Like the Barretts, it takes 10-round magazines. One feature we appreciate, the receiver disassembles in the same style as an AR-sporting rifle to make cleaning quick and easy. Speaking of that receiver, it is machined from aluminum, which should help keep the weight down. The MIL-STD 1913 picatinny rail allows you to mount a serious optic for long distance shots.

Just like the Barrett, this rifle comes in around 30 pounds, so it's not something that's easily totable anywhere. What else would you expect from a .50 BMG. One cool thing about this rifle is the MSRP is $4,559, which means this rifle costs half as much as a Barrett. Remington also sweetens the deal a little by including two magazines, hearing and eye protection and a custom Pelican hard case. No need to buy anything extra. Head to the range and shoot!

Serbu BFG-50

Some companies have realized that more people would like to own and shoot a .50 BMG, but those gigantic price tags are scaring them away. Serbu came up with a solution in this rifle. The BFG-50 starts at $2,395 as a base price, making this rifle much more affordable for everyday shooting enthusiasts. This is a single-shot rifle fitted with either a standard 29.5-inch match grade barrel, a carbine 22-inch barrel or a 36-inch heavy barrel. It comes fitted with a "shark brake" system to reduce the recoil and sound.

The way Serbu was able to cut the costs was impressive. There's nothing flashy about the design. They built it for function over form. You may have already noticed how much slimmer this gun is compared to other rifles. The heaviest model with the 36-inch barrel comes in at 26.75 pounds. The carbine model only weighs 15.25 pounds. Those are still heavy guns, but they're lightweights compared to almost every other .50 BMG on the market today.

Advertisement

The entire rifle features a parkerized manganese phosphate finish. The standard scope mount is a picatinny rail, but Serbu will add a 30MOA base for an extra $50. Online reviewers praise these rifles for their simplicity of use and incredible accuracy in a package that costs infinitely less than other offerings on the market.

ArmaLite AR-50

Sure, you know about ArmaLite's AR-15 sporting rifles, but did you know they make a .50 BMG? It is true. The AR-50 is a bolt-action, single shot rifle that packs a lot of punch. We have seen this rifle bashed a little online for being "ugly." We'll admit, it is a little blocky-looking, but this is a case where function trumps form. And if you're looking for a .50 BMG without breaking your bank account, you might have to sacrifice on looks to some degree. Just tell your buddies it's not "ugly," it's "futuristic." Besides, they'll stop making fun of it once they see what it can do on the range.

This rifle has a 30-inch barrel with a 1:15 rate of twist and a large muzzle brake to tame the recoil. It is one of the largest .50 cals on the market at 59.5 inches in length and 33 pounds. So, it is not exactly something you will be taking on a backcountry hunt in the mountains. While this rifle is not portable, it is adjustable. The cheek plate and buttstock can both be adjusted to your frame.

The ArmaLite AR-50 is also a highly accurate rifle out to 1,000 yards. As far as .50 BMG rifles go, this one is about the middle of the pack when it comes to price with an MSR: of $3,359.

Advertisement

McMillan Tac-50

This rifle has gained one heck of a reputation in the last 20 years for its legendary military service record. In fact, one could argue it's quickly becoming as famous as the Barrett rifles. A Canadian sniper used a Tac-50 to record the longest confirmed sniper kill ever in Iraq in 2007 at a staggering 3,870 yards. Yes, you read that correctly, over two miles. Not all us are capable of shooting like that, but it's still impressive to know the capabilities of this firearm. Like other .50 BMGs, this rifle is a true beast at 57 inches long and 26 pounds. It has a 29-inch match grade and fluted barrel which McMillian says allows the rifle to shoot sub-MOA groups.

This rifle is a bolt action design and is fed via five-round magazines. Since the originals, McMillan has constantly worked on improving the design. One of the latest is the Tac-50C, (pictured above), which cuts the weight down to 24 pounds while still keeping a hefty, 29-inch match grade, fluted barrel with a 1:15 rate of twist. The company cut the overall length down to a slightly more manageable 51.8 inches.

McMillan also added three 1913 MIL-STD rail sections for the addition of accessories. The Tac-50C has other nice features including an adjustable buttstock, cheekpiece, and a slightly smaller pistol grip made to make it more ergonomic for a variety of shooters. As you might have guessed, a rifle like this is not cheap. You are looking at a little over $11,000 MSRP for one. However, the company does back it with a lifetime warranty, which is a nice touch for such a large investment.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

Advertisement

NEXT: 10 OF THE BEST .22 RIFLES ON THE MARKET FOR PLINKING AND HUNTING FUN

Related Videos

 
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]