The updated M107A1 is a foreboding enemy in battle. In the hands of a US Military sniper it is the biggest baddest infantry weapon on the battlefield, with effective range out to more than a mile.
There are so few 1000 yard ranges in the US that many people never experience dealing with a target that far away. In the FLorida 95+ degree heat and a 20mph wind coming from about 5 o-clock behind us, the mirage was brutal.
The Barrett MRAD is not a scaled down .50 cal. Click the small photo to see the details in what is a truly elegant sniper rifle for the 21st century.
The MRAD with Hornady 285 gr. ammo and the 565 yard target. These were just sighter rounds to see if we were on the paper, but they turned out to be a 2 round group less than an inch wide at 565 yards. Note that the MRAD has a side folding stock. This is unique in a battle ready sniper rifle for the warfighter and a great decision from Barrett to integrate one.
Click the photo for a bigger version, or download the product sales sheet from the direct link on the Barrett website.
When you already make the biggest and baddest sniper rifles in the world it would be easy to just rest on what you have already accomplished. My thinking, and probably most people’s thinking, would ask, “why mess with the good thing?” But that is exactly what Barrett has done by completely redesigning the M107A1, and introducing an entirely new rifle, the MRAD, to the shooting public.
We got a chance to actually go shoot these guns for a day with Ben Becker, our resident US Army Sniper. Ben has shot the original Model 82A1/M107 in combat on many occasions, but the updated, lighter version was a treat in civilian life, and the MRAD is just one of those rifles that you want to shoot as soon as you see it, and shoot them both we did.
The New Barrett M107A1
Direct Link: http://www.barrett.net/firearms/m107a1
Lesson #1 learned from this newly updated battle rifle: Lighter doesn’t always mean more recoil. And lighter isn’t the only difference in the new M107. Every component, from the titanium strengthened monopod to the entire carrier group was redesigned to be lighter and stronger. So it not only supports the ergonomics and recoil of a four pounds lighter rifle, it is also optimized for the Barrett suppressor that is modular and integral to titanium muzzle break you see in our pictures. Even the ten round magazine was updated in the new M107A1. It now has witness holes.
If you have never shot one of these guns, your first round produces two levels of shock. One is obviously the sheer power you can feel yourself sending downrange, but the other is even more of a surprise. The recoil is negligible, far less than a .308 bolt gun, and even lighter than an FAL or HK91. Even though the standard .50 BMG round produces a muzzle energy of over 10,000 foot pounds, roughly 3 to 4 times a .308/7.62NATO, and more than 10 times a .44 magnum, the heavy rifle, the heavy recoil absorbing carrier group, and the ergonomics of the M107A1 itself reduces the recoil significantly. It is a rifle that, if you can afford it at an MSRP of over $12,000, and $5 or so a round for the ammo, you can shoot it all day with zero pain.
Barrett was kind enough to provide us with 50 rounds of their M33 standard ball ammo. The 661 grain bullet leaves the muzzle at 2750 feet per second, producing 11,099 foot pounds of energy from the standard 29″ barrel on the M107A1. These were not “match” rounds, but we were still able to get a 3 inch group out of the gun at 300 yards. At 1000 yards it was a challenge to get back and forth to the targets at a very wet Manatee Gun Club on the west coast of Florida, but were able to keep on the paper, with standard NRA “F Class” target centers, and we hope to get the gun back when we can secure or make some match quality rounds and dry conditions at the long range.
Our test rifle came with the Barrett branded Leupold scope you can order with your rifle. It’s a couple thousand more with all of the gadgets and gizmos, and is probably a good idea to add for the complete system as designed by the maker of the gun. The unit attached will give you all of the calculations for the conditions you are shooting in, and what I really liked about it was that the scope itself isn’t dependent upon the electronics. If you have an external ballistic calculator you can dial it your adjustment manually. The clicks on the scope are true and accurate from what we could tell, and we were able to dial in a perfect zero adjustment from 1000 yards down to 565 yards with a first round hit, using Shooter, a ballistics calculator for Android.
Lesson #2 from the M107A1 was that even with the best spotting scope in the world, the Swarovski you see in the pictures, you can’t see .50 call bullet holes at 1000 yards. The dirt cloud behind the target is evidence of hits, but shooting a gong is much more satisfying at such a long range.
Lesson #3 was that every red blooded American gun nut wants one of these guns. In 95 degree heat with near 100% humidity on a sunny Sunday in Florida, over 40 shooters were there with us banging away for the day, and everyone wanted to see, hold, take pictures with, and would love to shoot the biggest baddest sniper rifle known to man, the Barrett M107A1.
The Barrett MRAD
Direct Link: http://www.barrett.net/firearms/mrad
We saw the MRAD first at media day before SHOT Show of 2011, back in January. The concept of the rifle is simple. It is meant to provide the warfighter, or in our cases, zombie snipers, with a match grade modular sniper system that is worthy of and tough enough for battle, in the plus-size rifle caliber of .338 Lapua Magnum. And while the MRAD is slated to become interchangeable with other common military calibers, like the .308 Win./7.62 Nato, right now it is strictly .338 Lapua. Introduced in 1989, the .338 Lapua is based on the .416 Rigby case, necked down to a .338, and produces of over 4500 foot pounds of muzzle energy with a 285 grain bullet. It is the preferred caliber for the modern military and police sniper.
Shooting a .338 Lapua isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in a fixed breech bolt rifle. The MRAD comes in at 14.8 pounds empty with the standard 24.5″ barrel, roughly twice the weight of your average deer rifle, and it still kicks at least as hard as a 12 gauge shotgun with slugs. The more force you put downrange the more force you have to absorb on the back end, and with no gas or blowback system to buffer the recoil, a bolt rifle in .338 Lapua is always going to be stiff.
In most battle situations, and certainly in just about any urban setting, the MRAD is going to be as much gun as you need. At 1000 yards the bullet still has enough on it to nearly double a .44 magnum point blank at 1600 foot pounds of energy.
We shot the MRAD the same day as the M107A1 and unfortunately ran out of time to do in depth accuracy testing. At some point we hope to also get the MRAD back so Ben can put it through its paces, but what we were able to measure was truly impressive for what is technically a stock military rifle. Lapua sent us some of their 300 grain ammo and we were able to shoot one 3 round group, just sighting the rifle in before they kicked us out for the day. In the one sighting target we shot with the Lapua ammo, the MRAD easily shot into under three inches at 565 yards.
We are of course a Hornady shop and they sent us their excellent 285 grain BTHP Match ammo that clocked on the chronograph at 2700 feet per second. Because the ammo is so expensive, $110 or so for a box of 20, Ben took a couple shots at 565 to see if he was on the paper, before we drove down to the targets (no you can’t see .338 holes at 565 yards even with the Swarovski), and as you can see from the target, two rounds went into less than an inch. Fluke? Killer shooting with a killer gun shooting killer ammo? We’ll see if they send us the gun back. That was the last hot range time for the day at Manatee and for now the MRAD had to move on to the next reviewer.
The scope on the MRAD is also a Leupold, made specifically for the gun, and it ads just over $2000 to the $6000 base MSRP of the MRAD if you want it with the weather and ranging gizmos. It also seemed to be right on with the clicks, and it was a very clear scope with effective controls.
You will notice in the picture that the MRAD has a folding stock, not a common feature for a bolt gun, or for any sniper rifle in the history of warfare. Barrett went out on something of a limb putting a folding stock on this gun, but I think it was a great decision. Clicked into place the stock is every bit as sturdy and consistent as a fixed stock rifle, and folded it is completely secure. For the warfighter, this means you can sling the relatively light 15 lb. rifle while clearing and whatnot with your M4. The MRAD will be ready at your side, quick, accurate, and plus-sized in .338 Lapua to shoot through just about anything when you need to.
Considering we still have M14s from the Vietnam era out in the modern battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the M24 and M40 sniper rifles are not significantly different than infantry rifles dating back to World War I, it is time for a next generation sniper rifle to come along. Nobody makes guns like Barrett, which probably means nobody is making guns that are not for the hobbyist/shooter market, not for the target market, not for the competition market, not for the home defense/zombie market, but specifically and only for the warfighter. We know the model 82A1/M107 already of course, and this update to the M107A1 brings with it new capabilities (the suppressor) and a lighter weight with added strength. The MRAD story has yet to be written, but it should bring new expectations to what the battlefield sniper rifle should be. There still is no rifle like a Barrett, and there may never be one.