An All-Weather Warrior
There’s hardly a soldier on the planet who doesn’t know about the big Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifles, and if they’re lucky, they’ve never been on the receiving end of one of these 2-kilometer killers. Far fewer know that when Ronnie Barrett began sketching out the design on his kitchen table, he was creating a first in ordnance history: a 1-man portable bolt action .50 BMG precision rifle. Even fewer know Ronnie also designed and produces a superb little AR clone chambered in 5.56mm NATO and 6.8 SPC—the Barrett REC7. I had never seen one. When my Uncle John invited me to help evaluate a REC7 for our sister publication, American COP Magazine, I jumped on it.
This was a quick turn-around assignment, “due yesterday,” and we had no choice on shooting weather. It was -22 degrees F, still and sharp when we left for the range at dawn. The previous evening’s forecast called for a high of 8 degrees F above. We missed by minutes a countywide broadcast warning listeners to remain indoors due to wind chills of -20 to -40 F and dangerously icy, windy road conditions in a few hours. It would be an interesting day.
Ronnie Barrett’s connections in the SOCOM sniper community run wide and deep. When the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts boiled up, he began hearing stories from the troops about malfunctions and failures of their M4s and M16s due to sand, dust, carbon fouling and heat, and ineffectiveness of the issue M855 5.56mm round in stopping unarmored troops.
At about the same time the Department of Defense got a whiff of the coffee, and very tentatively indicated they might be interested in a more reliable variant of the platform, and perhaps even a more effective round. Remington Arms, in collaboration with members of the US Special Operations Command, had meantime developed the 6.8 SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge). That was enough for Ronnie, and he broke out the pencils again. He worked fast, but not fast enough. DoD’s wandering eye drifted away, and a breeze blew the door closed.
By John Taffin
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