Why everyone loves Barrett’s MRAD sniper rifle: It is incredibly light-weight, offers excellent accuracy, and most importantly: can be chambered in several calibers.
Barrett Firearms‘ status within the United States military is solid. The Tennessee-based firearm manufacturer has designed and built several extremely long-range sniper and anti-materiel rifles chambered in the .50 BMG heavy machine gun cartridge, as well as other larger diameter precision cartridges.
The company has a unique history too. Drawing inspiration from a .50 caliber machine gun, Barrett founder Ronnie Barrett built the original Barrett sniper rifle — chambered in .50 BMG — on the floor of his garage. Using parts he designed and built with hand-machined parts, the rifle prototype was a rough design, but almost immediately successful. It made its combat debut with the United States Marine Corps just in time for the 1990-1991 Gulf War. And since its introduction in U.S. military service, Barrett’s rifles just keep getting better and better.
Multi-role Adaptive Design
In 2016, United States Special Operations Command announced that they were looking for a new, modular sniper rifle that could swap between three calibers — and would be awarding a $50,000,000 contract to the rifle they could find. The winner of their Advanced Sniper Rifle competition? Barrett Firearms and their Multi-role Adaptive Design rifle.
Barrett’s MRAD rifle is truly unique. Unlike virtually any other rifle, the MRAD can be easily and quickly adapted to specific mission requirements — by changing the cartridge it fires.
This is accomplished by simply swapping out the barrel with a Torx wrench and easy to use conversion kits that allow ammunition changeover to be done in the field, without a gunsmith’s expertise.
The MRAD is available in a whopping 8 calibers, depending on the variant, although the MRAD MK22, which will supply the Marine Corps, Army, and SOCOM, will be available in .338 Norma Mag, .300 Norma Mag, and 7.62 x 51mm NATO.
The bolt-action precision rifle comes equipped with 10-round magazines and is a featherweight compared to its .50 BMG predecessors at a paltry 13.9 to 15.2 pounds, thanks in part to its light-weight machined aluminum upper receiver, depending on the cartridge and barrel configuration.
Along with a familiar and easy-to-use AR-style pistol grip, the MRAD comes equipped with an adjustable, rightward-folding stock that also sports an adjustable, reversible cheekpiece for improved shooting ergonomics.
According to Barrett, will start delivering the MRAD sometime this month. In addition to SOCOM, the Marine Corps also wants in and envisions that the MRAD will replace all bolt-action rifles in USMC inventories. The Army would also like in as well, where it will apparently replace both the M107 and M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle systems.
Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer based in Europe. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.