The Barrett M82 sniper rifle chambered in .50 BMG has become something of a legend. Standardized by the U.S. military as the M107, the rifle has been used by dozens of countries.
Russia introduced its own take on the concept with the OSV-96, chambered for 12.7x108mm, in the 1990s. The rifle can engage infantry at a distance of 1800 meters and can take on materiel targets at ranges up to 2500 meters.
However, the OSV-96 never garnered the same level of praise as the Barrett, and it would seem that the Russian arms industry is looking for a do-over.
Introducing the Astarta
A new big-bore rifle debuted at this week’s Army-2023 International Military-Technical Forum, which is being held outside of Moscow. The High-Precision Systems holding company — a part of state-owned military tech conglomerate Rostec — presented the Astarta 12.7-millimeter sniper rifle.
Tass reported that the Astarta’s tactical and technical characteristics are superior to those of the 12.7-millimeter OSV-96 sniper rifle.
“During our first tests this rifle showed groups of five shots that hit a tiny area of 1.5 square centimeters. From a distance of 100 meters. This is unique. The bullet’s caliber is 12.7 millimeters. In other words, it’s like all bullets flew into one tiny hole. One after another,” said Vitaly Bulgakov, the deputy managing director of KBP JSC, a part of Rostec’s High-Precision Systems.
More Accurate Than the Barrett?
Bulgakov suggested the Astarta is “many times” more accurate than the U.S.-made Barrett sniper rifle. He added that the 12.7-millimeter caliber is large enough to hit armored targets as well as infantry in shelters.
“The rifle is semi-automatic, but at the same time it boasts high accuracy. The Barrett rifle showed an average shot grouping of 6 centimeters. That is, we have surpassed the Americans many times over,” Bulgakov claimed. “Special task units will be the first to get the Astarta rifle. We are focused on specialists, the troops do not need it en masse.”
Current plans call for Rostec to produce about 1,000 of the new rifles for the Russian military. The exact unit cost was not stated, nor was any timeline given on when production might begin.
Barrett’s Going In Another Direction
It also wasn’t clear which of Barrett’s firearms Bulgakov was referring to while he boasted that the Astarta is more accurate. The U.S.-based company no longer produces the M82A2, though the XM500 could be seen as its successor.
In March 2019, the United States Department of Defense awarded Barrett Firearms Manufacturing a contract to produce the Advanced Sniper Rifle, a modular, multi-caliber bolt action sniper rifle that would be capable of converting between .300 Norma Magnum, .338 Norma Magnum, and 7.62×51 mm.
Designated the MK22, it was an updated version of the Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design sniper rifle.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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