While the industry clamors for and works on the latest and greatest long-range sniper-rifle cartridge, the venerable .50 BMG continues to perform well. Although exiting things have been implemented in small quantities, with more on the horizon, the .50 remains viable. It is certainly proven: No one who has ever fired or used the .50 BMG really denies its capabilities, especially out to 1,500 yards. Like all things though, it has its limitations.
The current-issue M107 A3 is still primarily a hard-target rifle. Loaded with ball ammunition or AP rounds, it is a 2 MOA gun most of the time. That is fine if the target is a truck, but many in our special operations command require something with greater accuracy, usually a bolt gun.
A good friend of mine deployed pretty much all of the current bolt guns while serving as an Army Ranger. According to him, they all shared certain characteristics. They were heavy, generally close to 30 pounds. They were also long, generally close to 60 inches in length. If you are jumping out of planes, helicopters and other perfectly good aircraft, gun weight is critical. Although changes to muzzle brakes have lessened the recoil and muzzle blast a bit, most are less than comfortable to shoot. In some cases, they are flat-out harsh, regardless of what’s attached to the muzzle.
Lastly, especially with typical ammunition, they were not especially accurate. Even with match ammunition, they are 1 MOA rifles as a rule. There are some benchrest rifles that are incredibly accurate, but most are simply not suited to combat use. Jumping out of plane, landing safely and then hiking into a forward firing position (FFP) to set up is a far cry from employing a shooter’s bench. What’s needed is a rifle that packs easily, shoots sub-MOA and is reliable in field conditions. With its HTI .50 BMG, Desert Tactical Arms may have finally filled the bill.