A new weapon under development will make those long shots not only possible but more deadly.
The Barrett XM-109 Sniper Rifle
Sniping just got a whole lot more deadly with the Barrett XM-109 sniper
rifle, which marries improved range with the firepower of an Apache
The high-powered Barrett XM-109 rifle.
Barrett XM-109 Sniper Rifle
Type of Equipment:
Fires 25mm low velocity HEDP ammunition
Accurate out to 2,500 meters
46 inches long, weighs 33 pounds.
Components interchangeable with M-107 .50 caliber rifle
Incorporates BORS ballistic computer
Heckler & Koch XM-8
Heckler & Koch G11
Hakkaa Päälle -- the term is Finnish for "Cut them down," and it's been
passed down from the Finnish cavalry of Gustavus Adolphus in the 17th
century to the Finnish infantry during the Russo-Finn Winter War in the 20th
With any luck, America's light infantry will soon be saying it as well.
Already established as the world's authority and leader in the production of
heavy caliber long range sniper rifles -- including the M107 .50 caliber
rifle -- Barrett Arms hopes to raise the bar even higher with the
introduction of its new XM-109 25mm payload rifle. Based on the existing
M-107 design, the XM-109 will give infantry the ability to lethally engage
light armored vehicles out to 2500 meters, with the firepower of an Apache
helicopter. For Soldiers needing an edge in combat, that's a pretty good can
of Hakkaa Päälle to open up on the enemy.
The XM-109 is essentially a reconfigured M-107 .50 Caliber semi-automatic
rifle -- if you can imagine a .50 caliber rifle being mated with a 25 mm
receiver. Thanks to the increased power, the XM-109 rifle is designated as a
"payload" rifle, designed to destroy light armor, and light enough to be
carried by a single sniper. Essentially, the 25mm upper receiver attaches
directly to the lower receiver of the M-107 (in effect, swapping out the .50
caliber components for 25mm ones). In the process, the rifle's weight
actually remains unchanged at 33 pounds, but its length has been shortened
considerably, with the XM-109 (at 46 inches) being 11 inches shorter than
Like the M-107, the XM-109 will come with a spiked bipod (to stabilize the
weapon and help manage recoil), a large, multi-baffle muzzle brake, and a
standard "flattop" optical sight rail, which will allow the rifle to use any
existing electro-optical or thermal weapon sight currently in the US
inventory. Ammunition is fed out of a detachable box magazine, though in the
case of the XM-109, magazine capacity has been reduced from 10 to 5 rounds.
Barrett is currently developing mounts to enable the XM-109 to be used in
vehicles, helicopters, and soft-sided (rubber) watercraft.
The components of the XM-109; chief among them is the 25mm receiver.
The centerpiece of the XM-109 system is the 25mm HEDP ammunition it fires. A
scaled down derivative of the low velocity 30mm HEDP M789 ammunition fired
by the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the MX-109's 25mm ammunition has been
judged to be 2.5 times more effective at destroying targets than a .50
caliber armor-piercing round. It is expected that this ammunition can
penetrate nearly 40mm (an inch and a half) of armor plating at 500 meters,
or blast open doors from around the corner. In other words, it gives the
Soldier breaching capability on fortified positions, while minimizing
exposure to enemy fire, thanks to its effectiveness at greater distances.
Also in the works are a number of specialized rounds, ranging from solid
core AP ammunition to non-lethal/ crowd control munitions utilizing inert
rubber balls, and RC agents.
To enable the shooter to engage targets out to 2,500 meters, Barrett has
developed an integrated ballistic computer/ riflescope system known as BORS
(Barrett Optical Ranging System). Historically, long range shooting has been
a highly technical endeavor in which the shooter had to make a number of
calculations before the trigger could be pulled. These calculations included
range to the target, the effects of barometric pressure and air temperature,
and the type of ammunition loaded. BORS automatically calculates all these
variables, and adjusts the sight reticule accordingly. All the shooter needs
to do is enter the ammunition type into the BORS (using touch pads on the
BORS console) determine the range (either mechanically or through a LRF) and
crank the elevation knob on the scope until the proper range appears in the
BORS display. The BORS automatically determines the temperature and
barometric pressure, as well as the cant or tilt in the rifle itself, and
incorporates these enviro-physical factors into its calculations. Once the
proper range has been entered, the shooter need only put the target under
the crosshairs and pull the trigger.
The XM-109 undergoing testing.
The Block I version of BORS is available now, while Block II (which will
include an integrated range finder) is expected to become available in '05
with Block III (new optics, Night Vision capable, wide angle, stabilized
image) becoming available in '06. Lastly, Barrett believes that the BORS
system will be completely compatible with the 200mm air-bursting grenade
featured on the OICW and that similar ammunition could be developed for use
in the XM-109, as well as adapting the BORS to the OICW, to provide ranging
and environmental information to the 20mm grenade launcher.
The XM-109 isn't the first rifle designed with armor-piercing capabilities
in mind. One of the great anti-tank rifles (ATR) was the Finnish L39 Lahti.
Firing 20mm AP ammunition, the Lahti was deadly against pre-World War II
Soviet tanks. Unfortunately, it was also very rough on the shooter as well.
Dubbed the "Elephant Gun" because of its savage recoil, the Lahti was
rendered obsolete as an ATR by 1941, and by the conclusion of WWII, ATR
itself had became a thing of the past. Too light to penetrate tank (or even
modern APC) armor, too heavy to be easily transportable, and too hard on the
operator to encourage active use, ATRs were simply outclassed by the
emergent ATGMs and RPGs.
Well, ATRs may be making a comeback. While anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs)
still reign supreme, there is a niche in today's battlefield where a weapon
such as the XM-109 would do very well. Too heavy to be truly considered
offensive weapons, both the M-107 and the XM-109 excel in the defense. In
the environments American soldiers now find themselves (urban built up areas
where the primary human threat is either dismounted infantry or modified
civilian vehicles such as the Somali "technicals") a cost effective
anti-vehicular weapon is just what they need. In this role, the XM-109 has
several advantages over both ATGMs and RPGs. Since it is a rifle, it has no
back blast, so it can be fired from within an enclosed structure, vehicle,
or aircraft, without danger to the vehicle, or passengers. Firing a small
DPHE warhead, the XM-109 is perfectly capable of stopping a vehicle without
obliterating it and causing additional collateral damage (as would be the
case if the target were hit by a TOW missile).
Finally, the XM-109 is usable throughout its entire range, unlike missiles
(and at a significantly longer range than an RPG), and is capable of being
employed at far shorter ranges (such as those encountered in urban block
fights) than would be possible with helicopter launched ATGMs or unguided
aerial rockets. The XM-109 isn't going to turn the tide in the war on
terrorism by itself, but it will make it a little safer.
Barrett XM-109 Specifications
Short recoil operation, semi-automatic
M1913 optical rail, BORS ballistic computer, monopod socket
2600 feet per second
5-round detachable box magazine
Dual-chamber detachable muzzle brake or suppressor system; detachable bipod
and carry handle