|Barrett Firearms Manufacturing’s already iconic status among gun enthusiasts will take two giant steps forward with the announcement of two major awards.
Ronnie Barrett, inventor of the world famous Barrett .50 caliber rifle, will be named the National Rifle Association’s Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award Winner at an annual convention in May.
And, perhaps more importantly, his son, Chris, will receive the Rifle of the Year Award for a ground-breaking new design for a turnbolt rifle, the Barrett 98 Bravo, a smaller caliber weapon with potential huge markets for military, law enforcement and precision shooters.
The 98 Bravo is in competition for adoption by the U.S. military and if selected could lead to massive manufacturing production for the Barrett facility at Christiana.
Where an order for the Barrett .50 might number 1,000, the potential for the 98 Bravo would produce orders in the range of 10,000.
Firing a .338 magnum round, the 98 Bravo “really breaks from old, traditional way of rifle making,” Ronnie Barrett said, explaining that police and military tactical “black rifles” were “previously just beefed up deer rifles.”
The Bravo can be disassembled with no tools, works in sand and represents a marked departure from a basic design by “Mauser 100 years ago,” he noted.
Chris Barrett adapted architecture from the Barrett .50 as he addressed a need for a long-range, precision bolt-action rifle that was modular and adaptable, requirements the military had recognized it needed for such weapons.
The desired modular design fits military needs for lighter weight, and capabilities of adding night-vision scopes, quick-change barrels and folding stocks add to uses in the field.
The Bravo design will also meet a much broader appeal.
Iconic Barrett .50 caliber appears in movies, games
Many people who have never been in much more than hearing of a rifle shot are familiar with the iconic Barrett .50 caliber M107 rifle.
The groundbreaking weapon that gave huge firepower capability, and thus survival ability and lethality, to small military groups has been featured in countless movies, television and even computer games.
In fact the Barrett .50 is notably evident in America culture right now.
The weapon is featured prominently in the nine-Oscar-nominated “The Hurt Locker,” meaning Barrett Firearms Manufacturing officials will be keeping a close eye this year’s Academy Awards.
And, the Barrett .50 is a valued resource in the amazingly popular video games, Call of Duty I and II, the best-selling first-person action game of all time with more than $1 billion in sales.
While companies often pay to have their products appear in popular games, Barrett required payment to appear in Call of Duty and received it.
Chris Barrett, son of founder Ronnie Barrett, worked on the set of “The Hurt Locker,” helping train actors in how to use and handle the Barrett .50 realistically in the movie.
“We could have been in an Oscar-nominated movie,” he exclaims with a grin, noting due to his work with the actors he and his father were offered small, but possibly speaking parts in the film.
They turned down the offer in part because it was being filmed in Jordan in summer.
The Bravo’s price and much smaller and more economical ammunition make it greatly more affordable to sports and competitive shooters.
Barrett Manufacturing has entered the Bravo in military competition for a new tactical rifle, along with such competitors as Remington.
If Chris Barrett’s design is accepted in the multi-year process, it would mark the first time a father and son had a rifle adopted by the military and only the fifth American so recognized.
Ronnie Barrett notes military acceptance would be a huge boost for sales as “every gun the U.S. government ever adopted you can still buy … are entrenched into the logistics of the country and it goes on and on … probably never go out of production.”
Chris Barrett began design on what became the Bravo rifle more than 10 years ago, but dropped it due to restrictions imposed by the 1994 crime bill that among other provisions banned pistol grips and large magazines on rifles.
When the bill was not renewed during President George W. Bush’s term and the military began assessing its needs, Barrett returned to work on the gun, eventually producing the award-winning design.
The Pioneer Award winner will be recognized at the NRA’s convention May 14 and 15 in Charlotte. N.C., receiving an award that serves as a man of the year and legacy honor.
Ronnie Barrett’s ground-breaking development of a lightweight .50 caliber rifle, which has been recognized by the U.S. Defense Department as part of a historic top 10 in weapons development, is used by more than 50 international allies and its incorporation into modern culture in movies and computer video have given him an international profile.
At events involving gun enthusiasts, Barrett is “like a rock star,” company marketing spokesman Ralph Vaughn said, noting having spent more than two hours at a gun show while the .50 inventor signed autographs as hundreds lined up to meet him.
Pointing to the NRA’s five million members and 20 million affiliates, Barrett said he is honored “to get a man of the year from these guys” who he describes as “one of the oldest civil rights organizations” in the country.