Anti-materiel rifle

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US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician with a McMillan Tac-50

An anti-materiel rifle (AMR) is a rifle that is designed for use against military equipment (materiel), rather than against other combatants ("anti-personnel").


The origins of the anti-materiel rifle go back to the First World War, during which the first anti-tank rifles appeared. While modern tanks and most other armored vehicles are too well protected to be affected by anti-materiel rifles, the guns are still effective for attacking unarmored or lightly armored vehicles. They can also be used against stationary enemy aircraft, missile launchers, radar equipment, small watercraft, communications equipment, crew served weapons and similar targets. Their value is in being able to precisely target and disable enemy assets from long range for a relatively low cost.

Despite having been designed to be used against equipment, anti-materiel rifles have also been used for killing soldiers from distances that are beyond the effective range of rifle-caliber cartridges. Anti-materiel rifles can also penetrate most obstacles and building materials, making them viable for dispatching targets behind cover that is usually hard enough to stop rifle-caliber cartridges.

The offensive use of anti-materiel rifles or special application scoped rifles (SASR) is termed hard target interdiction (HTI) by the United States military.[1]

Anti-materiel rifles can also be used in non-offensive roles – for example, for safely destroying unexploded ordnance.

World War I

New Zealand Officers of the British Expeditionary Force with a captured German anti-tank gun in Second Battle of Bapaume, France, during World War I. This photograph is evidence of how quickly military technology had to evolve during World War I.

The history of anti-materiel rifles dates back to use during the First World War. Anti-tank rifles were used by the Germans against the British Mark 1 tank, which was effectively able to cross 9 ft ditches. As a counter, the Germans first used “direct fire mortars” which were mortars aimed at low angles pointing towards enemy tanks. Later, the Germans developed the T-Gewehr anti-tank rifle, which can be credited with being the first anti-materiel rifle. The rifle was designed to penetrate the thick armor of the British tanks. The rifle weighed 41 lbs when loaded, fired a 13.2-mm round weighing 55.5 grams, and had an effective range of about 500 meters. This weapon had a two-man crew: one to load and the other to fire the weapon, although they often switched roles. The recoil of this weapon was so high that it was known to break collar bones and dislocate shoulders. The rifle fired a steel core armor-piercing round specifically designed for the purpose of being used with this rifle.

World War II

During World War II, anti-materiel guns were widely used. The British Boys 0.55 calibre anti-tank rifle was a significant increase on the usual 0.303 calibre ammunition used by its infantry. Another weapon used was the Lahti L-39 rifle, an anti-materiel rifle designed by the Finns. One version was designed to fire a 13.2 mm cartridge and another a 20 mm cartridge. There was debate over which was more effective at piercing armor. Some argued that the smaller cartridge travelled faster and could penetrate deeper into the armor, while some believed that the higher caliber rounds would cause greater damage. The weapon weighed an incredible 109 lbs and had an 88-inch barrel, and it carried the nickname "the elephant gun".

Cold War

During the Cold War the Barrett M82 rifle was produced by the United States, and was chambered to fire a .50 Browning 12.7x99 mm round. This weapon was sold by the United States to Swedish forces during the Cold War.[2]

Desert Storm

The M82 rifle also saw action in the 1990s in operations such as Desert Shield and also Desert Storm. The US Military purchased 250 of the M82A1 variant. The US Marine Corps purchased around 125 of that model per the orders of the US Air Force.[clarification needed] These weapons were used with rounds such as armor piercing incendiary rounds (API) which were effective against such targets as buildings, trucks, and parked aircraft.[3] The purpose of this round was to penetrate non-armored vehicles and burst into flames on impact.

Modern day

Anti-materiel guns were used during World War I and World War II to penetrate the armor of tanks. In the modern era, the armor of tanks and other vehicles increased, making it difficult for .50 BMG bullets to penetrate. Modern day anti-materiel rifles are used to penetrate light armor vehicles or targets such as concrete barricades and buildings as well as being used to destroy unexploded ordnance. One of the most popular anti-materiel rifles today is the Barrett M107, not only for its military use but also as one of the most popular weapons available to civilians.[4] This is due to the design of the weapon, being built with a suppressor-ready muzzle brake, a thermal cheek pad, and a hand grip mounted on the inside of the rail. This rifle fires a .50 BMG caliber bullet and weighs 28.7 pounds, with a barrel length of 29 inches.[5] Other popular anti-materiel rifles include the Zastava M93 Black arrow, McMillan Tac-50, Gepard GM6 Lynx, AMSD OM 50 Nemesis, Accuracy International AS50, Mechem NTW-20, Istiglal IST-14.5, WKW Wilk and the CheyTac Intervention M-200.[6]


A sniper using a Barrett M82 anti-materiel rifle.

Anti-materiel rifles are for use against military equipment rather than personnel. The type and size of ammunition defines a rifle as anti-materiel. When used with conventional ball or target ammunition the rifle does not have any anti-materiel capability above and beyond that of any other high velocity, large calibre rifle. The Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868, deemed explosive rounds to be inhumane in use against personnel, but they can be employed against materiel. The size of the bullet also plays a factor in the definition. A standard rifle typically fires a 5.56mm or 7.62mm round, while anti-materiel rifles tend to fire a .50 caliber BMG round with the capacity for greater destruction and penetration.

In general, anti-materiel rifles are chambered for 12.7×99mm NATO (.50 BMG), 12.7×108mm Russian, 14.5×114mm Russian, and 20mm cartridges. The large cartridges are required to be able to fire projectiles containing usable payloads, such as explosives, armor-piercing cores, incendiaries, or combinations of these, as found in the Raufoss Mk 211 projectile.

Russian heavy semi-automatic sniper rifle chambered for the 12.7×108mm round.

The recoil produced by the cartridges employed dictates that these rifles are designed to be fired from the prone position. Bipods and monopods and muzzle brakes are used as accessories to employ these rifles as comfortably and accurately as possible. Firing several 12.7×99mm NATO, 12.7×108mm Russian, or larger caliber shots from the (unsupported) standing position or in a kneeling position would be very uncomfortable for the operator and can result in them being knocked over or sustaining a shoulder injury.

2– to 3–man sniper teams are required when using an anti-materiel rifle, due to its size and weight, as well as its possible range. According to the U.S. army, the range of a standard sniper rifle firing a 7.62x51mm NATO round is a distance of about 800 metres (870 yd) while the Barrett’s effective range is 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) against personnel targets, and 2,000 metres (2,200 yd) against materiel targets.[7] The longest confirmed kill shot was made with a .50 BMG by a Canadian sniper in Iraq at 3,540 metres (3,870 yd).[8]

List of anti-materiel rifles

The following table contains a sortable list of some anti-materiel rifles.

Rifle Country of origin Caliber
Steyr IWS 2000 Austria 15.2mm proprietary SteyAr APFSDS
Steyr HS .50 Austria .50 BMG
.460 Steyr
Istiglal Azerbaijan 14.5×114mm
AMR-2 China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
JQ China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
JS 12.7 China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
LR2A China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
Zijiang M99 China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
.50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
W03 China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
RT-20 Croatia 20x110mm Hispano
Mambi AMR Cuba 14.5×114mm
CZW-127 Czech Republic .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
Falcon Czech Republic .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
PGM Hecate II France .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
PDSHP Georgia 14.5×114mm
Satevari MSWP Georgia .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
DSR-Precision GmbH DSR-50 Germany .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr Germany 13.2mm TuF
Gepárd anti-materiel rifles Hungary .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO),
12.7×108mm (.50 Russian),
14.5×114mm Russian
Vidhwansak India 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
Pindad SPR-2 and SPR-3 Indonesia .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO) on SPR-2, 7.62 NATO on SPR-3
Shaher Iran 14.5×114mm (.57 Russian)
Tor Poland .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
KSVK Russia 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
OSV-96 Russia 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
Zastava M93 Black Arrow Serbia .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO) or
12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
Denel NTW-20 South Africa 14.5×114mm Russian (NTW 14.5)
20×82mm (NTW 20)
20×110mm Hispano (NTW 20)
Truvelo SR-20[9] South Africa 14.5×114mm
20×110mm Hispano
SAN 511 (formerly OM 50 Nemesis) Switzerland .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Solothurn S-18/1000 Switzerland 20x138mmB
Accuracy International AS50 United Kingdom .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Accuracy International AW50 United Kingdom .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Accuracy International AW50F United Kingdom .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Accuracy International AX50 United Kingdom .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Barrett M82A1/M107 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Barrett M90 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Barrett M95 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Barrett M99 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
.416 Barrett
Barrett XM500 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Barrett XM109 United States 25×59mm
Anzio 20mm rifle United States 20x102mm Vulcan
Serbu Firearms BFG-50a United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
.510 DTC Europ
Windrunner M96 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
.510 DTC Europ
Iver Johnson AMAC-1500 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
McMillan Tac-50 United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Desert Tech HTI United States .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)

See also


  1. ^ Hard Target Interdiction, By Michael Haugen - snapshot from the Wayback Machine, dated July 19, 2007
  2. ^ "Barrett M82 Anti-Tank / Anti-Material Rifle (AMR)". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  3. ^ "Barrett M82 Anti-Tank / Anti-Material Rifle (AMR)". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  4. ^ "Barrett M107 Heavy Caliber Anti-Material / Anti-Personnel Sniper Rifle". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  5. ^ "M107A1 | Barrett". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  6. ^ "The Top 10 Anti-Material Sniper Rifles in the World?". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  7. ^ "Small Arms – Precision Weapons". United States Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC). Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  8. ^ "A Canadian sniper breaks the record for the longest confirmed kill shot – }but how?". BBC Newsbeat. 2017-06-23. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  9. ^ "Sniper Rifles". Archived from the original on 2010-04-03.

External links

  • 20mm AMR – New Use for Unused Ammo, SOF Weapons SectionCrane Division, Naval Surface Warfare CenterSmall Arms Weapons Systems Division, USSOCOM Comparative Testing Office
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