Anti-materiel rifle

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Steyr HS .50 AM Rifle
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, the rifles also proved useful in dispatching enemy personnel from superior range, including enemy snipers. This, however, requires that the enemy cannot use arms with similar effective range – which e.g. was the case during the War on Terror in Afghanistan.

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, e.g.; for safely destroying unexploded ordnance.

World War I:[edit]

British officers with a captured German anti-tank gun in Bapaume, France, during World War I. This photograph of British officers with a German anti-tank gun 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 dire 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, 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 an armor-piercing round known as a “K bullet” which were about three times the size of a regular bullet.

World War II:[edit]

During World War II, the anti-materiel guns were widely used. The British Boys .55 caliber anti-tank rifle was a big step up from the usual 20 mm ammunition used by infantry. Another rifle used was an anti-materiel machine gun designed by the Finnish. It was designed to fire a 13.2mm cartridge and 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:[edit]

During the Korean 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:[edit]

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

Modern Day:[edit]

This is the CheyTac Intervention

As anti-material guns were used during World War I and World War II to penetrate the armor of tanks in the modern era the armor of things such as tanks is too powerful for a .50 BMG bullet to penetrate it. Modern day rifles are used to penetrate light armor vehicles or things such as concrete barricades, buildings and as well as being used to take out unexploded ordinance. One of the most popular anti-material rifles today is the Barrett M107, not only for its military use but also being one of the most popular weapons available to civilians.[4] The reason for this is because of the design of the weapon. It is made with a built in suppressor ready muzzle break, a thermal cheek pad, and a hand grip mounted on the inside of the rail. This rifle fires a .50 BMG caliber bullet with a weight of 28.7 pounds and a barrel length of 29 inches.[5] Many other popular anti-material rifles include the Zastava M93 Black arrowMcMillan Tac-50Gepard GM6 LynxAMSD OM 50 NemesisAccuracy International AS50Mechem NTW-20Istiglal IST-14.5WKW Wilk and the CheyTac Intervention M-200.[6]


A sniper using a Barrett M82 anti-material rifle.

Anti-Material Rifles are for use against military equipment instead of against soldier or anti personal. What makes a rifle an anti-material rifle is the type/size of ammunition that is fired. As of the Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868, the use of explosive rounds were deemed to inhuman to use on people, this means that explosive round cannot be used on infantry but can be on any material. The size of the bullet also plays a factor in the definition. A standard rifle fires a .30 caliber 5.56mm or a 7.62mm round as for anti-material rifles fire a .50 caliber BMG round which is built to tear apart vehicles. Due to the large size, weight and kick of this gun most rifles such as the Barrett M99 have to be fired from a prone positon or from a bipod so that the person firing the weapon does not end up with a possible injury. Two to three man sniper teams are required when using this rifle as for the size as well as the possible range this weapon has. For example the range of a standard sniper rifle firing a 7.62x51mm NATO round travels a distance of about 800 meters as for the Barrett’s effective range is greater than 1500 having scored a target at 2500 meters. Another factor that makes a rifle and anti-material rifle is the speed at which a bullet travels. The reason for this this is that speed play the biggest factor in a bullet when penetrating the target. A standard sniper rifle fires a bullet at around 790 meters per second or 2590 feet per second as a Barrett firing .50 BMG has a velocity of 853 meters per second or 2799 feet per second at its effective range.

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 employed cartridges 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.

Due to the considerable size and weight of anti-materiel rifles and other support equipment, sniper cells operating in 2- or 3-man or larger teams have become a necessity.

List of anti-materiel rifles[edit]

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

Rifle Country of origin Caliber
Steyr HS .50 Austria .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
Steyr IWS 2000 Austria 15.2mm proprietary SteyAr APFSDS
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)
M99B / M06 China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
.50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
W03 China 12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
RT-20 Croatia 20×110mm Hispano
Mambi AMR Cuba 14.5×114mm
CZW-127 Czechia .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
12.7×108mm (.50 Russian)
Falcon Czechia .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
DSR-Precision GmbH DSR-50 Germany .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
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)
20×83.5mm (NTW 20)
20×110mm (NTW 20)
Truvelo SR-20[7] South Africa 14.5×114mm
SAN 511 (formerly OM 50 Nemesis) Switzerland .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)
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
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[edit]


  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. ^ "Sniper Rifles". Archived from the original on 2010-04-03. 

External links[edit]