Ronnie Barrett

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ronnie G. Barrett
Ronnie G. Barrett.jpg
Born 1954 (age 62–63)
Residence Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Citizenship United States
Alma mater Murfreesboro Central High School
Occupation photographer
reserve deputy
Known for Barrett sniper rifles
Spouse(s) Donna Rowland Barrett
(married 2010-present)[1]
Children Chris Barrett
Angela Barrett

Ronnie G. Barrett (born 1954) is an American firearms manufacturer, the founder of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing of Christiana, Tennessee and the designer of the first .50 caliber rifle for civilian use.

Life and career[edit]

Barrett was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1954, and graduated from Murfreesboro Central High School.[2] He started his career in 1972 as a professional photographer. In 1982, while he owned a photography studio, he got his initial inspiration to create what would become the Barrett signature product. On January 1, 1982, when Barrett was photographing a river patrol gunboat on the Stones River near Nashville, Tennessee, he created an award-winning picture that made him start thinking about the .50 caliber cartridge because of two Browning machineguns mounted prominently on that boat.[3]

Since no commercially available .50 caliber rifle existed at that time, he decided to make a semi-automatic weapon.[4] With no background in manufacturing or engineering, Barrett sketched a cross-sectioned, full-size rifle, adding different components to it. Once he decided on the concept, he approached some machine shops with his drawings. They told him that if his idea were any good, someone smarter would have already designed it.[2] However, this did not diminish his ideas.

A few days later, Bob Mitchell, a tool and die maker and machinist in Smyrna, Tennessee, agreed to help. After their regular job responsibilities, the men would start working on Barrett’s ideas, sometimes laboring together all night in a one-bay garage using a small mill and lathe. Barrett also found support from a sheet metal fabricator who allowed him to visit the owner’s shop and work directly with one employee, Harry Watson. The resulting gun was the shoulder-fired Barrett rifle, which was created in less than four months.[5]

While fine-tuning the first prototype rifle, Barrett began designing a second prototype that featured an improved and sleek exterior and other improvements learned from the first prototype. He made a video of the first prototype being fired, then prepared the second prototype so it would sit on a table. He displayed the latter at a Houston, Texas, gun show where three people gave him deposits to make a rifle for them. With a limited amount of money, Barrett set up a small shop at his residence in a gravel-floored garage. He began by building a batch of 30 rifles, mainly because the two wooden gun racks he made in his father’s cabinet shop held 15 rifles each.[3]

Ronnie Barrett Top 10 Award

Using his hand-drawing of the new rifle, he placed an advertisement in Shotgun News and soon sold-out the first batch. Barrett was contacted by the CIA who purchased a number of rifles for the Afghan Mujahideen for use in their war against the Soviet Union.[4]

In the last 100 years, only seven individuals have invented firearms adopted by the United States Military. Besides Ronnie Barrett, the other six are John Browning, John C. Garand, Eugene Stoner, John Taliaferro Thompson, Melvin Maynard Johnson JR, and Eugene Reising. The first three referenced had their designs perfected and mass-produced by either the U.S. government or another manufacturing company.[6][7][8] Of these seven designers, only Browning, Garand, Thompson, and Barrett have entered colloquial language in reference to their weapons. With the exception of two of Stoner's designs that were bought for limited use from ArmaLite, Barrett is the only one of the group to create, manufacture, market and mass-produce his firearm for the United States government.[4]

Barrett married Tennessee State Rep. Donna Rowland during 2010.[1]


Ronnie Barrett Chinn Award

In 2004, Barrett was honored with the Colonel George Chinn Award which recognizes Small Arms Weaponry Systems based on excellence in research and development, engineering, manufacturing and management.[9]

In 2005, the United States Army recognized the Barrett M107 as one of the Top Ten Greatest Inventions.[10]

On June 28, 2006, Barrett was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for "turning his idea into one of America's most successful companies".[11]

On May 18, 2009, Barrett was sworn in as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association.[12]

On February 26, 2016, Tennessee named Ronnie's design of the Barrett M82/M107 the official rifle of the State of Tennessee. [13]


  1. ^ a b "Zach Wamp gets endorsement from gun maker".
  2. ^ a b Barrett Firearms got its start on the dining-room table, Nashville Business Journal, March 14, 2008
  3. ^ a b Lewis, Jack (2007). The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons. Gun Digest Books; 7 edition. pp. 94–97. ISBN 978-0-89689-498-3. 
  4. ^ a b c Clancy, Tom (1996). Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Berkeley, California: Berkeley Trade. pp. 59–61. ISBN 978-0-425-15454-0. 
  5. ^ Ian V. Hogg, John S. Weeks (2000). Military Small Arms of the 20th Century. Iola, WI: Krause. pp. 399–400. ISBN 978-0-87341-824-9. 
  6. ^ Taylor, Chuck (1981). Complete Book Of Combat Handgunning. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-87364-327-6. 
  7. ^ Chivers, C. J. (2010). The Gun. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 292–295. ISBN 978-0-7432-7076-2. 
  8. ^ Walter, John (2006). Rifles of the World (3rd ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications. p. 142. ISBN 0-89689-241-7. 
  9. ^ "The Chinn Award". NDIA. National Defense Industrial Association. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  10. ^ Ronnie Barrett, President and founder of Barrett Firearms, named as an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2006, The Lincoln Tribune, July 6, 2006
  11. ^ "Ronnie Barrett honored. (Industry watch)". Shooting Industry  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). October 1, 2006. 
  12. ^ "Csgv Statement on NRA Press Conference". States News Service  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). December 21, 2012. 
  13. ^ Van Huss, James (Micah) (February 26, 2016). "HJR0231" (PDF). Tennessee General Assembly. 

External links[edit]