by David Crane
Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc. has just come out with their 25mm "Payload Rifle". The new Payload Rifle is basically a modified Barrett M82A1 Light .50 antimateriel rifle. The new offering utilizes a replacement upper receiver with a shorter barrel (17.5 inches) mounted on a slightly modified M82A1 lower receiver. The 25x59Bmm round the Payload Rifle fires is, to our understanding, the same round as that employed by the OCSW (Objective Crew-Served Weapon) currently being developed by General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products division for JSSAP (Joint Service Small Arms Program) , U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. This report is, as yet, unconfirmed. However, the chambering is supposedly the same. The only thing that differs is…
the level of sophistication and detonation method employed by the ammunition for each respective weapon(Payload Rifle and OCSW). More on this later.
Like the M82A1, the new Barrett Payload Rifle operates via a short recoil mechanism. The Payload Rifle also uses a modified M82A1 magazine. The modified magazine holds four 25mm OCSW rounds. Barrett has added a front spacer to the magazine, since the 25x59Bmm OCSW round is shorter than the .50 BMG round. There is also a new magazine spring and follower.
Because the 25x59Bmm round offers a significantly higher recoil impulse, Barrett has designed a brand new muzzle brake to control it. The new brake is even more efficient than their already superb M82A1 muzzle brake. According to reports, the new muzzle brake is so effective, that if it is installed on an M82A1, it will cause the M82A1 to "short-stroke". In other words, with the new Payload Rifle brake installed on an M82A1, not enough recoil energy will be imparted to the M82A1′s bolt carrier to make the gun cycle properly.
So, why has Barrett developed the Payload Rifle? Basically, the new rifle will fill the military’s need for a "dumb" weapon that can fire the same type of ammunition as the OCSW. Where the OCSW’s main round will be a "smart" airburst munition with PD (point detonating) backup, the Barrett Payload Rifle will employ a high explosive round that uses only a simple point-detonating fuse, and a shaped-charge round that employs a PIBD (point initiating, base detonating) fuze. Barrett is apparently currently involved in negotiations to develop these rounds with the help of an as yet unnamed independent ammunition design and develpment company.
DefRev does not yet have solid accuracy reports out to combat-applicable distances for the Barrett Payload Rifle. Total weight of the new rifle is 30.5 pounds. Overall length is 45.9 inches. Supposedly, the maximum effective range is 2,000 meters.
Now, the only question is how effective the 25x59Bmm OCSW round will prove to be on the battlefield. This is difficult to answer, since the OCSW hasn’t actually been fielded yet. Right now, there is simply no combat data to go by, and DefRev does not yet have access to testing data. Both the 25mm OCSW round and 20mm OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) round have detractors with regards to their lethality. Time and actual combat employment will be the ultimate judges of this factor.
Click on this link to read Charlie Cutshaw’s article on the Barrett Payload Rifle in the Feb. 2002 issue of SAR(Small Arms Review). The article includes pictures of the new gun, including the "drop-on" upper receiver, muzzle brake, and modified magazine. The article is in PDF format, so you will need Acrobat Reader to view it.