For some long-range sniper missions, a .50 caliber (12.7mm) round just isn’t big enough. The Barrett company, which pioneered the development of the modern .50 caliber sniper rifle, has now built a 25mm sniper rifle (although shoulder cannon may be a more precise term), the XM109. Ten prototype weapons are being made available for testing this month. Designed to destroy light armor, the XM109 is a semi-automatic 25mm rifle that has a 17.6 inch long barrel and an overall length of 46 inches. It weighs in at 46 pounds and has a 5 round magazine. In comparison, the Barrett M107 .50 caliber sniper rifle in general use today has a 29 inch barrel, overall length of 57 inches, and weighs in at a mere 32 pounds, with a magazine capacity of 10 rounds.
A spiked bipod is included to steady the XM109 for firing and it has a standard M1319 accessory rail for scopes and other accessories. Barrett will either sell a complete rifle or supply upgrade kits to convert the M107 .50 sniper rifle over to the 25mm configuration, replacing the bolt, upper receiver, and magazine.
To complement this “rifle” is a computerized sight called the BORS (Barrett Optical Ranging Sighting System). BORS is specifically designed for long-range shooting at 1,000 meters and longer distances, measuring and compensating for air pressure, temperature, and the angle of the weapon in relation to the target. Precisely compensating for all these factors and successfully hitting the target on the first shot is possible, but difficult. BORS is designed to take all the sweat-math work out of first-round shots, leaving the operator with simply dialing in the distance to target, selecting the ammunition type, and putting the cross-hairs on the target. Future versions of BORS will incorporate a rangefinder, and night vision capability.
Effective distance armor piercing “lethality” for the rifle is listed at 2000 meters. The 25mm round is derivative design from the AH-64 Apache helicopter’s M789 high-explosive dual purpose (good against armor and personnel) 30mm ammunition and will penetrate at least 50 millimeters of armor plating, making it capable of destroying light armored vehicles, SCUD launchers, and other equipment. According to the ammunition manufacturer, the 25mm round is 2.5 times more effective at destroying targets than a .50 caliber armor-piercing round. At some point the system will also be integrated to use 25mm airburst ammunition designed for the OCWS.
One drawback to the weapon is the heavy recoil of the round. Barrett is working on reducing the recoil. Finally, a company slide describes the weapon as a “payload rifle” and also alludes to the ability to remove the muzzle break and replace it with a sound suppressor. – Doug Mohney