The AR-15 .50 BMG large-caliber sniper rifle is a direct relative of the AR-15 automatic rifle and inherited from it the stock, trigger mechanism and receiver. Designed and manufactured by Watsons Firearms Inc.
In the mid 1990s. long-range shooter and avid hunter Frank Watson from West Virginia created his first large-caliber rifle. A little later, he organized Watson's Firearms, a company engaged in the production and sale of firearms chambered for .50 BMG. On the basis of a standard bolt group, Watson's Firearms specialists have created a line of large-caliber rifles that differ in forearm material, barrel length and muzzle brake design:
- "Standard Lite Weight" - a versatile rifle suitable for various uses. Mainly in the commercial market, the main buyers are amateur shooters and professional athletes. Equipped with a wooden bed;
- "Modular Lite Weight SWAT" - a tactical rifle designed to arm the police or SWAT units. Instead of a wooden stock, a high-strength handguard and a tactical shoulder rest are installed. ;
- "Lite Weight Hunting" - hunting large-caliber rifle;
- "Bull Barrel Target" - a target firearm, characterized by a thicker barrel, a different design of a massive wooden stock, the neck of which forms a pistol grip, and the absence of a bipod (intended for installation in special machines). All of these rifles are single-shot firearms and therefore carry the generic designation "50 BMG Bolt Action".
The company also sells .50 BMG cartridges and their components (bullets of various types, cartridge cases and gunpowder). The AR-15 .50 BMG large-caliber sniper rifle is designed to counter enemy snipers, destroy lightly armored vehicles, radars, artillery and rocket launchers, aviation equipment in parking lots, and manpower. As the designation suggests, developed by Watson's Firearms based on the Colt/Armalite M16/AR-15 assault rifle. Here the company is not original, such a "conversion" approach to turning standard firearms into large-caliber ones is far from new at the present time. From the standard firearm, the butt was borrowed, constituting a single unit along with the pistol grip, trigger mechanism and fuse. The rest is provided by the company. Since about 1998, Watson's Firearms AR-15 BMG rifles have been regularly used by shooters in various competitions, including under the auspices of the highly prestigious FCSA association. Currently, due to the low cost, combined with impeccable workmanship, AR-15 BMG rifles are the most purchased product of Watson's Firearms. The accuracy of these rifles is 1 MOA at a distance of 1000 m, which allows shooters to often take prizes. In general, shooting from this rifle is a pleasure due to the large mass of the barrel and the large effective muzzle brake. Barrel length also reduces muzzle pressure and moves the blast further away from the shooter's head, which means less concussive blast. Interestingly, Frank Watson himself is mainly engaged in hunting with his large-caliber firearms, citing the fact that with such a projectile he experiences more adrenaline, one can only guess what he brought home as a trophy.
Watson's Firearms 50 BMG Bolt Action series large-caliber rifles are single-shot non-automatic firearms. The bore is locked by placing on 3 lugs a straight sliding rotary bolt. The bolt handle is very long, in the closed state it reaches the lower edge of the trigger guard and is equipped with a spherical end switch. For installation on rifles, high-quality trunks of the German company Lothar Walther of various thicknesses and lengths are used. The barrel may have longitudinal grooves to facilitate the design. The client is offered 2 types of cylindrical muzzle expansion joints: one of small diameter with four chambers, and the other shorter, with only three chambers, but having a larger diameter. Standard Lite Weight, Lite Weight Hunting and Bull Barrel Target rifles are equipped with laminated impregnated wood stocks. The neck of the stock has a pronounced appearance of a pistol grip. The stock of the Bull Barrel Target rifle is the most massive, its stock does not have a characteristic hunting curve. The tactical rifle "Modular Lite Weight SWAT" instead of a wooden stock has a metal forearm, to which is attached a shoulder rest, adjustable in length. A “cheek” is attached to the shoulder rest, which has height adjustment, and a rear pin support, with which you can adjust the angle of the vertical installation of the firearm. This type of rifle is also equipped with a pistol grip. The receiver has a hexagonal section and is made of high-strength steel. A universal guide is attached to the top of the box, on which the optics are mounted. Rifles of the entire line are equipped with folding, height-adjustable bipods.
The design of the rifle "Watson's Firearms" AR-15 BMG The rifle is single-shot and non-automatic, the bore when fired is locked by a bolt wedge. The role of the wedge is performed by the butt of the rifle, which, when reloading, rotates down on a special hinge. Next, the cylindrical bolt is removed along with the spent cartridge case, a new cartridge is installed in its place, and the entire system is pushed into the receiver. The stock is rotated into place and locks the bolt. The entire system is locked with a bolt latch, the lock button is located on the left side of the firearm, above the trigger guard. The safety box is located on the rifle on the left, above the pistol grip. The fuse, when turned on, blocks the trigger mechanism. To reduce recoil when firing, the barrel has a two-chamber rectangular muzzle brake-compensator. Cylindrical muzzle brakes used in the 50 BMG Bolt Action models are also used. The rifle is equipped with a butt, grip and trigger from an AR-15 rifle, an additional rubber shock absorber is attached to the butt (the standard AR-15 butt plate is too small for a powerful cartridge). A rack for mounting optical and night sights is mounted on top of the receiver. Folding bipods of the "Harris" type are attached under the barrel.
Well, if we talk about this rifle from a military point of view, then of course it has several significant disadvantages. The main thing is that the developers did not take into account that all these manipulations with the firearm lead to the unmasking of the shooter, who is not difficult to notice when fired due to a flash at night and smoke from burnt gunpowder. In addition, it should also be said that in order to reload a rifle, it is necessary to expend a decent amount of effort, so even a perfectly camouflaged sniper swarming while reloading is immediately visible even with perfect disguise. For all these reasons, the firearm did not greatly interest the US Army. It is interesting that the bipod of the firearm is adjustable not only in height, but can also move along the barrel, as it is attached with a clamp that compresses the barrel of the firearm, to which the handle for carrying the rifle is also attached. Such a solution could be convenient in the event that a key was not required to uncompress the clamp, and the handle for carrying firearms was strengthened separately in the center of gravity, but in the case of the AR-15 .50 BMG, inconvenience may arise in this part. According to the manufacturers, this model of a large-caliber sniper rifle has an effective range of 2000 meters, but in reality this parameter is lower and is about 1500 meters. Despite all its disadvantages, this firearm has an undeniable advantage - a weight of 9.8 kilograms with a length of the rifle itself of 1462 millimeters and a barrel length of 1016 millimeters.
What can you say about the Watson`s rifle? Did you have an experience and what emotions did it leave you with?