Tennessee General Assembly Recognizes Barrett .50 BMG as State Rifle

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posted on March 3, 2016
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During action taken on Feb. 24, The Tennessee General Assembly approved a resolution recognizing the Barrett Model 82/M107 as Tennessee’s official state rifle. The designation follows numerous awards and recognition the company has received over the years for its innovation and ingenuity for a range of firearms produced at its plant and headquarters in Murfreesboro, TN. 

“We are honored by the resolution and proud to have our rifle officially recognized within our home state,” said Chris Barrett, president of Barrett Firearms. “For more than 32 years, we have been committed to innovation in the firearms industry while maintaining the highest standards for precision and reliability.” 

State Representative Micah Van Huss, a U.S. Marine who used the rifle in combat, initiated the resolution. With the designation, Tennessee becomes the eighth state to name an official firearm. 

The recent trend for states to designate official firearms began in 2011, when Utah named the M1911 pistol designed by Utah native John Browning as its official state firearm during the gun’s centennial year. One month later, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation designating the Colt Single Action Army Revolver as the official gun of The Grand Canyon State. 

In March 2012, the Indiana General Assembly approved House Bill 1283, designating the “Grouseland Rifle” as the official rifle of Indiana. The gun was made by John Small, the first sheriff of Knox County, IN, at a time when Knox County extended across the current states of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. 

In 2013 West Virginia adopted The M1819 Hall rifle, a single-shot breech loader designed by gunsmith John Hancock Hall that was patented on May 21, 1811 and adopted for use by the U.S. Army in 1819. Not to be outdone by its neighbor and after several failed attempts, the Pennsylvania Long Rifle received official designation in The Keystone State in June 2013. And In July of that year, the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 rifle became the official firearm of Alaska. 

The Barrett Rifle is considered a true Tennessee success story: A rifle born from sketches hand-drawn at a dining room table by Ronnie Barrett, then a 26-year-old photographer, who was born, raised, and educated in Tennessee with no design training or experience. The firearm design considered impossible at the time was a shoulder-fired semi-automatic .50 caliber rifle. Using sketches of his design, Ronnie worked in a one bay garage with a tool-and-die maker to build the first prototype. 

His creation, the Model 82/M107, pioneered an entirely new classification of rifle, changed battlefield tactics and recognized as the world’s premier .50 caliber rifle fielded by approximately 70 allied governments. 

Today, Ronnie Barrett is one of only four people in the past 100 years to invent a rifle type classified and adopted for use by the United States military. The M107 was recognized, in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., by the Office of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army as one of the “top ten greatest inventions” for its service. 

Barrett now manufactures eight distinct models of rifles and has recently launched a new line of shotguns under the Barrett Sovereign brand. In addition to the Model 82 rifle, Barrett’s MRAD rifle was named the 2012 “Rifle of the Year” by Shooting Illustrated magazine.

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