Barrett Firearms Manufacturing has been
producing high quality semi-auto and bolt action rifles
chambered for the .50 Browning Machine Gun cartridge for over
twenty years. Their rifles are known worldwide, and are
used by many units of the US military and our allies. Ronnie
Barrett is also responsible for a great amount of interest
by civilians in the sporting use of the .50 BMG cartridge.
Barrett big fifty rifles are used by many long-range target
shooters, and Barrett has become the leading producer of .50
BMG caliber rifles in the world.
Besides their constant production of .50
BMG rifles, Barrett is also working full time on several
interesting projects for our military. They are developing a
very high-tech sniper scope system that should totally
eliminate guesswork and human error, and they have a twenty-millimeter
rifle that defines the word "awesome". However, the
subject of this article is their new AR-15 type rifle
chambered for the equally new 6.8 Remington cartridge.
The 6.8 Remington SPC (Special Purpose
Cartridge) was developed by Remington and the US
military as a replacement for the 5.56mm NATO cartridge in
specialized situations. The cartridge is based loosely on the
.30 Remington case, and uses a 115 grain bullet of .277 inch
diameter. One of the parameters of the design was that it must
be compatible with the M4/M16 family of rifles, along with
current squad automatic weapons and light machine guns, with
minimal modifications. The specifications call for a
bullet speed of 2650 feet per second from a sixteen and
one-half inch barrel, delivering 1715 foot-pounds of energy,
and a six hundred meter effective range. Basically, the US
military wanted a round that was smaller than the 7.62x51mm
NATO cartridge, but delivered more terminal effect than the
5.56mm. The end result was the 6.8 SPC.
Inevitably, there has been comparisons between
the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel cartridges. The way I see it,
there is plenty of room for both cartridges. The 6.8 SPC is
purpose built for antipersonnel use at close to medium range,
offering more punch than the 5.56 NATO. The 6.5 Grendel is
built as a long-range cartridge for extreme accuracy, and does
excellent duty as a hunting cartridge for deer and like-sized
The weapon for delivering the new cartridge is
being manufactured by Barrett at their Murfreesboro, Tennessee
facility. It is basically an AR15/M16/M4 rifle, with a few
added features. Barrett calls the new rifle the M468, and is
being built in both a civilian-legal model, and also in a
close quarters battle (CQB) configuration.
I was recently afforded the opportunity to
visit the Barrett facility to evaluate and fire both basic
versions of this new weapon. Both of the rifles tested were of
flattop upper receiver configuration with excellent A.R.M.S.
folding backup sights. The sixteen inch barreled version was
of semiautomatic operation, and employed Barrett’s two stage
trigger, resulting in a very controllable trigger pull which
measured a crisp three pounds and fourteen ounces on my Lyman
digital scale. Both rifles wore the excellent A.R.M.S.
integrated rail system that allows the easy mounting of
accessories such as lights, lasers, bipods, and other such
devices as the user deems necessary. Both rifles wore a
muzzle brake, and are threaded just forward of the gas block
for a sound suppressor. The sixteen inch version wore an A2
style buttstock, and the twelve inch barreled rifle had a
collapsible CAR type buttstock, along with a Barrett sound
Firing the full-auto twelve inch CQB rifle
with the Barrett can attached proved to be a very controllable
package. The can was very effective in reducing the sound
signature from the short barrel, and the felt recoil was
straight back and light. This would make for a great close
range weapon for military or specialized law enforcement
units. In fact, while we were visiting the Barrett factory,
the leaders of a municipal SWAT team were there evaluating the
M468 CQB rifle for their own needs. They seemed very impressed
with the weapon, and the sound suppressor.
For accuracy testing, we fired a sixteen inch
barreled rifle at a range of one hundred meters. The rifle was
mounted with a Swarovski target scope, and firing was
done from a Lahti rifle rest. I was initially impressed
with the design of the rest, but after using it, I greatly
prefer my Target Shooting, Inc.
Model 500 rifle rest. I can hold a gun much steadier with
the model 500. The M468 proved capable of firing groups
measuring one and one-quarter inches at the 100 meter mark,
but I think that could be improved firing from a better rest.
It could be that I just was not familiar with the Lahti rest,
but I could just not hold the rifle consistently using that
thing. At any rate, the accuracy of the M468 as demonstrated
was very good, and will most likely improve as the ammunition
is further developed. Functioning in both rifles was perfect,
with the exception of one experimental lot of ammo that seemed
a bit underpowered, and would sometimes fail to eject.
Changing ammo lots corrected the problem immediately, and no
further malfunctions occurred. The ammo chronographed at
a speed of 2613 feet per second at a distance of twelve feet
from the muzzle out of the sixteen inch barrel, which is right
in line with advertised velocities.
The future of the 6.8 SPC as a military
cartridge has not been finalized. However, at this time there
are some specialized units of the US Army putting the M468
through some serious testing. Barrett Manufacturing is working
closely with the military in developing this weapon. Barrett
has for many years supplied the excellent Model 82A1 to the US
military and our allies, and has the ability to supply the
M468 as needed. In the meantime, the M468 is in production for
civilian sales, and Barrett offers complete rifles, along with
upper receiver units to fit most AR15 lower receivers.
Depending upon bullet construction, the 6.8 SPC should make an
excellent little carbine for hunting predators and whitetail
deer at reasonably close range, in a rifle with semi-auto
firepower, a weight of 7.3 pounds, and an overall length of
only 33.5 inches. With the proper bullet, the M468
offers plenty of power for deer hunting, along with good
accuracy and light recoil.
In the M468, I believe that Barrett has
another winner on their hands. Check out the M468 and the
entire lineup of Barrett rifles online at: www.barrettrifles.com.