Only a handful of states have designated an official state firearm, and Tennessee recently announced that based on caliber and range, it has the arguably most powerful. The state Senate voted 27 to 1 on Wednesday to pass a resolution that would make the Barrett M82/M107, a rifle chambered in .50 BMG commonly used by sniper units around the world, as Tennessee’s new state firearm. The rifle is manufactured by Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms Manufacturing and designed by founder and CEO Ronnie G. Barrett in 1982. It has since gone on to earn a certain amount of fame for its immense power and depiction in films and video games.
“After 30-plus years of making history, the powerhouse rifle that started it all is still leading the pack,” Barrett stated in its description of the M82A1, an updated version of the company’s iconic rifle.
The gun maker touted the rifle’s large cartridge, low recoil, and self-loading action. Perhaps most of all, the Barrett is known for its superb accuracy and power over long distances. It is also considered the first semi-automatic .50 caliber rifle to enter factory production.
“For more than three decades, the Model 82A1 has been carefully honed, studied and then refined again. The result is a feat of engineering so infinitely precise it is hard to believe it’s man-made,” Barrett boasted.
These are all reasons why Tennessee lawmakers chose this modern weapon to represent the state. Others have suggested flintlock rifles or the Kentucky long rifle as the state gun, but the Barrett’s homegrown legacy won over legislators.
“The flintlock was developed in France by a Frenchman. The Kentucky long rifle was developed in Pennsylvania by German and Swedish men,” Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mount Juliet) told the Times Free Press. “So I think it’s only right that we honor the ingenuity that Ronnie Barrett has had to develop this rifle.”
Tennessee is only one of seven states to declare an official state firearm—although in its case, it is officially termed as a “state rifle.” Alaska adopted the Winchester Model 70 in 2014, Arizona adopted the Colt Single Action Army revolver in 2011, Indiana adopted the Grouseland rifle in 2012, Pennsylvania adopted the long rifle in 2014, Utah adopted the 1911 pistol in 2011, and West Virginia adopted the Hall rifle in 2013.
The lone vote against the resolution in the Senate came from Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville), who argued that the state was setting a problematic precedent by endorsing a privately-run company. According to the Associated Press, Yarbro suggested that lawmakers could use the case to support endorsing other companies that produce goods tied intricately to Tennessee history, such as Jack Daniel’s whisky or Moonpies.
The majority of the voting Senators agreed to honor the Barrett M82 as the state rifle.
Image courtesy Lance Corporal Kevin Knallay/US Marine Corps