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The Interview: Chris Barrett, Part II

By Miles Vining

In part I of the Interview In SAR Volume 20 Number 9 SAR gathers the background on Barrett Firearms and Chris Barrett’s participation in the growth of the company. We take up the story at that point...

SAR: What is Barrett’s recent interest in creating a medium machine gun?

Chris: A while back a solicitation come out in the Commerce Business Daily. It was part of the network that people used for Government Contract announcements. Nowadays it is called Fed Biz Ops. The solicitation was for a lightweight version of the M240 series. Primarily replacing the Bravo version. Eventually this turned into what the M240 Lima is today. What we thought was really the case was that the solicitation was written so one particular contractor could quickly win it, written between the lines, and a Commercial Off the Shelf product would be available.

Apparently they were looking into a lightweight M240 at the same time the solicitation came out as well. We were very disappointed at that after we had invested so much energy into our design. Regardless, we saw the solicitation and we put the Barrett brain to it. We looked at the M240 and saw all these different rivets and small parts and thought to ourselves, “With a modern CNC machine can’t we make all of this one piece? Can we turn sixty some pieces into one part?”. And the answer is “Yes, you can.” The riveted design has a lot of short comings. One, it is built like the Titanic, old school, steam power, this is how we built things in the industrial revolution. It has laminations between metal. This is where corrosion and rust like to start. Anytime two pieces of metal are touching together, what happens between them? Oxidation. Any fastener eventually comes loose, a simple principle of firearms design. Anything designed to come loose, does. And rivets are a kind of fastener. So we designed a hardened 4140 steel receiver, that alone was four pounds lighter than the standard 240. It is simple, and proven. So we feel that the...


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