The .416 Barrett centerfire rifle cartridge is a proprietary bottlenecked centrefire rifle cartridge designed in 2005. It is an alternative to the .50 BMG in long-range high-caliber rifles. It was designed in response to a request for a medium/heavy rifle/cartridge combination that was issued from Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in late 2004.
The Barrett .416 cartridge was designed by Pete Forrest, who recently retired from Barrett. The bullet was designed using NACA low-supersonic-drag equations to design the shape.
The cartridge was designed as an improvement to the .50 BMG cartridge, a common machine-gun and rifle cartridge. It is similar to a wildcatted .50 BMG case, shortened to 3.27 inches (83.06 mm) and necked down to accept a .416 caliber, 400-grain (26 g) projectile; It is however of proprietary dimension. Due to the fact that the two cartridges, the .50 BMG and .416 Barrett, have identical base dimensions, all that is needed to convert a rifle to use one or the other cartridge is a relatively quick barrel swap.
For some time, the only commercially-available rifle in this chambering was the single-shot Barrett Model 99. Recently the Bohica Arms FAR-50 MK-II (a bolt-action, single-shot AR-15 upper receiver conversion) became also available in .416 Barrett.
The use of a lighter, narrower bullet results in a significantly higher muzzle velocity and superior ballistic performance to the .50 BMG, and is claimed to be even more powerful than the .50 BMG at 1,000 yards (though its power deteriorates below the BMG's after that). Barrett claims that this cartridge is capable of propelling a 400 gr solid brass boattail spitzer bullet out of the 32-inch (810 mm) barrel of a Model 99 single-shot rifle at 990 m/s (3250 ft/s), giving it a ballistic coefficient between .943-.989 and keeping the projectile supersonic out to 2286 metres (2500 yards).
In a second season episode of Future Weapons the host (Richard Machowicz, a former Navy SEAL) engages in a shooting competition with another sniper. "Mac" achieves a cold-bore first-shot "kill" at 2,500 yards (2,286 m) using a .416 Barrett Model 99 rifle while his competition, using a .50 BMG, required 3 shots to achieve a "kill". The .416 Barrett Model 99 rifle Mr. Machowicz used during this competition was equipped with a Barrett Optical Ranging System (BORS) module attached to the telescopic sight
Improvement beyond this standard while still using standard .416 Barrett brass seems possible, but the bullets have to be specially designed. An example of such a special .416 Barrett very low drag extreme range bullet is the German CNC manufactured mono-metal 27.5 gram (424 gr) .416 Barrett MSG (G1 BC ≈ 1.103 – this Ballistic coefficient (BC) is calculated by its designer, Mr. Lutz Möller, and not proven by Doppler radar measurements). The solid brass .416 Barrett MSG bullet has an overall length of 56 mm (2.205 in) and derives its exceptional low drag from a radical LD Haack or Sears-Haack profile in the bullet's nose area. Rifles chambered for this cartridge bullet combination, with a cartridge overall length of 116 mm (4.567 in), have to be equipped with custom made 1016 mm (40 in) long 279 mm (1:11 in) twist rate barrels to stabilize the .416 Barrett MSG projectiles and attain a projected 1032 m/s (3385 ft/s) muzzle velocity.