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Harris / McMillan M87 Anti-Material Rifle / Heavy Sniper Rifle (1987)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/4/2013

Though classified as an anti-material rifle, the M87 can be used as a heavy sniper rifle with devastating effects.

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The M87 was a military-grade anti-material rifle designed to defeat hardened structures such as armored vehicles with accuracy and a large-caliber cartridge. As such, it made use of the powerful and proven 12.7x99mm NATO standard cartridge at ranges as far out as 1.5 kilometers. The M87's overall design was essentially an enlarged version of the preceding 7.62mm M86 series bolt-action rifle with production stemming from the late 1980s into the 1990s (having since ceased). Global operators of the weapon went on to include Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey as well as several specialized US departments.

Externally, the M87 proved a well-contoured rifle system utilizing a conventional rifle-style configuration. The synthetic stock was a single piece unit encompassing the butt, receiver and forend. The steel components are inlaid including the barrel which protruded ahead of the weapon in the usual way. Interestingly, the pistol grip was integrated into the stock with a large cut-out for the firing hand's thumb. The trigger group included the curved trigger assembly protected by an oblong ring guard with the magazine well just ahead of the group. The bipod assembly was affixed to the lower forend to provide frontal support as the weapon was primarily intended to be fired from the prone position. The stainless steel barrel was capped by a heavily perforated muzzle brake/flash suppressor. As a bolt-action weapon, the bolt lever was offset to the right side of the body with a knob at its end for a firm grip. Optics were fitted over the receiver's steel component in the traditional way - the gun lacked any backup iron sights. The initial M87 version was a single-shot model while later versions brought about support for repeat fire through integral and detachable multi-cartridge magazines.

The United States Army trialed the M87 (among others) in its effort to find a standardized anti-material rifle and eventually selecting the Barrett M82A1 as the winner. The M87 saw additional versions developed beyond the standard M87 offering including the revised and improved "M87R" with support for a 5-round integral (fixed) box magazine. The "M93" incorporated a butt monopod, cheekpiece and folding stock with 5- or 10-round detachable box magazine support while the M95 "Ultra light", as its name implies, was a lightweight (18lb) variant with a fixed stock, titanium alloy receiver, graphite barrel and single-shot or repeating functionality.

A capable long range and accurate weapon system, the M87 went largely unappreciated in a market filled with a glut of similarly performing options the world over. The M87 was superseded by the "TAC-50" of 2000 along the Harris/McMillan lines.

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Specifications for the
Harris / McMillan M87
Anti-Material Rifle / Heavy Sniper Rifle


Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Harris Gunworks LCC / McMillan - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1987


Overall Length: 1346 mm (52.99 in)
Barrel Length: 736.00 mm (28.98 in)
Weight (Empty): 21.01 lb (9.53 kg)


Caliber: 12.7x99mm NATO (.50 BMG)
Action: Manually-Actuated Bolt Action
Feed: 1-, 5- or 10-round magazine
Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 ft/sec (853 m/sec)
Range: 4,920 ft (1,500 m; 1,640 yds)
Sights: Standard Optics (no iron sights)


Variants:
M87 - Original single-shot version; 26lb weight.


M87R - Revised M87; integral magazine-fed variant (5-round).

M93 - Folding stock; butt monopod; adjustable cheekpiece; 5- or 10-round detachable box magazine.

M95 "Ultra Light" - Lightweight (18lbs) revision of M93 with fixed stock design; titanium alloy receiver; graphite barrel assembly; single-shot or repeating functionality.


Operators:
Denmark; France; Germany; Italy; Turkey; United States