You know what BFG stands for. I know what it stands for. And Ian certainly knows what it stands for.
But it is a very interesting rifle none the less. In fact, much like many other projects it isn’t a military rifle due to logistics and not design.
Ian covers this in the video, but for the text inclined I will paraphrase here.
The Serbu BFG-50A is lighter, slightly less expensive, and more accurate .50 Caliber rifle than the Barrett 82/107’s. The reason is simple, it has a rigid barrel lock up where the Barrett’s whole barrel recoils with the shot. The Barrett runs on three recoil springs and no gas system. The Serbu is gas operate like the M16.
Okay, not exactly like the M16 as Ian is fond of noting. The M16/AR meets a “gas piston” definition after a fashion since the gas of the system is used behind the bolt to directly, sealed into the carrier, and push on that seal to unlock the bolt.
The Serbu uses a much simpler system where the gas is sealed inside the gas tube and the path of least resistance is for the bolt to slide backwards, like when you launch a straw wrapper off of a straw to annoy loved one. The bolt on the Serbu BFG-50A has no functional interaction with the gas, in the AR it does.
But these are largely mechanical semantics, important for design and maintenance but beyond the scope of basic understanding of function. The Serbu is gas operated and that allows for a very solid barrel lock up. This means the optics, the zero, and everything that exists to make for a precise and consistently repeatable shot are better in the Serbu than the Barrett.
The thing is, the Barrett isn’t a sniper rifle. Never has been. It was a cheap way to bust up enemy equipment. A round of .50, even specialty .50 like API or Raufoss Mk 211, fired from X hundred meters away is $65.00 while a LAW M7A7 is $2,000 (by the 2011 USMC contract) making for a 30:1 shot ration using .50 cal vs a light rocket with the .50 having much greater stand off distance. The rocket will have a superior payload and slightly better armor defeat (in certain warheads) and casualty radius vs a likely single target impact and effect.
But $65 dollar solution, easy to use at up to a mile, to put that $X00,000- $X0,000,000 piece of enemy equipment out of action? Nice.
Back to the BFG.
Mark Serbu wanted a .50 Cal so he made one. It was nice. In the most basic sense its what an upscaled AR to .50 cal might be. Even as Brandon Herrera continues doing that with the AK, the AR is essentially done. Direct gas, rotating bolt, similar take down with captive pins, familiar operation. The Serbu makes sense to an AR-15 user. We also know then benefits to recoil mitigation of a good gas system. Pair it with the BFG’s hydraulic buffer and impressive muzzle break (as all .50 ‘Light Rifles’ are sporting) and it makes for an impressive complete system.