Yet another state has an official state firearm but you’re way off the mark if you think it’s Davy Crockett’s “Old Betsy” flintlock or the M1917 Enfield rifle famously used by Sgt. Alvin York during World War I.
While all of the other official state firearms are “historic” rifles, Tennessee went with the rifle that may be the ultimate icon of our times. The M82/M107 Barrett .50 caliber rifle, designed by native son Ronnie Barrett and still manufactured in the Volunteer State.
When a Democratic lawmaker asked why not use the flintlock rifle, used in the War of 1812 by Tennesseans who earned the state its nickname, Sen. Mae Beavers put him in his place.
“The flintlock was developed in France by a Frenchman. The Kentucky long rifle was developed in Pennsylvania by German and Swedish men,” Beavers said. “So I think it’s only right that we honor the ingenuity that Ronnie Barrett has had to develop this rifle.”
The Barrett .50 caliber system has been home to many exploits throughout its now 30 years in service with the military and is an excellent choice for Tennessee, now the seventh state with an official state firearm. The other six are:
≡ Utah (2011): The Model 1911 .45 caliber handgun. Considered by many to be the finest pistol ever made.
“The 1911 was the design given by God to us through John M. Browning that represents the epitome of what a killing tool needs to be. It was true in 1911 and is true now.”
-Col. Robert J. Coates, USMC
≡ Arizona (2011): The Colt Single Action Army revolver, better known as the Peacekeeper. A pearl handled, engraved Colt Single Action Army was famously carried by General George Patton during World War II.
≡ Indiana (2012): The Grouseland Rifle. A 200-year-old rifle crafted by the man who also designed the state seal and served as Indiana’s first sheriff.
≡ West Virginia (2013): Hall Rifle. The first American made breech loading rifle.
≡ Pennsylvania (2014): The Pennsylvania/Kentucky Long Rifle.
≡ Alaska (2014): The Winchester Model 70. Known as “The Rifleman’s Rifle” and carried by Carlos Hathcock, the legendary Marine sniper who once shot an opposing sniper through the scope.