The Anti-Materiel Rifle (AMR) Part II: Employment and Tactics

Originally posted on American Partisan

Part I of this two-part series established the importance of the AMR in your team’s arsenal (you do have a team, right?). In other words, Part I was the “why.” In this article I will explain the “how” by covering how to outfit your AMR team, what kind of training is necessary, and certain tactics for employing your designated AMR team.

The AMR Team

The AMR is most effective when used in a 2-man team consisting of a gunner and a Spotter. The gunner’s role is setting up, firing, and reloading the AMR. The spotter’s job is to identify and communicate targets and ballistic data to the gunner, as well as provide additional security for the gunner if the team is to operate independently.

It is important that the AMR team train together regularly in both firing and non-firing drills. Firing drills build familiarity with the weapon, while non-firing drills improve the communication between gunner and spotter to maximize efficiency.

AMR Team Load-outs

The AMR gunner’s primary weapon is the heavy AMR. Depending on what model you get (assuming that you run a 50 BMG), the rifle alone will weigh between 17 and 36 pounds. I recommend that he also carry a pistol for self-defense. The gunner should carry enough ammunition to accomplish the mission at hand, but not much more to save on weight. I recommend 30-50 rounds total for the rifle, preferably of varying types (i.e. half FMJ and half API) for versatility, as well as 2-4 extra mags for the pistol.

The spotter should be armed with a semi-automatic carbine so he can act as a bodyguard for the gunner. He should also carry binoculars or a spotting scope. Additionally, the spotter and gunner should carry camouflage netting and a few empty sandbags if they plan to set up a hide.

The AMR Hide

When possible, the AMR team should construct a hide site. Location for a hide must have ample cover and concealment but also have good line of sight to potential targets, especially on roads. Sandbags should be used to provide additional protection from enemy fire, and then fully camouflaged.

Great care should be taken to conceal the gunner and spotter while firing. A blanket should be laid down under the rifle to prevent the muzzle blast kicking up a dust cloud to give away the hide. To hide muzzle flash, the muzzle of the AMR should not extend past the sandbag wall it is firing through. The same principle applies when constructing a hide in a building; the gunner should fire from back inside the room, not extending the barrel out a window.

On Patrol

The AMR team, due to its specialized role, is vulnerable when operating completely on its own. It is preferred that the AMR team operates as an attachment to a rifle squad to escort it on missions. When the squad reaches the objective rally point (ORP), the AMR team can detach to move into their final firing position. If possible, a fire team is assigned as a security element.

When attached to a squad on patrol to or from an objective, the AMR team should be in the middle of the formation near the squad leader. This is to protect the team and allows the squad leader (who will often have the most complete picture of the situation) more direct control of the AMR team. If ambushed, the spotter will function as any other rifleman in the squad while the gunner seeks cover, holds his fire until assigned a target by the squad leader, and if necessary draws his pistol to defend himself. I say again, the AMR is NOT used for suppressing fire, it is not suited to this task and would be a waste of the (likely scarce) large-caliber rounds it fires.

Ambushing Convoys

The AMR team is a valuable asset when ambushing convoys, especially convoys with an armored vehicle or two as an escort. It would almost never do this alone, and would require at least a fire team to supplement it. In this case the AMR would be assigned to neutralize the armored vehicles in the convoy. It is necessary here to detail where the gunner should aim to cause different effects on a lightly armored vehicle. Remember, to reliably fight armored vehicles, you will need AP or API ammunition (avoid API-T, tracers point two ways).

  • Engine block: A hit here has varying effects, in some cases shutting down the engine immediately, in some cases the engine may continue running for several minutes while it drains fluids. It depends on where in the engine block it is hit. However, a hit here with any kind of 50 BMG ammo will always “deadline” the vehicle, removing it from service and requiring it to be sent away to get repaired.
  • Driver: Taking out the driver is always the fastest way to stop a moving vehicle. This also does minimal damage to the vehicle, which is good if you want to capture the vehicle and use it yourself. I will note here that most “bulletproof” glass, including HMMWV windshields, can be consistently penetrated by black-tip .308 ammo.
  • Tires: Tires are difficult to hit, and if popped will hinder the vehicle but not necessarily slow or stop it. Unless the vehicle has massively over-sized tires, like a BTR or an LAV, they’re usually not worth aiming at. Caterpillar tracks on military vehicles are heavily armored, so unless you have a 20mm/30mm AT cannon, don’t even think about aiming there.
  • Turret: This normally houses the most dangerous weapons in the convoy, and so should be a priority target (unless you want to face a possible MK-19 full-auto grenade launcher or M2 50 cal). Some modern armored vehicles have remote-operated turrets, controlled from inside the vehicle. The only way to silence one of those is by disabling the weapon itself with a heavy round to the receiver, or targeting the gunner inside the vehicle.
  • Fuel tanks: Despite what you have seen in movies, this is not a good tactic even with incendiary ammunition. Furthermore, military-grade diesel fuel won’t burn even if you hold an open flame up to it, so shooting the fuel tank will only drain it slightly.

Attacking an Airfield/Motor Pool

There may be times when you want to cripple an enemy’s ability to move/project power in your AO. If you know where he parks his trucks or lands his aircraft but you lack the strength to assault him, it is possible to cripple his vehicles from a distance with well-aimed shots from an AMR team.

The way this should be done is with a fire team or rifle squad with an AMR team attached. At the ORP, the AMR team detaches and sets up a hide in a position from which they can target as many vehicles/aircraft as possible. If possible, the AMR team will set up outside the effective range of enemy direct fire weapons, taking full advantage of their range, while the fire team sets up security on the most likely avenue of approach of any enemy maneuver element.

However, if the terrain is such that the AMR team must engage within range of enemy direct fire weapons, the fire team will set up in covered and concealed positions offset at least 100m from the AMR hide, and launch a diversionary attack by fire (shooting only, not actually maneuvering to assault). This is to draw enemy attention away from the AMR team while they accomplish the mission. In either case, the attack should last no longer than 2-3 minutes to prevent the enemy from maneuvering on either the fire team or the AMR hide. Once the AMR team has accomplished its mission and has ceased firing, they rendezvous with the fire team back at the ORP and slip away.

During the attack, all that the AMR team must do is place one shot in the engine block of each enemy vehicle to deadline it. For rotary wing aircraft, one shot is placed in the engine, which is usually just below the rotors (depending on the model). In 2 minutes, given proper positioning of the hide, the AMR team can deadline up to 20 enemy vehicles in this fashion with little risk to themselves.

Fixed-wing aircraft are highly modular and designed to take shrapnel damage along most of their body. The place to aim is just in front of and slightly below the cockpit. This is where a highly complex set of linkages is located that connect the cockpit controls to the rest of the aircraft. It is incredibly difficult to remove, repair, and re-install, so a round here will cause the most headache to the enemy and keep the aircraft out of service, at least for a while. Unlike diesel fuel in ground vehicles, jet fuel is highly flammable, so incendiary rounds to the fuselage can have devastating effect if the aircraft is fueled. This is where reconnaissance in advance can be incredibly useful, as it will reveal which aircraft are fueled up ready to be scrambled and which are stored empty.

Supporting an Assault

When used to support riflemen in assaults/raids, the AMR team will stay with the support element. The AMR will target heavily fortified enemy defensive positions, punching through almost any barricade. It will also be used on any priority targets assigned by the leader of the support element.

In the Defense

Like automatic weapons, the AMR in the defense should be set up on a likely avenue of approach, specifically the most likely avenue of approach for enemy vehicles. The hide should be offset from other defensive positions and well camouflaged, since it is the defenders’ only counter to armored vehicles.

As you can see, the AMR is a powerful tool when used correctly. Whether you get the most modern Barrett model or a budget Serbu, as long as you train often you will be a potent force-multiplier. So grab a buddy and get training! If you don’t know how to train as a team, come to a class. I cover all this and more in the Support Weapons Class.

Stay vigilant, stay deadly, stay alive.


Published by vonsteubentraining

Mike is the owner and chief instructor of Von Steuben Training & Consulting (VSTAC). A self-described “Tactical Scholar,” he spent 6 years in the Marine Corps as a radio operator and small-unit tactics instructor. He has dedicated his life to honing the tactical prowess of himself and his fellow patriots, guided by the wisdom of his commanding officer, Jesus Christ. He can be contacted via email at

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