Guns and Gear

TFB Review: Noreen Firearms ULR Mini .50 BMG

When Noreen Firearms announced their ULR Mini, I was intrigued. I have always wanted a small .50 BMG firearm however there are few options. So I requested to review Noreen Firearms’ ULR Mini and they kindly lent one out. Let’s take a look at the ULR Mini .50 BMG.

.50 BMG @ TFB:

Noreen Firearms ULR Mini . . . Pistol

Photo by Noreen Firearms

When Noreen Firearms announced their ULR Mini, it was built as a pistol. However, that is not quite accurate. Sure it does not have a stock but photos showed it with a folding vertical grip. At first, I thought it was an AOW but actually, it is simply a firearm. The barrel is over 16″ and the overall length was over 26″. This means you could attach a stock or a brace.

Photo by Noreen Firearms

However, the back of the ULR Mini (pistol version) does not have any way to mount anything on it. The full-size ULR .50 BMG Single Shot Ultra Long Range rifle has attachment points on the side for its collapsing stock. That is not the case here. So I thought of ways to attach stocks to the ULR Mini using the pistol grip screw. Here are some of the options I considered and photoshopped possibilities.

Thordsen Cali Compliant stock

Slide Fire Stock. Cheek rest would block the bolt from coming out and loading the ULR Mini

OUSA Cali Stock

Hera Arms CQR Stock. One immediate problem with this setup is that the cheek rest would interfere with loading and removing the bolt.

While these might work, I was concerned some of these setups might break under recoil. Also, the cheek rest for two of them would interfere with removing the bolt and loading the ULR Mini. Noreen Firearms was getting ready to send out their loaner ULR Mini when the ATF decided that braced pistols and rifle scopes on pistols made them SBRs. That caused Noreen Firearms to pivot and make the ULR Mini into a rifle.

ULR Mini .50 BMG Rifle

ULR Mini .50 BMG Rifle

Noreen Firearms tweaked the chassis and machined a Picatinny rail on the back. They also included a minimalist aluminum stock.

The ULR Mini came with an A2 pistol grip but I switched it out for the MDT ORYX overmolded pistol grip for comfort. But it was the thin metal stock that I felt I needed to change. Here is a photo showing the width of the metal stock compared to the rubber butt pad of my HK416 stock.

I suspect the recoil of the ULR Mini to be rather stout and the minimalist stock looked like it might be uncomfortable for me, so I switched it out for an old SB Tactical brace. The POF USA/KRISS style brace is a large rubber brace. No hard plastic and a large rear surface area. This will help make the recoil manageable. One major downside to this setup is the lack of a cheek weld. At least with the minimalist stock, you can have the taller section on top as a cheek rest or invert the stock, like in the photo below, for a shorter cheek rest.

I used a SIG Sauer folding hinge so I can fold the brace for easier storage of the ULR Mini.

I reached out to Noreen Firearms about the thin stock and they assured me it is fine. I am not usually recoil-shy but shooting the ULR Mini even with the large rubber brace is noticeable. However, I wanted to try shooting the ULR Mini with the factory metal stock for due diligence. I had a feeling shooting the minimalist stock might not feel good so I decided to wrap the stock with an insole from FootPrint Insoles. Watch this video, they drop a bowling ball onto insoles and the cinder block breaks. But the FootPrint insole absorbed the energy preventing the cinder block from breaking. This might work as a buttpad.

So I ordered a set of FootPrint insoles. Worst case I use them in my shoes, so win-win. I folded the heel section around the butt of the stock, like a taco shell, and used tape to hold it in place. Then I folded the toe section over the cheek rest and used tape again to hold it down. Now the butt and cheek rest are padded.

The wider surface area along with the energy-absorbing properties of the insole should help, more on that later.

Edit: Phil of Noreen Firearms emailed me and told me they have a new stock in the works for the ULR Mini. Here are some photos he sent me. As you can see, it has a thick butt pad, an acrylic cheek rest (left or right side) and is completely adjustable for comb height as well as LOP. The buttpad can shift vertically as well. Their new stock will be available in about 8 weeks and will be offered as an upgrade to the ULR Mini for an additional cost. Or you can buy the precision stock separately for $399.

Photo by Noreen Firearms

Photo by Noreen Firearms

 Chainsaw .50 BMG

Since the ULR Mini is so small, compared to normal .50 BMG rifles, I decided to try and mount a chainsaw grip to it. I originally mounted the chainsaw grip to the bottom rail but the handle was too close to the barrel and I could not mount anything else. So I used my Large LT621 inversion rail and mounted it to the top rail. Now I can mount a laser and the chainsaw grip at the same time.

To my surprise, the recoil is very manageable in this configuration. Also, it weighs 16.5 lbs so that may have helped.

Shooting The ULR Mini .50 BMG Rifle

The ULR Mini comes with a Timney trigger that is adjustable. So all I had to do was think about what optic to put on the ULR Mini. I came across a used Barrett BORS scope. It was designed to go on Barrett M82A1s and other large-caliber rifles. It has a ballistic calculator in it that is connected to the elevation dial of the scope. So if you have the ballistic information entered into the BORS, you just dial up and the screen tells you how far that bullet will go. I was able to make hits at 300 and 800 yards with the BORS and the ULR Mini.

One problem I had with the BORS was using the software to edit the ballistic info in the BORS. BORS is long discontinued and is no longer supported by Barrett. The software is not iOS-compatible. So I had to borrow my friends’ Windows computers to run the software.

My friend Kythe gave me his old Fujitsu laptop. It is tiny but it can run the BORS software.

I entered the muzzle velocity and other data into the software and uploaded that to the scope computer.

Here are some video clips of shooting the ULR Mini .50 BMG rifle. My friend Jerry and I shot the ULR Mini with the FootPrint Insole buttpad and it worked well.

We were shooting Federal American Eagle .50 BMG 660 grain FMJ rounds. I am not sure if the ULR Mini is not an accurate gun or if I am anticipating the recoil too much but here is a 5-shot group at 100 yards. I will be honest, I always anticipated the recoil on this gun so I am willing to take the blame for this. But given the expense of the ammo and the massive recoil, I did not want to keep shooting for groups. As mentioned earlier, I was able to hit a pig-shaped steel target at 300 yards and another steel target 800 yards away with this ammo and gun.

Final Thoughts On The ULR Mini

The Noreen Firearms ULR Mini scratches an itch I had years ago. A friend’s late stepfather-in-law had a Barrett M82A1 with a 20″ barrel. My friend wanted to sell it and I wanted to buy it but I did not have enough money at the time and long-distance shooting was not something I could do or even had a place to do it. So I passed on it. But I wanted an anti-material rifle and the Noreen ULR Mini fits that role. It is small enough and light enough to be maneuvered easily. With the chainsaw setup, it is very mobile. While I did not test it, I suspect breaching or destroying things like an engine block would be pretty easy with the ULR Mini. I was rather impressed that I was able to hit a steel target 800 yards away with the ULR Mini and Barrett BORS scope. It took 2 shots to get on target but I’ll take it. The ULR Mini is rather inexpensive for a single shot .50 BMG. It is $1,699.00 on Noreen Firearms’ website. For more information go to their website.

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