Let me start off by saying I wanted to get a rifle for awhile now, mainly for fun target practice at the range, living that once long ago passion to become a marine sniper and wanted to get an m24 and an 50 to have and hit the range once in awhile(if thats even possible with a rifle of such a caliber) or set up some targets in the mountains and have some fun(family is from tenn.) Can such rifles still be purchased? And no I dont plan on going deer hunting, there would be no deer left.
They are LEGAL in MOST states. What state do you live in?
Yes, they can be purchased. I'm assuming that you are talking about the .50 BMG, and a cheap option is the Serbu. Ammo is very expensive though, and the guns themselves are very pricey also.
Not all .50bmg rifles cost $8000. You can pay that much for a semi-auto Barrett, but you could also pick up a single-shot Serbu for about $2000. Still not cheap, but when you look at what people spend on AR15s, benchrest guns, etc., $2000 isn't too crazy. Of course, if you're doing competition with a .50bmg you can probably expect to spend a lot more than that.
Also, I don't think there are any scopes that can really hold up to the recoil of a .50cal rifle. It's not a question of IF your scope will break, but WHEN. You're going to pay a lot for a decent scope with good customer service.
Ammo prices are harsh, I think I've seen it as high as $6 per cartridge. I had some friends that loaded their own ammo, and had a hook-up on once-fired brass... I don't know what it cost them to load, but I bet it was still at least a dollar a round. And that was three years ago, before ammo prices skyrocketed. They thought nothing of shooting 100+ rds every Sunday afternoon. Too rich for my blood.
And as others have said, finding a place to shoot a .50bmg is tough for some people. I actually live in a pretty good place, with three or four 1000yd ranges within a two hour radius. But I am a member at a private club that only goes up to 200yds and we specifically prohibit .50bmg, as do most small shooting ranges.
"Undoubtedly, some think the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct." - Justice Scalia, DC vs Heller
There are some states such as California (and I believe New York) that have banned them for civillian use and sales. I know in Maryland there's a law stating that you cannot reload .50BMG I do believe.
I also remember reading something to the extent of you must live in a county or state with a 1000m range in it to be able to operate a .50 rifle.
I myself am actually looking into getting one.... not so much for shooting, more of collective purposes. I've always wanted one, and think they'll probably be banned from civillian purchase soon (which I kind of agree with... hypocritical I know!), so I may get one and just store it somewhere and then sell it when the price will be up big time! or just keep it for ****s and giggles!
Anyone interested though, I've found a sight that offers a lay-away plan and offers several Barrett Packages, both with and without scopes: