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Longer-range, harder-hitting sniper rifle eyed

Mar. 21, 2013 - 07:25AM   |  
Remington Defense's MSR, or Modular Sniper Rifle, pictured here, is the basis for U.S. Special Operations Command's new Precision Sniper Rifle. The multi-caliber rifle will provide shooters a harder-hitting, long range weapon.
Remington Defense's MSR, or Modular Sniper Rifle, pictured here, is the basis for U.S. Special Operations Command's new Precision Sniper Rifle. The multi-caliber rifle will provide shooters a harder-hitting, long range weapon. (Remington Defense)
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The Army is watching closely as U.S. Special Operations Command fields a new sniper rifle designed to provide marksmen with greater range and more stopping power, but officials say there are no near-term plans to procure the weapon for infantry units.

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The Army is watching closely as U.S. Special Operations Command fields a new sniper rifle designed to provide marksmen with greater range and more stopping power, but officials say there are no near-term plans to procure the weapon for infantry units.

The Precision Sniper Rifle program was led by SOCOM with considerable input from the Marine Corps and Army. The multicaliber weapon is made by Remington Defense, with whom SOCOM signed a contract in March to purchase an expected 5,150 PSRs over the next 10 years, along with nearly 4.7 million rounds of Barnes ammunition.

The acquisition will likely total nearly $80 million. Remington’s Modular Sniper Rifle beat out Sako’s TRG M10 for the contract.

For now, the PSR will be used exclusively by special operations forces. It’s meant to fill a gap between moderate 7.62mm cartridges and behemoth .50-caliber rounds. Meanwhile, the Army continues to pursue its own sniper rifle project but has not ruled out adopting the PSR, officials said.

“The Army is currently developing a precision sniper rifle requirement that is intended to meet the needs of the Army Sniper community,” Lt. Col. Shawn Lucas, the Army’s product manager for individual weapons with PEO Soldier, said in a statement. “The Army will continue to confer with SOCOM regarding the performance of their PSR selection over time as part of the Army’s routine review of commercially available solutions that have the potential to address the needs of Army Snipers.”

The PSR’s effective range depends on the cartridge a shooter uses. Using a quick-change bolt-head system and interchangeable barrels, it can switch among 7.62mm NATO, .300 Winchester Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges.

The hard-hitting .338 Lapua can reliably drop targets at 1,500 meters when fired by a skilled marksman with a precision weapon. That makes the rifle highly adaptable for short-range shots in an urban environment or long-range shots in open country.

Marines say their current M40 rifles and 7.62x51mm cartridges aren’t powerful enough to consistently take down enemies at considerable distance.

Snipers say the M40’s 7.62mm rounds lose some of their lethality past 800 meters. That is a problem in Afghanistan, where enemy machine gunners routinely engage troops with 7.62mm PKM machine guns out to 1,200 meters. The PSR, or a similar rifle chambered for magnum rounds, would put those insurgents in lethal range.

Staff writers Rob Curtis and Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.

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