Marine Corps is eval­u­at­ing what it needs in a new sniper ri­fle

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY THOMAS GIB­BONS- NEFF thomas.gib­bons-neff@wash­post.com

The Marine Corps is look­ing to field a new sniper ri­fle but has yet to iden­tify what type and cal­iber, ac­cord­ing to a Marine spokesman.

“We are look­ing at a num­ber of avail­able op­tions, to in­clude the Mk.21 Pre­ci­sion Sniper Ri­fle,” said Maj. An­ton Semel­roth in an e-mail. “The Marine Corps con­tin­ues to eval­u­ate the need for im­proved ca­pa­bil­i­ties for our snipers and to con­sider so­lu­tions be­ing pur­sued by the Army, other ser­vices and [Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand].”

Semel­roth’s re­marks come a lit­tle more than month af­ter The Washington Post pub­lished a re­port de­tail­ing the short­com­ings of the Marines’ cur­rent sniper ri­fle.

That ri­fle, the M40A5, has an ef­fec­tive range of about 1,000 yards and fires a .308-cal­iber bullet. The Mk.21, how­ever, can be fit­ted to fire a .338-cal­iber bullet and hit tar­gets at more than 1,600 yards. The Mk. 21 is also in use by var­i­ous spe­cial oper­a­tions units.

The Marine Corps is the only branch in the U.S. mil­i­tary and in NATO still field­ing a .308-cal­iber ri­fle as its pri­mary sniper ri­fle. In 2011, the Army up­graded to the M2010, a ri­fle cham­bered in .300cal­iber that can fire ac­cu­rately to 1,300 yards.

Although there has yet to be a firm de­ci­sion on what ri­fle the Marines will field next, the Marine Corps sniper com­mu­nity has ral­lied to push for a new one.

“There has been more talk and proac­tive ac­tions from the [snipers] than there has ever been,” said a Marine close to the ac­qui­si­tion process. “This is the clos­est we’ve come to see­ing a new ri­fle.”

The Marine, who spoke un­der the con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss the pro­gram frankly, added that ten­ta­tive plans have re­cently been made to build a 2,000-yard range at the Marine sniper school in Quantico, Va.

The range, he said, will be a welcome ad­di­tion “if there’s a fu­ture ri­fle com­ing into the Corps that can fire past 1,000 yards.”

The range, while be­ing ideal for a ri­fle such as the Mk.21, will pri­mar­ily be built for the Marine Corps cur­rent train­ing stan­dards.

“There have been dis­cus­sions at Weapons Train­ing Bat­tal­ion re­gard­ing a 2,000-yard range at Marine Corps Base Quantico to meet the train­ing and readi­ness stan­dards for the .50-cal­iber spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tions scoped ri­fle,” Semel­roth said. “At this time, no de­ci­sion has been made.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, the sniper com­mu­nity wants to have a “sniper sum­mit” in the com­ing months to help ad­dress — in ad­di­tion to ac­quir­ing a new ri­fle — man­power and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment is­sues.

“I don’t see any­thing solid right now,” he said. “But I think the process is go­ing to take some time, and we need to be pa­tient about it.”

Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/blogs/ check­point

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