The Marines have often had to follow the Army’s lead on procurement. When the Army wants a rifle, the Marines have to get it as well. Part of this is due to logistics — it’s easier to keep a single set of spare parts. When a unit needs more magazines, it’s simpler to make sure they’re sent the right part when choices are limited. Now, however, the script has been flipped.
Australian Army Pvt. Levi Mooney, right, bumps fists with a child during a patrol in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, July 26, 2013. Mooney carries a HK417 rifle, similar to the M110A1 that will be the new squad-level designated marksman rifle. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Jessi Ann McCormick)
The Army is now following the lead of the Marine Corps and buying a rifle that is based off a Marine project. The new Army weapon system, designated the M110A1, is a scaled-up version of the Marine’s M38 that’s able to fire the 7.62x51mm NATO round.
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M38 Squad Designated Marksmanship Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory)
The baseline M110 is a Semi-Automatic Sniper System and is based on a rifle built by Knight Armaments System. The M110 features a 20-shot magazine and a 20-inch Chrome Plated 5R Cut barrel. The system has been used by the Army and Marines for over a decade and was considered one of the Army’s best inventions of 2007.
U.S. Soldiers with 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team prepare to engage enemy combatants in Chak district, Wardak province, Afghanistan. The kneeling soldier has an M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, which is being replaced by the M110A1. (DoD photo by Pfc. Donald Watkins, U.S. Army)
The M110A1 is also designated the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System and is based on the Heckler and Koch G28/HK417 rifle. It is slated to replace modified M14 rifles currently in use by the Army. This is not the first time the Army has used a semi-automatic sniper system. The M21 sniper rifle was used by Army snipers in the Vietnam War. Adelbert Waldron was the top American sniper in that war with 109 confirmed kills. He was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
A rifle similar to the M110A1, the MR762A1, is available on the civilian market. (Heckler and Koch photo)
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