Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years – The Washington Post

It was the summer of 2011 in southern Helmand province, Afghanistan, and mission after mission, Sgt. Ben McCullar of Third Battalion, Second Marines, would insert with his eight-man sniper team into the berms and dunes north of the volatile town of Musa Qala.

Sometimes they would fire at a group of enemy fighters, sometimes the enemy would fire at them first, but almost immediately, McCullar explained, their team would be pinned down by machine guns that outranged almost all of their sniper rifles.

“They’d set up at the max range of their [machine guns] and start firing at us,” McCullar said. “We’d take it until we could call in [close air support] or artillery.”

via Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years – The Washington Post.

An interesting problem. The Marines take sniper skills very seriously, and have long doctrinally included the sniper mission into their operations. And they essentially build their own rifles. But apparently parochialism has them wedded to the .308 round (7.62mm NATO), which limits their maximum effective range to essentially 1000m. Guess what? While 1 shot/1 kill at 1000m is very impressive, it’s also very dangerous, as most general purpose machine guns have a greater range than that.

I can understand some reluctance to adopt the popular British .338 Lapua round, as there aren’t a lot of actions in that caliber. But the .300WinMag has been around for a long, long time, and the same in house expertise that has fine tuned the M40 could easily be used on a .300WinMag.


17 thoughts on “Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years – The Washington Post”

  1. We converted our rifles over to 300 long ago. Believe it resulted in more need to replace barrels but not sure. I was not able to give my sniper section anywhere near the attention I wanted to for lots of reasons other than new rifles.

  2. The article makes it sound like purely politics. It is all about money. With the current fiscal climate in DoD, the USMC has had to make some damned difficult choices. Our budget is about 5% of the overall defense budget. There is a reason we use old stuff.

    1. We used to raid their DRMO lots on regular occasions. All the reality shows about desert junkyards and what not reminded me of running around the DRMO lot at Bragg or Irwin grabbing starters and generators and recoil cylinders, and firing locks, and any other SECREP we could carry.

    2. I guess that explains why we had to put guards out in our motorpool in Camp Bahria when I was adjacent to a particular rifle battalion. Up until we caught them on multiple nights stealing from us, we had had a great working relationship and a high mutual regard that was unfortunately soured by actions at the lowest levels. Then they went and (probably) swiped the squadron colors and the leadership refused to admit to any possibility that someone in the battalion might have done so. From a professional standpoint, it was quite a shame.

    3. Not that I am slighting a sister service at all; it could have been done by any service.

    4. When I say “raid”, we were allowed into the DRMO lots. It is DRMO, all equipment in there is Code H or worse. All we had to do was enter the “SC” code for the parts, which the civilian managers of the lot happily did. Because all of our DRMO lots were picked clean of SECREPs before the vehicles and gear ever got there. We couldn’t afford not to.

      Always put guards on your motor pool.

    5. Sure, I have been in DRMO lots more than once. Mostly back in the Clinton era, but you have to do what you have to do.

  3. The Marines use of the .50 Barrett sort of puts everything else this writher says into doubt.

  4. Is there an advantage to having rifles chambered in readily available .308/7.62 rather than a caliber that might be difficult to come by in the field?

    1. I suppose in an extreme situation. But the M40 already uses a different ammunition than the regular 7.62mm ammunition used in machine guns and such. I mean, it will fire the regular old ammo, but is tailored to use special match grade ammo.

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