What was the inspiration for the US Army sniper rifle? The answer might surprise you.
Here’s what you need to remember: In 2010, the US Army selected a new sniper rifle, the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, to replace the M24. The M2010 is in fact the same M24 Remington action, which in a gesture of great forethought the military had technically demanded it to be a long action capable of eventually upgrading to the heavier caliber .300 Winchester Magnum.
The US Army’s long-lasting sniper rifle has its roots in one of the most iconic American shotguns ever produced. The M-24 Sniper weapon system, standard among army sniper teams, is based on the 56-year-old Remington 700 shotgun. When the US military decided to deploy a new, larger caliber sniper weapon, it again turned to the Remington 700 to produce the advanced M2010 rifle.
The Remington 700 is one of the most popular American firearms of the 20th century. Released in 1956 as an affordable and relatively lightweight bolt-action shotgun, the 700 line of shotguns have sold over four million copies. The rifle is available in over two dozen calibers, from .17 Remington to .458 Winchester Magnum, and can hold game, from squirrels to moose.
In the mid-1980s, the US military decided it needed to replace the service’s existing sniper rifle, the M21 sniper rifle, with a new weapon. The M21, based on the M14 combat rifle, dated from the Vietnam War. Although semi-automatic, the M21 was less precise and required more maintenance than most sniper rifles. The Army opened a competition for a new rifle in November 1986 and picked a winner, Remington Arms, in July 1987.
Remington’s competitor, known as the M24 Sniper Weapon System, was a bolt action rifle based on the Remington 700 shotgun. It was similar to the Marine Corps M40 sniper weapon, also based on the Rifle Rifle. remington chase. The barrel of the rifle floated freely, hitting only the rest of the rifle where it attaches to the Remington action, in order to prevent pressure from changing the point of impact. Remington also provided the weapon with a Harris bipod to support firing from prone position and cover.
The M24 was chambered in 7.62 × 51 millimeters (0.308 Winchester), intended to use M118 7.62 × 51 Special Ball ammunition and the 173 grain bullet from the M118. The rifle used a heavy twenty-four inch long barrel which increased speed (and therefore distance) and could be fired multiple times without heat affecting accuracy. The twist of the barrel, which imparts rotation to the bullet and increases accuracy, was one full revolution every eleven inches.
Optics are one of the most important characteristics of a sniper rifle. The M24 was originally equipped with a fixed-power Leupold M3A Ultra riflescope with a magnification of ten, and featured Redfield (and later OK Weber) fixed sights for emergency use. Range at fixed power, the M3A had fewer moving parts to break under field conditions. This was later replaced by a ten-power Leupold Mk. Scope IV LR / T M1.
Unlike the M21, which was a semi-automatic rifle fed by a large twenty-round magazine, the M24 was a bolt action rifle supplied by an internal five-round magazine. Switching from semi-automatic to lock-up may have been controversial at the time, but it was the right move. Bolt guns, operated manually by the user, are more reliable and much less prone to jamming. They were also more accurate than semi-automatic rifles at the time, although this is no longer necessarily true.
The M24 / M118 Special Ball combination was a reasonably accurate combination, capable of shooting one minute of angle (one inch of deflection at a hundred yards). As a retired U.S. Army sniper said, the M118 special bullet was capable of an accuracy of 0.2 (1.5-inch clusters at five hundred yards) at one minute of angle. At worst, the special M118 bullet was capable of spreading from ten inches to a thousand yards, which is acceptable given that a human target’s chest is typically assumed to be twenty-three inches in diameter.
The M24 has performed well in Afghanistan and Iraq, with sniper teams capable of long-range and long-range observation of target areas. On September 27, 2005, U.S. Army Sniper Team Leader SSgt. Jim Gilliland fired at an insurgent with his M24 sniper weapon system from a distance of 1,367 meters, or seven tenths of a mile. At that distance, gravity knocked the 7.62 millimeter M118 cartridge down from an incredible height of 91 feet vertically, a distance that Staff Sergeant Gilliland had to compensate for in order to fire.
In 2010, the US military selected a new sniper rifle, the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, to replace the M24. The M2010 is in fact the same M24 Remington action, which in a gesture of great forethought the military had technically demanded it to be a long action capable of eventually upgrading to the heavier caliber .300 Winchester Magnum. The M24 action was rebarred with a twenty-four inch .300 WM cannon and encased in a futuristic-looking aluminum chassis which provided a rock-stable firing platform. Although the M2010 has a removable magazine, it retains the same number of cartridges (five) as the M24.
The selection of the .300 Winchester Magnum extended the range of the US Army sniper to 1200 yards, four hundred beyond that of the M24. As a result, the M2010 ESR received improved longer-range optics, the Leupold Mark 4 M5A2 with variable magnification 6.5-20. The Leupold scope can be fitted with Knight’s Armament AN / PVS-29 night vision scopes. or AN / PVS-30 for night shooting. Finally, a suppressor designed by the Advanced Armament Company eliminates flash and dramatically reduces the sound signature of the rifle, features very useful when a sniper is trying to conceal his position.
The Remington Model 700 is completely unrecognizable as an improved M2010 sniper rifle, but the sleek, skeletal sniper weapon owes its existence to the classic shotgun found in homes across America. The ability to shoot a hunting weapon and turn it into not one but two sniper rifles is a testament to the excellent design of the Model 700.
Kyle Mizokami is a San Francisco-based defense and national security writer who appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign policy, War is boring and the Beast of the day. In 2009, he co-founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.
This article first appeared in June 2018.