The U.S. Army has been using the M110 SASS (basically an AR-10) for the last four years as a replacement for the M24 sniper rifle, and apparently the verdict is in: its too damned big. GearScout has news that the Army has a request for a newer, shorter version out and is now accepting submissions. And when you realize the role it plays in the modern battlefield you quickly understand why . . .
The M24 was the dominant sniper rifle for ages. It was a plain Jane Remington 700 with some relatively minor adjustments and it did the job very well. Until we started moving from jungles and mountains into urban environments, that is.
There has long been a hierarchy of precision shooters in the Army. At the top of the food chain are the dedicated sniper teams who make impossibly long shots and are deployed as standalone assets. Within the larger units are also the designated marksmen who are issued rifles like the M14-EBR — semi-auto longer range scoped weapons — and intended to provide precision fire capability to the squad level commanders. These two roles require vastly different weapons and it seems like the M110 wasn’t cutting it for either.
Snipers require extremely precise weapons which usually means a bolt action rifle. And designated marksmen need something that can function just as well at long range as in closer quarters, like a semi-auto .308 of some sort. And while the M110 could do both of those things, it was either too imprecise or too big to do them well.
With the roll-out of the new XM2010 sniper system to the Army snipers, the spotters on the team are asking for something lighter than the existing SASS to tote around the battlefield. And the doorkickers in the infantry squads are tired of carrying around something that is twelve miles long and barely fits in through those doorways. They need something a little more compact.
Hence the RFC. It looks like the Army is continuing its march to make their weapons shorter than everyone else and from an operational standpoint, it sounds like a good plan. So long as they don’t break the bank on the upgrades, that is.