Remington Arms Chassis System — RACS. Not the M40A6. But close. (courtesy marinecorpstimes.com)

“The Marine Corps’ M40 sniper rifle, in use since the Vietnam War, will get a radical upgrade to make the rifle more adaptable, compact and ergonomic for shooters of all builds,” marinecorpstimes.com reports. ” It will also become more deadly.” Yes, there is that. The M40 Modular Stock Program upgrades the current M40A5 to include a full-length rail and a foldable stock. The “new” (quote marks courtesy Foghorn) lighter rifle will be rechristened M40A6. Bonus! “The modular stock should assemble and function with a .338 Lapua barreled action to facilitate potential future M40 upgrades,” according to the purchase description posted on FedBizOpps.gov. “That would address complaints from scout snipers that their current rifles and cartridges cannot reliably drop targets over long distances. It’s a problem they have encountered in Afghanistan, where they sometimes take fire from across large fields or from neighboring compounds.”  Specifically . . .

Scout snipers with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., outlined the deficiencies of the cartridge in a position paper they sent up their chain of command. They shared a copy with Marine Corps Times, which embedded with the unit in Afghanistan last fall. Beyond 800 meters, 7.62 NATO cartridges lost some of their lethality, the paper said. That posed a significant problem when 7.62 x 54mmR rounds from a Russian-made PKM machine guns were fired at them from up to 1,200 meters away.

The Precision Sniper Rifle, or a.338 Lapua receiver and barrel dropped into the Marine Corps’ future modular stock, would put those insurgents well within in lethal range. The .338 Lapua can reliably drop targets at 1,500 meters. Its heavier bullet weight makes it less susceptible to environmental factors like wind and gives it a devastating punch even after traveling nearly a mile.

In addition to a stock overhaul, the M40 rifle upgrade could also be accompanied by higher capacity, detachable box magazines, providing Marines with 10 rounds instead of five before reloading.

Of course, we’ll be out of Afghanistan by the time the new rifle hits the scene. And into something else, most likely. So . . . about GD time I’d say.

82 Responses to Marine Scout Snipers Sneaking Up on .338 Lapua

    • I really hope so! It has been tough paying 5 or more bucks per round. Perhaps this will also lead to more options as well. ex: tracer, incendiary, AP etc…

      • I think they may actually be sticking it to us because the market expects .338 LAP to be expensive so they just keep feeding it too us on that markup. The prices just seem to consistent across suppliers and manufacturers and given its wide and increasingly varied list of adopters I just don’t see any other explanation for “.338 Lapua come and get it we got the cheap stuff at 5$ because when you brought the rifle that’s what you signed on for”

      • Seems like a perfect candidate for reloading. Is that being done? If so, what is the cost to reload rounds for the 338 Lapua?

        • And that I why I reload with Lapua Brass/TIP/Powder…get powder from Powder Valley…use Remington 9-1/2 primers.

  1. I wouldn’t knock the 338. I know the SEALs use both 338 and 300wm. Isn’t the m24 a long action so the can switch barrels to a 300wm?

    You think they could just buy a few thousand new rifles and sell the rest to police and maybe civilian markets.

  2. I didn’t know that the Corps was still using a short action rifle for snipers. Seems pretty outdated, especially considering that Carlos Hathcock was using a .50 BMG as a sniper almost 50 years ago.

    • Yeah, but Hathcock was using a M2 Heavy Machine Gun modified to fire semi-auto, and fitted with an 8x Unertl.
      Still.. A kill at nearly 2500 yards with only an 8x from a non-precision platform is still pretty impressive.

      • We have done so much for so long with so little, that we can do anything with nothing. USMC motto. Semper Fi Brothers.

  3. Quick question for the long range buffs in the audience…

    What’s the practical difference between .338 Lapula and .50 BMG? (Other than the obvious.)

    • .338 stays supersonic for longer distances. Not by much, but it does. Lighter gun, can carry more rounds.
      Accuracy? Personally, my 50 holds a better group than a buddies .338, but only if I’m shooting expensive handloads. Current world record for 1,000 yard groups is held by the .50. It’s just so darn heavy. Mine weighs 32 lbs. I can’t imagine humping that in the altitudes they have over in Afcrapistan.
      The .50, (I think), has more projectiles for different duties.

      • Accuracy is dependant on many factors, the M107 semi-auto .50 is actually known for being that (subjective) accurate. It’s accurate enough though, even with it’s very simple and crude semi-auto action and with just delinked .50 M2 Ball. You said yours was wicked accurate with very expensive match ammo, and I’m willing to bet yours is a bolt, either single or magazine fed. The key, as you stated, is that the .333 LM stays supersonic longer than the .308, .300 WM (with much greater bullet weight) and the .50 cal.

      • Marine Special Forces I had the pleasure of working with in AFG favored their .300 winmag over the .50, and it was the shorty semi auto barret at that. Has the pleasure of shooting both, and carried both to the firing point, maybe like 100 yards… No thanks on the .50, MSOT gunny sgt said he had no love for the .50 due to the weight on patrol, I agree even after a short distance. The .300 winmag in an AICS 2.0 stock folded nicely and stuck out of his ruck… He carried 2 weapons, mk18 10.5 inch with an ELCAN and suppressor and the .300 winmag suppressed for the 1-2k fight across the ridge line. 1500-1800 meter engagements regularly, so he said… had a pretty awesome beard so he seemed legit… 😉

      • Current world record for 1000 yards was shot by Tom Sarver with a 1.403 inch group using a modified .338 LM necked down to a .30 caliber. The .50 record was shattered over 10 years ago by a .300 WM. I’m amazed that the .338 hasn’t taken the title yet. the SMK 300 grain bullets are incredibly accurate with the right twist and cut the trans sonic barrier like a knife.

        • The current best 50 group at 1000, as of 2013 is 1.9″. There will be more to come on that. Count on it.

      • I would disagree with you on the 338 remaining supersonic for greater distances. This is incorrect. The far greater BC’s and weight of the 50, particularly over 700 grain projectiles will remain supersonic a great deal further then the heaviest 338 projectiles. The 50 caliber ball ammo of 647 grain persuasion does however closely resemble the 338 lapua ballistic performance.

    • On a related note, anyone know about Barrett’s .416? I know it’s sort of a niche cartridge, but I recall reading that it shoots flatter and with more muzzle energy than the .50.

      • same thing with the .408 Cheytac, however with no real military or police contracts those rifles/calibers don’t really take off, since very low production and expensive ammo inhibits wide spread use. Also because only a one or two rifles shoots either caliber. Extremely expensive ammo coupled with limited rifle selection equals no use. Such is the case of most wildcat ammo, even if it’s effective.

      • It’s a .50BMG case necked down to fire a smaller bullet. The .416 has a longer bearing surface (the cylindrical sides that contact the barrel) in relation to its diameter and mass than the .50 which gives it better spin and a higher BC. The spin improves accuracy, while the BC improves aerodynamics, allowing it to maintain speed longer, also improving accuracy. Also, since it’s a lighter round, it has a higher muzzle velocity, which combined with the higher BC gives it another bump to accuracy. The same shooter with the same quality 416 and 50 ammo and gun should shoot better with the 416, in theory.
        It does however have the 50’s downsides that Tom mentioned: it’s big and heavy. If you’re walking 50 feet from your car to the range, it’s not a big deal. If you’re going on a 50 mile patrol through mountains, it is.

        • I have often wondered what performance would be like if you tok a 50bmg, necjed it to .308, then fitted a projectile that was roughly the same weight as the standard .50 at 647 grains, give or take 50 gr. The idea is to maintain the same muzzle velocity and projectile weight, but cut the cross section to achieve longer range at supersonic velocity. I know that versions using the standard .308 150gr, and even some using 55gr .223 have been tried with poor results.

        • I think if you necked a .50 down to .30 you’d get something like 400 rounds of barrel life….

    • Wikipedia actually has great summaries of the .416, .50, and .338. The .338 was developed from the ground up for long range sniping, is man portable, and can be fire from the shoulder more readily than the heavier .416 and .50 platforms. There is much to be said of all of the platforms, but I believe the Marine Snipers would greatly be fit from adopting the .338 LM, which is exactly why they want it.

  4. I’m still waiting for the hyper-dimensional Vortanian collapsing sub-space particle beam projector. The one with the 4x fixed Weaver scope.

        • Yeah, well I’ve seen mature tri-sexed Parmeum bulls take a direct hit with a hacked up 49 watter. Its gotta have collapsing sub-space characteristics to bring the big boys down for good !

        • actually that was a “40 Watt range”, meaning you could select between, say 1200 and 1240 Watts, or 2000 and 2040. You’ll have to contact the good people at Westinghouse; they make the M-25

  5. awww hell… if all they got is 5 rounds, give’em a Mosin Nagant and scope… Marines are always first into battle and last to get technology upgrades….

    • Not really, their M40 (all versions) were soooo much better than the similar, but different, Army’s M24. The Marines choose to use the M16A4 with optics (ACOG) while the army was putting around with A2s and trying to field more M4s. The Marines choose a camo system that worked and stuck with it. The key is that the Marines don’t have a big budget to mess around with nor the money to fix mistakes like the rest of the branches, so they generally choose carefully and deliberately.

    • Kind of.
      Since at it’s heart it’s still called the M40, which is a short-action 700. While the XM2010 is a long-action 7000.

      • But the M40A6 will be in .338, so that means they’ll have to get new long actions. So it seems that they’re basically piecing together MSRs instead of ordering them outright.

        • True, because I don’t believe the short-action is capable of .338 and the statement in the article sounded like they would buy some outright and overhaul others. At least that is what I inferred. “The Precision Sniper Rifle, or a.338 Lapua receiver and barrel dropped into the Marine Corps’ future modular stock”

    • This whole bit in the quote actually sounds strange, because, looking at the ballistics numbers, 7.62x54r has the same muzzle velocity as 7.62×51. Why would it be more accurate?

      • They’re comparing a long range sniping platform, basically a one shot at a time weapon, to a belt fed Russian machine gun. The rounds are roughly equal in performance, but the platforms aren’t.

        The long range rifleman trying to deliver an intended bullet to an intended target has a number of problems to overcome. The machine gunner can simply walk his bursts onto the target area and then pound it with volume. Puts the long range rifleman at a disadvantage in a general skirmish against hostiles that are in the compound across the valley.

        • I suppose that makes sense, but don’t Marines have 7.62 MGs of their own (e.g. M240) that could be utilized in the same manner? I would expect it to be more accurate than PKM, too…

        • Int19h, I don’t know how they deploy the 240. I had heard in the past it was used as a vehicle and helicopter mounted weapon and that the grunts carried the 5.56 SAW as their infantry support weapon. Maybe someone that’s been to Astan can clear that up?

        • One example I can think of is a personal one. Was supporting a troops in contact, MSOT was on one ridge line and the bad guys were on the other (1200 and 1800 meters away) with Taliban firing PKMs at the MSOT and afghan local police (militia for the most part). The ALP had PKMs they were shooting back with, and when the enemy PKM fire started to get really close, and the ALP weren’t hitting anything, the marines deployed the .300 Winmag. None of them humped a 240 or 249s up the mountain. They were still mounted on the Polaris 4x4s. Why bring those when you have a bunch of afghans toting PKMs? Better yet, bring a 2lb radio that can call in a pair of apaches, an F-16, and a B1 bomber. End of story, 2 x EKIA via .300 Winmag GSWs…

        • If you look at the Marine infantry MTOE, they have 3 squads with 3 fire teams each per platoon. (SAW, grenadier and 2 riflemen). The Army has 3 squads with 2 fire teams each, and a weapons squad with 2 M240, 2 Javelin (in theory, not always in practice) and assistant gunners (ammo bitches). An Army platoon has way more firepower than a Marine one.

        • Typically, we would integrate a weapons platoon into the standard infantry platoons. Making 4 integrated platoons vs 3 and 1. The 240g that i carried weighed 25.6lbs typically, i would only patrol with it when moving from one OP to another while strapping my m4 to my day pack. We preferred having the big gun on the roof to cover our operations in the surrounding area and to stop any vbied’s that were inbound. If we had been in afghanistan i would have carried it a lot more on patrols. The limited range and urban makeup of Ramadi made it more of a hindrance than help on a typical patrol in the city.

    • After 112 years, it’s still going strong.

      Yeah, “assault weapons” aren’t much good against infantry rifles and full-on machineguns.

      God is an iron, and so are many military policies,

  6. There are several awe-inspiring long range cartridges out there. The 7.62 NATO round, for all it’s virtues, is not one of them. My concern is that the beancounters or politicians will choose the cartridge that works for them, rather than allowing the scout snipers to make the decision based on what works on the battlefield. That’s all too often the way things are done.

    • Worst, it’s not just the beancounters or politicians, it’s the multi-star generals or mid-level officers who keep dictating to our soldiers terrible tactics to fight with. I recently re-read “American Sniper” and laughed at Kyle’s use of the term “Head Shed”, especially in complaints that they wouldn’t let the SEALS do overwatch or fight like they were trained to.

      Reminds me of the stories my friend tells me (he’s currently an Army LT stationed in California)…

  7. Like to point out that the doctrine which led to the 7.62 and 5.56 NATO was a shift from the belief that the individual infantryman was an accurate long-range, slow volume shooter. Both of these rounds were intended for medium range in full or semi-auto shoulder fired weapons and reasonable use in the SAW or machine guns.

    As a student of the Eastern Front conflict I have to tell you that one hell of a lot of young Russians died needlessly humping straight into German machine guns with a bayonet on the front of a five-shot, bolt action Mosin-Nagant that is essentially only a spear when you are moving across a field in the attack. There is absolutely no way to return accurate aimed fire and/or reload the thing while walking, especially if the NKVD “special division” behind you will shoot you for stopping.

    And there has to be a really good explanation as to why the Soviets stockpiled all those millions of Mosins after the war and switched to AK-47s. So yes, give all our Marines antique Soviet rifles if you have several hundred thousand of them (Marines) to spare in frontal attacks. /s

    • >> Like to point out that the doctrine which led to the 7.62 and 5.56 NATO was a shift from the belief that the individual infantryman was an accurate long-range, slow volume shooter. Both of these rounds were intended for medium range in full or semi-auto shoulder fired weapons and reasonable use in the SAW or machine guns.

      7.62×51 NATO was definitely not “intended for medium rage in full auto”. It was a replacement cartridge for .30-06, and the point was to get a slightly more compact and lighter version of the existing cartridge, with ballistics that were reasonably close to original, using advances in gunpowder tech.

      5.56 was the one that was specifically designed for full-auto.

      >> As a student of the Eastern Front conflict I have to tell you … if the NKVD “special division” behind you will shoot you for stopping.

      Watching “Enemy at the Gates” does not make you a student of the Eastern Front conflict. If you study the actual historical documents, you’ll quickly find out that the infamous barrier troops were not actually used like that – i.e. it wasn’t a bunch of guys with a MG ready to fire at their own troops if they were to turn back and try to run away during a suicidal charge. In practice, barrier troops were deployed 2-10km behind the actual front line, and their purpose was to catch any deserters trying to run away from their unit into the back of the country. They didn’t shoot people on sight, either – they detained them, and held military tribunals. Statistically, 93% of deserters caught by barrier troops in Stalingrad were simply forced to return to their unit immediately, not even put on trial; 2% were sent to penal batallions; and 0.85% were actually executed.

    • Russian troops didn’t die because of the 5 shot bolt action rifles they carried. The German troops they faced also had 5 shot bolt actions as their standard rifle. The first time American marines engaged hostile japanese forces they both carried 5 shot bolt actions.

      The reason for such appalling casualties amonsgt the Red army was a lack of leadership, lack of preperation, lack of training and a high command that believed in trading bodies for ground.

      I doubt there would have been a successful landing and campaign at Normandy if the Red army had not be holding the majority of German forces in the east.

  8. If we’re moving to a proprietary style cartridge that isn’t NATO certified, why don’t we dust off the 30-06? It has a heck of a lot more powder behind it than the 7.62×51 or x54R, and it’s certainly cheaper.

  9. Whatever happened to the days when an engagement beyond 1200 meters was a cause for an air or arty mission? The real question isn’t “Is this the best rifle for that range?” but rather “Why are we fighting with small arms at such ranges. That’s enough standoff for everything in the arsenal short of a MOAB or B-52 strike. Seems to me that either the rules of engagement are absurd or more supporting arms are needed.

    • Those were the days before “any collateral damage at all is completely unacceptable.” I’m not in the military, but that’s my layman’s ana1ysis.

    • The guys we supported operated in villages sometimes too far from arty or even 120mm mortar support. It took us an hour to get to them sometimes, and depending on the air tasking order for the day, they might not have CAS or attack weapons team on station when they get attacked. It’s a long range fight over there much of the time, and I’d rather have something to lob bullets back at them… But I agree with you, sometimes they are just to far, 2k and beyond, firing down from higher cliffs… A picture would really put it in perspective…

  10. The Army has already adopted an MRAD type sniper rifle platform in 300Win mag and is sourcing it from Remington. The 338Lapua is a lot of cartridge and would seem to be stop gap between 30 caliber and 50BMG. Not sure if the Remington MRAD platform can accommodate the 338Lapua but I think that is the basic idea behind the MRAD concept.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:XM2010_November_2010.jpg

  11. Well to all you .338 shooters out there, I’m one of them. If the military begins using this round for most sniper work ammo will become even more scare and expensive. Lapua .338 is so expensive now our group has stopped using it. A person in my group and myself will have ours for sale up on armslist eau claire next month. Maybe the government wants to buy them as it seems most around here are fricking too broke to buy anything over a grand. Bye bye to yet another gun that shoots ammo I can no longer afford.

  12. Seems the MC leadership, has apolitical problem, the old O6 had plenty oompa beyond 1k yards, leadership in wisdom opted for 7.62x 51 instead, then an air force General wanted M-16 for guarding bases then all other clowns jumped on band wagon and m-16 is national weapon, now the Grunts who usually get the short end of the stick need a longer range weapon so again short range weapons are developed, lo and behold they enter into a long range shooting war with popguns, good luck with the acquisition of something that would actually help a grunt!

  13. Certainly looks effective, but damn is it ugly! I’ve never liked the whole skeleton/quad-rail vibe going on with precison rifles. This in a good composite though…

  14. This remarkable, for us who are beginners or have not mengrerti of this article and article you are very helpful to us. maybe my bad english, but unfortunately very commented to you. For this one I really helped. once again I’m sorry if I do not correct grammar I use google translate your blog to comment on this. Daftar SBOBET

  15. .338 Winchester Magnum. It will do at 1300 meters what the .338 Lapua Magnum does at 1500. Should be enough! It’s not normally loaded with a 300gr bullet, but no reason it can’t be. Everything is cheaper and lighter going that route.

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