The U.S. Special Operations Command is “seeking sources” for a commercial sniper rifle system that can switch between three specific calibers, is suppressor-compatible, and meets certain size, weight, and accuracy requirements. The “sources sought” memo can be seen here, and should not be confused with a request for proposal like the Army’s Modular Handgun System was.

Notable requirements of SOCOM’s desired ASR are as follows:

– Complete system including caliber conversion kits for 7.62mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum.
– Includes any tools required to convert between calibers.
– Includes a flash and sound suppressor that can be attached to the rifle as needed.
– Total system weight — not including suppressor, and with unloaded magazine — of under 17 lbs (max acceptable ) and under 13 lbs (desired).
– Extended Length under 50″ (max) and 40″ (optimal).
– Fully-collapsed length under 40″ (max) and 36″ (optimal).
– Accuracy at 300 meters must be 1 MOA maximum and 0.5 MOA optimal in both 7.62 NATO and .300 NM. In .338 NM, accuracy must be better than 2.5 MOA max and 1.5 MOA ideal.

What say you, good reader? What rifles come to mind that meet these requirements today?

There’s Desert Tech’s SRS-A1 (given they’ll chamber it in the two Norma calibers), and they even make the required suppressors. The Cadex Defence CDX-MC KRAKEN does. Maybe the Blaser LRS-2? Q’s The Fix would, as founder Kevin Brittingham mentioned he’d consider a long action variant should a military or other contract come along. What else? Anything semi-auto or is the NEMO .300 WM and Petra .300 Norma as close as it’ll come there?

Or is this ASR thing a foregone conclusion?

 

20 Responses to USSOCOM Seeking 3-Caliber Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR)

  1. I should know this, but is there a difference between .338 Norma Magnum and .338 Lapua? If so, why would they want the former, not the latter which seems to have become a sniper staple.

    • Yes, the cartridges are very different. The .338 NM sought to improve on the .338 LM – check the Wiki page for either caliber.

    • This caliber selection was posted about 6 months ago a few places online… interesting that it took this long to become common knowledge.

      TFB had it last June.

      • We probably did, too. Some of the rifle details are newer though (the “seeking sources” memo was posted a couple weeks ago).

  2. The 338 Norma can handle the longer sierra Match kings in a shorter action and mag length because of the shorter cartridge length. SOCOM tested 300 win mag, 338 lapua and other calibers vs 300 Norma and 338 Norma. The Norma’s won based on the requirements requested. General Dynamics makes a 338 Norma belt fed. Also someone is developing a semi auto 300 Norma mag sub MOA system based on another contract.

  3. I think it is dumb to specify that the system must have a barrel for both 7.62mm NATO and .300 Winchester Magnum. Both send .30 caliber bullets down range. Just specify a .300 Win Mag barrel and the grunt who has to haul that system around carries only .300 Win Mag ammunition. If someone really wants the lower recoil of 7.62mm NATO, then someone can make reduced recoil .300 Win Mag cartridges. But why bother with reduced recoil cartridges? This thing will have a suppressor on it … that should make recoil quite comfortable even with .300 Win Mag, especially if the shooter opts to use 168 grain bullets rather than heavier offerings.

    • My guess is it’s about range not recoil. They’ll have a plentiful supply of 7.62 NATO, but the others will be more sparse. Having the ability to change to a common caliber in field to save the harder to get ammo could be useful, especially if the target is close enough for 7.62 NATO to accomplish the goal.

    • I also think supply chain will be the ruling factor here. They can’t afford to NOT make it 7.62 NATO compatible.
      Btw, it won’t be .300 Win Mag but .300 Norma Magnum, quite different.

    • For some missions, it is important for the sniper and spotter to share commonality with the semi-auto M-110 / CASS / whatever the new H&K will be called. The M-110 is 7.62 NATO and shoots 175 grain rounds.

      Unless a .50 cal SASR was involved, 7.62 M-40s and M-110 seems like the most common pairing in Afghanistan.

      Better question is: why the .300 Win Mag when the .338 is available for longer range and for defeating walls (neither 7.62 or 300 Win Mag can reliably penetrate walls)?

  4. I’d love to hear an explanation as to why the .338 spec has triple the inaccuracy compared to the other two calibers.

    • I too found that perplexing, especially considering it’s more likely to be used at extended long range where accuracy would make a much bigger difference.

      That said, the government doesn’t exactly have a reputation for doing things that make sense.

    • Because it will probably be used in place of the .50 cal SASR (AKA Barrett 86) against vehicles and to punch through walls in addition to long range stuff. Many allies like the Brits and Canadians have taken to carrying .338 Lapua Magnums for their snipers simply because .50 cals are too heavy but the .338 still had penetration.

  5. Sounds like a job for Sig. They are kings of modular firearms, plus they make ammunition, suppressors, optics, the whole kit 9 yards. I’m sure they can adapt an existing platform or develop a new one if necessary.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  6. I think id want an ar10 in 6.5 creedmoor over that bolt gun in any of those calibers. If i was a part of our war of terror.

  7. Would they need two actions for the weapon system? Having .308 in heavier action that can handle Norma magnums makes little sense.

    Neat caliber selection, though.

  8. I’d recommend that they consider taking a look at the Accuracy International AXMC. That’s one hell of a rifle.

  9. To the comment that asked why the increased accuracy tolerance for the jump to 338 and to add a few more comments of my own:

    One thing to understand about these specs is they have to be met with the spec’d ammo the military provides. This means they have to meet those max specs with all the various rounds of that caliber that system is meant to use. When you stay down in the 30 cal level be it 308 or 300 NM those are always going to be typical human targets with match type bullets. All this typical bullets will be you basic match bullets from the usual manf the mil already uses the big one being Sierra. Look at the all the 308 and 300 win mag bullets already in service expect the same but a bit heavier for the NM version. Jump up to the 338 and now it has to use AP or the multi HEIAP Raufoss bullets. These with their tungsten penetrators etc have decreased accuracy compared to say seirra match bullets. Also they may be required to hold those maximums with even FMJ like those used for the GD LWMMG (FYI: light weight medium machingun) You also have to consider the operational ranges for these rounds. As things get long holding tighter accuracy tolerances becomes exponentially harder. So you have light anti material used for the 338 NM as well. But consider the 308 is a 800y the 300 NM is 1500 y and the 338 on human targets can with the best match ammo can stretch that to 2000y these days.

    Also do not forget these are not 3 shot or even 5 shot groups we typically see people using to state the accuracy. But instead image shooting at the same point of aim over many many groups ( not sure the exact testing protocol) then overlaying all of those groups centered on the POA and measuring total diameter spread. May have a .5 moa group say .5 moa to the 9oclock of POA for the farthest out another .5 moa group but to the 3 or 6 or 12. Now if each of those are also say .5 moa to that offset… Looking at the the groups most would call that a .5 moa gun but in actuality its 1moa or more depending. I have seen plenty of setup that would print .5 moa 3-5 shot groups but were actually 1.5 moa guns.

    The huge plus of the NM based cartridges is while its got a body and rim the lapua size it actually can work in the shorter standard long action receivers and can fit even with the longest bullets at their ideal seating fit inside the typical ACS CIP mag and even shorter COAL mags. Compared to the lapua it just has way more configurability for military use. Its length allows for used in the LWMMG type weapons. If can be max loaded and fit in standardized magazines. It can fit in reg LA receivers but also in lapua sized ones if needed. While it may seem minuscule being shorter also means it takes up less room and uses less material (brass) When you are taking millions of rounds it adds up.

    Also in terms of costs, maintenance, and use efficiency, a few other advantages: with the 338NM the ideal barrel length where you get the best overall vel to length is 24 ” with it still being supersonice out past 1500 yds with 20-22″ ; still being quite effective. Where a 338 LM honestly really needs a min of 26″. Then we have barrel life or more specifically throat life. Because of the higher efficiency and case design the 338NM has been tested and found to have 2-3x the barrel duty life. With the LM noticeable throat erosion is typically seen around 700 rounds where the NM is closer to 2K

    The need to a multi change rifle system platform is something the mil and specifically SOCOM has been working on for a long time. The orginal Army M24 system was suppose to be able to work in 300wm and 308 was a initial step in that direction. Now with advanced CNC and tech we can have the ability to change configurations while downrange. With that said its actually very unlikely there would be a mission where they would make a change like that in field. Its more to make so the shooter themselves can make the changes as needed to tailor for specific missions without even the need for the battalion armorer let alone a entire different rifle package.

    Frankly for a civy you could easily do this with a set of hard spec gauge and a receiver setup with a barrel nut like savage has done. Simply thread the barrel insert the gauge which is set to a very specific head space. Close the bolt and turn the barrel until its tight to the gauge. Tighten barrel nut. Done. Likely a 5-10min job after its been done once or twice. Use a Master Arms Chassis system pick a LA receiver that allows for full COAL use that ACS CIP mag have. Add in whatever barrels and bolts are needed. To mimic the Mil request would be 3 barrels and bolts. If you actually used a savage or a few customs that use modular bolts you could even go with just bolt heads. That would give you a 308 300NM and 338NM. In fact you could have any rifle caliber set you wanted with such a setup short of the few cartridges that would not fit that setup. IF you have a standard LA you could not use the lapua but if it was a ExLA typically used for the lapua then you could include anything that fits those COAL as well and wildcats based off it. Its not going to be slick and polished like the system the mil wants but would achieve the same end results so to speak.

    I could certainly see a system with a 20″ 308 barrel, 24″ 300 and 338NMs. Could go with one suppressor for all three. For me personally I would have a 26″ on the 300 and possibly the 338 but honestly those 24s are really only 20-40 fps off the longer tube and with bullets like the 300 hybrid from berger there is little difference when you get out to 1500+

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