“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.