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“The service recently began equipping scout snipers with the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System,” reports. “Made by Knight’s Armament Company in Titusville, Fla., the rifle allows shooters to rapidly engage targets out to 800 meters with match-grade 7.62mm ammunition, especially in scenarios requiring multiple follow-up shots.” Just in case that’s not the kind of tacticool lingo you expect for a killer rifle, Knight’s website adds the coupe de grace. “The SASS is also the first U.S. Army weapon system that integrates an optimized quick attach/detach sound suppressor to aid with Warfighter survivability by reducing weapon firing signature.” We’ve got the specs and some more gun porn after the jump. Bottom line: the Marines haven’t followed the Army’s lead and deployed this bad boy in theater. Yet . . .

A handful of Marines have used similar weapons downrange before, but the M110 did not receive full fielding approval until the fall, according to an internal memo obtained by Marine Corps Times. It will be fielded to augment the bolt-action 7.62mm M40A5 sniper rifle already in use, and replace two other semi-automatic 7.62mm weapons — the M39 enhanced marksman rifle and the Mark 11 Mod 1 sniper rifle — said Jim Katzaman, a spokesman at Marine Corps Systems Command, out of Quantico, Va.

Marine officials declined to provide more details about the fielding plans, but the memo said fielding will occur in two phases. Deploying units and schools teaching scout sniper and designated marksman skills were scheduled to begin receiving M110s in January, with fielding continuing through the fall. The second phase calls for filling additional requirements in deploying units and replacing the M39 rifle on a one-for-one basis beginning next fall.

What’s the hold up? The Marines are of two minds on this. Well, two rifles.

“Scout sniper teams likely will carry both the M40A5 and the M110 on many missions, he said. More weapons could be purchased as the Corps completes fielding.

It’s probably a toss-up whether they’ll go out with the [bolt action] M40 or the [semi-automatic] M110 as the primary weapon,” Lutz said. “I think it’ll depend on what they’re facing on a given day. If it’s a one-shot, one-kill scenario, then it’ll probably still be the M40 getting primary use.”

Make that three . . .

The Corps began considering options for a new long-range sniper rifle at least seven years ago, after Marines in Iraq issued a universal needs statement for a weapon capable of reaching 1,500 meters. In July 2009, Marine Corps Combat Development Command completed a draft capabilities development document for the weapon, calling it the SR-21, short for Sniper Rifle 21st Century. It said the SR-21 could replace the 7.62mm M40A5 [below], the latest version of a weapon that has been fielded since the 1960s.

“The current M40 Series is limited by a caliber not suited for precision fire at distances greater than 914 meters, is extremely heavy relative to its capability and is readily identifiable by its sounds and flash signature,” said the document, obtained by Marine Corps Times through the Freedom of Information Act.

No matter which sniper rifle gets the green light, it’s clear that war’s improved the breed. As always.

M110 SASS P/N: 24123
CALIBER 7.62 x 51mm
VELOCITY 2,571 fps (175 gr. M118LR)
784 meters p/ second
MAGAZINE TYPE / CAP. Standard 10/20 Rounds
WEIGHT (w/o MAGAZINE) 16 lbs / 7 Kgs
LENGTH w/ STOCK RET. 46 3/4″ / 119 cm
LENGTH w/ STOCK EXT. 47 1/4″ / 120 cm
BBL LENGTH 20″ / 51 cm


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  1. Scuttlebutt in the field suggest the successor of the M40A5 to be a .338 Lapua (8.6 x 70mm) for greater stopping power and accuracy over longer distances. Though I doubt we’ll see the M40A5 go away, instead we will see the Lapua fill the perceived gap between the 7.62 and the incredible .50 BMG (12.7×99mm).