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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.

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  1. You think Knight’s Armament gets the contract for the shorter rifle? If not then who does it go to?

  2. Well to be honest, I know there are some modular systems out there. I am not sure if that is an option, but lets say being able to change our assemblies to either get you better range, larger caliber etc makes sense. Sure that is a lot of gear but most should be stored at the base. If you are doing urban work close quarters you build out for the mission. If a long range mission is required, build out accordingly. Just sayin…

  3. I dunno, I was in snipers back before we had the SASS, I trained on the EBR-predecessor, the M21. It was ok, not precise enough for the real long range stuff. My unit used the M24 almost exclusively, though we did have one heavy team equipped with a Barrett. That said, we were operating in Iraq, and the longest shot anyone I knew ever took was just over 400 yards. A long shot, but child’s play for trained marksmen. The vast majority of “sniper” shots were taken with our M4 backup weapons. A good M4 with an ACOG is the most useful sniper system I’ve seen, and by golly, it’s also our compact assault weapon of choice for clearing buildings and the like. I understand Afghanistan provides a better environment for real long range stuff, but the Army is overthinking this one. Slap an ACOG on an M-16 or an M4, and any decent marksman is good out to 500 meters, which is about as far a shot as you’ll likely need to take. Keep the old M24s in the truck in case you need a 900 yarder. There, I’ve just saved the taxpayers eleventy billion dollars.

    • Ditto, I bought a 980 dollar rifle, DPMS AR-10 style. Broke my own rules and bought an 1100 dollar ACOG. (Famous last words, “I am not going to buy a sight more expensive than the gun.”)
      I am not a sniper, don’t have a bipod, yet was able to make 50% hits on a 12 inch round gong at 420 yards. This was the first time I had fired the gun past 70 yards.

        • The ACOG is the single finest weapon sighting system I’ve ever used (blows Aimpoint out of the water), and I only regret I have no chance of affording one at any time in the near future.

  4. Everyone chime in here with what at bad/stupid idea this is and why it won’t work, but couldn’t you do some kind of Bullpup rifle in 308 with an 18-20 inch barrel? You’d have the barrel length for accuracy, and it would be much shorter for urban environments.

    I don’t know, what I don’t know, so tell me why this won’t work.

    • Kel-Tek RFB might fit the bill if it were to prove reliable.

      As for C-SASS; Shortening the barrel will work directly against the very reason 7.62×51 rifles were demanded for use in Afghanistan in the first place: Range & the suppressive properties of the ammunition at distance in comparison to 5.56×45.

  5. …and they will likely just end up settling on a 16″ .308 AR10 style rifle. Similar to the M4 platforms they use now, without too much of a degradation in ballistics. Cheaper than other alternatives. I agree, a bullpup 18″ .308 would be ideal (but too expensive).

  6. i’ve never used a bull pup design but i’ve always heard that the trigger linkage used in this type of weapon is longer and more complex than a coventional rifle set up. results in a trigger pull that’s bad for precise work. anybody with real world use care to clear that up.

    • I have an Keltec RFB and the trigger is kind of heavy for precision work 5-6 lb, but it is way better than other bullpups I have played with (F2000, P90)

      • What dragon’s hoard did you raid for that gem? Or was it embedded in ancient stone at the peak of Olympus?

  7. I dont like the M110 as much as I like the Mk 20 SSR anyways. Great. You take a rifle that is already a unreliable, finnicky ass pain and shorten its barrel (which characteristically makes it less reliable, especially on DI platforms). Awesome solution.

  8. The military budget is out of control. The US military has the money and toys it needs. There are huge numbers of starving kids without medical care and numerous other social problems in America. Overall, the defense, intelligence etc budgets make up about half of America’s annual budget. Enough is enough.

    • 1.2-1.6 trillion (covert operations makes it damn near impossible to nail down the true number) out of 3 trillion for the federal budget. Poverty is a immense problem in the United States, though I find it heinous that PPACA has come under fire for costing about 1 trillion…spread out over 10 years and were still spending at levels higher than the cold war…and there is no longer a soviet union.

      “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” -Dwight Eisenhower-

  9. I have a couple of firearms and tools I should have never have purchased but I only bought one of each.
    US military bought 100’s, 1000’s of rifles that aren’t quite right and now figure out that it won’t work.
    Any input from the shooters before purchase ?
    I get the part that one tool doesn’t cover all situations but I was thinking hammers, toilet seats and shovels

  10. ACOG on an M16A2 or M4 for close work. Keep the .308 and .50 for long range work.

    Can I have a small percentage of the untold millions I just saved?

  11. Dang. I thought the Army needed something like Single Action Shooting. I was intrigued.

    This is neat too.,. I guess.

    • I thought the same thing, to me SASS is Single Action Shooting Society. We must not be “tactical” enough I guess.

  12. Desert Tactical Arms’ Stealth Recon Scout, or even better, their Covert rifle. Both are extremely compact, multi-caliber capable (realistic 90 second caliber/barrel change), and accurate as you could ever want. My SRS is a thousand yard capable (in my non-professional hands) even in .308 configuration. Make the quick change to .338 LM and things get interesting. While it’s a bolt gun, its’ compact size and manageable weight, I believe, would fit the bill nicely.

  13. Just out of curiosity but can’t the mk. 14 fill this role since you can collapse the stock for close quarters? One can have a bipod and foregrip setup and maybe an offset red dot. Collapse the stock and use the grip and red dot for cqb. Use bipod and scope for long range. There is also the rogue bullpup stock for the m1a.

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