Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22 2014: The hunt for a lighter, more compact semi-auto sniper rifle by the U.S. Army

“A sniper is the worst romancer. They never make the first move.”



I have featured sniping—to some extent or other—in most of my thrillers. Normally, it takes some amazing number of rounds—tens to hundreds of thousands (depending upon the situation)—to kill a single enemy, whereas snipers do the deed with one or two rounds. What is more, they normally kill from a distance and—if they are good—escape undetected. Many kill dozens of the enemy. Some kill hundreds. Snipers are extremely dangerous.

The contrast with the effectiveness—or lack of it—of the average rifleman could not be more marked. This has made many soldiers who are not snipers—which means the vast majority—somewhat uneasy. As a consequence, sniping and snipers have—all too often—not enjoyed the support that they have deserved. Conventional soldiers—not unreasonably—don’t like being shown up, and, anyway, can feel less than comfortable with people they sometimes see as cold hearted killers. They feel there must be something not quite right about people who can kill with such clinical detachment.

All I can say here is that what people show, what they say, and what they really feel, should not be confused.

By the way, the primary reason why snipers are so much more effective at killing the enemy is because they, almost always, have the initiative. Conventional solders rarely have that luxury. In fact, in many cases, the nature of the work they do—such as patrolling—makes them the targets.

Generally speaking, snipers are better trained, are better marksmen, and are equipped with longer-range and more accurate rifles, but it is their ability to retain the initiative that remains the crucial difference.

The following is what the Army wants from their new compact semi-automatic sniper rifle.

- All external and visible surfaces shall be of a rough, dull, non-reflective Flat Dark Earth.

– The unloaded rifle with forward rails for concurrent mounting of required accessories but without suppressor, magazines, accessories, and/or optics shall weigh no more than 9.0 pounds.

– The maximum overall assembled length of the rifle shall be not greater than 36 inches with the stock at its shortest position and no sound suppressor mounted. The stock shall be in the unfolded position if a folding stock is present. The length of the barrel shall be no less than 16 inches.

– The stock of the rifle shall be adjustable for length-of-pull. The length of pull in the shortest configuration shall be no greater than 12 inches. The length of pull in the longest configuration shall be no less than 16 inches. The minimum travel of the stock adjustment shall be no less than 4 inches.

– The rifle shall incorporate a muzzle brake or combination flash hider/muzzle brake.

“Since its initial fielding in 2007, the M110 has provided Army snipers with a very reliable and effective anti-personnel sniping capability. However, advances in warfighting technology have promoted the need for increased sniping capabilities to counter constantly changing threats particularly in urban environments and at extended ranges. As a result, the CSASS initiative evolved directly from Operational Needs Statements submitted by deployed units and sniper feedback. The CSASS capabilities and features have been identified from sniper inputs during weapon Integrated Product Team meetings, conferences, observations and interviews with conventional Army, Special Operations, NATO/allies snipers and Sniper School instructors, according to the June 12 solicitation posted on

The Army adopted the M110 in 2005. Made by Knight’s Armament Company, it’s chambered for 7.62mm, weighs about 15 pounds and measures about 46 inches when fitted with its suppressor.

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