Army goes HK for new sniper rifle

Das HK G28E im Cal. 7.62mmx51 Foto: © Tomas Moll

Das HK G28E im Cal. 7.62mmx51 Foto: © Tomas Moll

The modern U.S. Army’s flirtation with dedicated sniper rifles is now in about it’s 99th year, if you disregard the brief fling with the Sharps used by Hiram Berdan’s United States Sharpshooters during the Civil War. Over that time, Big Green kept the same more or less standard rifle in service for decades: The M1903 in both World Wars, the M1C/D  in Korea, the M21 in Vietnam (augmented by a few Winchester Model 70 and Remington 700 target guns pressed into sevice).

In the 1980s, the Army went with a supped up Remmy 700 heavy barrel, designated the M24, and has been using it for roughly the past 30~ years, being augmented by the remaining M21/DMRs and some new AR-10-based Knights Armarment M110 semi-autos in recent years.

Well, now it seems that is about to change as a $44 million contract was announced Friday to Heckler & Koch Defense Inc. for up to 3,673 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) units along with spares, accessories and support. This works out to about $12,000 per rifle system, which sounds like a lot but if it includes optics, et. al may actually be a bargain.

The good folks over at The Firearm Blog talk about the HK in question– the G28E.

The CSASS program aimed to address issues of size and length with the original SASS program that was won by Knight’s Armament Company in 2005, resulting in the M110. The CSASS solicitation appears to combine the concept of a carbine-length 7.62mm semiautomatic support weapon adopted by the British Army and New Zealand Defence Forces with the optionally suppressed flexibility of the original M110 SASS weapon.

The G28E is based on Heckler & Koch’s G28 designated marksman’s rifle designed for the Bundeswehr, itself in turn based on the HK 417 7.62 caliber bigger brother to the HK 416. The G28E incorporates a large, lightweight octagonal KeyMod-like rail with seven sets of mounting positions for attachment of rail segments and accessories.

Now the Army currently has about 15,000 precision rifles of all types (M21/M110/M24) and just dropped some serious skrilla on 2,520 revamped .300 Win Mag caliber M24s, dubbed the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle in 2014 so it’s doubtful the new HK rifle will make a clean sweep of the service’s needs, but I could see the lingering Vietnam-era M21 and its DMR’d M14 cousins finally being put to pasture while the M24s/2010s/110s head to Guard and Reserve units.

We shall see…

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