Army snipers getting some new gear

A few interesting contracts have come through the DOD in the past couple months which could mean some big news for the Army’s 3,500 snipers across active, guard and reserve units as well as those in the U.S. Special Operations Command.

The first involves the a kind of under the radar (less than $3 million) contract to Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms or an undisclosed number of MRAD rifle systems chambered in .300 PRC, but the company said “MRAD’s robust design, user modularity and unfailing accuracy combined with the new cartridge designed by Hornady, offer an unbeatable system for long-range effectiveness.”

Barrett currently lists the bolt-action MRAD precision rifle in six calibers from .260 Remington to .338 Lapua Magnum, only recently adding the option for barrel conversion kits for the new Hornady round.

The 300 PRC, along with Hornady’s 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge, earlier this year earned the approval of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute. Described as the “6.5 Creedmoor’s big brother,” the 300 PRC gives precision rifle shooters a flat-shooting, heavy bullet that still brings 2,000 foot-pounds of energy at 500-yards, while still having a manageable recoil.

The second development is the first round of testing on the Army’s next generation of sniper camouflage began its first round of testing in Florida last month.

Termed the Improved Ghillie System, or IGS, contenders for the new lightweight system designed to break up the outline of a sniper’s figure while in a shooting position or stalk was put through several days of visual tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Western Florida by snipers drawn from across the Army. The system is intended to be the service’s first new ghillie suit in a decade, replacing the legacy Flame Resistant Ghillie System first fielded in 2008.

“The current kit is thick and heavy and comes with a lot of pieces that aren’t used,” said Maj. WaiWah Ellison, with the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier, tasked with the update. “Soldiers are creating ghillie suits with their own materials to match their personal preference. We want to make the IGS simpler and modular so the snipers will use what is issued to them instead of relying on outside resources.”

An Army sniper scans for a fellow sniper wearing a proposed new Improved Ghillie System in visual testing at Eglin AFB in November

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