Category Archives: sniper

Meet the MK22, the Neapolitan Ice Cream of Precision Rifles

Murfreesboro, Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms this week announced that the United States Special Operations Command has placed an initial production order for their new MK22 rifle.

The MK22 set for delivery to the military is based on Barrett’s MRAD bolt-action precision rifle in .338 Norma Mag, .300 Norma Mag, and 7.62 NATO. The MRAD uses a monolithic upper receiver with caliber conversion kits utilizing a separate barrel assembly and bolt that can be changed on the fly in minutes by the user.

More in my column at Guns.com

Point Stay Back

Canadian Army Sniper Arthur Godin of Le Régiment de la Chaudière (Mitrailleuses) taking aim from his hide in the interior of a building in Zutphen, Netherlands, on 7 April 1945, during the two-week fight for that city that only concluded on 12 April.

Godin is using an Enfield No. 4 Mk. I (T) sniper rifle with what looks to be a No. 32 3.5x scope, a combo that remained standard for marksmen in the British and Commonwealth forces into the 1960s when it was replaced by the L42A1, a rifle that was essentially the same thing but in 7.62 NATO rather than .303 and with better glass.

He is also using a tactic that was as valid in 1945 as it is today– keeping well away from an opening or loophole to hide his shape, muzzle flash, shadow, and optic reflection from enemy eyes.

Of course, Hollywood always wants to show the sniper hanging out of a window, framing themselves as an excellent target for counter-fire, because Hollywood. It is a sign of a rookie or someone playing at war.

For reference, see the famous video of the YPJ Syrian sniper, who learned that fire goes both ways if you are easily spotted.

As for the Régiment de la Chaudière, they trace their origins to 1812 and the defense of Canada against the invading Americans to the South. The only French-Canadian unit to hit the beach at Normandy on D-Day, they fought from Caen to Calais then across Holland and the Rhineland. Since 1946, they have been a reserve unit based in Quebec but have seen extensive service in Afghanistan. Their motto is Ære perennius (Stronger than bronze).

You know the C20, eh?

The Colt Canada-produced C20 semi-automatic Intermediate Sniper Weapon is being acquired for the Canadian Army in small numbers.

Produced domestically by Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ontario, the semi-automatic C20 has an 18-inch barrel with a 1-in-10 twist and is reportedly pretty friggen accurate. Testing showed the rifle to fire 8,000 rounds with no stopping and deliver an average of .66 MOA over 144 five-round groups using 175-grain Federal Gold Medal Match.

The overall length on the C20 is 38-inches while weight is 9.1-pounds. It has a 46-slot continuous MIL-STD-1913 top rail and a handguard with M-LOK accessory slots in the 3-, 6-, and 9-o’clock positions. (Photo: Colt Canada)

More in my column at Guns.com. 

He was also one heck of a curler

One of the most iconic photos of a World War II sniper is this one:

All photos, Library and Archives Canada

The man shown above is Sgt. Harold A. Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders‘ Scout and Sniper Platoon. It was taken by renowned Candian Army Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit shutterbug Ken Bell during a scouting, stalking and sniping course in recently-liberated Kapellen, Belgium, along the Dutch border, 6 October 1944.

Besides his Mk II Standard No.2 binoculars, his kit includes a Lee–Enfield No. 4 Mk 1 (T) sniper rifle with a No. 32 MK 3 scope. These rifles were standard issue for marksmen use during WWII with about 26,000 manufactured in conjunction with Holland & Holland for the Commonwealth forces and remained in service until the early 1960s when it was replaced by the L42 series, the latter basically an accurized No. 4 Enfield in 7.62 NATO.

Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleans the telescopic sight of his No.4, MkI(T) rifle during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944 LAC 3596658 Ken Bell, photographer

Marshall wears a modified camouflaged paratrooper’s Denison smock. On his belt is a single No. 36M Mill’s Bomb grenade and a Gurkha kukri — because badass, that’s why. Around his head is a skrim camouflage face veil in place of the typical Highlander Tam hat or red and white diced Glengarry, the official field and garrison caps, respectively, of the unit at the time.

Marshall’s spotter, Cpl. Steven Kormendy, was also captured by Bell.

He wears much the same kit but notably has a captured German Walther P-38 9mm pistol as his sidearm.

Corporal S. Kormendy and Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleaning the telescopic sights of their No.4 MkI (T) rifles during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. LAC 3596657 Ken Bell, photographer

Sergeant H.A. Marshall (left) and Corporal S. Kormendy, both of The Calgary Highlanders, observing terrain from a concealed firing position during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Capellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. LAC 3596661 Ken Bell, photographer

Cpl. Steven Kormendy, left, and Sergeant Harold Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders sniper unit pose for photographer Ken Bell in Belgium on Oct. 6, 1944.

Lieutenant-Colonel D.G. Maclaughlin of the Calgary Highlanders speaks with scouts Corporal S. Kormendy and Sergeant H.A. Marshall, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. Note they have switched to their Tams with cap badges and the size of Marshall’s kukri. LAC 3257124

As noted by the Calgary Herald,

“Harold Marshall was one of the original Calgary Highlanders who sailed for the United Kingdom on S.S. Pasteur in 1940. Four years later, he was part of an elite platoon of scouts and snipers. Specially equipped and trained in stealth and camouflage, they were the forerunners of today’s reconnaissance troops. It was a dangerous job as scouts advanced ahead of troops and snipers were often exposed to enemy fire.”

Marshall took a bullet in the leg on 15 December 1944, a wound that ended his war. He went on to work for the City of Calgary Electric System from 1946 until 1975 and died just short of his 95th birthday in 2013. 

He was also notably an avid curler, a sport he was shown partaking in his obituary.

Ken Bell would go on to profile Marshall in his excellent book, Not in Vain. 

As for the Calgary Highlanders, formed in 1910 as the 103rd “Calgary Rifles” Regiment, they still exist in battalion strength as a reserve unit, based at the Mewata Armoury in Calgary. Active in Afghanistan in recent years, their Scottish motto is Airaghardt (Onward).

Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, inbound

What’s not to love about an HK417, especially when it is set up as a DMR? (Photo: Chris Eger)

Heckler & Koch announced last week they are preparing to deliver a shipment of new rifle weapon systems as part of the U.S. Army’s Squad Designated Marksman Rifle contract.

The SDMR is a variant of the company’s G28 (HK241) chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO. The platform, which itself is a development of the HK417 series. was evaluated at Fort Bliss by the Army’s PEO Soldier program earlier this year. Manufactured in HK’s Oberndorf, Germany plant, the rifle will soon begin arriving at the company’s Columbia, Georgia facility to marry up with optics, mounts, and accessories provided from a field of a dozen U.S. companies.

According to HK, there are some 6,000 such guns in the pipeline.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Sabotage! 41 Rem Mag edition

Bloke On The Range is a great gun channel run by a British expat in Switzerland and he posted a few shots of this bad boy last week.

Meet Präzisionsgewehr (Precision-rifle) G 150:

This integrally suppressed “sabotage rifle” with a folding stock is chambered in the squat .41 Remington Magnum (10.4x33mmR) which fired a 409-grain bullet “at subsonic velocity for quietly messing with communications equipment, power transmission and so on in case of Soviet occupation of Switzerland.”

As the round was developed in the 1960s by accomplished red-blooded shootists Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan, they would probably have liked that concept.

Used by Projekt-26, Switzerland’s formerly top-secret (and still very hard to nail down even today) Cold War-era “stay behind” force, the G 150 is very interesting in an of itself. Built on a German-made Sauer rifle action, the rotary bolt action weapon had a three-round magazine and an unmarked 4-6X scope made by Schmidt & Bender, according to Maxim Popenker.

A Präzisionsgewehr G150 inside one such cache

The concept reminds me of the British Auxiliary Units or GHQ Auxiliary Units, “stay behind” cells consisting of some 500 independent patrols of 5-10 volunteers attached to Home Guard battalions 201 (Scotland), 202 (northern England), or 203 (southern England) during WWII. While most were equipped with Tommy Guns, P14/17 Enfields, and others, they also stockpiled a number of Winchester Model 74 rifles with a Parker Hale No.42 optic and a silencer (suppressor) to muffle its gentle .22LR report.

The more things change…

Meet the Mk21 sniper rifle, SOCOMs newest long distance service

Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms on Monday got a nod from the U.S. Special Operations Command for new Advanced Sniper Rifles.

The $49.9 million five-year, indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract announcement is slim on details other than that is for the ASR program. The program itself was identified in SOCOM’s FY19 budget justification book as part of an effort to continue “development of enhanced capabilities to improve performance” of “individual sniper weapons to engage out to 1500 meters.”

A 2018 solicitation described the ASR as a “modular, multi-caliber, bolt-action sniper rifle” chambered in 7.62×51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum with caliber conversions capable at the user-level.

The gun that will become the Mk21? Barrett’s MRAD.

The MRAD is available in 338 LM, 338 NM, and 300 NM, with the ability to swap out the barrel, bolt, and mag to change that up in the field.

A Norwegian sniper with the Barrett M98 which later grew into the MRAD. Turns out, Norway made a nice choice of rifle

More in my column at Guns.com

Barrett brings the AR10 love

Barrett Firearms staked their name in the long-range-rifle category with their M82 (which went into production in 1989) and later M107, both .50-cal BMG heavy hitters. They have since downsized to the MRAD series of bolt guns and the REC7, the latter an AR15-style rifle in 5.56 NATO and 6.8 SPC.

Well, now they have finally entered the AR-10 (7.62x51mm NATO) game and delivered the REC10 to market.

Chambered in .308 Win, the direct impingement AR-10-style semi-auto has a carbine-length 16-inch barrel and receivers machined from billet 7075-T6 aluminum.

And, as a shocker, they have already got a military contract on it, which makes sense for units that are already using M110/SR25s and looking to upgrade.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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

The more things change…

These two images, of U.S. infantrymen some 100 years apart, show just how much the basic job of a foot soldier endures throughout time. You still feel exposed no matter what the cover is. You are still there for the Joe next to you. Your uncomfortable equipment is still made by the lowest bidder. You still just want to get through the day.

A soldier with 30th DIV sniping from a trench in Belgium on July 9, 1918. Note his Springfield M1903 rather than the more commonly-issued M1917 Enfield. Signal Corps image 18708

10th Mountain troops working the trench complex at Fort Drum, New York, Nov. 2018. For those who have experienced upstate NY this time of year, the pain is real.

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