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.
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The current NGSW field
The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.
In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.
And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.
Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.
The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.
Despite past programs such as SPIW, ACR, and OCIW that left the U.S. Army still fielding successive generations of Eugene Stoner’s AR platform at the end of the day, today’s NGSW program could be different. The new Next Generation Squad Weapon program is moving right along and its competitors read like a who’s who of modern rifle, ammo, and optics makers.
Names like Beretta, Heckler & Koch, Leupold, Sig Sauer, Vortex, and Olin-Winchester are enumerated among the current vendors of what could end up as the most revolutionary small arms award of the 21st Century thus far.
The current field
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Oregon-based Leupold announced they have been selected to provide the day optic for the U.S. Army’s Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) program.
The PSR, dubbed the MK22 Mod 0 in Army service, is based on the Barrett MRAD bolt-action multi-caliber system chambered in 7.62 NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum. The glass of choice on the new platform, used by SOCOM, will be Leupold’s Mark 5HD 5-25×56, complete with a flat dark earth coating and the Army’s patented Mil-Grid reticle.
Leupold’s Mark 5HD 5-25×56 will be provided in a flat dark earth coating and utilize the Army’s Mil-Grid reticle. When mounted on the Barrett MRAD, it will be the standard day optic for the MK22 PSR. (Photo: Leupold)
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