New Marine Corps Sniper Rifle 2018
M-40A Series Gets Replaced By The Mark 13 / Mod 7
The evolution of the Marine Sniper weapon system has been long and slow to change until after the War on Terror. The process to becoming a Marine Sniper has continued to produce some of the world's greatest shooters. A Marine cannot join the military and go immediately into sniper training. The U.S. Marines Scout Sniper (0317) is a secondary military occupational specialty (MOS). As with all secondary MOS, you have to have a certain set of skills in infantry or RECON training. However, the Marine Corps has considered changing scout sniper to a primary MOS due to declining enrollment.
However, the Marine who graduated sniper school receives this secondary MOS having learned to shoot with precision from extremely long distances.
The Marine Corps has upgraded the old Vietnam era sniper rifle, the M-40A1, replacing it with new and improved rifles over the years, however, the maximum effective ranges that were sufficient in Vietnam, may not be good enough for current use in the Middle East. Often missions of over 1000m are required of snipers and there are weapons in the world arsenal that have max effective ranges of 1600m plus. The evolution of sniper rifles is just recently catching up to the United States Marine Corps snipers.
Recent History of Transition
The M-40A3 fully replaced the M-40A1 by October 2004, which had been in operation since the beginning of the Vietnam War in 1966. The M-40A (M-40A to M-40A6) series as well as the other system currently used tested by Army and USMC snipers, the M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) are all in the 800-1000m max effective range. The search to longer range Marine sniper rifles has been on for the last decade or more.
Most recently, the Marines have tested and purchased the Mark 13 Mod 7 sniper rifle that pushes the max effective range beyond the 1000m mark. In FY 2019, the USMC is planning on buying the Mk 13 Mod 7 rifles at $12,000 each. This $4.8 million contract is with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division. Delivery of the rifles have already begun.
About the Sniper Weapons Being Replaced
As with the M-40A1, the M-40A3 is a bolt-action, manually operated, magazine-fed, air-cooled, shoulder-fired weapon with an optical scope. The M-40A3 was tested in 1996 and was finally issued as an official Marine Corps weapon in 2000. During the rifle testing, surveys showed shooters enjoyed greater accuracy and increased comfort.
Unlike the M-40A1, the M-40A3 has a mount rail like the M-4, which allows you to attach different optic units to it making it versatile enough for urban patrols. It's range limitations were the biggest issue. The day scope allows a sniper to see up to 800 meters; the night scope allows 600 meters. The M-40A3 was heavier as well. The next few years after Sept, 11, 2001, the new rifle saw these strengths and weaknesses within the sniper platoons. The search for a longer range sniper rifle was on. The USMC "upgraded" to the M-40A5 and later the A6 however, neither answered the max effective range issue the M-40 system always had.
Perhaps the challenge to go with a different system was the bureaucracy within the Marine Corps itself. The M40 was built and primarily staffed by Marines in the Marine Corps Systems Command - Precision Weapons Section, a component of the Marine Corps. It's job is to build and repair the Marine's sniper rifles and other precision weapons.
The New Sniper Rifle
The Marine Corps Systems Command listened to the snipers complaints and have now reacted. Presently, the U.S. Marine Corps is replacing its existing sniper M-40 sniper rifles with the Mark 13 Mod 7 sniper rifle. This is a newer model presently used by Special Operations Command snipers such as Navy SEAL units. The new upgrade fires a heavier and longer-range bullet that can reach out to 1300m. The result is a more accurate rifle with the potential to hit targets at the extended ranges that is required in many of the countries Marines are sent in the War of Terror.
The M-40 series sniper rifles used a smaller and lighter .308 round that lost much of its power after 800m. By switching to a .300 Winchester Magnum platform, the Mark 13 Mod 7 rifle the accuracy at these increased ranges is vastly improved. The Mark 13 Mod 7 sniper rifle is a Remington 700 light weight long action system. The optics used by many of the Special Ops units that currently employ this weapon is the Nightforce ATACR rifle scope with Horus Tremor3 reticle. The sniper can quickly click the scope and adjust for the longer range of the target and estimate the range and compensate for bullet drop, wind, and bullet drift.