The Marines need a new sniper rifle – why don’t they have one?

Snipers say they’re hampered because they can’t match the range of their enemies’ weapons.

Source: Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years – The Washington Post

The Marine Corps is known for fielding older equipment. In fact, it’s something we have always taken pride it – but this story isn’t about pride. It’s about protecting a cherished sliver of the Marine Corps armorer community, the Precision Weapons Section (PWS), at the expense of actual snipers in the field.  Their rifles simply don’t have a range that matches the level of their training and expertise, nor the range of the weapons that are being used against them.  It needs to change.




Often, the Marines’ “pride” in stretching old equipment is simply trying to put a brave face on the fact that from a budgetary perspective, the Marine Corps, being the smallest branch of the US military, and also being part of the Department of the Navy, often gets short shrift.  I don’t think that’s the case here.  In fact, the Marine Corps could buy two Precision Sniper Rifles for the cost of one M40A5 (or the newly updated M40A6).

No, this is about pride in the Precision Weapons Section, a small unit located at Quantico.  The people assigned there are the equivalent of “Top Gun Instructors,” the very best armorers.

They provide technical support and guidance relevant to research and development, testing, and evaluation of individual small arms and ammunition.  Building and modification of individual small arms in support of the Marine Corps competition in arms program (CIAP).  Most importantly, providing the operating forces with a variety of precision weapons systems to enhance the warfighting capability and lethality of the Marine Corps, the individual Marine, and every unit in between. 

Precision Weapons Section is the only place where armorers, ammunition technicians and machinists receive such highly specialized training and develop these extraordinary skills, and it is all of these highly trained Marines and civilians who make PWS a completely unique facility, unmatched in the entire Department Of Defense.
It is the pinnacle of the armorer profession. The Marine Corps also loves being able to say they make all of their sniper rifles in house.  I get that, but I don’t like the idea that our snipers are outranged by over 600 yards. I also don’t like, since we’re talking about pride, idea that the Marine Corps will never again be able to challenge for the “longest sniper shot ever,” if they continue to cling to their hand-built .308s.

The Marine Corps has the best Sniper School in the world, and ends up putting a 1000 yard gun into the hands of the graduates, while snipers from everywhere else are getting 1600 yard guns.
It’s easy to understand that in a culture that is so committed to its own history, resistance to change is not just difficult, it’s borderline impossible.  If the Marine Corps were to adopt the PSR, the role of PWS would be reduced perhaps, certainly changed, but not eliminated.  PWS would merely need to do what the rest of the Marine Corps is asked to do, time and time again: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.


Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.


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