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Hit the Target: The U.S. Army is Getting a New Deadly 'Sniper' Rifle

Kyle Mizokami

Kyle Mizokami

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Hit the Target: The U.S. Army is Getting a New Deadly 'Sniper' Rifle

The U.S. Army is preparing to issue thousands of new rifles to infantry squads across the service. The M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDMR) is designed to extend the reach of infantry units largely equipped with short-barreled carbines. The SDMR will give one in nine infantrymen the ability to not only penetrate existing body armor but engage point targets at ranges of 600 meters (1968 feet).

The standard nine-person U.S. Army infantry squad consists of two fire teams led by a squad leader. Each fireteam consists of two riflemen with M4 carbines, one grenadier with an M4 carbine and grenade launcher, and an M249 squad automatic weapon. A squad can produce a tremendous amount of firepower, with the M4 effective out to 500 meters and the heavier, faster-firing M249 effective out to 1,000 meters.

The current organization has its drawbacks. While the M4 is accurate, it often lacks a magnified optic to make accurate shots at medium to long ranges, and the 5.56 round drops sharply after 400 meters. The M68 red dot sight is durable and “soldier proof,” but it lacks the ability to zoom in on, evaluate, and engage prospective targets at ranges greater than those feasible with the naked eye. The M249 fires at up to 850 rounds per minute but it is relatively inaccurate and meant to deliver suppressive fire against the enemy, keeping their heads down while the rest of the squad maneuvers against them.

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