It’s official: the Army plans on dishing out for several thousand next-generation sniper rifles for soldiers over the next five years, service officials confirmed to Task & Purpose.
In a presoliciation published last week by Army Contracting Command, the Army’s Project Manager Soldier Lethality announced its intent to officially purchase the much-hyped Multi-Role Adaptive Design rifle from firearms maker Barrett.
While the Army had previously moved to purchase 536 MRAD sniper systems for roughly $10.13 million under its own Precision Sniper Rifle program, a spokesman from the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier told Task & Purpose that the service now plans on purchasing “approximately 2,800” PSR systems over the next five years.
“The Army plans to purchase Multi-Role Adaptive Rifle (MRAD) systems for Foreign Military Sales and Precision Sniper Rifles (PSR) systems for Army Snipers and EOD personnel,” PEO Soldier spokesman told Task & Purpose. “The MRAD is one component of the PSR.”
In March 2019, U.S. Special Operations Command awarded a $49.9 million contract to Barrett to adopt the MRAD — chambered in 7.62×51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum with the help of a conversion kit — as part of the program’s Advanced Sniper Rifle program.
According to officials, the Army is now simply adapting the rifle selected under the SOCOM ASR program because the original rifle selected for the PSR program, the Remington MSR Mk21, did not conform to SOCOM requirements.
The Army now intends on replacing both of the service’s M107 sniper rifle and M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle systems with the MRAD through the PSR program, according to budget justification documents.
The Army and SOCOM aren’t the only services thirsting after the MRAD: the Marine Corps has previously expressed interest in purchasing at least 250 of the sniper systems for $4 million through SOCOM’s ASR program to “replace all current bolt-action sniper rifles” currently used by the service, according to budget justification documents.
Both the Army and Marine Corps say the rifle offers greatly extended range and effectiveness than current sniper systems in a significantly lighter weight package. In particular, the Marine Corps budget documents touted the MRAD’s capacity to chamber a “wider variety of special-purpose ammunition than current systems” as a major selling point.
Versatility and modularity are among the chief features of the MRAD’s broad appeal. As The War Zone reported in 2019, the simple conversion method “eliminates the need for separate weapons to fire each of these rounds, offering special operations units added operational flexibility and reducing strain on the logistics and maintenance chains.”
“The MRAD’s modular ‘adaptive’ design also allows for the rapid removal of the trigger assembly for easy cleaning or replacement with another module altogether,” The War Zone notes. “This streamlines maintenance and also means that an armorer could install trigger packs with different characteristics, such as changes in the weight or length of the trigger pull, which better meet a shooter’s preferences or their mission requirements.
The Army previously planned on fielding the MRAD as its PSR Mk 22 starting in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021. According to officials, the service plans on securing a five-year contract for the rifles sometime “this spring.”