Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The Army, the Marine Corps, and the special operations community all want the same bolt-action rifle for their snipers, and U.S. sharpshooters are excited to get their hands on it.
“It's an awesome gun,” 1st Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a seasoned Army sniper, told Insider, referring to the Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle, known as the Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) in the Army and the Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) by Special Operations Command and the Marines.
The PSR, which the Army also calls the Mk 22, is a “good gun coming at a good time that is going to increase efficiency and capabilities,” Sipes, who oversees the sniper course at Fort Benning, Ga., said.
“We're excited about it because it's going to improve capabilities, it's going to improve our ability to conduct operations, and it is going to allow for a more flexible sniper element,” he said, explaining that the new rifle essentially lets U.S. snipers employ three separate weapon systems in a single platform.
Instead of making U.S. military snipers choose between weapons capable of firing different rounds for different missions and targets, the multi-caliber rifle can be chambered in 7.62X51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum.
“It gives more flexibility to the sniper as to what configuration to put it in and what targets they are going after,” Lt. Col. Chris Kennedy, lethality branch chief of the Maneuver Center of Excellence's Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate soldier division, previously told Insider.
The weapon is expected to replace the Army's M2010 and M107 sniper rifles, which Sipes said have “served the Army extremely well.”
Sipes and his team were tapped to provide feedback on the PSR program. Speaking for a team of snipers, he told Insider that “there hasn't been any negative feedback. We are all excited to get that weapon system.”
“I can tell you I never saw anything on that gun that I didn't like,” he said. “It shoots phenomenally well. What it does, as far as barrel changes and things like that go, is pretty exceptional.”
Special Operations Command awarded Barrett a $49.9 million contract in March 2019 for the MRAD rifle for its ASR program.
In the Department of the Navy's fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, the Marine Corps put in a $4 million request for 250 ASRs. The aim is for the ASRs to “replace all current bolt-action sniper rifles in the Marine Corps.”
U.S. snipers use two types of rifles in combat. They use semi-automatic rifles for increased maneuverability and rapid target engagement and bolt-action rifles for increased accuracy.
The Marine Corps request stressed that the new rifle offers “extended range, greater lethality, and a wider variety of special purpose ammunition.”
In its FY 2021 request, the Army put in a $10 million request for 536 PSRs, noting that the rifle “increases stand-off distances ensuring overmatch against enemy counter sniper engagements and increases sniper capability,” something increasingly important as the U.S. shifts its focus from counterterrorism to great power competition.
Fielding is still a little ways out, but Sipes said that “we are looking forward to moving that into the future.”
He explained, though, that the rifle is not what makes a sniper. “The equipment is just a bridge, an extension of you, not the other way around.”
Sipes previously told Insider that “there are a million things that go into being a sniper, and you have to be good at all of them.”
A single long-range shot, for instance, requires considerations of more than a dozen different variables, and concealment and camouflage, critical skills that allow a sniper to stealthily operate and avoid detection in dangerous areas, are no different.
Becoming a good sniper requires more than just good equipment, Sipes said. It requires constant training to become proficient.
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