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US Army To Field New Weapons

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New sniper rifle is quicker, quieter

Army will field M110 in November, new grenade launcher and shotgun in 2008

Posted : November 05, 2007

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The first thing you notice about firing the Army’s new sniper rifle is its muffled report, which sounds more like a child’s cap gun than a 7.62mm weapon.


The special sound suppressor that slides over the muzzle of the M110 Semiautomatic Sniper Rifle makes the sound much quieter than the sharp crack of the Army’s 7.62mm M24 Sniper Rifle.

The new M110 and with other new weapons were featured during Program Executive Office Soldier’s Oct. 24 media demonstration here.

In early November, the Army will field the M110 to snipers headed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a replacement to the bolt-action M24, Col. Carl Lipsit, project manager for soldier weapons, told reporters at the event. The plan is to field 2,940 M110s, which cost about $14,500 each with accessories, Lipsit said.

The Army adopted the M110 in September 2006 to give snipers a rapid-fire weapon capable of shooting enemy targets out to 800 meters.

The bolt-action design of the M24 requires snipers to manually feed a round into the chamber after each shot. Weapons officials maintain that the semiautomatic action of the M110 will decrease lag time in between shots to help snipers deal with the multiple-target situations they face in urban combat.

The new sniper rifle looks like an M16 with a 20-round magazine chambered for 7.62mm ammunition.

The new rifle weighs 17.2 pounds with iron sights, Leupold 3.5x10 scope and mounts, bipod and mount, a fully loaded 20-round magazine and sound suppressor. The M24 weighs 17 pounds with sling, day optic, fully loaded five-round magazine, bipod and tools.

Reporters had the opportunity to shoot a few rounds through the M110 from a comfortable chair with the weapon resting on a nice, clean table. And with no one shooting back at them.

While this was far from the harsh conditions soldiers face in combat, it let reporters experience the smooth feel of the two-stage trigger and the surprisingly light recoil of the M110 compared to other 7.62mm rifles.

A smarter grenade launcher


The XM320, the Army’s replacement for the M203 Grenade Launcher, comes with a day/night sight that lets soldiers dial in the range to the target and even lets them know if they aren’t holding the launcher right.

Like the 203, the XM320 can be mounted beneath the M16 or M4 carbine, but it looks different from its Vietnam-era predecessor.

Instead of a slide-open breech, the XM320’s breech swings out to the left side of the weapon.

It also has its own pistol grip instead of relying on the 30-round magazine of the M16 or M4 carbine.

It can also be used as a stand-alone weapon with a special stock attachment.

The single-shot M203 system started showing signs of wear in summer 2003 when soldiers complained that the fine dust in Iraq often clogged or jammed the safety.

The Army has used the M203 since 1969 and has about 50,000 of them.

The Army plans to begin fielding the first of 71,600 new replacement launchers in late 2008 for a cost of about $3,500 each, said weapons officials.

The most radical feature of the XM320 is its sight system. Weapons officials plan to field it with a laser range finder. The grenadier lazes to the target to get the exact range, then dials in the meters to the target, which are displayed in a tiny window on the day/night sight.

The sight indicates whether you are holding the launcher canted too far left or right with a tiny, blinking light — red means you’re canted, green means you’re straight.

It’s quite innovative, but is awkward to operate quickly — I must need more training.

For aiming at night, the sight is also equipped with a push-button, infrared laser pointer that the grenadier will see through his night-vision gear.

A new shotgun to breach doors


The Army’s new shotgun mounts directly beneath the M4, so soldiers can blow the lock off a door and quickly transition to 30 rounds of 5.56mm, weapons officials maintain.

Currently, designated soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan carry a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun to breach doors, in addition to their M16 or M4.

“That is a lot of transition time, if you are breaching a door and you have to come up with your 5.56mm weapon,” Lipsit said.

The M26 12 Gauge Modular Accessory Shotgun System is being developed to solve this problem, weapons officials say. The manual, bolt-action design features a five-round detachable magazine. The muzzle has a “stand-off” breaching guide that resembles a large flash hider. It’s intended to keep the muzzle of the shotgun the proper distance from the door during breaching, weapons officials say.

The Army plans to begin fielding 38,000 M26s in late 2008 at a cost of about $1,500 each. The XVIII Airborne Corps first requested such a weapon six years ago for units deploying to Afghanistan in October 2002.

Weapons officials said there were challenges in the design that had to be resolved. The bolt action had to be made smoother and the weapon’s magazine design had to be improved to increase reliability, Lipsit said.


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KAC won the contract to produce the M110, I belive it will in fact replace the aging SR25(Also a KAC Prodcution). It's reviews have been mixed since its introduction. The requirement called for a semi auto sniper/countersniper type weapon to improve on the current M24SWS.

As for a .308 replacing the current 5.56, don't hold your breath.

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I think I agree with Krise on the M26. Looks bulky to me.

I've never been keen on setups that have you use the magazine as a pistol grip. <_< It might be a very different story when bolted onto a bullpup rifle.

However, the bolt action looked remarkably quick, at least in the hands of a guy who've used it before. Then again, I suppose it's to be used as a door breacher and for firing non-lethal munitions, rather than as an actual shotgun.


krise madsen

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