The U.S. military is on its way to receiving one of the most technologically advanced sniper rifles ever built, the Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) Mark 22. The weapon is the next generation sniper rifle for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and other combat units in the Army and Marines, according to a recent Popular Mechanics article.

In 2016, SOCOM had announced the need for a new Advanced Sniper Rifle. Barrett got to work and in 2019 was awarded a $49.1 million contract to develop the Mark 22, according to Business Insider.

Last week, Barrett announced that they had accomplished “all aspects of the Production Qualification Testing and Operational Testing phases” set in place by SOCOM. Since it has now received the final approval of operators within SOCOM, the Mark 22 will start being distributed to special operations units in January of 2021.

The advantages that this rifle will provide are priceless. Historically, different fighting environments have dictated the need for different sniper weapons systems. For example, in mountainous or open terrain environments, snipers often need a weapon capable of shooting a larger caliber, in order to engage targets at a greater distance. The .308 Winchester has become the common sniper round for the U.S. military, but its long-range engagement capabilities are limited.

On the other hand, in the urban arena or in more close-quarters situations, rounds such as the .308 are great since a smaller caliber round doesn’t kick up dust like a larger round, which is important for concealment purposes.

Barrett MRAD M22
The Barrett MRAD MK22 sniper rifle. (Source: The Firearm Blog)

This new sniper rifle is capable of shooting eight different caliber sized rounds: .260 Remington, .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Norma, .338 Lapua, .338 Norma, .308 Winchester, 7-millimeter, and 6.5 Creedmoor. Being able to shoot multiple sized rounds from one weapon system provides snipers with extraordinary amounts of flexibility.

Needless to say, it will prove extremely beneficial to have one sniper rifle capable of meeting so many mission sets. Special operations units will be able to streamline their sniper rifle inventory. More importantly, snipers will have the ability to train with just one weapon, allowing them to dial in their skills and become more proficient.

In order to change the caliber of the Barrett MK22 sniper rifle, the barrel has to be changed out. This is accomplished by loosening two Torx-30 screws, changing the barrels, and then retightening the screws.