The world of military-grade sniper rifles merges precision, power, versatility, range, and reliability. As a result, these firearms play a significant role on the battlefield, enabling skilled marksmen to neutralize threats from a distance, often undetected. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best military firearms currently in service, each with unique features and capabilities.
Accuracy International AXSR
The AXSR by Accuracy International is the epitome of a modern, high-performance sniper system. The AXSR platform is the next-generation flagship rifle system based on Accuracy International’s entry for the USSOCOM’s Advanced Sniper Rifle Program, the AI ASR.
The product of British engineering at its finest, this modular rifle is designed for versatility and precision. The rifle features a Quickloc barrel change system, allowing the user to switch between .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum, .338 Norma Magnum, and .308 Winchester calibers, making it suitable for various mission profiles.
The AXSR also boasts a competition trigger, an adjustable folding stock, and an integrated key-slot mounting system for attaching accessories.
With its high degree of accuracy, robustness, and modularity, the AXSR is a rifle that any military or law enforcement sniper would trust.
Barrett 82A1 / M107A1
The Barrett 82A1 and its sibling, the M107A1, are legendary semi-automatic sniper rifles famous for their .50 BMG caliber. These American-made rifles are noted for their devastating power and impressive, effective range of about 2,000 meters. The 82A1 has accounted for some of the longest confirmed sniper shots in history – including a hit made by Sergeant Brain Kremer in 2004 during the Iraq War at a range of 2,300 meters.
After years of successful service, the M107A1 was developed based on the feedback of US service members. As a result, the M107A1 features a recoil-mitigating design and a dual-chamber muzzle brake to help manage the substantial kick. The 107A1 shares many of the 82A1’s characteristics but is built with a lighter and stronger aluminum chassis and designed for a dedicated suppressor.
In service since the 1980s, the 82A1 and M107A1 have been adopted by numerous NATO countries and continue to be a powerhouse platform for elite military units around the globe.
Barrett Mk22 MRAD:
The Barrett Mk22 Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) is in a new class of military sniper platforms. Its defining feature is adaptability, allowing for an array of configurations to suit a multitude of operational requirements. This flexibility is primarily why it was chosen as the current contract winner for the US Special Operations Command’s Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) and US Army Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR).
One of the key features of the Mk22 MRAD is its user-changeable barrel system. This allows the sniper to quickly and easily switch between calibers and barrels in the field depending on the mission’s needs, including the .338 Norma Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum, and 7.62x51mm NATO rounds.
In terms of performance, the MRAD is known for its superb accuracy, making it a reliable choice in various combat scenarios. For example, its effective range with .338 Norma Magnum rounds is up to 1,500 meters, while with .300 Norma Magnum, it can accurately engage targets up to 1,200 meters.
In summary, the Barrett Mk22 MRAD is not just a sniper rifle; it’s a comprehensive, adaptable system that provides military snipers the flexibility to adjust to rapidly changing battlefield conditions. Its impressive accuracy, versatility, and adaptability make it one of the finest military sniper rifles in operation today.
The McMillan Tac-50, often referred to as the “Big Mac,” is a powerhouse in the world of sniper rifles. This bolt-action rifle is designed for pin-point precision and is most famous for its record-breaking long-range shot in a combat scenario.
Chambered in the potent .50 BMG caliber, the Tac-50 is not just a sniper rifle; it’s an anti-materiel rifle capable of disabling light vehicles and equipment at long distances. This makes it a versatile tool on the battlefield, able to engage personnel and material targets.
Key elements of the Tac-50’s design encompass its match-grade 29-inch free-floating barrel and the high-quality McMillan action, both of which significantly contribute to its extraordinary accuracy. The rifle also features a recoil-absorbing fiberglass chassis, making the shooting experience more manageable despite the potent round it sends down range.
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The Tac-50 has seen service with the Canadian Armed Forces, where it is known as the C15 Long Range Sniper Weapon (LRSW). In this role, it has repeatedly proven its worth, including the longest confirmed sniper kill shot in history — a remarkable 3,540 meters achieved in Iraq in 2017.
The McMillan Tac-50 represents a culmination of precision engineering and practical design. It’s a weapon that offers extreme range, devastating power, and a high degree of accuracy, standing as one of the world’s most effective long-range military sniper rifles.
M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS)
The M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS), a mainstay of the US Army, is a testament to the effectiveness of well-executed traditional design principles. Based on the Remington 700 long action, this bolt-action sniper rifle has served US military snipers for decades and continues proving its worth in various conflict zones worldwide.
Initially chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO, the M24 SWS was designed for accuracy, reliability, and ease of use. The choice of this caliber provided a good balance of power, range, and recoil management. However, many M24s have been rechambered to the more powerful .300 Winchester Magnum to increase its effective range, extending its reach beyond 1,200 meters.
While not as fancy as some of the other rifle systems discussed, the M24 is a proven platform and a formidable tool in the hands of a trained marksman. It offers a blend of accuracy, power, and reliability, making it a trusted choice for the US military, earning its place as one of the best military sniper rifles in service.
Knight’s Armament M110 SASS
The Knight’s Armament M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) is a notable piece of military hardware that is a trusted platform with various special forces units due to its combination of accuracy, power, reliability, and rate of fire.
The M110 SASS is a semi-automatic sniper rifle that allows for a higher rate of fire and increased magazine capacity compared to traditional bolt-action systems. This feature is particularly valuable in high-intensity special forces operations where rapid engagement of multiple targets may be necessary.
Chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO, the M110 SASS’s standard kit includes a Leupold 3.5x10x scope, Harris bipod, night vision optic, and dedicated suppressor.
In terms of accuracy, the M110 SASS is capable of impressive precision. With an effective range of around 800 meters, it allows special forces snipers to confidently engage targets at extended ranges.
In summary, the Knight’s Armament M110 SASS, with its semi-automatic firing mechanism, suppressor compatibility, and adaptability to various accessories, has proven to be an invaluable asset for military units. Its blend of accuracy, power, and versatility makes it a preferred choice for those who operate in the most demanding and high-stakes environments.
Each of these sniper systems carries a unique set of capabilities tailored to specific mission requirements and environments. Whether it’s the adaptability of the Barrett Mk22 MRAD, the long-range accuracy of the McMillan Tac-50, or the rapid-fire capabilities of the M110 SASS, these rifles underscore the diverse challenges and demands of modern military operations.
Other notable mentions include:
SAKO TRG M10
Hecker & Koch M110A2
Mk 13 Mod 0/5/7
Accuracy International AS50
Ultimately, the best military sniper rifle depends on the mission, the environment, and the sniper’s skill. What’s undeniable is that these rifles, each impressive in their own right, represent the leading edge of design and performance in the realm of precision marksmanship. They serve as a testament to human ingenuity and play a crucial role in shaping the outcome of conflicts worldwide.
Many of these exceptional rifle platforms are accessible to civilians and available from companies like Hinterland Outfitters and other online dealers. Long-range shooting has become a popular sport in the outdoors industry. It tests precision, patience, and technical knowledge, offering enthusiasts a challenging yet rewarding way to hone their marksmanship skills over extended distances.
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