The Marine Corps has been long overdue for an updated standard issue precision rifle or “sniper rifle”, finally after a good deal of testing and evaluation the Mk13 Mod 7 has been selected for the role. The Mk13 Mod 7 is essentially an Accuracy International AX series bolt action rifle. The rifle will provide not only greater accuracy over the M40A6 but also greater range by using a higher velocity bullet. The .300 Win Mag round has been in use to some degree with the Marine Corps for several years now and has apparently proven to be a better round than the .308 Win/7.62 NATO round used by scout snipers.
Chambered in .300 Winchester, the Mk13 Mod 7 will feature a stainless steel match grade barrel, dual locking lugs, and an extended free float rail system able to modularly accommodate any currently fielded equipment in use by the Marine Corps. The stock is side-folding and features an adjustable length of pull and cheek riser that can be dialed in for the individual shooter. The barrel can accept a variety of muzzle devices and be removed from the chassis via a small screw on the side and return to a near perfect zero when reinstalled. The rifle uses a detachable box mag and has a 3-position safety lever. It has not been said if the Corps will be switching from their current Schmidt and bender scopes or not but the Mk13 will include an “upgraded” day scope.
The Mk13 Mod 7 underwent field testing and service with multiple Special Operations Command elements over the last few years. The rifle has proved to be a markedly better option as a multipurpose precision rifle. Infantry Weapons team leader at Marine Corps Systems Command, Lt. Col. Paul Gillikin stated that,
When the Mk13 Mod 7 is fielded, it will be the primary sniper rifle in the Marine Corps. The M40A6 will remain in the schoolhouses and operating forces as an alternate sniper rifle primarily used for training. The M110 and M107 will also remain as additional weapons within the scout sniper equipment set.”
The desire for an improved standardized precision rifle system came when the Marine Corps realized that the current M40A6 configuration paired with the .308/7.62 bullet fell far too short at extended shooting distances. With a maximum effective range on a point target of 800m and maximum range for an area target of roughly 1200m, the standard issue rifle was falling short and under performing in terms of terminal ballistics at extended ranges. Because the Mk13 mod 7 had such a dramatic improvement over the M40A6, nearly 300m worth of it, it was a clear-cut choice to upgrade the specialized weapon system.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tony Palzkill, the Gunner for Infantry Training Battalion expressed the Corps view on the benefits of the new rifle saying, “The .300 Winchester Magnum round will perform better than the current 7.62 NATO ammo in flight, increasing the Marine Sniper’s first round probability of hit. This upgrade is an incredible win and will allow snipers to engage targets at greater distances.”
Project officer Capt. Frank Coppola noted that, “The snipers seemed to really appreciate the new capabilities that come with this rifle and optic.” He elaborated with, “After the first day on the range, they were sold.”
Quantico Scout Sniper School instructor and unit liaison Sergeant Randy Robles commented,
This sniper rifle will allow Marines to reengage targets faster with precise long-range fire while staying concealed at all times. The new day optic allows for positive identification of enemies at greater distances, and it has a grid-style reticle that allows for rapid re-engagement without having to dial adjustments or ‘hold’ without a reference point. With this type of weapon in the fleet, we will increase our lethality and be able to conceal our location because we are creating a buffer between us and the enemy.”