The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is beginning to field the new Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle to all its units. The new sniper rifle has a bolt action, stainless steel match grade barrel, dual locking lugs, an extended free float rail system — which can receive numerous enhancing gadgets — and a folding stock. Furthermore, the rifle will be equipped with the Nightforce Advanced Tactical Riflescope. The scope utilises a Tremor3 reticle, which enables for rapid and efficient wind gauging and target acquisition.

The Mk13 uses the .300 Winchester Magnum — also known as Win Mag — round. It is capable of hitting targets with precision at over 1,000 yards. The different iterations of the M40 that were in service until now lacked that ability. Troops coming back from deployment were complaining that they lacked the ability to engage targets at long distances. And in mountainous Afghanistan, contact distances are bound to be long. Working on the feedback, the USMC acknowledged that there was a capability gap.

After much deliberation and testing, the Marine leadership announced that it would be replacing the M40 sniper rifle — which had been in service since the Vietnam War — with the new version of the Mk13. The Mk13 gives Marine snipers an additional 300 meters of range. At the time, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tony Palzkill, the battalion gunner for Infantry Training Battalion, had said, “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 a hit. This upgrade is an incredible win and will allow snipers to engage targets at greater distances.”

According to Barbara Hamby, a public affairs officer with the Marine Corps Systems Command, headquartered in Quantico, Virginia, “Based on the approved fielding plan, the Mk13 Mod 7 is being fielded to units to include infantry and reconnaissance battalions and scout sniper schoolhouses.”

Concerning the Nightforce optic, Sgt. Randy Robles, an instructor at the Quantico Scout Sniper School, in Quantico, Virginia, said, “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.” He added that the new rifle “will increase our lethality and be able to conceal our location because we are creating a buffer between us and the enemy.”

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) has been the first to receive in mass numbers the new rifle. But it isn’t the first unit to use the Mk 13 Mod 7. Marine Special Operation Command (MARSOC) has already been fielding the rifle. Rifles are scheduled to be distributed throughout 2019. The FY 2018 defence budget allocated $4.2 million for 356 Mk13s.