Marine Corps snipers will soon be equipped with a longer-range, more versatile rifle designed to increase lethality and establish battlefield threat overrun in support of Force Design 2030.
Selected through a joint effort between Marine Corps Systems Command, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, and US Army Special Operations Command, the Mk22 Mod 0 Advanced Sniper Rifle is a bolt-action sniper rifle system. It incorporates the power-agnostic 7×35 Precision Day Optic caliber and is fed by a detachable 10-round magazine.
The Mk22 incorporates a caliber-independent flash and sound suppressor. It allows users to customize the weapon to meet the needs of each mission, such as changing barrels and ammunition calibers at the operator level.
The Mk22 will replace all older M40A6 and Mk13 Mod 7 rifles, reducing the sniper rifle inventory from four to three, said Nick Berger, infantry weapons program manager. The option provided by the Mk22 to change barrels will give Marines the ability to configure the rifle to fire the .338 Norma Magnum or .300 NM caliber cartridges.
The new 7×35 precision day optic also provides better magnification and sighting capabilities compared to the 5×25 optic currently in service, said Sgt. Christopher Frazier, a marksmanship instructor at the Scout Sniper Instructor School and liaison officer with Marine Corps Systems Command.
Frazier said the increased range provided by the Mk22 and accompanying PDO will give snipers a greater standoff distance from their targets, allowing for greater survivability.
“Rather than stowing one gun and pulling out the next, we can quickly change barrels and then we just have to carry ammo and that extra barrel, not a whole extra gun and extra magazines.” sergeant. Christopher Frazier, a Scout Sniper Instructor School shooting instructor
Marine Corps investment in the Mk22 to replace legacy equipment makes Marine snipers more lethal and provides increased flexibility. Lightening the load for Marines, the Mk22 is an ideal addition to sniper arsenals to support littoral operations in contested environments and expeditionary forward base operations.
“Instead of having to learn multiple weapon systems, we only have one,” said Master Sgt. Cruz Nuanez, Scout Sniper Instructor with the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, Infantry School East.
Nuanez said reducing the number of rifles to learn helps Marines better hone their skills. The reduced training requirements also allow Marines to focus on crucial tasks such as interoperability of different barrels, bolt faces, and ballistic calculations between each caliber.
While the Mk22 rifle is heavier than the Mk13 and M40A6, the consensus of test shooters was to reduce to one rifle significant tactical and logistical advantages when executing missions.
Force Design 2030 emphasizes the need for stand forces to be frugal with logistical requirements, especially inside areas of enemy weapon engagement. The Mk22 offers the Marine Corps sniper community a reduced logistics footprint.
“It’s definitely more efficient,” Frazier said. “Rather than stowing one gun and pulling out the next, we can quickly change barrels and then we just have to carry ammo and that extra barrel, not a whole extra gun and extra magazines.”
Mk22 kits will come with upgraded optics and advanced suppressors. In addition, the kits will include items such as visual augmentation systems and a single issue of a .300 Winchester Magnum barrel to ensure a smooth transition between current missions and training requirements, Berger said. Some Mk22 kits will come with a sniper tripod and laser filter.
Refine the system with instructor feedback
To ensure the new system meets the needs of Marine Corps snipers, MCSC hosted an integration evaluation range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. The program office invited instructors from the three Marine Scout Sniper Schools and MARSOC to test the new rifle, optics, suppressors, tripods and other accessories for the Mk22.
While not a typical step in the process, Berger saw the event as an opportunity for attendees to provide feedback before showing up.
“This event is a bit unusual for a program to do at this point,” Berger said. “However, it’s important to us to make sure the sniper community has what it needs to be successful, and the timing of this event allows us to identify issues before they go live and correct them if necessary.”
During the integration assessment, shooters, project managers, and support staff took detailed notes for data collection and improvement needs. Shooters kept logs detailing how the rifle performed with each barrel and caliber of ammunition. Data was also collected from chronographs, a tool that measures the speed of the cartridge as it exits the barrel. Combined, the information collected will be used to make changes to the kits before release.
Early feedback is positive for both the new equipment and the ability to transition school education to the new system seamlessly. Nuanez said the course qualifications will remain the same and student snipers can easily understand the new requirements.
“They are very friendly. It comes with all the tools you need and the tools are also user friendly,” Nuanez explained. “Remove the barrels and put them back, along with the bolt faces – there should be no problem.”
Additional firing tests are planned through the end of the calendar year, with initial commissioning scheduled for fiscal year 2023.