The US Military has a brand new toy for precision shooting made by shooters for shooters. The Mark 22 Advanced Sniper Rifle, a variant of the popular Barrett MRAD.
The new rifle is a one stop, works for everyone’s needs, build the best rifle for mission system currently built. Topped with whichever service’s preferred glass (Nightforce for SOCOM, Leupold for Army, and usually Schmidt and Bender or Trijicon for the USMC) the MK22 offers precision static support fire out to 1500 meters and can be configured for both anti-personnel and anti-material missions in one kit.
The system comes with 3 calibers, the .308/7.62×51 is being relegated to a training round because it is safe to shoot on just about any available training range the military has access too, the .300 Norma Magnum is the high BC ‘standard’ sniper variation for precision shots against enemy personnel, and the .338 Norma Magnum will be used in the anti-material role and replacing M107’s
The move to replace .50 BMG with .338 Norma Magnum is one that is mirrored in SIG’s new GPMG, also in use with SOCOM/Marine Raiders, because it offers you almost all the range benefits and terminal effects in a substantially lighter weapon. The MK22’s can be deployed and rapidly reconfigured by a user in a maintenance environment or armorer out of the one travel case/deployment kit and can be maintained by mail back barrel parts instead of losing access to a rifle that has simply burned its barrel life.
Legacy systems like the XM2010, Mk13, and M40A(whatever we’re on) were often hamstrung by requirements to field a caliber already in use so they were only able to squeeze marginal improvements out of fielding the systems in the long run.
The MK22 was built as a ground up optimized mission sniper system and so the ammunition selections were purposefully not tied to legacy, with the exception of .308 as the sniper trainer. There is certainly something to be said for having the moderate velocity moderate ballistic coefficient .308 as the trainer due to snipers having to run the harder math and make better corrections to get hits, plus cost savings, and then installing the faster more accurate magnum rounds for training on ranges that can support it and on mission. The modular nature of the MK22 and MRAD systems means that if 6.5 became preferred for SOCOM guns they wouldn’t need whole new rifles either, just a new batch of easily made barrels.
The same could be true of the Army or Marines going to 6.8, easily available ammo pile for training by going to a new barrel as old ones wear out.
The only downside I can see is this makes me want to spend money on a precision gun… and I probably shouldn’t… but that hasn’t stopped me in the past.