HK

The U.S. Army is replacing the Knight’s Armament Semi-Auto Sniper System (SASS) .308 rifle with a more compact rifle developed by Heckler & Koch.

The service on Friday announced that it awarded a contract to Heckler & Koch to supply a precision rifle to replace the M110 made by Knight’s Armament.

The Army wanted to acquire a shorter, lighter, more accurate, more ergonomic and more reliable gun for marksmen, according to Program Executive Office Soldier’s product portfolio. The new Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System should be easier to carry and use in close quarters than the M110 without sacrificing performance or accuracy, PEO said.

The FedBizOpps.gov award notice said H&K will produce a maximum of 3,643 rifles over 24 months, as well as spare parts and depot support, at a max contract value of $44.5 million. There’s a minimum purchase of 30 rifles for quality assurance testing.

This isn’t so much a critique of the Knight’s M110, which was a very respectable system, as it was an acknowledgement that doctrine and situational use of the system has changed in our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The M110 was used as the spotter’s rifle in a sniper/spotter pair, with the sniper using the bolt-action .300 Winchester Magnum-chambered M2010, which replaced the .308-chambered M24.

Scout/sniper teams sometimes have to perform room-clearing tasks or fight their way in and out of buildings in urban combat, the Army wanted a shorter and more compact support rifle that could double as a counter-assault weapon (my words, not theirs) to give teams a better chance of survival in urban environments where front lines don’t exist.

While the contract doesn’t mention which HK rifle won the CSASS competition, it seems probable that the G28A2. The G28 is an accurized, designated marksman’s variant of the HK417 battle rifle first deployed with the German Bundeswehr in Afghanistan.