The Marine Corps tends to be known for using older gear. There’s a lot of reasons for that, and there’s no reason to get into them right now.
One venerable piece of equipment is the M40 sniper rifle. First entering service during Vietnam, the modified Remington 700 has been a mainstay of the USMC’s sniper program.
Now, it looks like Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children (as a former corpsman, I can call them that) are looking to make an upgrade.
The current iteration of the venerable M40, the A6, began fielding with Marine Corps back in June 2016. The M40A6 has a folding stock which is compatible with current M40 actions and barrels and a full-length Picatinny rail to accommodate optics and accessories. The Corps’ entire M40A5 inventory was upgraded by Remington, who were awarded a contract in 2014.
But Marine snipers have been calling for a new rifle with greater range and a larger calibre round for some years. It seems that they may be about to have their calls answered. The Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Estimates Justification Book for the United States Marine Corps procurement gives us some insight into the Corps small arms aims for the next couple of years and one of the line items is funding for the ‘MK 13 sniper rifle’:
Funding supports the MK 13 Rifle with associated optic, and principle end items (PEI) due to combat losses, wash-outs, and increases in AAO, as well as continuing product improvement and modernization of sniper and special purpose weapons, and support equipment.
The budget estimates justification books suggests that 356 rifles will be purchased during the 2018 fiscal year at a projected cost of $4.287 million. This puts the per rifle cost at $12,042.13. Currently, in use by the US Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), the order is far too large to be earmarked for SOCOM Marines. A spokesperson for MARCORSYSCOM confirmed that the new sniper rifle “will be fielded to General Purpose Force snipers in both the Active and Reserve Components… The Mk 13 will augment the M40A6 in Scout Sniper Platoons and Reconnaissance Battalions.”
Frankly, it’s time to at least start the process of upgrading.
The current plan seems to be to add them to the Marine Scout Sniper arsenal in conjunction with the M40A6 rifles. How long that will continue is anyone’s guess. After all, Marines are still scoring kills with the M40s.
However, the MK 13 uses a .300 Win Mag round, which means a much greater range. Considering some of the shots being made with M40A6s, the increased range can only make the Marines even more lethal to our enemies.
Of course, these aren’t inexpensive rifles by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re devastating weapon systems. Placed in the hands of a skilled Marine, well…let’s just say I’m glad these guys are on our side.
We’ll have to wait and see exactly how the weapon is deployed, but it’s time for them to get something like the MK 13 rifle, even if it’s merely used to supplement what the guys are already using.