Afterwar: Year 0
M24 and M40 Sniper Rifles
Developed for the US Army by Remington, the M-24 was first issued to US Army units in late 1988, with the eventual goal of replacing the M-21 as the primary sniper rifle in the US Army. Remington based the M-24 on their tried-and-true Model 700, but with a large amount of changes and customizations which make the M-24 pretty much a different weapon than the Model 700. As the US Army originally told Remington that they wanted the M-24 to use the 7.62mm NATO cartridge (specifically, the M-118 Special Ball version of it), but the rumor mill was already getting loud that the snipers themselves wanted the M-24 to fire the .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge, Remington used a modified long action that unit armorers could adjust to fire either chambering. However, the standard chambering for the M-24 at present is 7.62mm NATO. The M-24 is so well-designed and constructed that the rifle is theoretically more accurate than even the 7.62mm Mk 316 Mod 0 Special Ball Long range cartridge is capable of delivering. In addition to US Army use, the M-24 is used by Israel.
The base Model 700 long action is otherwise basically a standard Remington action, except for the special anticorrosion finish (at first matte black, but of late more often OD Green or other colors). Stocks are built by H-S Precision and made of reinforced fiberglass composites. The barrel is bedded in the stock by a full-length 7075T6 aluminum bedding block. The standard M-24 stock is adjustable for length of pull, but US Army snipers have wanted an adjustable cheekpiece for a long time, and it is looking like the Pentagon is going to give it to them. (Currently, M-24s will often be seen with faux cheekpieces made from foam rubber duct-taped to the stock.) The buttplate also has a recoil pad. The actions are mated to the stock and attached to the bedding block by a pair of screws torqued to 65 pounds. The original sight mounts were designed specifically for US Army and NATO equipment, but MIL-STD-1913 rails are seen more and more often on M-24s. In both cases, the mounts are fastened so that they are extremely unlikely to be jarred out of alignment by rough handling (even parachute drops). In addition, the mounts allow optics to be mounted and dismounted quickly, and without losing the shooter’s zero. The trigger unit is a modified version of that used on the Remington 40X target rifle, and is highly adjustable. The standard telescopic sight for the M-24 is a 12x scope specifically designed for the M-24 by Leupold (designated the M-3A), and has coatings for the lenses that are antireflective, inhibit laser dazzling, and are also slightly tinted in such a way as to enhance observation. The scope also has a MIL-DOT reticle. The barrel is made of 416R stainless steel, and is a heavy match-quality free-floating type 24.1 inches long with a target-crowned muzzle. The low wear rate of the barrel has astounded armorers (some have had 14,000 rounds fired through them before depot-level maintenance was done). A mount is provided for a bipod (which is normally used on the M-24).
As said above, the M-24 was initially conceived to fire 7.62mm NATO ammunition; in addition, Remington designed the prototypes of the M-24 to be able to use the 20-round box magazines of the M-21 as well as 5-round box magazines. Though the idea of using box magazines was quickly dropped, using the 7.62mm NATO cartridge wasn’t, and therefore most M-24s are in fact chambered for that round. However, US Army snipers for the most part wanted the M-24 to fire the .300 Winchester Magnum round, and by the time of Desert Shield in 1990, many M-24s were in fact using .300 Winchester Magnum. (When I was at the 82nd Airborne, our battalion snipers were in fact using M-24s chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum, though I was told at the time that it was not a “standard caliber” for the weapon or the Army – see below.) The M-24 is in fact designed for this possibility, as the action can be adjusted by unit armorers to accommodate the longer round, and then all the armorer has to do is change the barrel (as the rifling twist rates are different for the two rounds). In both cases, the M-24 uses a rotary magazine made of plastic, inserted through a hinged floorplate.
The standard M-24 has been modified a few times, whether by the use of MIL-STD-1913 rails, the trials of different stocks, or different types of triggers. One variant created at the unit level at the request of individual snipers was the M-24A1, which was chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum instead of the standard 7.62mm NATO round. At the time of its inception (early 1990s), the Army was concerned that snipers would run short of ammunition and be unable to replenish their supplies easily; the supply wonks were also concerned about introducing one more type of ammunition into the supply system. The .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition available at the time also had a problem – undue barrel fouling would be caused due to incompletely-burned propellant, as at that time .300 Winchester Magnum rounds were not meant for “short” 24.1-inch barrels, unless you wanted to buy more expensive ammunition. However, at the outbreak of the Hotwar, given the lack of a standard rifle to fire the new .338 Norma Mag long range ammunition adopted for the new M241 Long Range Medium Machine Gun, the Army purchased large lots of .300 Win. Mag ammo and authorized units to convert their M-24s as they saw the need.
One of the newest service models of the M-24, the M-24A2, came with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This version is fed by a 10-round box magazine, and has additional MIL-STD-1913 rails on the sides of the fore-end. The stock is a new H-S Precision PST-25 stock adjustable for length of pull and cheekpiece height. The barrel is threaded for a silencer. Existing M-24 actions can be converted for use with the rest of the components of the M-24A2. Another new version of the M-24, the M-24A3, is similar, but is chambered for the .338 Norma Magnum round and is relatively rare, even among US Army snipers. It feeds exclusively from a 5-round rotary magazine, and the barrel is not threaded for a silencer.
|M-24||7.62mm NATO||5.49 kg||5||$2331|
|M-24A1||.300 Win. Mag.||6.19 kg||5||$2693|
|M-24A2||7.62mm NATO||5.55 kg||10||$2256|
|M-24A2 Silencer||N/A||2.6 kg||N/A||$804|
|M-24A3||.338 Norma Mag.||7.19 kg||5||$3025|
|(Silenced) With Bipod||BA||3||1-Nil||10||1||Nil||72|
This highly-modified Remington 700 began to equip the USMC in the early 1970s. They are hand-modified from stock Remington 700s, using a glass fiber stock, a heavy match-grade barrel, no iron sights, and scope mount for a Unertl 10x telescopic sight; when the USMC armorers at Quantico are done, the M-40A1 only looks like a Remington 700. The former users of this weapon are legendary, including Carlos Hathcock.
The Marines actually only buy the receiver assemblies from Remington, since the armorers at the RTE (Rifle Team Equipment) Shop intend to modify pretty much everything else or fit the rifles with custom components bought from other manufacturers (and the receiver assemblies are heavily reworked as well). Barrels for the M-40A1 are heavy, match-grade 24.1-inch barrels made by Hart, Atkinson, or H-S Precision; they are intensely-inspected and tested for quality. These barrels and the receiver are placed into a McMillan fiberglass composite stock, with the action being glass-bedded and the barrel free-floating. The trigger unit used is a modified Winchester 70 trigger group. The scope mounts are essentially proprietary to the Marines; they are specifically designed to use a special version of a 10x Unertl telescopic sight, or night vision scopes used by the US Marines. There are no iron sights, nor any provision for mounting any.
The M-40A1 PIP was originally going to be called the M-40A2, but because the M-40A3 was to follow close afterward, and because the M-40A1 PIP was a heavily reworked M-40A1 instead of being a brand new weapon, the M-40A2 designation was not used. The M-40A1 PIP uses a new McMillan stock with a deep pistol grip wrist, adjustable cheekpiece, and installable spacers for adjusting the length of pull. The new stock is much lighter than that of the original M-40A1. The entire rifle was worked over to improve it and refurbish it. Though a great improvement over the M-40A1, the M-40A1 PIP was basically meant to only be a stopgap weapon until the M-40A3 was produced in large enough numbers, and it did not appear in large numbers.
The new standard sniper rifle of the US Marines is the M-40A3. As earlier M-40s rotate in for repairs, they are being replaced by this version of the M-40. As with the M-40A1 PIP, the M-40A3 was to have been designated the M-40A2, but the improvements and modifications made were so great that it essentially as a different rifle, and it was designated the M-40A3 instead. Changes include the use of a new McMillan-built stock, with a padded buttplate adjustable for length of pull, a stock with an adjustable cheekpiece, a MIL-STD-1913 rail for optics mounting (though the standard scope is the same, except for being built by US Optics instead of the now-defunct Unertl company), the incorporation of a Harris lightweight bipod adjustable for height and cant, and a trigger unit adjustable for pull weight and pull length. The action is also, to a limited extent, adjustable for bolt pull length (and begins with a shorter bolt pull than the M-40A1). The barrels are still 24.1 inches long, but built of better steel, and the muzzles are threaded to accept a suppressor or muzzle brake. The MIL-STD-1913 rail is mounted so that it tilts 30 degrees upward in the direction of the muzzle, to facilitate long-range shooting. The stocks are normally OD Green; metalwork is also finished in OD Green, using Robar Teflon or Birdsong Black T anticorrosion finishes.
|M-40A1||7.62mm NATO||6.58 kg||5 Internal||$1674|
|M-40A1 PIP||7.62mm NATO||6.11 kg||5 Internal||$1683|
|M-40A3||7.62mm NATO||6.08 kg||5 Internal||$2343|