Another concrete manifestation of the United States military’s interest in enhancing its sniper capabilities [see “Attention Focuses on Sniper Arena,” http://theyearindefense.com/land_forces/attention-focuses-on-sniper-arena] surfaced in late September with the contract award from the U.S. Army’s Joint Munitions and Lethality Contracting Center for the upgrade of up to 3,600 M24 Sniper Weapon Systems.
The M24 SWS is a bolt action, internal magazine fed, 7.62 x 51mm rifle intended to engage and defeat personnel targets out to 800 meters. It was competitively selected by the Army as its first purpose-built sniper rifle on July 27, 1988, and the first 100 production systems were fielded on Oct. 25, 1988. To date, Remington Arms Company (a member of the Freedom Group of Companies) has produced nearly 15,000 M24 Sniper Weapon Systems for multiple armed services, agencies, and nations, and the weapon is still in production today.
The upgrade contract, which was awarded to Remington, followed a nine-month competitive evaluation process that began with the release of the Army’s Request for Proposal (RfP) on Jan. 13, 2010.
As outlined in the RfP release announcement, the upgrade package would follow a Non Developmental Item (NDI) acquisition approach that would include: Rebarreled/rechambered barrel optimized to accommodate Mk. 248 (DODICA191) .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition; replacement of the existing Weaver rail with a MIL-STD-1913 rail capable of accommodating both a day optic and in-line, forward mounted, AN/PV-26/29 image intensified night vision device; reconfigured stock that incorporates a detachable box magazine, adjustable comb and length of pull; addition of a detachable sound suppressor as well as any necessary barrel modifications required for sound suppressor interface; and replacement of the existing day optic sight and rings with a variable power day optic and compatible rings.
Describing Remington’s winning upgrade package – currently pending type classification as “M24E1” – a company announcement highlighted the.300 Winchester Magnum caliber conversion “to provide soldiers with additional precision engagement capability and range;” a new stock assembly that maximizes physical adjustment options for the sniper; a folding buttstock that radically shortens the system for easier transport and greater concealment during movement while also accommodating accessories via removable Mil Std 1913 Picatinny Rail mounts; an improved 6.5-20×50 variable power Leupold® riflescope with an enhanced reticle within the first focal plane and a .300 Winchester Magnum bullet-drop compensator; a quick-attach/detach Advanced Armament Corp.® suppressor with muzzle brake; a 5-round detachable box magazine; and advanced corrosion resistant coatings throughout the system.
“While virtually every aspect of the M24E1 has been updated and improved, the U.S. Army specifically required that the M24E1 continue to be built around the same 700™ series long action and that the fire control requirement continue to be met by the combat proven M24 SWS fire control,” it added. “The M24E1’s fire control is set to a pull weight requirement of 3 to 5 lbs pull +/- 8 oz., and has been found to survive near constant use, in and out of theater, for well over 10 years of service without adjustment or replacement.”