Defense Media Network

Army Exploring M110 Semi Automatic Sniper System (SASS) Improvements

In much the same way that the U.S. Marine Corps is exploring potential enhancements to its current 7.62 x 51 mm M40A5 Sniper Rifle, the U.S. Army is also exploring a number of similar enhancements to its own 7.62 x 51 mm M110 Semi Automatic Sniper System (SASS).

M110 SASS with Soldier

The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) is an anti-personnel and light antimateriel weapon that fires 7.62 mm ammunition out to a maximum effective range of 800 meters. It incorporates a rapid fire/rapid reload design, variable-power day optic sight, and 10- or 20-round detachable box magazines. The weapon system exceeds the rate-of-fire and lethality of the M24 Sniper Weapon System. The M110 weapon system (combat ready with suppressor and loaded 20-round magazine) weighs 17.3 pounds. PEO Soldier photo

First fielded [first unit equipped] in the 1st quarter of FY 08, the M110 SASS is a lightweight, direct gas operated, semi-automatic, box magazine fed, 7.62 x 51 mm rifle intended to engage and defeat personnel targets out to 800 meters. The weapon is manufactured by Knight’s Armament Company, based in Titusville, Fla. The weapon’s associated Leupold Mark IV 3.5-10X scope provides field of view options to suit the specific tactical range applications. Using 10-round or 20-round detachable magazines, the semi-automatic M110 SASS greatly exceeds the rate of fire and lethality of the previous M24 Sniper Weapon System.

Army representatives outlined their interest in enhanced characteristics through a recent “sources sought” announcement. The announcement, dubbed Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS), was released by the U.S. Army’s Army Contracting Command on behalf of the Project Manager Soldier Weapons (PMSW).

CSASS interest focuses on manufacturing a complete system or reconfiguring some or all of the existing M110 SASS currently available in Army inventory.

Specific criteria outlined for the notional CSASS focus on size and weight improvements. Specifically, the announcement calls for the overall length of the weapon to be reduced using a shorter barrel and/or collapsible buttstock. Maximum overall assembled length of the rifle would be no greater than 36 inches with the stock at its shortest position and no sound suppressor mounted. This compares with a 40.5-inch length for the current SASS with buttstock fully compressed and without suppressor.

At “no more than 9.0 lbs. for the unloaded rifle without optics and accessories,” the CSASS would also be lighter than the current SASS design.

Other noted CSASS criteria include:

  • semi-automatic operation;
  • compatibility with 7.62 x 51mm NATO cartridges;
  • modular, adjustable pistol grip;
  • non-adjustable match style trigger;
  • fore-end hand guard that includes a fixed 12 o’ clock rail with configurable 3, 6, and 9 o’ clock rails;
  • muzzle mounted, detachable compensator/muzzle brake compatible with the sound suppressor;
  • bipod with tool-less detachment featuring cant and pan/track capability;
  • Army specified variable power day optic and compatible rings;
  • back-up iron sights offset 45 degrees from the day optic scope;
  • flush cup, quick detach sling attachment points; and,
  • “Significant improvement from M110 requirements while enduring higher rates of fire.”

The announcement identified a CSASS production requirement “at an estimated range of 125 per month with a capability to ramp up to 325 per month.”


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...