As noted in several recent YiD news reports, the past year has witnessed significant joint service interest in sniper ammunition, terminal effects on target, and the small arms sniper weapons themselves.
Among that weapons program interest was a Configurable Extended Range Sniper Rifle (CERSR) from U.S. Army Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Command offices at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
In late July 2009, service representatives at Picatinny revealed their interest in “determining the state of the art/state of the practice of readily available (non-developmental) firearms that could serve as a [CERSR].”
“The purpose of conducting this survey as part of a research effort is to identify potential sources of different types of CERSR candidate weapons that will extend a Snipers [sic] effective range when engaging personnel targets beyond current 7.62x51mm and .300 Winchester Magnum (Win Mag) based platforms and ammunition while also providing the option of reconfiguring the rifle to fire 7.62x51mm and .300 Win Mag cartridges currently available to U.S. Armed Forces,” the announcement read. “The overarching objective of this CERSR research effort is to ascertain 1) the viability of a rifle/cartridge materiel combination that will maximize personnel size target probability of hit and ensure lethality at various ranges out a minimum of 1500 meters and 2) if the platform can be configured to meet the operational needs of military Snipers (i.e. weight, size, user interface, and caliber flexibility) based on Mission, Enemy, Terrain and weather, Troops available, Time (METT-TC) and Rules Of Engagement (ROE) considerations. In addition, the government seeks to characterize the effects of changes on such things as weapon shooter interface design features, weight, barrel length/twist characteristics, cartridge performance, ease of reconfiguration, component alignment repeatability, and overall physical dimensions.”
Against that background, the July 2009 announced specific candidate criteria, including design readiness level, caliber, configurability, sound suppressor, stock/chassis, MIL-STD mounting rails, and day optic.
In the case of caliber, for example, the stated criteria described a candidate SERSR “Chambered to accommodate a .338 caliber cartridge, however, .338 cartridge configuration is open to any commercially available variant and bullet weight (See FAR 2.101 Commercial item) and also capable of reconfiguration to chamber 7.62x51mm NATO STD ammunition particularly M118LR (DODIC AA11) and .300 Win Mag (DODIC A191) cartridges.”
Another criteria noted that the design would be “Configured with one (1) sound suppressor and applicable interface hardware capable of tool less attachment to and removal from 7.62x51mm, .300 Win Mag, and .338 caliber rifle barrels. Sound suppressor shall not shift point of impact by more than two (2) minutes of angle in all calibers. Impact shift direction shall be consistent when removing and reattaching the suppressor.”
This survey will provide insight to the government on the trade-offs associated with integrated CERSR rifle design, reconfiguration advantages, and cartridge configuration,” the market survey stated. “Interested responders should provide a description of their weapon system(s) including technical specifications (e.g. overall length, barrel length(s) and associated rifling characteristics (i.e. twist rate and direction, type of rifling, number of grooves), loaded/unloaded weight, firing rate) along with any additional information the responder deems necessary to describe the physical characteristics and performance of the system.”
Nine months after that market survey, in late April 2010, U.S. Army Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Command representatives announced multiple industry awards under the CERSR program, reflecting another major milestone in the path toward eventual service acquisition and fielding.
As announced on April 22, 2010, the CERSR contractor awardees included: Remington Arms Company, Inc; Sig Sauer Inc; Accuracy International of North America Inc; Desert Tactical Arms; and Ashbury International Group, Inc.