Does the M40 need to be replaced ?
Recently the Washington Times published an article entitled,
I always tell people, that from 1978 to 2001 the sniping world moved very slow. We used essentially the same rifles and equipment for all those years with very few advancements. After 2001 we had a light speed change in equipment and resources at our finger tips. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan really moved precision rifle equipment, training, and employment to the next level and continues to change every year.
As a former Marine, we have always prided ourselves on doing more with less. However in this case, they should have set the tone and become the leader in the sniping world as we always have been. After all USMC Scout Snipers are the Gold Standard.
USMC Scout Snipers set the standard, when I attended Sniper School it was a 12 week course while the Army was just holding a 3 week course that was supposed to be their equivalent. Even the SEALs attended USMC Sniper School and it wasn't until the drop out rate for them continued to grow did they start their own sniper school. It was the one school everyone wanted.
I recall when the USMC was going to the S&B scope for the M40 what a huge step that was. However, at the same time there was also discussion about going to a 338LM. The Officer in Charge then knew we needed to adjust. (I say M40, knowing we used the M40A1, M40A3, and M40A5 during this period)
Part of the challenge was qualifying, they wanted to make it harder and move the Marines to 1500m. That would have been a difficult task even with the 338LM as ELR shooting is never easy.
The next challenge was the rifle itself, as the article points out, the USMC makes their own and doesn’t use a ready built rifle. (Until they started looking at the KAC Mk11 variant which is a semi auto)
I understand the argument, Marines stand on tradition. You don’t want to be the guy that ends that. But we are talking about effectiveness on the battlefield, and we have a lot of switch barrel rifles out there that would work really well.
Generally speaking, in urban fighting the average engagement for a sniper is around 400m. In the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan that is going to increase dramatically. There are always exceptions to the rules. I know guys who took high value shots at 90m, but the old saying goes, it’s better to have it and not have it, then to not have it and need it.
This maybe an opening for the USMC to lead again. This excellent graphic from the Washington Post shows how the Marines can step and make an approbate change. However it does leave out the USMC .50 cal.
Also, I know there are certain Tier 1 groups using 6.5s in their short actions. So why not extend the range of the short action ? You can then explore using a new ELR Sniper Rifle to replace the .50s. Why not field a 308 Semi Auto that would work great in urban areas, the KAC is a good military system. Then change the M40A— to a 6.5mm variant, logistics be damned we’re Marines, and you can replace the .50 with a .375CT.
The longer range and less recoil of the 6.5mm would have a lot of benefits. More accuracy at 1k, ranges beyond 1250 yards, and speed… a 130gr bullet going over 2900fps, or even a 136gr Scenar at 2900fps, not a bad idea. A lot to be said for a flatter trajectory.
Bring Marine Corps Snipers back to the front with ballistically better cartridges, heck I am fan of the 300 Norma Magnum, but you can also consider the 7mm ? It’s all out there… ballistically superior bullet that leave the 308 in the dust.
Let us know what you think ?