Delta Force & SEALs Seek New Sniper Rifles & Guns

Special Ops forces are looking for long range precision machine guns, nearly silent carbine uppers, and a new sniper rifle that can change between three calibers at the twist of a barrel.

Long range precision machine guns.

Nearly silent carbine uppers.

A new sniper rifle that can change between three calibers at the twist of a barrel.

These are just a few of the new technologies America’s top special operators are looking for to help them go after the bad guys of the future.

JSOC is looking for new weapons technologies, including a SURG, ASR and long range machine gun.

According to an announcement released last month, the Joint Special Operations Command — the folks in charge of so-called “Tier 1” commandos, including SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force — is asking industry for help developing several new weapons technologies to help them do their job in a variety of battlefields.

First off, the JSOC operators are looking for a machine gun chambered in a “medium caliber” — usually considered anywhere between a 30-06 and 5.56 — that can reach out accurately to 2,000 yards. That’s slightly more than the maximum effective range of the new lightweight M240L that’s chambered in 7.62mm. The special operators want the machine gun to weigh 24 pounds or less — the M240L has a spec weight of 22.3 pounds.

U.S. Army Pfc. Garrett Solomon, a gunner assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, waits for commands before firing a M41 TOW Improved Target Acquisition System during Exercise Sky Soldier 16, Feb. 25, 2016, at Chinchilla training area in Spain. The objective of training Exercise Sky Soldier 16 is to prepare the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment for future exercises with the Spanish Armed Forces Airborne Brigade (BRIPAC), increase unit lethality, improve tactical airborne proficiency, and build a foundation for future allied training with the Spanish army. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deploying forces to the U.S. Army Europe, Africa and Central Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours. The brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build stronger relationships and strengthen the alliance. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn/released)

A vehicle-mounted M240L. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn/released)

But sources say what SOCOM is really leaning toward is a machine gun chambered in .338 — “it’s all the rage,” our source said.

It’s no secret that special operations troops put a lot of stock in silence and stealth. From advanced night vision to secret helicopters that cut down on rotor noise and radar signature, the Tier 1 commandos are always looking for ways to creep in and out of a target while most are unawares.

So that’s why JSOC is throwing out a request to industry for ideas on a so-called “Suppressed Upper Receiver Group.” Essentially what the spec ops troops are looking for is a rifle upper that fits on current M4-style standard lower receivers that is designed to operate in full-time suppressed mode.

Most of today’s special operators use detachable suppressors that mount on the flash hider or muzzle brake at the end of the rifle’s barrel. But what JSOC wants is a specially-designed upper that has that suppressor built into it. Advocates argue a dedicated suppressed upper would help make the rifle perform better and run cleaner.

But SOCOM had to cancel an earlier request for proposals on the SURG due to unrealistic requirements, sources say, and that’s why JSOC is asking industry to see what it’s got.

The primary problem with the earlier request, insiders say, was how to deal with the heat a suppressor generates during high rates of fire. It was so bad, some say, that it could damage sensitive electronic sights and laser pointers mounted to the rifle’s handguard.

The special operators are “seeking a next-generation, modular upper receiver group that is interoperable with current lower receivers and is optimized for full time suppressed operation,” SOCOM says “[It] must have advanced heat mitigation technology to counter mirage effect.”

The new JSOC specs “are more realistic and not from a video game,” one source told WATM.

Lastly, JSOC has tweaked its request for a so-called Advanced Precision Sniper Rifle. While the ASR request has been out there for a while, SOCOM has changed the chambering options for the rifle.

Now the command wants a rifle that can change from a .308 caliber precision rifle to one in .300 Norma Magnum or .338 Norma Magnum. That’s a change from previous requests for .308, .300 WinMag and .338 Lapua Magnum.

Sgt. Joseph Jaramillo (left), a native of Albuquerque, N.M., and Spc. Austin Valentine, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, both serving as snipers for 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, pull security and discuss movement at their observation post overlooking the Darwazgay Pass in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, June 24. The Soldiers were part of a joint air assault mission conducted with the 1st Kandak, 2nd Battalion, 205th Corps, Afghan National Army, to disrupt weapons from coming into the area.

Army snipers survey the battlefield using the M110 semi-automatic sniper system (the FDE rifle) and the new M2010 bolt-action sniper rifle chambered in .300 WinMag. (Photo from U.S. Army)

A former special operations sniper instructor tells WATM that the Norma Magnum round feeds better from a magazine than its Lapua counterpart, and the .300 NM has a better ballistic performance than .338 LM.

Program officials with SOCOM are inviting industry to submit their ideas in person during an industry day in Florida in early November.

By Christian Lowe
Oct 28, 2016 12:05:06 pm

Christian Lowe is a veteran military journalist and editor with nearly 20 years experience covering the U.S. armed forces. He has deployed six times to Iraq and Afghanistan and covered the military from the halls of Congress to the ranges of Fort Bragg.

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