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Weapons: Semi-Auto Sharpshooter Rifle
   Next Article → WARPLANES: A Nip And A Tuck
December 28, 2009: The British Army has adopted an U.S. (LMT) semi-automatic rifle as a "sharpshooter" weapon, designating it the L129A1. Weighing 11 pounds (5kg), the L129A1 7.62mm rifle has a 20 round magazine and an effective range of 800 meters. The weapon is 37 inches (945mm) long and equipped with rails for scopes and such. About one soldier per squad or platoon would be a sharpshooter, armed with an L129A1. Soldiers must be good shots to begin with, and take a training course, to be a sharpshooter, which is sort of "sniper lite." But while snipers concentrate on being hidden, as well as doing the job with one well aimed shot, the sharpshooter is mainly concerned with hitting the target with one shot at long ranges. This is essential in Afghanistan, where enemy fighters are often encountered at ranges the standard 5.56mm assault rifle has a hard time dealing with.

Semi-automatic rifles are often used as sniper rifles as well. And not just recycled M-14s. The L129A1 is very similar to the American SR25 sniper rifle, adopted by the U.S. NAVY SEALs over three years ago. This weapon is officially known as the Mk11 Sniper Rifle System (SRS).

The Mk11 is a 7.62mm weapon based on the M-16 design (created by retired USAF Colonel Stoner in the 1950s). About half the parts in the SR25 are interchangeable with those in the M-16. The Stoner sniper rifle achieves its high accuracy partly by using a 20 inch heavy floating barrel. The "floating" means that the barrel is attached only to the main body of the rifle to reduce resonance (which throws off accuracy.) The semi-automatic, 41 inch long rifle weighs 10.5 pounds without a scope and uses a 20 round magazine. This is considered the most accurate semi-automatic rifle in the world. It's popular with Special Forces and commandos because it allows a good shooter to take out a number of targets quickly and accurately. The commercial SR25 has a 24 inch barrel, but the navy wanted a shorter one for better use in urban warfare. The rifle was initially purchased for Navy SEALS and marines, but is now used by snipers in all the services, including the navys new infantry force.

 

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cwDeici       12/28/2009 8:15:45 PM
Semiautomatics are preferable within their range and accuracy unless one can guarantee isolated targets.
 
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SMSgt Mac    Eugene Stoner was a Marine   12/28/2009 10:44:52 PM
Probably enlisted, during WWII, and that was it (not that it wasn't 'enough'). After the war Mr Stoner had bigger and better things to do for his country as a civilian, God rest his soul. 
Other than the Stoner bio, not a bad piece.
 
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smitty237    Murphy's Law and snipers   12/30/2009 1:33:01 AM
A lot of the police and military snipers I have talked to prefer bolt action guns because for the most part they are inherently more accurate, especially at long range.  As a former grunt NCO and police SWAT assistant team leader, given my druthers I would rather my snipers were armed with semi-automatic rifles versus bolt action rifles.  I simply like the idea of a rapid follow-shot, which is something that a bolt gun cannot provide.  A lot of the snipers I have talked to have sniffed at this and proclaimed that any sniper that can't hit his target with the first shot isn't worth his salt to begin with.  In my opinion this is b.s., and arrogant b.s. at that, because it ignores the basic tenet of Murphy's Law, which is "anything that can go wrong will go wrong."  Considering that Murphy was most certainly a military man and a cop at some point in his life, I feel that you should  plan for every contingency, to include human and environmental factors.  There are numerous examples of police and military snipers missing with their first shot for a number of reasons.  Maybe the target moved at the last second or the bullet was deflected by glass or vegetation.  If this happens with a bolt action rifle it will more than likely take several seconds for the sniper to realize he missed the target, chamber another round, reaquire the target, and then take another shot.  With a semi-auto rifle those middle two steps are eliminated because the rifle automatically loads the next round, and if the sniper follows his training he should still be on target after that first shot went down range.  Semi-auto rifles are also better than bolt guns when it comes to engaging multiple targets.  In precision sniping against a single target this is not really a factor, but in multiple target environments like troops are experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is a real advantage. 
 
Another advantage of semi-automatic rifles is that they can be effectively used as a self defense weapon, whereas a bolt action gun is pretty useless if you find yourself in a close quarters firefight.  Sure, a good sniper using good concealment and stalking techniques should never find himself in that middle of an intense firefight, but this is another instance where Murphy's Law can rear its ugly head, particularly in Iraq.  I realize that for well over sixty years infantrymen fought effectively with bolt action rifles, but most of those rifles were loaded with clips or magazines to facilitate rapid reloading, while most bolt action sniper rifles have to be loaded one round at a time.  I would much rather face down a horde of meth-crazed, AK-47 toting Al Qaeda or Taliban members while armed with a SR25 than a Remington 700 any old day. 
 
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cwDeici       1/4/2010 5:55:05 PM
They're specialist weapons indeed.
 
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Ispose    Bolt action is better   1/6/2010 11:04:51 AM
Bolt action is better for dedicated sniper role. They are inherently more accurate especially if you handload...look up what collet dies are and why benchrest handloaders use them.
A semi auto markmans rifle is very useful for the mid range multiple target role...supporting an infantry squad etc. But for the role of stalking a specific target and sniping them....bolt actions are better in my opinion.
There are some very accurate semi autos out there and the technology is getteing better but you can fine tune a bolt action or even a single shot to be more accurate than any autoloader.
 
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