1. M24 Sniper Weapons System

The M24 (SWS) is the military and police version of the Remington 700 rifle, M24 being the model name assigned by the U.S Army after adoption as their standard sniper rifle in 1988. The M24 is referred to as a “weapons system” because it consists of not only a rifle, but also a detachable telescopic sight and other accessories. The M24 SWS has the “long-action” bolt version of the Remington 700 receiver, but is chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO “short-action” cartridge. The “long-action” allows the rifle to be re-configured for a dimensionally larger cartridge

The rifle had a very quick development cycle as the US Army had decided it wanted to get snipers back into the US Army and was in the process of developing the B4 identifier and the school to award it. There was a major fall of M21′s which was the standard sniper rifle at that point of time and the Army figured it would need 10,000 sniper rifles of which they didn’t have nearly that many M21′s. So a new sniper rifle was developed at the same time and it was done in a record 22 months. The Weapon System Matrix Manager for the M24 was Major John Mende and he explains that the long action actually had nothing to do with the ability to convert to a .300 Win Mag but was a product of that quick development time. The rifle was intended to be chambered in the. 30-06 as the -06 was a type classified munition for the Army unlike the. 300 WM at the time. They wanted to have a high power load for the. 30-06 eventually developed. As development of the system was moving forward they discovered that there was not enough.  30-06 ammo in a single lot in the Army’s inventory to test and develop the system so they quickly changed to the 7.62x51mm NATO (308 Win) and left the action the same as there was not enough time for the manufacturers of the stock and floor plate to make the change in  short action. They also fully believed they would later do a product improvement update and convert all the M24′s to .30-06. The fact that they could convert them to .300 Win Mag was an unexpected benefit to the SF groups and was never actually designed into the system.

  1. SR25 (American)

The SR 25 rifle (Stoner Rifle, model 25) was developed by Reed Knight (owner of Knights Armament Co) and Eugene Stoner (designer of М16 and Stoner 63 rifles among other things) during early 1990s. In essence, the SR 25 was the AR-15 rifle up to shoot 7,62×51 / .308 Win ammunition, with up to 60% of parts of new rifle being interchangeable with standard AR-15 components. This rifle sold well among civilian shooters who needed an accurate semi-automatic rifle in 7,62 / .308 caliber for hunting or target shooting. This rifle also found a favor among US Military – during early 1990s it was adopted by US Navy SEAL groups, as Mark 11 Model 0 sniper rifle system; use of Mk.11 Mod.0 rifle was later extended to US Marine Corps. Mark 11 Model 0 rifle systems included the semi-automatic SR-25 rifle, a quick-detachable sound suppressor, also developed by Knights Armament Co, Leupold Vari-X Mil-dot telescope sight, Harris Bipod, 20-round magazines and other necessary accessories. In 2005, a modified version of the SR-25 / Mk.11 rifle won US Army Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle (XM110 SASR) competition, and today it is being issued to US Army snipers, in an attempt to replace the M24 sniper weapon system. A certain controversy exists about this replacement, as some experts doubt that Knight’s semi-automatic XM110 rifle could equal long-range accuracy of the bolt-action M24. However, Knights Armament Co claims that SR-25 is capable of 0.5 MOA accuracy with match ammo, and in the field Mk.11 or XM110 rifle can prove accurate and rapid fire out to 600 meters or more, depending on particular circumstances and proficiency of the operator. Use of quick-detachable silencer / sound moderator also has several benefits, the most obvious being concealment of the operator’s position, as the silencer decreases the sound of gunshot and completely eliminates muzzle flash. Another, less obvious benefit is that silencer also acts as an effective muzzle brake, decreasing recoil and thus permitting faster follow-up shots.

All rifles built on SR-25 platform share same basic action, which is based on AR -15/M 16 system. This is a gas-operated system with direct-impingement gas drive, which has no gas piston. Instead, powder gases are fed from the barrel and through a stainless-steel tube back into the receiver, and then into the cavity inside bolt carrier through the gas key. Inside the bolt carrier, powder gases push it back against the bolt, thus first causing the bolt to rotate and unlock from the barrel, and then to the action. The rotating bolt has 7 radial lugs and improved extractor. Both upper and lower receiver halves are made from aircraft grade aluminum alloy, and connected by cross-pins. There is no “forward assist” button on the SR-25 rifles; the brass deflector is present. Barrels are of match class quality, and enclosed into free-floated forearm, fitted with Knights-made and designed Picatiny rail system. Because of AR-15 style recoil buffer, which extends rearwards fro the receiver, SR-15 cannot be fitted with folding Buttstock; most rifles are fitted with fixed butt, while SR-25 carbines are fitted with telescoping butt stock. The trigger is also about match grade, fully adjustable.

Military versions of the SR-25, known as Mk.11 Mod.0 (USN / USMC) and XM110 (US Army) have some differences from civilian rifles. First of all, these rifles are fitted with proprietary sound moderator / silencer quick mount, located on the barrel just in front of the gas block. These rifles also finished to military specifications, and with back-up iron sights (marked up to 600 meters and installed on folding bases). XM110 rifle also features a different Buttstock, which is adjustable for length of pull, as well as different style forend rail system and a flash hider on the barrel. Military rifles are usually issued along with Harris Bipod, Leupold variable-power 3,5-10X sniper scope, and a number of other accessories, including soft and hard carrying cases.

  1. Accuracy International AS50 sniper rifle (Great Britain)

Caliber: 12.7x99mm/ .50BMG
Operation:  gas operated,semiautomatic
Barrel: 692 mm
Weight: 14.1kg empty
Length: 1369 mm
Feed Mechanism: 5 round detachable magazine

The AS50 fifty caliber (12.7mm) sniper / antimateriel rifle is the latest development of the famous British company Accuracy International Ltd. First displayed on January 2005 in the USA at the ShotShow-2005, this rifle reportedly has been developed especially for US SOCOM users, and is now being tested by the USNAVY Special Operations center. The AS50 is to provide combat operators with highly accurate and rapid aimed fire at extended ranges. To achieve such goal,the AS50 is built around gas operated, semiautomatic action, with “single rear locking” (most probably, this means a tilting bolt). The two-part receiver is machined from high grade steel, the barrel is free-floated and fitted with effective muzzle brake. Easily detachable Buttstock is fitted with recoil-reducing butt pad, as well as with folding rear grip, which also serves as a rear support leg. The folding quick-detachable Bipod with adjustable legs is fitted as a standard. Top of the receiver is equipped with full length Picatinnytype rail, which can accept any compatible scope mount; two additional rails are mounted on either side of the short Handguard / barrel jacket. The rifle is fitted with four sling mounts, and can be brought down to basic sub-assemblies within three minutes for maintenance or compact transportation or storage. The rifle is fed using single stack detachable box magazines, which holt five rounds of ammunition.

  1. Dragunov SVD Sniper Rifle (USSR/Russia)

Operation: gas operated, short stroke, rotating bolt; semi-automatic
Weight: 4.31kg empty with telescope
Length: 1225 mm
Barrel Length: 620 mm
Capacity:10 round detachable box magazine

Dragunov SVD was designed not as a “standard” sniper rifle in its Western meaning of the term. In fact, the main role of the SVD in Soviet / Russian Army is to extend effective range of fire of every infantry squad up to about 600 meters and to provide special fire support. SVD is a lightweight and quite accurate (for its class) rifle, capable of semi-auto fire. The first request for the new sniper rifle  was issued in 1958. In 1963 SVD (SnaiperskayaVintovka Dragunova, or Dragunov Sniper Rifle) was accepted by Soviet Military. SVD can use any kind of standard 7.62x54R ammo, but the primary round is specially developed for SVD sniper-grade cartridge with steel-core bullet.Every infantry squad in the Russian (Soviet) army had one man with SVD.
SVD rifle is extremely reliable in all conditions, and designed for heavy use. It has backup adjustable iron sights as a standard option, as well as appointment (standard AK-47 bayonet type).
Latest modernization incorporates rugged polymer stock. Also, for mounting and airborne troops a special variant was developed with folding buttock and shortened barrel (590 mm).New flash hider/muzzle brake also installed.

It must be noted that several countries produced SVD copies or look-alikes. Of those, the “true” clones (rifles that have a similar internal design) are Iraqui Al Codes rifle and Chinese Type 85 (in 7,62x54R) and NDM-86(in 7,62×51 NATO). Others, such as Romanian Romak FPK or YugoslavianZastava M76, are only look-a likes as their internal design is different and usually based on a Kalsshnikov Ak assault rifle.  Russia also produces a civilian version of the SVD, known as “Tigr” (Tiger), in 7,62x54R and 7,62×51 (.308 Win).This usually  has a shorter barrel, although it is available in several different versions. Older hunting version of the SVD, the”Medved” (Bear) is no longer produced and is quite scarce.

Dragunov SVD is gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle. It uses stroke gas piston, and gas chamber has a two-position manual gas regulator. Barrel is locked by rotating bolt with three legs. The receiver is machined from steel block. The safety is somewhat reminiscent in its appearance to that of a Kalashnikov AK assault rifle, although internal design of the trigger unit is different, and there’s no provisions for full automatic fire. Trigger unit is assembled on a separate removable base that also incorporates a trigger guard. The second, smaller lever, located on the right side of receiver behind the safety, is a receiver cover catch,and issued to disassemble the gun. Standard furniture includes ask eletonized wooden butt and a removable wooden Handguard. Late production models may feature polymer Handguards and, sometimes, polymer skeletonized butt. The short SVD-S rifle is fitted with separate pistol grip, made of plastic, and a side-folding metallic butt. All SVD rifles are fitted with adjustable open sights, as well as proprietary side rail mount, which will accept telescopic or IR sights on quick-detachable mounts. Standard telescope sight is the 4X fixed magnification PSO-1 with range-finding reticle. SVD rifles also are issued with carrying sling, cleaning kit and other accessories. A standard AK type bayonet can be installed on the barrel.

  1. Accuracy International L96A1 / Arctic Warfare sniper rifle(UK)

Caliber: L96, AW, AW Police, AW Folding:7.62x51mmNATO (.308 win); Super Magnum: .338 Lapua (8.60x70mm), .300 Win Mag, 7mm REM Mag
Operation: Bolt Action
Length: 1270mm
Barrel length :686mm (.338 Lapua), 660mm (.300 and 7mm)
Weight:6.8kg empty without telescope
Magazine Capacity:5 round magazine
Maximum Effective Range : CA. 800 meters for 7.62mm NATO variants, 1100+ meters for Magnumvariants

In early 1980’s British Army started the search for the replacement of the aging L42 Enfield sniper rifles. Main competitors were British companies Parker-Hale with their Model 82  bolt action rifle, and Accuracy International, with their PM rifle. Eventually, PM rifle won the competition and was accepted by the British Army under the designation of L96.

One of the most notorious features of the PM rifle was the design of the stock. Instead of the solid polymer or wooden stock, The PM / L96 rifle used hollow polymer stock, made from two halves and assembled around the aluminium bedding block, that extends through the entire stock length. L96 also  was equipped with backup iron sights.
In mid-1980s Swedish armed forces began their own quest for the new sniperrifle, which could survive cold and harsh Nordic environments. The AIagainbecome the winner in this race with improved L96 design, named “Arctic Warfare”. In 1988 Swedish forces adopted the AW rifle in 7.62mm NATOchamberingunder the designation of PSG 90. British Army, in its turn, also adopted this improved design under the designation of L96A1, as well as many other militaries and Law Enforcement agencies . In1998, the Bundeswehr (Germany Army) also adopted the AW Super Magnum rifle chambered in. 300 Winchester magnum (German caliber designation is 7.62x67mm) as Scharfschutzengewehre (sniper rifle – german) G22.

Built by Accuracy International in Portsmouth, Englan d, this line of rifles is among the best in the World of sniper rifles today.This rifle can shoot less than 2″ (51mm) groups at the distances of 600yards (550m), using boat-tail match ammunition. Arctic Warfare is a a line of 5 rifles. Original Arctic Warfare was designed for the British military. It gained its designation by special anti-icing features,allowing sniping operations to be carried out under Arctic conditions as low as -40C (-104F)! Other models are Police (AWP), Suppressed(AWS), Folding (AWF) and Super Magnum (AW SM). Three first rifles designed for 7.62mm NATO ammunition, while Super Magnum can be chambered in. 338 Lapua Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum and 7mmRemington Magnum. AW has a 26″ (660mm) barrel, AWP has 24″ (609mm). AWSM barrels available in lenghts from 24″ (609mm) to 27″ (686mm). The standard scopes supplied by Accuracy International areSmidt&Bender 3-12X variable or the Leupold Mark 4 fixed 10Xscope.

It must be noted that AI discontinued this line of rifles in around 2012; AWM and AW line of rifles was replaced in production by more modern AI AX?AXMC line of sniper rifles.