US Special Operations and 82nd Airborne snipers test new modular precision rifle at Fort Bragg

Operational testing of the U.S. Army’s newest generation sniper system — the Mk.22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) — marks the project’s final hurdle before fielding. Mike Shelton, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, reports.
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Special Operations snipers zero their Mk.22 Precision Sniper Rifles (PSR) before military free-fall test trials on Range 61, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Picture source: U.S. Army/Barry Fischer, Audio Visual Production Specialist, U.S. Base & Test Support Services contractor)

“The modular nature of the PSR allows it to be tailored to meet mission requirements and is appealing to airborne Snipers who are typically armed with long-barreled precision rifles of a single caliber offering,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Love, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, Test Noncommissioned Officer.

Because of the single-caliber offerings, snipers requiring additional capabilities must deploy with additional weapons. The PSR can be configured for multi-calibers by the Sniper in the field and requires no higher-level maintenance to reconfigure. It will also extend engagement ranges for both anti-material and anti-personnel target engagements.

“The increased engagement range will keep Snipers safer and increase the options for the local commander employing these combat multipliers,” said Sgt. Austin Stevens, a Sniper assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “With a folding stock and removable suppression system, the PSR will provide airborne Snipers a more compact load during airborne infiltration operations without reducing their lethality while providing a precision rifle platform more conducive to their combat environment,” said Mk.22 Project NCO Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Copley. Spc. Michael Liptak, a Sniper with Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment immediately identified the attributes of accuracy in regards to the Mk.22. “I was surprised at the accuracy and the straightforward approach to testing the PSR,” he said.

Prior to testing, Snipers from across the airborne and special operations community took part in new equipment training which included familiarization with the system, maintenance, target engagement, system configuration and zeroing procedures.

For Spec. Nathanael Keffer, a sniper with 2nd Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, the PSR’s versatility to adapt to multiple mission sets was a marked advantage. “The PSR is a very versatile weapon system that can be tailored to meet multiple mission requirements,” said Keffer.

Larry Harris, ABNSOTD Deputy Chief of Test, said: “The critical task in testing any small arms platform intended for use by airborne forces is ensuring zero retention of the primary optic subsequent to airborne insertion. “This is a critical gauge of the Paratrooper’s lethality during airfield seizure and other follow-on operations.”

Mk.22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR)

The Barrett MRAD (Multi-role Adaptive Design) is a bolt-action sniper rifle designed by Barrett to meet the requirements of the SOCOM PSR. The MRAD is based on Barrett 98B and includes a number of modifications and improvements. The particular model of the MRAD that was submitted for the US SOCOM's Mk 21 PSR (Precision Sniper Rifle) trial was fitted with a 24.5 in (62 cm) barrel and weighed 14.8 lb (6.7 kg) (without an optic).In 2013 the Remington Modular Sniper Rifle was selected as the winner of the PSR competition. However, in 2018 it was decided that the Mk 21 did not conform to SOCOM requirements at the time, and the program was re-competed as the Mk 22 ASR (Advanced Sniper Rifle). In 2019, the U.S. Special Operations Command awarded Barrett Manufacturing a $50,000,000 contract, ordering the Barrett MRAD chambered in .338 Norma Magnum for the Advanced Sniper Rifle project as the Mk 22 ASR. The issued rifle kit includes swappable barrels and bolts chambered in .308 Winchester, .300 Norma Magnum and .338 Norma Magnum. As part of their fiscal year 2021 budget requests, both the Army and Marine Corps included requests to adopt the MRAD themselves as their primary sniper systems of choice. In 2021, delivery of a total of 2,800 Mk. 22 rifles for the Army was initiated.