So a couple of you have asked about the status of the FNH-USA-built Mk20 Sniper Support Rifle in last week’s post and I thought I’d put out what I know and don’t know (which is a lot).

First off, I’ve pinged SOCOM for an official update, but I also wanted to share with you a slide I obtained that shows Army Special Operations Command’s plan for their sniper rifle inventory. All I’m doing at this point is reading tea leaves, but here goes.

According to the slide, USASOC plans to divest itself of the Mk11 (7.62)-Mk12 (5.56)  rifles in their inventory beginning in the last quarter if this fiscal year (which is now). They will replace them with the Mk17 SCAR Heavy and the Mk20 SSR through Q3 of 2017.

Now, what’s confusing to me is that in paralell to the USASOC initiatives on the SCAR and SSR, the Army is also running its own M110 upgrade and is replacing all Mk11s with M110s. If the M4 is good enough for USASOC to cancel its Mk16 purchasing plans, then why isn’t the M110 and the newly modified M110 A1 good enough? Honest question, not being critical at all.

(Check it out after the jump!)

SOF Warrior - Sniper Rifle

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Chol H Yoon June 8, 2011 at 6:51 am

To answer that question, my opinion is that SCAR (Mk. 17 & 20) are multi-caliber, while M110 (and A1?) will be of more general issue to the big Army and USMC. Further, I surmise you will see multi-caliber kits / mods for SCAR fairly soon offered by FN for SOCOM in 7.62 mm NATO, 7.62 mm x 39 (for AK-47), 5.56 NATO, and 5.56 x 39 mm (AK-74).

Reply

thebaneofbill June 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

Hardly. While there maybe the capability to make the MK. 17 into a different caliber it is highly unlikely that it will be utilized. The 7.62 and 5.56 are here to stay so the 6.8 is ruled out. I doubt soldiers will bother caring around the AK conversion kits. It is just extra weight that will probably rarely get used.

Reply

Jim June 8, 2011 at 9:26 am

christian my favorite writer i think we all know the reasons "MONEY" and who gets what put into their pockests. I say and agree with some generals that procurement needs to go back into the hands of the generals in charge instead of the current major waste policies. There are to many whys? going on and the cash register is wide open for the taking.This is happening while they are going to cut troop pay?. this to me is the typical pentagon thinking of putting the cart before the horse.This happened back as far as the civil war until generals grabbed their balls and took charge. Your #1 fan Jim!

Reply

Jim June 8, 2011 at 9:29 am

I also want the Mk-20 Sniper Support Rifle for fathers day! a wish that i can only hope could ever come true. maybe one decade down the road

Reply

Lance June 8, 2011 at 10:08 am

The fact is there is still alot of Spec Ops armed with older weapon because they chose them over new ones. The fact is many chose M-110 over Mk-20 because reglar troops use them and parts and mags will be alot more easy to get.

Thats another reason military personnel special or not still use M-14s.

Reply

Jay June 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm

They use M-14 because when a lot of men went to war and noticed 5.56 can only go so far, M14 was the only thing available in numbers, that could be sent to war to fill up the obvious gap.

Reply

Johnny Quest June 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Oh, and they work.

Reply

SRTM4 June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Glad to hear that the SCAR is gaining ground in SOCOM. Great weapon for great warriors.

Reply

FormerSFMedic June 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Well Christian, I can answer that for you. First of all the USASOC never adopted the M110. Something many people fail to understand is that SOCOM is kinda like the fifth branch of service. They have their own defense budget and are also tasked with equipping and training themselves. With that said, the USASOC is separate from the big Army. SOCOM did not put out a solicitation for an M110. They did put out a solicitation for a weapon system specific to the needs of SOF units. That weapon being the SCAR. We all know the MK16 didn't make the cut, but the MK17 did. The SF is simply following the plan that it originally had when it asked for the SCAR in the first place. That plan was to replace all existing weapons systems with the SCAR. The MK11 is an obvious one to be replaced, but how about the MK12? It appears that SOCOM is forcing FNH to developed a caliber conversion to 5.56. At least that is the plan.So why not the M110?

The MK20 is more accurate, more reliable, and more versatile. Most importantly, its specific to SF needs. Not only that, but its been battle proven over years of service and it has already been through a formal solicitation.

Reply

@Earlydawn June 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Why would SOFs need a different sniper rifle than regular forces?

Reply

FormerSFMedic June 9, 2011 at 11:03 am

SOF needs a different sniper rifle because they have a more diverse mission and because generally speaking they are more highly trained. The more highly trained an operator is the more he will want to customize his weapon. It is also more likely that a more experienced or more highly trained operator will benefit from these options. The conventional forces mission is pretty straight forward, while the SOF mission is more dynamic. Ever changing mission profiles require a more diverse weapon.

Reply

@Earlydawn June 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Can you be more specific? One shoots the guy in the chest, and the other.. shoots the guy in the chest?

I can understand the demand for a rail system, or something like that, but people make it seem like conventional units are using them to shoot people and SOFs are using them to hunt velociraptors.

Reply

Sgt A June 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm

From somebody with less experience, and all on the conventional side of things, I have to agree as well. It's not that the end state goals are substantially different in any way, but means of getting there are always different. For conventional forces the primary advantage of using any sort of 7.62 round is that it provides enough reach and enough penetration to deal with threats beyond the 300yd range (typified by a medium MG emplacement common in Taliban ambushes), and with an optics and accessory package that works for that mission. SOF needs something that can do that, and more, so instead of relying on something that is optimized only for the above mission (and priced so that more of those valuable DM type assets can be available to conventional commanders), something like the Mk20 starts to really make more sense.

The SCAR is hardly my favorite weapon system, but the interoperability it will provide, and with skilled hands behind them these should establish a pretty huge role. As far as replacing Mk12 items, IMO the Mk12 system shines when attached to conventional squads being able to use their ammo (but having Mk262 available), while in this implementation, the Mk20 running exclusively 7.62 should be an advantage in it's own right – the Mk12 form factor only makes sense when you're restricted to 5.56 because that's what all your buddies have.

Reply

Jay June 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm

There were some reliability isues with M110.
From what I understand the SCAR heavy proved to be more reliable than other 7.62mm rifles available to SOCOM.
While 5.56mm rifles have been done and perfected to death in recent years and there's little difference between top contenders, the 7.62mm market was kinda dry. M14 upgrates can only go that far and AR10 versions avaible had some issues until very recently.
SCAR heavy came in the right time, when a lot of people started asking for 7.62mm rifles and it proved to be capable of very good acuravcy, very solid reliability and all the bells and wistles modern warfighter wants, all in a light package.
SOCOM paid for most of the testing anyway. They may as well use them.

Reply

Dennis June 9, 2011 at 12:49 am

Wait…so is the M110 going to disappear now from all Army SOF units? Will it not be available to them even if they prefer it over another platform?
Also, what happened to the HK416 being the new AR for SOF? So did FN win that contest a while back?

Reply

Skysoldier173 June 9, 2011 at 5:30 am

I thought the 416 was the choice of SOCOM also. Maybe for some units yes. SOCOM surprised me with the 7.62 Colt. Its the CM9..somebody gimme a hand coz i cannot recall those #'s. Its early here.

Reply

Johnny Quest June 9, 2011 at 6:46 am

Pray the 416, that bloated Teutonic bastard of Stoner's design, is not chosen for anything.

Reply

FormerSFMedic June 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

@Dennis- The Army SOF never adopted nor solicited for the M110. They used and fielded the MK11. That's not to say they never used an M110 or acquired a few for the armory, but it is not a SOCOM sniper rifle. SOCOM solicited for the SCAR so they could have a standard weapon for all SOF missions. What that means is they can get rid of the MK11, MK12, MK14, and any M110's they may have borrowed from the big Army. This frees them up from all the logistical problems that they have had with using multiple weapons for multiple missions. The M110 is not leaving Army SOF, it was never really there.

As for the HK416. The Army SF never really got into that weapon system. It was developed for and adopted by the Army CAG (Delta Force). DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6) also chose the HK416 for use as well. Other "regular" SOF units as well as the Army Asymmetric Warfare Group used the 416 in limited numbers, but were recently asked by DOD to give them back. The only units using them on a consistent basis are CAG, DEVGRU, and some Air Force Special Operators. There are probably some other SOF personnel that have acquired them here and there, but not as "standard". As a side note. The 416 never went through a formal solicitation. It was instead adopted by an elite group that has more freedom and leeway from DOD than any other unit. If other SOF units wanted to adopt it, they would have to get permission first and show proof that it was worth buying.

Reply

Skysoldier173 June 9, 2011 at 5:25 am

Iam getting confused. Colt makes a 7.62 rifle, and if it was good enough to kill OBL, then why not issue it to big Army? SOCOM i presume, can use watever they want, but chose a gas operated Colt. There are so many choices, so many different rifles available, it gets confusing. I still think the M-14 was the best of the lot, and will be around forever. Changing calibers, the parts, ammo, may be asking a bit much of Joes. Its a great option, but practical? For SOCOM, yes.

Reply

SRTM4 June 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

You are correct. Little 5.56 HK 416 dropped OBL

Reply

Johnny Quest June 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

Maybe

Reply

Bruce June 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Larry Vickers "confirmed" it was indeed the "HK 416" that took down OBL. His sources are more credible than anyone's.

Reply

Lance June 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

From what i see the generals adopt some weapon like this FN crap BUT I don't see men in the field use it. Most SOCOM units in battle use M-4 and AR-10s. So theirs a gap between leadership and combat teams.

The M-14 is a stop gap but it continues to evolve and most troops like it. Prof it works.

Reply

SRTM4 June 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

There are quite a few SCAR MK 17s in circulation now. There are also reports on how the Spec Ops guys are liking them. SCARs are far from crap.

Reply

Frogman June 9, 2011 at 11:41 am

My SCAR is far from crap it's an amazing piece of machinery. It is far more accurate than the m14 IMO. Most of my team use it but theres one holdout with the MK18. My boat crew was one of the last to try it out but most of us fell in love at first sight haha, but I'm going to use it till I'm told I can't or when I need my Mk11. For the record I don't know anyone using AR10's not saying there aren't any just don't know any.

Reply

Frogman June 9, 2011 at 11:44 am

One more point of fact I don't know anyone in the Teams using an M14 of any kind there are a lot better choices out there, in a lot lighter and more accurate platform.

Reply

SRTM4 June 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm

There ya go. Straight from the source. SCARs are proving themselves.
I would still like to see the Mk16 used more but I guess that the conversion will be in service soon.
Although my AR's run fine my SCARs give me piece of mind.

Reply

FormerSFMedic June 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm

@Lance- FN crap? FN doesn't make crap! I guarantee that if your a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine you have used their crap to dispatch insurgents. FN makes the M16A3, M16A4, SAW, PARA-SAW, MK46, MK48, and the M240 machine gun among other weapons and components. So I guess almost everyone uses FN crap.

By the way, the Generals didn't pick the SCAR MK17 or MK20 SSR. SOCOM operators from all branches tested, evaluated, and fielded these weapons and chose them over a host of other designs. The MK17 is being used everyday in the Stan' with great success. The SEALSand Rangers especially have grown fond of the SCAR, and continue to do good works with it. It's true that when choosing a 5.56 weapon, operators reach for the M4 and MK18. The Stoner weapons are the best thing they have to choose from right now since the MK16 SCAR-L didn't make it past the budget. However the AR10 is not being fielded nor have I ever seen one overseas. The M14 is awful and the MK14 is little better.

Reply

Johnny Quest June 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Awful? Uhhh, you may want to revise that and judging by your comments, I highly doubt you have little if any experience with the weapon.

This thread is about the Springfield commercial version that Brandon praises. I believe, no I know, that a USGI M14 set up right works and works well.
http://kitup.military.com/?s=M14&x=11&y=1

Reply

thebaneofbill June 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

To each his own. Get over it, everyone has to their experiences with a weapon,opinion, and personal preference. Believe it or not, some people have been in the shit, and they know what works best for them.

Reply

FormerSFMedic June 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm

@Johnny Quest- According to my comments you doubt I have little to no experience with the M14? Have you even read any of my comments? If you did, you would know that all my information is accurate, current, and comes from within the SOF community. Iam currently involved with training, as well as T&E for Army SF as a contracted civilian.

Now to the M14. First of all I never said it didn't run. They run great. As a matter of fact I have run them through some pretty harsh conditions without any reliability issues. The problems come from the outdated design as it pertains to the current mission. Accuracy really is not great, and a rack grade M4 will outshoot a rack grade M14 any day of the week inside of 500 meters. 5.6 in. at 100 yards was the standard for new M14's in 1959, so it makes sense. Next the M14 is too heavy and long for the fast paced mission we find ourselves in today. It weighs 11.5 lbs. with loaded mag and is just over 44 in. long. 22in. of that is barrel. Compare that to the current MK17. There are also problems with wondering zeros. This is do to the fact that when the barrel heats up the zero starts shifting and accuracy gets worse. The wooden stock also contributes to this problem, by flexing in different weather conditions. If that doesn't do it, the optics mount will. You have to remove the stripper clip and use a screw to install the pic rail in a spot never designed for this function, causing the mount to come loose. Don't even get me started on the height of the optics. Having your cheek 1.5 in. off the stock will kill your neck. Don't forget about the safety placement, obviously ergonomics were not a concern in 1959. No picattiny rail for lights, lasers, etc. sucks too, although I'm not sure I would want to add any weight to an already heavy weapon. I can go on and on about things like having to have a special tool to grease the bolt roller and the awkward recoil impulse from the huge piston operating system, but I've said enough.

Look at what "thebaneofbill" said in his comment. Some have BTDT and believe in certain methodologies. It doesn't mean I'm right or wrong. We can all learn from each others experiences and be better for it. All of the issues with the M14 I brought up are from real world experience. Some of which were in bad situations. These days, guys reach for the M14 because of the bullet it launches, not the performance.

- 8yr. USASF Vet.

Reply

Johnny Quest June 11, 2011 at 5:51 am

Well, let's review

1. "The M14 is awful and the MK14 is little better"

2. "Now to the M14. First of all I never said it didn't run. They run great. As a matter of fact I have run them through some pretty harsh conditions without any reliability issues."

Thanks for clearing that up, but you are all over the place. I don't believe your initial comments relected what you "truly" meant. I don't believe anyone is suggesting the M14 is the answer to a 7.62mm battle rifle at this point in time, but the constant berating of the weapon like it is some piece of **** is disingenuous at best. Most that criticize are armchair warriors that get caught up in the internet dialogue and have little experience with the subject matter.

El Conquero June 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Frogman, would you say the MK17 is your dream gun? Or what would be . . .?

Reply

Frogman June 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Well let me answer it like this I grew up with guns I have every rifle used in WWII. I sold guns after I got out of college while I was waiting to get in the Navy. To steal a line from one of my favorite movies of all time "I could shoot before I was weaned" sergeant York. So I have ALOT of dream guns or favorite guns. As for the SCAR I love it ofcourse it had it's few hiccups in the beginning small stuff though like the hinge pin an the cheek piece and still manages sub minute of angle but compared to the M16 when it was sent to combat it ran hot, failure to feed, receivers blowing out and so on. If you ask me that speaks worlds about FNH quality all it needs is my Elcan and suppressor. My team was one of the last to field the SCAR but most of us use it now there's still one holdout who uses a CQBR with a suppresor and an Eotech(I hate Eotech there aweful but to each his own). Compared to the other rifle I often use the Mk11(SR25) it's a dream the MK11 has a few problems of it's own. The Mk12 is my favorite "sniper" system but it's 5.56.
So as of right now it is the "perfect" rifle to compliment it I carry the M79 it's ALOT more accurate and has more range than all the current 40mm in service and ofcourse my trusty P226.

Reply

El Conquero June 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Nice. Thanks for the response.

Reply

CavScout62 June 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm

It all goes back to a SecDef having enough balls to do what McNamara did in the Vietnam era, Tell Procurement "You Will Adopt & Issue This Weapon" and that's it! It's way past time for the Military to stand up straight and pull their collective pants up as the one sided financial sex with suppliers has been going on way too long!

Reply

army chief June 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm

really why the special force unit like the delta force don't take the magpul masada/remington acr and also the magpul massoud ? theyre were much better than the scar by a long shot.

theyre adaptability and performanre would be better for them and it's american made !

Reply

FormerSFMedic June 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

@Army Chief- The ACR has the best features of any rifle on the market in my opinion. Unfortunately it has some serious shortcomings. The reliability issues have not been resolved and the accuracy has not been good. In other words the ACR doesn't work very well. The SCAR on the other hand has MOA accuracy and great reliability. It also has a lot of the modularity of he ACR, in a slightly more complex way. Until the ACR's issues are worked out, it won't be in any of the spec ops units.

Reply

William C. June 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I haven't heard any complaints about the accuracy of the ACR, yet what you've said about reliability and quality control is true. If Bushmaster / Remington had better quality control and priced it reasonably, I believe the ACR has potential. Yet they seem too busy trying to pitch their weapon to the tacticool fanboys who want it because it was in Call of Duty.

Reply

army chief June 11, 2011 at 5:21 am

actually i have no talked about the bushmaster version but of the remington version… i have shooted one on the aac silencer shoot and it's was far better than the bushmaster version… like a real operator rifle and i can certify you that the accuracy and realiability are there ! more than the scar.

Reply

FormerSFMedic June 11, 2011 at 7:10 am

It's the Remington military version I was referring to. I have ran the commercial ACR as well as the select fire military variants on several occasions. Although I initially found the rifle to work well, I found that once the op tempo was raised, the ACR showed deficiencies.

I know its one thing for our experiences to cloud our judgement sometimes, but its another thing entirely when key members of the ACR's development have the same issues. I recently spoke with someone formally with Magpul, who said that he broke every military variant ACR he ever touched. He also had wonderful things to say about the SCAR weapons. Now I may not be the authority on all things weapons, but I assure you this guy is! I guarantee almost all of you know him, and he just recently left Magpul to start his own thing (hint,hint). Once he told me this, I realized that my problems with the ACR were not just an isolated incident.

I really hope that Remington figures out how to fix the problems, because the ACR has great ergonomics and an outstanding concept. However right now, the SCAR is running show when it comes to next gen modular assault rifles and battle rifles.

Reply

Infidel4LIFE June 11, 2011 at 7:39 am

If this system is proven, and it sounds like it is, good move. SOCOM uses the 416 also? Well it must be all they say it is. If the Mk-20 is more accurate and soldier friendly its a good move.

Reply

Daniel E. Watters June 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

You should note that this briefing was from USSOCOM, not USASOC. Moreover, the items are color-coded to distinguish between SOCOM-wide initatives and individual service initatives. Replacing the Mk11 and Mk12 with the Mk17 and Mk20 is a SOCOM initative. USASOC intendeds to replace its Mk11 with its parent service's M110.

Reply

Skysoldier173 June 28, 2011 at 7:33 am

Wow i was waaay off. I believed the story about the Colt, but the 416 makes sense. Well, they really lied thru their teeth. Iam so embarrased..but i chose to believe it. Thanx for the correction.

Reply

Kevin August 2, 2012 at 12:34 am

Is there any new news on the mk 20?

Reply

Johnny Quest June 11, 2011 at 5:52 am

I think it is suffiecient to say the M14 has served well, is a robust rifle, and can get the job done. To compare it to the MK17 is apples and oranges, even in the EBR configuration. But all the detractions you offer are exaggerated IMO. If I wanted to type all day I can refute much of what you wrote, and I can point out the detractions and/or shortcommings of just about any weapon, including the MK17. We will just have to disagree on how "bad" the M14 is. That being said, I would choose a MK17 if given the option.

Reply

Tier 4 Operator June 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

May we let the M14 R.I.P, I believe we live in the 21st Century now.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: