Army Wants to Buy Compact, Semi-Auto Sniper Rifles

The U.S. Army has invited gun makers compete for the chance to build a compact version of the service’s M110 Semi Automatic Sniper System.

The service released a formal request for proposal which could lead to a contract award of $44.5 million to buy about 3,600 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper Systems, or CSASS. Gun makers have until Oct. 10 to submit proposals.

Here’s a look at what the Army wants:

— All external and visible surfaces shall be of a rough, dull, non-reflective Flat Dark Earth.

— The unloaded rifle with forward rails for concurrent mounting of required accessories but without suppressor, magazines, accessories, and/or optics shall weigh no more than 9.0 pounds.

— The maximum overall assembled length of the rifle shall be not greater than 36 inches with the stock at its shortest position and no sound suppressor mounted. The stock shall be in the unfolded position if a folding stock is present. The length of the barrel shall be no less than 16 inches.

— The stock of the rifle shall be adjustable for length-of-pull. The length of pull in the shortest configuration shall be no greater than 12 inches. The length of pull in the longest configuration shall be no less than 16 inches. The minimum travel of the stock adjustment shall be no less than 4 inches.

— The rifle shall incorporate a muzzle brake or combination flash hider/muzzle brake.

“Since its initial fielding in 2007, the M110 has provided Army snipers with a very reliable and effective anti-personnel sniping capability. However, advances in warfighting technology have promoted the need for increased sniping capabilities to counter constantly changing threats particularly in urban environments and at extended ranges. As a result, the CSASS initiative evolved directly from Operational Needs Statements submitted by deployed units and sniper feedback. The CSASS capabilities and features have been identified from sniper inputs during weapon Integrated Product Team meetings, conferences, observations and interviews with conventional Army, Special Operations, NATO/allies snipers and Sniper School instructors, according to the June 12 solicitation posted on

The Army adopted the M110 in 2005. Made by Knight’s Armament Company, it’s chambered for 7.62mm, weighs about 15 pounds and measures about 46 inches when fitted with its suppressor.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox has been a defense reporter since 1998 and is an associate editor for He traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq numerous times from 2002 to 2008, covering infantry units in combat. Matthew was an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.

51 Comments on "Army Wants to Buy Compact, Semi-Auto Sniper Rifles"

  1. The article begs the question of why the Army wants/needs a smaller version of this rifle.

  2. Charlie Meador | June 13, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Reply

    Won’t the shorter barrel reduce muzzle velocity, accuracy and effective range of the weapon? Can you lock the semi-auto feature for single shots so the sound of the bolt operating doesn’t give your position away? Will this sacrifice killing more enemy combatants and endanger our troops for comfort and portability?

    Just askin’, being a Gunsmith these thoughts come to mind. Any answers?

  3. Think this is more window dressing and pure research the Army cant afford to replace all M=100s and WX-2010s with a small AR-10 right now. I dont see logic for a collapsible stock M-100 now any way. SO this industry day might show off some cool ideas but this project been around for 4 years now and has not shown anything over just pure research for Army brass as of now.

  4. Put a shorter upper on the sliding stock variant! Another stupid,request, cancel the purchase and save the money!

  5. Lurking. Just subscribing.

  6. Not strictly on topic, but looking at the photo, perhaps the Army might invite helmet makers to manufacture a helmet that covers the head properly (without interfering with body armour and optics, etc., of course).

    Just sayin'.

  7. "All external and visible surfaces shall be of a rough, dull, non-reflective Flat Dark Earth."

    It used to be black rifles compromising green uniforms….

    …Now its UCP compromising FDE guns.

  8. Distant Voice | June 14, 2014 at 1:39 am | Reply

    Another backdoor for the SCAR to wiggle its way in somehow.

  9. I’m gonna call it now, this ends with the purchase of K1 kits to turn the M110 to the M110K1 and they get what they want for a whole lot less than a new rifle. I know a few K1 kits were purchased by MARSOC to do just that.

  10. I can see H&K getting this contract with their excellent gas tappet piston system. The older M110, with its AR type direct impingement gas system is filthy and HOT after one magazine of 7.62 rounds.

    H&K has refined their MR762A1 to the point of being about the most reliable AR type 7.62 rifle to date.
    Yeah, competition shooters may say that direct the impingement JP makes the best 7.62 AR type but comp shooters get to clean their rifles often and don't shoot as many rounds as a combat shooter might in a given day.

    There are other good AR type 7.62 piston rifles made but I think H&K will have the best entry. That what is my crystal ball tells me – barring the inevitable Army politics and muddling. My crystal ball says that even it can't predict Army decisions because they are not based on empirical evidence – witness the attempt to make an even LARGER Bradley APC replacement!

  11. Is it just me or does the Army's request basically describe an SPR?

  12. Seems to me the army did this already…and screwed every participant.

    If I were a gunmaker I'd be more than a little apprehensive of another competition after which the army isn't obligated to award a contract to the winner–nor is the winner even recognized.

  13. Of course, now that Colt owns LWRC the REPR might get a shot.

  14. bart hooliman | June 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Reply

    The army is just looking for some cool toys to play with for a while.

  15. This type of AR has been in and around special opps units for quite a long time now and the US Army is on solid ground already done the research, I am thinking this is just news to make news.

  16. Really 7.62 /308 come on that is such old technology. No go with the 6.5 Grendel better ballistics in a AR-15 format less then 8 pounds. Has far less wind drift good out to 1200 meters on a 20 in barrel and flatter then then 7.62. Hits harder after 600 meters and 6 LB less recoil for follow up shots if needed. This is a real 21 century round. Also a great Penetrator round to tust me I I have one and there's noting this universal round can't do. kills everything it hits , 400lb elk at 400 yards, 1000Lb buffalo one shot, wild boars, men though cars (see future weapons), etc. I know but if you don't believe a owner, go check out YouTube look for 6.5 Grendel. O'll yea only need a upper, scope and clip and existing M4's or 16 's go to go at a fraction of the cost for new ones. Bamm…

  17. This is easily accomplished with a bull pup design and it gets that magazine out of the way of a proper rest. There is no barrel length reduction and can support any sight you want or suppressor. I have no idea why this well known type of firearm is not used more. I have been using bull pups for 30 years and they are great BUT: it might be a problem for left handed shooters and that may be the reason it is not addressed. Anything less than a .300 Win. Mag. is just a waste of money, short barrels in long range slow burning calibers is really sad and anything more is a waste of money also. The 12 m/m rifles are really coming on strong but at a squad level it is adding a lot of gear when you consider ammo for the saw, mortar ammo, mortar and plate, food, basic load and all the other sh-t we carry. There is even talk about 14 m/m guns in the works, what a blaster that would be.

  18. Interesting, no one has mentioned the IDF Tavor TAR-21. It replaced the M4 and is truly an impressive weapon.

  19. Stupid is as Stupid does

    That is not a sniper rifle, or even a rifle

  20. Charles Krohn | June 17, 2014 at 11:58 am | Reply

    Ceramic barrels would be useful. Are we there yet?

  21. For $12K + per rifle/kit you should also get a hot breakfast with it. As common as the AR platform is, I'd think the costs should be much lower per unit.

  22. Let me get this straight… they are asking for something 36 inches long without suppressor to replace something 46 inches long WITH suppressor???

    Something not more than 9 pounds without compared to something 15 pounds WITH tin can and loaded magazine?????

    WT FLAMIN' F?????? I don't see ANY advantage to the 'compact" – what am I missing???

  23. $12,000+- per rifle?? Am I missing something? Does that come with a $2,000 scope? Or even thermals? Sounds like another $5000 hammer and $3000 toilet seat……

  24. It would be easier to come up with a shorter, interchangeable and more accurate barrel than to create a whole new system. This request, except to accommodate a small group within the army does not make sense. Did anybody ask the snipers?

  25. The sad truth is some general probably wants it. A compact version of a sniper rifle? It's a contradiction. The beauty of a sniper rifle is it can be shot hundreds of yards away. I've read of snipers getting kills from over a mile away. If you make it compact, you will have to sacrifice distance and accuracy. Why? Just use the issue rifle. It's academic anyway. They will argue for ten years before they okay it for production, and the USMC will opt out as it always does.

  26. 18 inch barrel with a UBR on the current M110. Too easy.

  27. Why not make this rifle in a bullpup model, with the buffer behind the reciever?

  28. what they described was an SBR configured DMR. A semi automatic rifle for precision marksmanship is a Designated Marksman's Rifle. This is the mission it is fit to. The only other task is mutlitasking with a special service operations unit who requires a shorter rifle that can be used equally well in CQB missions as well as set up for perimeter security detail.
    As to a new rifle, it is much simpler and cheaper as already mentioned to use a shorter lighter upper, and different stock and pistol grip. Anyone who contracts this new rifle isn't going to be making new rifles, they are only going to swap out parts on the same basic receiver and paint it tan with some good baked on finish.
    By the time the silencer, optics, laser etc are placed on it, it's still a 15 pound rifle

  29. Why not bring back the Old Springfield 1903, one of the better sniper rifles the Army had.

  30. A few days ago, the Washington Times reported that the US military is studying civil unrest (

    I left the following comment at that article:
    I don't see the US military involved in large scale suppression of civil unrest in foreign countries. The suppression of civil unrest by a foreign military/occupying power is too fraught with potential problems – real, practical, and political. Generally, you employ indigenous forces to counter civil disturbances. That leads me to believe that this planning is for the application of military power against civil disturbances within the United States, situations in which the US military is the afore-mentioned "indigenous" force.

    Now is telling me that the Army is looking for a new sniper rifle "to counter constantly changing threats particularly in urban environments." Does anyone else see that the US military appears to be preparing to fight on US soil?

  31. Got money for weapons but you cant pay the hundreds of veterans like my self and my fellow brethren. 1 house 2 car 3 and our compensation. Lately you bail out bankers and leave the working class stranded.

  32. I vote Larue OBR …

  33. The military is always seeking newer, if not better toys. Used the M-14 accurized version with Match Grade ammo.
    Have used 'turn-bolt' Remington. Both were great rigs and accurate. Our young men deserve the very best our country can provide, but sometimes 'old school' is better . Got 600 meter hits with one and 1000 meter hits with the
    other in 7.62 (308). Someone mentioned the 6.5 Grendel, possible, have heard good things about it, but a .25 cal.. Never used one. What is it's terminal velocity at 300, 600 and 1000 meters.

  34. The Army is like any other government business. Colleges also. They get an annual budget. If they come in under budget, their budget will be cut. So they always spend that money (waste) to come in at or above budget. The gov't should cut all of their budgets by at least 15 – 20%.

  35. M14 (M1A! with modern stock is still the best sniper rifle out to 1000 yards beyond that . The .338 lapua made by savage arms with the accutrigger is capable of 1400 yard head shots. For urban sniper 7.62 with 18 inch barrel is adequate. Compact sniper rifle, why bother?

  36. Ravinginfidel | June 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Reply

    Saiga sells a bull pup 308 for about a grand. Don't know accuracy but with a little development in 308 or 300 mag I would think a solution could be found.

  37. That's over $12,000 per rifle. Pretty expensive.

  38. It will be the LMT MWS. Yes there are several manufactures that produce excellent weapon systems. But not everyone can deliver on large quantity. Colt certainly can but LMT's quick change barrel In multiple calibers I think puts them over the top. Even more, they have proven themselves In there contract to the UK, New Zeeland just to mention a few.. I'm hoping that an American Company can secure the contract. LMT, COLT or NIGHT"S get my vote. Politics aside…..This will be interesting

  39. Like a lot of the other JUNK that we have had to deal with…the death trap Bradley was a death trap upon conception but Congress needed to pay off the manufacture and we are still getting killed in the POS. The run of junk NATO 9mm Beretta's blowing up after 2000. The 1911A1 assembled from parts from a barrel will fire 90,000 rounds and be purchased to a competition shooter. There's other handguns being used by groups that have a politician in their pocket so they can try new toys but a version of the 1911 will always in war. The 50 cal sniper rifle is well liked. You have to be a man to carry it but then you have to be a man to be a sniper. The 50 has a lot of toy ammo to go with it. The 308, 30-06 and 300 win mags did well in 'nam. Some one mentioned the 6.5 Grendel.. all these rounds in a $500 commercial rifle will produce kills. The weapons are there, we have the shooters. DO we need to pay out another manufacture millions of dollars for what we already have. The hottest long shooter around, the 6.5×284 with a 140gr Sierra boat tail will kill well at 1000 yds. They have finally taken them off the bench rest and manufacture them for hunting. (About time.) We're just paying for another $5000 hammer as mentioned earlier.

  40. This is totally an end-user driven program, not Generals and typical Army weapons procurement. The reality is that 7.62 NATO does not benefit a lot from longer barrels at distance, especially when talking about the 175gr SMK, which does plenty well from 16" pipes.

    Contrary to many people's beliefs, shorter barrels of the same diameter have more inherent accuracy in terms of whip compared to longer barrels, but that isn't what is driving this. Being able to shoot from positions and use the carbine for other tasks is. Somebody forgot to drop a flat range in before every firefight, so prone/bipod is used in very few engagements at distance, and the carbine needs to be able to cover down as a fighting system the rest of the time.

    This was one of my biggest complaints with the M24, which I carried and used for years across several different units in Scout Sniper Platoons. I was opposed to the M24's adoption back before I joined the Army, and wished they had gone with an improved semi auto back in the late 1980's. The SR-25 came just a few years too late for big Army, but was immediately absorbed by JSOC and SOCOM as a semi-auto sniper system. Big Army took 20 years before it jumped onboard with the M110 SASS, after being told for decades that we needed a SASS, only to hold onto the M24.

    The CSASS or DMC/M110K1, has already been converted to by several units in the SOF community, to include MARSOC Regiment, so almost every comment I have seen so far is totally unfounded in reality. This is an end-user driven program, and quite valid. The comments about HK417 are out to lunch based on weight alone, let aside accuracy.

  41. So here we go again. The pencil pushers cannot decide on a new Infantry rifle but thet are looking for a shorty sniper rifle….. two choices shorten the barrel or bull pup design. One going to limit your engagement ranges the other is not going to be a M16/4 clone. I wonder if this will end like most other weapon procurement stories.

  42. Me thinks I see the new "Girl Optimized Sniper System". Light, quiet, small, in designer colors… Now you can't expect them to do everything a man can do if they have to carry all that weight, can you? Now if we can just get the weight down to 5lb+ so my 12yr can meet the min standard for the new MOS: CQB Ninja Sniper. And the hit's just keep coming. :(

  43. I smell a RAT. Why publicly advertise a new sniper platform in the first place? Does anyone remember the Air Force seeking bids for a stealth fighter or bomber before the original B1 bomber? Who specifically within the Army is asking for the new rifle and why? With DoD budgets tightening, does it make sense to introduce yet more overhead in the system, when we can modify existing hardware and save money in the process? I'm no weapons expert, but I would think that if there is a mission capability requirement that needs to be filled, why not check the currrent inventory first?

    Skepticism in the Obama era is not only healthy, but a wise default setting considering what we have seen to date. For those folks who think that criticism of the current President is nothing more than right-wing paranoia clearly haven't been paying attention to events in the last five years.

    Ugh. Whatever happened to the days when we could all have healthy discussions about whatever without resorting to personal attacks (or did such days ever exist in the first place)?

  44. The short comings of this rifle lower effectiveness and expose the army to the enemy that would have been taken out by our present sniper rifles. Sounds like a loser all the way around. The point is it more effective and the answer NO is obvious.

  45. Jeez, lots of silly comments about such a thing not being possible. Think Bulpup like a Walther WA2000 or KelTec RFB. Its doable, just going to take some work and thinking outside the box.

  46. ConcernedAmerican | June 24, 2014 at 12:04 am | Reply

    At issue is the range of the 7.62 AK round vs the nato standard 5.56. Our troops have to risk a lot of movement within the enemies firing range before they can get into a position to retaliate. The enemy has learned to engage at distance and disengage when the our troops get into their firing range. Since they employ ambush strategies, they have learned to pick suitable locales and know what their engagement safe zone is. Thats why the army wants a 7.62 lightweight sniper, its not for snipers but to make up a deficit in our own weapons layout that is being exploited by the enemy.

    I think is sucks, there should be a way to upgrade our existing weapons, perhaps by being smart on the ammo front, just insert the 'blue ammo clip' and engage the enemy is probably a better strategy.

    One sniper rifle per squad may not do the trick, its too simple an obstacle to plan for.

  47. not really you can compact the sniper rifle without changing any of its statues they wants it so the can be hidden in a more camouflaged area without things being in the way of the sniper rifle and they want it light so they can transaction from their location to different location in a matter of minutes but if they want a lighter and a more stronger sniper rifle they could just make it out of carbon synthetics and it still will be able to with hold the raw power of the M110

  48. I'm calling BS!!! They're spending $44.5 MILLION on 3600 rifles? That averages out to $12,361 EACH! WTF?!?!? That bitch had better be gold plated for that! Who is in charge? They need to be fired AND have their ass kicked!

  49. There is a new rifle designer who could build this weapon in 308, folding, and color oriented, multiple calibers, long stroke gas piston, and a whole array of other combat oriented capabilities and the manufacturing to make it hands down in the USA, machining company ….FAXON FIREARMS…..

  50. The new Colt 901 is a neat platform, using the 7.62 then stick the adaptor in and you can put the 5.56 upper on it! Just get new uppers.for,he sniper M110 type lowers! You don't need to,buy whole new weapons! That is the single beauty of the AR-15 type platform!!

  51. roldan torrevillas | November 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Reply

    this is excitin

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