The US Army is buying thousands of a new rifle that Marine and special-operations snipers also want — the Mk 22 Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle.
The service awarded Barrett Firearms Manufacturing in Tennessee a five-year $49.9 million contract for 2,800 MRAD sniper rifles under the Precision Sniper Rifle program, which also includes the Leupold & Stevens Mark 5 HD scope and sniper-accessory kit, the Army said Wednesday.
The main difference between the MRAD and other sniper rifles is that it can be chambered in 7.62 by 51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum ammunition, giving the shooter greater flexibility without changing weapons.
“Army snipers will be able to conduct a barrel change and select calibers based on their mission operating environment,” the Army said in a statement Wednesday.
The new rifle is “an extreme range weapon system that is lighter than current sniper rifles and includes features that will mask the sniper signature for improved survivability,” the Army said.
The Mk 22 will replace the Army’s bolt-action M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle from Remington Arms and the M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle from Barrett.
“It’s an awesome gun,” an experienced Army sniper told Insider last year. “I can tell you I never saw anything on that gun that I didn’t like. It shoots phenomenally well. What it does, as far as barrel changes and things like that go, is pretty exceptional.”
The Mk 22 is a “good gun coming at a good time that is going to increase efficiency and capabilities,” he said. “We’re excited about it.”
Special Operations Command was the first to express interest in the new modular, multicaliber sniper rifle. In March 2019, SOCOM awarded Barrett a $49.9 million contract for the MRAD rifle through its Advanced Sniper Rifle program.
The command sent an initial production order for the new rifles to Barrett in November after the company completed production qualification and operational testing, which met the requirements of the Department of Defense.
“We are pleased to have reached this milestone with the project and look forward to providing our warfighters with this highly capable platform,” Joel Miller, Barrett’s director of global military sales, said in a statement at the time.
The Marines have also shown interest in the weapon.
The Marines expect the new rifle to “replace all current bolt-action sniper rifles in the Marine Corps,” last year’s budget request said.
In the budget documents, the Marines wrote that the new rifles offered “extended range, greater lethality, and a wider variety of special purpose ammunition.”
The Army said in its budget request that the weapon “increases stand-off distances ensuring overmatch against enemy counter sniper engagements and increases sniper capability.”