The M24 Sniper Weapon System


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The M24 Sniper Weapon System


Based on Remington Arms Company's venerable 700 action, the system is a rugged, ... Remington next contacted Mike Rock. ... Remington turned to Leupold & Stevens. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The M24 Sniper Weapon System

The M24 Sniper Weapon System
  • The United States Armys M24 sniper weapon
    system (SWS) is one of the best overall sniping
    systems in use today. Based on Remington Arms
    Company's venerable 700 action, the system is a
    rugged, nearly indestructible means of
    dispatching hostile threats from long distance.
    Though some of the more recently designed sniper
    systems feature technical advancements not
    available on the M24, the Armys SWS is the
    standard by which all current-issue systems are

  • From the 1950s through the 1980s, the Army had
    fielded primarily semi-automatic sniper rifles
    first the M1C and M1D and by the mid-1960s, the
    M21, a highly accurized M14 scoped with either
    the ART 1 or 2 day telescopes. The reason, or
    reasons, for using semi-automatic rifles is
    unknown. Certainly, sniping was unappreciated in
    the U.S. Army at this time and the logisticians
    would not have wanted to add additional equipment
    into the supply system M1s and M14s (the
    platform for the M21) were in use by regular
    soldiers. Possibly, as well, Army leadership was
    concerned with U.S. snipers encountering mass
    wave attacks such as those faced in Korea and
    therefore preferred scoped, rapid-fire.
  • Whatever the reason, by the mid-1970s, Army
    snipers (primarily those among special operations
    forces (SOF)) were increasingly dissatisfied with
    the M21. The wood stocks were prone to warpage,
    the bedding would give way after one to two
    thousand rounds, the scopes could not be depended
    upon to retain zero, and the rifles accuracy
    suffered when debris entered the gas system.
    Consequently, maintenance costs for the M21, in
    both time and money, were very high. By 1976, the
    Army began consideration of new sniper rifles,
    even testing some rifles at Aberdeen Proving
    Ground. Unfortunately, the results were
    inconclusive and the military made no decisions.
  • At about the same time, the military was also
    considering improvements in performance of the
    match cartridge used in sniping, the M118,
    through increased technical requirements. Hugo
    Teufel, "Military Match Cartridges and Their Use
    in Combat A Brief History, Part II" Tactical
    Shooter (November, 1998). These increased
    technical requirements were, at this time,
  • By the early 1980s, the military did develop a
    new match cartridge, the M852, and also
    redesignated the M118 Match Cartridge as a
    Special Ball Cartridge. These actions were
    temporary, pending the development of a new
    sniper rifle and ammunition. Though work had
    begun to acquire a new sniper rifle for the Army,
    it would be several years until fruition.
  • At around this same time, a number of new units
    were joining the SOF community. Sniping was
    critical to these units missions and neither the
    available equipment nor the available training
    was up to the required tasks. SOF units were
    using "bootlegged 7mm and 300 Winchester Magnum
  • That the Army needed to replace its sniper rifle
    was clear. What was unclear is what the new rifle
    would like. The outcome of this issue would be
    dependent upon the players involved in the
    process, but critical to the decision would be
    the views of one group of shooters the
    instructors at the J.F.K. Special Warfare Center
    (SWC), Special Operations Target Interdiction
    Course (SOTIC) at Ft. Bragg.
  • In late 1984, SWC set forth requirements for the
    sniper course, SOTIC. The first course ran in
    early 1985 and was filled. One thing was apparent
    with the conclusion of this course the M21 was
    woefully inadequate.
  • SOTIC instructors began work on a new rifle for
    SOF shooters. Though a number of the personnel
    would be heavily involved with the development of
    this rifle, two in particular are worth
    mentioning the late Larry Freeman, NCOIC and
    the late David Zavitz, instructor and gunsmith.
    Along with Gale McMillan, the SOTIC instructors
    would be the creative forces behind the Armys
    new sniper rifle.

Background Cont.
  • The SOTIC instructors and SOF other shooters
    many of whom had significant combat sniping
    experience were inclined to return to a bolt
    action rifle. In the mid-1980s, they took a
    number of old, 1960s-era U.S. Air Force procured
    Remington 700s with Redfield Accutrac day
    telescopes. The stocks were pure walnut,
    unbedded, and the barrels had a high number of
    rounds through them. In their present condition,
    the rifles were unsuitable. Working with Gale
    McMillan, the SOTIC instructors had McMillan
    install barrels and stocks, and scoped the rifles
    with the new Leupold Stevens Ultra M3.
  • When the SOTIC instructors put together the
    prototype rifles, they took them to Camp Butner,
    North Carolina for testing on the 1000-yard
    range. Importantly, General James Guest (who at
    that time was in charge of the SWC) was in
    attendance. General Guest shot an M21 first.
    Though he had a low score on the 1000-yard NRA
    bullseye target, he was unconvinced of the need
    for a new sniper rifle for SOF shooters. The
    instructors provided the General with one of the
    new prototype rifles. Upon shooting an "X" with
    the first shot, the General decreed "make it
    happen." The new rifle of which approximately
    15 would be built -- would be known as the
    "Free-Zatz-Millan." As a side note, General Guest
    would later testify to Congress on behalf of the
    new sniper rifle and would further inform
    Congress that the M21 was no longer necessary,
    leading to the M24s adoption, the M21s
    phase-out, the M25s unofficial adoption by a
    number of SF and SEAL units, and the adoption by
    some special operations units of the SR25. See
    Hugo Teufel, "The M21 and M25 Sniper Weapon
    Systems" Tactical Shooter ( 1998) Mike Wilson,
    "The SR 25," Tactical Shooter (December, 1998).
  • The Generals approval made the possibility of a
    new Army sniper rifle a reality. But his approval
    would not remove all obstacles to its ultimate
    approval and adoption. The Army is not
    monolithic. In addition to the SOF snipers, there
    are snipers in regular Army units, trained
    primarily at Ft. Benning. The new rifle was no
    longer to be solely an SOF project. Army shooters
    from Benning would have involvement in the
  • And then there are the Department of Defense
    components involved in the development and
    production of small arms. The two primary
    government components would be the U.S. Army
    Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Armament
    Research, Development and Evaluation Center
    (ARDEC) in Picatinny, New Jersey And The U.S.
    Army Tank-Automotive And Armaments Command
    Armament And Chemical Acquisition And Logistics
    Activity (ACALA) in Rock Island, Illinois. ARDEC
    would handle design issues and specifications,
    ACALA would responsible for writing the manual,
    establishing the assembly and disassembly
    procedures, and determining the contents of the
    deployment kit
  • The SOF shooters had in mind an off-the-shelf
    rifle that they could deploy quickly. This
    approach would be in sharp contrast to the
    engineers and program types at ARDEC and ACALA.
    Their approach, as described to me by a retired
    SF NCO who participated in the selection process,
    would take several years to develop the new
    sniper system ("five years for the bullet, three
    years for the barrel to match the bullet, and
    another five years to develop the end product").
    When hearing this response, one SOTIC instructor
    became very upset. Throwing a Pelican case with
    one of SOF prototype rifles in it across the
    room, he commented, somewhat sarcastically, that
    civilians could buy rifles meeting the SOF
    shooters requirements on a daily basis and
    off-the-shelf. As a result of this and other
    meetings, the shooters were able to achieve their
    goal of an off-the-shelf rifle. These "issues"
    with ARDEC and ACALA would not be the only ones
    the SOF shooters would face.
  • The most issue to confront all concerned would be
    cartridge selection. The SOF shooters thought
    that the 7.62 x 51-mm NATO cartridge should be
    the primary chambering for the new sniper rifle.
    Though overall an ideal round, the 7.62 mm NATO
    round it has maximum effective range of 800
    meters under the best of conditions, far less at
    night, given the difficulty of reading wind in
    the dark. Accordingly, the SOF shooters wanted
    the ability to change over a limited number of
    rifles to a medium range (900 to 1100 meters)
    caliber, such s the .300 Win. Mag., until a new
    sniper cartridge was adopted.
  • The SOF shooters were not the only "end-users"
    involved. Regular Army snipers, represented by
    Ft. Benning, wanted the ability to change over
    all of the new rifles to a larger or more
    powerful chambering. I should note that this
    fight continues over 10 years later.
  • Further complicating the issue was the Armys
    consideration of various calibers for medium and
    long-range shooting. For example, the military
    was considering the .338/.416 for longer ranges,
    the .50 for hard targets from 800 to 1500 meters
    and the 14.5-mm for targets past 1500 meters.
    Again, this issue is still alive today.
  • The various parties to the selection process were
    able to work out their differences and by
    mid-1987, the Army was ready to seek bids. The
    military issued its product description and held
    a contractors conference, at which over 50
    contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers
    attended. Competing contractors would have 45
    days to submit their proposals including
    functioning weapon systems to Picatinny, New
    Jersey, ARDECs location.

Background Cont.
  • The foundation for Remingtons entry would be the
    700 action. Designed originally for hunting, the
    Remington action in accurized form was the basis
    of 40X target rifle first entering the market
    in 1961 and the Marine Corps M40 first built
    in 1996. (The M40 was, of course, the inspiration
    for Remingtons introduction of the Varmint
    Special, a heavy-barreled version of the 700.)
  • It would take more than just a good receiver to
    win the contract critical to Remington's bid
    would be a high-quality barrel. The company went
    first to Boots Overmeyer, but he did not have the
    capacity necessary, should Remington win the
    contract. Remington next contacted Mike Rock.
    Working very closely with Rock, Remington was
    able to produce the needed barrels with the
    distinctive Overmeyer 5R rifling in time to enter
    the competition. Accompanying the barrel would be
    an adjustable length of pull stock from HS
  • Remington also needed to equip its entry with a
    day telescope. At the time, only Unertl and
    Leupold manufactured rugged tactical scopes,
    suitable for military application. Remington
    approached John Unertl first, but he told the
    company that he was too busy building scopes for
    the Marines. (Many have said that Unertl turned
    down submitting his scopes for the M24 because
    the Army had snubbed him some years back.)
    Remington turned to Leupold Stevens. Leupold
    had recently brought its Ultra (now, Mark IV)
    line of scopes, mounts, and rings to the market.
    Remington was impressed with the quality and
    ruggedness of Leupold's gear and chose the
    Oregon-based company as the optics subcontractor
    for its submission.
  • Various manufacturers submitted their bid samples
    and the competition ultimately narrowed to two
    companies Remington and Steyr. There were three
    criteria that the military was considering
    ruggedness accuracy and cost. Cost was the
    least important of the three criteria it was
    also Remingtons weak point.
  • There were sixteen shooters involved in the
    testing of the two entries eight from the Army
    Marksmanship Unit four SOTIC instructors and
    four Rangers. Though the Steyr entry was very
    accurate, by the seventh round it was throwing
    rounds, sufficient to cause misses at targets
    past 600 meters. Remingtons submission did not
    have this problem and was also built far more
    ruggedly than Steyrs.
  • Remington won the contract to produce the Armys
    next generation sniper rifle. Remington firmed up
    arrangements for production, including bringing
    barrel manufacture "in-house."
  • Much has been said about Remington's dropping
    Mike Rock as a subcontractor for barrel
    production, much of it untrue. When officials of
    Remington first approached Rock they explained to
    him that it was the company's intent to develop,
    and later produce, the barrel for the M24, should
    the company win the contract. After winning the
    contract, Remington did bring barrel production
    "in-house." The company resubmitted the weapon
    systems with the Remington-produced barrels to
    the military for first article testing and the
    military accepted them. Importantly, the
    Remington-produced barrels were approximately 25
    more accurate than the Rock-produced barrels.

Criticisms, Responses
  • Almost immediately after the military adopted the
    M24, criticism of the new sniper system erupted.
    The HS Precision stock was not durable enough to
    withstand field use. The Leupold M3A suffered
    from elevation and windage knobs with
    insufficiently positive clicks. The long action
    was inappropriate for a .308 caliber rifle. But
    the greatest criticism leveled against the M24
    was that at 4,500, the system was too expensive.
    Time and logic have addressed these and other
    criticisms leveled against the system.
  • Starting first with the stock, a SOTIC instructor
    has informed me that in the 10 years SF has used
    M24 for instruction, he has only seen two stocks
    break, on weapons that students dropped from over
    500 feet above ground while jumping into an
    exercise. In another well-known example of the
    stocks and rifles toughness, is the story
    of an encased M24 run over by a two-and-a-half
    ton truck. The truck driver was unaware of the
    weapons location and backed over it. When the
    parties involved realized what had happened, they
    found the weapons bolt sticking through the wall
    of the gun case. Taken to the range, the M24 was
    fired and found to be fully functional. (I hear
    from my friend at SOTIC that this weapon is still
    in use at SOTIC.)
  • It is true that the combination of the long
    action and the 7.62 x 51-mm cartridge can be a
    problem for a shooter the rifle is prone to jam.
    This can be overcome through proper training in
    the loading and use of the 700 long action.
  • The cost criticism is perhaps the most galling.
    The high initial cost of the M24 is due to the
    federal governments procurement policies.
    Whenever a new weapon system is developed, he
    manufacturer incurs certain development costs.
    Normally, these costs are spread out over the
    entire production run of the system. However, the
    government may not normally incur monetary
    obligations beyond the current fiscal year. Such
    was the case with the M24. The federal government
    required Remington to factor into its price for
    the first year of production, the total cost of
    development for the system, approximately
    500,000. After the first year of the contract,
    the price of M24s dropped to approximately 3,500

The M24 SWS
  • Though some old-timers may miss the "perfectly
    good" M21, the M24 is a very capable system. The
    M24 is not merely a rifle it is a system. When
    complete, the system includes the following
    equipment an M24 rifle with a 10 x 42 mm Leupold
    Stevens Mk. IV M3A day telescope and Mk. IV
    rings and base Redfield Palma rear sight and
    "International" globe with interchangeable
    inserts deployment, or "D", kit, complete with
    cleaning kit, tools, and replacement parts M1907
    sling and drag bag operators manual and
    protective travel cases for the scope and
    complete system.
  • The barrel of the M24 is unique. Remington
    hammerforges the barrel with 416R stainless
    steel, the bull barrel is 24" long, and its width
    tapers down from 1.2" at the breech to
    approximately .9". The 5-R rifling was designed
    by Boots Overmeyer, is angled at 110 degrees, has
    5 grooves, and a right hand twist of 1" in 11.2".
    There are a number of advantages for the military
    marksman with this barrel. The angled rifling
    leads to less bullet deformation as the rifling
    swages it. Some believe that this results in a
    more even pressure curve as the bullet
    accelerates through the barrel. As well, once the
    barrel is broken in, the rifling lends itself to
    reduced metallic fouling a longer, more accurate
    lifespan because of reduced wear effect on
    rifling cross-section, and higher bullet
    velocities. The downsides to 5-R rifling are the
    greater than normal metallic fouling of the bore
    during the break-in period, and greater
    difficulty in barrel production, resulting in a
    more expensive barrel.
  • HS Precision makes the adjustable length-of-pull
    stock, which is made of Kevlar-reinforced
    fiberglass and has a full-length 7075-T6
    aluminum-bedding block. The action is screwed
    into the bedding block with two screws, both of
    which are set to 65inch/pounds. The grip is fully
    contoured and ambidextrous grip and highly rigid
  • There are conflicting stories behind the
    adjustable stock and 24" barrel. Some (including
    one SF NCO who was on the development team for
    the M24) have attributed these two features to
    the militarys desire to transport the sniper
    system in the 1950s era paratroopers rifle
    case. Others attribute these features to less
    cynical reasons. When I asked John Rogers, he
    stated that the choice of barrel length was
    Remingtons, and was not dictated by the
    military. Further, the specifications for the M24
    relating to the requirement for adjustable length
    of pull, MIL-R-71126 (AR) 4.6.6. refer to testing
    procedures for the stock when the user is wearing
    NBC and cold and warm weather gear.
  • Leupold Stevens manufacture the day telescope,
    mount, and rings. The scope, the M3A, has a body
    that is machined from a solid piece of 6061-T-6
    aircraft aluminum. All lenses in the M3A are
    treated with a proprietary anti-reflective
    coating to increase the lenses light
    transmission. The reticle is a mildot-pattern and
    is etched into the glass lens. (This is the
    primary difference between the commercially
    available M3 and the Armys version the
    commercial versions reticle is a more
    traditional wire design.

The M24 SWS Cont.
  • Perhaps the best feature of the scope is its
    combination elevation turret/bullet drop
    compensator (BDC). Depending upon the caliber of
    the rifle on which the scope is mounted, the
    shooter selects the appropriate cam, sights in
    the rifle, and then can dial in the range on the
    BDC (though, of course, the shooter must still
    take into account altitude, humidity,
    temperature, etc., as they affect bullet drop).
    Specific cams available for the scope are
  • ".308 Match," 168 gr. BTHP at 2,600 ft./sec. (BDC
    increments in yards)
  • "7.62 mm Military," 173 gr. BTFMJ at 2,600
    ft./sec. (BDC increments in meters)
  • ".300 Winchester Magnum," 220 gr. FMJ at 2,650
    ft./sec. (BDC increments in meters)
  • ". 30-06 Springfield," 180gr. FMJ at 2,700
    ft./sec. (BDC increments in yards)
  • ". 223 Rem. (5.56mm)," 55gr. FMJ at 3,200
    ft./sec. (BDC increments in yards)
  • It is my understanding that Leupold is working on
    a cam for the new Federal Gold Medal Match and
    M118 LR cartridges using the 175-gr. BTHP Sierra
    MatchKing bullet. Importantly, all cams are built
    around the constants of sea level and 59 degrees
    Fahrenheit. Use of a cam in conditions other than
    those will result in deviations from the intended
    point of impact.
  • Each "click" on the M3A whichever cam is used
    is equal to one MOA. Windage adjustments are in ½
    MOA adjustments. The advantage to the 1 MOA
    adjustment on a combat scope is that reduces to
    one, the number of revolutions a shooter can make
    with the elevation turret. This was very
    important to the military as shooters in
    stressful situations (such as combat) often are
    off by a complete revolution when the time comes
    to take the shot.

Improvements, Accessories
  • In September of 1992, the military rendered the
    Military Specification for the M24 (MIL-R-71126
    (AR)) inactive, except for use in replacement of
    already issued sniper systems. Nevertheless,
    there have been a number of improvements to the
    system. To address the dangers of scope glint and
    lasers on the battlefield, the military has added
    to the system an antireflection device (ARD) and
    external mount assembly (EMA) laser filter. The
    ARD is the Tenebraex killFLASH and is threaded to
    fit both the M3 day telescope and EMA laser
    filter. The killFLASH is under 3" long with a
    1.75" thick honeycomb filter that provides the
    same glint shielding capability that a 27"
    conventional tube. When properly installed,
    however, the killFLASH will reduce the amount of
    light the scope can gather by 15.
  • The number of non-eyesafe lasers on the
    battlefield necessitates the EMA laser filter
    today. Whether these lasers are used offensively
    or for distance calculation, if snipers are to
    continue to function effectively, they need
    protection from high-intensity beams of directed
    light. The EMA laser filter provides this
    protection, but at some cost to the user. First,
    the filter affects the colors the user sees,
    potentially obscuring targets. Second, the filter
    will shift the point of impact by as much as one
    minute of angle. Third, the filter is very
    reflective, and will give away a shooters
    position, without installation of the killFLASH
    ARD, of course.
  • The military also upgraded the spotting telescope
    for the M24 system. The new scope, the M144, is a
    variable-power straight day telescope.
    Manufactured by Bausch Lomb and very similar to
    its Model 61-1548P, Elite 15-45x60 Zoom
    Telescope, the M144 provides magnification from
    15 to 45 power, comes with a quick detachable
    tripod, Tenebraex ARD and laser filter unit. My
    understanding that the major difference between
    the M144 and the Elite is quality of the seals
    used in the M144 to keep out moisture.
  • The M24 also can be equipped with night vision.
    Until recently, the night optical device (NOD) of
    choice for shooters was the Simrad Optronics
    Model KN250. The Simrad attaches to the day
    telescope, allowing for no change of zero on the
  • The second NOD found on the M24 is the AN/PVS-10
    combination day/night optic device. This scope,
    still in development, is intended to simplify
    optics for the M24, while improving upon the
    current Mk. IV M3A/Simrad combination for day and
    night operations. The scope weights nearly 5
    pounds, is fixed at 8.5 power with mildot
    reticle, and can be adjusted for output
    brightness and reticle illumination. A number of
    shooters using the PVS-10, with whom I have
    spoken, have been displeased with the scopes
    performance, but with the issuance of a national
    stock number, NSN 5855-01-410-8979, it is likely
    that the scope will be made part of the M24

Other Agencies, Governments Fielding the M24
  • The Army is not the only entity to use the M24.
    The U.S. Parks Police and the New York Police
    Department have equipped their snipers with the
    system. The NYPD rifles are not stamped "U.S."
    nor do they have U.S. Government serial numbers.
  • There are also a few foreign governments that
    have purchased the rifle under the Foreign
    Military Sales program. The Israeli government
    recently purchased 890 M24s. Previously, Lebanon,
    South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates had
    purchased small quantities of the system. Perhaps
    the most surprising sale was to Egypt, which
    purchased the most M24s of any non-U.S.
    Government entity 1000. Sadly, the Egyptian
    military did not wish to use match cartridges
    with the system. Moreover, that country's
    military is not known for maintaining its weapon
    systems -- whether an air defense network or an
    SWS -- and it is unknown how the equipment has
  • Finally, Remington made a few "civilian" M24s for
    commercial sales. In 1995-96, Remington built a
    limited number of the M24 rifles (not the
    complete system) and offered them to its Law
    Enforcement wholesalers. The rifles sold for
    2500 to 3000 dollars. Occasionally one sees
    these rifles for sale and they are sure to be
    collector's items.

The Future?
  • The Army has been fielding the M24 system for a
    little over ten years now. The first M24s
    produced for the Army in 1988 were sent to SOTIC.
    Just this year, the Army changed them out. With
    ten years of use, several new barrels and
    approximately 75,000 rounds through them, the
    rifles have performed well beyond the
    expectations of those involved with the systems
    development, in particular given that the rifles
    are used for training and undergo significant
    stresses. (By the way, only after ten years and
    75,000 rounds did the extractors begin to fail on
    these rifles.) The M24 will not be the last SWS
    the U.S. Army purchases, however.
  • Remington and the U.S. Government are looking to
    the future of sniping. In recent trials at Ft.
    Benning for the upcoming Medium Range Sniper
    System, Remington fielded a number of interesting
    potential submissions. In addition to the
    standard M24 in 7.62 x 51 mm and .300 Win. Mag.,
    Remington tested the "SR8", a 700 action-based
    rifle in .338 Lapua (using a Sako extractor), and
    another rifle based on the 700 action chambered
    for .30-338. Shooters firing these rifles were
    hitting B-27 targets from 1900 yards. The rifles
    were scoped with fixed ten and sixteen-power
    Leupold Mk. IV day telescopes.
  • As well, Remington is looking into an "upgrade"
    or "product improvement" of sorts of the M24, the
    "M24 TC." The M24 TC is a concept rifle with a
    twenty-six inch composite fiber barrel and
    stainless steel barrel liner mated to a titanium
    alloy receiver. The rifle is chamber for the
    Remington 7mm Remington Ultra Long-Range Sniper
    (ULRS) round, with an effective range of 1500

Specifications for the M24
  • Calibers7.62 x 51 mm, .300 Winchester Magnum
  • OperationBolt Action
  • Overall Length43
  • Barrel, Length, TwistRemington hammer-forged,
    416 R with 5R grooves, 24" (7.62 mm), 111.2 RH
  • Weight12.1 lbs., unloaded without scope, 15 lbs.
    Loaded with scope
  • StockHS Precision
  • SightsLeupold Mk. IV M3A scope, Redfield Palma,
    International iron sights
  • Effective Range (with day scope)800 meters
  • Effective Range (with night scope)300 meters
  • Magazine5- round, internal

  • Leupold Stevens, Inc.
  • PO Box 688,
  • Beaverton, OR 97075-0688
  • Ph. (503) 526-5195
  • Remington Arms Co., Inc.
  • P.O. Box 700
  • Madison, NC 27025-0700
  • Attn John Rogers
  • Ph.
  • Tenebræx Corporation
  • 326 A Street
  • Boston, MA 02210
  • ph. (617) 574-9900
  • Fax (617) 574-9998