Marine snipers have been carrying some version of the M40 rifle since the Vietnam War, but now the Corps is about to arm its snipers with a new weapon system.
Marine snipers will soon be carrying the Mk 13 Mod 7 sniper rifle, Marine spokesperson Capt. Christopher Harrison confirmed to Marine Corps Times Monday.
The selection of the Mk 13 Mod 7 closes a chapter in the Corps’ journey to upgrade its sniper teams with a new rifle that will extend range and lethality.
The Mk 13 fires a .300 Winchester Magnum, or Win Mag round, and has a range that pushes beyond 1,000 yards, former snipers told Marine Corps Times.
Since 1966, Marine snipers have been carrying the Remington based bolt-action M40 as the preferred rifle. That rifle has gone through multiple modifications, including changes in 2014 that produced the M40A6.
Former snipers who spoke to Marine Corps Times said they have long complained that the M40 simply didn’t have the range to contend with conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And the M40’s nearly 1,000-yard range is behind other sniper rifles in the U.S. military’s arsenal. The Army’s M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle can engage targets at 1,300 yards.
One sniper hailed the decision to equip the Corps’ snipers with the Mk 13 as a “long time coming.”
However, the rifle isn’t the only piece of gear the Corps may be interested in.
Pictures have appeared online from Josaphat Orozco photography that show Marines firing the Mk 13 with the Nightforce ATACR scope.
The Navy’s recent budget documents released in February sought money to buy “the MK 13 Rifle with associated optic.”
But Marine Corps officials would not confirm whether the Nightforce optic will be fielded with the Mk 13 at this time.
However, one former sniper said that, if fielded, the new scope is even more exciting than the Mk 13.
The new scope comes with the Horus Tremor3 Reticle. The reticle allows an operator to rapidly engage targets at long ranges. It features special wind dots that aid a shooter in quick wind estimations.
The documents for justification of the fiscal year 2018 annual defense legislation included nearly $4.3 million in funding for the rifle. The Corps plans to purchase 356 rifles, which will kit out the Corps’ sniper teams with the Mk 13.
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane division out of Crane, Indiana, holds the contract for the Mk 13 Mod 7. It falls under Naval Sea Systems Command.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.