Marines are already getting their hands on the deadly new Mk13 sniper rifle, just months after the Corps announced it was finally replacing the Vietnam War era M40 rifle.
The new Mk 13 Mod 7 sniper rifle is now finding its way into the inventories of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force as of the week of Sept. 17, according to Barbara Hamby, a spokeswoman with Marine Corps Systems Command.
“Based on the approved fielding plan, the MK13 Mod 7 is being fielded to units to include infantry and reconnaissance battalions and scout sniper schoolhouses,” Hamby said in an emailed statement to Marine Corps Times.
The new .300 Winchester Magnum, or Win Mag round, sniper rifle is a big improvement over its predecessor the M40A6 and boasts the ability to hit targets with precision at more than 1,000 yards.
Snipers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have long complained of the need to hit targets beyond the range of the M40.
After the Corps identified a capability gap in the max effective range of its sniper rifle it set out to test and evaluate potential suitable replacements.
The Mk13 Mod 7, which is already the primary sniper rifle of the Marine Raiders, was eventually selected and announced by Corps officials this spring.
The Corps says the new Mk 13 will increase the range of scout snipers by roughly 300 meters.
Snipers in the community are also excited about the heavier grain .300 Win Mag round.
"The .300 Winchester Magnum round will perform better than the current 7.62 NATO ammo in flight, increasing the Marine Sniper's first round probability of hit,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tony Palzkill, Battalion Gunner for Infantry Training Battalion, said in a command release. “This upgrade is an incredible win and will allow snipers to engage targets at greater distances."
While Marines have carried some version of the M40 since 1966, it’s still going to remain in the Corps’ schoolhouses and operational forces for training.
The new Mk 13 Mod 7 is also equipped with a very powerful day optic known as the Nightforce Advanced Tactical Riflescope.
The new scope uses the Tremor3 reticle, which allows a user to rapidly gauge windage options and rapidly acquire and engage multiple targets at far distances.
“The new day optic allows for positive identification of enemies at greater distances, and it has a grid-style reticle that allows for rapid re-engagement without having to dial adjustments or ‘hold’ without a reference point,” Sgt. Randy Robles, Quantico Scout Sniper School instructor, said in a command release. “With this type of weapon in the fleet, we will increase our lethality and be able to conceal our location because we are creating a buffer between us and the enemy.”
Fielding of the Mk 13 will continue through 2019, to units at II MEF and III MEF, according to Hamby.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.