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Designated marksmen are the best shots in a unit but not quite snipers.
Amidst a slew of new equipment coming down the pipeline for U.S. Marines is a new designated marksman rifle. The M38 scoped rifle is designed to give Marine infantry squads the ability to hit individual targets at ranges of up to 600 meters with greater precision than Marines equipped with ordinary M4 carbines. According to Marine Corps Times the rifle will be fully issued by September 2018.
After 9/11, the U.S. Army and Marines saw a need for a rifle that could reach out and hit targets at a greater distance than the typical M4 carbine or M16A2/A4 rifle could manage. Typically, such a rifle would be equipped with a long range telescopic sight bipod, and ideally have some work done by military armorers to increase accuracy. The U.S. Marines created a designated marksman position to carry the rifle and used a variety of designated marksman rifles (DMRs) including the M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle and the Mark 12 Special Purpose Rifle.
Soldiers and Marines called designated marksmen typically earn that title by being the best shots in their squad or platoon. Designated marksmen received instruction in shooting farther than the average rifleman, particularly the means to negate the effects of gravity and wind on a 5.56-millimeter bullet. Despite this designated marksmen are still riflemen at heart and train to shoot shorter distances than snipers.
Now the Marines are preparing to field a new DMR, the M38 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle. The M38 is basically a M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle with a Leupold TS-30A2 Mark 4 MR/T scope. The M38 shoots 5.56 rounds, the same as the Marines’ M16A4, M4, M249, and M27 rifles and takes the same thirty round magazine. It can technically shoot fully automatic but as a SDMR rifle, it will primarily shoot semi-auto. It is based on the Heckler and Koch 416 assault rifle and equipped with a 16.5-inch barrel.
The TS-30A2 Mark 4 MR/T scope was formerly on the Mk. 12 Special Purpose Rifle. It has a magnification range of 2.5 to 8 power and at full magnification has a field of view of 13.6 feet. It is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. The TS-30A2 is a second focal plane optic, which means the scope reticle will appear the same size no matter what power the scope is dialed to.
The Marine Corps Times says that the M38 SDMR has been issued to all three Marine Expeditionary Forces. The M38 will be issued at a rate of one per thirteen man Marines infantry squad. In addition to the M38, the Marines are receiving a new sniper rifle and plan to equip regular infantry with 15,000 M27 automatic rifles.
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