US Army Awards Contract to Barrett for New Sniper Rifle

Israel Defense Force snipers using the Barrett MRAD. Image by IDF Spokesperson's Unit CC BY-SA 3.0

The US Army has awarded a contract worth $50 million to Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. The company will provide new rifles for snipers.

Barrett will supply 2,800 Mk22 Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) sniper rifles over five years. The MRAD has been in use by US special operations forces after the US Special Operations Command awarded a contract to Barrett two years ago.

The MK22 features a barrel that can be swapped in the field with the use of one tool. This allows the sniper to use multiple types of ammunition in the rifle.

The rifle can be equipped with a 20-inch 7.62x51mm barrel which makes the total length of the weapon 42.4 inches and the weight 13.9 pounds. When equipped to chamber .300 Norma Magnum rounds, the barrel is 26 inches long, bringing the total length to 48.4 inches and the weight to 15.2 pounds. The third barrel is for .338 Norma Magnum rounds and is 27 inches long which makes the rifle a total of 49.4 inches long and 15.2 pounds.

The Barrett MRAD rifle. Image by MathKnight CC BY-SA 4.0
The Barrett MRAD rifle. Image by MathKnight CC BY-SA 4.0

The rifle also includes a 10-round magazine and folding stock that contains an adjustable cheek piece. The upper receiver is made of 7000-series aluminum. The bolt uses an enclosed polymer guide which ensures a smooth and reliable operation even in extreme conditions.

The new rifle will replace the Barrett M107 sniper rifle and the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle.

The US Marines have also selected the MRAD for their Advanced Sniper Rifle program. It will replace the Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle which is chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum rounds.

The new rifle allows snipers to hit targets up to 1,500 meters away when chambered for the .338 Norma Magnum. This is 300 meters further than the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum rounds.

The MRAD is a bolt action repeater with a 21.75 inch rail length according to the manufacturer’s website.

The design of the rifle allows for customization and serviceability in the field. For example, the trigger group can be removed without tools and replaced easily. The safety can be placed on either side of the rifle by the user.

The MRAD is part of the US Army’s Precision Sniper Rifle program which includes the Leupold & Stevens Mark 5 HD scope and a sniper accessory kit.

The Special Operations Command configuration includes three barrels (27-inch .338 Norma Magnum, 26-inch .300 Norma Magnum and 20-inch .308 (for training)), a Nightforce P-VPS MIL-SPEC ATACR 7-35×56 34mm scope and mount, and a locking suppressor.

Shooting a Barrett MRAD chambered for .308 Winchester with suppressor. Image by Micheal Dorausch CC BY-SA 2.0
Shooting a Barrett MRAD chambered for .308 Winchester with suppressor. Image by Micheal Dorausch CC BY-SA 2.0

The same rifle is available for civilian purchase without the suppressor or optic. The cost on the civilian market is $16,000.

After announcing the weapon in 2011, Barrett has provided the weapon to 13 US State Department approved countries.

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Barrett was founded by Ronnie Barrett. He built the first Barrett sniper rifle on the floor of his garage. He designed the parts himself and built it with hand-machined parts. It debuted with the US Marines in time to be used in the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE