Post from Shep8541 over at LRI:
Follow up from some questions:
M40A3 vs. SR-25
During the time I was deployed to Iraq I was fortunate enough to carry the M40A3 and SR-25 sniper rifles. I used both guns extensively in both urban and desert environments.
M40A3 w/ PVS 10 day/night scope
There is no question that the A3 is more accurate than the SR-25. My A3 consistently held 1/2 moa. The gun is so heavy and sturdy it offers a very solid platform. It is very durable and I was always confident it would hit where I wanted it to. Like any bolt gun, it required less maintenance than the semi auto. It never malfunctioned once when I carried it. The McMillan stock can withstand a lot of torture from being knocked around. The multiple stud holes were convenient for putting the sling wherever you wanted.
The A3 is very heavy. I could not shoot it accurately unsupported. The best way I found to carry it is muzzle down with my strong hand. I tried slinging it across my back but it was too awkward and heavy when moving. The Harris bipods were a must. A shooting support such as a buttpack was not feasible. I inserted/extracted via Hum-V and a buttpack just would not work when in vehicles. The M40A3 is a long range precision rifle and looks as such. No other Marine Corps weapons system looks like it. It is too long to "hide" on your person. There was no mistaking what it is and what the Marine is that is carrying it. This made it difficult for us to disguise ourselves as regular infantry. Units have been in Iraq for years. The insurgents know what out sniper rifle looks like and know what the Marine is who has it.
The PVS 10 without a doubt works better than the SimRad. Zeroing is very simple and easy. The 10 could also take a beating. My zero was never off by more than 1 MOA. The night vision worked well when there was 40% or more illumination. The 8x magnification worked better than any other night vision we had available.
The PVS 10 is very big and heavy. The scope makes the gun top heavy and the gun tends to fall over on its side while on bipods. The objective lens is huge and I was always worried about scope glare. The plain black reticle seemed to be clearer than the illuminated reticle. The 8x magnification obviously does not allow as much ambient light in as the 1x or 4x night vision we also carried. When there was no illum, any target past 50 yards had to be flooded with a infrared light. I could not find any reliable way to attach the light (PEQ 2 or 4) to the A3 or the PVS 10. Marines were injured in Iraq and often times we worked in 2 or 3 man teams. My spotter could not spot for me and hold 360 security at the same time. This meant that the sniper had to spot his own rounds. The M40A3 PVS 10 combo was not ideal for this. The windage turret is on the left side of the scope. I carried the gun in my right hand and the turret would catch on my gear. It would involuntarily get turned left or right when patrolling. The elevation turret does not stop on 100 or zero. I had to count minutes and this was time consuming. The 100 meter markers on the turret could not be seen at night without a flashlight.
SR-25 w/Leupold Mark4, PVS 22 night vision, ans sound suppressor
The SR-25 is the most ideal precision rifle I have ever used in combat. It is more tactical and employable than any bolt gun I have carried. The fastest bolt handler in the world could not keep up with the semi auto. The gun is lighter, shorter, and easier to maneuver. I engaged targets with out to 750 yards with it. In the urban environment most shots were 100 yards and in so the semi auto was superior for follow up shots. Snipers that would work with infantry units should expect some grunt type work. This is especially true when grunts get injured and start getting low on personnell. I used the SR-25 many times to clear buildings and other tight spaces. The quad fore end rail was helpful in mounting the PEQ 2. Then I could "flood" my own targets. Most Iraqi houses have a 4 foot wall on their roofs. A lot of the shots were taken from the standing position with the fore end of the rifle resting on the ledge. The mag well allowed me to push the rifle against the wall and lean into it for sturdiness. It was considerably a better position than with an M40A3. A lot of the shots taken were at running targets and targets that only showed themselves for a few seconds. The SR-25 was a lot faster in any multiple engagements. The recoil is less and target acquisition is easier when you don't have to operate the bolt. Any normal Iraqi could not tell the difference between the 25 and the M16 service rifle.
The 25 is not as accurate as the A3. I shot 1 1/2 - 2 inch groups at 100 yards. The 25's barrel is shorter and therefore velocity is less. It must be kept clean and well lubed. It had no forward assist. Some of the carbon blowback would go down into the mag. The bottom rounds in the mag were black with carbon. The semi auto action would sometimes scrape the bullet when it entered the chamber. I never tested the drop in accuracy from this but it could not help. The sound suppressor worked well but was too heavy to have on when patrolling. It made the gun very front heavy. The suppressor fit over the end of the barrel and cause pitting on the barrel. Anytime I shot with the suppressor on I had to clean the barrel ruthlessly.
Leupold Mark 4 3.5-10
The scope worked flawless for me. The 3.5 -10 power was perfect for the urban environment. The turrets were simple and easy to adjust. The PVS 22 clipped on the rail in front of the scope. This night vision was superior to anything else we had. The magnification on the scope had to be turned down to 3.5 for the night vision to work best. My zero always stayed consistent.
The Leupold only went to 10x. I would have liked to have more at longer ranges. The PVS 10 only took a flick of a switch to go from day to night. A lot faster than clipping on an objective lens night vision.
The SR-25 most the most ideal rifle for the situation I was in. Infantry commanders insisted I come work for them because of the gun. The M40A3 is obviously more accurate but even at 2 MOA, a 200 yard shot is not difficult. The A3 was not a good gun to clear rooms with. One could always transition to their M16 or Beretta 9mm but then where would they put their rifle? Before going out on missions my team always debated which guns to carry. The obvious answer is to carry one gun that is suitable for all tasks.
Follow up from some questions:
I shot the Lake City 175 gr HPBT exclusively. There weren't any other options. I never had any problems that could be attributed to a "match" type chamber. I only had a few malfunctions with the 25 and all of those were my fault. One time I cleaned the bolt carrier group and did not fully insert the firing pin. The firing pin retaining pin fit in just fine but the firing pin was too far back to strike the primer. On rare occasions the SR-25 would doublefeed, failure to eject, etc. Any problem I had with it was comparable to any AR problem. You have to keep it clean. Stoner mags came with the 25. The suppressor pitted the barrel but only cosmetically. Yes it would rust a little and leave a scar on the finish but would not affect accuracy. The suppressor would be a little harder to remove after using it. The most rounds I fired through it at 1 time was about 50. The POI never seemed to change. Other snipers told me that the suppressor would improve groups but I could never see a difference. I can't tell you if there was a land or groove at 12 oclock on the muzzle.