Snipers ‘Zero’ New Rifle Aboard USS Peleliu

Ravage

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http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id=53053

ON BOARD USS PELELIU – Marine snipers with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit were given a rare opportunity to practice their specialized skills aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu, July 9.

The Scout Sniper Platoon received their new M40A5 rifle just days before their scheduled Western Pacific deployment, preventing them from setting accurate measurements to properly employ the weapon.

“We needed to get her dialed in,” said Sgt Nicholas B. Abernathy, scout sniper team leader, H&S Company, 1st Bn, 4th Marines, referring to his new best friend. “This was my first time firing the new M40A5 rifle, I deployed with my old weapon twice and she was good to me,” added Abernathy.

Adopted in January 2009, the new rifle now uses a flash hider or suppressor and a detachable box magazine.

“The new suppressor can allow the shooter to engage the enemy longer from the same position,” said Abernathy.

Despite the windy conditions and firing from a moving target, the snipers not only accomplished their goals but learned something new.

“My spotter and I figured out there is a natural pause during the ship’s movement,” stated Abernathy. “As the ship moves down, just before it rises there seems to be a natural pause, much like the same pause we experience during breathing.”

During marksmanship training, Marines are taught to slowly and steadily squeeze the trigger during this natural pause in breathing. As for the snipers, the new data made the training more meaningful.

“We never know when or where we’ll be asked to employ our specialty,” said Cpl. Emmanuel P. Velayo, radio operator and spotter, H&S Company, 1st Bn, 4th Marines. “So firing from the ship really helped us know what to expect if we ever have to engage the enemy from the ship.”

While this was their first time firing the new weapon, the snipers routinely check their weapons out of the armory. If there’s one thing Abernathy has learned in his five years as a sniper, don’t get complacent.

“Once or twice a week we break out our weapons to [dry fire] and clean them,” said Abernathy. “Marksmanship is a perishable skill and I believe [dry firing] is absolutely critical. Muscle memory is what it’s all about,” added Abernathy.

The trigger time was useful and the snipers recognized the significance of having the rare opportunity to fire their precision weapons from the flight deck.

“Firing these weapons aboard a ship wasn’t easy to coordinate,” said 1st Lt. Michael P. Buckley, scout sniper platoon commander, H&S Company, 1st Bn, 4th Marines. “I’m glad we could though, the juice was definitely worth the squeeze,” he added.

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As a team Cpl. Emmanuel P. Velayo, spotter, and Sgt. Nicholas B Abernathy, shooter, share a unique profession as members of the Scout Sniper Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. Their communication is essential in order to effectively employ the M40A5 sniper rifle. Ironically, Velayo and Abernathy share the same hometown of Las Vegas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jhonson Simeon)

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Marines from the Scout Sniper Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, take aim from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu July 9. The snipers received their new M40A5 rifle days before the deployment and this was the first opportunity to fire the upgraded rifle. The rifle now comes with a flash hider, or suppressor and detachable box magazine. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jhonson Simeon)

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Sgt. Nicholas B. Abernathy, scout sniper team leader, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, fires a round aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu. Abernathy, a five-year scout sniper, and other Marines from the Scout Sniper Platoon were afforded a rare opportunity to fire their precision M40A5 from the flight deck. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth G. Lewis, Jr.)

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Sgt. Nicholas B. Abernathy, scout sniper team leader, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, double checks the sight adjustments on his M40A5 sniper rifle. Adjustments usually come from the spotter. The spotter makes recommendations based on feedback from the shooter, round impact, and wind variation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jhonson Simeon)
 

phridum

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Never had the opportunity to shoot aboard ship. Glad to know about the "pause" in ships movements. These are the sorts of training evolutions that will allow Scout/Snipers to remain at the top of their game. The photos are sharp too.
 
8

8'Duece

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I see a couple of Mk14's back there too. Someone not want the new and improved M50A5 ? :D

So, this is basically a Rem 700 with a hopped up barrel, fancy stock and furniture, a larger box mag and a suppressor ? How ingenious. My father had one 8 years ago :rolleyes:
 

phridum

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Scopes are Schmidt and Bender. There's one Mk14 in the back, and a DMR next to it. The USMC has always been behind the times when it comes to equipment. Since I've gotten out they've updated the suppressor, box mag, and scope. It's probably the last update these weapons will receive until the end of the next war. Snipers get forgotten in between.
 

SoloKing

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8 Duece you fuckng nailed it bro,
This weapon is a EPIC FAIL on ever level of leadership in the Marine Corp. The men who have been fighting and winning the Iraq and now AFG war have been telling every one above them atleast two different weapon systems are needed. What did the guys who are doing all the killing and dieing get from thier command...........another weapon thats already in the inventory modifed by Marine Armorers, because that is the cheapest solution. Never mind it dosent even come close to what was asked for in either weapon system. I'd like to personaly thank all the spineless E-8s, E-9s and Marine Gunners who allow this shit to happen on a regular bases.
While I'm on the subject..............you mean to tell me that a 100 year old M2HB 50cal is still the best design for a 50 cal machine gun? That there aren't several better designs out there by now. Ohhhh thats right, if it aint broke, why spend more money?
 

Ravage

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Wait one sec, you mean Marine Scout/Snipers are not happy with the current M-40? Always thought (from what I've read) that they like it.....
Heard some one say the CheyTac is a great soluction for conditions like those you guys see in Afghanistan.
 

phridum

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I've never heard any complaints about it either. With these additions, there isn't much else to be done...in that caliber. An intermediate round that fills the need between the SASR and the M40 would be nice. The Army hit it on the head with the long action M21 too allow .308win or .300wm.

If there are serious drawbacks for the weapon, I can't think of any I experienced. Mostly, they'd probably have something to do with distance limitations for mounted night optics. I think our teams clamor more for support gear improvements than the actual weapon system. Though I can think of a few times having a can on the forty would have made other situations easier. I'd rather have better comm gear. Or the issued 782 gear being more suited to the sniper role.
 

Hitman2/3

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I would have to agree with SoloKing. The A5 is a great bench rest bolt action .308 rifle. The problem is that the .308 is an out dated sniper round for the range the Marine Corps is using it for, and we don't need a bench rest rifle we need a combat rifle.

The .308 was never designed to be a sniper round, let alone a 1000yd sniper round. It does the job and it'll go out to a grand but by the time it gets there its lost almost 3/4 of its velocity. On a cold day by the time it makes it out there its pretty much tumbling due to the lack of velocity and stabilization. When you look at the 175 gr .308's BC compared to a .338 or even a .300 and then compare velocity and accuracy at the same ranges and add in terminal ballistics and its not even a competition.

Then there's the stock. Its a great stock for a police marksman or if your a competition shooter, but when you have to sling it across your back or carry it in a drag bag/pack the additional weight and 90 degree angles become apparent. To my recollection there was nothing wrong with the shape of the A1's stock. Sure they could have updated it to be adjustable but other than that it worked fine and was considerably lighter. I've got no problem humping the weight if its going to give me some bang for the buck, but when my $5000 .308 weighs more than a $3000 .338 with the same or better accuracy then we've got a problem.

Ultimately my biggest complaint is that the people making the decisions about what gear we need are people who are not or have never been snipers. The few that were snipers seem to base there decicion off of what they were doing in the early to mid 90's. We tell them we need a precision long range rifle that can get us out to at least 1500 yds and they say "you've got a SASR". Wow thanks a semi auto 3 MOA gun that was designed to take out vehicles and who's signature is so damn big that when I fire it anybody who’s looking in my general direction for a couple hundred yards will see it go off, thanks. The sniper community of the time told the Marine Corps what was required and what they would like, and as I recall they more or less blew them off and put a new scope new heavier stock and bipods on the A1 and said here you go its an A3. I'm not a gear queer but when the ranges you are engaging the enemy at are well beyond the reach of your .308 but within range of a good .300 or .338 and your and everybody else's AAR is saying so then how long does it take for those at the top to get the message and make a change? Stop living in the past and catch up to what is available now. And while were on that subject how hard is it to put a gas piston and a forward assist into a Mk 11. I mean damn, its not freaking rocket science, gas getting blown back into the bolt carrier group is bad, not being able to lock your bolt down is bad. Our people realy that dense?
 

Teufel

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8 Duece you fuckng nailed it bro,
This weapon is a EPIC FAIL on ever level of leadership in the Marine Corp. The men who have been fighting and winning the Iraq and now AFG war have been telling every one above them atleast two different weapon systems are needed. What did the guys who are doing all the killing and dieing get from thier command...........another weapon thats already in the inventory modifed by Marine Armorers, because that is the cheapest solution. Never mind it dosent even come close to what was asked for in either weapon system. I'd like to personaly thank all the spineless E-8s, E-9s and Marine Gunners who allow this shit to happen on a regular bases.
While I'm on the subject..............you mean to tell me that a 100 year old M2HB 50cal is still the best design for a 50 cal machine gun? That there aren't several better designs out there by now. Ohhhh thats right, if it aint broke, why spend more money?

Newer is not always better. The 50 cal isn't broke so why fix it? The 1911 is as old as the 50 cal and it is still one of the most popular handguns in service. The 50 cal is great because it is relatively simple, heavy duty and can sustain a great deal of heat and friction while firing. The original technical manual actually doesn't call for barrel changes because it was designed not to need them at a sustained rate of fire. As for the sniper rifles, you are right. We don't have the best systems because the challenge here is that the Marine Corps doesn't listen to Sgts, the Marine Corps listens to gunners, Master Gunnery Sergeants and field grade officers. Most of the war dogs you are talking about get out as early as E-5 or E-6. A few will make it to E-7 but most will shy away from the MARFORSYSCOM (Systems Command) and PP&O (Pentagon based Plans, Policies and Operations) billets that make these decisions. The guys who do go for these kind of jobs are long on career aspirations and short of combat experience. The only way to change the system is to bite the bullet and ride a desk.
 

DA SWO

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Most of the war dogs you are talking about get out as early as E-5 or E-6. A few will make it to E-7 but most will shy away from the MARFORSYSCOM (Systems Command) and PP&O (Pentagon based Plans, Policies and Operations) billets that make these decisions. The guys who do go for these kind of jobs are long on career aspirations and short of combat experience. The only way to change the system is to bite the bullet and ride a desk.

Amen. We all suffer from this problem.
 

Hitman2/3

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We don't have the best systems because the challenge here is that the Marine Corps doesn't listen to Sgts, the Marine Corps listens to gunners, Master Gunnery Sergeants and field grade officers. Most of the war dogs you are talking about get out as early as E-5 or E-6. A few will make it to E-7 but most will shy away from the MARFORSYSCOM (Systems Command) and PP&O (Pentagon based Plans, Policies and Operations) billets that make these decisions. The guys who do go for these kind of jobs are long on career aspirations and short of combat experience. The only way to change the system is to bite the bullet and ride a desk.

Your right. I'm still a ways away from having to hang up my guns, thank God, but I wouldn't mind moving that way. My biggest fear there though is that I would be the individual with actual experience amongst the group with no experience. So even if MGySgt Hitman says that's the dumbest idea I've ever heard and explain why they would still do what the group wants in which case what would even be the point of being there. I guess its one of those things you just have to deal with to make things better.
 

Teufel

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Here is another uncomfortable fact. At the end of the day, officers make the decisions and policies that run the Marine Corps. They generally do this from the Quantico and the Pentagon. Staff NCOs are rare in that they are the only Marines whose billet description requires them to mentor their immediate superior in addition to their subordinates. If you want to affect change, you need to ensure that you train your platoon commanders in such a way that when they are placed in these positions they can make a positive change in the reconnaissance community. A lot of Marines like to tell officers that they are TAD to the reconnaissance community and this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy when that officer who does not feel like he belongs to the community leaves the community and makes no attempt to seek out positions in the aforementioned planning billets or return as a senior officer. A good SNCO can change all that.
 

ARS-031

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All you gotta do is let the brass know that the peace loving, tree hugging fairies like myself up in Canada have 338's and Im sure you'll have them in the system faster than I can make it down to my local tye dye class.

Even if that doesnt work, Ill send you a sexy shirt to brighten up your day :cool:
 

phridum

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Totally agree on moving to a round with a better BC. I never had the opportunity to fire a non-A5 so I don't have much to say on performance differences. The stock I wasn't much of a fan of because of the weight vs function factor. The decision for an adjustable stock seemed like a way to cut costs by saying we could easily share rifles now instead of having more of them. They also told us it helped manage recoil easier...except that it's not a cannon in the first place. Rather have that weight for water.

Definitely lust for a USMC AIAW though...
 

Vat_69

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you mean to tell me that a 100 year old M2HB 50cal is still the best design for a 50 cal machine gun? That there aren't several better designs out there by now. Ohhhh thats right, if it aint broke, why spend more money?

Not to thread jack but apparently the M2 is not easily replaced. http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/2008924225018.asp

Irreplaceable
by James Dunnigan
September 24, 2008
Discussion Board on this DLS topic
The U.S. Army has given up on getting a replacement for the nearly century old M2 .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine-gun. At least not anytime soon. Many of the current ones are wearing out, so the army is replacing over 80 percent of its 36,600 M2 machine-guns in the next five years, with new M2s. Efforts to develop a replacements for the M2 have failed so far.

For example, three years ago, field testing of the XM-312, the chief contender to replace the M-2, began, in the United States and overseas. Then, nothing. That's because the test results were not encouraging, the biggest shortcoming being the low rate of fire (about 260 rounds per minute). This is about half the rate of the M2, and was believed adequate for the 25mm smart shells the XM312 was originally designed for (as the XM307). But for 12.7mm bullets, it didn't impress the troops. There were some reliability problems (the M2 has one jam per 10,000 rounds), which were believed fixable. The rate-of-fire issue, however, has proved to be more difficult. Meanwhile, a new upgrade for the M2 has been fielded, and Ma Deuce still rules the battlefield. The new M2E2 has a quick change barrel, flash hider and lot of small improvements. It is much in demand.

Originally, the M2 replacement was going to be the M-307, which was designed so it could fire either the computer controlled 25mm "smart shell" of the XM-25, or (by changing the barrel and receiver), .50 caliber ammo. But it was felt that a straight replacement for the M-2 was needed quickly. The original plan was for the troops to begin getting the XM312 in 2008, or sooner. Didn't happen.

The M-2, nicknamed "Ma Deuce" by the troops, has been around so long because it was very good at what it did. Accurate, reliable, rugged and easy to use, many of the M-2s currently in use are decades old, and finally wearing out. The army didn't want to build new ones, and wasn't sure it could do without the venerable, and very useful, Ma Deuce. So it tried to develop a new .50 caliber machine-gun (the XM312). The XM312 weighs 36 pounds (compared to 50 for the M-2), even with the addition of the electronic fire control stuff from the XM307.

The fire control system, especially the range finder, makes the XM312 much more accurate with first shot hits. American troops testing the XM312 also reacted favorably to the lighter weight and fire control electronics. But the lower rate-of-fire on the XM-312 was a deal killer to the many troops who had used the M2 in combat recently.

The 25mm "smart shell" of the M307 is still a promising concept, but what the troops really want is a heavy shell that can fire through walls, vehicles and take out enemy troops with one bullet. The 12.7mm bullet does all that. For long range grenades, the troops still prefer the 40mm Mk19. The army has 23,000 of these, and many are old and worn out. Not as bad as the M2 situation, but the army is buying 4,600 new ones over the next few years.

Both the M2 and Mk19 have a max range of 2,000 meters. The Mk19 rate of fire is about 350 rounds a minute, and is usually fired in short (a few rounds) bursts of these 19 ounce grenades (which kill or incapacitate most people with six meters of the explosion). The Mk19 is more complex and expensive ($22,000 each) than the M2 ($14,000 each) and jams more frequently. But it is reliable enough to remain popular and in demand.

The M2 has become even more popular with the addition of night and thermal sights. With these, you can spot enemy troops, over a thousand meters away, at night, as they try to sneak up on you. You can eliminate the threat before they get within rifle or RPG range.
 
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