March 13 (UPI) — U.S. Special Operations Command will purchase an undisclosed number of advanced sniper rifles from Barrett Firearms, the Defense Department announced this week.
The $49.9 million contract calls for production of the .300 PRC [precision rifle cartridge] MRAD weapons by the Christiana, Tenn.-based company, with a competition date of March 2024.
Barrett Firearms Manufacturing has previously experience outfitting U.S. soldiers with .50- caliber rifles.
The weapon, much of it made of aluminum, is an upgrade of current rifles in use, and is mentioned in the 2019 Special Operations Command budget justification as a means to continue “development of enhanced capabilities to improve performance” of “individual sniper weapons to engage out to 1,500 meters.”
The modular, multi-caliber, bolt-action rifle is chambered in 7.62×51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum cartridges with caliber conversions capable at the user-level, Guns.com reported. The user-level changes are among the reasons the firearm was chosen.
The rifle will be designated Mk21 in U.S. military service, and will replace current sniper rifles in use.
The .338 NM has become the military’s ammunition of choice, Military Times reported on Wednesday, and is the caliber of lightweight medium machine gun that Special Operations Command seeks. Experts compare its range and lethality to that of the .50-caliber M2 machine gun, but in a much lighter weapon and ammunition package.