SOCOM Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) Competition

The US Military is looking for a system to replace the existing bolt-action SOF Sniper Systems M40, M24 and MK13 which are all based on Remington 700 actions.

Marine’s M40A3 Sniper rifle.

One of the key requirements for this system that differentiates it from the existing 7.62x51mm NATO and .300 Win. Mag. sniper systems is that it needs to reach out to 1500 meters with MOA accuracy. Armed forces around the world have long recognized the need for a system that can reach out further than the 7.62mm NATO but is lighter than .50 BMG rifles. Many have adopted the .338 Lapua Magnum chambered rifles to fill this niche. The .338 Lapua Magnum was originally a US Military project but it lost traction and the .300 Win. Mag. is currently used for longer range shooting. The .300 Win. Mag. lacks downrange energy and the lighter projectiles mean greater wind drift at long range (1000 – 2000 yards).

The current Precision Sniper Rifle, as at March 2009, are as follows.

1) The system shall be chambered to safely fire factory produced “non-wildcat” Small Arms Ammunition Manufacturing Institute (SAAMI) or Commercial European standard (CIP) ammunition.

This eliminates some of the fancy odd-ball caliber long range cartridges such as the .408 Cheyenne Tactical (CheyTac). The most obvious choice is the before mentioned .338 Lapua Magnum. The cartridge has been around for a while and manufactures know how to get the most our of the cartridge. Another alternative is the .338 Norma Magnum which is only coming into production this year. It is similar in length to the .338 Lapua but has a slightly shorter and fatter case so it can use heavier and longer bullets which have a higher ballistic co-efficient.

300Px-.338 Lapua Magnum Vs .338 Norma Magnum
.338 Lapua vs. .338 Norma Mag. Photo from Wikipedia.

2) The action can be either manually or gas operated and available in left and right hand versions.

I think most, or all, entries will be bolt-action rifles. They are easier to make accurate, lighter and more reliable than autoloading rifles. The advantage of a semi-auto is of course rate of fire, but this is not a requirement for this weapons system.

3) With primary day optic and ammunition the system shall provide 1.0 MOA from 300 to 1500 meters (in 300 meter increments) when fired from the shoulder or an accuracy fixture in nominal conditions. This is further defined as 1 MOA Extreme Vertical Spread for all shots in a 10 round group at the stated distances.

1500 meters = 1640 yards.

The rifle is fired from a rest and 80% of the fifty 10 round groups need to be 1 MOA. Note that the MOA is measured only for the vertical spread which eliminates the effects of wind on the measured accuracy. 1 MOA spread is over 10 round groups is much harder than getting 1 MOA for a standard 3 round group!

4) Mean Rounds Between Failures (MRBF) shall be 1000 rounds.

5) The system shall have an overall length no greater than 52″ in full configuration / extended excluding suppressor with a single component no greater in length than 40″.

6) The system shall weigh no more than 18 lbs with a 12:00 MilStd 1913 rail and a loaded magazine with 5 rounds.

7) The system shall be capable of operator breakdown into major components in less than two minutes.

The barrel also needs to be able to be swapped out by the operator within 20 minutes.

8 ) The system will assemble from the major component breakdown in less than two minutes by the operator.

9) The system will assemble from breakdown with no change in weapon zero.

10) The system will have an integral MilStd 1913 rail at the 12:00 position, the rail will be capable of maintaining bore sight alignment and weapon zero while conducting routine firing combined with combat movement and operational training drills.

These are all pretty standard requirements. One other test than will be performed will be drop tests with loaded rifles. The rifles are expected to be able to be dropped 1.5 meters at various angles without firing the chambered cartridge.

Overall they seem very sensible requirements. It will be interesting to see how this competition progresses.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Phil

    Is 1 MOA at 1500 meters realistic?

    • Ben

      IMO no. Plus it underscores my claim for using a falling block. At that range the type of action it uses is irrelevant.

  • alex

    it sucks that they;re not gonna use the CheyTac….its so accurate….

  • Don

    Hi Steve,

    What is the unit of measurement on the drop test?


    • Don, meters. I have updated the article.

  • Greg

    One other little typo issue, 1500 meters = 1640.4 yds. Little typo but big difference.

  • ERic Blumensaadt

    By looking at the new .338 Norma Magnum case I would guess that it may be more consistently accurate than the .338 Lapua Magnum (originally developed in the U.S. than adopted by Lapua).

    I say this because in benchrest shooting cartridges that are shorter, fatter and have a sharper shoulder angle tend to generate better accuracy.
    In any case I’d like either cartridge in a Desert Tactical SRS bullpup bolt rifle. Now THAT’S a rifle to meet the SOCOM specs if I ever saw one.

  • Matt

    I realize the odds of you reading this slim, but yes. 1 MOA is totally realistic at 1500. Barrett, Chey Tac, Dakota, Remington, McMillan, and numerous others have demonstrated .5 MOA or better out to 2500. Though not with 10 round groups, that I’ve seen.

  • Brad

    Hmm… requirement #6 implies a repeating weapon with a 5 round magazine. Yet requirement #2 does not say it must be a repeating weapon! So why not use a falling-block single-shot action? Perhaps the Ruger No. 1 action?

    Perhaps such a system wouldn’t make the grade in terms of accuracy. But every rifle would be ambidextrous, the overall cartridge length and cartridge resistance to recoil wouldn’t be as much a problem (long 300 grain bullets in .338 Lapua for example), and overall system length wouldn’t be as much a problem.

  • zach

    why would a single shot falling block be at all useful for modern military operations? Does the M40A3 use a McMillan stock? Cause it looks like an A5 with different cheekrest

    • Ben

      Because a falling block can be made to accommodate any cartridge size and such a rifle will be equal or superior to the most accurate bolt action on the market in moa terms. That is the case for me and my Ruger #1s.

  • Lance

    I dont think this is going to happen. SOCOM is going nuts with getting its own guns. Most of which is not needed. The head of this is a nutter who wants his own service to chair. 308 is the norm for sniping and I dont see the US alone going to a wildcat caliber.

  • Sean Ingram

    Why not a falling block? It is just as accurate as any bolt action that I’ve ever shot and locks up just as tight, plus it’s ambidextrous.

  • r m mccarthy

    I have a howa 1500 winchester 300 magnum. I would like to buy a conversion kit, if available, to make my rifle more comfortable to shoot . An adjustable butt, cheek, finger pull ETC… More on the lines of a sniper rifle. I have no problem hitting what I aim at now, but sitting in a blind or on the ground has cost me quite a few trophy and freezers full of good meat adjusting my firing position. So bottom line, I need to find a kit that allows me to keep all the mechanics of my rifle, barrel, bolt, trigger, but all the adjustable extras of a good sniper rifle. Thank you

  • charles222

    To be fair, SOCOM is practically it’s own service already; it just draws on the rest of the military for manpower. And even that isn’t always the norm-you can try out for Army SF straight out of Basic with an 18 X-Ray contract.

    SOCOM necking down from four or five different sniper rifles to one makes good logistical sense; it was the rationale behind the SCAR. Prior to the SCAR, SF was using the following assault & battle rifles:

    -Mk 18 CQBR
    -Mk 11 SASS
    -Mk 12 Mod O SPR
    -Mk 14 Mod 0/Mod 1 EBR

    And probably others that I’ve never heard of. That’s a logistical nightmare with no fewer than five different types of rifle in use. It generates wasted money and a lack of being able to standardize spare parts requirements.

    The PSR is a good, sensical program as well for the same reasons.

  • Spiff

    I wonder of the Steyr SSG 08 .338LAPUA will be in the competition – possibly the most accurate out-of-the-box rifle one can byu.

  • Spiff

    I wonder of the Steyr SSG 08 .338LAPUA will be in the competition – possibly the most accurate out-of-the-box rifle one can buy.

  • Ray

    Q. Why do so many hotrodders use a GM 350 engine to build cars? A. because there are so many parts available.
    Reimgton and Winchester are very proud of their parts. Try to find parts to repair or modify one.
    Did you ever wonder why there are always new Guns in differant calibers.? To keep the arms and ammunition market from stagnating. Which in turn would cause some markets to dry up.
    People are always looking for something new and better. Heven only knows why.
    The most widely coppied rifle of all time is the Mauser. Check out how many of the original ’98 features are still in use today. Why are so many custom rifles built on ’98 actions?
    Seems to me if it aint broke don’t fix it.
    Check out how many rifles are still around and the plethora of new and used parts available by numerous manufacturers.
    Mauser action, sniper platform, McMillan stock. Whats the problem?

  • Me

    I don’t care what people say about “the most accurate rifle bla bla bla” The most accurate sniper rifle currently procuced is the Unique Alpine. Google it.

  • Michael

    I agree with alex…it does suck.
    The Cheytac case design sporting a tapered casing is conducive to auto-loading applications as well as bolt. Yet it offers a sharper shoulder for more complete powder burn and better harmonics.
    For the re-loader, due to these features, brass creep/flow is marginal, offering multiple reloads with little trimming.
    The .338 Cheytac is no more wild-cat than the .338 Norma, nor should it be. Ballistic coefficients should be the governing standard here and the best platform to satisfy this requirement should be made common.
    Can you imagine a DTA SRS chambered in .408 Cheytac with a .308 Norma secondary action/barrel kit? I can.

  • Brian

    1 MOA at 1500 is not realistic. It is a must lives depend on it.

  • koolaidguzzler

    what’s the BC of the .338 lapua and .338 norma?

  • Jeff

    The barrel change requirement would be easy with a Savage 110 based rifle.
    AI magazines can already work with the Savage.
    Savage rifles have a good reputation for accuracy.

  • Tom

    FYI 1MOA= roughly 1 inch @ 100 meters.
    So 1 MOA at 1500m= approx. 15 inches, which is very easy to accomplish.

  • Savage is playing catch up in the world of sniper rifles. Remington is the big dog on the block when speaking of time in rate. Expierence is always the best teacher it doesnt allow you to forget. Remington.

  • Sam Suggs

    non wildcat is a kinda anti competive dick reqirment I mean look at the chamber pressure saftey boy I mean realy factory produced

  • Sam Suggs

    U.S military arms procurment what can i say to sum up the shear levels of fail and suckness over the years


    Guys, Guys, guys.It doesn’t matter what system you have,it could be the most expensive piece of kit in the world,or the cheapest,if I can kill you with it it ain’t the gun.It’s the brains and the finger behind it.Would I turn down a Laborghini? no! wouldn’t turn down a Chevy Camaro Z-28 either.