Jack Murphy, former Special Forces Soldier and author, has claimed that many of the special forces community are unhappy with the Knight’s Armament Company M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System. This is the first time I have read or heard of issues with the M110, other than that they were not supplying enough of them!
Murphy says that the lack of a forward-assist is frustrating for snipers who chamber a round slowly, to prevent noise, and then use the forward assist to ensure the round is in battery. Apparently the SOP is to use a cleaning rod to push the bolt forward. Using a thumb or finger to push the bolt forward would also work.
Another problem, according to Murphy, is that the scope selected for the M110. This is not a problem with the M110 rifle or even the scope itself, just with the specifications. If it was a big enough problem Leupold could retrofit the scopes with zero-able turrets.
Ultimately, a semi-automatic sniper rifle is not going to be as reliable, accurate or light as a bolt action. Conversely, a bolt action is never going to be able to achieve the same rate of fire as a semi-automatic. Murphy wrote …
The M110 was developed and fielded for legitimate purposes, but in the rush to field a semi-automatic rifle I think that the Army lost sight of the big picture. In my opinion, replacing bolt-action sniper rifles with a semi-auto is short sighted.
There is a place for both semi-auto and bolt-action sniper rifles. The best possible solution would be to have enough of both so that sniper teams could select the best weapon for their mission.
[ Many thanks to Lance for emailing me the link. ]