(Updated) Army Releases Notice for New Compact Semi-Auto Sniper Rifle – CSASS

USMCSystem

Following up on a Sources Sought released back in 2012, the US Army is moving forward with a potential acquisition for the next-generation Semi-Auto Sniper System (SASS), the aptly named “Compact-SASS” (CSASS) through a best-value contract. The current SASS is the M110, manufactured by Knights Armament.

Update: As some eagle-eyed readers have pointed out (and I missed), the Statement of Objectives includes the option to upgrade the existing fleet. More details on this option at the end of the post.

Offerors looking to compete in this requirement have the option to submit no more than two (2) proposal(s) to acquire a new system or to retrofit the existing M110 SASS. The contractor shall manufacture, produce, and support the CSASS. The contractor shall provide for all necessary labor, material, supplies, services, facilities, and equipment to perform the requirements of the Statement of Objectives (SOO) in Section C of the formal Request for Proposal (RFP).

Reducing weight is a major priority. The CSASS looks to add many features that have been developed for the commercial market including: match-style triggers, configurable rail systems, collapsible stocks, muzzle devices, and muzzle-device compatible Q/D suppressors.

m110-sass

It’s important to note that this is not an actual solicitation, this is a pre-solicitation. The Army commonly releases pre-solicitations to prime the industry on the likely requirements and to give them time to tool up and test new designs for a future formal RFP.

Current recognizable manufacturers that have added themselves to the “Interested Vendors” group include: (Note- Vendors do not have to add themselves to this list. Often companies will not add themselves to avoid telegraphing their interest to competitors. There are likely many more prominent names looking into this.):

  1. Patriot Ordnance Factory
  2. Troy Industries
  3. SI Defense
  4. 2 Vets Arms

Interestingly, the Government is looking at two procurement vehicles. After purchasing the initial 30 units for developmental and operational testing, the Army may go one or both of the paths below:

  1. Within 24 months of contract award, the Army may buy up to a total of 3,643 CSASS weapon systems to be delivered over 5 years at a Firm-Fixed Price.
  2. Within 36 months of contract award, the Army may purchase the entire Technical Data Package (TDP), which would halt deliveries until the SASS program hits “Milestone C” (which is the Government’s classification for “mature” programs of record).

It is entirely possible they Army may buy all the rifles and then opt to buy the TDP for future procurements. If the Government exercises Option 2, they would own the design to the CSASS. From there, the Army could solicit the design to all manufacturers to get the best price.

This is the current practice with the M4 & M16, but the government does not own the TDP. Instead, they pay a 5% royalty to Colt. See a detailed article at Defense Industry Daily for the history on it. I believe the the Army is keen to avoid another Colt TDP fiasco which has plagued them since the 1990’s.

srm110sass_weeds

It will be interesting to see where this will go. My guess is what we will see a few packages submitted for evaluation. Remington, Sig, and other large companies will bid complete in-house solutions and there will be a few loose federations of smaller companies with one serving and the prime bidder. (Possible Example ONLY: Daniel Defense Rifle, Silencer Co Suppressor & Device, MagPul Furniture)

The small companies may stand a good chance. The low production quantity is achievable for small shops and the request to purchase the TDP may give them a pricing advantage when looking at the total package price. However, my experience has shown that it is difficult if you are not a large company or have previous contracts to make a meaningful impact on Program Offices.

My prediction: This will be Remington’s contract to lose for three reasons:

  1. Remington currently supplies the latest M-2010 sniper rifle and suppressor system. This gives them delivery history and plenty of business development in-roads into the program office.
  2. The DMPS Gen II .308 platforms were released coincidentally this last year giving Remington plenty of time to iron out the bugs. The new Gen II rifles shed a significant amount of weight that other manufacturers who use the de-facto DPMS Gen I platform will have a hard time achieving.
  3. Remington has significant production capacity with the new plant in GA coming online. Combined with their purchasing power, they will be hard to beat in materials and labor pricing.

Update: The Army is looking to award this as a “best value” contract. Unlike “Technically Acceptable, Lowest Price”, “Lowest Value” contracts give the Army wide discretion on what they consider valuable. They may prioritize accuracy, weight, or any number of technical qualifications. In short, “best value” is whatever a program office can use to justify its decision in front of a judge during a likely protest (who typically give the program offices significant deference).

Reading between the lines, my analysis is that the Army does not want to upgrade the current M110 systems. Looking at all the upgrades, about the only re-usable items from the existing platform would be the receivers, which are heavy. The trigger, grip, bolt, etc would likely all be replaced.

In my experience, “best value” contracts are used when the Government has specific contractors or ideas in mind but has to go through free and open competition. Or, they have existing stock of an old system that must be disposed of in such a manner that would not bring excess attention to the program office. My guess is the reasons for the “best value” is a combination of both.

Plus, if they opt to upgrade existing weapons, Knight’s will still own a critical part of the TDP. Recently, the Army has been keen to own the core technologies and IP. The recent camouflage effort is a prime example. The Army almost bought the Crye Multicam TDP, but instead adopted their internal “Scorpion” patterns. Since they do not have the capability to design the weapon themselves, they will have to procure it from the outside.

(End Update)

My hope: The MagPul Massoud makes a dark-horse appearance.

albums-h90-remov-shot2009-magpul-massoud-01-tm

 

After being down yesterday, the Army’s page is up and running: https://acquisition.army.mil/asfi/solicitation_view.cfm?psolicitationnbr=W15QKN14R0065


Nathan S.

TFB’s resident Jarhead, Nathan now works within the Industry in Operations, Sales & Marketing. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, MSR’s, high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries in the last three years working with US DoD & foreign MoDs. You will likely find him either in an international airport or on the local range in NE Indiana.

Nathan can be reached at [email protected]


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  • Axel

    Ok, so where are the draft specs?

  • Lance

    No you got it partially wrong Nathan it a contract to upgrade NOT replace M-110s. It aalows for some look at newer weapons but it primary to make a upgrade kit to make the M-110 have a 16 ich barrel and a collapsible butstock.

    • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

      From the Statement of Objectives for W15QKN-14-R-0065:

      The contractor shall meet the performance criteria specified by PURCHASE DESCRIPTION, RIFLE, 7.62MM: COMPACT SEMI-AUTOMATIC SNIPER SYSTEM (CSASS) in one of two ways; 1) by making modifications to the existing M110 SASS, or 2) by producing a new firearm to meet the requirements of the aforementioned purchase description.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S. ” Staff Writer, TFB”

      Yep, missed that clause in my reading. The article has since been updated with additional analysis to this effect.

      My reading: This is a all-out replacement, not upgrade.

      • Lance

        Disagree the Army cannot afford a whole news system. Besides it be another AR-10 variant.

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S. ” Staff Writer, TFB”

          I would hazard they could. Even assuming $5K/rifle (which is likely high at these quantities), the full acquisition would be only ~$19 million, adding in Program Office budget, you are at around ~$30 million.

          Its a small number compared to larger ongoing acquisitions such as JLTV, etc.

          • LCON

            exactly Small arms actually take only pennies off the DOD Dollar.

          • Obama Bin Lie En

            It’ll depend on which retired general sits on the board at the specific company. It’s about who you know. Like Colt getting the Marines pistol.

          • Lance

            I think your a too hopeful SCAR fan I dont think the AR-10 design is going anywhere fro a while.

  • Zachary marrs

    So, I know that the m110, had problems, but has it officially replaced the m-14 ebr?

    • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

      The M14 EBR-RI was always meant to be a stop-gap fielding.

    • Lance

      No M-14 EBR still in strong service the M-110 is for snipers M-14 EBR is for squad marksman there is a difference. Even the USMC who stated the M-110 to replace there M-14 variant the M-39 have not replaced many at all.

      Face from the bolt action M-24 to the M-110 they try and try to replace the M-14 it fails because the M-14 is one darn good accurate and reliable weapon.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        This is true. The m14 variants are still going strong. A Marine Force Recon member has some good info between the two: https://imgur.com/a/kqxLU
        Besides, the military isn’t exactly happy with KAC. Not only did they make the M110 and MK11 so they can’t share suppressors, but they released them with plenty of teething problems that forced the military to be beta testers during field operations.

        • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

          Given that the Mk 11 Mod 0 had a bare muzzle versus the flash-suppressor equipped M110, why is it surprising that the older suppressor might not fit?

          • Rusty Shackleford

            It has to do with the attachment points: Gas block vs muzzle. There really was no need to do that other than greed.

          • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

            The original M110 and Mk 11 Mod 2 suppressors also attached via the gas block. However, the length of the flash suppressor installed on the latter rifles makes the distance to the gas block longer than the bare muzzle of the Mk 11 Mod 0. There is no conspiracy.

      • n0truscotsman

        KAC stepped on their own dick several times, which is why the M110 never exploded on the stage of military marksman rifles.

        As far as the M14 goes, it is being kept in service as a interim solution to a problem that still hasn’t been solved completely. The SCAR H was supposed to do that, and even that is iffy in the future.

        Given the fact that all branches of the military, with the exception of the coast guard, are accommodating the F35 flying turkey, M14s will probably remain in service for quite a while…alongside AAVs.

        There are options to replace the M14. Its the lack of stomach to do it.

  • BillC

    Again, TFB, it’s ORDNANCE, not ordinance.

    “Patriot Ordinance Factory” is Patriot ORDNANCE Factory.

    or·di·nance [awr-dn-uhns] Show IPA

    noun
    1.an authoritative rule or law; a decree or command.
    2.a public injunction or regulation: a city ordinance against excessive horn blowing.
    3.something believed to have been ordained, as by a deity or destiny.
    4.Ecclesiastical .
    a.an established rite or ceremony.
    b.a sacrament.
    c.the communion.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S. ” Staff Writer, TFB”

      You are right, sir. Corrected and noted.

    • LCON

      • 101nomad

        Also, read up on the manual of arms for using a sling and a smooth flat red river rock. ( Little known fact, Lil David and the Giant was the inspiration for modern rock and roll. Lil David slew the giant with a smooth flat red river rock, and then rolled him). {May Brother Dave Gardner live forever in that world that is unbeknownst to us that still drink coffee in the morning.}

  • Andrew

    Merely 4 days after my comment about proofreading articles shot to nearly the top spot on the “No More Haters” post, with Steve and Phil both chiming in to agree and pledge a change, comes this article rife with typos and mistakes. I don’t get it guys. Do you really not want a better blog that’s taken seriously?

    • TFB Reader

      I agree about proofreading, but Rome wasn’t built in four days. I’d be interested in the process they use for posting articles: Does someone other than the author serve as a proofreader, or better yet an editor, before the article goes live? If not, it’s going to be tough.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Nathan S. ” Staff Writer, TFB”

        We are always working on our processes and I apologize for the “Ordnance” mistake (especially considering BillC’s past reminder). Thanks guys for the patience and we are working to get better!

        • Andrew

          Seriously, you should look into the myriad proofreading services out there. It will cost you guys nothing per article. Just have it as standard operating procedure to send to one of these firms, use a 24 hour turn around time (far from the most expensive), and then submit. It will take all the burden off of individual writers and provide consistent quality across all your content.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        The author was proofing their own. As of this last weekends post I’m editing–proofreading them all. I’ll continue to do so each day. The only way I’ll miss one is if’s breaking news and goes up as soon as it’s written.
        The only thing I won’t change are any errors made by those we post quotes from.
        One thing I can see is I’m going to disable the auto correct.

        • TFB Reader

          Thanks for the information and the change in the process. A second set of eyes is essential for anything being published. It sounds as if you’re on the right road.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            Thanks!

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Ok what’s wrong with it.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Give us a chance buddy, we are indeed changing our system.

    • http://196800revolutionsperminute.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel F.

      You should know that there is a delay between articles being written and them appearing on the front page.

      It’s likely that Nathan S’s article was written more than four days ago.

      Proofreading is an ongoing endeavor at TFB. There is a lot of volume on TFB, and proofreading everything would require more paid man-hours than TFB can currently support.

      Having said that, Steve and Phil are doing their best.

  • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

    Nathan: Thanks for the hat tip to my article at Defense Industry Daily.

  • Chris

    Army should have gone with an upgraded M21/M25 or the M39 instead of an expensive ineffective rifle. SOCOM is already replacing their SR-25 with a better gun. The Army always seem to have problems with their semi auto sniper rifles . Here’s hoping they can get it right this time.

    • LCON

      They did, But the Numbers of Units available in storage is limited and it takes more resources to run internal armories building them then to buy something off the Shelf.

      • Chris

        Damn all that effort and time just to update an old. Yeah they’re really better off just selecting an off the shelf semi auto sniper rifle. As the M14 isn’t the only battle/sniper rifle we gave away to other countries over the past few decades.

  • Raven

    Smart bet is on the KAC M110K1 or a variant of it. That, or it ends with no decision, like a whole lot of other programs lately. Very much doubt it’ll be a smaller contractor.

  • ColaBox

    POF eh? Like to see what they come up with.

  • fjkhoury

    scar ssr for the win

    • Chris

      Quiet man, you’ll piss off the Fake armchair SOF SCAR haters aka Colt Sockpuppets.

  • LCON

    less then 9 lbs unloaded, a LOP adjustable Stock that gives no more then 36 inches of overall length compacted, a 16 inch barrel, all in dark earth tan
    the Shortened specs may mean this is intended to the DMR to replace the Mk14’s. as the weapon would be harder to flag by the enemy as a DMR rifle then the unique M14 or the M16 like M110 well the rest of the squad has M4A1’s.
    options I see are
    KAC M110K1
    Remington R11 variant or DPMS variant
    Colt CM901 variant
    HK MR762
    LWRCI REPR
    may be FN will try another SCAR-H
    but One option I think most interesting Daniel Defence. Why? They make the AR part of the Trackingpoint AR762.
    That said I place my money on KAC, they already make the M110

    • Joshua

      More thank likely this will net K1 kits to upgrade the M110 to the M110K1. MARSOC purchased a few of these kits to do just that.

  • Obama Bin Lie En

    This should of been what they looked for first, instead of the SASS

  • 101nomad

    What a country!! A compact sniper rifle to shoot compact people!! Choices are wonderful.

  • Michael Bergeron

    This might be a good time for somebody with a good accurate Bullpup design to bring it out of the woodwork especially if it is ambidextrous. Maybe it will give Kel-Tec the motivation to create the .308/7.62 version of their new BullPups a bit earlier.

    • Obama Bin Lie En

      Keltec could never meet a deadline

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Hell, I wish Kel-Tec would make a .308 version of their new RDB and M43 rifles. The forward ejection is just too awkward. In all likelihood, with Kel-Tec not taking their company and market seriously ( poor QC and not enough units being produced ) it would more likely be Desert Tech’s MDR.

  • Vitor

    The M110 is neither compact or lightweight. 18″ barrel should be enough to extract most of the .7.62 and a collapsible buttstock.

  • Vitor
    • iksnilol

      That or a SVU, but you guys don’t like eastern european weapons.

      From a mechanical perspective the best thing would be making a modern version of the Korobov TKB 022, make it in 308 with M14 or AR-10 mags and your good to go.

    • Chris

      The MDR would be the first true ambi battle rifle (not modified into one afterwards) if it was chosen. Though it wouldn’t be the first Bullpup adopted by the Army. As they invested a lot in the XM-25 and are still working on it.

      • kev

        Just what I was thinking the MDR would be ideal.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          IF the trigger is truly as good as Desert Tech claims AND they can bring it in at the ~$2000 range as they originally said, then it will be an amazing option.

      • Vitor

        Indeed, a 7.62 battel rifle more compact than a M4 that can make 800 yards no problem.

    • LCON

      If I was to make the Call I would take a TP AR762 have it painted in tan, mount a Tango down ACB, Magpul AFG, a surefire suppressor and issue that.

  • 1leggeddog

    Meanwhile, afaik, they are still taking M14 out of the mothballs and giving them to the troops saying:

    “Here ya go! This gun worked fine 60 years ago and it still works fine today.”

  • Cifyra

    Scorpion camo was dropped.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Where did you hear that?

  • Nicks87

    If DPMS gets the contract, wow, think of the publicity. Every half-ass mall ninja and keyboard commando will want one for sure.

  • Justin Galt

    It’s cool to see you mention the Massoud, unfortunately formal development stopped when I left Magpul. It would have been great in this application. If you’re ever out in Idaho let me know and you can shoot the only one outside Magpul’s vault.
    Justin
    Kinetic Research Group

  • Uniform223

    I’ve said it on Soldiersystems.net and I’ll say it here. The US Army should just make it easier on themselves and adopt the SR25ECC or the M110K1. Especially after the cluster-F that was the “camouflage improvement program” ( not exactly happy with the results but its better than the current ). The last thing they want to do is have something simple and then make it horribly complex then F it up beyond all recognition.

  • cyclops

    SR25 EC will be the likely end product.

  • ffdasfd

    It’s either going to be a variant of SCAR 17, or lighter-weight SR-25 pattern AR-10. There really isn’t any basis for competition outside of the two. Everything else going to be both heavier, and more complex, and I really doubt that’s the direction the Army’s looking towards.