US Army to Begin Fielding the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle in September

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
An M110A1 CSASS prototype displayed at the AUSA conference in October of 2017

The US Army’s new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, or SDM-R, is set to be fielded at the brigade level starting in September 2018, according to the Program Executive Office Soldier.

The new rifle is based on the Heckler and Koch G28E / M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) but the SDM-R has a different buttstock and barrel twist to the CSASS. The SDM-R, chambered in 7.62x51mm, is set to provide infantry, scout, and engineer squads with the capability to engage enemy targets with accurate rifle fire at longer ranges.

Not much new information can be gleaned from the photograph that the Army News Service included with their article on the new rifle as it appears to be an HK417 photograph dating from at least 2014. The SDM-R, however, has a confirmed base weight of approximately 9.9 lbs and the rifle will be outfitted with the ruggedized SIG Sauer Tango 6 1-6×24 variable power scope. It will reportedly have an MLOK, rather than HKey forend, and be equipped with a suppressor.

Captain Weston Goodrich, PEO Soldier’s assistant program manager for Soldier Weapons, said:

The Army’s current rifle technology is most effective below the 300-meter range; however, Soldiers are fully capable of fighting beyond that threshold. The new rifle addresses the 300 to 600 meters range gap outlined in the 2015 U.S. Army Small Arms Capabilities-Based Assessment.

Goodrich explained that infantry typically engages targets out to 300m, squad designated marksmen theoretically engage at 300 to 600m and snipers typically engaging at 600m and beyond. The SDM-R improves the lethality of forces that do not have sniper attached by increasing their effective range at which they can engage with an enemy.

“The Army is working to equip each squad with a predetermined amount of marksman rifles,” Goodrich added, the rifle will be fielded at the brigade level starting in September. The rifle is capable of firing either the M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round or the XM1158 Advanced Armor Piercing Round.

The Army is looking to field roughly 18,000 of the SDM-Rs by 2023, according to the US Army FY2019 Budget Justification book, 5,180 of these will be purchased in the fiscal year 2019.


Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: & Overt Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at:

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