France In Search of New Sharpshooter Rifle

    French Soldiers with an HK417 and a Hécate II

    As part of France’s continuing small arms modernisation the French Army has announced the search for a new semi-automatic marksman’s rifle to replace the ageing FR-F2 bolt action sniper rifles. This is a requirement that has been rumoured for some time.

    On the 18th August, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), France’s government defence procurement agency, released a tender on for a 7.62×51mm chambered semi-automatic sharpshooter’s rifle with daylight optics. These will replace the MAS 36-derived FR-F2 which entered service with the French Army in 1986. The F2 itself was a modernised version of the FR F1 which had been in service since the mid 1960s.

    The new rifle, designated the Fusil de Précision Semi-Automatique or FPSA, will be part of a package together with spares, training and maintenance. The tender calls for 2,600 rifles and also includes a requirement for the bidding manufacturers to provide 2,800 night sights, 1,800 of those to be paired with image intensifiers, 1,000 thermal sights and 6.3 million rounds of 7.62x51mm ammunition – divided between 3.15 million rounds of precision ammunition and 3.15 million rounds of ‘perforating’ AP ammunition.

    Back in July, we reported that Verney-Carron, one of France’s premier sporting gun makers was hoping to bid for the contract. Verney-Carron hope to submit their 7.62x51mm VCD-10, a semi-automatic precision rifle. It remains unclear if Verney-Carron will be blocked from submitting again due to their turnover being below 50 million Euros. Fabrique Nationale are also likely to submit the 7.62x51mm FN SCAR Mk 20 Mod 0 Sniper Support Rifle (SSR). Heckler & Koch, however, have a very strong chance of capturing the contract as the French Army has adopted the HK416 as their new standard service rifle and have been fielding the HK417 in small numbers for a number of years with various units including Special Forces including the Groupement des Commandos de Montagne.

    The deadline for submissions for the FPSA is 5th October 2018.


    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]