New Multi-Caliber Sniper Weapon System for Swedish Armed Forces

    Swedish Coastal Ranger, with a PSG-90 (Sniper Rifle 1990). Note the Trident patch to the left, similar to the US Navy SEALs.

    The current sniper rifles in the Swedish Army are the PSG90 and the AG90. The AG90 is the Barret M82 in .50 BMG and the PSG90 is made by Accuracy International in .308 Win. The M82 is more of an anti-material rifle than a sniper rifle.

    After a lot of testing the Accuracy International L96A1 AW, where AW stands for Arctic Warfare, was approved as PSG90 (Sniper Rifle 90) in 1990.

    Although the PSG90 has been in service for a while, soon 30 years, the rifle was still able to help the Swedish Team win “Europe Best Sniper Team Competition” in 2018. I find it a bit ironic that the Swedish Army is now looking to replace the rifle which beat all the others, but there are of course a huge amount of other factors included in this procurement process.

    The winning Sniper Team team from Sweden’s Air Force. Photo: Markus Rauchenberger

    The specifications announced by FMV (Swedish Defence Materiel Administration) are very similar to the rifles used by most of the other International Sniper Teams in recent competitions.

    You could also argue that the Ak4D, with Spuhr furniture and a Hensoldt sight, could be used as a sniper rifle as well but it is more a DMR/sharpshooter rifle in the squad, not for a sniper team working by themselves.

    Sweden’s Future Sniper Weapon System

    In an RFI (Request For Information) like this, there are always multi-page documents with requirements to fulfill, but here we will try to focus on the rifle and the system itself and what FMV is looking for.

    An RFI like this is highly interesting, as it specifies the future need and also what kind of wear and tear they expect (or are comfortable with).

    In FMV’s liking, the system should consist of Multi caliber bolt-action rifle, including Scope mount, Back up iron sight, Suppressor, Muzzle brake, Bipod, Tripod, Weapon sling, Drag-bag and Equipment for maintenance.

    A selection of long-range bolt-action rifles. However only one could possibly pass Swedish FMV’s requirements. Do you know which one? (Picture by author)

    The weapon should be in caliber 8.6mm Lapua or Norma Magnum (.338), but should also be able to use 7.62 mm with a barrel change.

    It should be possible to change the caliber of the weapon by changing bolt/bolthead, barrel and magazine.

    There should be a rail for mounting optical sights, Night vision sights and sensors (like Range Finding lasers) on top of the weapon. The top-rail should cover the length of the top of the receiver and handguard, in other words, a free-floating barrel. The interface of the top-rail should be STANAG 4694 and the top rail should have an incline of 9 mrad/30MOA.

    A Norwegian Army Telemark Battalion sniper engages a target using a night vision optics (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Benjamin Haulenbeek)

    The main parts of the weapon (receiver, bolt, chassis or stock, trigger unit) should have a technical lifespan of at least 6,000 rounds 8.6mm. Tests should be done in accordance with section 2.5, subsection 2.5.6 in NATO D/14 Handbook.

    Barrel wear is to be evaluated with test method 2.6.3.2 and the ammunition to be used is to be 50% Ball ammunition, 25% Armor piercing incendiary and 25% Armor piercing ammunition.

    The main parts of the weapon (receiver, bolt, chassi or stock, trigger unit) should also have a technical lifespan of at least 7,000 rounds 7.62mm.

    AI AXMC (photo by Accuracy International)

    The 8.6 mm barrel should fulfill the dispersion requirements up to at least 2000 rounds.

    The 7.62 mm barrel should fulfill the dispersion requirements up to at least 7000 rounds.

    The 8.6mm system should have reliability of MRBS (Mean Rounds Between Stoppages) of at least 1 000 rds (Class I) and MRBF at least 6 000 rds (Class II & III)

    It should be possible to load and clear the weapon of ammunition while the safety is engaged.

    The suppressor should reduce impulse noise to 135 dB(C) or less.

    With regards to the buttstock, it should be adjustable in length, have adjustable cheek support and it should be foldable.

    The handguard should have interface for accessories-rails.

    The handguard interface should be according to SPUHR-interface design.

    The handguard interface should enable mounting of accessories-rails in 3, 6 and 9 o’clock pattern on the complete length of the handguard.

    The handguard should withstand forces induced when using the bipod or a barricade as shooting support without causing the top rail to diverge more than 0,1mrad from the bore axis.

    The weapon should have backup iron sights.

    The bipod should be mounted directly to the hand-guard or with a STANAG 4694 interface.

    The main colour should be equivalent to RAL7013 or Pantone 19-0822 TCX. That is a Brown Grey color.

    All parts should have a reflection of the surface coating low enough to make the system appear dark. Tests should for all materials be done in accordance with section 2.16.1 in NATO D/14 Handbook

    • Visual spectra, reflectivity, ref. ISO 7724
    • Ultraviolet: wavelength 0,20 to 0,30 nm (UV)
    • Near-Infrared: wavelength 0,7 to 2,5 μm (NIR)
    • Mid-Infrared: wavelength 3 to 5 μm (MIR)
    • Far-Infrared: wavelength 8 to 12 μm (FIR)”

    Note that there are a lot of “should”, not “must”, in the requirements. But whichever supplier that can tick most of the boxes will increase their chances I am sure.

     

    Here are a few videos, with the intention to show how you change the barrel from one caliber to another one.

    The Accuracy International AXMC, and how to change the barrel and caliber.

    Procurement during 2020

    The plan is to procure around 200 Sniper Weapon Systems, with the possibility for further systems in the future.

    Potential suppliers have until December 16 in 2019 to reply, so there is a bit of a hurry. The procurement process is expected to start in the year 2020.

    Riflescopes, Night Vision and Thermal Sights are planned to be procured separately. Here is a picture what such a Sniper System may look like (Photo: Let The Darkness Come)

    Potential Contenders

    We can only speculate, but there are a number of sniper systems out there that could fit within FMV’s specifications.

    For instance the SAKO TRG M10, which may already be in use within certain Swedish Special Units. As a reference, you can check this picture from Obama’s visit to Sweden in 2013.

    SAKO TRG M10. Picture by SAKO.

    Of course, TFB has tried the TRG M10 and managed sub-MOA groupings in .308 Win and .338LM.

    There is also Accuracy International AXMC, which can be seen below in a rather unusual shooting position.

    Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Rolyn Kropf

    And here is how the Accuracy International AXMC (Multi-Caliber) may look like with mount, scope and Night Vision. This setup was chosen by Lithuania, check here for an in-depth article.

     

    The Barret MRAD could be a potential system. The MRAD is also used by Norway since 2013 (as well as other countries of course).

    Barret MRAD taken down. Picture by TFB’s Austin Rex.

    All of these three companies above are already supplying, or have supplied, sniper rifles to Sweden.

    Other potential suppliers and systems could be the Remington MSR or the Steyr Mannlicher SSG M1, which TFB reported about in 2018. Ritter & Stark had a system, but they are not in the market any longer.

    The FN Ballista may have a chance to, and I am sure they will be answering the RFI.

    FN Ballista. Picture by FN America.

     

    One thing is for sure, the 8.6 Norma/Lapua Magnum requires a lot of training to Master, with a focus on the recoil management. So hopefully FMV will take into account the need for replacement barrels in .338 LM.

    We will see which system wins after everything is said and done. If I had to make a guess, call it educated or not, my money would be on the Sako TRG M10 together with a Schmidt & Bender 5-25 PMII in a Spuhr mount – and the dangerous end suppressed by ASE Utra.

    Perhaps it will be called PSG2020 (Prickskyttegevär 2020)?  What is your guess?

    The article Rifles & Optics of the European Best Sniper Squad Competition may also be of interest to you.

    Eric B

    Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics and sound suppressors. Owning the night would be nice too. TCCC Certified medic.


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