M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Systems in Ukraine

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
M110 in Ukraine

Since around September 2022, there have been a small but steady stream of sightings of M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Systems in use with combatants in Ukraine. The rifles began appearing on the southern Kherson front before the city was recaptured. While the Ukrainian 7.62x51mm UAR-10 designated marksman rifles are regularly seen intermittent sighting of M110s have continued.

From the available evidence, it appears that special operations units from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), the Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR), the National Guard and the Special Operations Forces (SSO) are the primary users. Units operating with the rifles are believed to include Alpha Group and the 3rd and 8th Separate Special Forces Regiments, as well as a number of groups that, from the available imagery, have been difficult to link with parent units.

M110 with ATN THOR, taken during a range session, note butt extended stock (via Social Media)
Developed in the early 2000s by Knights Armament Company in response to the US Army’s requirement for a semi-automatic rifle to equip snipers, spotters and designated marksmen, the M110 was adopted in 2008. Based on the SR-25, the 7.62x51mm rifle uses Stoner’s internal piston gas impingement system and has a 20-inch barrel with a 1:11 twist. The rifle comes with a QD Knights suppressor and the initial issue optic was a Leupold 3.5–10× variable power daytime optic. Few of the rifles seen in use in Ukraine appear to be equipped with US-issued optics. Both the US Army and USMC have issued the rifle with some variations in optics used and furniture.

A Ukrainian combatant I spoke to told me: “For a marksman, the top weapon. To work at short distances. The PBS system [meaning the integral suppressor] is standard in the kit. It is quiet compared to other rifles.” But he did note that he isn’t part of his unit’s sniper group and has only used the rifle on the range.

Most of the examples in Ukraine have the traditional fixed stock which was issued with the rifles, rather than the FDE Magpul PRS stock which the USMC snipers have been issued. However, at least one rifle with a PRS has been seen in a photo and a least one rifle has been fitted with LUTH-AR MBA-1 stocks used on the Ukrainian UAR-10. Perhaps out of preference or replacing a damaged stock. In theatre, the rifles have been seen paired with a variety of optics ranging from the original Leupold 3.5-10x variable scopes to ATN THOR 4 thermal optics and even a Trijicon 6×48 ACOG.

Three M110s with various optics, note suppressors not fitted, in their transit cases (via Social Media)

The earliest image of an M110 in Ukraine was shared on a Ukrainian telegram channel covering news around the city of Kherson in the early autumn of 2022. The original post is no longer available but shows a sniper in a ghillie suit unmistakably armed with an M110.

Early November saw Ukrainian operators share numerous photographs from a range session where the rifle can be seen fitted with an ATN THOR. December saw more photos shared of what is likely the same rifle, now equipped with a Trijicon 6×48 ACOG.

More photos of the same rifle fitted with the ATN THOR were posted by another operator in mid-November. Bravo Group shared a photo featuring an M110 in early December. Around the same time, the F Spets Instagram account shared a photo of a winter range session with an M110 visible. The same account shared a photo of three M110s in transit cases. Two of the rifles don’t have their suppressors fitted – though these may have been just removed for cleaning. The cases also show slings and various models of bipod and two have three mags apiece stored in one of the cases slots. As mentioned earlier one rifle has a PRS stock.

In late January, a Ukrainian operator shared a montage video with a short clip of a range session with the M110 fitted with a 6×48 ACOG. A Japanese volunteer with the International Legion shared a photo of a scope-less M110 with his cat on 27 January. At the end of February, an M110 with a LUTH-AR MBA-1 stock, possibly taken from a UAR-10 was shared. The same operator shared some new photos of M110s in March. The rifle with the LUTH-AR stock is seen again, in a photo with the logo of a group called ‘НЕПТУН’ (Neptune). In a second photo shared on 17 March, we can see a pair of M110s, one without its suppressor fitted.

How many M110s are in use in Ukraine remains unclear but from a survey of the available imagery, it appears that the number is relatively small. Multiple individuals have shared photographs of what appear to be the same rifles, no doubt because of their notoriety as a relatively rare weapon in theatre. Sources suggest that the rifles were available on a first come first serve basis when they arrived during the second half of 2022. Since they arrived, they have been seen in various configurations and with numerous different optics mounted on them.

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: TheFirearmBlog.com & Overt Defense.com. 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: matt@thefirearmblog.com

More by Matthew Moss

Comments
Join the conversation
3 of 108 comments
Next