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XM2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle (ESR)
M24E1 Enhanced Sniper Rifle (ESR)

The XM2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle (ESR) provides extended range capability and incorporates the latest in weapons technology for the US Army Sniper. The XM2010 was distinguished by its advanced design and represented a quantum upgrade over the M24. The shooter interface could be tailored to accommodate a wide range of shooter preferences and its folding stock provided soldier flexibility in transporting the weapon during operations. The weapon also incorporated advanced corrosion resistant coatings to ensure longevity. The aluminum, steel, and high impact polymers used in the weapon's construction were lightweight and rugged.

The ESR was equipped with a Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm scope. The variable power scope included a first focal plane reticle so when the user dialed in, the reticle pattern scaled with the zoom, enabling the sniper to estimate range at any power setting. The scope also employed a reticle pattern that facilitated faster and more accurate range estimation and utilized mil turret adjustments to eliminate minute of angle (MOA) to mil conversion. The targeting stadia reticle allowed for simultaneous elevation and windage holds that eliminated the need to dial in adjustments.

Though an interest in converting the M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) to the .300 Magnum caliber or a similar caliber had existed almost from the time the weapon was introduced, the M24E1 was the direct result of an Operational Needs Statement submitted by the 10th Mountain Division on 14 March 2006, while conducting operations in Afghanistan.

Throughout the years the .338 Lapua Magnum received a steady foothold in many western hemisphere armies and similar organizations. This much-copied paragon of quality and accuracy had an effective range up to 1,500 meters. Despite this, the .338 caliber rifles were about the same size and weight as the 7.62mm rifles. The .338 caliber weapon systems were considerably lighter than the .50 caliber systems. The birth of the .338 Lapua Magnum dated back to 1982, when an American company Research Armament Industries (RAI) in Rogers, Arkansas was asked by the United States Marine forces to develop a long-range rifle for sniper applications. The rifle had a special construction, and in a way it was very significant: it was the first target rifle designed for military target shooting. The previous military and police force rifles were either modified hunting rifles or regular military rifles equipped with optics. In 1986 the .338/416 cartridge, with a Lapua bullet and case, won the 1,000 yard Navy Rifle competition in Quantico, Virginia. In spite of that, the US Army selection criteria went their own way, and during 1986 the US army chose only Haskins .50 caliber rifles, and not the .338/416.

Introduced in 1963 for Winchester's Model 70 bolt-action rifle, the .300 Winchester Magnum embodied what had become considered the most efficient cartridge case design features: a sharp shoulder angle and a short neck. The .300 Winchester Magnum had become the most popular .30 caliber magnum in the US civilian market, and was a favorite for National Rifle Association 1,000-yard matches. The .300 Winchester Magnum was suitable for all North American big game, as well as most thin-skinned game throughout the world. The .300 Winchester Magnum Rifle Ammunition was the perfect ammunition for large-sized North American big game. This .300 Winchester Magnum ammo produced great amounts of energy needed to handle elk, moose and bear. Since 1960, more Whitetail deer had been taken with Winchester® Power-Point® ammunition than any other bullet Winchester had produced.

The resulting M24E1 Enhanced Sniper Rifle (ESR) initiative was a congressionally mandated effort (more commonly referred to as an "earmark") to upgrade the M24 SWS with a Headquarters, Department of the Army directed urgent requirement to outfit deployed Operation Enduring Freedom units with a sniper system capable of firing .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition. This big-game hunting rifle bullet was significantly larger than any other military rifle bullet, other than the .50 caliber round. This upgrade provided an increase in effective range against personnel targets over existing 7.62x51mm sniper weapons, as well as a more ergonomic and technically advanced platform to mount existing state-of-the-art sniper accessories.

The existing M24 SWS was built on a Remington Model 700TM bolt action and was chambered for 7.62x51mm caliber ammunition, a NATO standard round. The weapon's receiver was also capable of conversion to fire .300 Winchester Magnum rounds. Magnum is a term commonly used to describe a cartridge or rifle that is larger or produces higher velocity than standard cartridges or rifles of a given caliber. .300 Winchester Magnum comes loaded with 180, 190, 200, and even 220 grain bullets. The adjustable length stock, manufactured by H.S. Precision, was made of a composite of Kevlar®, graphite, and fiberglass bound together with epoxy resins and featured an aluminum bedding block an dadjustable plate. A detachable binod, manufactured by Harris, could be attached to the stock fore end. The length of the M24 rifle was 1.092 meters (43 inches). The weight of the empty rifle without the scope is 5.49 kilograms (12.1 pounds). The ammunition feed was a 5-round integral magazine. The reported maximum effective range for the M24 was 800 meters.

In addition to the new caliber, the ESR upgrade provided an ergonomic chassis that offered ample accessory mounting rails; personal adaptability with adjustable cheek piece and butt-plate; detachable box magazines for rapid reload; a sound/flash suppressor for enhanced mission effectiveness, concealment, and survivability; and an enhanced variable power day optic scope that provided a scalable stadia metric reticle for rapid ranging and hold-off corrections, wider magnification range, and zoom capability.

On 23 July 2009, Senator James M. Inhofe (Republican-Oklahoma) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 1694 also submitted by Mr. Inhofe and intended to be proposed to the bill S. 1390, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 for military activities of the Department of Defense mandating that, not later than 31 March 2010, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology should conduct a comparative evaluation of extended range modular sniper rifle systems, including .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua Magnum, and other calibers. The evaluation would identify and demonstrate an integrated suite of technologies capable of (1) extending the effective range of snipers; (2) meeting service or unit requirements or operational need statements; or (3) closing documented capability gaps.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology was to conduct the evaluation required by subsection (a) using amounts appropriated for FY09 for extended range modular sniper rifle system research (PE # 0604802A) that were unobligated. Not later than 30 April 2010, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology was required to submit to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives a report containing the results of the evaluation, including (1) detailed ballistics and system performance data; and (2) an assessment of the operational capabilities of extended range modular sniper rifle systems to meet service or unit requirements or operational need statements or close documented capabilities gaps.

The US Army Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command Acquisition Center, on behalf of the Office of the Product Manager, Individual Weapons, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey subsequently issued a requirement for the reconfiguring of a quantity of existing 7.62x51mm M24 Sniper Weapon Systems available in Army inventory.

The rebarreled / rechambered barrel would be optimized to accommodate Mk 248 Mod 0 (DODIC A191) .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition. This would require replacement of the existing weaver rail with a MIL-STD-1913 rail capable of accommodating both a day optic and in-line, forward mounted, AN/PVS-26/29 (NSN 5855-01-538-8121) image intensified night vision device. The stock would be reconfigured with a stock that incorporated a detachable box magazine, adjustable comb and length of pull. The new rifle would feature the addition of a detachable sound suppressor, as well as any necessary barrel modifications required for sound suppressor interface. Furthermore, the existing day optic sight and rings would be replaced with a variable power day optic and compatible rings.

The M24 Sniper Weapon System Upgrade was procured under a Nondevelopmental Item acquisition approach. The M24 SWS was a security risk category IV item in accordance with Department of Defense Directive 5100.76.M, Physical Security of Sensitive ConventionalArms, Ammunitions and Explosives. However, potential contractors were required to have facility clearance to store weapons at a Category II Level in as much as part of this acquisition would require the attachment of a suppressor, thus changing the security risk category from a IV to a II.

Interested offerors were required to submit 4 bid samples as part of their proposal submission. These bid samples would be provided at no cost to the Government and would be utilized for competitive evaluation testing. Bid samples would be returned to all unsuccessful offerors, in an "as tested" condition, following contract award. Any potential contractor was also required to provide relative background information on their capabilities to provide contractor logistics support for depot level maintenance of the entire upgraded weapon system.

The Army's Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO Soldier) awarded Remington Arms Company a contract on 20 September 2010 for what was then referred to as the "M24 Reconfigured Sniper Weapon System." The award was to result in the near-term fielding of 250 weapon systems, which were chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum cartridges. The new chambering significantly extends the weapon's maximum effective range. The Army expected to begin fielding the upgraded weapons to deployed US Army Snipers by the end of December 2010.

"Within the space of a year we were able to partner with industry to deliver a new capability for our snipers in combat," said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lehner, Product Manager Individual Weapons. "The upgraded weapon system provides extended range for our snipers and incorporates the latest in weapons technology." After a full and open competition, the Army awarded the firm fixed price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for the upgrade of up to 3,600 M24 Sniper Weapon Systems.

The upgraded weapon features included:

  • Bolt action rifle chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition to increase the effective range;
  • 5-round box magazine to make the system easier to load and reload with the additional option to change out ammunition quickly;
  • Rail endowed chassis and free floating barrel that allow for easier mounting of weapon accessories and greater accuracy;
  • Folding and adjustable stock that includes comb and length-of-pull adjustments;
  • Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20×50mm Extended Range /Tactical riflescope with advanced scalable ranging and targeting reticle; fielded with the AN/PVS-29 Clip-on Sniper Night Sight; and
  • Quick attach/detach suppressor to reduce audible and visible signature with an available thermal sleeve that reduces mirage effect on heated suppressors.

In October 2010, the M24E1 was redesignated as the XM2010 owing to a determination that the new weapon was sufficiently different from the existing system to warrant an entirely new nomenclature. The M24 upgrade initiative was the result of a Department of the Army G3 directed requirement to provide snipers operating in Operation Enduring Freedom greater capability to engage the enemy. PEO Soldier issued request for proposals from industry in January 2010. The competing systems were tested and evaluated extensively throughout the spring and summer at Aberdeen Test Center with participation by engineers from the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), Army Testing and Evaluation Command (ATEC), members of the US Army Sniper School, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Army National Guard Marksmanship Unit. It was expected that the XM2010s would provide at least 10 years of service and would serve as a precursor to future sniper systems. "The XM2010 had pinpoint precision," said SFC Robert Roof, NCOIC/Chief Instructor, United States Army Sniper School. "We were able to achieve shots well within the weapon's capabilities both during limited visibility and during the day. The optics were clear and easy to use and the ergonomics of the weapon made it very comfortable to shoot."

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