The M24 Sniper’s Weapon System (SWS) represents a return to bolt action sniper rifles by the US Army. As in the USMC M40A1, the M24 uses the Remington 700 action, although the receiver is a long action made for adaptation to take the .300 Winchester Magnum round. The stock (HS Precision) is made of a composite of Kevlar, graphite and fiberglass bound together with epoxy resins, and features an aluminum bedding block and adjustable butt plate. A detachable bipod (Harris) can be attached to the stocks fore-end and is provided as part of the Sniper Weapon System (SWS). The metal finish is powder coated for extreme durability
The rifle had a very quick development cycle as the US Army had decided it wanted to get snipers back into the US Army and was in the process of developing the B4 identifier and the school to award it. There was a major short fall of M21’s which was the standard sniper rifle at that point of time and the Army figured it would need 10,000 sniper rifles of which they didn’t have nearly that many M21’s. So a new sniper rifle was developed at the same time and it was done in a record 22 months. The Weapon System Matrix Manager for the M24 was Major John Mende and he explains that the long action actually had nothing to do with the ability to convert to a .300 Win Mag but was a product of that quick development time. The rifle was intended to be chambered in the .30-06 as the -06 was a type classified munition for the Army unlike the .300 WM at the time. They wanted to have a high power load for the .30-06 eventually developed. As development of the system was moving forward they discovered that there was not enough .30-06 ammo in a single lot in the Army’s inventory to test and develop the system so they quickly changed to the 7.62x51mm NATO (308 Win) and left the action the same as there was not enough time for the manufacturers of the stock and floorplate to make the change to short action. They also fully believed they would later do a product improvement update and convert all the M24’s to .30-06. It is said that whe fact that they could convert them to .300 Win Mag was an unexpected benefit to the SF groups and was never actually designed into the system.
The actual rifle requirements for accuracy were .35 MOA from a machine rest and according to Major John Mende (ret.) this accuracy had to be maintained to 10,000 rounds. He stated, “Interesting side note was there was a 10,000 round requirement for the barrel to maintain the original accuracy. In fact after some 10,000 round tests we discovered the accuracy improved. A few barrels were tested past 20,000 and accuracy never went below the original accuracy requirement.” I would have to say that is very impressive! The US Army barrel life states 5000 rounds and that sounds like they are being conservative. Based off of the experience I have, the rifles do shoot quite well if the shooter does his part. Apparently there were several other rifle makers who said they could build a better rifle for the required price, but they were not interested once they heard it would be 10,000 rifles and that they would be required to provide maintenance on those rifles for at least 5 years and with an Army option for 2 additional procurements. Remington was able to do it.
This is the one that I have a lot of experience with. I have used the M24 SWS extensively while a sniper in the US Army National Guard and find the rifle to be of very good quality. The entire system as a whole is very functional. I do NOT like the fact that it has a long action (even if it is adaptable to .300 Win), it causes feeding problems with the M118 & M118LR (7.62x51mm) if the rounds are not pushed all the way to the rear of the magazine. Throughout all of my use of this system, I have consistently maintained 1 MOA with M118 special ball (Pre M118LR), which is saying a lot. The M118LR (175gr BTHP) performs considerably better and shoots about .5 MOA in the M24. I whole-heartedly believe that we have one of the best sniping SYSTEMS in the world.
Above is a nice 100m group shot with ‘KATE’, one of my issued M24 SWS’s when in the Guard, during a laser-filter rezero using standard M118 Special Ball. While sub .5 MOA groups like this are uncommon with M118, it shows the excellent accuracy potential of the M24. M118LR does produce more groups along these lines than we would see with M118. Also pictured above is an excellent 500 yard group we shot while training with the local police department SWAT snipers. This was shot using standard M118 Special Ball, which attests to the excellent accuracy potential of the M24 SWS at long range. That is a .254 MOA group for those of you who are wondering.
The M24 & M118LR combination has proven itself very effective during OIF and Afghanistan. There have been kills made beyond 1100 meters, though those are not standard fare. But under 800 meters the system has proven everything that was hoped for. The US Army has accepted a new sniper rifle known as the XM110 which is a 308 semi auto built by Knights Armament. It is unclear whether this rifle is intended to replace the M24 or not, as there have been conflicting reports. One thing is clear, the field reports on the M24 have been very good and there was a strong outpouring of support for the M24 from field snipers when news of the XM110 was spread.
A second contract for the M24 was issued to Remington around 2001 (give or take a year) for some more systems with some minor changes. These changes included two piece Leupold mk4 bases instead of the one piece on the first series rifles, and a switch from Redfield international palma aux sights to another manufacturer (perhaps OK Webber?). Redfield was out of business by then, so a change had to happen. One important thing that happened when Remington redid this contract, and that was that there was no exclusion clause and Remington was and is now able to sell the M24 to others without US Army approval. So, the M24 can now be purchased by Law Enforcement agencies, and even civilians. They are expensive, but they are available. It is also worth noting that in the 1990’s, Israel purchased and used M24’s. I believe they are still in Israeli use today.