The M24 SWS was mainstay of the US Army for over 30 years, starting in the 1980s, and proved itself an excellent platform for the mission it was designed for. It was big, it was heavy, it was accurate, and it was combat proven. But it was designed for a different war than what the USA found itself in in after the turn of the century. Early on in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) the Army found itself fighting unconventional battles in urban environments in Iraq where the ranges of the .308 were adequate, but the close and hot engagements required more firepower to be on hand. As such, the M110 Semi-Auto Sniper System (SASS) was adopted as a sniper rifle to supplement, and in some cases, replace the M24. As the GWOT further progressed to the much more rural and wide-open battlefields found in Afghanistan, the demands and requirements for a sniper rifle changed again. This time, a rifle with superior long range capabilities was needed and not the rapid engagement abilities of the M110.
But the war was still very hot and there was not an extended amount of time for which to procure a new weapon system and cartridge. Here is where the foresight of the original designers of the M24 paid off. One of the odd features of the M24 was that it was a Remington Long Action whereas only a short action was needed for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. So the bolt stroke on the M24 was extra long and this did cause some issues from time to time. But what the long action bought the army, was the ability to upgrade the M24 in the future from the .308 to a long action cartridge, which was intended to be the .300 Win Mag. Back in the 1980’s when the M24 was developed, the .338 Lapua was a new concept, the .300 Norma was not even a pipe dream and the .300 Win Mag was a solid long range cartridge.
Rightfully so, the first option the Army turned to when they needed more range than their M24’s could deliver, was to upgrade the M24 and chamber it in .300 Win Mag, and that is what they set out to do. The Army also set out to not only improve the range of the rifle, but they wanted to add a fully adjustable stock, make the rifle capable of mounting a suppressor, and also incorporate a detachable box magazine. These were all things the M24 did not have. They also decided to forgo the need to accommodate auxiliary sights.
The contract was once again awarded to Remington who was the manufacturer of the original M24 SWS and 250 prototypes of the new rifle were ordered, designated the XM2010. The nomenclature referenced the expected year of deployment, 2010.
To achieve the desired results, a folding chassis system was selected that housed a 5 round DBM. The folding feature helped keep the length down when being transported. The barrels were made by Obermeyer and featured 5-R rifling, made popular by the original M24. The barrel was 24″ long, heavy profile, and was hammer forged and of course, it was free floated.
As can be seen in the picture above, there are numerous picatinny style rails attached to the chassis to allow for attaching various accessories. There is also a monolithic rail along the top making it easier for mounting forward mounting night vision to augment the day optic sight (DOS).
To compliment the rifle, a new DOS also needed to be selected and again, relying on experience obtained with the M24, the Army turned to Leupold Optics. Because of the longer range capability of the new rifle, and with the advancement in optics over the previous three decades, the choice was for a higher powered variable zoom optic. The chosen scope was the Leupold Mk6 6.5–20×50mm ER/T M5A2. This scope featured a 34mm tube, which allowed for more vertical adjustment range, as well as their M5 knobs calibrated in MIL. The reticle choice was the Horus H-58 which is a popular Christmas Tree style reticle.
The ESR, or Enhance Sniper Rifle, were fielded with a AAC muzzlebrake that allowed the fitting of the quick detachable AAC suppressor. The rifles also were fielded with either the AN/PVS-29 or AN/PVS-30 clip on night vision devices.
The required accuracy for these rifles was 1 MOA with A-191 .300 Win Mag ammo. The A-191 used the traditional Sierra Match King 190gr HPBT bullet fired at 2900 fps and the declared max effective range was 1200 meters (1312 yards). Each rifle was required to demonstrate 1 MOA before it left the factory.
The 250 prototype XM2010 rifles could not be fielded fast enough and the demand for the new rifles was very high during this busy deployment cycle for the US Army. Even before the prototypes were all delivered the certification and official adoption of the M2010 ESR (without the X designator) happened and the full order of 3600 rifles was placed. But while the intended deployment year was 2010, the rifles actually started being fielded in early 2011.
The rifles were praised by many and the tried and true M24 actions again proved their worth in combat. The special operations community were the first to receive the rifles and then they started to make their way to the regular line units with a priority given to units deploying to combat. Eventually a total of 2558 M2010s were built and deployed through 2014. We are not sure why the full compliment of 3600 were not completed, but we suspect the demand for the .300 tapered off with the slowing down of combat operations. The Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) and Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) programs had also officially begun for SOCOM and the Army was watching this development for the adoption of an all new sniper rifle.
In 2021 the US Army did announce the adoption of the Mk22 PSR as their new standard sniper rifle and the process to replace the M2010 began then. The M2010 had a fairly short life span for a small arms weapon in a modern military, it only lasted about 10 years. During that period the rifle did not go through many modifications and it stayed relatively the same.
The one big change that actually did provide additional capability for the M2010 was the development of a new load for the .300 Win Mag. This was known as the Mk248Mod1 and it used the 220gr Sierra Match King Bullet launched at 2850 fps. This new load extended the max effective range of the rifle to 1370 Meters (Conveniently 1500 yards). You can read more about the development of that load on our 300 WM History Page.
The M2010 can be considered a stop gap rifle that was pressed into development due to a need for a rifle with more capability than the M24. In that role it served very well and provided the needed ability to engage targets beyond 1500 yards, which they did on a number of occasions. It was a rifle that was forged in combat, proven in combat, and is being retired while still in combat.
Those that used them tend to have a favorable opinion of the rifles. They did what they needed to do and some are still in use today as the fielding of the Mk22 is slated to take a few more years still. With the retirement of the M2010 we not only close the chapter on the ESR, but we are also closing a much longer chapter on the M24 SWS, a legend in its own right.
It will be interesting t see if these rifles are refurbished and sent to Ukraine.
I would need a step ladder to make vertical adjustments
The M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, formerly known as the XM2010 and M24 Reconfigured Sniper Weapon System, is a sniper rifle developed by PEO Soldier for the United States Army.
The U.S. Army plans to field the Barrett Mk22 MRAD (Multi-Role Adaptive Design) in 2021 to eventually replace the M2010. This bolt-action weapon can be user field converted to fire 7.62×51mm NATO, . 300 Norma Magnum and . 338 Norma Magnum.
As the program manager for this weapon system for Remington, you’ve got a few things “not quite right” in the Article, but overall a first-rate and very informative attempt.
First every barrel was made by Remington itself. All were chrome moly, 5R, 24″ barrels that received an FNC treatment. The barrels were honed before going to FNC and the FNC supplier used a very controlled and deliberate process to ensure a smooth and even flow through the ID of the barrel. Barrel life was about 2,500 – 3,000 rounds.
The Army only ordered the amount specified in the article, not a full 3,600, the constraint being the number of M24s available to convert. To the best of my knowledge, 100% of all US Army M24s were converted, leaving only the odd M24s in service with SOCOM and the US Air Force still out there somewhere. We do know the Air Force has or is replacing all its M24s with M110A1s. Admittedly, as most of SOCOM’s M24s were in service with Army SOF, most (if not all) of theirs were converted too. Ultimately, an original 7.62mm M24 in US DoD service is a very rare gun indeed. Undoubtedly, the largest user of the M24 these days is the Taliban, as Remington made thousands of them for the Afghan Army via US sponsored Foreign Military Sales. I’m sure we will regret those sales in days to come.
Additionally, the M2010 never was made for, nor ever officially used the MK 248 Mod 1 cartridge. That cartridge is only for the Navy and USMC series of MK 13 rifles, which have a slightly differently reamed chamber. When that cartridge was first produced it had pressure issues (since resolved) and did not work well in the M2010. Thus, the Army never approved its use in this weapon system. That does not mean the Mod 1 has not been shot in the ESR in the field, but it was not intended for the weapon system. To this day the Army still procures the Mod 0 190 grain ammunition for the M2010, despite the presence of the improved round.
Additionally, one of the most important features of this rifle was not mentioned: the incorporation of the AAC TiTAN QD suppressor. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first suppressor used on a STANDARDIZED US Army weapon system. This greatly reduced the audible and visual signature of the weapon – always a nice feature on a sniper system. Also the Remington Arms Chassis System (RACS), made completely from 7000-series aluminum, was designed by Remington Defense employees with SOF experience and brought to fruition by a very limited number of excellent engineers dedicated to Remington’s Defense products back in the day (when there were still Remington Defense products). A careful inspection of that chassis reveals it as being nothing short of a piece of manufacturing art.
Oh, also – fun facts – although the M2010 ESR was indeed type-classified and eventually lost its “X” status, all of its chassis continued to be marked “XM2010” throughout its production run. Also, all M2010s are marked with “M24” on the receiver as those receivers were retained and recycled during the conversion to M2010s. On the Army books the M2010 was truly a conversion project and not a new sniper rifle acquisition, despite the fact than the receiver was the only item retained from the original M24 system. There was about a 5%-10% fallout rate of receivers so some did indeed get new M24 receivers and were, in fact, entirely new guns when issued as M2010s.
Interestingly, when the Army units were asked to turn in their M24s for conversion, Remington received a handful of M700 short action Varmint Specials in .308 that had likely been procured by individual units – probably when the Light Infantry units were stood up in the mid-80s when a standard sniper rifle did not exist and real M21s were hard to come by. When I went to US Army Sniper School in September of 1988, my Sniper buddy, SPC Chuck Ware, from the 10th Mountain Division, which was first “re-stood up” on Fort Benning. GA before moving to Fort Drum, used such a rifle as his sniping arm. Needless to say, the Army didn’t get any credit for those turn ins 🙂 I’ve always wondered how those rifles were procured and what scopes were put on those Varmint Specials so if anyone has any knowledge of that time period and events, please share!
Lastly, the article is correct in its assertion that the M2010 really was a transitional sniping system, but what a great one! To this day I’m confident a sub $1 300WinMag round is entirely adequate for a conventional Army sniper, rather than a 3x more expensive 300NM round; however, since we have the means, we might as well provide our troops with the best kit possible!
Thank you very much for the updated and corrected information. With your permission, I will use it to update the article to bring it in line. You mention that the M2010 was the first standardized US Army rifle to use a suppressor, I would counter that the M110 would have beat it to the punch, but the point is a good one. The information about the 220gr Mk248 ammo is interesting, but the mk248mod0 was the 220gr and the A191 would be the 190gr. Was the Mk248 (any mod) never intended for use in the M2010?
Thanks again for the great insight.
Mel, Your are indeed correct about the M110 beating the M2010 to the punch on a suppressor. Totally forgot about that one, which admittedly is a pretty big oversight.
Actually, the A191 MK 248 (190 gr SMK) is the Mod 0 and the AB43 MK 248 (220 gr SMK) is the Mod 1.
As I understand it the Mod 1 was in development just before or during the XM2010 requirement development so the Mod 1 was not in the mix for range and dispersion considerations for the XM2010 performance requirements. The NSWC Crane folks would have to comment on when the Mod 1 came into being as I understand it they were trying to get near 338 Lapua range/dispersion performance out of the 300WM, which they pretty much nearly succeeded. However, IMO it’s initial pressures of the rounds we tested were very high, and although not a big deal for the M700 to handle you saw a lot of dropped primers and VERY sticky bolts. I am pretty sure they backed it down a bit since then but the Mod 1 round is very capable – and very cheap when compared to its Norma and Lapua Magnum peers.
Oh, I additionally wanted to comment on those M700 short actions. Do you perhaps think they were actually 700Ps and not the varmint specials? If they had a solid black (non adjustable) stock, it would have been the 700P, if they had a grey splatter paint on the black stock, it would have been the VS. Just curious. Those early 700Ps from the late 1980s actually came from the Remington custom shop and should have been good shooters.
I think the time frame is telling. I was at US Army Sniper School in September of 1988 (we still used M21s not M24s – they did show us an M24 that had just arrived up so we had to be one of the last classes with M21s) so they were most likely either M700 Varmint Specials or M700 PSS. Some internet sniffing says the 700P didn’t come around until 1986 making that possible, but less likely. I’m also pretty sure the Varmint Special didn’t come with a synthetic stock until several years after that. As you know the Army didn’t have special armorers like the USMC, BUT being at Fort Benning there is a chance that brigade of the 10th Mountain got some help from the AMU armorers, but I think it is much more likely they were just purchased off the shelf. After all there were already other Light Infantry Divisions that had just started, the 6th, 7th, 25th and of course, the 101st and 82nd being the special versions of Light Infantry, but I have no idea if any of those units had interim COTS sniper solutions. There’s a very good chance they were indeed M700 PSS as that would be a logical choice if you really started looking at the most suitable option of the time period; however, the budget might have dictated Varmint Specials and a can of spray paint to hide the glossy bluing and the wooden stock! If someone out there knows this story set us straight!
Do the best snipers use shooting gloves?
“Best” is a hard and relative term, so difficult to answer that. But, snipers do tend to use gloves. It is an easy way to camo your hands, it also helps when there is chill in the air, as well as for protecting your hands. The down side is that you lose some trigger feel. Thick gloves can be a real problem when trying to have a good trigger squeeze, etc. Like most things…its a compromise.