Designated marksman rifle
A designated marksman rifle (DMR) is the weapon used by soldiers in the designated marksman (DM) role. The DM's role fills the gap between a regular infantryman and a sniper (typically being deployed at ranges of 250–600 metres or 270–660 yards) and DMRs have been developed with this middle ground in mind.
These rifles have to be effective, in terms of accuracy and terminal ballistics, at ranges exceeding those of ordinary assault rifles and battle rifles (typically 250 m or 270 yd or less, and up to 500 m or 550 yd, respectively) but do not require the extended range of a dedicated sniper rifle (typically employed for targets at ranges from 500–2,000 m or 550–2,190 yd).
DMRs, however, often share some basic characteristics with sniper rifles in difference to the weapons carried by others in the DMs unit. DMRs may have an attached telescopic sight, quickly deployed stabilizing bipod to allow optimized accuracy and low-recoil in temporarily fixed situations or an adjustable stock.
They will, though, generally retain semi-automatic firing capability (more rapid than bolt-action sniper rifles) and a larger magazine capacity of 10, 20, or 30 rounds depending on the firearm in question.
Comparison to sniper rifles, battle rifles, and assault rifles
Most designated marksman rifles are based on an assault rifle that is currently issued by a nation's military, or on a battle rifle that was formerly issued. A battle rifle is a semi-automatic or full-automatic rifle that fires 7.62mm NATO or similar full-power rounds. Classic examples include the M14, FN FAL, AR-10 and Heckler & Koch G3. These rifles were largely replaced by assault rifles firing the 5.56mm NATO cartridge during the 1980s and 1990s.
Some nations have also built rifles that were designed for the designated marksman from the ground up.
All designated marksman rifles will have some type of optical sight with a higher magnification level than the standard issue rifle. For example, the SDM-R issued to the United States Army is fitted with a Trijicon 4× ACOG, while the standard-issue M4 carbine is equipped with an unmagnified Aimpoint CompM2 or CompM4. Sometimes, the sighting system will be the only difference between the standard rifle and the designated marksman rifle, as is the case with the F88S DMR issued to the Australian Army.
Sniper rifles often have even greater magnification than designated marksman rifles, for example, the M110 SASS used by the United States Army, is equipped with a Leupold 3.5-10× variable-power scope. However, some designated marksman rifles, such as the Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle or the USMC Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle are fitted with scopes with similar magnification.
In some cases, the designated marksman rifle will have a longer barrel than the standard issued rifle. However, this is not universally true. In fact, the M16A4 rifle is still standard issue to the United States Marine Corps. The barrel on the Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle, the current rifle used by the squad designated marksman in the USMC, is only 18 inches long - two inches shorter than the barrel on the standard rifle. Also, some rifles, such as the F88S Austeyr, have a barrel that is the same length as the standard service rifle. The FD-200 has an accurized barrel, also found on designated marksman rifles. Aftermarket 20" DMR barrels are available in the US by companies such as Ballistic advantage.
Most sniper rifles, such as the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare have a barrel with a length of 24 inches or greater. Only the SVD and similar designated marksman rifles have a barrel of this length. The designated marksman rifles based on the M14 have barrels 18-22 inches long.
In most cases, a designated marksman rifle will share the caliber and possibly even the ammunition type used by standard issue rifles. DM rifles may be issued with standard ball ammunition, or special match-grade loads, such as 7.62mm NATO 'M118LR' sniper round or .308 rounds in the U.S. military. Though, they most commonly use .308 rounds as they are cheaper. .308s' are actually 7.62X51mm. Sniper rifles are (almost exclusively) deployed with match grade ammunition in order to take advantage of their full effective range and accuracy potential.
In the U.S. military, designated marksman rifles chambered for 5.56mm NATO have available the 77 grain match-grade Mk 262 Mod 0/1 cartridge that enhances range to roughly 700 meters.
All designated marksman rifles in use today use a semi-automatic action, with some also being able to fire in full-automatic mode.
Some sniper rifles are semi-automatic, though the vast majority are bolt-action.
Designated marksman rifles in service by nation
- F88S Austeyr 5.56 NATO standard issue rifle, fitted with an enhanced optic is issued to one rifleman in each fireteam in the Australian Army.
- AR-15 based
- Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle; 7.62mm NATO rifle is in limited service.
- Austria: The Steyr AUG HBAR-T, is a longer heavier-barreled version of the Steyr AUG designed for use as a designated marksman rifle that can be fitted with a variety of optical sights.
- Canada: The Canadian Forces issue the C7CT and C8CT designated marksman rifles, which are based on the C7 and C8 rifle. They also use the AR-10T.
- Chile: The FD-200 is a variant of the SIG 542 with an accurised barrel, sniper stock and bipod.
- France: The FAMAS G2 Sniper is a designated marksman rifle fielded by the French Army. It is based on the FAMAS G2.
- The German Army uses the G3A3ZF-DMR, a modified version of the Heckler & Koch G3 battle rifle, as a designated marksman rifle and recently introduced the G28 .
- The Heckler & Koch HK417 is chambered for 7.62mm NATO and has been adopted by several nations for use as a designated marksman rifle.
- The SVD is the main designated marksman rifle for the Hungarian Armed Forces.
- Hungary manufactures the bull-pup designed Szép sniper rifle chambered for 7.62×51mm NATO.
- Hungarian Special Forces uses also the M24 Sniper Weapon System.
- Hungarian Armed Forces designed the anti-material sniper weapons family called Gepárd.
- The SVD is the designated DMR for the Indian Army. Different variants of the INSAS family of weapons modified with scopes and other tactical upgrades are used as DMR's as well.
- The IMI Tavor TAR-21 and the IMI Galil chambered for the 7.62 NATO round are issued to units of the Special Forces of India as a Designated Marksman Rifle.
- Indonesia: The Pindad SS2-V4 is a designated marksman rifle said to be used by the Indonesian special forces. It is based on the Pindad SS2, with a lengthened barrel and a telescopic scope mounted on a Picatinny rail.
- Iraq: The Tabuk is an adaptation of the RPK machine gun used as a designated marksman rifle by the Iraqi Army. It is chambered for 7.62×39mm
- The Israel Defense Forces formerly used the Galatz as a designated marksman rifle. The Galatz is a variant of the Galil assault rifle chambered for 7.62mm NATO.
- The M4A1 is used as a marksman rifle, equipped with Harris bipod and Trijicon ACOG telescopic sights.
- The STAR-21 Tavor is a variant of the Tavor assault rifle used as a designated marksman rifle by the Israeli Defense Forces. It is fitted with a picatinny rail that allows for the attachment of various optical sights (typically an ACOG scope) and a bipod.
- Japan: The Howa Type 64 as a marksman rifle.
- Norway: HK417; 7.62mm NATO gas-piston battle rifle.
- People's Republic of China: The QBU-88 is a designated marksman rifle intended for aimed semi-automatic fire at ranges beyond the capabilities of standard infantry assault rifles.
- Philippines: The Philippine Marine Scout Snipers developed and use the Marine Scout Sniper Rifle, a derivative of the M16 rifle. The Philippine Army uses the SR-25 as marksman rifle.
- Portugal: The Portuguese Army uses the Heckler & Koch G3 as a marksman rifle.
- Romania: The PSL (rifle) is a purpose-built designated marksman rifle chambered for 7.62×54mmR based on a modified Kalashnikov action. It is similar in appearance to the SVD, though the two rifles share little in common.
- South Africa
- Accurised former standard service South African Defence Force R1 rifles are used by the South African Army as designated marksman rifles. Being phased out in favour of the new R4 DMR modified rifle being introduced at section level.
- Scoped and accurised Vektor R4 rifles are used as designated marksman rifles by soldiers of the South African Army.
- United Kingdom
- L129A1 ; a 7.62 NATO, 16 in (410 mm) barrel variant of the SR-25 developed by Lewis Machine and Tool Company has been procured for use in Afghanistan. A 6× power ACOG is the standard issue sight.
- The L86A2 LSW is chambered for 5.56mm NATO was originally fielded as a section LMG, but was later re-purposed as a designated marksman rifle.
- United States
- The M14 rifle has formed the basis of several designated marksman rifles used by the United States Military:
- Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle: Used by the United States Army and Navy SEALs
- M14SE Crazy Horse: Used by the 101st Airborne Division and the 2nd Infantry Division of the US Army.
- M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle: Used by the United States Marine Corps, replacing the United States Marine Corps Designated Marksman Rifle
- The M16 rifle has formed the basis of several designated marksman rifles used by the United States Military:
- Colt Model 655 and 656: Never standardized. Predecessor to other M16-based designated marksman rifles.
- SDM-R: Used by the United States Army in limited numbers
- SAM-R: Used by the United States Marine Corps. Replaced by the Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle
- Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle: Used by the United States Navy SEALs, Rangers. Replacing the SAM-R in United States Marine Corps service.
- SR-25 Mk 11: Used by the United States Marine Corps, United States Navy SEALs, and the United States Army. Replaced by the SSR Mk 20.
- M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System used by the United States Army and United States Marine Corps replacing some M39 and all SR-25 Mk 11.
- The Heckler & Koch HK417 in variant Sniper has been adopted by Delta Force of the United States Army and SEAL Team Six of the United States Navy for use as a designated marksman rifle.
- The FN SCAR in variant Sniper Support Rifle (SSR) Mk 20 Mod 0 has been adopted by all branches of USSOCOM (e.g. SEALs, Rangers, Army Special Forces, MARSOC, AFSOC) replacing the SR-25 Mk 11.
- The M14 rifle has formed the basis of several designated marksman rifles used by the United States Military:
- Yugoslavia: The Zastava M76 is a designated marksman rifle based on a modified Kalashnikov action. It is chambered for 7.92×57mm Mauser. It has also been chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO and 7.62×54mmR.
- Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: The Zastava M91 is a purpose-built designated marksman rifle based on a modified Kalashnikov action and chambered for 7.62×54mmR.
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