SEAL Recon Rifle

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SEAL Recon Rifle
SEAL recon rifle.jpg
A SEAL Recon Rifle featuring an AN/PVS-22 night-vision device held by Navy SEAL Matthew Axelson
  • Designated marksman rifle
  • Assault rifle
  • Place of originUnited States of America
    Service history
    In service1993 onwards[1]
    Used byUS Navy SEALs
    Production history
    Barrel length16 inch (406 mm)

    ActionGas-operated, rotating bolt
    Rate of fire700–950 rounds/min
    Feed system30-round detachable STANAG magazine
    • Variable-power optic (i.e.2.5–10)
    • Back-up iron sights

    The SEAL Recon Rifle (also known as the "Sniper M4"[2] and "Recce"[3]) is a heavily modified M16-series rifle intended to provide US Navy SEAL snipers with a versatile, accurate, lightweight, and compact (for a precision rifle) weapon chambered in 5.56×45mm NATO.


    The concept of a 5.56 NATO-based accurized rifle was first seen in 1993 when American troops were deployed in Somalia.[2]


    Developed in-house by SEAL team armorers,[4] the rifle's existence was centered less around a rigid specification and more around the concept of an accurized rifle that could share the duties and ammunition of fielded M4 carbines, whilst also being able to engage targets beyond the carbines' range.[5]

    When further development was handed over to Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division,[2] the US Army incorporated their own concepts and funding into the joint program, resulting in the Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle which many SEALs were disappointed with.[6]

    Former SEAL Sniper Kyle Defoor recounts:[1]

    It went to 18" quite frankly because the big Army got involved. Most of us that have a lot of time on one (myself included) think that 16" is better for a number of reasons:

    1. 2" does make a difference, especially with a [suppressor].
    2. Weight (it's not pounds at this stage it's ounces) and remember that balance has a factor here too.
    3. I've shot both together on the same range at the same time. I don't really care what charts and scientists say, me and [my fellow SEALs] can hit just as good with 16" as 18".


    The MK12 is ok as it comes, but, me and majority of the guys that were around me immediately [replaced] the fixed stock. Some would go with a Geissele trigger too, and some would put a tube rail back on. All of these little touches were done in house at the shooters home team.


    Initially, SEAL Recon Rifles were built in-house with the only requirements being a 16" barrel (406mm), and the ability to shoot any 5.56×45mm cartridge in inventory, including the first iterations of the 77-grain (5g) Mk262 Mod0 cartridge. [6] Otherwise, the rifle was individualized to the tastes of the user.

    Seal Recon Rifles used a variety of heavy profile barrels: either cold hammer-forged SOCOM profile barrels, or stainless steel match barrels manufactured by Lilja or Douglas. Unlike the hammer-forged rifling of the SOCOM barrels, the stainless steel barrels had their rifling cut using either the button or the traditional method. These rifling methods increased accuracy on the stainless barrels, however all barrels chosen were capable of at least 1 MOA accuracy. The stainless steel barrel blanks had a 1:8 (203mm) twist[7] a unique heavy profile, beginning at 0.980 inches (25mm) in diameter for the first 2.60 inches (66mm) of length, then narrowing down to 0.850 inches (22mm) in diameter, 0.750 inches (19mm) in diameter underneath the front sight block, and 0.725 inches (18mm) in diameter to the muzzle. These barrels were mated to flat-top upper receivers featuring a M1913 rail, to which optics and back-up iron sights could be attached. Operators commonly chose to install back-up iron sights manufactured by Knight's Armament Company, ARMS Inc, and Troy Industries with the rifles.[5]

    Recon rifles built by NSWC Crane were reportedly fitted with free-float handguards, the most popular being the KAC M4 Match RAS and a longer-length LaRue free-float handguard, either of which provide plentiful rail space to mount accessories. KAC free-floated rails (P/N 20214) were part the Mk12 Mod 1 package and were in common use by the Global War on Terror. [7] Barrels were fitted with Ops Inc 12th model suppressors and their accompanying muzzle brakes. A rifle-length gas system was used to provide a softer shooting experience with the suppressor while maintaining adequate dwell time.[citation needed]

    See also[edit]


    1. ^ a b "The Recce Rifle: Builder's Guide to Modern Classic". 28 April 2020.
    2. ^ a b c "The Recce Rifle: Complete Guide to Recon Rifles".
    3. ^ "Best Recce (Recon) Rifles". 23 January 2018.
    4. ^ "CMMG's new MK4 RECCE Rifle for 2014". 9 January 2014.
    5. ^ a b "The RECCE Rifle: Originally Developed for the SEAL Teams".
    6. ^ a b Rottman, Gordon L. (20 December 2011). "Development". In Pegler, Martin (ed.). The M16 (PDF) (Also available in paperback and ePub). Military History, Weapon series (WPN14). Great Britain: Osprey Publishing. pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-1-84908-691-2.
    7. ^ a b Neville, Leigh (31 March 2016). Guns of Special Forces 2001 – 2015. Pen and Sword. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-4738-8102-0.

    External links[edit]