Snipers Put Finishing Touches on the Last Sniper Rifle

Snipers Assemble the last M2010

Representatives from PEO Soldier joined Army Snipers Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Welch and Staff Sgt. Seth Spang to help assemble the last M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle. Pictured from left are Sgt. 1st Class Jason Dorwart, Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi, Spang, Welch, and Col. Scott Armstrong.

In the summer of 2011, Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Welch’s sniper teams employed their new M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifles to great effect on a mission. It was to “provide relief” for recovery operations at a Chinook crash site that had claimed the lives of some of America’s finest warriors. From his mountain over watch position, Welch and teammate Staff Sgt. Seth Spang brought down deadly accurate fire upon enemy combatants looking to disrupt the mission to bring home Americans who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

This April, Welch found himself alongside fellow snipers putting the finishing touches on the last M2010 to come off the Remington Defense production line. Welch, now a drill sergeant with 2/39 IN, was joined by Spang of 2/58 IN and Sgt. 1st Class Charles “Chuck” Ledbetter who teaches long-range shooting in the Special Operations Forces community. The Soldiers were participating in a ceremony designed to mark the completion of M2010 production and to recognize those who had wielded the system in support of the United States military. The newest .300 WinMag M2010 ESR is now among the 2,520 systems built to replace the 7.62mm M24 Sniper Weapon Systems, which first entered into the Army and Special Operations Command suite of precision weapon systems back in 1986.

“We’ve gathered to celebrate the capability that is now in Soldier’s hands,” said Col. Scott C. Armstrong, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., before an audience at Remington’s historic Ilion, N.Y., firearms plant on April 25. “We’re also celebrating the critical partnership that leveraged the government’s resources and industry’s expertise and manufacturing capacity to make this possible. The four-year team effort has culminated in this day of the final delivery.”

Armstrong led the Army contingent that included representatives from Program Executive Office Soldier, PM SW, Defense Contract Management Agency, and Forces Command snipers. Remington’s presentation signified the completion of the Army acquisition objective. Army leadership celebrated the sniper representatives during the ceremony who later provided feedback to the Remington M2010 production team on their experiences using the weapon system in combat and in training.

During the ceremony, PEO Soldier’s Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi took to the stage to thank the employees at Remington responsible for manufacturing and assembling the precision sniper rifles.

“The enemy is fearful of two things,” said Maddi. “One is having a bomb dropped on them from a UAV, and two is the American sniper. What you did with the M2010 was to deliver a capability that far surpassed a great capability in the M24 already. I know for a fact it saved lives.”

CSM Maddi recognized the contributions of each of the snipers with a plaque featuring a model M2010 and inscription that spoke to the equipment, training and fortitude that accompanies every American sniper onto the battlefield. The plaque read, “Snipers: Dominating the battlefield with precision, craft, and grit.”

A Gun to Shape the Battle Space
The M2010 originated from an urgent request from units operating in Afghanistan. To be more effective in the “ridgeline-to-ridgeline” fight, snipers were requesting a system with a longer effective range than the M110 and M24 systems they had deployed with. The Army determined that it could provide a solution quickly by rechambering the 7.62mm M24s’ long-action receivers for .300 WinMag while also building a fully modern chassis around the receiver. The resulting system provided operators with a 50-percent increase in effective range and a greater precision firing capability. After a full and open, best-value competition, the Army was able to work with its selected industry partner to develop, produce, test, and field new weapon systems in just six months.

The Army conducted M2010 fielding and new equipment training for all Army Sniper Teams operating in Afghanistan by June 2011 in time for the Taliban’s summer offensive. By September 2012, the Army had fielded more than 1,400 systems as part of an urgent material release. The M2010 achieved Type Classification-Standard in July 2013 and Full Materiel Release in September 2013, supporting procurement for the balance of the Army requirement.

During a “Sniper Talk” question-and-answer period that followed, each of the Soldiers addressed the capability of the new M2010 over the M24 system. They also spoke to how the newly provided range and accuracy helped the snipers control the battle space in their area of operations.

For Ledbetter, a key benefit of the upgraded system is how the chassis and customizable stock enables snipers to advance their training quickly beyond the basics and on to more complex “finesse” tasks such as breathing, sight picture, and trigger squeeze.

“Consistency is the key to accuracy,” said Ledbetter. “The new chassis makes it a lot easier on the shooter and a lot easier from a teaching standpoint to get into the fundamentals verses worrying about whether a Soldier is shouldering the weapon system the same way every single time.”

According to Ledbetter, the stiffness and rigidity of the M2010’s chassis also provides the ability to mount accessories such as night vision devices on the rail with confidence that there will be little to no shift in the point of impact.

Spang experienced the ease of learning the new system first hand having been in one of the first units fielded the M2010 in Afghanistan in 2011. After a three-day new equipment training session, Spang was able to put the new capability quickly to work in support of the unit while instructing other unit members who needed to be trained quickly on employing the system as well.

“After our training on the M2010, we were so much more of a lethal force,” said Spang.

Welch had responsibility for emplacing sniper teams on the battlefield where they could be most effective. With the M2010, Welch was able to emplace his teams at higher elevations to cover greater expanses without feeling as though the teams were “on top” of the objective. Multiple sniper teams could cover the same piece of ground from multiple angles to ensure the greatest security and support for friendly forces.

“The M2010 changed the whole way we operated,” said Welch. “We were able to control the battlefield like never before.”

About Debra Dawson