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The Modern Day Sniper Rifle - Part 1

Calibres and System Weight

The AMAP-MC QTD (Quick Take-Down) Extreme Range Sniper Rifle in 375 Cheytac
The AMAP-MC QTD (Quick Take-Down) Extreme Range Sniper Rifle

As you know, GCPD Arms has designed and manufactured some products, such as the AMAP-MC QTD take-down and CWS rifle systems, that are specifically aimed at Police and Military clients. We know that we have followers from the ADF, Special Forces and Police Special Operations fields, so we thought we’d put forward some ideas about the future direction of the sniper speciality.

The military sniper specialty is facing a situation where current technology is at the outer limits of performance and is often very cumbersome and heavy. The mantra of “heavy is more stable is more accurate” is old school thinking. Increased weight does not equate to improved accuracy.

Current systems just weren't designed to operate at the distances that they are being used at – the .338 Lapua Magnum was designed for point aimed fire out to 1500 metres or harassing fire out to 2000 metres. Using the .338 Lapua Magnum at distances that far exceed its original 1500 metre engagement range raises problems such as the amount of adjustability built into rifle scopes, dealing with transonic effects etc.

However, allied snipers are achieving point aimed fire beyond 2500 metres – based on personal intuition and skills, rather than the capabilities of the technology with which they are equipped. Our ADF snipers, while exceptionally well trained and capable, need a system that can extend their capability out beyond 1800 metres.

Unfortunately, despite calls for such systems by operators, who have told GCPD Arms staff that this would have saved lives in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the ADF seems intent on sticking to “legacy” calibres – partly because the supply chains for calibres such as the .338 Lapua Magnum and .50BMG have been in place for decades and are efficient and cost effective. A new system would involve a lot more work initially – as happened when the .338 Lapua magnum was introduced in the 1980s (40 years ago!). However, there is a growing realisation amongst other military forces that change is needed:

  • The US Government’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) has initiated the ESSO (Extreme Sniper Stroke Operations) project designed to produce a sniper rifle system accurate out to 3000 metres. The system should be able to “engage threat personnel at extreme ranges out to 3000 metres, using minimum rounds on target, and minimising collateral damage”. The CTTSO states that “Current firing solutions, Ballistic Engines, current ammunition capabilities and current sniper systems are unable to achieve these goals”.

  • It has also been reported that the US Army and NATO is concerned about new generation Russian sniper rifles such as the Orsis T-5000, SVDK, ASVK etc which offer significantly improved fire power when compared to the SV Dragunov and SV98. These new generation rifles have the capability of defeating modern body armour at much longer ranges and have made appearances in various theatres, including the war in the Ukraine.

In order to address this capability gap, we at GCPD Arms feel that NATO/Western allied forces need to move to sniper platforms that offer significant capability overmatch – defined as the ability to inflict lethal effects at greater distance than is currently achievable. Purchase of modern long-range platforms based on the .338 Lapua Magnum only offers incremental performance improvements and will, at best, only maintain parity with combatant forces using similar systems. These platforms will not achieve significant capability overmatch over an enemy with more powerful systems.

The only way to achieve significant capability overmatch is to use a more powerful calibre. To date, this has meant a much heavier, bulkier platform such as the .50 BMG which was designed as an Anti-Materiel system not an Anti-Personnel one – which raises the issue of increased soldier weight burden.

The weight of the current .50 BMG- based platforms is excessive (between 15 to 20 kgs – as much as some crew operated weapons such as GPMGs). This, combined with ammunition weight, is excessive for an operator to carry for long distances on insertion. There is a need for a more system that is mor powerful than the .338, but lighter than the .50 - such as GCPD Arms’ AMAP. Weight reductions translate into more time in the field, less operator fatigue etc with better achievement of mission objectives.

Modern military forces need to reduce soldier weight burden, in order to reduce the number of musculoskeletal injuries suffered by combatants. This is having an impact on lethality of combatants plus leading to a cost spiral involving increased medical evacuations from combat zones; increased compensation costs; early separation of skilled soldiers (accelerated access to pensions) and the loss of highly trained elite soldiers and their corporate experience).

Many defence forces are now focused on saving grams in the hope that the kilos will look after themselves. GCPD Arms has proven that it is possible to develop exceedingly accurate firearms without undue weight. We literally save kilos, rather than grams, through leading edge design and materials selection. GCPD Arms firearms are not only capable of outshooting anything from overseas, they are also invariably the lightest in calibre classes.

GCPD Arms is strongly focused on achieving overmatch, without imposing overburden.

Overall system weight can be optimised through use of modern materials and by leading edge design. In too many rifle systems, overall weight is often used to assist stability and rigidity and many systems are too heavy and impose too much strain on the operator – which impacts on the operator/firearm interface.

The GCPD Arms AMAP-MC rifle system in .375 Cheytac offers significant advantages over .338 Lapua Magnum and .50 BMG platforms:

  • The AMAP-MC weighs 9.9kgs.

  • Its closest USA competitor weighs 14.2kgs.

  • Its closest European competitor weighs 13.1kgs.

  • Total system weight of the AMAP is 16kgs, including a combat load of 200 rounds of ammunition - this is equal to the bare rifle weight of a.50 BMG system.

  • Total system weight of a .50BMG system would be over 22kgs.

  • The AMAP delivers more kinetic energy past 650 metres than a .50BMG system (the .50BMG has slightly more energy inside 650 metres) and gives the operator a Anti-Materiel and an Anti-Personnel capability.

  • The AMAP in .375 Cheytac delivers 80% more kinetic energy than the .338 Lapua Magnum.

  • The .375 Cheytac is supersonic to 2500 metres and this can be extended to 3000 metres with super-efficient projectile designs (versus the .338 Lapua Magnum and .50BMG supersonic ranges of 1600 metres) delivering:

  1. Flatter trajectory (less adjustment needed to sighting systems).

  2. Shorter flight time (conferring tactical advantages).

  3. Reduced transonic effects at the engagement range.

Stay tuned for our next instalment: Platform Design Elements – PART 2

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