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U.S. Special Forces: 4 Most Deadly Weapons of War

M2 On The Range
Pfc. Kathy Simmons, 56th Engineer Company (Vertical), 2nd Engineer Brigade, of St. Helena Island, S.C., engages the 10-meter target with the M2 .50 caliber machine gun at the Temporary Machinegun Range, JBER-Richardson, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. Army machine gun marksmanship is based on the concept that soldiers must be able to effectively apply their firing skills in combat. Teams, consisting of a gunner and assistant gunner, underwent basic non-firing training covering maintenance and immediate action drills and an initial 10-meter live fire grouping/setting course, and weapons qualification.

United States Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, serves as a combat command that oversees the special operations commands of the United States’ various branches. Although each branch has its own special-operations capable forces, SOCOM serves to coordinate operations that require multiple special operations forces working together.

The Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines that serve under SOCOM represent the best, most trained in the United States — and here is the equipment that helps make them so deadly.

Mk 22 Advanced Sniper Rifle

This rifle is the future of long-range precision. Made by Barrett Firearms, a Tennessee-based arms manufacturer, the Mk 22 is an incredible rifle. Thanks to an interchangeable barrel system, the Mk 22 can fire a wide variety of cartridges, from the large .338 Lapua Magnum and .338 Norma Magnum to the .308 Winchester and .300 Winchester Magnum, to the smaller 6.5mm Creedmoor. The Department of Defense was sold on the design and awarded Barrett a $50,000,000 contract for the rifle in 2019.

In addition to the dizzying array of cartridges the Mk 22 can fire, it is very modular and light-weight, with the heaviest configuration weighing approximately 15 pounds. Ergonomics are aided by an adjustable, outward folding stock, as well as a match-grade trigger.

You can read more about this incredible rifle, dubbed MRAD in Marine Corps’ service, here.


No conversation about small arms is complete without mentioning the FN SCAR. The SCAR manufacturer, FN Herstal, designed the SCAR specifically for use by SOCOM, and created a very modular family of rifles. The SCAR is actually two rifles, SCAR-L (“Light”), and SCAR-H (“Heavy”), chambered in 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm respectively. In addition to the different cartridge chambering, the rifles can be further customized, and are offered in Close-Quarters Combat, Standard, and Long Barrel variants.

Though both variants are visually quite similar with an adjustable and foldable stock and M16-style grip, the SCAR-H feeds proprietary 20-round magazines, whereas the SACR-L feeds standard 30-round STANAG box magazines.

Mk 48 Machine Gun

The Mk 48 is a SOCOM machine gun that combines the power and range of the 7.62x51mm intermediate cartridge with the lightweight of a light machine gun. The Mk 48 itself is patterned after the M249, a light machine gun in service with the United States and long the go-to light machine gun.

Unlike the M249, however, the Mk 48 cannot feed from magazines and feeds only from belted ammunition, a decision made to save weight. When compared to the M240, the standard-issue medium machine gun, the Mk 48 is nearly 20% lighter.

Heckler & Koch HK416

Though the H&K 416 is now the Marine Corp’s standard-issue rifle, the rifle is infamously known as the rifle that was used to kill Osama bin Laden by SEAL Team Six. Visually, the HK416 is similar to the M16 and M4 family and is also chambered in 5.56x45mm, though the HK416 uses a different cycling mechanism that is thought to be more reliable than the M16/M4’s direct impingement system.

In addition, the HK416’s barrel is free-floating, and does not come into contact with the barrel guard, aiding accuracy. The version in service with the Marine Corps is accurate out to 800 meters against area targets.

Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer based in Europe. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.

Written By

Caleb Larson, a defense journalist based in Europe and holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy. He lives in Berlin and writes on U.S. and Russian foreign and defense policy, German politics and culture.



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