The MK-22 is a highly flexible platform, allowing shooters three different calibers they can fire.
According to a recent press release, the United States Army’s newest sniper rifle, called the MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle, is currently undergoing operational testing and will soon be issued more widely throughout the Army. Additionally, the MK-22 will supplant the United States Marine Corps’ M40 sniper rifle, a mainstay of the Corps’ precision riflemen since Vietnam.
The Mk-22 differs significantly from any preceding sniper or precision weapon system in either U.S. Army or Marine Corps inventories. Based on Barrett Firearms MRAD (Multi-Role Adaptive Design), the MK-22 offers shooters not just a single caliber, but three to choose from: 7.62 x 51mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum.
Switching between calibers is relatively easy, and the Army issues rifle kits with three different barrels and bolts. The MK-22’s barrels are fluted to keep weight low, shaving off weight without sacrificing strength and slightly reducing the rifle’s overall weight.
Like many precision rifles, the Army and Marine Corps’ new rifle is highly adjustable, made to fit each shooter perfectly. For example, the rifle’s length of pull and cheek rest are both adjustable. In Army rifle kits, the Army also issues the rifle with a large-diameter suppressor. And while sniper rifles are not exactly known for their compactness, the MK-22 is equipped with an outwardly folding stock that dramatically shortens its length when folded.
Lock, Stock, & Barrel
Soldiers the Army quoted in their release expressed enthusiasm for the new sniper rifle, praising the platform’s modern, compact design, long engagement ranges, and the flexibility offered by three different calibers.
“The increased engagement range will keep Snipers safer and increase the options for the local commander employing these combat multipliers,” one sniper said. An MK-22 Project NCO explained that “with a folding stock and removable suppression system, the PSR will provide airborne Snipers a more compact load during airborne infiltration operations without reducing their lethality while providing a precision rifle platform more conducive to their combat environment.” Yet another enlisted Soldier said he was “surprised at the accuracy and the straightforward approach to testing the PSR.”
In the Army release, paratroopers and Special Operations troops put the rifle through its airborne paces, evaluating its accuracy after jumps to ensure the rifle could maintain its zero even after combat jumps.
Barrett’s MRAD-turned MK-22 rifle is a massive upgrade for both the Army but particularly for the Marine Corps. It has the potential to push engagement distances much farther out than was previously possible.
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and Defense Writer based in Europe. He lives in Berlin and covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society.