“In A World Of Compromise, Some Men Don’t.” Thus quoth famed German gunmaker Heckler & Koch’s (HK) slogan of the 1980s and 1990s, and that slogan embodies their myriad of products, from handguns – such as the P7 9mm “squeeze-cocking” autopistol that I personally own and the P2000 LEM .40 S&W that I carried on-duty during my three years as a U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Officer – submachine guns (the legendary MP5 9mm SMG), and rifles, such as the PSG1 (Präzisionsschützengewehr, Deutsch for “precision marksman rifle ) that more than one expert has deemed to be the most accurate semiauto rifle in the world.
In keeping with that slogan, and showing that the company is not content to rest upon its laurels, HK scored yet another military contracting coup, in the guise of their U.S. Army Squad Designated Marksmanship Rifle (SDMR).
Replacing a Legend
Before we examine the SDMR in-depth, it’s taking a quick look at the rifle that it’s replacing. The time-honored M24 Sniper Weapon System 7.62x51mm was adopted by the Army back in 1988, and it has proven its effectiveness in combat on many an occasion since then, most notably during the Iraq War, when then-Army SSG Jim Gilliland made a confirmed kill at 1,250 meters with it. And more recently, as in the current century, the U.S. Air Force Security Forces (HOOAH!) adopted the M24 for its counter-sniper teams. (To the best of my knowledge, the USAF isn’t fixin’ to replace their M24s anytime soon; if anybody knows otherwise and is at liberty to say so without compromising any official sensitive information, please let us know down below in the Comments section.)
So, for HK to win the Army contract to replace the M24 was no small feat. As an HK official press release stated back in April 2020:
“Heckler & Koch Defense Inc. is pleased to announce the first shipment of M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifles (SDMR) to the US Army. This shipment is the first of many that will eventually total between 5,000 and 6,000 complete weapon systems…The new HK rifle is a variant of the 7.62 mm G28/HK417. Under terms of the agreement, the rifles, which are manufactured by HK in Oberndorf, Germany are first shipped to the HK-USA facility in Columbus, GA. There, HK-USA workers install scopes and mounts purchased by the Army under a separate agreement. Additionally, HK-USA staff kit the scoped rifles with additional accessories from 12 other US-based manufacturers to round out the complete SDMR weapon system delivered to the Army. Heckler & Koch will also provide spare parts, support, and training.”
Specifications for the M110A1 include a 16.3-inch barrel – which generates a muzzle velocity of 2,461 feet per second with NATO 175-grain M118LR round – an overall length of 40.12 inches (including sound suppressor), an unloaded weight of 9.15 pounds, and a fully-charged weight of 14.00 lbs. Unlike the bolt-action M24, the HK successor is semiautomatic in function, utilizing a gas-operated, rotating bolt system; more specifically, it uses a short-stroke gas piston to actuate an operating rod which allows the weapon to run cooler and with less fouling of the bolt carrier group and chamber — drastically improving reliability. Feed system consists of 10- or 20-round detachable box magazines.
Some Semantic Context & Clarification
Seeing how the Army has officially dubbed the weapon a “Designated Marksmanship Rifle” as opposed to a “sniper rifle,” some of you folks might be wondering, “What’s the goshdarn difference?” Well, I’m glad y’all asked. The ever-savvy Travis Pike of Sandboxx News provides us the answer to that question:
“A designated marksman is an infantry asset that’s attached to an infantry squad. Snipers often work alone or within a very small team. Snipers also tend to work autonomously, with specialized mission sets. A designated marksman, on the other hand, will conduct basic infantry operations.”
Thank you for that, Travis!
Want Your Own SDMR?
Are you either a multimillionaire or a well-connected senior government official? If not, then as Tony Soprano (R.I.P. James Gandolfini, gone but not forgotten) might say, “FUHGEDDABOUTIT!” The closest equivalent legally available on the U.S. civilian market is the semiauto-only HK MR762, and even then, you’ll break out your bankbook and be ready to take out a second mortgage.
True Gun Value states that “A HK MR762 rifle is currently worth an average price of $3,699.00 new. The 12-month average price is $3,705.85 new.” Meanwhile, Omaha Outdoors lists six different variants of the MR762, starting at a price of $4,129.00 and topping off at $7,249.00!
Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. In his spare time, he enjoys (besides shooting, obviously) dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports. If you’d like to pick his brain in-person about his writings, chances are you’ll be able to find him at the Green Turtle Pasadena in Maryland on Friday nights, singing his favorite karaoke tunes.