More than a year has passed since the second phase of the Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) program submission deadline, and the wait for a final decision is over. Remington Defense’s Modular Sniper Rifle, or MSR, topped a group of five companies to win the U.S. Special Operation Command (USSOCOM) contract. The Remington MSR was specifically developed to meet the needs of the PSR program, which encompassed a set of requirements in a weapon system that would enable snipers to use one or more shots to interdict enemy personnel, positions and non-technical vehicles mounted with crew-served weapons out to 1,500 meters.
PSR By Definition
To get an idea of what the Remington MSR is all about, a review of the USSOCOM performance specifications for the PSR will tell the story. The PSR was specified to have an overall length no longer than 50 inches fully extended without a suppressor, with the ideal set at 40 inches. With the stock folded, the maximum length was 40 inches, with 36 inches set as the objective of USSOCOM. The threshold weight for the weapon with a Picatinny rail and a 10-round, unloaded magazine was 18 pounds, and the objective weight was no greater than 13 pounds. The base Remington MSR tips the scales at 13 pounds, and its complete configuration weighs 17 pounds.
Another aspect of a PSR is its capability to switch barrels from one caliber to another by a soldier in the field. The MSR can easily switch between .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum and 7.62mm NATO barrels. To mate up with various barrel configurations, the MSR’s bolt has a quick-change bolt head to accommodate the various chamberings. Although not submitted for the PSR trials, the MSR is also offered in .338 Norma Magnum.
According to the PSR specs, the “rifle shall incorporate an adjustable stock for length-of-pull adjustments, and an adjustable cheekpiece that shall provide adequate adjustment to allow for eye alignment with optics. The PSR rifle shall accommodate a quick method to decrease the overall length of the stock for tactical carry/enhanced portability without separating the action from the stock…” The MSR accomplishes these thresholds with a tubular, free-floating handguard with a Mil-Std-1913 top rail, which offers plenty of space for in-line night-vision devices. Side and bottom rails allow for mounting a number of other accessories. Three configurable short Picatinny rails can be moved along the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock surfaces of the handguard.
Meet Big Green’s MSR
My first introduction to the MSR was during a Remington-sponsored writers’ event held at Gunsite Academy. My range time with the MSR was limited to about 20 shots at steel targets between 400 and 700 yards. The shots on steel at Gunsite were entertaining, but it didn’t give me a good frame of reference to compare it to other PSR-specific weapon systems I’ve tested for Tactical Weapons. For that reason, I later connected with Greg Baradat and Robby Johnson of Remington Defense at the Fernan Shooting Range in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, for a more in-depth shooting session. Prior to their Remington employment, both men were U.S. Army snipers with plenty of combat experience.
“We were the first to do the right-side folder with bolt capture for jumping,” Baradat said. “We were the first to bring the right-side folder to the game. Everybody liked it because it keeps the slick side to your body when slung.” The MSR’s buttstock is removable, too. “We wanted a foldable and a removable buttstock so we could put it in a backpack or a suitcase.” That led Remington engineers down the road to make additional changes.
“What we submitted to the USSOCOM PSR was a lightweight buttstock,” Baradat continued. “The new design allowed us to take a pound off the buttstock. It has throw levers instead of screw dials, too. This allowed us to put set nuts in the design to retain a shooter’s stock settings,” Baradat added. “The adjustable buttplate is spring loaded, which allows the butt to be adjusted up or down just under 0.25 inches at a time.”
“Moving parts are going to wear and you’re going to get some slop in it,” Robby Johnson said. “We’ve made a screw adjustment that will tighten up the stock hinge to get the slop out of it. We made it [the stock’s moving parts] to be user adjustable. Some guys like it tight, and others like it to move freely.”
“The MSR has a titanium action that our multi-caliber barrels slip into with a barrel extension, sort of like an AR,” Baradat said. “Remington’s forged 5R barrels shoot really well, and we also use Bartlein 5R barrels. We let the customers decide which barrel they want. For USSOCOM, the barrels are FNC [ferric nitride carburization] coated—it’s also called Melonite. The action—the titanium portion—is PVD ion-bonded. The reason for having both coatings is that they provide protection from 96 hours of salt fog, per the military testing. And it increases the hardness to extend the life of the barrels. FNC ups the Rockwell hardness to nearly 70, which is really hard. We have had really good luck with barrel life, extending it by a third. The PVD on the action gives it a bit more lubricity to help feeding, letting it work better in rough environmental conditions, and it makes it easier to clean, too. It’s not a paint that will wear off.