SNIPERPRO – USMC PRECISION WEAPONS SECTION

Where Marines’ scout sniper weapons are born and resurrected!

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    In Jordan, a 26th MEU Maritime Raid Force Sailor engages a long-distance target with an M40A5 sniper rifle. Exercise Eager Lion 2013 was designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships in the region.
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    Marine Sergeant Brent Patry inspects Remington Model 700 receivers on M40A5 rifles returned from the fleet to be serviced at Quantico.
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  • Reservists come aboard the base for sniper training
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  • 26th MEU Maritime Raid Force Qatar Sniper Live Fire
    26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Maritime Raid Force Marines fire various sniper rifles while conducting a marksmanship training exercise at a range in Qatar, April 22, 2013. Eagle Resolve is an annual multilateral exercise designed to enhance regional cooperative defense efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations and U.S. Central Command. The 26th MEU is deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group. The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force. The MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone, 26th MEU Combat Camera/Released)
  • Sniperpro
    A Marine fires a M40A5 sniper rifle while conducting a marksmanship training exercise at a range in Qatar. The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, serving as a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force.
  • EAGER LION 13
    A 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Maritime Raid Force Marine engages a long distance target with an M40A5 sniper rifle at a range in Jordan, June 10, 2013. Exercise Eager Lion 2013 is an annual, multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships and enhance security and stability in the region by responding to modern-day security scenarios. The 26th MEU is deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group. The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force. (U.S. Marine Corps photograph by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone, 26th MEU Combat Camera/Released)
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  • Sniperpro
    A 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Maritime Raid Force Marine fires an M40A5 7.62mm NATO scout sniper rifle at a range in Jordan.
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  • EAGER LION 13
    A 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Maritime Raid Force Marine fires an M40 sniper rifle during a nighttime live fire in Jordan, June 21, 2013. Exercise Eager Lion 2013 is an annual, multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships and enhance security and stability in the region by responding to modern-day security scenarios. The 26th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group serving as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious operations across the full range of military operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photograph by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone, 26th MEU Combat Camera/Released)

As rare as Marine snipers are, the rifles they use and the expert gunsmiths who hand-build them are just as unique—and then some. The Marine Corps has four scout sniper schools spread out across the United States, but there’s only one place where the sniper bolt-action weapon, the M40A5, is built, and that’s the Precision Weapons Section on Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico. Quantico is also the only place where the sniper gun builders, known in the Corps as 2112s (the specialty code assigned to Marines who graduate from the 181-day Precision Weapons Repair Course) are trained. While not all 2112 graduates work on the M40s, we talked to the ones who did to find out how they make the scout sniper’s 7.62mm Remington 700–based M40A5 sniper rifle.

Master Gunnery Sergeant James Hoffart, the Precision Weapons School’s senior enlisted Marine, said that, inside the doors of the Precision Weapons Section, the first question the custom gun builders get from fellow Marines is always the same: “Why can’t infantry weapons shoot like national match rifles?” Indeed. Every Marine is a rifleman, and every rifleman deserves a fine weapon, but Hoffart’s logic quickly levels the playing field for infantry. “You lose reliability as you gain accuracy,” deadpanned Hoffart. And therein lies the challenge of building a weapon that, with a single bullet, can determine the outcome of lives, battles, wars and freedoms. That weapon must be exceptionally accurate and absolutely reliable for the shots that scout snipers may have waited their entire lives to execute.

It’s a challenge the Marines at the Precision Weapons Section accept every day, and their magic doesn’t come from wands or wishes but from a sharp discipline so ingrained in the Marine ethos that sniper rifle bullets probably hit their targets more out of pride than ballistics. The Marine Corps, which is, by the way, the only service that builds its sniper weapons in-house, starts with Remington actions—it’s always been that way. “The bolt action rifle is a cold-barrel accuracy weapon,” said Hoffart…