Knight’s Armament M110 .308

First look! U.S. Army enlists a new, deadly silent, semi-auto sureshot!

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“One shot, one kill.” This phrase is one that typically conjures images of America’s sniper elite. The next likely image that comes to mind is a scoped bolt-action rifle. The U.S. Army may be changing the familiar paradigm by fielding their new Knight’s Armament M110 semi-automatic, suppressed sniper rifle.

For a century, snipers have been regarded as “man hunters,” stalking high-valued military targets and obtaining intel from a concealed position in enemy territory. The sniper’s mission has been shifting since the end of the Vietnam War. Modern warfare and tactics have complicated the sniper’s traditional role, challenging their craft with multiple engagements from less than ideal locations on a dynamic battleground. The U.S. Army’s PEO (Program Executive Office) Soldier recognized this and has embarked on a search for a rifle that could best adapt to the War on Terror. After extensive testing, PEO teamed up with KAC (Knight’s Armament Company) to rapidly develop what many are calling the M24’s replacement.

“The Army came out with a requirement for a rifle that they wanted that would be a semi-automatic [firing] as accurate as possible,” says C. Reed Knight, owner of KAC. Knight was given a list of requirements that the SASS (Semi-Automatic Sniper System) had to meet, specifically:

* Weigh less than 15 pounds
* Feature an integral silencer
* Include an adjustable stock
* Contain ambidextrous controls
* Include a bipod

On September 28, 2005, the U.S. Army awarded KAC the honor of producing the XM110 SASS and by April of 2007 soldiers in Afghanistan assigned to Task Force Fury became the first in a combat zone to receive the M110.

knights3.jpgGun Details
Formerly known as the XM110, the “X” was dropped when the Army obtained field positive reports and considered the experiment complete. The M110 is based on KAC’s combat proven SR-25 (and similar to the USMC’s Mk 11 Mod 0) which, in turn, is loosely based on Eugene Stoner’s AR-10. The M110 features many refinements over its kin aimed at maximizing parts commonality with the standard-issue M16 and M4 service rifles, improved reliability and increased accuracy.

The differences between the Army’s M110 and the Marine’s Mk 11 are in the details. The forend rail system on the Mk 11 is the KAC free-floated RAS while the M110 uses a URX modular rails system with folding front back-up iron sights (BUIS). Like the Mk 11, the buttstock is fixed but an adjustable buttplate gives the user the ability to set the length of pull. The adjustment can be made without tools by rotating a hand-tightened knob on the right side of the stock. On both sides of the stock are integral quick-detachable sling swivel sockets positioned near the lower receiver. The changes made to the stock, the addition of a two-sided (ambi) bolt catch, and a locking button on the folding front sight were the only improvements made to the XM110 in its transition to become the M110.

On top of the upper is the familiar M1913 Picatinny rail system. Issued with the rifle is a Leupold scope, set in a one-piece mount featuring integral 30mm rings. The complete system includes the Leupold 3.5 to 10 variable-power scope, a Harris bipod, an AN/PVS-14 night vision sight, and a Leupold tactical spotting scope. On the lower receiver are ambidextrous controls including the magazine release, safety selector and bolt catch for more universal operation.

The system was optimized for the M118LR cartridge but it has been tested effectively with dual-purpose anti-personnel/armor piercing ammunition with sub-MOA accuracy. Military.com’s Christian Lowe participated in a rare opportunity to test fire the M110 at U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds. “Plinking targets at 250 yards with the suppressed M110 was a breeze—especially with the Leupold Mark 4 3.5-10x scope,” Lowe says. “The action was smooth, the report sounded like a BB gun and the system is totally stable and easy to use,” Lowe adds.

Advantages of the SASS
The bolt action M24 is known for its reliability and incredible accuracy. Its drawback lies in the area of rapid reloads, a feature becoming more important in the heavy insurgent environment. The M110 provides the sniper with as many as five well-aimed shots in five seconds, half the time it takes the same individual to operate the bolt action M24.

“It’s a very target-rich environment for them over there,” says Maj. Marc Meeker, assistant product manager for PEO. The most obvious advantage in the M110 deals with the magazine capacity, a drawback of the M24 identified by the subsequent M24A2, which features a 10-round detachable magazine. The M110, however, comes with 20-round magazines that can be quickly reloaded. This aspect of the M110 serves the demands of the PEO program that wants “something faster but just as lethal.”

In an ambush, the magazine fed M110 is superior to the bolt action where a spotter has to fight off attackers with his M4 as the sniper reloads loose rounds into the M24. “Operational testing showed that the SASS provides a 50 percent improvement in a sniper’s rate of engagement versus the M24 at distances up to and including the 800-meter mark,” reports Joshua Semick, lead engineer for the M110.

19-sr25.jpgBesides saving the spotter’s hearing, the requirement for a suppressor was a tactical choice. The SASS concept flies in the face of an important aspect of the sniper’s craft… concealment. Having access to 20 shots suggest that a sniper might use them and, after firing more than two or three, a sniper’s hide has likely been compromised. The KAC suppressor reduces the audible sound signature and visible flash, thereby offering the team added protection.

A 7.62 NATO bullet leaves the muzzle faster than the speed of sound, creating a small sonic boom that dissipates over distance as the bullet slows to a sub-sonic speed. It’s estimated that beyond 600 meters, a sniper can shoot and appear silent to the target. In urban areas where sound bounces off walls, the KAC suppressor assists with a sniper’s concealment by confusing the source of the shots. If a sniper takes his shot at 800 meters or beyond, he could make multiple anti-personnel shots without the enemy even being aware.

“I know from experience that snipers in Iraq love the M110, especially with its increased capacity and resemblance to the M16 which keeps you from silhouetting yourself as a ‘one-shot-one-killer,’” says Military.com’s Christian Lowe. “Now, I’ve heard rumors from the Marines that they were unimpressed with the weapon’s reliability in Iraq. But the soldier I talked to at Aberdeen said he’s been testing the heck out of the rifle and only saw minimal bolt cracking after nearly 15,000 rounds. The M24 is said to have a bolt lifespan of 5,000 rounds before a major reworking. While he recognized bolt-action purists would be horrified by the sacrilege of moving to a semi-auto system, he said with the number of targets typically being engaged by snipers in the war zone, he’d rather have 20 rounds per magazine than six any day of the week. ‘With this I get 20 rounds and a split second between shots,’ he said. ‘I can kill more targets every time with this.’”

Joining the Ranks
Being that the KAC SR-25, the M110’s close relative, has served special ops units like the U.S. Navy SEALs exceptionally well, the Army has chosen to move past debate and quickly enlist the most comprehensive solution snipers have seen in decades. Thus far, the M110 has proven itself effective against enemy personnel and light materiel targets out to 1,000 meters. Achieving success in the War on Terror requires getting essential capabilities to where they’re needed as quickly as possible. The M110 resulted from the PEO program that identifies and adapts existing technologies in three years or less. The M110 serves as an example of an improvement over the normal seven-to-10 year acquisition timeline.

snipers.jpgThe first soldiers to receive the M110 were snipers from the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division who obtained their rifles in time to train before deploying with them. “Our focus is to try to get this weapon to units prior to their deployment,” says Maj. Meeker. “We don’t want to field it to them in theater. We would rather train them here on the ground in a peacetime environment, and then have them outfitted with the best and newest equipment as they go forward on the battlefield,” he adds.

“It’s everything a sniper wants,” says Sgt. Jed Christianson after training with the M110. “We’re all very excited about this new weapon system because it’s custom-tailored to the kind of fight we’re in, in Iraq.”

The U.S. Army plans to field nearly 3,000 M110s with many rifles already serving overseas but the adoption of the M110 hasn’t come without great debate. Much praise has been said for the Army’s move to keep the 7.62 NATO chambering. Some argue against Stoner’s AR design entirely. For those partial to the bolt action, know that the U.S. Army still plans on acquiring M24s through February 2010.

knights11.jpgBulletFlight: Ballistic Data For The iPOD
Knight’s Armament now offers port­­able ballistics software for the iPhone and iPod Touch and is developing a water-proof rail mount. A bullet’s impact becomes more predictable with accurate calculations that factor in environmental details (i.e., distance, wind direction, temperature, elevation). The software can even auto­matically get weather data from your current location. The display gives you the information you need for the current shot rather than showing a complex table. BulletFlight, available for purchase by anyone directly from the ‘App Store’ comes pre-loaded with several rifle profiles, but you can easily add more—not just for the M110, but any rifle. For more information visit www.knightarmco.com.


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  • El Cole

    Is that Magpul’s Chris Costa on the cover of the magazine? That would be weird since that is a Knight’s Armament weapon….

  • http://www.magpul.com Dr.Drake

    Yes, that is Costa. There is nothing strange about Magpul promoting Knight’s. Magpul has positive relationships with most of the firearms industry even our competitors. There is quite a bit of respect for KAC from the Magpul side of the house and vice versa.

  • Eric R. Poole

    Thanks for visiting our website Dr. Drake! Give me a shout.

  • Javier Ruiz

    Really great article.
    I hope to read more current information about SASS weapons like this.
    let me tell you thanks for sharing this with us.
    Keep up your job.

  • Brandon

    I’m a fan of the M14, M21, etc… but the M110 looks promising. I’ve seen it on the Military Channel’s (good channel) Top Sniper (looked like a lot of fun) used by fellow Airmen. My birthday is just around the corner if somebody wants to get me a great present *hint hint*!

  • A. Aho

    My first look at this was on Top Sniper series. Reading the articles and watching Discovery’s report I like the rapid fire and assault usage. Is or will this rifle be available to civilians, and a what cost? I was recently eyeing the new Savage 10BA BAS, .308 bolt action at $1600 (MSRP is $2300).

  • R Knight III

    We hope to have a commercial SR-25 available soon. Our production has been tied up for a number of years due to military obligations.

  • Proud American

    This is in no way a “sniper rifle”, this is nothing more than an 7.62 M4. I have been dealing in US Army / SOF sniper business for the last 18 years. This gun in way can match the proven performance of an M24. It might look good on the discovery channel when someone is shooting it at 200 yards, but it will not do you any good at long distance. This is a 2 moa gun at best.

  • http://B4victor@hotmail. VictorB4

    For any one who says they have been dealing with this army/sof snipers and can out shoot there 24 has little to no experiance on gun. I can out perfome my issued 24 and so can my snipers. Knights has done a great job with this gun and we are talking about ranges out 1000m if you need help using this weapon system contact the ft benning school house I know many people there that can re train any DOD employe who is training “SOF” snipers or what ever.

  • Carcamo

    That was great, thanks! Louis vuitton gucci chloe bags http://www.pursefocus.com <a

  • ETHRON-1 / BUILDING MY SASS

    I have a ArmaLite AR-10 A4 CB that I have built into what I call the P.A.S.S. (Personal Assault Survival System) ( http://www.ar10t.com/ ) in the Article section. I have fashioned my rifle after the SUPER SASS and THE SR-25 and THE M-110 SASS. I think the M-110 is an exquisite weapon along with the SR-25, I only wish I could afford one of either or an SR-15 for that matter. KAC, I think you make fine weapons and I hope to get to at least shoot one some day.

  • http://fredallenpearson@yahoo.com Allen Pearson

    I would like to know which is the best sniper rifle there is on the market. One with all the gimmick, such as silencer, night vision, at least 20 round clip etc. Can it be purchased and can I purchase ammo with it, and at what price????
    fredallenpearson@yahoo.com, this email address is valid. I use it everyday.

  • http://fredallenpearson@yahoo.com Allen Pearson

    I would like to know which is the best sniper rifle there is on the market. One with all the gimmick, such as silencer, night vision, at least 20 round clip etc. Can it be purchased and can I purchase ammo with it, and at what price????
    fredallenpearson@yahoo.com

  • vic rabinowitz

    As long as we are going to semi automatic AR-15 look alike both Remington and RND Edge produce a precision rifle chambered in .338 Lapua, 300 WM or 308 that do not weigh any more than the Knight Armament rifle, are at least as accurate and provide additional benefits in alternative chambering. Optic and suppressor are integrated as well. I have never fired the Knight M110, but if we stepping away from the bolt action then it seems we ought to go for the whole package(semiautomatic, alternative chambering, variable optics, supressors etc.

  • Jeff Ragan

    To Proud American. Sorry but you must need marksmanship training!, I DOUBT you have ever operated an SR25 or M110, my 16 yr old SR25 with over 4000 rnds put down range has just 2 months ago shot a 5 shot grp, measuring .355″ center to center, making a ragged single hole just over 9/16″ at maximum outside dimension. EVERYONE who has fired my SR can easily do sub-moa groups. W/ winchester supreme match 168gr factory loads I have shot 1000yd, 5 shot grps of 7 7/8″, and easily do under 1 moa w/ just about ANY ammo out to 600 yrds. Currently shooting Remington 175 gr match and achieving the same results and this is the ammo used for .355″ grp. Any doubters can come shoot my rifle or shut up!!. all4strkseatsmk@hotmail.com

  • Glenn

    is the M110 for sale yet to the public?

  • Jeff Ragan

    Have SR 25/ M-110, 24″ barrel, 1995 production/ upgraded by Knight armament to civilian M-110 spec april 2010, Has urx forend w/rail integral front site, 600 meter folding rear, M-110 adj buttstock, ambi safety, M-110 bolt catch, and re- finish w/cerakote in flat dark earth. Rifle identical to XM-110, minus suppersor mount and 20″ barrel. 24″ barrel acurate to 1200yrds. Will sell w 8 knights 20 rd mags in package. if interested contact me via e=mail. Jeff Ragan. all4strkseatsmk@hotmail.com

  • Kyle w

    Ive seen complete M110 systems on the Internet complete with multiple mags, scope, silencer, pelican case, etc. They go for about 23,000 usd. Although I’m sure u could find rifle only for much cheaper.

  • TIM

    Proud american, lol, you have no idea what you are talking about. Any modern day sniper will prefer the M110 over a bolt action rifle for two reasons, follow up shots and round capacity

  • CJ

    Fing ridiculas price, absurd. This is a bad ass rifle but no way worth 20K!!!