Firearms manufacturers participating in U.S. Special Operations Command’s Precision Sniper Rifle (SOCOM’s PSR) trials approach design challenges from several different angles. Some designs are more complex and have more adjustments and features than required. At the other end of the spectrum is Barrett’s MRAD, a switch-barrel rifle that changes calibers to match its role.
When USSOCOM published their Performance Specifications for the PSR on December 16, 2009, nine companies stepped up to the challenge to design their sniper systems. Well versed in manufacturing the dependable M82A sniper system for the U.S. military, Barrett unveiled their MRAD (Multi-Role Adaptive Design) rifle to compete for a new government contract. But the program’s progress hasn’t proceeded smoothly. The PSR trials bogged down and came to a halt, only to restart again. On January 6, 2012, six manufacturers submitted rifles, ammunition and written proposals as the program breathed new life.
The MRAD rifle differentiates from some designs that are more elaborate and complicated. The beauty of the MRAD is its simplicity. Its monolithic design requires few moving parts or screws to replace. In other designs, there are as many as 30 screws that must be removed to change the barrel. To change calibers with the Barrett MRAD, you only have to remove two crossbolts with a simple hand tool, then remove and replace the barrel and bolt head. All of this is possible in less than two minutes. The MRAD’s user-modification capability in the field, on the fly, presents a valuable asset in either military or law enforcement roles.