When the SASS (Semi Automatic Sniper System) was originally developed as a 7.62x51mm NATO rifle for the U.S. Military. Its intended purpose was to provide a reliable semi-automatic precision rifle in a familiar platform that could be issued on a wider basis. While the bolt rifle has its place, our current area of operation is not always conducive to the lower rate of fire and magazine capacity. It also requires specialty training, as it is a completely different platform. By using what is easily the most familiar rifle platform our troops have, the train-up is far less. There was also the added benefit of magazines and other interchangeable items in inventory from the Mk 11 Mod 0 project.
Although a typical SASS-style rifle is probably not as pinpoint-accurate as a bolt gun, it is pretty close. Semi-automatic precision rifles have come a long way, and there are several solid versions inspired by this rifle in various chamberings. Priced comparably with many other AR-type rifles that yield precision accuracy, they have become truly versatile systems. It really has opened the platform up to the police world, a world where the semi-auto sniper rifle is still quite rare.
For many years the police classes involving precision rifles were almost completely bare of any semi-automatic platform. You would see an occasional M21 or M25, but they are heavy, and took some real knowledge and work to keep accurate in the police environment. Despite some perceived similarities, the police marksman’s world is very different then that of the military sniper. Seldom is a second shot required, it is really that first shot out of the barrel that is critical. What follows if necessary must be in the same basic spot with little change, and must be reliable. There is also the need to change to barrier rounds if a threat presents itself through glass. Early on, many AR-type rifles were either not consistently accurate or had a significant difference between the first round and each subsequent round. They also could have some difficulty feeding polymer-tipped or flat rounds, both being the most common barrier rounds seen in the police world to this day. It really kept them out of the mix, and for many it still does. The cost factor also came into play, as viable semi-automatic platforms are almost invariably more expensive—something that is always an issue for police departments. That game has changed a bit. Costs have come down, quality has grown exponentially, and more importantly, other calibers have entered the mix.