April 9th, 2016

Army to Buy $12,215 Sniper Rifles from Heckler & Koch

CSASS U.S. Army Compact Sniper System Semi-automatic Knights Armament Heckler Koch H&K HK

What can you do with $12,215.00? Well, you could buy a new Polaris RZR ATV, a really nice bass boat, 234 shares of Verizon, or 643 bottles of Jack Daniels Old #7. Or, if you are the U.S. Army, you can buy one (1) semi-auto sniper rifle, plus some spare parts. The U.S. Army announced recently that it will replace its M110 Knights Armament-made sniper rifle with a new, lighter 7.62×51 semi-auto rifle from Heckler and Koch. H&K will supply a slimmed-down variant of its G28 Rifle called the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS). The potential max contract value is $44,500,000 for up to 3,643 rifles (and spare parts). That works out to $12,215.21 per rifle*. At that price, it better be good.

CSASS U.S. Army Compact Sniper System Semi-automatic Knights Armament Heckler Koch H&K HK

The military says the G28 system is lighter and more compact than the 15.3-lb M110 produced by Knights Armament Company (KAC). The G28 is certainly more compact, given its 16.6″ barrel. But somebody seems to have forgotten that velocity is lost with a shorter barrel. A longer barrel will deliver significantly higher MV for better long-range ballistics. Nevertheless the Army thinks portability trumps ballistics: “Compared to the M110, the CSASS will be easier to carry, handle and maneuver in close-quarters combat. It will lighten the load for carrying over rough terrain for the longer-range ridgeline to ridgeline fight. These improvements will not sacrifice existing performance, accuracy or reliability.”

Hmmm… “Not sacrifice existing performance”? We’re not sure how that can be the case. The current KAC M110 Sniper Rifle (shown below) has a 20″ barrel. The basic G28 has 16.6″ (421 mm) barrel). Perhaps the final CSASS production version of the G28 will be fitted with a longer barrel?

CSASS U.S. Army Compact Sniper System Semi-automatic Knights Armament Heckler Koch H&K HK

Here’s what various sources report: “On 1 April 2016, the Army announced it had awarded Heckler and Koch a contract with a maximum value of $44.5 million as winner of the competition to replace the KAC M110. H&K is to produce 3,643 rifles. A goal of the effort was to give snipers a weapon that didn’t “stick out” as a sniper rifle; with a suppressor, the current M110 is 46.5″, that’s 13″ longer than the M4 carbine. A minimum of 30 CSASS units will be used for production qualification testing and operational testing over 24 months. H&K later confirmed that a modified G28 had indeed been selected as the CSASS rifle. The G28 is nearly 2.5″ shorter and 3 pounds lighter than the M110 (unloaded and without a suppressor) and will cost about $12,000 per rifle.”

Comment: We’re not so sure about this deal. $12.2K is a lot of money for a souped up AR10. The KAC M110, by all accounts, has performed well in combat and has a good reputation with sniper teams. When introduced, the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) won a U.S. Army award as one of the “Best 10 Inventions” of 2007. The M110 is highly acclaimed for its battlefield performance. If the military wanted a shorter rifle, it simply could have fitted a shorter barrel and a collapsible buttstock on existing M110s. That would have saved millions of dollars. But saving money is, apparently, not one of the Pentagon’s priorities these days.

* This HK firearm is sold as a CSASS system. Typically, the price per system unit will include optics, attachments, fitted hard case, and spares.

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