September 23, 2010
A custom-made duplicate of the original USMC sniper rifle employed during the Viet Nam War.
By Peter G. Kokalis
The Marine Sniper is built on Ed Brown's Model 702 action. It is machined from heat-treated barstock with solid carbide end mills to ensure absolute concentricity and alignment. The scope is Leupold's Mark 4 M3-10X.
Since the late 18th century, soldiers who were expert shots operating from concealment with a mission to pick off individual enemy targets have been called snipers in the British army. The word "snipe" is derived from the Middle English "snype," probably of Scandinavian origin. During our Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops employed large-caliber percussion rifles, weighing up to 40 pounds and often equipped with scopes of high magnification and limited field of view, to record kills at distances considered incredible even by today's standards. They were called "sharpshooters."
Over the last decade the terms "sniping" and "sniper" have taken on a sinister tone with terrorist or criminal implications. As a consequence it is now fashionable to refer to law enforcement personnel equipped with scoped rifles as "countersnipers" or by the even more politically correct term, "selected" or "designated marksmen."
This tautological silliness aside, rifles with optical sights permit trained police marksmen to obtain the precise target discrimination so often required in hostage situations. Countersnipers are commonly an integral component in the composition of law enforcement special-reaction teams.
Despite the successful deployment of snipers by both sides during World War II, with the advent of the Cold War, the tactical concept of "fire and movement" and the fast-moving armored warfare that was anticipated in central Europe, interest in military sniping declined sharply. However, by the mid-1970s the experience of the Vietnam War and other low-intensity conflicts encouraged renewed interest in sniping.
A police-selected marksman is not the equivalent of a military sniper. A sniper on the battlefield has three equally significant roles.
They are to kill selected enemies, such as commanders, snipers, weapons crews, helicopter crews and special operations personnel at ranges from 300 to 600 meters; to provide harassment fire up to about 1,000 meters intended to damage equipment and inhibit enemy troop movement; and to observe and report information about enemy troop and vehicle movements and sometimes act as forward observers to direct mortar and artillery fire and tactical air support.
A consistent .5-MOA performer, the rifle provides exceptional accuracy potential at a reasonable price for a custom rifle.
The modern military sniper will often be equipped with night vision equipment, a laser rangefinder, an IR laser aiming module, communications gear, a thermal imaging device and a navigation system in addition to his rifle and optical sight. These latter two items are most important and should be of the highest possible quality and accuracy potential.
Ed Brown Products recently sent RifleShooter an Ed Brown Marine Sniper rifle for test and evaluation. It is a close duplicate of the original USMC sniper rifle developed by McMillan during the Vietnam War with the exception that it is custom crafted on an Ed Brown Model 702 turn-bolt action.
Ed Brown has created what he arguably feels is the perfect action. It features a cylindrical body for maximum rigidity and close-fitting bolts lapped to perfection with exact tolerances. The Model 702 action is machined from heat-treated barstock with solid carbide end mills to ensure absolute concentricity and alignment. This is the most expensive way to produce an action.
The rear bridge is precision ground, not belt sanded, to assure a precise surface for attaching the rear scope base. The receiver is tapped for 8-40 screws for the strength required of today's heavier optical sights. The scope-mount hole spacing is that of the Remington M700. The breech threads are cut with a CNC single-point carbide thread tool. The socket-head action screws are extremely durable. The Ed Brown Marine Sniper utilizes the short action with a four-round, 2.850-inch magazine box.
The hand-fitted bolts, with welded-on handles, are machined from barstock, not cast. Unique spiral flutes on the bolt body distribute lubrication, enhance self-cleaning and permit a tighter-fitting bolt.
The hand-fitted bolts, with welded-on handles, are machined from barstock, not cast. Unique spiral flutes on the bolt body distribute lubrication, enhance self-cleaning and permit a tighter-fitting bolt. The bolt's locking lugs are hand lapped. There is a battle-proven M16-type extractor for reliable push-feed action. At .30 inch in thickness, the heavy-duty recoil lug is 60 percent thicker than standard.
The machined and serrated three-position safety lever securely locks the bolt when engaged. The push-button bolt stop, outside the action and above the stock line, is easy to operate. The triggerguard and magazine floorplate are machined-steel components. The M700-type trigger is adjustable for pull weight and overtravel. Our test specimen had a very crisp trigger pull that broke at exactly three pounds. By any possible criteria, the Ed Brown M702 action qualifies as a true custom-made turn-bolt.
The Ed Brown Marine Sniper has an overall length of approximately 43.5 inches. The Shilen six-groove barrel has a right-hand twist of one turn in 10 inches, and the crown has been recessed to preserve the system's accuracy potential in harsh field environments. This 24-inch, match-grade tube features the well-known Remington Varmint exterior contour. Weight, without optics, is about 9.25 pounds, which is pretty much standard for modern sniper-weapon-system rifles. The barrel and receiver have been provided with a black oxide finish.
Without doubt McMillan Fiberglass Stocks manufactures more stocks for military and law enforcement sniper weapon systems than anyone else. Its stocks are the standard by which all others must be judged. A McMillan General Purpose stock with a woodland camouflage pattern was selected for the Ed Brown Marine Sniper principally because it's one of the lightest stocks McMillan makes. This is the same stock that has been used for years by the U.S. Marine
Corps on its M40-series sniper rifles. The weight of the stock is two pounds.
McMillan's General Purpose stock with a woodland camouflage pattern was selected for the Ed Brown Marine Sniper principally because of its light weight. It is the same stock that has been used for years by the Marine Corps on its M40-series sniper rifles.
The outer shell of McMillan's General Purpose stock is made by a hand-laminated, pressure-cured process. It is laminated from about 130 pieces of eight-ounce fiberglass cloth, giving a finished shell wall a thickness of six to 12 layers. The thickness is greater in high-stress areas on the stock and less in other areas to reduce the overall weight. The interior is filled with different fiberglass compounds consisting of engineering-grade epoxy resins, chopped fiberglass strands, micro-balloons and other materials.
No polyesters or phenolics (both less expensive than epoxy resins) are used. There are no hollow spaces; all of McMillan's tactical stocks are filled solid. Inletting for the barreled action is done on CNC machinery to tolerances approximating .001 inch. This yields a completed stock that is stable in environmental conditions ranging from -60 degrees F to +240 degrees F and is totally water-impervious. This stock comes equipped with QD-type sling swivels and a Pachmayr Decelerator buttpad, and it has been hand-bedded to the action.
Our sample rifle was equipped with a Leupold Mark 4 M3-10X scope. Leupold's Mark 4 series reigns supreme with police agencies and within the special operations community. Justifiably so, as this is the flagship in Leupold's product line and represents the highest possible milspec quality in a production-series optical sight.
All Mark 4 scopes feature 30mm-diameter main tubes that are machined from a solid piece of 6061-T aircraft aluminum alloy. A 30mm tube with 1/8-inch wall thickness still has almost 30 percent more cross-sectional area inside the tube than most one-inch tubes with their much thinner walls. Furthermore, this heavy 30mm housing is more shock-resistant than any one-inch tube.
All lenses are coated with Multicoat 4, Leupold's exclusive multicoating process. This, in addition to a computer-designed optical system, results in edge-to-edge sharpness, precise resolution, minimal distortion and optimum low-light visibility. All Mark 4 scopes are tested for water resistance in a reduced-pressure, hot-water immersion tank before leaving the factory and are completely waterproof.
|ED BROWN MARINE SNIPER RIFLE|
Manufacturer: Ed Brown Products
Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win.). Also available in .30-06.
Action Type: Bolt-action with three-position safety
Capacity: Four rounds, staggered box-type with steel-hinged floorplate
Weight: Approximately 9.5 lbs. empty, without scope
Barrel: Shilen match-grade with Remington Varmint contour. Six grooves with a right-hand twist of one turn in 10 inches.
Barrel Length: 24 inches
Finish: Black oxide
Sight: Leupold Mark 4 M3-10X
Stock: McMillan General Purpose fiberglass stock, hand-bedded, Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad
Price: $2,900 without scope
The Leupold Mark 4 M3-10X-model scope attached to our Ed Brown Marine Sniper test specimen was developed for the U.S. Navy SEALs and also used on the U.S. Army's M24 SWS (Sniper Weapon System). This fixed, 10-power scope had a reticle pattern with thin crosshairs and a 1/8-minute center dot. This is, in my opinion, far too small for tactical deployment. A mildot reticle pattern would be a more useful choice.
The Mark 4 M3-10X scope has an elevation-adjustment system that is used as a BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator). The elevation dial is calibrated for bullet-drop increments from 100 to 1,000 meters in 100-meter increments, all in less than one complete revolution of the adjustment. Elevation adjustment resolution is in one-minute clicks on the Mark 4 M3-10X scope and in 1/4-minute clicks on the Mark 4 M1 scopes.
After sighting in, and depending upon the range at which the scope is zeroed, the bullet drop is then set to that range. We zeroed this rifle/scope combination at 100 meters with Black Hills 168-grain BTHP match-grade ammunition. The range drum on our test specimen was marked "7.62 MM NATO M118." Other BDC dials are available.
Windage adjustments have half-minute clicks. This adjustment dial can be reset to zero once the scope is sighted-in on the rifle. There is a third adjustment knob on the left side of the Mark 4-series scopes. This is for eliminating parallax, and these scopes can be set parallax-free at any distance from 15 meters to infinity when the shooter is in the firing position. It has limiting stops with the two extreme positions symbolized by the infinity symbol and the largest dot. Parallax occurs when the primary image of an objective lens does not coincide with the reticle.
The M3 comes with screw-on caps for its three adjustment knobs, which have a lower profile than the large, oversized, so-called "ergonomic" knobs of the Mark 4 M1 scopes (both fixed 10X or 16X magnifications are available).
The ocular can be focused by backing the eyepiece away from the lock ri
ng and then screwing it in or out until the reticle pattern is sharp and crisp. Optimum eye relief is 3.4 inches, and at 100 yards the field of view is about 11 feet.
There are four absolutely essential factors in the precision-rifle equation: the operator, rifle, scope and ammunition. Black Hills Ammunition supplied the ammunition for RifleShooter's test and evaluation of the Ed Brown Marine Sniper. Black Hills loads .308 Winchester match-grade ammunition with either a 168-grain or 175-grain BTHP (boattail hollow-point). We selected both projectile weights, and each delivered less than .5-MOA accuracy consistently. It doesn't get any better than this.
No doubt about it, the Ed Brown Marine Sniper provides the accuracy potential of rifles costing far more in a rugged military/law enforcement package that has already found favor with a number of elite organizations.