U.S. Army M21 & XM21 Sniper Weapon System

U.S. Army M21 & XM21 Sniper Weapon System

Image coutesy of Sergeant Major Pantano

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Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win.)
Capacity: 20 or 5 round detachable box magazine
Mechanism: Rotating bolt, gas operated, air cooled,
semi-automatic magazine fed rifle
Weight: 11.25 lbs (5.11kg)
Length: 44.1" (112cm)
Barrel: Match Grade 22 inches 1:10 RH twist
Trigger Pull: Specially tuned 4 1/2 pound match
two-stage military trigger
Sight: Redfield/Leatherwood 3-9x Automatic Ranging Telescope (ART)
Max Effective Range: 900 yards (822m)

The M21 is esentially a modified M14 National Match rifle. The earlier versions (XM21) had a specially selected walnut stock, but this changed with the M21 to a fiberglass stock, often camoflaged. The XM21 began to be fielded in the second half of 1969 and remained the U.S. Army's primary Sniper Weapon System until it began to be replaced by the M24 SWS in 1988. Some National Guard units and even a few active duty units (The OPFOR at JRTC for example) still use the M21. The M21 is a very pratical sniper weapon maintaining acceptable accuracy out to about 700 meters. Besides the problem that it is semi-auto and sends brass flying, the M21 was, and still is, a very capable military sniper rifle. The 10th SFG, in conjuntion with the U.S. Navy SEALs has developed an improved version of the M21 known as the M25. The M25 was designed out of a need for a semi auto sniper rifle, and it was the weapon of choice for SEAL snipers during Desert Storm. The M21 holds a dear spot in many U.S. Army snipers hearts (me included), and rightfully so.

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