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The Marine Scout Sniper Rifle or MSSR is a semi-automatic, sniper rifle developed from the Colt M16A1 rifle by the Philippine Marine Corps Scout Snipers due to the lack of a dedicated sniper rifle.
The design brief for the rifle was to develop a sniper system that could effectively use 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition (most other sniper rifles use the larger 7.62x51mm NATO. This was done mainly for cost-saving and availability reasons since the Armed Forces of the Philippines are actively engaged in counter-insurgency and internal security] operations, especially against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists.
The shorter effective range of the 5.56mm cartridge compared to the 7.62mm is less of a factor due to the shorter ranges encountered in jungle combat, where the rifle is primarily used.
The system was developed in-house under the direction of Col. Jonathan Martir, PN (M) (GSC), N-6.
The first generation MSSR was deployed in 1996 as an M16A1 with a Tasco variable 3-9x40mm rubber-coated scope on a DPMS Tri-mount atop the carry handle. This required a Delta HBAR cheek piece on the stock to align the operator's eye with the elevated scope position. The standard handguards were replaced with a free-floating aluminum forearm, and a Harris folding bipod was attached to the underside of the forearm. The standard M16A1 barrel was replaced with a free-floated 24" (68 cm) DPMS Heavy Stainless Steel Ultra Match barrel with a 1 in 8.5" right-hand twist, with an M16A1 front sight base. A J&P match trigger was installed.
The second generation MSSR was created by removing the forward portion of the carry handle and attaching the Tri-mount directly to the top of the upper receiver. The Tasco scope and scope rings were attached to the Tri-mount, which provided a lower scope-to-bore height. The Delta HBAR cheek piece was no longer required and was removed. The M16A1 front sight base was removed and replaced with a DPMS gas block. The barrel was changed to a DPMS Ultra Match barrel with a 1 in 8" RH twist, and the M16A1 stock and pistol grip were replaced with A2 versions.
The current third generation rifle retained the second generation features, but replaced the Tasco scope with a Bushnell variable 3-9x40mm scope with a Mil-dot reticle, mounted with three scope rings on the receiver-mounted Tri-mount. For the Philippine Marine Corps, barrel length remained the same at 24" with the 1 in 8" DPMS Ultra Match Barrel. A version with a 20" barrel was made available for the Philippine Navy, Naval Special Warfare Group (NSWG).
Created in late 2004, the Night Fighting Weapon System (NFWS) was made for the purpose of fighting in forested areas in low-light conditions. Night vision and regular daytime scopes can be mounted on the rifle via a Picatinny rail on top of the upper receiver. The rifle is equipped with an integral sound suppressor.
The rifle has a bull barrel (1 inch in diameter) with a 1-9" twist.
The first-generation MSSR used either factory 5.56mm NATO 62 gr (4 g) SS109 ball ammunition or 69 gr (4.5 g) Federal Match Gold Medal, boattail hollowpoint(BTHP), bulleted cartridges. The second-generation rifle may use these rounds as well as the HSM 69 gr (4.5 g) BTHP cartridge. The third-generation MSSR uses 5.56mm 69 gr (4.5 g) Hornady BTHP Match or 75 gr (4.9) Hornady TAP BTHP Match ammunition handloaded at the Marine Scout Sniper School.
The MSSR is the main weapon of choice for the Philippine Marine Scout Snipers alongside the newer Remington 700P Intermediate Range Day-Night Scout Sniper Rifle and the Barrett M95 Heavy Sniper/Anti-Matériel Rifle. Sniper teams usually work in pairs with the operator accompanied by a spotter, usually equipped with an M16A2 rifle with an M203 grenade launcher. Continued development of the rifle ensures its use with the Philippine Marines well into the 21st century.
If funding permits, the MSSRs will be eventually replaced in Scout Sniper service by 7.62mm bolt-action sniper rifles. The existing 5.56 MSSRs will then be issued to designated marksmen in line Marine units.