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U.S. Marine Corps Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle

       The Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle (SAM-R) gives U.S. Marines the capability to provide precision fire in support of the rifle squad, providing precision fire in support of an assault, and aid in observation and adjusting of supporting arms.
A Squad Advanced Marksman of the 22th MEU in Afghanistan


The Squad Advanced Marksman and his weapon, the Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle was the product of extensive experimentation by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) of the addition of a designated marksman to a Marine squad. The concept of a designated marksman was already in use by the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) and Marine Serawwiki_inboundity Forces. In exercises, a Marine with a scoped rifle and additional training provided immense benefit to small units. An optic provides information-gathering abilities as well as aiding aiming of support weapons such as machine guns and mortars.

The armorers at the MCWL, decided to use the AR-15/M16 pattern in order to maintain a certain level of commonality in both weapon and ammunition. There was some talk of adopting a weapon such along the same lines as the Mk 11 Mod 0, but instead that transfered over to a possible replacement for USMC personel now using the Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR), a variant of the M14.

The SAM-Rs are assembled by the Precision Weapons Section of the Weapons Training Battalion at Marine Corps Base Quantico. For the War on Terrorism, the approximately 100 assembled SAM-Rs were sent to the 22th, 24th, and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) of II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), who are located on the East Coast. Squad Advanced Marksmen of I MEF, which is based on the West Coast, made do with M16A4s with KAC M5 RAS forearms and TA31F ACOGs. They were nicknamed "West Coast SAM-Rs" though they are simply M16A4s with optics and bipods, and not an 'acrawwiki_inboundized' platform like the SAM-R used by the Marines of II MEF.


The original test weapon was a modified M16A2 rifle with a free floated 1:7" stainless steel match heavy barrel, a "M1913 modular rail system" (this most likely implies the use of the Knight's Armament Company (KAC) M4 Match Free-Floating RAS (Rail Adapter System) and an M16A1 trigger assembly (semi and full-auto functioning). A number of day optics were used initially, which included Hensoldt Blitz, Leupold CQ/T, ACOG, Leupold TS-30A1 and ultimately the Leupold TS-30A2. The test night optic was the AN/PVS-17B, apparently now being fielded with USMC combat units though PVS-22 is preferred.

The rawwiki_inboundrently used SAM-R is roughly a modified M16A4 pattern rifle:

  • Upper & Lower Receivers: The lower reciever is a standard M16A4 with an M4 upper. The SAM-R has an M16A1 single-stage trigger installed, which allows limited use as an automatic rifle. The SAM-R also has M4-style extended feed ramps and a PRI M84 Gas Buster charging handle system and a Norgon ambi mag realease.
  • Barrel: The barrel is a 20"-long 1:7" service rifle match stainless steel Krieger barrel, manufacturered by Compass Lake. A standard A2 flash hider is used.
  • Sights & Optics: For sights, the SAM-R uses the KAC 600-Meter flip-up rear sight. The first SAM-Rs used a custom Quantico-built gas block with bayonet lug and Picatinny rail on top. A KAC flip-up sight was mounted on the rail. Later rifles were built with a special KAC-made gas block (not commercially available) that has both a flip-up sight and a bayonet lug. The issued optic is the TS-30 A2 (military designation for Leupold's Mark 4 M3 3-9x36mm MR/T) mounted with ARMS #22 high rings, the same configuration used with the Mk 12 Mod 0/1 SPR. It is likely that the AN/PVS-17B could be used as well for night-time operations. However, the folding front sight was designed for use with the UNS/PVS-22 Universal Night Sight.
  • Handguard: The SAM-R uses the KAC M4 Match Free-Floating RAS (KAC Part Number 99266).

Two Marines with SAM-Rs in an exercise in Albania.
CO of 22th MEU showing a SAM-R to a young Marine.
Marine snipers of the 2nd Battalion, 2d Marines.
A Marine with a M16A4 and ACOG, similar to the "West Coast SAM-R."
A Marine takes aim with his SAM-R somewhere in Afghanistan.
Two Marines in Afghanistan; the one in front carries a M16A4; the one in the rear is armed with a SAM-R.

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