US Special Operations Looking at New 6.5mm Round for Sniper Rifles

Special Operations Command is exploring a new caliber for its semi-automatic sniper rifle needs and upgrading one of its bolt-action sniper rifle systems.

Maj. Aron Hauquitz told Military Times Tuesday that SOCOM is in the preliminary stages of exploring a sniper rifle chambered in the 6.5 mm caliber. The two commercially available rounds being evaluated are the .260 Remington and the 6.5 mm Creedmoor.

Research shows that both rounds will “stay supersonic longer, have less wind drift and better terminal performance than 7.62 mm ammunition,” SOCOM officials said.

Hauquitz said that the research is focused on the popularity and availability of the cartridge, and finding out the benefits and drawbacks of the different rounds.

At the same time, SOCOM is working to develop polymer ammunition in 6.5 mm to reduce the load for operators, Hauquitz said. Research is showing a one-third weight reduction for 7.62 mm ammunition, allowing the 6.5 mm to come in at 5.56 mm weight ranges.

While both the rifle and the ammunition are being developed together, Hauquitz said the polymer portion of the research would not delay potential fielding of a 6.5 mm rifle.

He didn’t provide a specific date or timeline for when the new rifle would be in operators’ hands but said they would have a better idea regarding the caliber later this year.