One of the most intriguing, sought after and mysterious professions in the U.S. Military; “The Sniper.” They are known for striking fear in the enemy both on and off the battlefield and being a force multiplier matched only by large machines of warfare such as artillery, tanks, and fierce airpower. The Sniper is rigorously trained in the art of precision marksmanship, observation, camouflage, and field craft. He is patient, tireless, has a quick mind and works well as an isolated team forward of friendly lines. For the Sniper to do his deeds, he must also be equipped with the proper tools. One rifle that has made its mark in the modern history of sniping and precision marksmanship is the legendary Remington M24.
Making its debut with the U.S. Army in 1988, the M24 has set the standard for the modern precision bolt action rifle. The M24 is based on the timeless Remington 700 rifle platform. However, the M24 is anything but your run-of-the-mill rifle. Often referred to as the M24 SWS (Sniper Weapon System), it is designed to be deployed as a complete kit from the factory. The package contains the majority of items needed to ensure the wielder is successful on the battlefield and can maintain the weapon system while away from support. Let’s open the hood and see what makes this rifle stand out from the norm.
The M24 is chambered in the tried and true.308 Winchester, also known as the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. While the manual states this round is effective to 800 meters, shots are often successfully scored well beyond one thousand meters. The 24” barrel on this beauty sends fury toward its adversaries at approximately 2600 feet per second at the muzzle. So under normal conditions, the round stays supersonic and capable of making repeat performances out to just over that thousand meter mark. A sniper in the GWOT made a successful shot at over 1200 meters while in the midst of combat, again proving the capabilities of the M24 in the proper hands. This 24” barrel is made from 416R Stainless Steel and sports a 1:11.25 right-hand twist. The one complete revolution in 11.25 inches is designed to perfectly stabilize the 175-grain M118LR ammunition. The 5R cut rifling is one of the factors that has made this work of art so effective. The 5R means it has five lands and grooves instead of the normal 6. Therefore, the odd number eliminates the opposing 180-degree land, leading to less stress on the bullet and less deformation; something that Remington has perfected. The gripping edge of the land is also cut to a 65-degree angle instead of the conventional 90-degree cut resulting in less fouling and longer reliability without maintenance. The original Army requirements stated that when shot from a machine rest, the rifle must hold .35 MOA and maintain this for 10,000 rounds. The M24 passed the test with flying colors.
The chassis of the M24 is a composite stock manufactured by HS Precision. It’s a mixture of fiberglass, graphite, and Kevlar adhered with epoxy resins making this stock extremely rugged and durable. It houses the action of the rifle by securing it to a solid aluminum block. The HS Stock only attaches at the action, leaving the barrel free floating just millimeters above allowing undisturbed harmonics shot after shot. An adjustable butt plate accommodates the variable length of pull to suit different sized shooters. There is not an adjustable cheek piece on this model, but the user can easily fabricate their custom fit piece with an iso mat and riggers tape. The stock also houses the 5 round internal box magazine. The rounds are loaded by inserting the one at a time from an open action. A hinged floor plate allows easy unloading or the quick fix of a bound up cartridge. Attached to the action and contained within the stock and bottom metal is an adjustable Remington trigger. It is user adjustable from a 3.5 to 5-pound pull. The trigger is precise has a crisp break with zero creep and minuscule travel before letting the firing pin perform its duty. This particular M24 is set right around 4lbs.
By Proxy, the M24 has a longer action than needed for the .308 ammunition. A standard Remington 700 short action can fit cartridges up to 71.12mm, while the longer action on the M24 can fit cartridges up to 84.84mm which will accommodate the 300 Winchester Magnum and Springfield 30-06 if barreled and fit. While great in theory, the conventional military never utilized this option due to the logistics on the battlefield, the option is there if needed. It has also been stated that the option to change calibers was never intended in the original design and was more of a byproduct of part availability and production times required by the Army. Either way, the long action produces a longer bolt throw to remove spent casings and chamber a new one. To prevent the bolt from contacting the users face while looking through the optics and manipulating the action, the user must establish a cheek to stock weld slightly further back than normal for a .308. This is not a problem as long as the shooter mounts the scope to allow for the longer bolt throw.
Other goodies included in the standard M24 kit include a Leupold Mark 4 scope, iron sight set, Harris bipods, leather sling and a deployment kit full of spare parts and maintenance items. The Leupold Mark 4 is a fixed ten power optic with a 40mm objective lens. It has a MIL Dot reticle and the M3 turrets which allow for a tuned Bullet Drop Compensator out to 1000 meters. One MOA adjustments for elevation and half MOA adjustments for windage allow the shooter to quickly get on target at any distance. While the iron sights are rarely used, a match grade set is provided. The Leupold optic must be removed to affix the irons. They have a user selectable front aperture insert and ¼ MOA adjustments in the rear.
Currently, the military has almost retired the original M24 design for newer, fancier looking models or semi-auto platforms. However, the internals of most of the new bolt-action platforms contain the same guts as the M24 with a different chassis. The M24 has most certainly made its mark in history as a reliable and accurate rifle which others strive to compare to. It has been adopted by various Military and Police units across the globe. This particular rifle reviewed is still an active force multiplier in Afghanistan aiding in the Global War On Terrorism. Accuracy for this rifle is still well within the required specs even after 12 years of rigorous use.
Caliber: .308/7.62mm X 51
Receiver: Remington 700 Long Action
Barrel: 24”, 416R Stainless Steel, 5R, 1:11.25 Twist
Trigger: Remington M24, Adjustable 3.5 – 5lbs
Stock: HS Precision Composite, Aluminum mounting block
Weight: Base Rifle – 11 lbs, Complete – 14.85 lbs
MSRP: $3500 (M24 Rebuild Program, qualified customers only)
Manufacturer: Remington Defense