Well I have researched for years, trying to make that same decision....
I don't know why why still issue the .308 as a marksman round, just not enough.
I ended up going with the .338 Lapua version in Ar-30.
weight- 14.5 lbs.
bolt action = accuracy
5 rnd mag
brass - lapua #1 in quallity
The 338 edge was my 2nd choice, but the AR-30 was less $.
I really like the rifle, and has become #1 in my collection.
matter of fact, I'm planning on throwing a jet suppressor on it in the near future...hehe.
either cartridge/way, a 300 SMK rules the long range world at the moment imo
Long Range? Dial 338-Lapua.
Sniper - If you run, you will only die tired. firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a couple ways to go here. Unfortuantely, with the military, unless you can get cases by the mil count and have a barrel life of 3000 rounds, you will not get alot of attention from them. Thats unfortunate because alot of extremely effective weapons systems have been overlooked.
What do I think would be ideal, well, certainly the Edge and Lapua would be hard to beat no matter how you look at them.
If an even lighter weapon system was wanted I have always thought that a 338 WSM loaded with a 250 gr SMK would be very hard to beat for those used to the 308 this would be a dramatic boost in performance. This idea comes from looking at what would attract the military, very long barrel life, good ballistic performance and hard hitting out to well past 1500 yards.
Would this be my idea of the ideal sniper round, nope, but it would be appealing to the military. It would not run with the Edge or Lapua but it would be a vast improvement over the 308.
My idea of the ultimate sniper chambering. Well, I would lead more toward performance then anything else. This is all theoretical mind you at this time. The 338 Allen Magnum and all 338 wildcats based on the 408 Chey tac case are just to extreme for military use. Barrel life is to short, they can be a bit finicky over wide temp changes. Ballistically, nothing would outperform them in a conventional chambering but still, just to extreme.
Now jumping up to the 375 cal class, that has much more merit. Barrel life would not be doubled but it would be close to that. Plus, for military purpose, the use of temp stable stick powders would allow much more consistant peroformance over a wide range of enviornmental conditions.
Rifle weight could easily be limited to 16 lbs and terminal performance would be head and shoulders above anything short of the 50 BMG and ballisitically, it would not be far behind the 338 AM but with a heavier terminal payload.
Only problem, bullets. Sierra is making the 350 gr SMK which may be a good choice. I would have much preferred to see a 375 to 380 gr SMK but I guess that was not believed to be a good idea because it was asked for.
I would imagine a 380 gr SMK style bullet loaded to 3200 fps with comfortable pressures would be very hard to beat from any direction you looked at it from. Barrel life would be great with this pressure level, accuracy would I am sure be amazing, rifle weight would be acceptable and terminal performance would be simply amazing.
I suspect this would also be a bit extreme for the military but man would it be an impressive weapon system. Imagine a 16 lb suppressed 375 Allen Magnum..............
Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.
I think that an improvement over the .308 is a good thing, but the big .338's and 408 CheyTacs etc. are too extreme on many different fronts. It's been noted already that the military is going to look at the econimics...ie barrel life, brass availability etc. I could see a unit being outfitted with say the 7 SAUM or 300 Win Mag (some units already carry the 300 Win mag) and maybe having one guy hump a .338 LM. That makes sense, and would cover things well.
1500 yard shots are still a much more rare occurence, but a practical round like a 7 SAUM or even the 300 Win mag gives the Sniper a boost over the .308 when shooting 800 to 1000, and can reach out further if need be. In all actuality 1500 yards would be a pretty specialized kill, and when it comes to specialized killing most of that is happening at night from 500 yards on in to knife point...doting more on the cover of night, good planning, good night vision, and high percentage shot distances.
Shawn Carlock says, "If it seems like I am opinionated on this I am, I am tired of our guys being saddeled with equipment that just is not up to the task. If they need 1500+ yard capability I say we do what we can to give it to them."
I agree 100%.
The problem is that the military has repeatedly proven that they don't take the best.
Going WAAYYYYY back, the 30-06 was chosen over the .276 (the Petersen, if I recall correctly) because we had stockpiles of 30-06 ammo.
The .308 was chosen over the 30-06 as a sniper round because the load out was better. (Carlos Hathcock shot a 30-06 in combat if I remember correctly. If it was his round of choice, I would hope that the military would at least think about it, nope, .308!!!!)
The .223 was chosen over the .308, again, because the load out was better.
Did anyone ask the guys actually shooting the rifles? NOPE!!!
There are all kinds of other examples.
So, IF you want the military to consider a new weapons system, you have to look at what is readily available and then try to fathom WHY they would change, first, then decide WHAT they should change to, second.
No proprietary round will make the cut. I prefer the .338 EDGE over the Lapua, because the brass is made here, among other reasons, but it won't survive the military cheese grater because it isn't a known quantity and it isn't loaded by any major manufacturers.
If you don't recognize that, tell me why our guys still have .223's when the 6.8 and 6.5 Grendel have BOTH proven to be MUCH more effective at stopping the bad guys! Never mind that both are now being loaded by major ammo suppliers, they STILL can't get in the door for service issue rifles!
SO...if the change is to be made, it must be an already proven round, a round proven not just ballistically and on the bench, but one that has been proven in battle. We have allies fielding the .338 Lapua, and LOTS of experience now with it in Afghanistan and Iraq. Out to about 1500 meters, it looks very similar in drop to the .50 BMG, so guys could switch back and forth without much problem figuring out where their scopes needed to be set.
Me, I want the .338 EDGE; but for LOTS of soldiers, (and our guys deserve to have the best!) the .338 LM seems to make sense.
I know that Shawn and Kirby know WAY more about rifles and ballistics than I ever will, but I do know a little (probably a VERY little compared to some!) about military acquisition and how they decide on things, and I don't think the other rounds have much chance.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.