The 308 is used because it is the standard NATO cartridge, its in the system, its accurate enough, shoots far enough, has mild recoil and muzzle blast, and has a long barrel life. That last point is something to think about, for while it me not be a big deal to rebarrel your 6.5/284 every 1,000 rounds, doing that with an entire sections rifles, is unrealistic, hugely expensive, not to mention that fact of having all those sniper rifles out of use for 8 weeks at a time, getting rebarreled back at Remington Arms. Snipers don't have to have a rifle that will shoot 4in groups at 1,000 yds. He needs one that will put a hole into someones chest out to 1K. For that the 308win works just fine.
The Army Sniper school at Ft Benning GA, is 5 weeks long. The Marine's Scout/Sniper school is 12 weeks long. All branch BS aside, I have not seen a difference in the performance of the snipers between the two. The difference has more to do with how each branch employes them. The Marines do have the regular Army beat in that regard in my opinion. The Marine school has more "extra" stuff that may or may not be applicable to the task of teaching sniping. The Army course is focused more on the essentials of sniping- shooting, stalking, range estimation, and observation/intel gathering. Either way they both acomplish the same thing, teaching how to kill people at long range, and weeding out those who shouldnt be there.
A sniper has more responsibilities then just shooting, though that is the main tasking. He doesn't need to know what FPS his round is shooting, the BC, or energy levels at 500yds, though he should. He doesn't need to know who makes the floorplate on the rifles, or the rate of twist, though he should. He doesn't need to know what percentage of light his scope transfers, or what the rings are made out of, though he should. What he does need to know is how to press the trigger without disturbing the sight picture, that his rifle will be zeroed after jumping from 1,500 feet, how to make a wind call good enough to get a hit, and whether or not he has the mental capacity to kill another human without out being provoked. Because you see, while we love rifles, and the minute details with them, it really has very little to do with killing. And I think this is where ya'll are missing it- it's not about fun, its about killing.
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The Marine school has more "extra" stuff that may or may not be applicable to the task of teaching sniping. The Army course is focused more on the essentials of sniping- shooting, stalking, range estimation, and observation/intel gathering.
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What kind of "extra" stuff does the Marine course have that requires all that extra time?
i know 2 snipers, one from the italian army, and another from the german. something they always tell me when i speak to them about ballistic performances is that they are not very interested in the exact velocity that round is doing or other characteristics we like to speak about as rifle enthusiasts. they look at the weapon as a working tool and it seemed to me thats how far the enthusiasm went. they are fed the data and thats what they study.
regarding ammo they are fielded a particular round and learn to use that one and mostly that one only. both of them spoke widely on the 300 win mag and didnt mention the 308win much which i found strange since most of the US magazines i read speak of the venerable 308. the italian one remarked that when it comes to engage targets further than 600, they bring in the 300 Win mags other than the 308Win. for matter of sake one of them did chrono his rifle while at the range to match the data he was given as a card. velocities as he told me varied about 100ft/s for 20 roundsfrom about 2800 to 2900ft/s from 26" barrel Accuracy Int shooting 200grain bullets from a Swiss company. the ammo is not hand loaded. it would be logistically impossible, however each will make his drop data so that is tailormade. another remark i remember from that chat i had was, when you are out there you have so many things to follow and think about, that you want something that is practical and something others know about well and is readily available. info on the 308 is very widespread. its been tested to see its penetrating qualities in different media and thus it carries its own faith. as he put it, if it can still shoot a minute of a man at 1000yards, im happy.the italian said that on most of the calls he had, he was just there to observe and take down notes and never to fire a shot. learning all that fieldcraft and handling pressure has its own toll. needless to say i was very intrigued after all this and also somewhat confused.
Face it, the military is run by "bean counters" and procurement weinies that never shoot or carry what they design and procur.
Damn few cases of procurement actually giving the guy in the field what he actually needs or wants. By the time the bean counters get done making it politically correct so it will fit the small hands of the female, low recoil so able to take less time to train to actually hit something, able to pack more ammo, etc etc we end up with what we got. That is why SF went out and got their own ammo that will put someone down from Blackhills.
Bradley fighting vehicle is prime example, in 80s it was going to be lightweight, C130 deployable and swim. After everyone got done adding their BS requirements, damn thing swam like a lead weight and was too damn heavy to deploy in aircraft and lost space for 2-3 soldiers so what did they do, they cut the size of a squad to fit the stupid vehicle.
The 308 is a good intermediate round, but right now the push is on for the 338 or 416 for the LR (1000 plus meters) round for both the USMC and the Army.