Marine Scout Sniper Rifle


A 3rd generation Marine Scout Sniper Rifle in green camo paint with mounted riflescope.
Type Sniper rifle
Place of origin Philippines Philippines
Service history
In service 1996–present
Used by Philippine Marines, Naval Special Operations Group
Wars Anti-guerrilla operations in Visayas and Mindanao
Production history
Designer Manuel Sunico,[1]
Colonel Jonathan C. Martir (Philippine Marine Corps)
Designed 1996
Manufacturer Philippine Marine Corps (Initial manufacturer)
Government Arsenal (Modern manufacturer)
Produced 1996
Variants Night Fighting Weapon System (NFWS)
Weight 10 lbs (4.55 kg)
Length 42.25 in. (1073 mm)
Barrel length 24 in. (610 mm)
Crew 1

Cartridge 5.56×45mm NATO
Caliber 5.56 mm (.223 in)
Action Gas-operated (direct impingement), rotating bolt
Muzzle velocity 2,953 ft/s (900 m/s) to 3,750 ft/s (1,140 m/s)
Effective firing range 1000-1200 m
Feed system 20-30 STANAG Magazines.
Sights Any Picatinny rail-compatible scope/sights

The Marine Scout Sniper Rifle or MSSR is a select fire sniper rifle developed from the Colt M16A1 rifle by the Philippine Marine Corps Scout Snipers due to the lack of a dedicated sniper rifle[2][3] which is used in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.[2]

The MSSR was developed due to the need of a sniper rifle system that could effectively use 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition (most other sniper rifles use the larger 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge). This was done mainly for cost-saving and availability reasons since the Armed Forces of the Philippines are actively engaged in counter-insurgency and internal security operations, especially against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The shorter effective range of the 5.56 mm cartridge compared to the 7.62 mm was less of a factor due to the shorter ranges encountered in jungle combat, where the rifle is primarily used.[2] Its performance during subsequent combat operations proved the effectiveness of the weapon system, and it was adopted as the primary range sniper rifle (for ranges of up to 600 m) of the Philippine Marine Scout Snipers.

The deployment of the MSSR also allowed the Philippine Marine Corps to retire its M1903 Springfield, M1C Garand and M14 rifles from active service.[4][5]


Different generation models of MSSR on display. From top to bottom: Gen 5 (prototype), Gen 4, Gen 3.

The system was developed in-house under the direction of then Col. Jonathan Martir, PN (M) (GSC), N-6.[2]

The first generation MSSR was deployed in 1996 as an M16A1 with a Tasco variable 3-9 x 40 mm rubber-coated scope on a DPMS Tri-mount atop the carry handle. This required a Delta HBAR cheek piece on the stock to align the operator's eye with the elevated scope position. The standard handguards were replaced with a free-floating aluminum forearm, and a Harris folding bipod was attached to the underside of the forearm. The standard M16A1 barrel was replaced with a free-floated 24" (68 cm) DPMS Heavy Stainless Steel Ultra Match barrel with a 1 in 8.5" right-hand twist, with an M16A1 front sight base. A J&P match trigger was installed.

The second generation MSSR was created by removing the forward portion of the carry handle and attaching the Tri-mount directly to the top of the upper receiver. The Tasco scope and scope rings were attached to the Tri-mount, which provided a lower scope-to-bore height. The Delta HBAR cheek piece was no longer required and was removed. The M16A1 front sight base was removed and replaced with a DPMS gas block. The barrel was changed to a DPMS Ultra Match barrel with a 1 in 8" RH twist, and the M16A1 stock and pistol grip were replaced with A2 versions.

The third generation rifle retained the second generation features, but replaced the Tasco scope with a Bushnell variable 3-9 x 40mm scope with a Mil-dot reticle, mounted with three scope rings on the receiver-mounted Tri-mount. For the Philippine Marine Corps, barrel length remained the same at 24" with the 1 in 8" DPMS Ultra Match Barrel.[3] A version with a 20" barrel was made available for the Philippine Navy Naval Special Warfare Group (NSWG).[3]

The latest fourth generation rifles feature a Leupold Mark 4 LR/T M3 scope mounted on a Leupold mount, an 18-inch cold hammer-forged Daniel Defense barrel, a JP match trigger, a Harris swivel bi-pod, a tactical charging handle latch, ambidextrous fire controls, an extended trigger guard and a Magpul Precision-Adjustable stock. It also comes issued with an AAC SR-5 suppressor, 20-round Magpul magazines and a Pelican carrying case.[6]


Night Fighting Weapon System

Night Fighting Weapon System with integral suppressor and mounted Litton Model M845 MkII Night Vision Sight.

Created in late 2004, the Night Fighting Weapon System (NFWS) was made for the purpose of fighting in forested areas in low-light conditions. Night vision and regular daytime scopes can be mounted on the rifle via a Picatinny rail on top of the upper receiver. The rifle is equipped with an integral sound suppressor fitted on a bull barrel (1 inch in diameter) with a 1 in 9" twist.[3]


A designated marksman rifle/special purpose rifle (DMR/SPR) variant intended to "meet the requirement for a 5.56mm rifle to engage targets up to 800 meters with optics." This rifle would replace the older M14s currently in use as designated marksmen rifles in the Philippine Army. The new rifle will feature an 18" free-floating bull barrel with a 1 in 7" twist, a standard A2 flash suppressor, a flattop upper receiver with a Picatinny rail, provisions for a bipod and semi and select fire.[7] The new variant, designated the "Government Arsenal SPR/DMR" was slated to go into service in 2015, with the production of the initial batch of rifles.

Squad Designated Marksman Rifle on display at the Government Arsenal booth at the 23rd AFAD gun show.

Another variant is a carbine-sized model featuring a railed upper receiver, a mid-length gas system, a Daniel Defense 16-inch cold-hammer forged barrel, a Daniel Defense free-floating railed handguard, a 4x32 Trijicon Advanced Combat Optic, a Magpul STR buttstock, a Hogue grip containing a cleaning kit and a cerakote finish.[8] Forty (40) units of this more compact squad designated marksman rifle variant were turned over to selected AFP Special Operations Forces (SOF) and the Scout Rangers for testing and evaluation.[9]


The first-generation MSSR used either factory 5.56mm NATO 62-grain SS109 ball ammunition or 69-grain Federal Match Gold Medal boattail hollowpoint (BTHP) cartridges.[3] The second-generation rifle may use these rounds as well as the HSM 69-grain BTHP cartridge.[3] The third-generation MSSR uses 5.56mm 69-grain Hornady BTHP Match or 75-grain Hornady TAP BTHP Match ammunition handloaded at the Marine Scout Sniper School.[3]


The MSSR is the main weapon of choice for the Philippine Marine Scout Snipers alongside the newer Remington 700P Intermediate Range Day-Night Scout Sniper Rifle and the Barrett M95 Heavy Sniper/Anti-Matériel Rifle.[3] Sniper teams usually work in pairs with the operator accompanied by a spotter, usually equipped with an M16A2 rifle with an M203 grenade launcher.[10] Continued development of the rifle ensures its use with the Philippine Marines well into the 21st century.

If funding permits, the MSSRs will be eventually replaced in Scout Sniper service by 7.62 mm bolt-action sniper rifles. The existing 5.56 MSSRs will then be issued to designated marksmen in line Marine units.[11]

A Marine from the Philippine Marine Corps fires the MSSR during marksmanship training in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2007 exercises.

Notes and references

  1. Marines or SR sniper team?
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Philippine MSSR - Marine Scout Sniper Rifle - Sniper". Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "The Philippine Marine Corps Scout Sniper Program". Archived from the original on 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  4. Col. Jonathan Martir. "Scout Sniper Development - "An accurate shot to the future"". Philippine Marine Corp. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  6. Martir, Jonathan. "MSSR Gen 4". Facebook. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  7. Martir, Jonathan (October 2011). "Government Arsenal (GA) M-16 Manufacturing Project" (PDF). G.A. Bullet-in. Government Arsenal. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  8. "Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDMR), 5.56mm 16" Mid-Length Carbine". Government Arsenal, DND (Philippines). Government Arsenal. May 10, 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  9. SARUU (June 2015). "Small Arms Repair and Upgrade Unit" (PDF). G.A. Bullet-in. Government Arsenal. 5 (1): 4–5. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  10. Captain Manuel B. Bundang PN(M). "The Making of a Marine Scout Sniper". Civil Military Operations & Environment Management Office. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  11. "Philippine Marine Corps - Opus224's Unofficial Philippine Defense Page". Retrieved 2009-05-22.

See also

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