M21 Sniper Weapon System

M21 Sniper Weapon System

Infobox Weapon
name=Rifle, 7.62 mm, Sniper, M21

caption= M21 sniper rifle
origin=flagcountry|United States
type= Sniper rifle
service= 1969–1988 ("officially" replaced by M24 SWS; remains in active service)
designer= Army Weapons Command,
Combat Development Command,
Limited Warfare Agency
design_date= 1969 (XM21; renamed M21 in 1975)
variants= XM21, XM25/M25
weight= 5.27 kg (11.6 lb)
length= 1118 mm (44 in)
part_length= 560 mm (22 in)
cartridge=7.62x51mm NATO
action=Gas-operated, rotating bolt
velocity=853 m/s (2,800 ft/s)
range=690 m (750 yd)
feed=5, 10 or 20-round detachable box magazine
sights= Front: National Match front blade .062
Rear: Match-grade hooded aperture with one-half minute adjustments for both windage and elevation.
26 3/4 in sight radius.

The M21 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) is the semi-automatic sniper rifle adaptation of the popular M14 rifle. It is chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge.


The United States Army wanted an accurate sniper rifle during the Vietnam War. The M14 was selected because of its accuracy, reliability, and the ability for a quick second shot. As a result, in 1969, the Rock Island Arsenal converted 1,435 National Match (target grade) M14 rifles by adding a Leatherwood 3–9x Adjustable Ranging Telescope (ART) telescopic sight, and providing National Match grade ammunition. It was designated the XM21 until 1975, when it became the M21 (although it had been unofficially called the M21 since December 1969).

The M21 remained the Army's official sniper rifle until 1988, when it was replaced by the bolt-action M24 Sniper Weapon System. The M-21 still remains in service and has seen extensive combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

M25 Sniper Weapon System

The XM25/M25 is an upgraded version of the M21 developed by 10th Special Forces Group's armorers for use by United States Army Special Forces and United States Navy SEALs in the late 1980s. It saw some use in Operation Desert Storm.

* Action: A M14NM (National Match) action, same as the M21, except for the slightly modified gas piston for use with an [http://www.opsinc.us/category.php?catId=30 OPS Inc.] sound suppressor.
* Stock: A [http://www.mcmfamily.com/mcmillan-stocks-tactical-stock-list.php#m1a McMillan M1A fiberglass stock] , having the same pattern as the M14.
* Optics: A Bausch & Lomb Tactical 10×40 scope, or sometimes Leupold MK4 10x scopes.

In standard military use, the M21/M25 use the same 10- or 20-round box magazines as the other members of the M14 family, and weighs 5.27 kg without the scope. The U.S. military never officially authorized or purchased magazines in any other capacity, although 5 and 10 round magazines are commercially available.


The XM21 Sniper Weapon System was used by the US Army in the Vietnam War, and saw limited action in military conflicts and operations in the late 1960s until the late 1980s. The M21 is currently in use with various U.S. military units in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are limited numbers in some Army National Guard units and in a few specialized active units such as the OPFOR units of the Joint Readiness Training Center. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = U.S. Army M21 & XM21 Sniper Weapon System
work =
publisher = Sniper Central
date =
url = http://www.snipercentral.com/m21.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate =
; Leatherwood website shows a photograph of a Texas National Guard's sniper with an old M21 on [http://www.leatherwoodoptics.com/homex-m.htm]

Springfield Armory, Inc. also manufactures variants of its M1A rifle called M21 Tactical Rifle and M25 White Feather Tactical/Carlos Hathcock rifle, which are based upon U.S. Armed Forces' M21 and M25 Sniper Weapons Systems but are slightly different, most notably they are fitted with a Picatinny rail to mount a scope [Springfield Armory, Inc.'s official pages of the [http://www.springfield-armory.com/prod-rifles-m21.shtml M21 Tactical Rifle] and [http://www.springfield-armory.com/prod-rifles-m25.shtml M25 White Feather Tactical/Carlos Hathcock model] ] .


ee also

*M1A rifle
*M14 rifle
*U.S. Marine Corps Designated Marksman Rifle
*M24 Sniper Weapon System
*M40 sniper rifle
*Sniper rifle
*List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces


External links

* [https://atiam.train.army.mil/soldierPortal/atia/adlsc/view/public/9504-1/fm/23-10/Appb.htm U.S. Army Field Manual 23–10, Appendix B: M21 Sniper Weapon System]
* Lee Emerson's [http://www.imageseek.com/m1a/M14RHAD060113%20web%20site.doc Word doc.] on the M14 and nearly all known variants
* [http://www.snipercentral.com/m21.htm SniperCentral's page about the M21]
* [http://tri.army.mil/LC/cs/csi/sahist.htm#M21 Brief M21 description and history from the U.S. Army.]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m21sws.htm M21 on Global Security.org] (the same text can be found at [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m14.htm FAS.org] )
* [http://www.snipersparadise.com/articles/M25dev.htm M25 at SniperParadise.com]
* [http://anysoldier.com/brian/Iraq/BriansIraq/M25.html M25 at AnySoldier.com]

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