In our modern world, there are products that occupy the in-between space of two different products. Such is true of the auto industry, Aston Martin has the recent Virage that is between the DB9 and the DBS, or Porsche offering their iconic and god-like 911 in all manner of levels, or the recent trend of crossover vehicles, like the Land Rover Evoque. In the realm of military firearms, the battle rifle (BR) sits tucked between the assault rifle and the bolt-action rifle, while the designated marksman rifle (DMR) is in the slot between the sniper rifle and assault rifle. In FWS continuing mission to bring the reality of firearms to the world military science fiction, there is the armory blogpost on these two often overlooked military firearms by MSF, the Battle Rifle and the DMR.
What is an Battle Rifle?
What is an Designated Marksman Rifle?
And They're Different From Assault Rifles How...?
Splitting hairs could be the best way of describing how these two weapon class are different than the typically assault rifle. The primary difference between the standard infantry assault rifle is the purpose and caliber. Most BR/DMR are going to caliber larger, more powerful rounds developed for more precision shooting. Rather than unleashing full-automatic fire at a target, the user of the battle rifle is trying to limit the amount spent brass and get the heavier round on target.
The History of the Batte Rifle
During the cold weather tests, the M14 was modified for the cold, while the FAL was not, causing the Belgium-made rifle to fail, and it is believed that the US military rigged the rifle trials to favor their 'merica-made weapon over the European sourced rifle. The US was alone in NATO when they did not adopt the FN FAL design. What is historically odd, is that US military seem to completely change their minds, when forced by the Kennedy administration, that is, during Vietnam to adopt the smaller 5.56x45mm round. This was directly against their original agreement with NATO, and until really the 1980's, the US was alone in using the 5.56mm. During the next two decades, most of the battle rifles were converted over to DMRs, only the reunited Germany used their G3 battle rifle until the mid-1990's. The fate of the old rifle seemed to be sealed...until combat operations in Afghanistan, Somaila and Iraq demonstrated the lethal effectiveness of the larger, heavy rounds. This led the development of the Mk.14 EBR and 7.62mm firing battle rifles/DMRs within a modular rifle family. In addition, American shooters have re-embraced larger rounds, with AR15s being chambered to fire the 6.8mm, .300, and 6.5mm, and mainly used for hog hunting.
There has also been a rise in popularity of the good old 7.62x51mm round, increased sales of the AR10 and the new CM901 bear that out.
For some of us, our first introduction to the world of battle rifles was the 1980's G.I. Joe figure 'Ripcord', the HALO specialist that carried a full-sized olive colored FN FAL. Today, it is odd to me that Special Operator that made his mark in the GI Joe Team would wield such a massive rifle. This was one of my favorite GI Joe figures back in the day!
The History of the DMR
Between 1992-1993, the US was involved in operations in war-torn Somalia, and in an echo of things to come, elite special forces units, like DELTA and SEALs were involved. One important element was securing their base of operations, and SEAL operators were often photographed using the M82 Barrett and a DMR variant of the M16 or even the CAR-15. It is also well documented that the DELTA and ST6 operators were used has helicopter sniper support, and from the evidence, armed with the M21 DMR and a custom M16 DMR. Technology was also catching up with lower cost, more compact optics, like the Aimpoint 3000.
However, most of these DMR were still hanging on the fringe of the military, and not has widely accepted a tool of warfare until the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Combat conditions were in flux, causing soldiers to be engaged by all manner of soldiers and rebels over various terrain. While there was still a place for the traditional two-man sniper team, on-the-ground units needed a precision fire and counter-sniper weapon, that led to the explosion of DMRs on the battlefield. Also fueling this increase in DMRs is the modular rifle systems, like the AUG, G36, and the cancelled XM8, which all had a DMR variant. For some of us, me included, our introduction to the DMR, especially the buffet of M16-based DMRs was the class 1980's GI Joe figure 'Frostbite' that came with the Snowcat vehicle, who used a classic Vietnam-style M16 with a 30-round magazine and a massive starlight scope. I used to use this gun has a plasma sniper rifle against Terminators in a GI Joe/Terminator mash-up...yeah...it was epic!
The never ending debate between the larger cartridge vs. the smaller cartridge is seemly not over, and some believe that the battle rifle will return to the top spot in military organizations, like King Arthur or something. In a interesting historical note that I came across when reading Andy McNab's books and research why the SAS in COD use the M16/M4, is that SAS units in the Falklands and other operations, used the M16 over the FN FAL. Why? The M16 was less weight, more ammo could be carried, and the the SAS liked the ability for having a 30mm grenade launcher. This trend of SAS/SBS using the M4 has continued throughout today.
The Future of the Battle Rifle and DMR
Examples of Real-Steel Battle Rifles
The Springfield .30-06 M1 Garand Rifle
According to my research, the M1 Garand rifle was the first widely-adopted semi-auto military rifle and named for it's designer, Canadian John C. Garand. First developed between 1924-1932, adopted in 1936 and completed outfitted the US Army by 1941. Much deserved praise has been leveled on the M1 Garand and how it gave the US the edge in infantry combat, but it was also a trailblazer for the military semi-automatic rifle and the being the first battle rifle. Unlike the bolt-action rifles of the day, a soldier could fire eight rounds with breaking visual contact with their target, and achieve superior fire suppression with the M1 over the bolt-action rifles.
The FN FAL 7.62x51mm Rifle
This long serving battle rifle is considered the 'right arm of thefree world' and the western world's counter to the AK-47. Serving with nearly 70 nations, including the former Rhodesia, Great Britain, Israel Australia and nearly the United States, the FAL can still be seen on the battlefield today.
Developed by FN of Belgium in 1951, and was original designed to fire the 7.92x33mm 'Kurz' cartridge of the STG44. This was changed when NATO decided to adopt a common rifle cartridge the 7.62x51mm, and made the FN FAL a more powerful weapon than previous Given the abilities and quality of the FAL, it found a home with the re-arming post-war military organizations. Often, the FN FAL was their military's first assault rifle, but, unlike the American M16, the FAL was nearly uncontrollable on full-automatic, making most single-fire. During the Falkland's War of 1982, the British and Argentina both used the FN FAL (the Brit version was called the SLR), but the Argentina FAL was full-auto, and British troops liked the choice, and dumped their own single-fire for the full-auto. The FN FAL is still being used, especially in the War in Afghanistan, where Pakistan/AQ/Taliban all use it.
The Gewehr 43 7.92x57mm Mauser Battle Rifle
The H&K G3 7.62x51mm Rifle
In the DNA of this iconic long-srving battle rifle is first attempt to develop an assault carbine by the 3rd Reich that was later known as the long-lived STG45(m). After the war, the German engineer involved in the STG45(m) Ludwig Vorgrimler was relocated to France, and he worked on a few post-war military rifles for the French, then moved to Spain and began work on the CETME rifle. This Spanish rifle was retooled to chamber the 7.62x51mm round after NATO adopted it for their standard cartridge. When the West German army selected the CETME rifle for standard rifle in 1959, however, the German government required that weapon be manufactured in German, given the work to Heckler and Koch. From the 1960's through 1997, the H&K G3 served has the infantry rifle of the German Army until replaced by the G36. This has not ended the rein of the battle rifle, it still can be found on battlefields across the global. Oddly, the G3 has been on the both sides of a conflict, both Pakistan and India use the G3, along with the Tilban and AQ fighters. Out of all of the weapons on this list, this is the only one I've fired, and I can tell from my experience that the G3 is a beast of a weapon, in both weight and power.
The SVT-40 7.62x54mm Rifle
The Tokarev self-loading rifle model of 1940, or SVT-40 was the semi-automatic rifle of the Red Army during World War II, and 1.6 million were manufactured, with over 50,000 being the DMR variant. Some sources call this 'the Soviet M1 Garand' of the war. These were good that the German army actually took the SVT-40 for themselves being low on semi-automatic rifles. There were quality issues with weapons, causing them to be phased out in 1942, some of them were converted over to full-auto LMGs, but by 1955, the SVT-40 was completed phased out in favor of the AK-47. This weapon's legacy is the German Gewehr 41/43, the SKS, and FN FAL. I am ashamed to admit this, but, without Call of Duty 2, I may have never learned of this weapon.
The Springfield M-14 7.62x51mm Rifle
When my father was in boot to go to Vietnam, this was the weapon he trained with, and despite it's short service life has the US infantry rifle, it is highly thought of, and continues to be used today as a DMR. Development of this battle rifle came during WWII, when commanders wanted to replace all of the different weapons used by GIs in the field, and replace them with one weapon and one caliber, the hard-hitting 7.62x51mm. The M14 was adopted by the US Armed Forces in 1957, and was more closely related to the M1 Garand in function and forum, being a heavy steel and wood rifle.
The H&K 417 7.62x51mm Rifle
The FN SCAR-H 7.62x51mm Rifle
FN developed their own modular rifle system in 2007, nearly specifically for Special Forces, called the SCAR. The 'L' range of SCAR weapons chambered the 5.56mm round, and the more limited 'H' weapons fired the larger 7.62mm. In 2009, SOCOM cancelled funding for the 'L' weapons, and turned their attention to the 'H' battle rifle (Mk.17) and DMR (Mk.20). from 2011 to the present, photos of the SCAR-H has been seen in the hands of Special Operators in Afghanistan serving has a heavy-hitting rifle.
Examples of Real-Steel DMRs
The LMT L129A1 7.62x51mm DMR
The British have the offensive tools in their infantry military units to deal with threats for 300 meters and beyond 1,000, that being their L85 bullpup rifle and their L96 sniper rifle. But within 400 to 1,000 range, their was no offensive, and the British army decided to hold trials for a DMR. At first, it was believed that the British, similar to the American M14, would dig out their old FN FALs. However, the weapon that rose to the top during the heat contest was the Lewis Machine & Tool LM308MWS, now known has the L129A1. Issued in A-Stan to trained sharpshooters (one step down from snipers) to engage fire from 400 to 1,000 meters, and is proving to be a excellent weapon. Rumors abound that the British military will be trading their unloved L85s for the H&K416.
The SEAL Recon (Recce) Rifle 5.56x45mm DMR
The SDM-R 5.56x45mm DMR
The Dragunov SVD
The USMC SAM-R 5.56x45mm DMR
The FN SCAR-H Mk. 20 Mod 0 SSR 7.62x51mm DMR
The NSWC-Crane Division Mk.14 7.62x51mm DMR
The H&K 417 7.62x51mm DMR
Despite being able to be deployed has a battle rifle, the piston-driven H&K 417 is mostly seen in the role of DMR. This is verified by photos coming out of A-stan, where the 417 is in service with European nations (France specifically) and in it's DMR livery.With the rail system, the DMR 417 can be outfitted with all manner of optics, bipods, barrels, and stocks. The real advantage, I've read that the 417 has over something like the Mk.14 DMR, is weight and user familiarity due to the similar to the M16/M4. The 417 is on the edge of being THE DMR for the 21st century.
The Knights Armament SR-25/Crane Division Mk. 12 SPR/M110 SASS DMR
Could there be an DEW Battle Rifle and/or DMR?
Given the realities of real-world military directed energy weaponry, specifically lasers, it seems more likely that laser DEW rifles would be more akin to battle rifles than assault rifles. Since shot placement, dwelling time, cooling, and batteries are all factories that future soldiers will have to take into account, this label these types of military DEWs a 'battle directed energy rifle'.
Battle Rifles/DMRs and Science Fiction
Most battle rifles and DMRs make their way into science fiction via mostly blind luck. Often prop masters will base a futuristic weapon on a certain real-steel weapon, given rise to this fictional weapon being labeled an BR or DMR. This lack of these types of real-world military weapons arise from the simple lack of development and/or education in sci-fi military organizations or a lack of understanding on the author/creator. Recently, the field of BR/DMR in sci-fi has expanded due to shooter-type video games, specificlly, HALO. When the online community took off, gamers wanted more types of weapons, Bungie answered with weapons like the DMR and the battle rifle. Players today, include yours truly, can pick and chose a weapon that mets there style of play. I personally love the DMR of HALO: Reach and the battle rifle of HALO:4.
The M392/M395 7.62x51mm DMR from the HALO Universe
Bridging the gap between the sniper rifle and the battle rifle, the M392 DMR is a bullpup powerhouse, chambering the 7.62x51mm and has a 3x zoom scope. This weapon was commonly seen prior to 2548 in all branches of the UNSC, when the BR55HB became to replace the DMR. When the battle of Reach occured in 2552, the DMR was only in serve with the UNSC Army. However, by the time of HALO: 4 in 2557, the UNSC had upgraded the older DMR and placed them inventory of the UNSC Infinity. It is possible that the SPARTAN-IV project was the reason for the upgraded DMR, and that they are the only users of the weapon. I personally have a hard-on for the DMR, and use in SPARTAN OPS, and War Games with grim effectiveness.
The STARCOM M-9 RIP Rifle from STARCOM: The US Space Force
This is a long shot, but among the 1980's STARCOM: The US Space Force toys had this magnetic propelled KEW called the M-9 Rapid Impulse Projectile (RIP) Rifle. This man-portable railgun was not pictured in the short-lived animated series, but was available on the figure, mostly the Astro Marines. Given the toy gun, the RIP takes a great deal of power, requiring a power backpack, and could be considered a battle rifle.
Given the effectiveness of the tri-burst against alien energy shielding and biology, the UNSC updated the older BR55HB into the BR85HB SR for 2557. Still mounting a 2x scope that is more compact than the older model, allowing for accurate fire, especially with the advanced technology keeping the rifle on-target, even when firing the massive burst. It is unknown if the BR85HB SR is only being deployed to crews of the UNSC Infinity. This battle rifle has been a massive favorite among us HALO: 4 on-line gamers for the accuracy and power.
The USMC M590 Battle Rifle from Space: Above and Beyond
Here is a science fiction weapon could be classified has an assault rifle, which is were I original place the USMC 2063 M590 in a previous blogpost, but now, I think it may be a battle rifle. First off, the M590 shots the heavier 7.62x51mm cartridge, and it is never seen on-screen firing full-auto or even burst-fire. The Marine Corps is also emphasizes marksmanship, and they are more likely ti field a battle rifle than the big army. The case could be made further also be made for the M590 being a battle rifle due to the limited capacity magazine seen through much of the series.
Callahan Full-Bore Auto-Lock 'Vera' from Firefly
Okay, let us break down the complex name of this weapon. Callahan is the name of gun-maker and a reference to the Dirty Harry films, 'full-bore' speaks to that this gun can adjust itself to various cartridges, and lastly, 'auto-lock' is an aiming assistants system mentioned a few times in the series. The prop weapon was actually based around Russian Saiga-12 shotgun and originally built for the 2002 Showtime has some sort of a supergun that fired depleted uranium shells.
The BR55HB SR 9.5x40mm Battle Rifle from HALO:2 and HALO:3
The SMR .308 Battle Rifle from Black Ops:II
The H&K HK91 DMR from Space: Above and Beyond
During the one of the best episodes of SAAB, 'Who monitors the Birds?', Cooper Hawkes willingly signs up for an assassination mission to off a high-level Chig commander. The two-man sniper team used a 7.62mm Heckler&Koch HK91 (a single-shot only variant of the G3) outfited witha massive NGD scope. This is an interesting choice, especially for a show set in 2063 and about US Marines. As far as I know, the US military has never officially used the HK91 for a DMR, but some how in 2063, the USMC Force Recon does.
A high-powered sniper rifle used by Lt. Cooper Hawkes, played by Rodney Rowland in the episode "Who Monitors the Birds?" of the television series Space : Above and Beyond (20th Century Fox Television, 1995-1996). This stunt version of the rifle is molded off a German-made HK 91 rifle and has a large plastic molded sniper scope attached. The rifle is hard plastic with aluminum and rubber detailing. Also added is the attached green nylon web shoulder strap.
The Type-3 Federation Phaser Rifle from the Star Trek Universe
Unlike the more aggressive and battle-ready Type-3a that appeared after the film First Contact, the original Type-3 rifle seems more akin to a battle rifle. It is just an impressive that I have when reviewing the differences between the two phaser rifles. The older, less aggressive Type-3 seems to be used mainly the same purpose and style has the battle rifle, precise hits. As I said, there is no direct evidence of this, just an impression I had from years of watching Trek.
The Morita Mk.1 'Sniper' Variant from Starship Trooper (1997)
The MACO EM-41 DMR from Star Trek: Enterprise
The M-99 Saber DMR from Mass Effect 3
Sedonian Battle Rifle/DMR from Hunter Prey (2010)
The Blastech A295 and A280 Blaster Battle Rifles from Star Wars
The Covenant Type-51 DMR Carbine from the HALO Universe
Firing 8mm radioactive projectiles, the Type-51 Covenant carbine is a lethal weapon, and can be used for limited range (2x zoom) DMR or even a battle rifle when not in the scope. This is one of those great examples of a DEW BR/DMR.
I now believe after playing HALO:4 that the Type-51 is descented from the Promethean Light Rifle.
The Covenant Type-31 'Needler' DMR Rifle from HALO: Reach
The Z-250 DE Engagement DMR Weapon from HALO: 4
343 Industries fused the UNSC battle rifle and the DMR into a single DEW rifle, the Promethean Z-250 'Engagement' weapon. In HALO: 4, the player can use the Z-250 for both roles. click to use the scope, and it is an DMR with a hard-light bolt. Click out of the scope, and the Z-250 fires a three-bolt burst of the same hard-light, configuring the weapon into a battle rifle.