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Retired USMC Sniper Rifles
M1903A1 Sniper Rifle 

USMC M1903-A1/Unertl


M1903A1 Sniper Rifle With 8-power Unertl telescopic sight.
Notice the bolt handle has a telescope clearance notch.
.30 Caliber Bullet performance at 600 Yards for MV=2800fps

Bullet, gr
Accuracy, Radius
Penetration
Ball M2, 152
7.5 inch
11in, Oak
Tracer M1, 152
15 inch
Red trace 125-900 yds
AP M2, 165.7
10 inch
.3in, armor
Match M72, 175.5
3.5 inch
11in, Oak

Unlike the US Army, the USMC had a standard issue sniper rifle at the start of hostilities in WWII, it was a M1903/Lyman 5A (5x), which was adopted (with the Winchester A5 Telescope) during WWI. After there was a push to standardize sniper equipment, the Marine Corps Equipment Board did an extensive study of optics under field conditions and recommended a scope of about 8x, with an objective lens of about one and half inches, a medium fine cross hair reticle, and double micrometer quarter minute click mounts. They specifically cited a 8x target scope made by John Unertl as being the best they found. They also recommended the scope be mounted on a Winchester M70 target rifle, but the USMC decided on the M1903 based on favorable accuracy comparisons between specially selected M1903's and the M70. So the M1903-A1 mounted with the Unertl 8x became the "sniping standard" in the USMC.
The M1903-A1/Unertl was tested and at 600 yards and with M72 Match ammo would group 3.5 inches (.58 MOA) but match ammo was about impossible to come by during the war, so most snipers had to settle with M2 Ball ammo, which was still respectable with groups coming in at 7.5" at 600 yards (1.25 MOA). The M1903-A1/Unertl was used by the USMC through out WWII, along with the M1903-A4. Like the M1903-A4 the M1903-A1/Unertl was a lethal system in the hands of a properly trained sniper during WWII and Korea.

5th Marine Sniper in Punchbowl M1903A1/Unertl, 1951

M1903-A4

Caliber's:
.30-06 Springfield (7.62x63mm)
Magazine:
5 round internal box magazine.
Barrel Length:
24" (610mm)
Barrel Profile:
2 Grooves, LH Twist, cut-rifled (early rifles)
4 Grooves, LH Twist, draw rifled (later rifles)
Weight:
9.38 lbs (4.34 kg)
Overall Length:
43.21" (1098mm)
Stock:
Type "C" (early rifles) "Scant" grip (later rifles)
Sights:
M73B1 2.5x Telescopic site (Weaver 330C) - No Iron Sites
The M81, M82, and M84 were also used on the M1903-A4
(late WWII and Korea)
Unertl 8x (USMC M1903-A1/Unertl) - With Iron Sites
Features:
Conversion to sniper rifles done by Remington Arms.

The M1903-A4 was a specifically designed sniper rifle that came as a result of early U.S. combat involvement in the Pacific. There was a high demand, that could not be filled, for telescopic (sniper) rifles. The Infantry Board and the Ordnance Department conducted an evaluation and recommended that the Weaver 2.5x 330C hunting telescope be adopted for use on M1903 and M1903-A1 rifles. The rifle was officially adopted on 14 Jan 1943 as the M1903-A4 (sniper).
The M1903-A4 was an accurate rifle with an effective range of about 600 yards (550m), with the main limit on long range accuracy coming from its very low power scope (2.5x). From its adoption in 1943 until the end of the war, the M1903-A4 was used extensively in every theater of operation by both the US Army and the USMC. The rifle was again used in the Korean conflict, and even in the early stages of the Vietnam conflict when sniper rifles were in severe shortage. The M1903A4 is a legendary classic sniper rifle. It served with distinction in WWII, Korea, and even Vietnam.
Marine Corps M1 Sniper Rifle; The USMC M1952 or MC-1& M1D


Caliber's:
.30-06 Springfield (7.62x63mm)
Magazine:
8 round internal box magazine.
Barrel Length:
24" (610mm)
Barrel Profile:
4 Grooves, RH Twist
Weight:
~11 lbs (~5 kg)
Overall Length:
43.6" (1107mm)
Stock:
Standard M1 Garand
Sights:
2.5x power M81/M82, and 2.2x power M84 were all used
M73B1 2.5x Telescopic site (Weaver 330C) was an alternate
Features:
T4 Cheek pad, and M2 flash suppressor were accessories. The more advance T-37
Flash suppressor was never "officially" adopted.

The M1 was adopted as the standard issue rifle in 1932 and started to enter service in 1936, which led to constant refinement of the rifle. This precluded any work on a sniper version of the M1, but as the war broke out, there was a large demand for scoped rifles, and this lead to the adoption of the M1903A4 and also the authorization to produce a sniper version of the M1. Work was slow and finally the M1E7 and M1E8 were evaluated. In June of 1944 the M1E7 (renamed M1C) was adopted as the standard issue sniper rifle and replaced the M1903A4 making it "Limited Standard". The M1E8 (renamed M1D) was adopted in September of 1944 as a "Substitute Standard". The only difference between the C and D was the scope mounting system.

Only small numbers of M1C/D's made it to the front lines in WWII, so they were never really battle tested, until the Korean conflict, when they were still the standard issue sniper rifle. There they proved satisfactory with the max range being about 600 yards, with fairly reliable hit percentages from 4-600 yards. Of course the 2.5 power scopes were a severe limiting factor to the max range. There was no military match ammo that was issued to snipers, so they just used standard ball, which I'm sure hurt the accuracy of these weapons also. The rifles continued their service until the mid 60's and the Vietnam conflict. The M1C also became the USMC standard issue sniper rifle in 1951, and was used extensively by the USMC during the Korean conflict. The USMC adopted a new scope in 1954 known as the Model 4XD (a 4x Scope produced by Stith-Kollmorgen) but it did not see much combat use.

The M1C sniper rifle with M82 sight was reasonably effective from 400-600 yards, but not beyond. With most of the Korean peninsula covered by a complicated array of hills and ridges, much of the action necessarily took place between those ridges, especially after the war had settled into a static defense of fortified positions. Using the M1903A1/Unertl combination, Marine snipers registered a number of 1,000 yard kills, a very impressive improvement. Nevertheless, in late 1951, the weapon was declared "Limited Standard" and replaced with the M1C, for many of the reasons the M1903A1 had been replaced with the M1.

Another difference in sniper action between the USMC and the Army was that Marine scout-sniper teams often had a BAR for a support weapon. In street fighting, the BAR automatic fire would flush the enemy out, and the sniper would finish him off.


The Marines, always interested in long range marksmanship, began to look for a replacement for the USMC Model of 1941 1903 Springfield. The M1941 had done yeoman service in W.W.II, but was beginning to get a bit "long of tooth" although still in use in Korea (even Capt. Bill Brophy of the U.S. Army is pictured using one of these super accurate 1903s during the Korean War). The supply of National Match 1903s (on which the M1941 was based) was now essentially non existent, and replacement parts becoming difficult if not impossible to find. The Corps took a look at the Army’s W.W.II efforts on the M1Cs and Ds and began to experiment with the M1C version utilizing the Griffin and Howe scope mounts. The Marines weren’t in love with the M82 or M84 scopes and finally found what they considered to be a better "piece of glass". The USMC choice was the Stith-Kollmorgen 4X scope with one-minute (audible) click adjustments. Because of the more robust (translate heavier) nature of the Kollmorgen Scope (and a different scope tube diameter), Griffin and Howe designed a different and more heavily constructed scope mount for the Marine Corps. At least some of the MC-1s were constructed on the original Springfield manufactured M1Cs, substituting the new mount and scope on the original Griffin and Howe mounting rail. These rifles were restocked and fitted with the Marine Corps version of the M2 flash hider (delineated below under "Scope Mounts & Flash Hiders"). Many pictures of Marines with sniper rifles in Korea depict them utilizing the M1941 Springfield and the Army version of the M1C. It is probable that none of the MC-1s ever reached Korea in time for the hostilities, but were in use in the Marine Corps up through the mid 1960s. The Marine Corps’ adoption of the M40 Remington Sniper Rifle in 1966 spelled the end of the scoped M1 as an operational sniper gun within the Corps.

Scope Mounts & Flash Hiders

The Marine Corps developed their own bell flash hider for the Marine Corps version of the M1C (the USMC M1952 better known as the MC-1). The USMC flash hider was made from a grenade launcher allowing the user to tighten the "bell" onto the muzzle by hand (utilizing a coarsely threaded bell that screwed into the lever locking base of the hider). Hand tightening the "bell" actually helped to stabilize the gas cylinder when the flash hider was tightened down. A later (Army) version of the flash hider, the T37, was adopted in January 1953. While both the M1C and M1D were approved with the T37, usually only the late models of the M1D are usually seen with the "prong" suppressor. The T37 replaces the gas cylinder lock and somewhat resembles a cross between the flash suppressor of the M14 and the early suppressor on the M16. This so-called "prong" flash hider (or suppressor) is very effective and is usually quite accurate assuming that the rifle itself will shoot well.