The M2010 project was the result of several years of design work updating the M24 that has been in service since 1988. The idea to upgrade the M24 existed even before the Army adopted it 25 years ago. Some members of the selection committee who chose the M24 (and who got the M24 project started initially) were Green Berets, who wanted a rifle capable of outperforming the M21, an accurized M14.

The Green Berets wanted their new bolt-action sniper rifle to be chambered in .300 Win. Mag. because it has superior ballistics when compared with the NATO-standard 7.62x51mm. Alas, the Army said it would take two years to identify a suitable caliber other than 7.62 NATO (no guarantees they’d choose the .300 Win. Mag.) and another two years to choose the bullet for whatever the alternate caliber was. The Green Berets decided to accept the standard NATO chambering for the M24 but demanded a long action, and the committee agreed to the compromise. The M24 was born. The Green Berets’ intent was to rebarrel their M24s in .300 Win. Mag. at the first available opportunity.

The opportunity to rebarrel the M24 and perform other necessary upgrades would not formally occur until 2010, when the U.S. Army decided their snipers needed more performance than the venerable M24 offered. A decade of war had taught the Army that the flat-shooting .300 Win. Mag. was vastly superior to the 7.62. The Army also identified some other improvements to make to the rifle while they had them in the shop. After two years of having the M2010 out and about, it looks like the Army did a fantastic job of making their sniper rifles the best ones ever fielded.

Creating an M2010 from an M24 is no small effort. In fact, the only part of the original M24 that survived the makeover process is the action. The Remington 700 long action got fitted with a 24-inch barrel chambered in .300 Win. Mag. The barrel has 5R rifling at a twist rate of 1:10 to stabilize the heavy-for-caliber bullets that come with the .300 Win. Mag.

The next big change is the chassis system, which features a folding stock, free-floats the barrel and has a round forend that shrouds the barrel and makes mounting night vision optics and thermal sights a snap. The new chassis has no shortage of adjustments and can be made to comfortably fit almost any size shooter. It also comes with good bottom metal and detachable box magazines.

The new scope fielded with the M2010 is Leupold’s Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm E/RT with a Horus H-58 reticle. The scope and reticle combination allows today’s sniper to see the target much more clearly (the M24 came with a fixed 10X scope) and uses the Horus reticle to hold off the target for wind and range without ever having to touch the dials. This saves the sniper a lot of time and makes multiple-target engagements much more productive.

Last, the M2010 got an AAC muzzlebrake and AAC Titan suppressor. The brake helps mitigate recoil for faster follow-up shots and makes it easier for the shooter to spot the impact of his rounds. The suppressor muffles the report of the rifle, making the shooter harder to locate and also contains the muzzle flash, making the shooter harder to spot.

Reports from soldiers using the rifles overseas indicate that it is an enormously popular rifle, and the additional features listed above are a welcome addition to our snipers’ arsenal. The M2010s have seen use by both conventional Army units as well as some of our Special Forces units. Regardless of unit affiliation, negative feedback about the rifle is hard to come by, and it is gaining a reputation as an extremely accurate rifle.

With the M2010 being so popular with our troops, a natural question to ask would be how it will affect the fielding of the Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR). The M2010 was the conventional Army’s answer to upgrading their sniper rifles. The PSR program was the Special Operations community’s approach to the same problem. The key difference between the M2010 and the PSR is that the PSR is multicaliber and can shoot 7.62 NATO, .300 Win. Mag. and .338 Lapua Mag.

With the feature set of the M2010 being so similar to the PSR, a careful look at the ballistics of each rifle is in order. The M2010 shoots a .30-caliber 190-grain bullet at approximately 3,000 feet per second (fps). The PSR, in its most powerful ballistic configuration, shoots a .33-caliber 300-grain bullet at approximately 2,750 fps. In this configuration, the PSR is clearly the superior ballistic choice.

Where things get interesting is when we consider what happens when the Army puts a better bullet in their .300 Win. Mag. The 190-grain Sierra MatchKing has a ballistic coefficient (BC) of .533 — nothing special. Once upon a time in the not-too-distant past, the Army loaded the 220-grain Sierra MatchKing into their .300 Win. Mag. The longer bullet raised hell with the Army’s chambers and had pressure issues, so the project got shelved for a couple of years. If the Army picks one of the newer .30-caliber bullets like the Berger 230-grain hybrid with a BC of .743, they’ll have a rifle that’s 95 percent of the PSR at a fraction of the cost. The table below shows how the M2010, once loaded with a better bullet, would stack up against the PSR. Holds are in mils, and distances are in meters.

Even with SOCOM and the PSR solicitation nearing completion, the M2010 has a long and healthy service life ahead of it. The PSR solicitation is exciting, and I hope the rifles get fielded, but since no unit has them yet, I’m skeptical that Uncle Sugar is willing to come off the hip with the money it’ll take to get the guns out there. In the meantime, the M2010 actually exists, units have them and love them, and they offer unparalleled capabilities to our snipers. No other military in the world (to include rifles in our own inventory) can compete past 1,000 yards with the M2010.

There aren’t many M2010s out there, so opportunities to shoot them are extremely rare unless you wear the uniform. Here at TRIGGER, we were fortunate enough to get our hands on one to test for this article. Getting comfortable behind the rifle is a snap with the chassis that comes on the rifle, and shooting is surprisingly soft thanks to the muzzlebrake.

The rifle ships with several magazines, a maintenance kit and a separate hardcase for the scope. Between the time-tested Model 700 action, the new chassis and the capabilities that come with the scope and muzzlebrake, it’s easy shooting the M2010 effectively. The detachable box magazines are also a big step up from the internal magazine we had on the M24.

I’m happy to report that the M2010 is an unparalleled success for the Army. While the PSR has some additional capabilities needed for our SOF snipers (namely multiple calibers), the M2010 offers near-identical ballistic performance at a fraction of the price. With defense cuts in full force, the M2010 might be the last great sniper rifle we see for quite some time.

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