Peering Through the Sniper’s Scope

This blog was shared by the Weapons Systems Technology Information Analysis Center (WSTIAC).  It is the 20th in our 22-part series produced by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC).

Photo by Steve Thurow (

Photo by Steve Thurow (

“One shot, one kill” is a phrase that has gained significant notoriety in pop culture when referring to a sniper’s lethality and impact. Without question, today’s U.S. military snipers are elite force multipliers. Often referred to as the “tip of the spear,” snipers provide real-time reconnaissance to the combatant commanders and have the ability to take direct action, if called upon.

To ensure they remain elite force multipliers, all snipers receive specialized training in marksmanship, camouflage, evasion, and target range estimation. Upon successful completion of their training, they receive a distinct high-precision rifle. A sniper’s rifle is much more than a weapon; it’s often the only lifeline they have back to a safer environment. But who is in charge with making sure a sniper’s tools and weapons continue to evolve and improve over time?

The Product Manager Individual Weapons (PM-IW), a component of Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, is responsible for the research and development of current and future rifles, carbines, pistols, shotguns, grenade launchers, small arms ammunition, and related target acquisition/fire control products. Within PM-IW, a special unit works to address all of the unique needs of the sniper team.

In support of this special sniper-focused unit, the WSTIAC is providing subject matter expertise helping to find new ways to make snipers more effective. WSTIAC has compiled an integrated team of subject matter experts and former U.S. snipers to conduct extensive analysis and to collect direct user feedback on the weapons systems most used by U.S. snipers. By leveraging this approach, WSTIAC has helped PM-IW field new weapons systems, some of which are able to extend the lethality of our snipers from 800 to 1,200 meters with the new XM2010 Sniper Rifle. Specifically, WSTIAC developed a New Equipment Training package for the XM2010 system, which presents the user with the proper information on how to operate, maintain, and use the rifle and its optical components. Fielding of the new system began in March, and preliminary user response collected by WSTIAC indicates both increased usability and performance.

WSTIAC experts working side-by-side with the warfighter on the test range. (Photo by WSTIAC)

WSTIAC experts working side-by-side with the warfighter on the test range. (Photo by WSTIAC)

This close working relationship with PM-IW and WSTIAC is another clear example of how the IACs work closely with government program managers to enhance the warfighter’s ability.

WSTIAC is one of ten IACs established by DOD and managed by DTIC. WSTIAC is a Center of Excellence responsible for acquiring, archiving, analyzing, synthesizing, and disseminating scientific and technical information related to conventional weapons, their development, production, fielding and maintenance.

Interested in learning more or working with WSTIAC on an upcoming effort? WSTIAC via the IAC website.

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About Carla Voorhees

Carla Voorhees has always been interested in science, from the time she grew string beans under varying conditions for the science fair (3rd grade) to the time she took every math and science class she could during high school. As her path during college and beyond took her somewhat away from the hard sciences, she is thrilled to be a part of the Armed With Science team. Carla holds a B.S. in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2007), and an M.B.A. in Design Strategy from the California College of the Arts (2010). She works as a Web Strategist at DOD Public Web.
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One Response to Peering Through the Sniper’s Scope

  1. Thomas says:

    That is one heck of a weapon to be able to make a kill shot from 3/4 mile away. And also one heck of a soldier to take and make it. I guess that is no longer the stuff of movies and fiction. It will probably keep improving too.

    I sure hope the enemy does not have technology and training like that.