Wednesday Warfighter: The Sniper’s Scope

This blog was shared by the Weapons Systems Technology Information Analysis Center (WSTIAC).  It is the 20th in the 22-part series produced by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), and is located in the Armed With Science website.

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)

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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