The original West German PSG-1 sniper rifle design of 1972 went on to be accepted by a few choice operators around the globe. From this precision weapon - mainly aimed at special military units and police forces - came a militarized version in the MSG-90. By and large, the MSG-90 retains much of the form and function of the original PSG-1 line but incorporates more "military minded" changes to better suit the rigors of military service.
Chief changes to the weapon include an all-new trigger group and threaded barrel, the latter supporting use of a suppressor (MSG-90A1). A flash suppressor also helps to reduce the visual imprint of the firer's position when firing. The MSG-90 has also been made more compact and lighter than its PSG-1 form which has improved transportation of the weapon when on-the-march. The shoulder stock is of composite construction and offers adjustability of the cheekpiece and length-of-pull. The MSG-90 also incorporates the same Weaver scope rail system featured on other HK rifle products and lacks any iron sights. A bipod supports the front end of the weapon and is foldable.
The weapon is chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO and fires from a 5-, 10- or 20-round detachable box magazine out to ranges of 2,600 feet. The action is the HK-standard roller-delayed blowback breech system with semi-automatic fire support - making the MSG-90 more akin to the modern Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) than a traditional bolt-action type.
The MSG-90 has been taken into service by Danish special police, French airborne marines, Indonesian dive groups and commando elements, the Iraqi military, the Lithuanian Army, various special forces elements of Malaysia, the Mexican Army, Norwegian special police and security forces, various Filipino forces, South Korean special forces, the Turkish Army, United States FBI and Delta Force, and Uruguayan special forces. Some countries have since retired their stock as frontline weapons.