Fabrique Nationale FN SPR (Special Police Rifle (SPR)
Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle
The Belgian Fabrique Nationale FN SPR was selected for use by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Fabrique National developed the FN Special Police Rifle (SPR) from the successful and highly regarded Winchester Model 70 series. The original sport-minded bolt-action Winchester Model 70 was introduced in 1936 and earned a reputation for accuracy, reliability and quality (even being fielded by the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War). Today, the type is seeing continued production under Fabrique Nationale in Columbia, South Carolina. As its name would suggest, the SPR was developed under the tight requirements necessary for police-minded units and was selected for procurement by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the United States. The FBI began use of the SPR in 2004 and designates them as the FNH SPR-USG ("Fabrique Nationale-Herstal, Special Police Rifle, United States Government"), the weapon utilized as a sniper rifle with the FBI's counter-terrorism Hostage Rescue Team. While the SPR family carries the Belgian FN-Herstal name, the SPR rifles are manufactured locally in the United States under the US Repeating Arms Company (formerly the fabled "Winchester Repeating Arms Company") based in New Haven, Connecticut, of which Fabrique Nationale de Herstal is the parent concern.
The SPR family of rifles are conventional in their overall design approach. The weapon sports cold hammer-forged barrels with corrosion-resistant chromed bores and feature support for MIL-STD-1913 rail accessories. They are chambered either for the 7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester) or .300 Winchester Short Magnum cartridge depending on the model type and operate from a manually-actuated bolt-action pull system. In this function, the operator manages a bolt handle to eject spent cartridge casings and introduce live rounds into the firing chamber. The SPR can be purchased in internal box magazine or detachable box magazine forms (3- or 5-round internal box magazine or 4-round detachable box magazine). A telescopic sight is basically optional in the design though highly required for any long-distance, accurized shooting. Available barrel lengths are 20" or 24" depending on the production mark and this naturally determines overall length and loaded/unloaded weight.
The SPR has been developed into several marks since its inception. The initial version was the original FN SPR (known as the "1st Generation") with its non-fluted 24" barrel assembly and HS Precision Marksman-pattern stock. This was followed by the SPR A1 which introduced a McMillan A3 series fiberglass stock while retaining the 24" barrel. The SPR A1 also made use of a detachable box magazine feed and a single-piece MIL-STD-1913 accessories rail. The SPR A1a was similar in its configuration though making use of a 20" fluted barrel which, in turn, made for a more compact end-product and was primarily marketed as a mid-ranged rifle solution. The SPR A1a also featured a detachable box magazine feed design. The SPR A2 brought about the McMillan A4 stock with integrated buttpad spacers and an adjustable cheekpiece for shooter customizability and reintroduced the 24" barrel length. The SPR A4 "Shooting System" was nothing more than the SPR A2 mark with standard optical scope and bipod assembly. The SPR A3 G featured the McMillan A3 fiberglass stock with buttpad spacers and adjustable cheekpiece as well as a 24" fluted barrel design which went on to be selected by the FBI as a tactical precision rifle. This variant made use of a cold hammer-forged MIL-SPEC barrel and was chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge. Steel sling studs were integrated under the shoulder stock and under the forend. The SPR A3 G "Shooting System" was the SPR A3 G with standard scope and bipod. The SPR A5 M was given a McMillan A5 series fiberglass stock (with buttpad spacers and adjustable cheekpiece) and choice of 20" basic barrel or 24" fluted barrel assemblies while being chambered for the .300 Winchester Short Magnum cartridge (24" barrel") or the 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester cartridge (20" or 24" barrel"). Mounting points offered support for an optional shoulder sling and this rifle type could be identified by the cutout at the bottom of the shoulder stock.