The M24 SWS (Sniper Weapon System) is a principle sniper weapon of US Army. Developed for a US Army requirement replacing the aging M21 system (itself a stop-gap conversion of the M14 service rifle), the M24 was designed to particularly specific requirements that included new manufacturing techniques, overpowering range and a stainless steel barrel. Remington Arms Company, Incorporated answered the call with their Model 700BDL trial version, which was later accepted by the US Army over the competing Austrian Steyr SSG. The M24 was designed in 1988 with production running from 1988 to 2010 to which some 15,000 units have been delivered. The M24 has seen operational service in the 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 American invasion of Iraq.
The M24 is chambered to fire the 7.62x51 NATO (.308 Winchester) caliber round from a 5 or 10-round internal magazine (some versions have a detachable box magazine). The system utilizes the Remington bolt-action operation and promotes a 2,800 feet-per-second muzzle velocity. Construction of the M24 is such that the system is made ideal for rough handling and even rougher battlefield conditions. The M24 SWS is traditionally fitted with the Leupold Ultra M3A 10x42 telescopic sight which increases the range of the weapon out to nearly 900 yards and detachable iron sights serve as back up. The system is fitted with a removable bipod support assembly and a suppressor is optional for the stainless steel barrel, which itself is designed to an extended life status. The stock is of a Kevlar, fiberglass and graphite composite construction.
On January 5th, 2011, Remington Arms Company, Incorporated was awarded a $9 million dollar contract to supply up to 1,212 M24 sniper rifles and bipods to the government of Afghanistan by way of the US Army TACOM LCMC of Rockford, Illinois. Other operators include Hungary, Israel, Japan (1st Airborne Brigade paratroopers) and Lebanon. US SWAT forces also make use of the M24.
Variants of the M24 include the XM24A1, the M24A2, the M24A3 and the M24E1. The XM24A1 served as an experimental variant chambered for the .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge but was never pursued by the US Army due to the system's specialized ammunition requirement. The M24A2 was an improved M24 system with a detachable 10-round box magazine. Side Picatinny rails were standard and a revised precision adjustable stock was included as was support for a sound suppressor. The M24A3 was a variant chambered for the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge with a 5-round detachable box magazine. The front and rear iron sights were made detachable and a Picatinny rail system was added to the top of the receiver. The M24E1 is an ongoing M24 SWS upgrade conversion program looking to upgrade the stock, magazine, suppressors, muzzlebrakes, optics and barrel of existing M24 SWS systems.