The M40A1 sniper rifle was used by the United States Marine Corps and was the first notable large scale production of any sniper rifle platform by any branch of the US armed forces. The rifle began to take shape in late 1965 with a purchase order to Remington Arms Company for some sniper rifles. These original rifles were based on the best target bolt action rifle available from Remington at that time — the 40X. The 40X was available (and still is) through the Remington custom shop as it was a special order rifle manufactured to the highest match grade standards. Each of these rifles became known as an "M40" and roughly 1,000 were made.

As with all things mechanical, the rifles began to wear out. Instead of asking Remington to make up some new rifles, the armorers at the Marine Corps Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU) at Quantico, Virginia decided to make their own version of a sniper rifle. The M40A1 was created out of a desire to make sure that Marines had the most accurate rifle that could be made. Also, the improvements to the M40A1 over the M40 were due, in no small part, to the commentary by the Marines that used them. Through constant feedback and a great deal of accuracy testing (something taken nearly for granted today) by the armorers, the M40A1 was put into full production.

As the old M40 rifles made their way back into the armory, snipers were then issued the new M40A1. This began in 1970 and the M40A1 was the sniper rifle issued by the USMC for the rest of the Vietnam war. One of the most famous USMC snipers of the time (and one of the most famous snipers in world history), Carlos Hathcock, did not use this gun. He opted for a Winchester rifle instead. I don't think this is an indicator of the Remington's quality; rather, when you are one of the best, you get to use what you like and with which you are comfortable.

Unlike the M40, the M40A1 was based on the Remington Model 700 action. The armorers probably decided on this action for two reasons: 1) this action is cheaper than the 40X and therefore, one could purchase more with budgetary dollars and 2) this action is highly customizable, readily available and an easy action on which to work.

Features of the M40A1

This bolt action rifle has a competition-grade heavy barrel, 5 (7.62x51mm NATO) round magazine, 10 power Unertl shockproof sniper scope, modified Winchester Model 70 floorplate and trigger guard, a McMillan fiberglass stock (much more durable than a wood stock as seen on the M40), enhanced trigger work and each stock is epoxy bedded to the barrel for increased accuracy. No M40A1 left the armory until it shot to less than one minute of angle (MOA). A rifle that shoots less than one minute of angle is very, very accurate. What this means is that if you were to draw a 1 inch circle and shoot it from 100 yards away, all the target strikes would go through that one inch circle. The closer the grouping of shots, the better the rifle because the rifle is more consistent in placing the shots with reduced margins of error.

This rifle has now been replaced with the M40A3. This occurred in 1996.

  • Manufacturer: Armorers at the Marine Corps Marksmanship Training Unit at Quantico, Virginia.
  • Overall Length: 44 inches (111.76 centimeters).
  • Barrel length: 24 inches (61 centimeters).
  • Weight: 14.5 pounds (6.58 kilograms).
  • Bore diameter: 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester)
  • Maximum effective range: 1000 yards (914 meters).
  • Muzzle velocity: 2550 feet (777 meters) per second.
  • Chamber pressure: 50,000 PSI.
  • Magazine capacity: 5 rounds.
  • Unit Replacement Cost: $2,105.

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