US Special Operations Command’s highly-trained marksmen and snipers are about to get their hands on new M110K1 Semi Automatic Sniper System upper receivers from Knights Armament Company in 6.5 Creedmoor, marking the first major American military adoption of the round which has seen steadily increasing popularity with civilian sport shooters and hunters.
The M110, chambered for 7.62x51 mm (7.62 NATO) developed and first produced by Knights Armament Company just over 11 years ago, serves in designated marksman and sniper roles with the US military, partially replacing the older M24 Sniper Weapon System.
In comparison to .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO (which was derived from the Winchester cartridge), 6.5 Creedmoor is a relative newcomer to the intermediate caliber game. It was first introduced in 2007 by Hornady as a development of the .30 Thompson Center cartridge — which in turn was the result of an effort to build a .308 Winchester length round with ballistics rivaling that of the .30-06 Springfield round.
The gradual adoption of the Creedmoor began in 2017 when SOCOM explored procuring and fielding Precision Intermediate Caliber Ammunition, designed to first serve in a sniper role before eventually seeing wider adoption in a variety of other applications.
In testing at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, officials discovered that the 6.5 CM was considerably more shooter-friendly.
Using retooled FN SCAR-Hs and M110s, SOCOM personnel found that their hit probability more than doubled at a range of 1,000 meters with the Creedmoor round, while offering shooters a cartridge with considerable stopping power and lesser recoil.
Moving forward to spring 2018, SOCOM went ahead with adopting 6.5CM over .260 Remington, which was also entered into the mix as a potential PICA cartridge.
According to a solicitation on the federal government’s official business opportunities site, the sole source contract will be handled directly between Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, SOCOM’s de facto small arms procurement house, and will be fulfilled over a period of four years, ending in February 2023.
While the adoption of 6.5 CM is not, however, a full-on replacement for 7.62 NATO with America’s special operations apparatus, it’s unclear just how many M110K1s SOCOM intends on converting to the new caliber just yet, or if a portion of the new Knights uppers will be available based on end-user preference to SOCOM snipers.