Ranking the Top Contenders for Best Sniper Rifle

With its powerful scope and long barrel, the sniper rifle is one of the most recognisable weapons in an army’s arsenal and has been popularised through historical events, film and other media.

Military sniper rifles are built to offer higher precision and to be more durable, reliable, and easily repairable in adverse conditions. Today’s sniper rifles are manual bolt-action or semi-automatic and make use of an open aperture or telescopic sight for extreme accuracy.

What are the best sniper rifles in the world at the moment?

MK22 Multi-role Adaptive Design (MRAD) – US

In 2021 the US Army awarded a $49.9m five-year contract to Barrett Firearms Manufacturing to acquire the MK22 Multi-role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle as the service’s new sniper weapon system.

The US Army will procure approximately 2,800 MK22 rifles from Barrett, the current maker of the Army’s M107 .50 Caliber Long Range Sniper Rifle. The MK22 is part of the Army’s Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) Program which also includes the Leupold & Stevens (Beaverton, OR) Mark 5 HD scope and a sniper accessory kit.

The MK22 is a modular system that will be fielded with three separate calibers, the .338 Norma Magnum, .300 Norma Magnum and 7.62×51 Nato. US Army snipers are able to conduct a barrel change and select calibers based on their mission operating environment.

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USSOCOM previously awarded a contract to Barrett to purchase the MRAD as part of its Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) programme. 

Steyr SSG 69 – Austria

The Austrian-built Steyr SSG 69 is one of the best sniper rifles in terms of accuracy and precision. Since 1969, it has been used in many conflicts in the Middle East and Asia and is currently the standard sniper rifle for the Austrian Army.

The SSG 69 has impressive accuracy and is considered most effective at a range of 800m. At a weight of 3.8-4kg, depending on the variant, it is significantly lighter than the Barrett M82 so uses shorter rounds – either the 7.62x51mm NATOm known commercially as the .308 Winchester, although these are loaded at different pressures. The five-round rotary magazine design is also unusual for sniper rifles.

In 2015, Steyr terminated production of the SSG69, and the Steyr SSG 08 is touted to be its successor with the Austrian Army. The new SSG 08’s barrels are cold-hammered, allowing for a harder and smoother internal barrel that causes less friction and is less prone to corrosion.