The US Army will test an improved version of the M-24 sniper rifle when the candidate weapons for the programme are unveiled later this month.

Soldier Weapons project manager Colonel Douglas A Tamilio said the industry was challenged to improve the M-24 sniper rifle to make it more accurate and more adjustable to soldiers’ needs.

Four industry competitors are expected to supply their improved M-24 candidates by 11 March.

“The improved version of the rifle will have an adjustable stock, adjustable cheek welds as well as five-to-ten round external magazines,” Tamilio said.

In addition, the scope of the rifle will be improved from 3× to 25× magnification zoom, with a reticle that adjusts when the user changes magnification.

In order to provide a standardised mounting platform for sensors and optics the sniper rifle will be complemented with Picatinny rails.

Currently, the M-24 now is chambered for a 7.62mm round with a range of approximately 800m, however the improved M-24 can accommodate a larger round, the .300 Win Mag, to provide greater accuracy, according to Tamilio.

Following the tests, the army will choose a producer in mid 2010, with a view to deploy the improved M-24 to army snipers later in the year.