Rifles - M21/M25:
M-25 Background and development history,
Hi all, i'll pitch in on the background of the M25.
The concept rifle was the brainchild of a certain late Master Sergeant (forgive me for not remember the man's name, fist name was Tom, Rick Boucher would know) of the 10th Special Forces Group at Ft. Devens (now at Ft. Carson). AT that time, the 10th SFGA had a SOTIC (Special Operations Target Interdiction Committee vs. Course) of their own. They conducted Level II training for their SF operators with their own course to supplement their Level I snipers and prior to sending shooters to the SOTIC course at Ft. Bragg. They even had their own machine room and reloading facility. Not anymore though with the politically correct military, special operations included. It was deemed not career safe by a commander at the time.
The major component differences between the original M25 and the M21 were the scope mount and the steel liner. The barrel at that time, was the same National Match barrel used on the M-21. The scope mount was actually developed by a couple of instructors at the Ft. Bragg based SOTIC. It was intended to replace the mounts used to support both the ART I and ART II scopes. The major difference being the third point of contact over the forward reciever ring. This third point of contact was intended to eliminate flex in the base during shooting. That was determined to be one of the major causes of the base shooting loose. I have photos of the original design work of that base. When one of the instructors left the committee in the early 80s, he took the design to one Mitch Metiko who marketed the design.
The other major design difference in the base was the cam type mounting bolt for the side of the reciever. The mounting hole on the side is located in different positions on different rifles over the years. This slight variation in location induced stress in the standard base that also contributed to zero loss and the thing coming loose under shooting. The base, as everyone knows was intended to allow the use of the L&S M-3 Ultra scope. This is the version prior to the public built Mark IV system. Originally the M-1 Ultra was built first, again with input by SOTIC personnel and people from Leupold and Stevens. The legend is that it was designed on a paper napkin at the NCO Club on Fort Bragg. The M-3 system was made after the M-1.
The steel liner system on the original M25 was merely an interface designed to allow the operator to install and remove the barreled action from the stock for maintenance and not have a zero change. The intent was similar to the result obtained with the H&S Precision stock for the M-24 SWS. There were no lugs on the reciever and the barreled action was held in by the trigger guard. The liner was also intended to replace the sorry "bisonite" bedding compound used by military armorers of the time. That compound was not impervious to chemical cleaning compounds like today's Devcon or Brownell's Steel Bed are.
The early and late models of the M-25 shot extremely well. The various SOTIC cells all pushed the M-25 system as the backup to the M-24 bolt rifle. From SOTIC's earliest days, their training was conducted with in house built bolt action rifles using short actions obtained from the Air Force. Instructors and members of the USAJFKSWCS weapons facility built in house rifles using McMillan barrels (pre-Harris Gunworks), McMillan M40A1 field stocks and their competition prone stock. Optics were all M-3 Ultras. The M-3A was the upgraded version. The difference being that the M-3 scopes had 1 MOA windage adjustments, while the M3A had 1/2 MOA windage adjustments.
The new scope base also allowed the use of AN/PVS-4 night vision sights on a custom built base that interfaced with the base on both the M-24 and the M-25 rifles. Few of these bases were made however, and did not see field issue to the various SF groups. At the time SFOD-D used ARMS custom made mounts to put the AN/PVS-4 on their bolt guns. The SIMRAD was not in use at that time.
The M-25 used no bipod and shooters in the SOTIC course at Ft Bragg used sandbags under their rifles. The Harris bipod of that era was indeed a piece of crap and constantly fell apart. Later as the M-24 was being considered for upgrade to a heavier caliber for special operations (.300 Win Mag or .338/.416) the M-25 was being considered for the backup gun for the observer. Suggested modifications included a standard trigger group vs. the match trigger (since that is a problem with all M-21 and Match M-14s, armorer needed too much of the time). Parker Hale or Harris Bipod (now much better).
The guys at the 10th SFGA also worked with Phil Seeberger of OPSINC, one of the finest suppressor manufacturers in the world. They designed a suppressor for the M-25. The hole in the gas piston was welded up and changed (won't state the dimensions, sorry) so that the rifle functioned correctly using the suppressor. Accuracy further improved and was easily up their with the M-24 (better when the 24 was shooting M118 and the M25 was shooting M852, no surprise there).
Different stocks such as the M2A were mostly out of the unit models that were made by various gun builders. I made 3 M25s using the M2A stock and much preferred that over the standard heavy match McMillan stock. Works great with the saddle cheekpiece. Lastly, my opinion is that the M-25 built correctly, will flatten any SR-25 or AR-10 that is around. Gun for gun, the M-25 design is superior, maybe outdated, but so is the bolt action rifle. The M-25 was designed to fill an initial shortcoming in the M-21, then to augment the sniper team using the M-24, or .50 caliber rifle. Tough gun all around. Hope this provides some interesting reading.
Rick Boucher was there at the time also. Most of this took place prior to my being at SOTIC, but most of the individuals were still there when I was there. Most honorable mention, David Zavitz (late), without a doubt the most mechanical, machine type shooter I have ever seen shoot a rifle. He was a magician. Of course, honors to Rick Boucher, next to Dave was the finest sniper instructor that I had the pleasure of learning from.
USA - Saturday, December 30, 2000 at 14:52:12 (ZULU) (your host address: 220.127.116.11)
Fred - WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING SIZZLE CHEST?
Bravo - Contact the 82nd about the Dick Swan ARMS debacle before you take too much info there. I spent one week on the range with the 82 trying to get their weapons zeroed. The scopes were falling off the weapon due to the mounts breaking. 10th Group and Tom Kapp was having the same problem after only 5 to 10 rounds. That is why the ARMS mount was never used. We had the same problem with the mounts we put on the M21s we were upgrading.
Bill, dc8plumber - The M25 started as a project weapon in 86 and the scope was the Ultra M3 later to become the M3A (Still have several M3 scopes here on SOTIC). The project started at 10th Group with MSG Amelung then NCOIC of 10th Group SOTIC and then SFC Tom Kapp later MSG. It was to be the observer's weapon and support weapon for urban operations. The weapon went through a number of modifications until the whole thing was squashed by GEN Guest. Reason was that he down played the M21. He had just told congress that it was unfixable to get the M24 on line. To now go back and ask to upgrade the weapon system not in his scheme of manuver. The B&L Tactical was never used on the orignal series as the B&L did not come out until later in the game and the Ultra series had been bought and in use. I believe that the Navy version did have the B&L but they started playing after the fact.
Dean - Thank you for the kind words. A couple of things to correct though. The biggest is that the Brookfield mount was not designed by us. Zavitz'z mount is still here and is completely different. You just re-stated Dick Swan's claim of the scope mount being designed by us. He added that we were getting kick backs and is the basis for the JAG and IG investigation in 87-88. This was instigated by Swan to get his mount used on the M25 project even though it failed completely during tests at Devens. He claimed we failed the mount in favor of the Brookfield. Zavitz, Kapp, and myself were tied up in investigations for a while until it became obvious that the complaint had zero merit. I believe all this hit just before you came to SOTIC and is why there is still some confusion on the issue.
An additional advantage to the Brookfield is that the mount permitted use of the iron sights set at "battlefield zero" with the scope still mounted on the weapon.
The Brookfield liner was a major plus for durability of the weapon system. However, while the weapon could be made to be just as accurate as the M24 on the range it still suffered from all auto weapon problems. Once introduced to the field environment the weapon started opening up and the zero shifted. This was from the debris getting into the workings of the weapon and changing how the weapon vibrated and locked up with each cycle of the weapon. There is no known cure and while the weapon may be fine for several shots and several outings the weapon will let Murphy screw you at the worst possible time. We used a planning range of only 500 to 600 meters for the weapon as the backup/spotters weapon. The weapon had a durability problem and that is why we never jumped them in the course rather we had the students jump a 2x4 of correct length. We did this so that a student did not fail due to a weapon going south for the final shot after the jump.
As far as picking between the M25 and the SR or AR I would have to go with the new SRs that are being produced and built. They are holding zero, not jamming, and all are in love with the weapon. Up to that time no SR25 had made it through our course.
Jen - Belated welcome! Get the M3LR, you will be happy and never have a MAJOR problem that can't be settled by the company. The BDC is actually only a collar that tells you when you have enough moa come ups or downs from your zero range to hit your desired target range. There is no "cam" as on the S&B or other "cammed" scopes. The elevation is in minutes of angle or .25 moa is you go with the M1LR. Pesonally I think once you get used to the 1 moa you will find it quite accurate for most shooting requirements, it will get you to within 4 inches at 800 and most can't even begin to shoot that close anyway.
OK guys have a ball and Happy New Year youse guys!
Fayetteville, NC, USA - Saturday, December 30, 2000
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