History of the Designated Marksman’s Rifle (Video)

Today Karl and I are looking at the history and evolution of the DMR concept. This is the idea of a squad force-multiplier in the form of a rifle with greater precision capability than the standard infantry weapon, but without sacrificing the speed and firepower of that standard weapon. If is differentiated from the modern sniper rifle concept in that the designated marksman stays deployed with an infantry squad, and can be called on to participate in fast-moving, dynamic maneuvers with them. So let’s take a look at some of the major stepping stones in DMR development…

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  1. When I was in the Marines back in the early-1960s it was almost illegal to even whisper the word “Sniper” much less to be one so we were designated as Squad Designated Marksman, Sharpshooter and etc. Often there was a sort of animosity against “snipers” even in our own ranks. Those so designated were issued M-14s with either “Star” or “Double-Star” barrels and other modifications and refinements and a 4X scope. Some had Unertl or other “sporting” scopes added instead but most of our rifles had the full-auto selector and some had bi-pods. All else was straight-issue M-14s. Later we also got Remington M-40s through M-40A1s with variable power optics. But we were still listed as “Designated Shooters,” “Designated Marksmen” or just simply “Squad Sharpshooters.” We were part of a regular combat squad but often were pulled out for alternative assignments and later became part of a “Team” with a Spotter (spotting optics, etc. and an M-14 semi-auto), Gunner (M-14 auto for team defense/protection), “Humper” (spare ammo and other essentials such as M18A1 Claymores) with an M-14 semi-auto and the “Shooter” (Tactical Weapon). On-Site, only the Shooter and Spotter moved forward to the shooting position while the rest protected the flanks. Under usual conditions we were quite often assigned to perimeter protection for our troops/squads/companies and “perimeters” for artillery batteries or other occupied areas such as forward supply areas, etc. But mostly we finally evolved into autonomous “hunter squads” with quite a bit of night work. In my estimation, the best weapon for this job was the M-14 or later the Stoner SR-25 or the M110.

    • Can’t blame you for hating the word “sniper.” Usually there’s a bad connotation to go with it like criminal activity or snobby bad guys…

  2. “Usually there’s a bad connotation to go with it like criminal activity or snobby bad guys…” No, it is not like a “criminal activity” at all. If so, what was the term for standing four feet from an enemy and slamming a bayonet into him and watching him the light in his eyes slowly fade as he died, or slipping up on a sentry and putting a combat knife into his kidney and holding his mouth while he bled out and died? The ONLY thing I refused to do was even mount (put on) a flamethrower and I got court-martialed for it but was absolved at the first hearing. Ever been in a knife fight? Messy thing, that. The bottom line is that there is no good way to kill a fellow human who in all probability does not want to be there any more than you do. But the only question is who is going to get to go home in second class and who rides in the cargo bay. There are no “honorable” wars and there never were. The goal of war is to get out alive while defending your homeland and your people. If you have to die, make it count for something by taking as many enemy combatants with you as you can. And I NEVER terminated any “target” (a.k.a.” Fellow Human Being”) without saying “May God have mercy on him and on me.” Then I pulled the trigger.

    • Sorry about that, Bill. Usually the derided “snipers” are regarded as nonchalant “campers” who don’t bother doing any hard work and just treat fellow humans as target practice with no remorse for killing everyone on the other team (in media opinion anyway). In movies, such individuals are almost always on the bad guy’s team. Good guys are “marksmen,” bad guys are “snipers” (usually the bad guys try to hire the best killers while the good guys are better at overall survival. Good guys don’t need to exterminate the other team.).

    • Mr. Bullock, or Bill if I may….. let me say this: I really appreciate the human side you are showing and the truthfulness with which you present the facts of war. Yes you were and perhaps still are a fighter, but your human side is impeccable. I thank you for you testimony and consider every word of yours to be worth of gold.

      I was one time by default on the other side; not by choice but because it was my duty, as I was told. Had we ever met in combat, it would be the utmost of honour for me.

      Sincerely, Denny

      • Denny: I am most certainly simply “Bill.” Mr. Bullock as my father and he is long gone. In one assignment our team was supposed to set up an ambush for some miscredents and our instructions were to kill them all. I was carrying a Browning 1919A6 Light Machine Gun; this means it had a rifle-like stock and a by-pod attached to the lighter barrel .. no tripod. We set up on an “L” formation at a bend in the trail. When they neared the kill-zone one broke out into the underbrush to take a leak and almost walked over me. He stood there not 15 feet away looking into my eyes. I was prone and laying on my .45 and my Bowie knife so I was toast for sure. He was carrying a Chinese “burp-Gun” but just kept looking at me. Instead of killing me he slung his weapon, finished his business and walked on through our formation. The we went to work. After making sure there were no survivors we pulled out and found him sitting on a log smoking a cigarette with his weapon at his feet. Turned out he was a student at UCLA visiting his family and had been forced into joining in their activities. His wife and 3-year old daughter were back in the village. We “retrieved” his family and killed the rest of the men holding the village and the family was on their way home in four days. I have often wondered how many just like him perished in that land at that time. When I got back we met and visited for a couple days and parted. I hope he and his family did okay in life, but at least they had a chance. Every day after that was a gift to me and it was over a half-century ago. But in another sense it was just yesterday.

    • One’s called the ndm 86 and another the em-352. Not trying to be a know it all, just trying to make it easier to google.

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