Designated marksman rifle

A soldier with a G28 of the German Army

A designated marksman rifle (DMR) is the weapon used by soldiers in the designated marksman (DM) role. The DM's role fills the gap between a regular infantryman and a sniper, typically being deployed at ranges of 250-600 m (273.4-656.17 yards) and DMRs have been developed with this middle ground in mind.

These rifles have to be effective, in terms of accuracy and terminal ballistics, at ranges exceeding those of ordinary assault rifles (250 m or less), and battle rifles, (up to 500 m) but do not require the extended range of a dedicated sniper rifle (typically employed for targets at ranges from 500 m - 2 km).

DMRs, however, often share some basic characteristics with sniper rifles in difference to the weapons carried by others in the DMs unit. DMRs may have an attached telescopic sight, quickly deployed stabilizing bipod to allow optimized accuracy and low-recoil in temporarily fixed situations or an adjustable stock.

They will, though, generally retain semi-automatic firing capability (more rapid than bolt-action sniper rifles) and a larger magazine capacity of 10, 20, or 30 rounds depending on the firearm in question.

Comparison to sniper rifles, battle rifles, and assault rifles

Designated marksman with an SR-25

Most designated marksman rifles are based on an assault rifle that is currently issued by a nation's military, or on a battle rifle that was formerly issued. A battle rifle is a semi-automatic or full-automatic rifle that fires 7.62mm NATO or similar full-power rounds. Classic examples include the M14, FN FAL, AR-10 and Heckler & Koch G3. These rifles were largely replaced by assault rifles firing the 5.56mm NATO cartridge during the 1980s and 1990s.

Some nations have also built rifles that were designed for the designated marksman from the ground up.


All designated marksman rifles will have some type of optical sight with a higher magnification level than the standard issue rifle. For example, the SDM-R issued to the United States Army is fitted with a Trijicon 4× ACOG, while the standard-issue M4 carbine is equipped with an unmagnified Aimpoint CompM2 or CompM4. Sometimes, the sighting system will be the only difference between the standard rifle and the designated marksman rifle, as is the case with the F88S DMR issued to the Australian Army.

Sniper rifles often have even greater magnification than designated marksman rifles, for example, the M110 SASS used by the United States Army, is equipped with a Leupold 3.5-10× variable-power scope. However, some designated marksman rifles, such as the Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle or the USMC Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle are fitted with scopes with similar magnification.


In some cases, the designated marksman rifle will have a longer barrel than the standard issued rifle. However, this is not universally true. In fact, up until recently, the M16A4 rifle was still standard issue throughout the United States Marine Corps. The barrel on the Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle, the current rifle used by the squad designated marksman in the USMC, is only 500 mm (18 inches) long - 50 mm (two inches) shorter than the barrel on the standard rifle. Also, some rifles, such as the F88S Austeyr, have a barrel that is the same length as the standard service rifle. The FD-200 has an accurized barrel, also found on designated marksman rifles.

Most sniper rifles, such as the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare have a barrel with a length of 600 mm (24 inches) or greater. Only the SVD and similar designated marksman rifles have a barrel of this length. The designated marksman rifles based on the M14 have barrels 460-560 mm (18-22 inches) long.


In most cases, a designated marksman rifle will share the caliber and possibly even the ammunition type used by standard issue rifles. DM rifles may be issued with standard ball ammunition, or special match-grade loads, such as 7.62mm NATO 'M118LR' sniper round. Sniper rifles are (almost exclusively) deployed with match grade ammunition in order to take advantage of their full effective range and accuracy potential.

In the U.S. military, designated marksman rifles chambered for 5.56mm NATO have available the 5 g (77 grain) match-grade Mk 262 Mod 0/1 [note 1] cartridge that enhances range to roughly 700 meters.


All designated marksman rifles in use today use a semi-automatic action, with some also being able to fire in full-automatic mode.

Some sniper rifles are semi-automatic, though the vast majority are bolt-action.

Designated marksman rifles in service by nation


  1. In the US Military, 7.62X51mm (.308 rounds) are most commonly used for marksmen, as they are cheaper.

See also


  1. Muir, Tom (1 February 2010). "Land Force: Army's broad fire capabilities key to mission success | ADM Feb 2010". Australian Defence Magazine. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  2. Wellfare, John (2011-04-14). "Shooting for modern combat". Army News (Australia). Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  3. Pratt, Anthony. "COMBAT SHOOTING, A NEW PERSPECTIVE". Australian Army Journal.
  4. "Contract Notice View - CN352591". AusTender. Australian Government. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  5. Hetherington, Andrew (3 February 2011). "Extreme Peril". Army News (Australia). Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  7. "French Assault Rifles".
  8. "H&K 417 CALIBRE 7,62x51mm NATO - Operacional".
  9. Pellumb Nili (26 December 2007). "hk in albania" via YouTube.
  11. "DIMOC - Home Page".
  12. "34. Bercsény László Különleges Műveleti Zászlóalj".
  13. Mashregh News Retrieved 11 May 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. Engelbrecht, Leon. "Fact file: R1 battle rifle". defenceweb. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  17. Engelbrecht, Leon. "R6.2 million for R4". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  18. SIG SG 550#Sights
  20. Kokalis, Peter (2005). "M14 reborn: Crazy Horse and the Romanian Option". Shotgun News. 50 (12): 20–22, 24, 26.
  21. "M39 Enhanced Marksmanship Rifle - US Special Operations - Weapons".
  22. "SRCSGT - 10 - The Marine Corps Systems Command desires to collect information regarding potential rifle scopes to be utilized on Sniper Rifles (M40A3, M107, Mk11, Mk 12, M14 DMR and M39 EMR). - 03-Aug-08 - FBO#2442".
  23. Bryant and Bryant, Weapons of the US Army Rangers. Copyright 2005, Zenith Press.
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