What Differentiates a Designated Marksman Rifle from a Sniper Rifle?

The Military Arms Channel, “I see a lot of discussion about which rifles are DMR’s and which ones are Sniper rifles. I don’t agree with many folks out there that you can define them strictly by their accuracy potential.”

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Phil November 20, 2016, 5:32 pm

    Why is everyone in this comment section being so whiney about his choice of words? Seriously, relax. We all know what he means. Also, he’s went ahead and explained the entire problem behind the categorizing protocol they use. Instead of having a huge fit and being mad about a standard categorizing system, he eloquently explained why he didn’t agree with it and gave the viewer some insight to understand and increase their knowledge.

    If people like you commenters actually care about educating a new generation of young shooters, EXPLAIN YOUR POINT. Don’t get mad at them for a system that’s already in place.

  • Lutz March 17, 2015, 7:19 pm

    I’m not sure it really matters whether someone or a weapon is a “sniper vs a designated marksman” but, just to throw a wrench in the whole thing…

    In the video at about 9 minutes in… it says that the definition of a sniper is someone going out and looking for a SPECIFIC target and then leaves. I’m not sure that always works.

    For instance a think a SEAL sniper remains a sniper when providing overwatch for a Marine/Army advance. Do they remain a sniper or become a Designated Marksman?

    I would say that if the operator is moving in combat with a unit they are a designated marksman. If they are holed up on their own (maybe with a small team) they are a sniper. The specific weapon in use only comes into play if it is so specialized that the other would not carry it. ie a bolt action 300 WM or M82 Barrett would not likely be carried by a DM.

    • John P. September 6, 2016, 11:40 am

      I was thinking along the same lines. The difference between “sniper” and “designated marksman” doesn’t hinge on the rifle as much as does on the operator, or application in the field.

  • Russ March 15, 2015, 9:59 pm

    The Operator

  • David W Evans March 11, 2015, 9:06 am

    Well, that’s pretty much it. The weapon is, as the OPERATOR using it! If he is a ‘Sniper’, then the weapon is a Sniper Rifle. If the Soldier is in a Rifle Platoon of a Line Company, then he is a Designated Marksman / Designated Sharpshooter. You DO NOT need all kinds of electronic crap & attachment railing all over your rifle to be a Sniper / Designated Sharpshooter /Designated Marksman. You pretty much just need to KNOW how to shoot! In WW1 the UK used H&H Break Open Single Shots with scopes. In WW 2 the Finnish Sniper with 505 Kills (against Russians) used open sights. He also used a submachine gun when being overrun to take out 200 Russians.

  • Clark March 9, 2015, 1:25 pm

    I can say that my father, who was in the 41st Armored Infantry in WWII, from Africa to the Elbe River, was a sniper asset, meaning, he was one when called upon. In many conversations about service rifles and shooters, Dad said that the Designated Marksman was usually, if not always the best shot in the squad or the Platoon. He said Ranger assets were attached to units to provide pure sniper capability. I was in Viet Nam, and was a Rife Co. Commander, the best shot with M14’s were always called on to do special work. With the then M16, push the switch to full.

  • Aridog March 9, 2015, 11:00 am

    Being an old dude, I still think my old (1969 edition) copy of Dept of the Army TC 23-14 explains sniper rifle and deployment uses very well and in terms most enlisted men and women can understand….since that is who is was written for in the first place. Of course, due to its age it emphasizes the M14, accurized and with a ranging telescopic sight (like the Leatherwood with its cams) otherwise called the M21 rifle. Remington Model 700’s were also employed by some units, but the well tuned M14 was a great rifle for long or short range….and had a 20 round magazine standard.

  • Alex March 9, 2015, 8:58 am

    Too bad there are so many exceptions to your definition as to make it useless. But the idea that the use defines the rifle for the most part is probably more accurate than the accuracy potential. I remember a video of a sniper explaining that he went out in support of a group to keep a street clear. No designated target and no movement he was on a roof top. I know this is a semantic argument so all in good fun,

    • Aridog March 9, 2015, 11:38 am

      The video you saw is correct. The primary role of a sniper is to be an element of a reconnaissance element…the shooting is part of it, but not primary in most instances. For all those who participated in forward recon, in any service element, bless all of your hearts, you saved many lives, often without firing a shot…just by the reporting. You are the definition of the idea of “taking some one else’s back.”

  • LHTwist March 2, 2015, 10:33 pm

    A completely logical discussion.

  • Blaine Nay March 2, 2015, 11:31 am

    Hearing protection, but no safety glasses? Otherwise, great info.

    • Martin March 9, 2015, 10:08 am

      Snipers don’t use eyepro.

      • evlgreg March 9, 2015, 2:35 pm

        Interesting, but we have sold custom Rx eye protection to snipers deployed in Afghanistan, so there are at least some that do wear eye protection. The reality is that most snipers are young and physically fit and don’t need glasses yet.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend