Early in the summer of 1969, the US Army, with little fanfare introduced
the new sniper rifle XM-21 into Vietnam. The weapon was
developed by the Limited Warfare Agency of the Army Research Command and
built by Rock Island Arsenal (less than 1500 wooden stock XM-21s were
initially built). With the rifle came a tactics package from the Infantry
School and training from the Army Marksmanship Detachment, Ft Benning, GA.
Building on the experience of its earlier sniper program the Army proceeded
to train and field sniper teams with each Infantry battalion and in some
cases, with each maneuver company in the battalions. The new weapon coupled
with the advanced training and tactics made these sniper teams far superior
to any other snipers in the war zone.
In I CORPS the training site for the Sniper School was established by the
101st Airborne Division and selected soldiers from the 1st BDE 5th Division
were in the first classes. They included soldiers from the 1st BN 61st
Infantry. Awarded the coveted Sniper Patch and Sniper Rating, these men quickly
made their presence known in field.
Additional pictures of snipers in 1/61 are found at
Thumbnails-Vietnam page 5.
The M21 is essentially a modified M14 National Match rifle.
Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO
Capacity: 20 or 5 round detachable box magazine
Weight: 11.25 lbs
Barrel: Match Grade 22 inches
Trigger Pull: 4 1/2 pound match two-stage military trigger
Sight: Leatherwood 3X-9X Adjustable Ranging Telescope
The current US Army Sniper Training Manual FM 23-10 can be viewed
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