Sighting into precision weapons

9/11/2009 By Lance Cpl. Jahn R. Kuiper , Marine Corps Base Quantico

For every time a round is inserted into the chamber, the bolt slides forward and the trigger is squeezed on a sniper rifle or competition rifle, 90 manhours are invested by the Precision Weapon Section Marines to make sure every part works to perfection.

"It’s our job to provide precision craftsmanship to special weapons sent to the fleet," said Gunnery Sgt. Jayson P. Mcmurtrey, the production chief at PWS. "We get our parts from many different manufacturers so we have to custom fit each part. Also, for the Marine shooting teams we customized little things like how light or heavy the trigger pull is on a weapon."

PWS is currently working on making 370 new M40A5 sniper rifles to boost the number of sniper rifles in the fleet to 1,000, which consists mostly of M40A3 sniper rifles.

For the Marines who work long hours to craft these weapons, there is about a year-and-a-half of schooling going into their training.

"You start out as [a weapons repairman], and then if you get noticed by a senior [precision weapons repairman], you get recommended for the schooling here," said Sgt. Jaziel Gallegos, a precision weapons repairman. "During the training you learn how to work all the different machines and you have to do some required projects which get graded.

You have to be able to assemble the parts of a MEU SOC M1911 pistol, M40A5 sniper rifle, M39 EMR rifle. The first time you assemble the weapons with the help of your instructor, the second time with very little help and the third time you do it all on your own. Once you can do it on your own you graduate and become a [precision weapons specialist]."

Marines who are a [precision weapons specialist] are required to have a unique passion and artistry.

"Being a [precision weapons specialist] requires a love of [weapons] and the patience and understanding to work with them," said Mcmurtrey. "Everything concerning why and how they work, as well as why something isn't working are important to learn. Each individual part may be slightly modified and fitted for each weapon system, but not until [the weapons] go to the test facility to fire is it determined whether or not it is going to be a functioning weapon.

"Like an artist has his or her own unique skill set and way of looking at things from different directions, [precision weapons specialist’s] have the same unique qualities concerning how they interpret weapon-build issues and/or malfunctions," said Mcmurtrey. "Also, they do little things to a weapon system that no other mechanic does."

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