December 7, 2009: The FBI is buying two 20mm sniper rifles. The U.S. FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is a police organization. Mostly, FBI agents investigate, but they have guns, and they also have special weapons units. The 20mm sniper rifle is a special weapon.
The two MagFed 20mm rifles will cost about $13,000 each. The company that builds this model specializes in customizing each one to whatever the buyer wants. This is apparently what the FBI wants, a very special model, because the FBI said that only this model would do.
The 20mm rifle is intended mainly for destroying equipment at long ranges. Like motor vehicles, or even slow moving, and low flying, aircraft. Or small boats. The 20mm projectile weighs four ounces, and moves at 2,200 feet per second. The operational range of the 20mm round is 1,300 meters. In the hands of an expert shooter, the 20mm round can hit targets over 50 percent farther. The 20mm ammo available as armor-piercing incendiary or high explosive rounds.
The 20mm sniper rifles was developed from similar World War II weapons, which were used for anti-tank work. But those weapons weighed 200 pounds and up. The modern 20mm rifles benefit from advances in recoil suppression technology. You don't risk a broken shoulder firing them. It's also not as difficult as it appears to transport. Most 20mm rifles breaks down into two 25-35 pound loads. Thus a two or three man sniper team can handle it.
For the budget minded, there are single shot 20mm weapons that weighs only about 40 pounds and costs less than $8,000. But you've got to make that first shot count with this weapon.
Users of 20mm sniper rifles include commandos, police and peacekeepers. That's because these weapons are able to disable vehicles or weapons at a distance, and with minimal collateral damage. In Africa, for example, warlords like to equip their gunmen with heavy machine-guns mounted on the backs of pickup trucks. You want to take these down from a distance and, since these trucks are often parked in the midst of civilians, you want to do it without large explosions.