Army Green Berets Brought Out Their Newest Sniper Rifle For A Celebrity Shoot-Off

Army Green Berets first began receiving their new Advanced Sniper Rifles last year and conventional units are now set to get versions of these guns.

byBrett Tingley and Joseph Trevithick|
U.S. Homeland photo


One of Barrett's Mk 22 Mod 0 Advanced Sniper Rifles, the U.S. special operations community's newest sniper rifle, has made one of its first public appearances at a recent Celebrity Tactical Challenge held at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. While most of the official photos from the event show individuals firing Glock pistols and AR-15/M16 pattern carbines in typical configurations used by Army special operations forces, one set of images shows actor Mark Valley firing a Mk 22. The first of these guns only began heading to operational Army Special Forces units last year.

The 2021 Celebrity Tactical Challenge took place at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School's (JFKSWCS) Miller Training Complex on December 16, 2021, but the Army just released photos from it today. Mark Valley, best known for his role on the television show Boston Legal and who also played a C-130 pilot in the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty, a dramatization of the hunt for and ultimate killing of Osama Bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan in 2011, was one of twelve celebrities who took part.

Mark Valley fires a Mk 22 Mod 0 sniper rifle during the 2021 Celebrity Tactical Challenge at Fort Bragg., US Army

The full list of competitors was as follows:

  • Mark Valley, a television and movie actor. 
  • Shawn Johnson, a gymnast who won gold and silver medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
  • Andrew East, a long snapper who played for multiple different NFL teams between 2015 and 2019, and who is married to Johnson.
  • Chuck Wicks, a country music singer, and his wife Kasi.
  • Ryan Bader, a Bellator Mixed Martial Arts champion.
  • Eric Decker, a wide receiver who played in the NFL for multiple teams between 2010 and 2017.
  • Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democratic Party Representative to Congress from Hawaii and a current member of the U.S. Army Reserve.
  • Charles Esten, an actor and country musician best known for his role on the television show Nashville.
  • Shawn Booth, the finalist on the 11th season of the reality show The Bachelorette.
  • Dan Henderson, a mixed martial arts fighter.
  • Jacob Heppner, a top competitor at the CrossFit Games.

Two Army Special Forces soldiers, better known as Green Berets, competed in the shooting challenges, as well. This year’s event was the second annual shoot-off and raised money for the Special Forces Charitable Trust, a charity that supports Green Berets and their families.

Olympic medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson fires an AR-15/M16-type carbine during the 2021 Celebrity Tactical Challenge at Fort Bragg., US Army
Retired NFL player Andrew East fires a Glock pistol during the 2021 Celebrity Tactical Challenge., US Army

The Army released two pictures of Valley, who is also a former U.S. Army first lieutenant who served in Operation Desert Storm as part of the 18th Engineer Brigade, firing the Mk 22. This rifle is a variant of the Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) precision rifle developed specifically for the U.S. special operations community. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) chose this version of the MRAD as the winner of its Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) competition in 2019. 

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The ASR program, which was first announced in 2017, sought to acquire a rifle featuring modular parts that could be easily and rapidly reconfigured to fire either 7.62x51mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, or .338 Norma Magnum ammunition as necessary. Barrett MRAD is a modular design that the company offers for sale to civilian and government customers, in eight different calibers in total, as well as in a host of different configurations. SOCOM's Mk 22s come with Nightforce 7-35×56 scopes and Barrett's own AML 338 suppressors and have various accessory attachment points for additional aiming devices and other accessories, among other features.

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SOCOM's decision to adopt a version of the MRAD came relatively soon after it had fielded another new sniper rifle, known as the Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR). Those rifles, a variant of the Remington Modular Sniper Rifle (MSR) also known as the Mk 21 Mod 0, were designed to fill the same general role as the ASR and could be converted to any of the same three calibers. The MSR had notably beaten out the MRAD in the PSR competition in 2013. 

For reasons that are still not entirely clear, SOCOM subsequently decided to curtail purchases of the Mk 21 Mod 0, and launch the ASR competition. Remington again submitted an MSR-based rifle, but then lost to Barrett's entry.

The Remington MSR., Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Army has since made a similar decision to adopt its own variant of the MRAD to replace its own Remington sniper rifles, from which the MSR was derived and that are designed M2010s. The configuration of the rifles that conventional Army snipers will eventually receive is expected to be slightly different, including using a different scope made by Leupold. The weapons are also confusing being referred to as Mk 22 Precision Sniper Rifles (PSR).

An Army sniper in Afghanistan armed with an M2010 rifle., US Army

The Army confirmed in September 2021 that Mk 22 Mod 0s had begun to enter service with its special operations units and that snipers from the 82nd Airborne Division had been training with those units on these rifles ahead of the arrival of their own guns. The service hopes conventional units will begin receiving the first of their versions of this rifle in February of this year.

Army special operators train with Mk 22s at Fort Bragg., US Army
A member of the 82nd Airborne Division behind the trigger of a Mk 22., US Army

What the reason or reasons were why SOCOM and the U.S. Army have decided to transition away from their Remington sniper rifles to the Barrett Mk 22 pattern, these new guns already look to be seeing increasing use in the special operations community just months after the start of their official fielding. They already appear commonplace enough that they can be turned over to celebrities for casual shooting competitions.

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