This article was originally posted on Thefirearmblog.com
At the 2017 Association of the United States Army annual meeting, Oberndorf gunmaker Heckler & Koch had on display the latest configuration of their CSASS winning rifle, the G28E-based M110A1. The rifle is similar to the M110A1 displayed at the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, but sports a RAL8000 bronze finish (similar to the CSASS prototypes), and folding Troy back up iron sights. The CSASS has also benefited from the latest round of upgrades made to the HK416A5/A7, including a right-side bolt catch and ambidextrous magazine release. Interestingly, compared to the previous CSASS displayed at SHOT, this newest model lacks a forward assist.
Amid much fanfare, the Heckler and Koch G28E rifle was selected to be the US Army’s new M110A1 Compact Semi Automatic Sniper System (CSASS), slated to replace its legacy M110 SASS, produced by Knight’s Armament Company. However, subsequently the program fell into a bit of obscurity, and it seemed that little progress was being made on developing and fielding the weapons. For example, it has been only 9 months since the announcement of the M17 MHS’s selection, and already production M17 handguns are being displayed at trade shows, and the first weapons are expected to be fielded beginning next month. In contrast, the much smaller CSASS program has sort of just plodded along since its selection was announced in April of 2016. Although improved CSASS rifles have been shown off at the various trade shows, the program appears to be in a sort of limbo ever since selection. This doesn’t appear to have anything to do with contractor Heckler & Koch, but rather appears to be the product of US Army hesitation. During this period, Army general officers began pushing for a new program that would upset or incorporate CSASS into a broader scope. This became the Interim Combat Service Rifle Program (ICSR), which was reportedly cancelled in mid-September of this year. CSASS, meanwhile, has apparently been on life support, with no further progress beyond minor tweaks to the rifle’s configuration. Speaking with H&K representatives at AUSA, I got the impression this was accurate. Essentially, H&K have a rifle that is ready to be delivered, but the Army is indecisive. Whether this will change soon (or has already changed) remains to be seen.