Designated marksman

From Academic Kids

Designated Marksman (DM for short) is a military role in a U.S. infantry squad. The designated marksman's role is to supply rapid accurate fire for ranges of 100-500 meters. Like snipers, DMs are trained as sharpshooters and capable of accurate fire.



The DM's standard weapon platform is an assault rifle that has been fitted with scopes, bipod, cheek pieces, special sights, and other features which improve the accuracy of the weapon and the ergonomics for the shooter. Often, they are also rechambered in order to enhance the accuracy, leathality, and range of the weapon. Some use stronger cartridges such as SS109 instead of the standard 5.56 mm. Examples of such weapon platforms are the accurized M16A2E3 (unofficially called M16A3), the SVD Dragunov, the Galil Tzalafim and the Tavor sharpshooter. A M14 rifle fitted with scope can also count into this category.

Sometimes the DM uses semi-automatic sniper rifles such as the Barrett M82A1 or the KAC SR-25. The main demands are not very high accuracy (below 1 minute of arc is sufficient) but rapid fire rate and light weight which enable rapid movement.

Difference from snipers

  • Weapons:
  • Ranges:
    • Snipers are mainly employed for ranges of 500-1500 meters.
    • DMs are mainly employed for ranges of 100-500 meters.
  • Mobility and position:
    • Snipers usually take a strategic position and camouflage themselves (with a Ghillie suit). They usually remain prone.
    • DMs are mobile and rapidly change positions. They usually have no more camouflage gear than other infantrymen.

Designated Marksman in the world's armies

Israel Defense Forces (IDF)

After years of suffering a poor reputation in its sniping abilities, the IDF started a sharpshooting revolution in the 1990s. The entire shooting doctrine and teaching lessons were completely rewritten and the snipers were issued the bolt-action M24 SWS instead of the M14 rifle. A major change was the introduction of a new battle profession – the designated marksman (קלע סער, "kala saar" in Hebrew) – intended to improve the accuracy and firepower of an infantry platoon and compromise between the role of a sniper and an assault rifleman. The new designated marksman role has proven to be a great success.

US Marine Corps

As a very mobile unit, USMC platoons need the option of rapid accurate fire for medium to long ranges. Equipped with the semi-automatic but very accurate U.S. Marine Corps Designated Marksman Rifle and/or SAM-R, USMC designated marksmen are deployed mainly on special forces.


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