As I've often said, "There are few rifles right off the shelf, out of the manufacturer's cardboard box, more accurate than the Remington 700..." Having served in the Armed Forces of the United States, however, I know better than to think Uncle Sam would listen to this former, lowly grunt.

The truth is, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Army were privy to the quality/accuracy of the Rem. 700 well before I was. That said, few will disagree with either party.

The U.S. Army was so enamored with the Rem. 700 that they developed a sniper rifle from it.

And grunts and military police since the Nam have operated the M24 Army Sniper Weapon System with amazing accuracy...and lethality. The M24 is chambered for the .308 Win., but unlike the Marine version, it uses the long action Remington 700, Model 40 designed for full-length and magnum cartridges (i.e., 7.62x51 NATO, .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Rem. Mag, .300 Win. Mag and .338 Lapua).

But back to our subject - the M40 Sniper Rifle - the weapon of choice for USMC snipers.

There are three basic versions of the M40 Marine Sniper Rifle: the M40, vintage 1960s; the M40A1, child of the 1970s; and the contemporary version, the M40A3, circa 2000 and beyond.

Either gun will wallop the tar out of downrange targets - with precision accuracy.

The M40 is built on the Rem. 700 Model 40 Varmint and Target rifle, which has a short action. Variants of the short action are chambered for .308 Win., the 7mm/08 Rem. and the .243 Remington.

Most Vietnam-era M40 rifles had wooden furniture that was prone to warping. The M40A1 and M40A3 versions use fiberglass, one-piece stocks. The early M40 was mated to a respectable Redfield 3 to 9X variable scope that was swapped out in subsequent versions with the Unertl 10X.

The early M40 weighed about 12 pounds; subsequent versions, with all the 'stuff' are heavier.

This bolt-action rifle has a muzzle velocity of 2500 fps or more, depending on the round. Its effective range is about six-tenths of a mile or 1000 meters, and uses a 5-round, detachable box mag.

Both versions, the Army M24 and the USMC M40 are pound for pound two of the best sniper rifles out there. As for the inter-service rivalry between the M24 and the M40, all things equal, there isn't a frog's hair of difference between the guns. That said, I like the long-action M24 simply because it's chambered for the reach-out-and-touch-the-bad-guy's .300 Win. Mag. and hot, new .338 Lapua.

Coming soon to a gun store near you: The Remington 700 Model 40.

If you don't have one, you need to buy one and have it accurized by a good gunsmith.