|This article, M45A Compact Ranged Weapon System, was written by Athena32. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
- "Never shoot twice."
- ―UNSC Army Marksman
The M45A Compact Ranged Weapon System, also known as the M45A Marksman Rifle, was a long range weapon used by the United Nations Space Command during the Swarm War. Designed as a smaller, more manageable alternative to full scale sniper rifles, the M45 essentially bridged the gap between high calibre, long range sniper rifles and smaller calibre, shorter ranged battle rifles. The M45A CRWS was versatile in that it could be used as a dedicated sniper rifle, but also function in a designated marksman role where true battle rifles were unsuitable or unavailable. Effective at mid and long ranges, skilled users could utilise the weapon effectively at shorter ranges too, though the weapon's relative small size allowed for more capable weapons to be carried to this end. The M45A was intended to fulfil a long-range anti-personnel role, and filled the capability void between the lighter 9.5x60mm battle rifles, which did not have the sufficient maximum effective range to be effectively used at ultra long ranges, and larger 12.7x99mm anti-materiel rifles, which lacked the portability of lighter systems. The M45 was used throughout the Swarm War and the Galactic Civil War two decades later.
Designed in the 2660s by Misriah Armouries, the M45A aimed to bridge the gap between battle and sniper rifles, with the ability to substitute both simultaneously on the battlefield. A key requirement of its design was that it was shorter than 90cm, allowing troops other than true snipers to carry the weapon for use in squad-based combat. This led to the adoption of a bullpup layout which, although making the weapon somewhat back-heavy, maximised the length of the barrel, aiding in range and accuracy. The M45A performed better than designated marksman rifles in squad-based combat, being only slightly larger yet having superior range, accuracy and stopping power due to its large 11.4x60mm round. It was also more easily wielded than larger sniper rifles and, although it did not share their extreme range, was perfect for medium long engagements and more suited for combat in urban and CQB environments.
Used in both infantry squads and true sniper units, the M45A was due to serve for approximately 70 years, the advent of the Swarm War in 2733 stayed the weapon's decommissioning as its use as a compact, powerful ranged weapon capable of penetrating the Swarm's natural body armour became apparent. Remaining in use for all 145 years of the war, it was, like a vast number of wartime designs, scheduled for replacement in 2892. However, social and political troubles leading up to the Galactic Civil War (2912-2951) once again kept the M45A Marksman Rifle in service. Following the war the weapon's status is unknown.
The M45A was utilised in a great range of roles. Primarily, it was used as a cross between battle rifles and sniper rifles, bridging the two in terms of size, range and power. Sniper units would often request the M45A for urban combat or other environments where size or weight were issues. Similarly, some squad-based marksman utilised the M45A in lieu of battle rifles, favouring its greater power, range and accuracy. While liked by some users, others preferred the use of fully fledged battle or sniper rifles, this being purely a matter of personal preference. The rifle was heavily used by troops facing the Swarm needing both a sniper and a battle rifle, but having the space to carry neither. The M45A was widely utilised against Swarm forces as its 11mm round was more than sufficient to take down the most heavily armoured infantry forms, either fragmenting and destroying their innards or continuing through to a secondary target, depending on the type of ammunition used. The most common form of ammunition for the M45A was HVS/AP-HE, or High Velocity Shield/Armour Piercing-High Explosive, which could take out a fully shielded and armoured Drone or Reaper in a single shot.
The M45A was by far the most commonly used form of the M45, there also being B, C and D variants. These variants differed in their roles and usage; the M45B was a designated marksman rifle or battle rifle substitute, designed for use at squad level, the C was a heavy machine gun designed for long range engagements, and the D was a long range sniper rifle featuring an extensive barrel. These variants could commonly be seen throughout an infantry company although the most common and most popular was the M45A variant.
The M45A featured semi-automatic, three round burst and fully automatic firing modes. At ultra long ranges, semi-automatic was the most effective mode and three round burst was often unused. While it maintained accuracy in burst mode, it was often overpowered for taking down infantry and usually one round sufficed, with burst mode reserved for larger targets or shorter ranges. Fully automatic mode was rarely used but when done correctly and at close range (between 50 and 300m) could easily cut down multiple enemies with its heavy-hitting, semi self-guiding round.
Utilising a bullpup layout, the magazine and firing mechanism were located to the rear of the weapon behind the thumbhole stock. This maximised the barrel to weapon length ratio and meant the M45A was as accurate as possible. The fire mode selector was located above and between the conventional trigger and magazine well, featuring semi-auto, three round burst and automatic firing modes. Forward of this were a number of rails, one on each side of the weapon and a third on its underside. These could accommodate a wide range of attachments such as flashlights and bipods. On the weapon's upper receiver was a fourth rail, this one used for advanced optical sights and scopes, usually in addition to backup holographic ironsights. The 31 inch barrel protruded a large degree from the weapon, though this could be replaced for shorter barrels in a tradeoff between compactness and range. The weapon's upper receiver also mounted a large cheekrest, which was essential for accurate and comfortable aiming. An extendable stock was fitted onto the M45's rear mechanism housing behind the magazine, and could be retracted or extended to suit an individual's preferences. The magazine release catch was located on the weapon's underside between the buttstock and the magazine; while quite exposed, merely pulling the catch would not release the magazine; this action had to be done along with the user's command to eject the magazine via their neural interface. The M45's ejection port was as standard on the right hand side though this could easily be changed for an individual's preference.
The M45B Designated Marksman Rifle featured a shortened barrel length of 62cm (24 inches), reducing the weapon's overall length to 70cm. It was used more akin to a designated marksman rifle and saw most usage as part of squad-based tactics, with one or two soldiers using an M45B providing accurate support fire without being burdened by a full sized M45. Essentially a battle rifle with a much larger round, the only sniper combat the M45B regularly saw was urban combat against Swarm invaders. Although not as common as battle rifles in use by squad's designated marksmen, it was not uncommon for one soldier to be issued with an M45B to provide a more accurate, more hard-hitting long range ability to the squad.
The M45C Heavy Machine Gun featured a heavy duty reinforced 67cm (26.6 inch) barrel, more powerful recoil dampening and an advanced thermal energy dissipation device. Utilised in lieu of a long range heavy machine gun, it was used with a 30 round drum magazine. Although heavy, it was more capable at longer ranges than Light Machine Guns for laying down covering and suppressing fire. Utilising the fully automatic mode and a rate of fire of 180 rounds per minute, the M45C was utilised mainly with powered armour users, such as those using the M14 Powered Assault Armour. It was less useful than LMGs at shorter ranges where, although lacking a large round, they had higher rates of fire and were less cumbersome. The standard 30-round magazine lasted the M45C a full ten seconds of firing.
The M45D Sniper Rifle System replaced the standard 31 inch barrel with an extended 939mm (37 inch) barrel. The weapon was not designed to be a compact sniper rifle, unlike other variants, but to provide an ultra long range sniper rifle chambered in 11.4x60mm. Existing UNSC snipers of the same scale and barrel length were chambered in other rounds, so the M45D was an attempt to provide a wider range of choice for sniper teams. However, the weapon, designed for compactness, was not easily usable with such a long barrel and it somewhat contradicted itself- a compact sniper rifle with a 37 inch barrel. Although seeing limited usage with those favouring the 11.4mm round, it was heavily outclassed by dedicated long range, higher calibre sniper's weapons.
- "Yes, it's a Sniper Rifle. Yes, It'll down a target in one shot at 3 klicks. No, you don't need powered armour and three APCs to carry it and its ammo."
- ―UNSC Marine
- "I'd take it over a Sniper or a BR any day because it's just so versatile. It does 90% of what a sniper rifle does in half the size, and twice what a battle rifle can do in a slightly larger package."
- ―UNSC Sniper
- "The M45 totally dominates every urban battle it gets used in- just stay away from the 'C' variant. It's just asking to get outmaneuvred, unless you bolt it to a vehicle mount."
- ―Theran Marine
- "Never shoot twice. Your first shot won't miss. Your first shot will make sure your target is dead before it hits the ground."
- ―UNSC Marksman
- "I remember the first kill I got with this thing on Miranda. I gunned for a moving Drone 4 klicks down the road through a howling gale; my first round smacked it right in the face. God's own anti son-of-a-bitch machine right here."
- ―UNSC Soldier