What Is A DMR? (With Examples)

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Modern rifles are available in several types, and understanding them is important. Many rifles are designated for specific uses, and the DMR rifle is one of them. The vast range of rifles available today has led to some confusion regarding this rifle class, so let’s define the DMR once and for all.

The Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) is designed to bridge the gap between standard rifles and sniper rifles. DMRS are semi-automatic rifles effective at close range and accurate up to 875 yards. DMRs have strong optics, bipods, and use standard rifle rounds. DMRs are very versatile firearms.

The DMR is one of the most versatile rifle types ever built. This rifle type is popular among civilians for its versatility, but it is also a staple in the military for its effectiveness in many scenarios.

Let’s take a closer look at the DMR, define what exactly makes a rifle a DMR, and find out what these specialized rifles are good for.

What Is A DMR

What Is A DMR?

There are so many names and designations given to modern rifles that it is often difficult to keep track, and if you have been in the firearm game for any length of time, you have probably heard the designation ‘DMR’ used for some rifles and not others, which leads many to wonder what exactly a DMR is?

DMR stands for Designated Marksman Rifle. This is an important designation that distinguishes DMRs from other rifles and defines some of this rifle type’s important features and characteristics.

The DMR is a military invention that came from necessity in the early years of the Second Persian Gulf War, when soldiers recognized the need for a rifle class that bridged the gap between standard infantry rifles and sniper rifles, particularly for use in urban environments. 

This led to the invention of the Designated Marksman Rifle and the subsequent training that was provided for specialized infantrymen to use these weapons effectively. 

The DMR is a rifle that is designed to be used at longer ranges than standard rifles while being as versatile as possible at close-range as well. These rifles do not possess the range capabilities of sniper rifles, but they are far more versatile and capable than standard infantry rifles.

These rifles are typically automatic or semi-automatic rifles equipped with close-medium range adjustable scopes, high-quality heavy contour barrels, higher capacity magazines than standard rifles, and upgraded trigger mechanisms. 

Every DMR is different, and most civilian DMRs are custom-built by the owner based on their own preferences and requirements, which means that the DRM class has grown to be very wide and covers a broad spectrum of rifles.

Let’s define some of the features of this type of rifle to better identify them and distinguish them from other rifles, and explore the most commonly used calibers that DMRs are chambered in.

Characteristics Of A DMR

The DMR is a versatile and capable rifle that is useful in many situations. This rifle has become a favorite among firearm enthusiasts, those who use rifles for home protection, collectors, and soldiers alike.

Some of the features and characteristics that define Designated Marksman Rifles include:

  • Optics – DMRs feature low to medium range optics that are typically equipped with quick-site capabilities that allow them to switch magnification very quickly. This makes the rifle useful in long-range situations and close combat. DRMs are typically accurate and capable up to 875 yards, but many variations are sited up to around 655 yards, especially civilian versions.
  • Accuracy – DMRs are designed to be as accurate as possible for close and medium-long range shooting while also being stable and accurate during rapid fire. These rifles are as accurate during single-round shooting as they are during rapid-fire, both long and close range.
  • Barrel – DMRs owe much of their accuracy to the barrels used in this rifle class. High contour, high quality, perfectly machined, heavier barrels that improve range and reduce drop. DMR barrels must withstand high volumes and long-range firing without overheating.
  • Magazine – DMRs are typically equipped with high-capacity box magazines. Most rifles are this type are semi-automatic, and some are full-automatic, which necessitates a higher round capacity compared to bolt-action sniper rifles and standard infantry rifles.
  • Trigger – DMRs are always fitted with precision triggers, many of which are two-stage precisions triggers. These triggers provide better stability and accuracy and serve this type of rifle well. DMR precision triggers should have a 3.5 – 6.0lb break.
  • Stabilization – DMRs are typically equipped with stabilization features that aid in long-and close-range situations. Most DMRs are equipped with a bipod of some kind, usually a folding bipod for versatility, as well as an adjustable stock to help make the rifle as versatile and capable as possible.

Typical DMR Calibers

When examining DMRs, the caliber of this rifle class is important to understand. The DMR is designed to be as versatile as possible and was originally deployed for variable urban combat situations. These rifles are built to be used by a marksman who has support from a larger infantry outfit.

This means that Designated Marksman Rifles are meant to use ammunition that is readily available, reliable, simple to use, safe for the marksman, and powerful enough for longer range shots.

With this information in mind, there are only two real caliber options that DMRs are chambered to: 5.56×45 mm and 7.62x51mm NATO cartridges.

These types of ammunition come with some advantages that are useful for the DMR. The 5.56 rounds are lightweight, produce less recoil, cheap, readily available, and chambering a rifle for this ammo allows for a higher magazine capacity.

7.62 NATO rounds are wind resistant, have significant stopping power, have good penetration, and typically prolong the accuracy lifespan of a barrel as well. 

There are other types of ammunition that DMRs can be built to use better quality bullets, and higher calibers will extend the range of the rifle and increase penetration and stopping power, but bullets like this are much more difficult to get hold of, and they are far more expensive, which is why DMR rifles usually use more standard rifle rounds, especially civilian versions of these rifles.

Designated Marksman Rifle Vs. Sniper Rifle

Designated Marksman Rifles are designed to be a middle-ground between standard rifles and sniper rifles, but the range that DMRs are capable of often leads to confusion between sniper rifles and DMRs.

The most significant differences between the DMR and the sniper rifle are range, caliber, stopping power, penetration power, versatility, accuracy, firing rate, and the sites used on the two types of rifles.

Let’s highlight the differences between Designated Marksman Rifles and sniper rifles by directly comparing these two rifle types.

Designated Marksman RifleSniper Rifle
Used by trained marksmanUsed by trained snipers
Typically semi-automaticTypically bolt-action
Accurate up to 875 yardsAccurate well beyond 800 yards (often as far as 2500 yards)
High fire rateSingle-round fire rate
Standard caliber ammunitionHigh caliber ammunition
Low – medium strength scopeMedium – very high strength scope
Very versatileNot versatile
Good for close and medium-long rangeGood for long range only
Good for close quarters combatNot good for close quarters combat
Highly maneuverableCumbersome and not maneuverable

The versatility, power, and effectiveness of DMRs combined with how mean these rifles look may cause some to guess that a rifle of this type is for military use only and is not legal for civilians to own.

However, DMRs are legal for use and ownership by civilians, as many of these rifles are simply modified versions of commonly available rifles.

A DMR is legal for a civilian to own so long as the civilian is compliant with all necessary regulations and laws surrounding the ownership of such a firearm. 

There is nothing illegal about owning a DMR, and these rifles are often used for home defense due to their versatility and stopping power.

Enthusiasts often favor DMRs as well because these guns are ideal for a day at the range. A DMR is good for practicing both long-range and close-range shooting skills and is the ideal weapon for many enthusiasts.

The 14 Best DMRs

There are so many different rifles that can be used as a DMR. The truth is that almost any modern rifle that is not built specifically to be a sniper rifle can be built out to function well as a DMR.

With that being said, soldiers, marksmen, competition shooters, enthusiasts, and riflemen agree that so long as the rifle is capable of firing 5.56, 7.62 NATO, or .308 rounds, has 10x variable magnification optics, bipods, is semi-automatic, and is accurate up to at least 655 yards, the rifle can be equipped with a DMR loadout.

If the rifle does not possess these characteristics, they can usually be added to make the rifle equipped for use as a DMR. 

However, there are some rifles that specialists prefer for use as a DMR, and there are others that are purpose-built for the role of Dedicated Marksman Rifle.

With that in mind, here is a list of the 14 best DMRs available right now:

  • The SCAR 20S 6.5 Creedmoor 
  • The SAGE M39 EMR 
  • The LWRCI R.E.P.R. MKII 
  • The HK417
  • The H&K MR762A1 
  • The DD MK12 5.56/.223
  • The M14
  • The FN SCAR – H
  • The G28
  • The FN MK20 SSR
  • The M110
  • The LM308MWS
  • The M5

There are other rifles that are suitable for this use as well, but few are more well suited to function as a DMR than the weapons on this list. Take the time to try out some various options before you decide on which is the best rifle for you regarding DMR use.


The DMR is a highly versatile weapon designed to fill the gap between standard infantry rifles and sniper rifles. These rifles are effective at close range and in tight combat situations while also being more than capable of accurately hitting targets many hundreds of yards away.

These rifles are solid all-around rifles that are perfect for many applications, which makes them a preferred rifle for the military and for civilian enthusiasts alike. These rifles are capable and effective in almost all situations.

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