The SDM M25 Sniper System is the Chinese clone of the American M25 Sniper System, in the version used in the First Gulf War. An unrefined rifle, nonetheless quite engaging for European sport shooters interested in the history of the origins of modern long-range precision shooting
The Chinese gun industry and the American M-14 rifle go a long way back. According to some sources, Chinese arsenals started to manufacture semi-automatic and select-fire clones of the M-14 battle rifle as early as in the 1960s, after reverse-engineering some models captured by the Việt Cộng during the Vietnam war.
Other sources seem to suggest that the machineries used to manufacture M-14 rifle clones in China would be of Taiwanese origin.
Whatever the truth may be, the M-14 rifle – and most notably for us its semi-automatic civilian-grade variant, the M1A – has long been manufactured for export in the People's Republic of China by the POLY-Technologies group as the "M-14S"; POLY-Tech rifles went out of production decades ago, while a NORINCO version dubbed the M305 is still being manufactured.
Those rifles have been banned from import and sale in the United States by several pieces of legislation passed between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, but the NORINCO M305 is still being marketed to civilians in Canada.
In recent years however, the Asian M-14 knock-offs family saw the arrival of a new member: the M25 Sniper System, manufactured under the S.D.M - Sino Defense Manufacturing brand.
The S.D.M. M25 Sniper System can be easily told apart from the NORINCO and the earlier POLY-Tech versions.
While those were, and are, mostly "Plain Jane" USGI-style products – with only very recently black synthetic stocks and SOCOM-style 18.5" barrels being implemented on some samples sold in Canada – the M25 Sniper System is made to match at least the look and feel of some long-range-shooting oriented, modern M1A platforms manufactured in the United States. It's not a case if it bears the same name of the Sniper-grade M-14 variant developed for U.S. SOCOM forces in the late 1980s.
This said, the S.D.M. M25 Sniper System will not exactly run head-to-head with the most recent F-Class long-range shooting rifles (yeah, we are kidding...), so it's not really meant to be a competition shooting gun.
But if you are looking for a rifle that could dub as a viable entry-level long-range training or leisure tool, then it may just as well be the "preparatory" choice you're looking for while you save up for a better, modern platform to use in real competition.
The S.D.M. M25 Sniper System is a gas-operated, rotating bolt, semi-automatic rifle using a gas impingement tube located just under the barrel. Just like all Chinese-made M-14 rifles, the S.D.M. M25 Sniper System is built around a forged frame manufactured out of hardenable chromoly AISI 8620 low-nickel alloy steel; the bolt and bolt carrier group is machined out of the same steel alloy.
It has to be clear to the user that more often than not, Chinese-made M-14/M1A clones are not compatible with US-made/USGI M-14 or M1A parts. This, because original USGI M-14 rifle receivers were precision-machined out of drop forgings, while today M1As use precision investment castings from “proprietary” Chinese machineries, and this results in different quotas and tolerances. And in fact, on the sample we tested, we had problems in mounting optics on the Picatinny rail provided with the rifle.
The S.D.M. M25 Sniper System rifle is chambered for the original 7.62x51mm caliber, and it will feed reliably with commercial or civilian-grade .308 Winchester loads or with NATO standard loads; it will also accept any M-14 double-stack magazine. 5-rounds or 20-rounds magazines are available through the importer.
The M25 Sniper System also replicates the original controls configuration of the M-14 rifle: the cocking handle and the hold-open release button are located respectively on the right and left side of the receiver; the magazine release catch and the manual safety lever are located in front of the trigger guard – with the safety lever sliding right into it and featuring a loop that allows a keypad to be fitted in to secure the rifle for long-term storage.
The front sight on the S.D.M. M25 Sniper System rifle is a fixed 0.62" National Match ramp protected on both sides, while the rear sight is a Match Grade Aperture, adjustable both in windage (½ MOA) and elevation (1 MOA). The receiver of the M25 Sniper System is also fitted with a factory-installed and adjusted steel mount with MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny attachment points which makes it optics-ready.
The barrel of the S.D.M. M25 Sniper System rifle is a 22-inch long, mid-weight National Match with six right-handed grooves, a 1:11" rifling pitch, and an USGI-style flash hider; all M25 Sniper System rifle barrels are cold-hammer forged and air gauge tested for quality. The top barrel cover is USGI-style, non-railed, and manufactured out of black synthetic material.
All S.D.M. M25 Sniper System semi-automatic rifles are factory-fitted with a black PRO-MAG Archangel AAM1A stock; manufactured entirely in the United States, this is a carbon-fiber reinforced, black polymer copy of the – likewise fully American – machined aluminum J. Allen Enterprises JAE-100 stock system.
Adding less than half a kilogram to the overall weight of the rifle, the Archangel stock eliminates the need for bedding by using the sheer lever force of the rifle's own takedown lever; this is what indeed makes it a drop-in component, allowing the shooter to do without the time-consuming and expensive help of a professional gunsmith for any kind of adjustment.
The Archangel stock confers the S.D.M. M25 Sniper System rifle an appealing, somewhat futuristic design, and includes an ergonomic pistol grip, a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for tactical accessories or bipod located on the lower portion of the handguard, a fully extensible shoulder piece and an adjustable cheek riser.
The stability of the Archangel stock and the solid construction of the Chinese-made M-14/M1A clones make the S.D.M. M25 Sniper System semi-automatic rifle a viable choice for those shooters who want to add an appealing, "Call Of Duty" style long-range rifle to their collection as well as for those who want an instrument that may not be competition-fit by modern standards, but nonetheless viable for learning the basics of long-range shooting in an informal, funny way at the range.
SDM M25 Sniper System - Specifications
S.D.M. - Sino Defense Manufacturing
S.D.M. M25 Sniper System
7.62x51mm NATO / .308 Winchester
Gas-operated, semi-automatic, rotating bolt
National Match trigger group
External manual safety lever
20 rounds in detachable magazine
558 mm / 22"
National Match, mid-weight
6 grooves, RH - 1 pitch in 11"
National Match .062" front sight;
Match Grade Aperture rear sight, adjustable for windage and elevation;
MIL-STD 1913 optics rail
1140 mm / 44.88"
Approx. 4,8 kilograms / 10.5 lbs.
Matte black steel Barrel, frame and bolt carrier; black fiberglass-reinforced polymer stock
1.425 € (suggested retail price in Europe)