The Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) is equipping infantry, reconnaissance, and special operation units with suppressors for use on the M27, M4, and M4A1 rifles.
Small arms suppressors are designed to reduce a weapon’s noise, flash, and recoil – and they only take seconds to attach and detach. It is the continuation of an effort that the Marines has already begun to suppress its M38 and M4A1 rifles. Many commanders felt that suppressing additional weapons would increase the overall lethality of the infantry.
The idea for equipping additional weapons with suppressors came from a 2016 “Sea Dragon” event, where Marine Corps can experiment with current and emerging technologies and operational concepts. At the event, a battalion employed the suppressors as part of a Marine Corps Warfighting Lab experimentation.
“The positive feedback from that experiment was the primary driving force behind procuring suppressors,” Maj. Mike Brisker, MCSC’s program manager for infantry weapons, said. “We’ve had a few limited user experiments with various units since that time, and all of those events generated positive reviews of the capability.”
David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer, said suppressors can save lives. Gun fights create a chaotic environment with intense noise levels, producing communication problems that can increase confusion. Also, Marines engaged in battle can expose themselves from their firing position. The suppressor reduces their audible and visual signature, making it more difficult for the enemy to ascertain their location.
“I would say the most important thing the suppressor does is allow for better inter-squad, inter-platoon communication,” Tomlinson said. “It allows the operators to communicate laterally up and down the line during a fire fight.”
In addition, the reduced noise also benefits a Marine’s long-term health, Brisker said. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing problems are the most prevalent service-connected disability among American veterans. Tomlinson believes the myriad advantages suppressors provide will benefit the Marine Corps for years to come.
“As I travel and brief units, this capability has generated the most interest—from lance corporals to colonels,” Tomlinson said. “There has been an overwhelming excitement to receiving the suppressors, which we anticipate will serve as an effective capability for the warfighter.”
In 2020, the Marines procured about 6,700 small arms suppressors through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Tailored Logistic Program. Brisker said the goal is to field approximately 30,000 suppressors by fiscal year 2023.