A Defense Department project to optimize the M4A1 carbines used by U.S. Special Operations Command for continuous suppressed use is moving forward.
On Tuesday, firearms maker Sig Sauer announced it had received a $48 million DoD contract to create a suppressed upper receiver group, or SURG, based on its MCX system for the service weapon, which, unlike the standard M4, can shoot fully automatic.
While SOCOM units do use conventional suppressors for their rifles, continuous suppressed shooting presents a number of challenges. Standard suppressors tend to get hot quickly and can be damaged by extended periods of use.
"The DoD began the SURG program to upgrade and optimize military weapons for continuous, suppressed use on the battlefield," Sig said in a Tuesday news release. "The SIG SAUER MCX Rifle System outperformed the competition through the demanding, rigorous, and grueling testing to receive the SURG award. The SIG SAUER suppressor withstood the stringent stress and torture requirements set by DoD for firing specifications, vibration, sound, and temperature requirements to ensure soldier safety."
SOCOM has been developing its requirements for the M4A1 SURG since 2015, the Firearm Blog reports. The SURG upgrades the current M4A1 lower receiver assembly used by SOCOM.
The M4A1 has been in use within SOCOM since 1994, according to the Sig Sauer announcement.
According to the Pentagon's contracting announcement, made late last month, the work to upgrade M4A1s will be conducted largely at Sig headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The project is expected to be completed by July 2023.
The contract award comes as the Marine Corps continues to pursue suppressed firing capability for many of its infantry troops. Grunts who deployed to Norway with suppressors in early 2017 told Military.com the devices, previously reserved for elite units, enabled better battlefield communication and reduced fog-of-war "tunnel vision."
"The requirements set by DoD for the SURG procurement demanded significant improvements in reliability, thermal characteristics, and durability that went well above anything we are currently seeing in the industry," Ron Cohen, Sig's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We worked very hard to develop the MCX SURG System to specifically meet and exceed the DoD requirements. I am extremely proud that our hard work paid off, and endured the stringent and demanding military testing requirements, to ultimately gain the confidence of DoD to support their operations in the field."