The U.S. Marine Corps is rapidly expanding the use of suppressors in the field to infantry reconnaissance, and special operation units.
Following up on several years of testing and evaluation of the devices, the Marine Corps Systems Command is making history with a sweeping plan to issue tens of thousands of suppressors for use with M27 automatic rifles, as well as M4 and M4A1 carbines.
“We’ve never fielded suppressors at this scale," said Maj. Mike Brisker, MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons' weapons product manager. "This fielding is a big moment for the Marine Corps.”
The Marines first outfitted an entire battalion with suppressors in 2016 with initial exercises proving successful. Within a year, the Corps issued a call to the firearms industry about acquiring as many as 194,000 commercially available suppressors that could work across all of its 5.56mm platforms – enough to equip every Marine. Last year, MCSC awarded Florida-based Knight's Armament Company a contract worth up to $25.6 million for suppressors to be delivered through 2027.
As detailed by the Corps, some 6,700 cans had been delivered through a legacy Pentagon logistics program prior to that award. Another 7,000 followed just after. In all, the goal is to have some 30,000 suppressors on hand by fiscal year 2023. Leaders say the devices can help save lives at all unit levels. They provide tactical advantages and allow Marines to pass on information easier.
“I would say the most important thing the suppressor does is allow for better inter-squad, inter-platoon communication,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer. “It allows the operators to communicate laterally up and down the line during a firefight.”
Further, increased suppressor use can help preserve hearing, both in and out of uniform.
Adam Mehlenbacher, an audiologist who heads up the American Academy of Audiology’s Government Relations Committee, told Guns.com previously that increased use of suppressors by the military could alleviate hearing loss and audiological complications for many service members and their families.
“Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common service-related disabilities,” said Mehlenbacher, an Army veteran who had deployed to Bosnia and Iraq. “They can have an enormous negative impact on communication ability and quality of life.”
Banner image: U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment utilize suppressors while conducting company attacks on range 400 in Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 23, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/LCPL Sarah N. Petrock, 2d MARDIV Combat Camera)