Last week, we reported that the United States Marine Corps is testing out the M27 full-auto AR from Heckler & Koch as its potential new service rifle. Now it seems the Corps is realizing the advantages of firing guns that don’t cause hearing damage.
It’s been announced that, in another in a series of experiments, units from the 2nd Marine Division will be adding suppressors to every element of an infantry battalion—from M4 carbines to .50-caliber machine guns, according to military.com.
The story says the commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, Maj. Gen. John Love, gave a speech at the Marine Corps Association Ground Dinner this month explaining the plan.
“What we’ve found so far is it revolutionizes the way we fight,” Love told military.com. “It used to be a squad would be dispersed out over maybe 100 yards, so the squad leader couldn’t really communicate with the members at the far end because of all the noise of the weapons. Now they can actually just communicate, and be able to command and control and effectively direct those fires.”
The story says the Lima companies in two other battalions—3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines—now have suppressors on all their rifles, including the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles and that all units are set to deploy in the coming months. Combat engineer platoons that are attached to these units will also carry suppressed firearms, the story says.
Suppressors reduce the noise and muzzle blast of a firearm by slowing the escape of propellant gasses, usually through a series of baffles. Scout snipers and special operations troops have long used suppressors because of their ability to preserve stealth, but on a larger scale the devices help minimize the chaos of battle. The reduced noise also helps troops verbally communicate with each other and over comms devices and improves situational awareness and accuracy, the story says.
“They shoot better because they can focus more, and they get more discipline with their fire,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade in the story.
“The noise of gunfire can create an artificial stimulus that gives the illusion of effectiveness, he said. When it’s taken away, he explained, Marines pay more attention to their shooting and its effect on target.”
“‘They’ve got to get up and look, see what effect they’re having on the enemy because you can’t hear it,’ he said.”
“He added that suppressors were already in common use by near-peer militaries, including those of Russia and China.”
Wade says in the story he is working on suppressing the Marines’ M249 light machine gun and the M240G medium machine gun, using gear from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. The final objective will be suppressing the .50 caliber M2 heavy machine gun.
As the units train with the suppressors, data will be collected and aggregated for the next year and a half by the 2nd Marine Division and the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. Some of the things they will be considering is the fact that firearms with suppressors require additional maintenance and cleaning. They’re also an additional expense. The story says it will cost about $700,000 to outfit an infantry battalion with cans.
But the story says Wade is confident the benefits of suppressors will far outweigh any drawbacks.
“When I show how much overmatch we gain…it will have sold itself,” he said in the story.