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The Marine Corps is considering suppressing all small arms. Military organizations have historically been slow to adopt new technologies. They’ve were slow to adopt optical sights, which were overwhelmingly adopted by sportsmen long before they become commonly used by ordinary soldiers. In the U.S. that was during the first Gulf War.

Suppressors have been regularly used by sportsmen around the world for decades long before widespread adoption by any military units. The United States has been the exception, due to irrational regulation. But now the Marine Corps is in the process of equipping an entire battalion with suppressed small arms.


In a series of experiments this year, units from 2nd Marine Division will be silencing every element of an infantry battalion — from M4 rifles to .50 caliber machine guns.

The commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, Maj. Gen. John Love, described these plans during a speech to Marines at the Marine Corps Association Ground Dinner this month near Washington, D.C.

The proof-of-concept tests, he said, included Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, which began an Integrated Training Exercise pre-deployment last month at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

“What we’ve found so far is it revolutionizes the way we fight,” Love told “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.”

I’ve often thought there’s little downside to suppressing military small arms. Suppressors are reported to be commonly used in the Chinese and Russian militaries. I believe they are particularly well suited to insurgencies and low level warfare.

The silencers/suppressors or gun mufflers to be installed were first used by the Marine Corps Special Operations Group. SOF operators have long used silenced weapons. The cost is expected to be $700,000 for an infantry battalion. A fully staffed infantry battalion is close to 1,000 people.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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        • While a bit flippantly presented, the concept of using a ‘cherry-bomb’ type of straight-flow glasspack muffler would make a dandy improvised 50 cal. suppressor.

          The sheer mass of the damn thing would soak up a lot of recoil on lightweight guns like the Serbu-Nonesuch singleshot 50 BMG.

          Bi-pod balancing might be funky…

        • Or alternately – If you’ve ever made a silencer for your .50BMG out of an old glass pack and a roll of duct tape, you might be a redneck.

    • Law Enforcement agencies and military/Govt ahencies don’t pay for tax stamps. They file and are approved in 2 weeks

      • It is not that the military or LEO has a two week approval period. The NFA does not apply to the military or LEO.

        SEC. 13. This Act shall not apply to the transfer of firearms (1)
        to the United States Government, any State, Territory, or possession
        of the United States, or to any political subdivision thereof, or to
        the District of Columbia ; (2) to any peace officer or any Federal
        officer designated by regulations of the Commissioner ; (3) to the
        transfer of any firearm which is unserviceable and which is transferred
        as a curiosity or ornament .

        • ” The NFA does not apply to the military or LEO.”

          Now that’s interesting.

          Considering the status of the organized – unorganized militia…

  1. If the HPA is finally adopted, most of the country will be so equipped as well…which would be an unqualified good thing.

  2. One more thing for the average grunt to loose or break. Before anyone starts bitching about that, I carried the 0311 MOS for 4 years. I 3/8.

        • Improvise… Adapt and Overcome…

          Even this Squid knows that…

          Do you think it’s worth the extra overhead. At 700 bucks why not (besides loosing the darn thing). Quick detach type…

      • Yes this. Make the M4/etc a foot longer (but the barrel is the same length) and make it heavier (but not a larger round than 5.56mm). There is no free lunch in the infantry.

        Soldiers Load and the Mobility of a Nation

        • Seriously, kids will ‘lose’ these and eat the NJP just to have a suppressor unless the HPA is passed. Check in every two hours = can’t do much in the way of training, being ‘unfit’ for duty is a huge plus, etc. I’m surprised full auto triggers didn’t go missing from the IARs, especially ECR rifles that were handed out without any real paperwork.

          Yes, I know you can easily machine this stuff out but I’m talking about the 17-22 crowd that has little in the way of brains. Once upon a time in Afghanistan, my team leader tried to shoot a cleaning rod out of his rifle with the blessing of my squad leader. His AFQT was around 27 according to loose papers left in the duty desk and I recall he was 27-28, yet, I was placed under him with a 91, go figure. Whole squad cooked up a whole heap of BS to cover for it, but since I didn’t want any part of it, I was ‘sleeping’.

          Another piece of gear that WILL go missing and everyone will be on their hands and knees looking for it.

          Also, for active USMC, esp grunts, buy an extra mil-spec bolt carrier group and some retaining pins, someone WILL lose something eventually. Seen it happen.

          -retired 0311

    • I was an 0341 with 2/5 Wpns. Co. for 4 years…never lost or broke anything important myself. One dummy forgot his NVGs on a helo once, but they were recovered and returned by the air crew. But with 68 enlisted Marines in my Platoon, that’s the only thing I can remember going missing in 4 years.

  3. With suppressors coming off the NFA this is a *perfect* mesh.

    There will be a (slightly) lower chance of them being stolen from armories when they are available in civilian channels.

    It will be a *huge* boon for gun companies designing and selling integrally-suppressors.

    The gun companies have got be already having their engineers designing fun new toys for the .mil and civilian sectors.

    Now may just be a good time to invest in gun stocks…

    • EDIT – Make that:

      “It will be a *huge* boon for gun companies designing and selling integrally-suppressed rifles, handguns, and probably shotguns.”

  4. The costs of cans for all the guns are nothing compared to the costs of hearing loss claims filed at the VA every year. Obviously this won’t do anything for explosives, but hearing loss is cumulative, so anything helps.

        • EXACTLY! Mass production of suppressors will (hopefully) cause prices to plummet. Widespread use of suppressors will cause claims against the VA to plummet.

          This is as much of a win-win as I think I’ve ever heard of.

      • As they should. Every cent saved by VA on treating hearing loss is one cent that can be used treating something else better.

        • Or the veterans, you know.

          Or are you as skeptical about that happening under the Trump administration as I am?

          I mean, sure… but I’m not that cynical yet.

        • Unless they make a suppressor for the M2 .50BMG, kids will still have hearing loss. I got a feeling that is what really did in my hearing, along with SMAW & other rockets. 6+ 50cals all blasting away at the same time while you stand in line behind them will ruin your hearing in short order.

          ~Arc holds up his hearing aids~

  5. It’s a travesty that suppressors were on the NFA itself. They’re safety devices, not weapons. Imagine, if some bureaucratic nut job at the turn of the 19th to 20th century had decided to ban mufflers because that might spook the horses if they suddenly got to close.

  6. Suppressors get a bad rap. Nonetheless, I began last year adopting suppressors for use across the board. I’ve been keeping a suppressor on my house gun, aG21, both at home and at the range. I eventually started shooting my only 9mm, a PPQ, with a suppressor. I can’t afford more hearing loss: Three years in helicopters and a year around machine-gun fire, artillery shell explosions, and turbine engine whine…took a toll. I use electronic ear pro now for all field shooting of shotguns. I’ll suppress my 30-06 Model 70 next year.

    I do hope the Marine experiment yields change across all forward combat specialties.

    • 8 years of fixing F-18’s, with double hearing protection, at 45 had hearing of a 65 year old. At 55 its getting worst.

  7. There are huge logistical considerations, but if this is acted upon, I wonder if it will eventually have knock on implications for .300 BLK. They could supply primarily supersonic, but have stocks of subsonic on hand for when that’s needed, and all that would be required would be a magazine change.

    • Sounds good in theory except for the noticeable point of impact shift from going to subsonic to supersonic.

      • If it’s consistent and predictable, then it’s something you can train around. If not, that’s a problem.

  8. ‘Bout damn time, I’ve been waiting for the US government to get on board with this ever since I saw footage of frontline Ukrainian troops all armed with suppressed AK 74’s a year ago.

  9. Methinks the .gov sees the writing on the wall. Could The Donald make good on his promise and pass the HPA? For every person that tells me that the gun market is going to crash now that the Republicans are in charge, I just remind them how much money could be made making threaded barrels and suppressors for all those 350 million guns in this country.

    • HPA is virtually certain to pass now. Regardless of what congresscritters actually think about it, there’s massive political points to be scored with their electorate by doing so, and any objections are easy to shoot down.

    • If the HPA lands on his desk he’ll sign it.

      And then a ‘Great Cheer’ will be heard throughout the land by citizens and gun companies chomping on the bit to design, build, sell, and use those cool new toys.

      I’m really looking forward to what good ‘ole American ingenuity will come up with in creative new designs.

      New-era handgun designs will start to resemble Sci-Fi ‘Blasters’…

    • I bought a can in July cause of Hillary. I think I’ll probably buy a couple more for the Don after HPA passes.

  10. I have never been to war. But I have to imagine there is a tactical advantage to being able to verbally communicate. And if the enemy isn’t using suppressors, then it must be a huge advantage if you can hear them shoot but they can’t hear you.

    • Problem is… silencers aren’t silent enough that it would fool the enemy. Action movie silencers, however, are amazing. They must be using subsonic ammo. 🙂

  11. So many keyboard commandos on FB and elsewhere were insisting that this is a bad idea because it will make the bullets lose velocity.

    I guess that is the tradeoff in COD or something?

    • You actually get a slight velocity boost with many suppressors because of the free bore holding some pressure behind the bullet a bit longer.

      Oh, and from everything i’ve heard, using suppressors wouldn’t make it possible to “silently” fight the enemy unless you went subsonic, which would be nuts. However, it DOES make your location much harder to pinpoint and should reduce dust kick up. So you get to communicate easier, reduce your signature, and preserve your hearing to listen for the enemy.

      We’d have to ask the door kickers whether a bit longer rifle is worth being able to hear the haji around the corner instead of ringing.

  12. If this happens they will either have to start cleaning the M4s even more, or come up with cleaner burning ammo.

  13. I have never used a suppressor, so forgive my ignorance, but doesn’t it really throw off the balance of your firearm, particularly with handguns, with all that extra length?

    • The effect on the pistol’s balance depends, naturally, on the pistol and the can you buy. When I suppress my Glock 21 I’m using a fairly long 8 inch suppressor, though it only weighs about 9 oz. The 21 has a heavy slide and the mag holds 13 rounds of 45 ACP. All told, the loaded suppressed 21 probably weighs nearly as much as my unloaded unsuppressed 1911s.

      As for balance, it doesn’t feel odd until the mag is nearly empty. I probably have bad technique. I think of dynamic pistol shooting as something like skeet. I tend to swing the pistol to the target rotating my torso by going onto the toe of the foot in the direction I’m turning to, the heel of the foot I’m turning away from…if that makes sense. It’s H&H shooting school technique. So the can is nothing compared to my 28″ barreled skeet guns.

      When a can feels odd is on a light 9mm pistol, if using a highly effective (i.e. a bit long) can. The pistol is lighter and the ammo is lighter. I suppose I could buy a lighter shorter can for 9mm, but that seems excessive.

  14. Another stupid idea by the military. Abolished the Marie Corps and billions will be saved, while they are at it abolishe 90 % of all the military

    • Yay! That’s a great idea – in fact, its so good why don’t you fly to Iraq and share the blessed news with ISIS, right? I’m sure they’ll immediately lay down their arms and totally NOT try to saw your head off with a steak knife.

      ..really. Please do it.

  15. Some people just can’t hang enough crap on their firearms and soon will need wheels to tote them around! Issue foam earplugs and be done with it.

    • Yeah! Who needs to be able to hear what’s going on around them in a life or death situation anyways?!?

  16. How does this across-the-board adoption of suppressors for small arms square with typical combat usage? A suppressor heats up rather quickly, say ten to twenty rounds and you have to let it cool off for a while.

    • I think you’re onto something. The can heats up, so they’ve got to let the M4 cool down, incidentally conserving ammo. Also, as noted above, running a can tends to foul the chamber and bolt faster, requiring more frequent cleaning. What Marine wants to clean their weapon more often? No Marine!

      The whole concept is to get the Marines to stop consuming/wasting ammo. Aimed shots only. The entire thing is an f’g economy move!

    • I’ve been wondering about the effects in sustained firing. My unit had suppressors for M4s, and we rarely used them out of personal preference. 10 years ago, they heated to fast, built carbon up inside, and spit gases into your face from the gap around the charging handle (fixed with different charging handles). Have they improved enough to handle at least 60 rounds of rapid fire (what we averaged in return fire before everything calmed down into sustained fire)? Just wondering, I didn’t experiment enough with them when I had the chance.

  17. If the service branches wanted to have a weapon where the suppressor couldn’t be pulled off, lost, etc, how about they go to integrally suppressed barrels?

    This would keep the overall barrel length short (which was the point of the M4 in the first place, right? A standard M16 was “too cumbersome” when you were getting in/out of HMMV’s all the time?), make the suppressor very difficult to lose, and harder to have alignment issues in the field from mechanical shocks or damage to the threaded muzzle.

    Make the M4’s barrel 2″ longer, perf the last three inches of the barrel, put a silencer back over the last 9″ of barrel. Done.

  18. I think its a fantastic idea. They could only enhance the marines combat capabilities. The only concern would be those times where a loud, belt fed weapon ripping off could signal an ambush start or instill fear in an enemy but, that can be managed. I am also concerned about the proposed cost. I know for a fact that a very effective silencer doesn’t cost much to make and, can be made at the unit level in the machine shops on base and afloat. I hope the government doesn’t plan to pay what we poor slobs have to pay for one 700 to over a grand per can .

  19. Suppressor design as is would have to change to be really suitable for infantry I would think, particularly as it relates to heat management. Hot cans would result in a lot of guys getting burned (think about why we have put often full length hand guards on military weapons in the first place, versus traditionally commercial firearms). The can would either have to have some way of managing the heat, or otherwise be made integral to the barrel and be fully nested inside a well heat-shielded handguard (to prevent burning and mirage after extended firing sessions).

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