United States special forces are impressed with SIG Sauer’s highly compact MCX Personal Defense Weapon kit or PDW. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) just ordered a small number of M4 conversion kits for testing at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana.
While the solicitation doesn’t call the PDW by its commercial name, it’s clear the military wants to play with SIG’s new Rattler, an updated version of the MCX carbine.
The military is also testing their sole-source contracting system to procure commercial off-the-shelf or COTS products on short notice. In many ways the commercial market moves faster than the government and this is particularly true for small arms development.
“Sample systems are needed quickly to be used in formal combat evaluations,” explains one source. “The current requirement is for 10 kits that will be used in evaluations that will help shape future requirements that are anticipated to be competed in a full and open manner.”
SIG’s Rattler is a great example of how consumer and police products can be a few steps ahead of what the military is using. It features quick-detach sling points, a modular free-floating handguard and a self-adjusting gas system.
The Rattler is a very short-barreled version of the MCX with a skeletonized folding stock. It is compatible with AR-based lower receivers and M4 carbines — it’s a drop-in conversion kit.
The MCX is gas-operated with a combination piston and recoil system. This means the recoil system is completely contained in the upper and it doesn’t need the lower’s buffer assemble at all. Instead, the MCX and the Rattler can use smaller and lighter folding stocks.
What makes it PDW-like is the compact 5.5-inch barrel and short handguard. Combined with the stocks the Rattler squeezes assault rifle capability into a package smaller than many submachine guns.
The military is ordering kits in 300 AAC Blackout along with 5.56 NATO conversion barrels. The MCX is modular, featuring a quick-change barrel system. While 5.56 is a real flame-thrower with barrels this short 300 BLK does fine especially with sub-sonic ammunition.
With the kits SOCOM is ordering compact and full-size suppressors, fixed and telescoping folding stocks and optics and magnifiers. Special forces is ordering ten sets of each along with cases and accessories for the converted rifles.
The document doesn’t specify how much the military is spending on this contract, but with just 10 kits on the line, it won’t be much compared to everything else.
And while this will surely improve the MCX’s standing from a hard-use standpoint, it will also indicate whether or not the military’s more direct purchasing model has a strong future.
The right product at the right price, or cozy contracts? Let us know in the comments!