The Army is thinking about adding a submachine gun to its toolkit for select users. In recent years the military and many police and security agencies have been moving away from submachine guns to personal defense weapons, but it’s apparent that the Army feels that there’s still room for subguns.
Common personal defense weapons, or PDWs, are most often rifles or assault rifles cut down to submachine gun size. They usually use rifle or intermediate cartridges which aren’t well-optimized for short barrels.
These PDWs generally produce a lot of muzzle blast and produce a large flash signature without special muzzle devices. Submachine guns just don’t have these problems and tend to weigh less, especially with ammo and magazines in the mix.
Submachine guns are also easier to suppress with smaller, lighter suppressors. The Army knows this and is asking vendors to provide full kits, including suppressors if possible, for all of their contracted packages.
The Army awarded Beretta USA, CMMG, Colt, CZ-USA, Lewis Machine and Tool, PTR Industries, Quarter Circle 10, SIG Sauer, Trident Rifles and Zenith Firearms with fixed price, sole-source contracts for firearms, magazines, special tools if needed, spare parts, any accessories including suppressors, cases, and manuals.
The Army is looking for a Commercial Off-the-Shelf, or COTS guns, for evaluation. This means guns that are already in production and the manufacturers don’t have to re-tool to accommodate the Army’s order.
Specifically, the Army is evaluating the Beretta PMX, the CMMG Ultra PDW, the Colt Modular 9mm, the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1, LMT MARS-L9, PTR 9CS, QC10 5.5 CLT and 5.5 QV5, the SIG MPX, the Brugger & Thomet MP9 and Zenith Z-5RS, Z-5P and Z-5K.
This doesn’t guarantee that the Army will select any of these for service. It’s possible that by the end of their evaluations the Army will stick with current rifles and carbines already in service or go with a different future weapons program.
There are plenty of special forces units that can also benefit from having small, modern submachine guns, especially suppressed SMGs. One of the features the Army is focusing on is concealability, which indicates clandestine operations.
The notice specifically states that the new Sub Compact Weapon, or SCW, needs to be a “highly concealable subcompact weapon system capable of engaging threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage.”
Interestingly, this could bolster the rumors that the military is also considering a new rifle or rifle cartridge for other users. There is a lot of gossip floating around that the Army and other branches of the military are looking for an alternative to 5.56 NATO, at least for some weapons systems.
If the military does adopt a more powerful, potentially heavier cartridge for service in the field, it stands to reason that rear-echelon forces may be better off with compact, lightweight 9mm submachine guns. Armies around the world issue subguns to troops and security teams working away from the frontlines.
Time will tell if this is part of a new small arms doctrine or if the reign of the M4 will continue as the Army’s standard for the bulk of its forces.