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The Latest Feature Story
15 May 2019

US Marines Are Looking For A New & Powerful Rifle Optic

By Logan

The US Marines are finally moving forward in their search for a new rifle optic. The idea was previously revealed in 2017 and though initially an RFI (Request for Information) for the Squad Common Optic (SCO) was published in August last year which was for a COTS optics, the new RFI released is for a more powerful one, increasing zoom capabilities from 1-6x to 1-8x but the number of units that will be purchased was reduced to 18,000 and 30,000 from between 18,000 and 194,000.

The RFI that was published on the Federal Business Opportunities website, Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) indicates for requirement industry input to new infantry rifle optic which will allow the Marines to engage targets at close range and up to 600 to 900 meters.

At present the Marine Corps is using the Rifle Combat Optic or the RCO and it is manufactured by Trijicon which actually a ACOG 4x32 Scope designed for the USMC's M16A4 weapon system and has an 800 meter range. Also in use is the Squad Day Optics or SDO that is based on the Trijicon TA11 with 3.5x magnification mounted on the M249 SAWs and M27 IARs, the USMC version of the HK416 rifle.

As for the major components for the SCO, here is the list:

  • The Squad Common Optic should be less than or equal to 2.1 pounds (T), 1.4 pounds (O). Weight is characterized as including the optic, mount, turret caps, and battery.
  • Magnification Range. The Squad Common Optic should have no point of aim shift when adjusting through the entire magnification ranges. The Squad Common Optic should have a magnification range of 1X +0.05X to ≥8X magnification range.
  • Adjustable diopter: The diopter should be adjustable from +2 to –2 diopters.
  • Adjustment Range. For all configurations, at least 15 Milliradian (mrad) (T), and 30 mrad (O) in Elevation and at least 12 mrad in Windage adjustment should be required. There should be hard stops at both ends of Windage and Elevation adjustment and no dead clicks. A dead click is defined as a tactile adjustment click that does not move the reticle.
  • Windage/Elevation Caps. For Squad Common Optic, the Windage and Elevation turret adjustments should be covered with a threaded cap.
  • Field of View. At minimum magnification, possess a minimum field of view of 18 degrees (T), 20 degrees (O). At maximum magnification, possess a minimum field of view of 2.5 degrees (T), 3 degrees (O).
  • Eye Relief. All Squad Common Optic configurations at any magnification should have an eye relief of at least 3.1 inches (T), 3.7 inches (O).
  • Focal Plane. Configurations should be first focal plane and/or second focal plane.
    • All Squad Common Optic reticle configurations should offer Mil-Reticle patterns vice a Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) style of reticle pattern.
    • All Squad Common Optic reticle configurations should offer an illuminated central aiming point no greater than 1.5 minute of angle (MOA) (T) or 0.5 MOA (O) that is visible during daylight conditions.
    • All Squad Common Optic configurations should offer a variety of reticles (i.e., crosshair, German, duplex, Christmas tree, others).
    • All reticles should be level with a cant of ± 1 degree (T) or no discernable cant (O) when installed in its MIL-STD-1913 compatible mount.
    • Reticle should be usable in the event of degraded capability or no power situation.
  • Future Reticles
    • The vendor should allow for future reticle designs and operational needs to be included in the Squad Common Optic: Mil Dot, Milliradian Line, Ballistic, Velocity, and Grid hybrids. Graduated grid should provide a method that supports the ability to use Windage hold offs and Elevation holds and holdovers accurately. There should also be coarse and fine methods to quickly range targets. A method to allow for rapid engagement of moving targets should be provided on the main horizontal.
  • Magnification Change Capability. The Squad Common Optic should incorporate an attachable (T) or integrated (O) field-adjustable magnification change capability that will allow quick magnification changes from minimum to maximum magnification without passing between the eyepiece and rail interface, hitting the host weapon, or interfering with the function of the host weapon.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson

Backup iron sights are also required to go with the SCO so that the Marine still has a target acquisition system to use in case the optic gets knocked out of action due to loss of battery power or damage.

It is seen that procurement of the SCO will start in the last quarter of the year and fielding will start in the second quarter of next year.


Top photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck

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