Hard work by American and international companies has produced a great deal of innovative equipment in support of Coalition forces engaged in the Global War on Terror. They have also been doing their part to support domestic LE agencies in securing the homeland and fighting crime. An important part of the process of supplying operators with the very best gear is allowing industry representatives to get face-to-face time with the personnel who use the gear in the field. One great way to do this is through symposia and tradeshows.

Tactical Weapons recently had the opportunity to attend the SPEC OPS EAST 2008 Warfighter Symposium and Expo that was held November 18-20 in Fayetteville, NC. The SPEC OPS expo was put on by the folks of the Lodestar Group and their subsidiary The SPEC OPS expo and the other events sponsored by Lodestar allow defense contractors to form partnerships in a person-to-person environment and interact with military and law enforcement professionals. Operators from all five branches of the U.S. military, as well as personnel from a wide variety of federal, state, and local LE agencies attended the expo. Several foreign special operations unit operators also attended.


A number of well-known, plus lower profile, companies attended the expo to introduce their products. The following is a review across the spectrum, of just a few of the products seen at the show. Snipers that attended the show were not disappointed. Remington Military Products displayed a Marine Corps M40A3 precision bolt-action rifle in their new Modular Sniper Chassis. This chassis system features a folding, adjustable butt stock, adjustable cheek rest, and a user-configurable rail attachment interface. The mil-spec Picatinny-type rails allow any and all types of optics, night vision, thermal imagers and lasers to be quickly attached to the rifle chassis. The pistol grip on the chassis is of the M16 type, which allows the individual shooter to take advantage of the wide variety of aftermarket grips that are available. The chassis also allows for the use of detachable five-or 10-round box magazines. The new Remington chassis will soon be available as standard equipment on new rifles and as an accessory for the M40, M24, and other rifles.


Lone Star Field Products displayed their Spec-Rest bench rest. The rugged Spec-Rest is not just another bench rest but a highly precise traverse-and-elevation platform. Spec-Rest allows shooters to accurately engage moving targets or to make micro elevation and traverse adjustments, for hyper-accurate shots. The Spec-Rest is capable of supporting a huge variety of rifles ranging from a small .22 caliber up to a heavy .50 caliber. The rest platform and tripod of the Spec-Rest come in an easy to transport carrying case, and can be deployed in the field in 45 seconds without tools. The Spec-Rest is in use with a number of elite units around the world and has been tested in combat.


LaRue Tactical displayed one of their newest products called SPOTR. SPOTR stands for Surveillance Platform, Observation and Tactical Reconnaissance. The LaRue SPOTR is a system comprised of a Leupold Mark 4 12-40 x 60 scope with a LaRue tactical roll cage frame installed, a Monfrotto tripod, an adjustable Monfrotto ball-head mount, a cleaning kit, a carrying case, and adapters for mechanical/optical interfaces for a variety of current-issue devices. The SPOTR can be used with the SSMRNS and PVS-14 night vision devices as well as other optical enhancement and thermal-imaging devices. Operators equipped with SPOTR and Insight Technologies RULR (ruggedized ultra-light rangefinder) have the ability to easily and accurately laser-range a human-sized target out to distances in excess of two miles.


In the area of concealment and camouflage, SAAB Barracuda showcased their Signature Concealment Personnel Suit or SCOPES. SCOPES offers snipers and other personnel the technology to remain hidden from observation. SCOPES is produced using SAAB Baracuda’s Ultra Lightweight Camouflage Net materials. Each suit weighs six pounds or less and is water resistant so that it will remain lightweight in wet conditions. For added safety SCOPES materials are fire resistant as well. SCOPES provides signature suppression in the visual, near infrared and thermal infrared spectrums. The suits blend with background environments and reduce detection in any climate. SCOPES has demonstrated the ability to block 80 percent of the thermal energy transmitted by the wearer. SCOPES is available in a variety of camouflage patterns for desert, snow, and woodland use and can be produced to customer specifications.


Another type of camouflage system for vehicles and other items was demonstrated by Military Wraps, Inc. Military Wraps uses high-resolution imagery printed on a mesh material to replicate all manners of environment and terrain. The material can be used to conceal items as small as a handheld radio up to large vehicles such as tanks. Military Wrap technology is also being used to create training ranges that can duplicate various types of backgrounds and building types. These applications can be used on block buildings or shipping containers to make training more realistic.


A wide variety of weapons and small arms were on hand for operators to examine. SIG Sauer is a longtime favorite of the special operations community and displayed a selection of pistols and rifles. Many military personnel got their first hands-on look at the modular P250 pistol in its many calibers and configurations. The P220 Combat TB was also a favorite of many. This hard-hitting .45 AUTO pistol in Flat Dark Earth finish is already in use by elements of U.S. Special Operations Command. SIG 556 rifles with both 16-inch and 10-inch barrels were on display, and word is that fans of this rifle can look forward to a number of newly enhanced variants to be available soon.


LWRC International showcased their M6 Series of patented short-stroke gas piston operated rifles and carbines. Reported advantages of the M6 are cleaner operation, cooler operation, increased reliability and longer life when compared to existing M16/M4 weapons. The compact M6A2-PSD in 6.8 mm was one of the more popular variants being shown. This model features an 8.5 inch barrel and is designed for use by personal security details and in other applications where a compact weapon is needed. The model is typically delivered with a Magpul CTR stock and pistol grip and can be equipped with a wide variety of customer-specified optics and accessories. LWRC has offerings available in various barrel lengths for military, law enforcement and civilian buyers in both semi-automatic and select fire operating systems.


According to Dillon Aero “he who shoots the most, the fastest, wins.” That is an appropriate marketing slogan when it comes to the Dillon Aero M134D Minigun. This awesome 7.62mm caliber weapon offers the ultimate in firepower and is capable of firing at a set rate of 3000 or 4000 rounds per minute. Originally primarily used as an aerial weapon, the M134D Minigun has seen significant use as a land and maritime-based weapon to combat terrorist attacks. For convoy and VIP protection missions, Dillon Aero makes mounts for military tactical vehicles and civilian SUVs.


General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products presented their Mk 47 Mod 0 grenade launcher machine gun and Lightweight .50 caliber Machine Gun (LW50MG). The Mk 47 is in operational service with U.S. Special Operations Command and will gradually replace the Mk 19 Mod 3 in U.S. service. The Mk 47 is 37 pounds lighter than the legacy Mk 19 and is substantially more reliable. The LW50MG represents a new generation of crew-served weapon that offers unparalleled accuracy and mobility, while decreasing the mission weight for soldiers and vehicles. The LW50MG will most likely supersede the long-serving M2HB Browning machine gun.


There was also a variety of high-tech devices designed to increase operator effectiveness and survivability. Sage Technologies demonstrated their Covert Over Barrier Recon Assistant or COBRA-IR. COBRA-IR is a portable thermal imager and low light video system designed for combat soldiers and police tactical officers. COBRA-IR weighs less than two pounds and when in stowed configuration will fit in a uniform-pant cargo pocket. When deployed, the COBRA-IR can be used as a combat periscope, a through-wall probe, or as a handheld viewer. The COBRA-IR is powered by three AA batteries and can be connected to an external power source and to a video recording system for surveillance missions.


Foster-Miller (QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group) demonstrated their small battlefield robots designed for missions such as reconnaissance, explosive ordnance disposal, and armed direct action engagements. The lightweight man-portable Dragon Runner model weighs just 14 pounds and the backpack configured Operator Control Unit weighs just 7 pounds. Dragon Runner can be equipped with an electro-optical video sensor module or an articulating arm and wrist module for counter IED tasks. Performing visual inspections of caves and building interiors is also a common use for Dragon Runner.


For combat survival and rescue situations Boeing has produced the AN/PRQ-7 Combat Survivor Evader Locator (CSEL) handheld radio. The CSEL radio is a multifunction device that allows personnel to securely transmit position and text messages through the CSEL UHF Satellite Communication System. The radio has an integrated GPS receiver, locater beacon, and a VHF/UHF voice transceiver. When activated by an operator the CSEL radio can automatically transmit their exact GPS location and identification information to combat rescue forces. Enemy positions and strength as well as other vital information can also be exchanged with text messaging to reduce the risk to the survivor and recovery forces.


Other crucial individual equipment items for combat and survival situations were also on hand at SPEC OPS East. Benchmade Knife Company had a wide range of their knives and tools available for inspection. Knives produced by Benchmade were obviously held in high regard by U.S. Special Operations personnel in attendance. Benchmade considers design, mechanism, quality, and materials when it makes knives and the results speak for themselves. The Infidel model double action out-the-front automatic designed by Bill McHenry was very popular as was a prototype 154 CM. The 154 CM is an automatic model with enhanced and refined features which will be going on sale soon.


Availability of safe drinking water is obviously of great importance to operators in the field. HTI Special Operations Equipment offers the LIFESAVER bottle. The LIFESAVER bottle is an all in one ultra filtration water bottle. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and other waterborne pathogens are removed without using chemicals. Depending on the exact model of filter cartridge used the LIFESAVER bottle can filter either 4000 or 6000 liters of water before requiring replacement. LIFESAVER bottles also feature failsafe technology that automatically shuts off the filter cartridge at the end of its useful life.


SteriPEN handheld UV water purifiers made by Hydro-Photon, Inc. are an innovative high tech product that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to treat unsafe drinking water. UV light destroys the DNA of waterborne viruses, bacteria and protozoa. With the DNA destroyed, the pathogens are unable to reproduce and cause infection. SteriPEN handheld purifiers come in various easy to use models configured for campers, travelers, and military users.


To protect the operator from nuclear, biological, and chemical threats Avon Protection Systems is currently fielding the M53 Protective Mask to all the service elements of U.S. Special Operations Command. The M53 is also now the standard protective mask of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and other elite units. The M50 Infantry and M51 Combat Vehicle Crewman models will soon be in widespread issue across the U.S. Armed Forces. A civilian model, the C50, is available to public safety customers.


Individual load carrying equipment and clothing was also featured. MSA Paraclete displayed their range of releasable modular vests and MOLLE compatible accessories.


Eagle Industries profiled their full range of gear with emphasis on airborne and special operations specific items.


Mystery Ranch had their line of high-end packs on display including their three-Day Assault Ruck that has become a popular choice with U.S. Army Special Forces.


The family of fire retardant Combat Assault and Tactical Assault Gloves from Wiley X also received much interest. Watch for more in-depth coverage of these items in future issues of Tactical Weapons. For more information on future Lodestar Group programs check out their website at

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