SureFire, known for making high-end illumination and tactical tools, has been awarded the largest suppressor contract in military history. The $23.3 million contract, awarded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Crane Division, is for an indefinite quantity of sound suppressors, suppressor adapters, blank-firing adapters and training adapters. The Naval Surface Warfare Center is the primary solicitation center for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

Going back in time, SureFire started its suppressor division in 2002. “SureFire’s revolutionary suppressor technology has continued to evolve,” Barry Dueck, director of SureFire’s suppressor division, said. “Our SOCOM series of suppressors introduces advanced features—front plate and improved gas flow dynamics—that virtually eliminate first-round muzzle flash to unprecedented levels. SureFire has spared no effort in its research and development efforts because our people know that the peacekeepers and warfighters who keep us safe—both at home and overseas—deserve nothing less.”

Passing The Torture

The Family of Muzzle Brake Suppressors (FMBS) solicitation was the most comprehensive modern suppressor evaluation conducted by the U.S. military to date. It focused on criteria that subjected suppressor systems to prolonged testing on a variety of firearms platforms. SureFire suppressors were chosen based on test criteria such as reliability, sound reduction, accuracy, point of impact (POI) shift, endurance/durability and operational suitability. While these requirements reflect the suppression needs for firearms including the MK13 sniper rifle, the U.S. Marine Corps is already employing SureFire’s FA762SS suppressor system on every M40A5 sniper rifle.

“From day one, SureFire’s commitment has been to increase the safety and success of the warfighter and peacekeeper by developing products that exceed the standards for performance and quality,” Dueck added. “Our suppressors are no exception. We build these to enhance the operational capabilities of our customers, knowing that their lives often depend on their equipment, and we’re very pleased that USSOCOM will now have multiple models available to improve their operational effectiveness.”

Signature & Shift

In 2001, the U.S. Department of Defense used the term “signature reduction” as a working concept mandated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to focus on reducing the environmental sound, flash and dust signatures produced by a firearm. So when SureFire launched its suppressor division in 2002, the company focused on the Total Signature Reduction (TSR) of a suppressed firearm. TSR not only addresses the environmental signatures, but other key performance attributes such as POI shift and repeatability, which historically were deprioritized in favor of sound reduction. SureFire became the first manufacturer to address POI shift as a primary concern and did so without degrading attributes like sound reduction and accuracy.

Most suppressors cause a shift in a weapon’s POI when attached or detached, requiring the operator to re-zero the weapon every time. With a SureFire suppressor, the Fast-Attach mechanism locks the suppressor onto the firearm in the same position every time, producing a negligible, repeatable POI shift, if any occurs at all. And SureFire suppressors are as durable as the barrels they’re mounted on, making full-time suppressor use not only preferable but practical.

SureFire’s TSR program is driven by a simple yet powerful concept: In combat, soldiers are both safer and deadlier when their presence and location are unknown to the enemy. The less the signature, the more quickly, safely and easily an operator can approach, strike unexpectedly and change position. The concept is specifically mentioned in the Joint Chiefs of Staff publication titled Joint Vision 2010: “Advances in low-observable technologies and the ability to mask friendly forces will also continue over the next 15 years. Signature reduction will enhance the ability to engage adversaries anywhere in the battle space and improve the survivability of forces who employ it.”

Killing Flash & Report

Arguably, the most important area of signature reduction concerns a warfighter’s rifle. When fired, it produces two strong signatures that can be easily detected at great distances—muzzle flash and muzzle report. It also produces secondary signatures visible at significant distances—raised dust and debris and/or foliage movement from muzzle blast. Sound suppressors mitigate all of these, with an exception: Most suppressors do not eliminate first-round flash. SureFire’s new SOCOM Series sound suppressors utilize front plate and improved gas flow dynamics that have virtually eliminated first-round flash—a technological breakthrough in this area.

Sound suppressors also provide four additional benefits unrelated to signature detection by the enemy. The reduced sound levels protect the shooter and his team members against both temporary and permanent hearing loss; reduced muzzle flash preserves the shooter’s dark-adapted vision; attenuated muzzle gas blast minimizes raised dust, keeping the shooter’s view unobstructed; and attenuated recoil allows for bullet impact observation and faster follow-up shots.

The 5.56 Can

The SureFire SOCOM556-RC Fast-Attach suppressor is one of the most advanced 5.56mm rifle suppressors ever made. Constructed of advanced high-temperature alloys and stainless steel, the SOCOM556-RC features advanced internal venting to reduce backpressure, reducing the suppressed cyclic rate and gas blowback on the operator. The new design also includes an integrated blast shield in the back section that increases durability. It also attenuates noise and dust signatures to an unprecedented degree. A new indexing system means this suppressor securely mounts to a SureFire muzzle brake or flash suppressor even more solidly than the company’s previous models, and it’s easier to remove after extended firing since the index tab is in a low carbon buildup area.

The .30 Can

SureFire’s SOCOM762-RC Fast-Attach suppressor represents a breakthrough for attenuating the signature of 7.62mm NATO rifles, including those chambered for high-intensity magnum calibers. The rigorous USSOCOM testing addressed all aspects of suppressor performance, and SureFire came out on top. The SOCOM762-RC also received the USSOCOM official safety verification in support of fielding. Constructed of advanced high-temperature alloys and stainless steel, it features advanced gas flow dynamics that reduce backpressure, thereby reducing the suppressed cyclic rate and gas blowback on the operator when used on auto-cycling weapons.

Like in the 5.56mm model, the new indexing system allows this suppressor to mount very rapidly and securely to a SureFire muzzle brake or flash suppressor, and it’s easier to remove even after extended firing. Like all SureFire Fast-Attach models, the SOCOM762-RC also produces minimal, consistent shifts in point of impact compared with an unsuppressed weapon.

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