CWO4 Dave Tomlinson, infantry weapons officer at Marine Corps Systems Command, demonstrates the Squad Common Optic attached to the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, Feb. 10, aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. The SCO is an improved optic that improves target acquisition and probability of hit with infantry assault rifles. Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding the system to infantry and infantry-like units this year.
(Photo by U.S. Marine Corps/Matt Gonzales)
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Long known for prowess with a rifle, U.S. Marines just got even deadlier. The Corps began fielding the Squad Common Optic (SCO) recently. The magnified day optic better enables to engage targets from farther distances.

Marines Field Squad Common Optic

Last year, Trijicon won a $64 million contract to produce the 1-8 variable power optic. The Corps began fielding the new SCO in January. The optic includes an illuminated and non-illuminated aim-point. The design improves target acquisition and probability of hit with standard infantry rifles.

The SCO works with the M4 and M4A1 Carbine, along with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. It will supplement the attrition and replacement of the Rifle Combat Optic and Squad Day Optic, according to a Marine Corps release. Those optics previously met the needs for close-combat Marines.

“The Squad Common Optic provides an improved day optic to infantry and infantry-like communities, including reconnaissance units” said Tom Dever, project officer for Combat Optics at Marine Corps Systems Command. “It’s a system that improves situational awareness and decreases engagement times, greatly benefiting Marines.”

SCO Improvements

The SCO enables Marines to identify targets from greater distances. The SCO also delivers variable-power capabilities, where the previous RCO remained fixed-power. The upgrade brings tremendous versatility to combat Marines.

“Having an optic that can reach out to longer distances will ultimately make the Marine a more lethal first-shot shooter,” said Roger Boughton, Lead Engineer, SCO Program, MCSC. “This means they can use less rounds to overwhelm an enemy.”

“It’s all about making an accurate decision,” said Maj. Kyle Padilla, MCSC Optics Team Lead and infantry officer. “The SCO gives squad leaders or individual riflemen more time to make a decision to eliminate that threat if necessary.”

Maj. Kyle Padilla, MCSC’s optics team lead and an infantry officer, said the SCO is agnostic to the round and weapon system, which provides additional flexibility for Marines. This allows for movement to a different host weapon and accommodates the employment of the M855, M855A1 or future ammunition.

The system proves easy to assemble, including a mount requiring no tools. Marines can also move the optic to different host weapons, utilizing any M855, M855A1 or future ammunition.

“If you want to mount it onto the rail of the weapon, you don’t need a wrench to tighten anything,” said Boughton. “You just need your hands.”

The optic moved from program designation to fielding in a mere 16 months, according to a Marine Corps release. It passed a simulated 10,000-round fire exercise along the way. Marines sang praises to the new system upgrade.

“Being able to shoot farther, identify targets at greater ranges and be more accurate will make them more lethal,” said CWO4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer. “Marines have expressed excitement over this capability.”

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