"These modernization efforts, which focus on improved lethality and mobility, ensure the individual Marine and Marine rifle squad have the most reliable and relevant weapons systems available," said Maj. Anton Semelroth, a spokesman for Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
These will update the weapon to the M2A1 and include quick-changing barrels and fixed headspace and timing. With the current M2, gunners have to use a gauge to set the headspace and timing with every barrel change; if inaccurately set, this can lead to malfunction or even life-threatening failure.
The M2A1 will also have a flash suppressor, reducing muzzle flash by 50 percent, which will lessen night vision goggle blinding during nighttime engagements.
The results of the evaluation will directly lead to developing specific policy for the Corps on painting weapons.
Sound suppressors make it difficult to determine a shooter's location and greatly improve command and control during small unit engagements, especially loud indoor gun battles.
However, they also require additional cleaning, heat up over sustained fire and increase back pressure, which can lead to extra wear or malfunctions for weapons, especially short-barreled rifles.
Finally, the Corps is closely following the Army's development of the Modular Handgun System to replace the 9 mm Berretta M9 pistol, the oldest-serving weapon in the U.S. military.
Over the next year, Marines will participate in an Early Warfighter Acceptance event, which will assess and evaluate various vendors' submissions for the Army MHS.
There has been no decision on whether a MHS would replace the M9 service pistol, but Marine Corps officials have acknowledged that it's likely the Army's selection will be adopted by the other services.