Tech & Tactics Weapons Guns

Special Operations Command finally found its next-generation personal defense weapon

After five years of searching, U.S. Special Operations Command has settled on Sig Sauer's lightweight PDW.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
The Sig Sauer MCX Rattler, which will be the new personal defense weapon for SOCOM.

After years of searching, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has picked Sig Sauer to provide its next personal defense weapon for U.S. special operations forces.

On Thursday, SOCOM released a notice of intent to award a five-year fixed firm price contract to the firearms manufacturer. The new personal defense weapon of choice for SOF troops? The Sig Sauer MCX “Rattler,” which can be chambered in both .300 Blackout and 5.56mm calibers. 

“After years of continuous market research, USSOCOM HQ has concluded that Sig Sauer is the only vendor that can fulfill USSOCOM’s need for the Commercial PDW requirement. USSOCOM HQ has been researching and reviewing different systems since 2017,” the notice of intent said. “We have meticulously reviewed each system for technical acceptance and whether it fits the commercial definition. Except for Sig Sauer, the vendors did not meet the technical requirements and/or the weapons do not meet the commercial definition.”

The size and cost of the order were not disclosed. 

SOCOM started its hunt for a new personal defense weapon in 2017, hoping to get a new weapon built around the M4 carbine’s receiver, giving SOCOM operators more firepower while still being compact and portable. The command procured 10 Rattlers in 2018 for testing and evaluation, but kept its search going, issuing another search for weapon system designs in 2019. The goal was to find a new PDW with “a highly concealable .300 Blackout upper receiver group (URG) and buttstock kit solution for the M4A1 platform.”

Turns out that, after all of that searching, it was back to the MCX Rattler. SOCOM noted that requirements meant no prototypes or weapons were in limited development, and Sig Sauer’s new weapon fit the bill for rapid fielding.

“The PDW system will allow Operators to have maximum firepower in a concealable weapon,” SOCOM said in the notice. The order will include the guns themselves plus suppressors, magazines and cleaning gear, plus additional parts and training on the new platforms.

It’s worth noting that .300 Blackout round is designed to be quieter than regular ammunition, while still being powerful, and that personal defense weapons are meant to provide more firepower than a pistol while being much more portable and compact than carbines or rifles, making them ideal in close-quarters scenarios.

Sig Sauer has called the MCX Rattler its most “discreet platform,” and the 5.5-inch barrel certainly makes it short. The MCX Rattler is also designed to quickly switch between the types of ammunition.

The pick by SOCOM was another major contract for Sig Sauer, which previously snatched up high-profile (and lucrative) contracts for the Pentagon-wide Modular Handgun System contract and Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon rifle and automatic rifle variants.

It’s unclear when the Sig Rattlers will go into the field with SOCOM operators, or if some of the initial orders are already in use.

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