B5 Systems

USASOC Envisions Taking SOPMOD Into The 2020s With A New Upper Receiver Group For Its M4A1s

During last week’s NDIA Armaments Conference, United States Army Special Operations Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements (G8), COL Samuel Ashley briefed an upcoming program. The command is interested in fielding a new Upper Reciever Group for its M4A1 SOPMOD carbines.

This isn’t the same program as the current Suppressed UpperReceiver Group (SURG) intended to procure an integrally suppressed upper, which can be still held despite going through a brutal protocol of eight magazines.

The Special Operations Peculiar Modifications or SOPMOD program was begun in the early 1990s to offer specialized weapon modifications and accessories for SOF’s carbines. Paid for by Major Force Program-11 funds, M-4 carbines received rail systems and a toolkit of optics and weapon lights. MFP-11 is USOCOM’s budget authority, while Army SOF get their service common items like M9 pistols, M320 Grenade Launchers and Mk 19 AGLs from the Army via MFP-2.

But before anything else happens with this program, Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane, which has responsibility for the development, procurement and life-cycle management of SOCOM’s small arms fleet, has to publish the results of a Mid-length vs Carbine-length gas study it’s finishing up. That study will inform this URG requirement. Officials won’t say what they expect to find during the study, but quite a bit of headway has been made in the commercial market with mid-length gas systems, particularly when paired with suppressors.

Naturally, this means that these will be direct impingement uppers, unlike the M27 IAR, piston-driven rifles the Marine Corps is considering for expanded fielding. Despite interest from the peanut gallery, there are no plans for SOCOM-wide fielding of the HK416.

Although exact details of the requirement have not been released, USASOC did not develop them in a vacuum.

An ongoing Soldier Enhancement Program initiative, launched in 2014, has been leveraged to inform the requirement. Initially, the Army purchased a small number of AU-MOD 2s from Hodge Defense Systems, Inc which were evaluated by Picatinny as well as USASOC. This was the first time a carbine had been evaluated under SEP. Later in 2016, the Army purchased rifles from other manufacturers which included LMT, Daniel Defense and SIG, amongst others.

COL Ashley said that they see two variants of the URG, a 14.5″ and 10.5″, denoting barrel lengths which replicate their current capability. Of course, the mid-length gas system would only apply to the 14.5″ and not the 10.5″ upper.

One thing we know, this URG program will include the M-LOK attachment system, which is backward compatible with MIL STD 1913 via adapters. Based on the briefing slide, it also looks like USASOC wants to go with the SureFire WarComp, in negative timing mode. The WarComp is compatible with SureFire suppressors and COL Ashley mentioned that the command is quite pleased with the performance of its current suppressors.

While USASOC has interest in several new calibers, none of them are for their carbine. The URG will be in 5.56mm NATO, intended to fire the M855A1 cartridge, which COL Ashley related, USASOC is very satisfied with.

However within SOCOM, there is a Naval Special Warfare driven requirement for a Personal Defense Weapon in .300 Blackout. Additionally, USASOC is conducting a 6.5mm caliber ammunition evaluation for a Intermediate Caliber Sniper Rifle/Carbine as well as Intermediate Caliber Assault Machine Gun. Finally, SOCOM plans to field an Advanced Sniper Rifle in .300 Norma Magnum to be accompanied by a .338NM cartridge which may also see service with a Lightweight Medium Machine Gun, combining the weight of an M240 with the reach of an M2 Machine Gun.

Programs like this not only help ensure that SOCOM’s M-4A1 platform benefits from upgrades from the latest technology, but the Army, and other services, can also adopt this URG, to improve the performance of their carbines. COL Ashley said to look for this requirement to hit the streets in FY18.


73 Responses to “USASOC Envisions Taking SOPMOD Into The 2020s With A New Upper Receiver Group For Its M4A1s”

  1. Ed says:

    I’m confused? I thought the DD RIS II was the SOCOM standard M4A1 issued upper?? NSW just received those in last 2yrs or so and it’s being used as a SDM-R system.

  2. PTMcCain says:

    Not sure how often you hear this, but this is precisely the kind of post that I follow SSD for. Great stuff man, and keep up the good work. Extremely informative!!


  3. JB says:

    This is exactly what everyone wants. They should just issue this to the entire mil and stop all that other nonsense.

    The NSW PDW requirement seems like it would be easy, just roll the LVAW over to that side of the house.

  4. Dick Swan says:

    I have been involved with the AR-15/M16A1-/XM-177/M16A2-m4. etc. starting in late 60’s.
    I have various patents on various aspects of hand guards, sights, etc. etc. etc.
    My point being, there are a lot of us that have knowledge, for which the gov’t should listen to. Would save a lot of time and money!
    My company had the first free float rail system, called the rigid frame. We developed the current dovetail angles and rail thickness. Anyone want to make wages against that info. please let me know.

    • Mike says:

      Don’t forget you also make mounts that break easily, break often, are almost always replaced, and dont return to zero. There’s a reason ARMS isn’t even a factor in today’s world.

      • BillC says:

        Careful, he might also have a Trademark on “Mike” and will sue.

    • SecondGradeMath says:

      Your stuff was so next level I spent tens of thousands of government dollars replacing everything that wasn’t integrated (Lookin’ at you, Elcan) with Larue mounts.

      I actually keep a box of broken ARMS levers in my office as a joke.

      The government listened to you for years, which is why we had to buy mounts twice…once with the equipment, once when they broke and we replaced them.

    • Formeractionguy says:

      Over 4 decades of not getting any-fucking-thing right… you’re like the Hillary Clinton of the firearms industry.

    • Matt says:

      What a joke. If you had any real legal standing to sue why don’t you get off your ass and do it instead of trolling the comments of an SSD post?

    • jbgleason says:

      Hey Dick (and I am not calling you by name),

      Remember that time you grabbed the phone from one of your sales people and started screaming at me because I called to discuss a broken mount of yours? Cause I remember you old dick. I made sure we never made another Card purchase from you guys as long as I had approval authority. Your stuff sucks, you suck and I hope someone sues you just because they can (much like you did to lots of folks trying to improve on your crappy designs).

    • Stefan S. says:

      “There are a lot of us that have knowledge”. If your referring to the late 60’s, It is the late aught-teens by the way. The design is long in the tooth as are you.
      -The First Former Action Guy here.

    • Steak TarTar says:

      Wow Dick apparently you suck

  5. James says:

    I’m not seeing a reference to barrel weight there. Any indication which direction they plan for that, or will it also depend on the Crane testing of the midlength system? A midweight tapered , like the BCM enhanced midweight,would be great if it keeps up with the M4A1 profile.

  6. Kit Badger says:

    What is meant by “negative timing mode” on the WarComp?

    • ChuckMK23 says:

      “Neutral timed Warcomp” = timed to Top Dead Center/12 o’clock is what I interpret it to be…

      • SSD says:


        • Kit Badger says:

          So “negative” would put it 180 degrees? Upside down? To what purpose?

          • GL says:

            The currently-available Warcomp is ported for a right-handed shooter (the holes on the top of the comp are asymmetrical). SureFire has offered muzzle adapters that are “neutrally ported,” wherein the ports on the top are symmetrical.

            • Kit Badger says:

              Ahh, gotcha, thanks for the explanation.

            • Frier Duck says:

              What are the muzzle adapters that are neutrally ported? I’ve been looking at the warcomp but I can’t bring myself to get it being bias to the right.

  7. TexasAggie2005 says:

    Colt’s new CCU comes to mind.

    • Joe says:

      This was the first thing that crossed my mind, that and the KAC SR15 E3.

  8. rob371 says:

    Interested to see what Crane comes up with regarding Mid vs. Carbine. Hopefully the publish the full test data.

  9. Nick M says:

    Out of curiosity what do people mount on those rails at the 3/6/9 right next to the receiver? Only thing I’ve ever seen in that location is sling mounts.

    That said awesome to hear, can’t wait for the trickle down to big Army.

    • charlie says:

      They’re a great place for weapon mounted lights, minimizes the shadow a suppressor would cast.

      • SecondGradeMath says:

        Flashlights by the receiver (rear of the hand guard) in no way, shape, or form reduce shadows from suppressors.

        • charlie says:

          I’m an idiot, I didn’t see the “next to the receiver” part.

    • some other joe says:

      I’m going to guess extra material was needed there for the sling point, so they just went ahead and cut rails into it. Because, why not?

      And, dude, you need somewhere to put the Gucci rail cover with the pirate flag or Team America quote or whatever. 😉

    • Norbis says:

      I’ll be really disappointed if the actual rail has those picatinny sections. I’d say over 90% of the end users would rather see MLok slots at the front 3/6/9. Anything that would go in those spots would suffice with a MLok mounted picatinny section and leave the rest smooth.

  10. Alex says:

    This is definitely a long-overdue upgrade.
    I’m not too keen on the WarComp as I’ve heard rumblings from end users that the design has lead to projectile stability issues that result in a loss of accuracy. I also hope that the barrel profile is taken into account. There are a lot of well-thought out barrels out there that have been able to find a nice middle ground between accuracy, durability for sustained full-auto and light weight.
    I look forward to where this goes and hopefully it will trickle down to big Army later on down the line.

  11. Disco says:

    THIS is what people want. No gay ass pic rails, no pistons, no BS.

    MLOK, 15″ handgusrd, mid length gas, 1-4 optic, and there it is.

    THE rifle for THE people. Take your fruity faggot ass keymod, carbine length, fat black female master sergeants, and UCP with you as you all fall to the wayside.


  12. GMK says:

    Seems as if the SureFire SOCOM-series suppressors are still king of the hill for QD cans.

  13. DangerMouse says:

    What are the chances of the Knights Armament SR16 Mod2 upper receiver being picked for the 14.5″ requirement?

    • SSD says:

      If they submit when the requirement comes out, they’ve got the same chance as anybody else. Except, Taurus. They probably shouldn’t submit,

      • Joshua says:

        Is the requirement going to be a full URG from one manufacturer?

        Or for the parts similar to the current Block II.

        • Joshua says:

          Also SSD, what are the chances this will push the Army to do a RFI/RFP for a M4A1+ 2.0 using the results of the carbine/middy tests.

        • SSD says:

          I believe it will be a full URG. However, we won’t know until the requirement hits the street.

          • Joshua says:

            If they do choose to go a full URG, I see KAC walking away with this one.

            They’ve perfected the Mid length system.

      • Joe says:

        Taurus….that’s the sound that puke makes when you flush it down the john.

  14. JKifer says:

    About fucking time that the mid length gas system is getting govt attention.. tired of being issued over gassed carbine length 14.5’s…

  15. Joshua says:

    Thanks for releasing this SSD.

    It gets frustrating reading comments at times without being able to refute them occasionally.

    Also I cannot wait to see the internet break when the results of the Carbine/Mid-Length results come out.

    Oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth will be amazing.

    • d says:

      What’s your prediction of those results?

      • Joshua says:

        I know mid lengths in 16″ show improvement over a 16″ carbine, however I’m not sure if those advantages carry over to the 14.5″ barrel lengths.

        If it does though, I foresee a 14.5″ Mid Length with a Geissele M-lok rail, and the continued use of the surefire 4 prong flash hider.

        From what I’ve heard the warcomp is not showing a huge amount of difference between the current flash hider.

        Unless SSD is correct, and they do go with a full URG tender, then KAC get’s it.

        • CAP says:

          I really doubt SOCOM would go with any upper that uses a proprietary bolt/barrel extension. Otherwise I hope they don’t overcomplicate this and simply go with a good quality medium weight, tapered profile 14.5 inch barrel, mid-length gas system, and a Geissele 13″ MK8 rail.

          • Joshua says:

            It’s going to come down to a full URG, or a Block II type solution of parts compatible with the current URG.

  16. d says:

    This has been one of the best comment threads on SSD for so many reasons.

  17. Ex11A says:

    And here am I, Joe Reservist, running a BCM mid-length as my personal carbine for the past 6-7 years. USASOC and NSWC-Crane, I am available for consultation for a very reasonable rate of compensation.

  18. Mitchell says:

    SSD, thank you for this great article. Your coverage of the NDIA conference has been particularly inspirational to me. While I’d heard of NDIA in the past, I never knew what it was. Thanks to your articles I started digging deeper. I now have a good understanding, and it’s helped me realize a career calling that I’ve always had but could never quite identify.
    I’m not sure if NSWC Crane is hiring engineers, but I submitted my application yesterday.

  19. Aaron says:

    Just keep in mind the rifle still has to run up at Natick at extreme low temperature without failing.