MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, YUMA, Ariz. --
As of Oct. 1, Marines are authorized to perform annual rifle qualification using modular attachments, such as the rifle combat optic scope and vertical foregrips, for score.
Marines qualifying with any of these attachments will no longer be exempt from a new score starting this fiscal year, according to Marine Administrative Message 529/08, released Sept. 19.
Earlier this year, Marines were authorized to use modular attachments when completing annual rifle qualification, but the score wouldn’t replace the previous year’s score, according to MarAdmin 295/08 released May 4.
The RCO, a fixed 4x scope commonly used by deployed Marines, is the only scope authorized for annual qualification, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Vincent Pope, the chief range officer with Training and Education Command in Quantico, Va.
“It’s a good thing,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Allen Young, the station's marksmanship training officer. “Deploying units on the tip of the spear have RCOs and vertical grips attached to their weapons already. This helps get them familiar with these systems they’ll be using in country.”
However, there might be a slight advantage for the Marines using RCOs, said Young.
Evaluation results among groups of sergeants and staff noncommissioned officers from several test sites show that the average of the scores from Marines using the RCO was about five points higher than the average of Marines firing without it.
“The RCO will give a lot of people a better chance,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Saunders, Marine Aircraft Group 13 armorer. “It can be hard to see the target back at the 500-yard line, and this can help people see what they’re shooting at. It magnifies your target.”
The RCO has a simpler, quicker aiming system than open sights, said Pope. When using open sights, the shooter focuses on the tip of the front sight post, keeping the target blurry. With the RCO, almost everything in the scope will be in focus.
The scope is designed for the M-4A1 carbine and M-16A4 rifle for distances up to 800 meters. It allows the operator to keep both eyes open while engaging targets, maintaining maximum situational awareness.
“The Marine Corps has a contract to eventually outfit every Marine with an M-16A4 an RCO,” said Pope. “The Marines that currently have M-16A2s will receive an RCO after they are issued an A4.”
Marines are required to perform rifle qualification with all the attachments they have been issued for their weapons. Marines who desire to qualify with attachments that have not been issued to them must receive authorization from their battalion- or squadron-level commands.