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Special Operations Forces Explore ‘Universal’ Pistol Aiming Laser Module

The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, has announced its interest in receiving information from industry “pertaining to Light and/or Laser Modules, accessories, and accompanying holsters for pistols employed by special operations forces (SOF), including but not limited to the M9, M11, MK24, MK25, M1911, Glock 19, Glock 23, and any future pistol with an integral accessory rail.”

Mk 23 Mod 0

A U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) soldier gives a close-quarter drill demonstration during a capabilities exercise. The NSWC is seeking information on pistol light/ laser aiming modules for special operations forces. USASFC(A) photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler

The new announcement further reinforces NSWC Crane Division’s expertise and position surrounding aiming modules. Approximately 20 years ago Crane representatives were involved in what many consider to be groundbreaking laser aiming module activities as part of the United States Special Operations Command Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS) program that was later awarded to a team led by HK and designated as the Mk 23 and Mk 23 Mod 0.

According to the Dec. 3, 2012 “sources sought” announcement, the most recent Crane Division aiming module effort is currently designated as Pistol Light/Laser Module (PLM) “until such time as the government may assign formal nomenclature.”

“The PLM effort is underway to gauge potential interest and assist in requirement development,” the announcement adds.

“The Weapons Accessories (WPNAC)/Special Operations Peculiar Modification Kit (SOPMOD) Program managed at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) is interested in receiving product information from industry in support of the PLM mission area,” it reads, adding that industry responses to the announcement may be submitted in the form of commercial product literature, operating instructions, and/or supplemental technical documentation that define the item and associated hardware.

Preliminary specifications for the PLM include:

  • ability for the module to interface to a MIL-STD 1913 rail and/or to the pistol grip, with any mount adapters and accessories required to interface to the identified pistols be included “as options with the Module and priced accordingly;”
  • lighting options including Visible Light and Visible Laser Pointer (Threshold requirement);
  • Visible Light and Near Infrared (NIR) Laser Pointer (Objective requirement);
  • Visible Light capable of providing situational awareness at distances out to a minimum of 25 meters;
  • the visible laser pointer having an effective range of 25 – 100 meters, ranges identified as “comparable to the existing aiming lasers for pistols;”
  • the ability to adjust Visible Light and Laser(s) to attain boresight alignment;
  • the ability to remotely activate and deactivate Visible Light and Laser(s); and
  • a minimum of one hour of continuous module run time on a single set of batteries.

In addition to the industry response options noted above, the announcement calls for potential sources to “provide any test results on the item if applicable. A technical description of the product, such as physical characteristics, operational features, performance data, photographs, and a rough cost estimate should be included. In addition, describe the pros & cons of designing a single piece module or separate components consisting of rail mounted light module and grip integrated laser(s) module.”

Interested parties are encouraged to submit an initial synopsis or “white paper” prior to Jan. 4, 2013 “to be evaluated prior to the PLM requirements IPT [Integrated Product Team] brief mid-January 2013.

Although not specified in the announcement, the timing indicates that the briefings might coincide with the 2013 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, slated for Las Vegas, Nev. Elements of the special operations community did conduct some announced events in conjunction with the January 2012 “SHOT Show” event.


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-88840">

    The caption for the second photo showing the USARSOC soldier reads in part. “He is using his Mk 23 Mod 0 with laser aiming module.” I know your publication is not responsible for this photo or the caption, but the pistol in the photo is not the Mk 23. It is a Glock 23 or a Glock 19. The light attached to the rail is a little harder to ID in the photo, but it is not the HK unit. Mk 23s are only used by HK product models in 20 yr old photographs. (i.e. the first photo at the top of the page.) No self respecting operator would use that monstrosity of a pistol and laser module. USSOCOM did much better with the approval of the HK45CT, a pistol that actually fits in the human hand, but any Tier 1 shooter who has a choice in the matter is using a Glock. Draw, point, shoot. Works every time. No levers, no buttons, no bulls–t.

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-88876">

    Looking at it again, with that characteristic flat topped slide and also the much smaller light, I think you’re right. Thanks for the catch. I should have enlarged the photo and looked more closely before posting.
    So I take it you’re not a fan of the “MK 23 man-portable weapons system?”

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-88957">

    In the grand scheme of things a pistol does not amount to much. I just laugh everytime I see that thing mentioned in a news story. It’s like trying to hold a brick. Nobody actually uses it.