Special Forces ATV

A reader sends in a couple of great pics of the civilian version of the military’s Polaris ATV. We’ve heard many reports of the military, particularly Special Forces, making use of various ATVs over the past few years.

This is from the April 2004 Polaris press release announcing the contract awarded to supply these handy little vehicles:

The agreement, a result of more than two years of collaborative design work with Special Operations Command (SOCOM), includes the Polaris Sportsman MV (Military Version) model designed specifically for military use. The MV boasts the chassis and engine of a standard Sportsman 700, the most powerful automatic-transmission all-terrain vehicle in the world, but incorporates a number of unique features, making it ideal for military use in all types of terrain. Each Sportsman MV features:

  • Infrared lights for enhanced night vision
  • A roll bar to protect the vehicle
  • Run-flat tires & Keyless ignition
  • A fortified steel exoskeleton & enhanced suspension for greater support, increased protection, and the ability to cover rough terrain.
  • Metal front and back racks that can carry two-times the cargo of a standard all-terrain vehicle
  • Front and back winches capable of towing 2,500 lbs. each
  • Increased fuel capacity for longer range travel

Some of them were dumped out the back of aircraft and parachuted to the ground in Afghanistan. (And other places, I’m sure.) ATV Connection writes

After building a number of these vehicles for SOCOM, a light bulb went off. Why don’t we sell these same vehicles to the public, minus the parachute and roll cage/gun mount?

They’ve also got a great letter from an 82nd soldier who used the Polaris to find a landmine.

The $9699 MSRP of the civilian version is more than Murdoc paid for his car, by the way.


  1. Nice Ride. By the way I would like to recommend the book being advertised here ‘Not a Good Day to Die’ It discusses Operation Anaconda in Afganistan. Special Forces played a large part in it as well as the 101st, Navy Seals and the Air Force. It is a classic study in the difficulty of operating with so many branches, and a confused line of command. In today’s world with Special Forces et all runnin round on these 4 wheelers being supported by regular units, Seals and Air Force, it dramatically demonstrates the need for ‘unity of command’. I hope we learned from this thing.

  2. The info here is a little outdated. Particulary ‘the most powerful automatic-transmission all-terrain vehicle in the world’… That might have been so, but now Polaris makes a Sportsman 800EFI model, which is a 760cc twin-fuel injected engine, as opposed to the 665cc carb engine. Also, the title of ‘Most powerful’ now belongs to the Bombardier Outlander 800. Though the fastest by far, is the Yamaha Grizzly 660

  3. Not to rain on the second poster on here, but as for the POLARIS MV7 – the reason POLARIS choose the 700 for the military is two-fold. The first is that the military did not want EFI for fear of faliure in the field, – the average soldier can fix a carburated machine – the second is that the MV7 also has a recoil start(if the battery fails, the soldier can use the recoil to start the machine). Also, the title of ‘most powerful’ was recently regained by POLARIS during a real world shoot-out hosted by Dirt Wheels Magazine, Dec. 2005. And the reason SOCOM choose POLARIS over all the other manufactures was that POLARIS was the only manufacturer willing to build a machine to SOCOM specs.

  4. This is the kind of think the Army should be buying more of instead of bigger, heavier, slower, gold plated tanks and APVs. What ever happened to enabling our troops faster, more mobile, and able to hit harder? I guess that philosophy gave way to paying contractors as much money as possible.

  5. Tanks are tanks and ATVs are not tanks. An ATV won’t protect you from machine-gun fire (well, not very well, anyway) let alone RPGs, missiles or cannons. Tank armoured but slow, ATV unarmoured but fast. Again, horses for courses. Of course for the cost of one tank you can get about 200 ATVs. But you still need to recruit, train, pay and feed the operators. TANSTAAFL.

  6. I don’t like the way the Army thinks. It’s all slow and heavy. Remember that wing-in-ground effect vehicle the Iranians are working on, that flying boat thing? The wing-in-ground effect principle is not just for water. It works on land too. Why does the Army not include ground effect lift in any of their vehicles? I mean, if you want to avoid land mines it doesn’t matter if your an inch or 10,000 feet off the ground, you still avoid setting them off. Plus, if you’re going 100 mph, you’ve got a lot better chance of avoiding IEDs, and you’re a lot harder to hit with bullets too.

  7. The Soviets built a wing-in-ground-effect plane, but I seem to remember it was not much of a success (I don’t remember them going into production). Perhaps they looked at that, saw it wasn’t too great, and decided not to develop it? It ought to be fairly easy to shoot down a giant plane flying 10 feet off the ground at 100 mph 🙂 I wouldn’t want to fly that thing anywhere near even vaguely contentious territory. One RPG and you’re stuffed.

  8. Wing in ground effect is a tricky subject. Reason why it was never used on land is the change in the terrain – ie. ground is not very flat. The sea whereas holds more potential, but still has major problems when trying to get the aircraft out of the water. (the russian ‘caspian sea monster’ had 8 engines I think just to get it out of the water- compared to the 2 used to fly it). Anyways, there is also the problem of being very weather restricted. Salt water is nasty on jet engines aswell. Anyway, the advantage of ships is that thrust to mass ratio does not have to be very high. ie. there are more problems than are worth even investigating further, especially when talking about a land based version.

  9. Another issue with ground effect is that it’s very difficult to make banked turns; you end up just ‘dumping’ the pressure you’ve built up under your (the ground effect) when you tilt your vehicle. This is OK on water when there’s the real estate to make turns with a mile radius, but it doesnt work so well outside of the Russian Steppe or the Great Plains in the US. Travel over water also implies the use of large ports for loading/unloading. No such facilities exist for loading/unloading these things were they to fly over land primarily.

  10. Race cars are wing-in-ground effect vehicles. They use the ground effect to generate downforce instead of lift. I’m not thinking this vehicle would have to stay in the air all of the time, but maybe something that could switch from generating lift to downforce (for turning) that was quick and hard to hit. Something on the absolute opposite end of the spectrum from what Army vehicles are now. It wouldn’t be good for everything, just good for some things.

  11. Looks like a good way to get shot while ridding an APC around. On the other hand- if your riding this, you really can pick up all the armor option for yourself.

  12. The MV7 has a few pros but mostly cons. The bike is great for work, ok for play on flat land, and many great figures. On the bad side: the 4 plus gal. gas tank and heavy rear rack make the bike horrible for going up hills. The independant rear suspension is great for a smooth ride, but when it causes you to flip backwards on hills that multiple other ATVs go up with ease is a major downfall. How Spec Ops can use this machine for anything other getting a ride to the head is beyond me.