Off-road vehicles are inherently suited for military use as getting over and through tough terrain is often part of the job.
That likely doesn’t surprise you, though it might interest you to know that your favorite recreational brands also build vehicles for the military, such as Polaris and Can-Am. John Deere also makes some military versions of its vehicles, along with Kawasaki.
Keep reading below to find out more about these battle-ready machines from each brand.
Looking at Canadian-based Can-Am, this company doesn’t manufacturer military versions itself, but it has two official upfitters that it works with to prepare its side-by-sides for combat and plenty of other scenarios as well. RP Advanced Mobile Systems (RPAMS) and ATVCorp both specialize in outfitting Can-Am side-by-sides for military use.
RPAMS outifts the Commander, Maverick X3 and the Defender depending on your needs. In total, nine different vehicles are offered, from the Strike-X Tactical Unit based on the Maverick to the Arctic Emergency Response Unit.
Armor protection is the one common upgrade on all of these vehicles, though each has a unique set of attributes. On the Strike-X, a high-capacity, multi-modal tactical payload flatbed has been added to help move cargo while all of the added protection is coated in RP super grit coating.
There’s also the Firestrike 6×6, a side-by-side built for fighting fires that includes run-flat tires, 6-wheel drive, an 85-gallon water tank with high-pressure pump and a 50-foot hose.
Over at ATVCorp, the company builds the Prowler lineup, using both Can-Am Commanders and Mavericks. Payload capacity is a big deal on these machines, and most of them have nearly a 1:1 weight to payload ratio.
Our friends at Polaris have an entire lineup that is made for the military, ranging from small to large.
For the single rider, the brand will sell you the MV 850, ready to take 850 pounds of payload from one place to another. Polaris fits the MV850 with full skid plates underneath, a 3,000-lb Warn winch, keyless ignition and more.
Moving up, you have the MRZR, a tactical vehicle based on the RZR that can be had in both two- and four-seat configurations. Its upgraded suspension means that the MRZR-2 can handle up to 1000 pounds of payload. Available with either a gasoline or diesel engine, the MRZR-2 can also be a mobile generator thanks to an alternator that makes 107 amps at 3700 rpm with the diesel engine.
Transporting these vehicles is also important, which is why the MRZR-2 has specially built aircraft tie-down points and is approved to be moved by a V-22, H-53 or H-47. These vehicles can also be transported underneath a helicopter and dropped into combat thanks to their lightweight design.
Moving up, Polaris also builds the Dagor A1, a troop transport capable of handling nine soldiers with full kits and weapons. Payload is rated at 4,000 pounds for the A1 while gross vehicle weight comes in at 8,500 pounds.
Despite its heavy weigh, the A1 still maintains air-drop, sling-load and internal transport capabilities on CH47 and CH53 helicopters.
Power for the Dagor A1 comes from a turbodiesel engine, though Polaris doesn’t list its specifics besides saying that range is 500 miles and a 24v auxiliary power terminal is also operated off the engine.
Our friends over a John Deere also sell a military vehicle, the M-Gator A1. Power for this utility machine comes from a 20.8-horsepower three-cylinder diesel engine. Out back, the A1 has a 10-gauge steel bed designed to carry 1000-pounds of payload, while the entire machine can handle 1650 pounds of gear. Reconfigurable bed walls mean that there are a number of different ways to use the bed on this machine.
The frame is reinforced to prepare for air drops, while tie down points are fitted and reinforced for tying the vehicle into a transport plane and tying payload to the vehicle.
There’s also the M-Gator A3-T a smaller option with a full cab enclosure capable of handling 1400 pounds of payload.
The Nikola NZT is looking to reinvent the world of side-by-sides with its all-electric powertrain and the company has already devised a military version that’s ready to serve. The Nikola Reckless packs 590 horsepower, 775 lb-ft of torque and a range of up to 150 miles. With a DC Fast Charger, the Reckless can regain up to 80 percent of its battery life in two hours.
Thanks to lack of internal combustion, air is not needed for the Reckless to operate, allowing it to have an IP67 rating, meaning the machine can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes with no harm done.
Payload capacity for the Reckless is rated at 1,260 lbs and it can seat four passengers.
There are plenty of smaller brands in on the military vehicle business as well, on of which is BC Customs. The SXV is the brand’s side-by-side equivalent vehicle, though it is certainly a bit larger. It also has a modular weapons mounting system on the roof, capable of housing a gattling gun, rocket launch and more.
While the exact engine specs are unknown, BC Customs does offer both gas and diesel versions and some pretty heavy duty hardware, including one-ton axles, nine-inch Ford differentials and an Atlas 2 transfer case.
An extended rear deck also allows for stretchers to be attached to transport injured troops.
To checkout the BC Customs SVX and more military side-by-sides, make sure you watch the video above.