21 Apr 22
New Rifle, New Caliber!
Two day ago, the Pentagon officially announced what many have suspected for some time:
After over two years (actually, more like fifty years!) of testing and evaluation, the US Army’s new rifle will be SIG’s candidate, an upscaled version of their existing gas-piston MCX Rifle, now designated the “XM5,” chambered for SIG’s version of the new military 6.8mm cartridge, called the 6.8×51.
SIG is the only genuine “gun-maker” to actively seek this business. Other candidates were submitted by companies like General Dynamics and Textron. However, SIG’s now-chosen XM5 will have to be eventually manufactured in large numbers (particularly when war breaks-out), and rifles and GPMGs will necessarily be manufactured (under license) by any number of other companies, probably including General Dynamics and Textron!
The 6.8×51 round is basically a 308, necked-down to 27-caliber, but this new cartridge has a steel base and a brass forward section, allowing for chamber pressures in the range of 80k psi, all in an effort to get increased range from a short (13″) barrel.
It comes-out to a 140gr bullet and 2800f/s.
The civilian version is called the “277 Fury,” but it likely will be confined to traditional rifle chamber pressures of 50k psi, more like a 140gr bullet at 2400f/s
SIG’s belt-fed GPMG (w/bi-pod and probably a tri-pod), in the same caliber, designated the M250, is also part of the multi-billion dollar deal.
Both rifle and GPMG are to be equipped with a sophisticated, but bulky, 1×8 optic, that includes a range-finder, sensors, etc.
Both are also to be equipped with muzzle-mounted suppressors, making hearing-protection on training ranges unnecessary. The downside is that suppressors add considerable length, necessitating short barrels, which translate to reduction in muzzle velocity. Additionally, many are skeptical as to whether any kind of suppressor will hold-up under heavy, military use!
After sixty-plus years, our existing M4 rifle (5.56×45) actually runs as well as any military weapon ever has, and many of us rely on our M4s every day, in the domestic environment.
Yet for military use, the 5.56×45 NATO round (223 Rem) has shown itself to be consistently inadequate in range and penetration, ever since its adoption in the 1960s. Since that time, many different bullet weights and configurations have been introduced in an effort to address range and penetration issues, but none have adequately solved the problem.
In the end, the 5.56×45 remains what it has always been, a relatively short-range round that doesn’t penetrate much! Yet, in a police patrol-rifle, and for domestic self-defense, it is close to ideal, but for military use it is sadly inadequate, and we’ve known that since 1960!
Of course, this announcement comes with the usual nauseating, self-serving hype, but we all know and understand that any new product, when mass produced, will develop issues, issues that won’t even be identified until many thousands of units are manufactured, issued to troops, trained with, deployed to forward areas, and billions of rounds are fired through it over a number of years.
These issues will have to be identified, verified, and honestly confronted and fixed, assuming they can be!
Unfortunately, our woke-era star-wearers are far better known for creative cover-up and denial than they are for brutal honesty!
In any event, we’ll have a two-tier system, probably for at least the next thirty years. M4s, M240s, and the 5.56×45 round will remain active throughout our entire System for the foreseeable future. New rifles and GPMGs will go to front-line troops first. Troops in rear areas will continue to be served by the older weapons.
It all depends on how fast new weapons, new ammunition, and new accouterments/accessories can be produced (along with spare parts, armorer training, etc), issued, trained with, and ultimately deployed, and mostly how many unforeseen issues rear their ugly heads and have to be fixed, on the fly!
Ultimately, we should all be glad this long-overdue update is finally going forward!
What concerns me is that our current armed forces are one-third the absolute minimum size a so-called “super-power” needs to be in our dangerous world. New war will require an immediate, exponential expansion, much like what we, as a nation, went through in 1941. I’m not at all sure this nation is even capable of that currently!
With any luck, that theory will not be tested any time soon!