The Army Is One Step Closer To A 6.8mm Next-Generation Rifle

Bullet Points

It's official: After months of testing, the Army is moving forward with an intermediate round between the traditional 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibers for its M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements.


  • A new Prototype Opportunity Notice posted on Oct. 4 includes a 6.8mm common round for potential submissions from defense contractors for the Next Generation Squad Weapon program, which includes the NGSW-Rifle (NGSW-R) carbine replacement and NGSW-Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) replacement for the SAW.
  • While the Army confirmed that it was testing a 6.8mm round for the M249 SAW and M4 carbine replacements back in May, the PON further solidifies the arrival of a new prototype bullet that offers "extended range, controllable recoil, and deadly effect because of the velocity and the weight of the bullet," as Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales (ret.), chairman of an advisory board to the Pentagon’s close combat lethality task force, told Task & Purpose at the time.

  • PEO Soldier Chief Brig. Gen. Anthony Pott told Army Times that the NGSAR program has already selected five companies to produce several prototypes by June: FN America, Sig Sauer, PCP Tactical, General Dynamics, and Textron Systems — the latter of which plans recently received contracts of NGSW program fire control systems.
  • The Army has been hunting for an improved round since May 2017, when Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley told lawmakers that the 5.56mm rounds chambered in the standard-issue M4 carbines failed to penetrate enemy body armor downrange. In February, officials told Task & Purpose that the Army planned to replace its 80,000 SAWs with the NGSAR chambered in an intermediate caliber as soon as fiscal 2022
  • “We’re looking to reach out around 600 meters and have lethal effects even if the target is protected by body armor," Col. Geoffrey A. Norman, force development division chief at Army HQ, told Task & Purpose at the time. "We need to have lethal effects against protected targets and we need to have requirements for long-range lethality in places like Afghanistan, where you’re fighting from mountaintop to mountaintop over extended ranges.”

The Textron 5.56mm LSAT light machine gun. In the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing of Feb. 7th, 2018, the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) demonstrator weapon was revealed to be a Textron prototype based on LSAT technologyTextron/The Firearm Blog

  • While the PON doesn't provide a clear timeline for additional testing, the 27-month window for development noted by Army Times suggests that the winning contractor could start churning out the new NGSAR by 2021 — potentially ahead of schedule.
  • In the end, the right ammo solution "is somewhere between the two, where you have enough mass to penetrate but you’re still moving fast enough," as Col. Norman told Task & Purpose back in February. Based on the PON, it looks like the Army has found it.

WATCH NEXT:

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers board an aircraft to begin the first leg of their deployment in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (Georgia National Guard/Maj. William Carraway)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A new bill would give troops with infertility related to their military service greater access to advanced reproductive treatments, including up to three completed cycles of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, and cryopreservation of eggs and sperm for those heading to a combat zone.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, speaks to Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during a visit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Marines and Sailors with the 11th MEU are conducting routine operations as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group in the eastern Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)

The Marine Corps' top general on the west coast is readying his Marines for the next big war against a near peer competitor, and one of his main concerns is figuring out how to alter the mindset of troops that have been fighting insurgencies since 9/11.

"If anything my problem is getting people out of the mindset of [counterterrorism] and making sure they're thinking about near peer adversaries in their training programs," Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California, told Task & Purpose in an interview on Friday.

Read More Show Less
A Ruger AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, center, the same model, though in gray rather than black, used by the shooter in a Texas church massacre two days earlier, sits on display with other rifles on a wall in a gun shop Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Lynnwood, Wash. (Associated Press/Elaine Thompson)

A new bill introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives would require a significant number of state residents own "at least one" AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with the help of a hefty tax break — except it won't ever get off the ground.

Read More Show Less
The casket carrying the remains of Scott Wirtz, a civilian employee of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency killed along with three members of the U.S. military during a recent attack in Syria, sits in a military vehicle during a dignified transfer ceremony as they are returned to the United States at Dover Air Force Base, in Dover, Delaware, U.S., January 19, 2019. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.-backed forces have captured ISIS fighters tied to a January suicide bombing in Syria that killed four Americans, U.S. officials say, generating concrete leads for Washington about the deadliest attack to date there against U.S. personnel.

Read More Show Less

Chaos is returning to Stanford.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis is joining Stanford University's Hoover Institution in California as of May 1, a university news release says.

Read More Show Less