Army Ammo Plant Readies for New 6.8 mm Round

By Connie Lee

Photo: Army

The Army’s plan to adopt a 6.8 mm round includes building a new manufacturing facility at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri.

Whitney Watson, senior manager of communications of Northrop Grumman’s small caliber systems division, said his company operates the Lake City plant, which is government-owned and contractor-operated, for the Army. The plant produces about 90 percent of the Defense Department’s small caliber ammunition, such as 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm bullets, he said.

“We produce about one and a half billion rounds a year” for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, as well as the FBI, CIA and Drug Enforcement Agency, he added.

The Army is pursuing a 6.8 mm round for its next-generation squad weapon, which will be designed to work in close-, medium- and long-range battles. The service examined multiple calibers and considered different weapon lengths for the new firearm.

“The bottom line is it’s about overmatch,” Watson said. “Our adversaries are building better body armor, and so the Army wanted something — an intermediate round — between that 5.56 mm and the 7.62 mm” it currently uses.

The new ammunition will be produced at Lake City after the Army finalizes the weapon, develops the new round and builds a new production facility, he said.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been soliciting for an architect and engineering firm, and design task orders are slated to be awarded by the end of the summer. Following the awards, the service will begin determining the size and scope of the new facility, he noted.

The new building will be the first new manufacturing facility Lake City has constructed in 50 years, Watson added.

“We’ve been around since 1940 — [that] is when ground was broken — and the first rounds came off the line nine months later, Sept. 12th, 1941,” he said. “There’s definitely a storied history here at Lake City.”

Construction of the building is expected to begin in the next two to three years, and production of the new round will start in about three or four years, he noted.

Topics: Ballistics, Land Forces, Defense Department

Comments (6)

Re: Army Plant Readies for New 6.8 mm Round

For the last 15 years some European countries have planned to replace the 5,56x45 (.223 Rem) with an intermediate cartridge. Army tests showed that the case volume had to be in the 6.5 TCU/6.5 Grendel class and the caliber had to be in the .257-.277 class. The projectile itself will be the most critical part with a combination of high BC, low mass and decent penetration while allowing enough velocity in a barrel no longer than 16 inch. Due to its bore efficiency, the .277 is the logical choice.

BillShut Bogussian at 7:09 AM
Re: Army Plant Readies for New 6.8 mm Round

Modify the M14 for 3 round burst, I can’t see that not being a whole lot easier and more efficient

Larry at 1:04 PM
Re: Army Plant Readies for New 6.8 mm Round

Nice!! Two or three years to plan, then another 3-4 years to set machines. All to make ammunition for a system of weapons not yet chosen or funded. It is not even clear that this intermediate round is needed or wanted by the average groundpounder. This is just another way to fleece taxpayers and do nothing much of value to increase troop effectiveness or national security.

Brian Reilly at 8:36 AM
Re: Army Plant Readies for New 6.8 mm Round

The 6.8 round will not give us overmatch. If you want overmatch, then use a 165 grain 7.62x51.

Edward Randall at 7:50 PM
Re: Army Plant Readies for New 6.8 mm Round

Bring back the M-14 for part of the squad.

MikeyC at 12:19 AM
Re: Army Plant Readies for New 6.8 mm Round

I love the 6.8 spc round, although I have a the much better chamber than the original Remington contrived. Packs way more punch than the 5.56, only slightly more recoil, and is accurate at a distance. So hopefully the Army sticks with that round, but even if they don't, it will mean that those of us that reload will see a bevy of improved 6.8 bullets. Both in the hunting and VLD types.

Tom at 2:20 PM
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