Army to Receive Test Package for New Squad Weapon

By Scott R. Gourley

Army photo

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — The Army will soon receive the “drop one” production qualification test package for its 6.8mm Next Generation Squad Weapons. The package, which will be delivered beginning in April, will include both XM7 battle rifles and XM250 light machine guns as well as associated logistics.

The test package includes nearly four dozen rifles, approximately 30 light machine guns, suppressors, both linked and unlinked ammunition, blank kits, blank ammunition, tool kits, repair parts and spare parts, Jason St. John, senior director of government products at manufacturer Sig Sauer, said on the sidelines of the SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

The ammunition will be delivered from a Sig Sauer facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas, and the firearms from its Newington, New Hampshire, factory, he said.

The upcoming deliveries reflect the third “bundle” of Next Generation Squad Weapons and equipment submitted by Sig Sauer. The first batch of weapons, called prototype activity one, was delivered in May 2020 as one of three contractor team submissions that allowed the Army to refine its test protocols for the program. A second submission occurred in January 2021, with those guns undergoing extensive Army testing and soldier touchpoints through the summer of 2021. Following that testing, industry proposals were submitted in October 2021, with the contract award going to Sig Sauer in April 2022.

“If you look at it from a very holistic approach, the upcoming [production qualification test] will allow the Army to look at things like reliability, durability, dispersion and fumes from the suppressor,” St. John said. “They will give us our ratings, but regardless of those ratings, we are going to continue to evolve and improve on all areas of the weapons and the ammunition. The machine never stops and waits for feedback. We are constantly looking at all of those issues ourselves.”

The Army and company representatives will test the weapons together at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

“They tell us what they’re seeing. We tell them what we’re seeing. So now the development process can accelerate,” St. John said.

Another recent change to the program involves the redesignation of the XM7 battle rifle. Formerly designated XM5, the Army subsequently discovered that the initial designation was already used by Colt Industries for one of its 5.56mm carbines.

Topics: Land Forces

Comments (3)

Re: Army to Receive Test Package for New Squad Weapon

It was my experience in the military that it was a big mistake to go from the M14 to the Matel toy M16, or M4 as it's called today. The M14 had a twenty round mag (so did the M16 and they went to the 30 round bananna mag later on) but the knockdown power of the M14 was far superior to the M16 (M4). It also had a 1200 meter max effective range and could reach out to 2400 meters with hot ammo. I seen this with my own eyes in COMBAT. The M16 was developed in 1957 for use in the Air Force by security police and was adapted by all branches during the Vietnam war. To me it was an underperforming POS. One 7.62 round could bring down an enemy while it took a whole mag in the M16, in many instances, to bring down Charlie. If I were in a War zone today my weapon of choice would be the M14 modified. I reserve judgement on this new weapon.

edward o'neill at 12:49 PM
Re: Army to Receive Test Package for New Squad Weapon

William, I think he means that "even if those ratings are good" we will continue to evolve and improve.

Even 5.56 LMGs overheat and barrels distort, on an LMG the barrel is an armory replacement part rather than depot. What I would personally be more concerned about is barrel life and cost. obviously these new weapons will cost more for the first decade or so, it's a new system with less manufacturers involved and new logistics, eventually cost will come down, but if barrel life is significantly degraded, we'd be replacing more expensive barrels more often. I'm glad the army got the best weapon for the future wars, rather than the cheapest route of keeping the same legacy systems, or cheaping out on some compromise between the two. I'd be interested to know if they'll be using brass cased "training" ammunition outside of marksmanship and combat. there's a lot of shooting that gets done by combat units outside of those tasks, and it could significantly extend barrel life and reduce overall program cost.

I would imagine these weapons can be easily and readily converted to 7.62 NATO as well. SIG recently released a "civilian" version of the XM7 in .308. which again, could be used for training, collaboration with allied countries, and easing early program supply logistics.

James G at 9:15 AM
Re: Army to Receive Test Package for New Squad Weapon

This weapon is two lbs. heavier than the M4 but has a Mag of 20 rounds vs 30 on the M4. Furthermore the new cartridge has a chamber pressure of 80,000 psi which raises questions regarding mechanical reliability and overheating is sustained high volume firing. The rifles and squad weapon must be "torture" tested to prove their reliability in the most extreme combat situations. The statement that "regardless of those ratings, we are
going to continue to evolve and improve" sounds a bit defensive. I hope the don't put lipstick on a pig.

William Lukaszyk at 11:29 AM
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