“Army Picks Its Replacememt for the M4 and SAW” – TTG

The Army has found its replacements for the M4 rifle and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, handing out a contract to put new guns in the hands of tens of thousands of soldiers. The force is awarding a 10-year, $20.4 million contract to Sig Sauer for the XM5 Rifle, which will become the new standard rifle for soldiers, and the XM250 Automatic Rifle, which will replace the SAW.

The service will also switch from 5.56mm ammo to 6.8mm, after a search for rounds better built to penetrate body armor. “Both weapons fire common 6.8 millimeter ammunition utilizing government provided projectiles and vendor-designed cartridges,” an Army spokesperson said in a press release. “The new ammunition includes multiple types of tactical and training rounds that increase accuracy and are more lethal against emerging threats than both the 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition.”

The news comes after a 27-month evaluation process in which other defense contractors, including General Dynamics, competed to be the Army’s go-to small arms dealer. The weapons will include the XM157 Fire Control optic, which includes a laser range finder, ballistic calculator, visible and infrared lasers, and a compass. That optic is made by Vortex Optics.

It’s unclear how many weapons the Army aims to buy over the decade, or how quickly soldiers will totally ditch the decades-old SAW and rifle. In its proposed 2023 budget, the force is requesting 29,046 new weapons. But that budget still needs to be approved by Congress.


Comment: Although this is the first I’ve heard of this, I’m not at all surprised. The long voiced desire for greater range for infantry weapons and the now widespread use of body armor just cried out for something new. I’m sure that first batch in the FY 2023 budget is going to SOCOM and JSOC units. 

I was struck by the optics. It’s come a long way from the simple iron sights on my old M-16A1 and later my AKMS. I remember the old AN/PVS-2 night sight that doubled the weight of the M-16A1. Good times.

As to be expected, the linked “Guns and Ammo” article goes into much more detail on these new infantry weapons and the new round for those weapons. While I still have a nostalgic attachment to wooden stocks and iron sights, these new weapons seem to be pretty good kit.


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27 Responses to “Army Picks Its Replacememt for the M4 and SAW” – TTG

  1. Babeltuap says:

    The M16 AI had full auto. M4 was 3 round burst. I hope it has the full auto option. I get the idea of not wasting ammo but still good to have the option of laying down waves of suppressive fire if needed. Just make Soldiers aware there is a time an place for it. And make it durable as hell. More durable than the AK. R&D it in mud, sand. Bury it. That was the main problem early on with the M16. They improved it but not fun improving when people are getting killed.

    • TTG says:


      The M4A1 has had full auto for years and I believe the M4 also had full auto along with the 3 round burst capability. The new rifle’s selector switch shows safe, semiauto and auto. The new SAW’s switch shows safe, full auto and semiauto.

  2. Eric Newhill says:

    I don’t like it. There was nothing wrong with the M16. It was a perfectly fine and capable rifle and cartridge. Contract for this new thing should have gone to a US firm. This is just basically an AR/M16 platform in a new caliber; one which I don’t think can really punch through modern body armor or vaporize the enemy a mile away or any other of the hype. Also, where are the iron sights? Folded down maybe? I wouldn’t want to go with those fancy optics alone in combat. Hitting the deck, jumping in and out of fighting positions, crashing through trees, underbrush, airborne combat jumps, normal oopsies, etc, I can totally see those fancy optics getting broken or knocked out of zero. At the least the suppressor should help with hearing damage as well as helping mask one’s position assuming it doesn’t cause issues. Another benefit should be all the affordable surplus 5.56mm that will hit the market.

    • TTG says:

      Eric Newhill,

      There are fold down iron sights. One of the Guns and Ammo photos show them. I don’t know how good they are. I’m also a bit leery of fancy optics. I was never enamored with the M-16, at least the M-16A1. I much preferred my AKMS when I got to Group.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        yeah. I saw that they are folded down on the right side of the “rifle” They look like crap.

    • Leith says:

      Eric –

      I don’t like it either. You are right that it should have gone to a US company. We can only hope that some congresscritters will have something to say about that. And I agree with your points about the optics. Why would anyone use optical sights other than snipers or elk hunters? I must be getting too damn old.

      On the other hand, I disagree about the M16. The early issues caused the death of too many GIs and Gyrenes in Nam. It worked for the USAF in their base defense units but the rest of us never should have gone to that plastic piece of crap. Just because some beancounter was enamored with the false idea that smaller bullets would somehow equal a reduced logistics tail. I still blame McNamara’s statisticians and computer models.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        I heard those stories about early issue M16s. Terrible if true. Confounding the stories is that Col Moore declared after the Ia Drang battle that “brave men and their M16s” won the fight [something like that. Quoting from memory of something I read]. He seemed to have respect for the rifle. By the late 80s we had the M16A2 and whatever bugs may have existed, they were worked out in the new version.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      Message it sends me is twofold:

      1) German company

      2) Initials: SS

      What passes for diplomacy these days.

      • TTG says:

        Fourth and Long,

        Sig Sauer, Inc is a US company. The HQ is in New Hampshire with manufacturing facilities in several states. Vortex, the optics manufacturer is also a US company. The ammo manufacturing contract went to another US company. I just can’t recall which one.

        • phugh says:

          “L&O Holding, a holding company based in Germany
          SIG Sauer GmbH, a firearms company based in Germany
          SIGARMS Inc, a firearms company based in the United States
          SAN Swiss Arms AG, a firearms company based in Switzerland”
          from wikipedia

          • TTG says:


            The company that won the contract is Sig Sauer, Inc. of New Hampshire. Its predecessor was SIGARMS, a company in Virginia which imported the German firearms. The US and German/Swiss companies share the brand name.

          • phugh says:

            And they are all owned by L&O Holding, a German holding company.

        • Fourth and Long says:


          The message it sends is independent of the latest details of corporate ownership, which can be and is in this case somewhat complex. If you fly a swastika flag in tel aviv don’t expect sympathy when you point out that it’s a mirror image of the third Reich’s or that it’s actually an ancient Tibetan symbol.

          The unconscious is writ large in this choice is what I’m saying. After getting the Germans to nix North stream and up their defense by $100 billion and more – then you arrange to fit up American army troops with rifles with German name, or German sounding name. That the initials curiously spell SS is the great spirit, holy ghost or cosmic naming jokers winking hard at us all.

          Anyway I’m in debt to you for posting it. Never would have seen it otherwise.

  3. Eric Newhill says:

    And that I read the G&A art, the ammo looks really expensive, and it is certainly heavier than 5.56mm. I note there are no vids of the round penetrating body armor. The velocity of the round suggests it cannot. It is velocity that is key to hard object penetration. The relatively new M855A1 5.56mm round is excellent in all ways and reports from Afghanistan are that it’s very lethal, at range too. As the article notes, the velocity is the same as this new fangled round. The smaller diameter of the 5.56mm should then give it better penetration. Feh. More government waste and sloth. Train soldiers more and better marksmanship is the answer to whatever problem might exist that this new rifle is supposed to address. And rifles should have at least 20 inch barrels. The M4, I believe, was a dumb idea forced by the Army b/c they wanted a short carbine for mechanized/”cavalry” troops as dudes riding around in humvees and similar stuff was the future said the powerpoints. The USMC resisted this, but, in un-Marine like fashion, somehow relented to the Army’s pressure. Why mechanized/cavalry troops couldn’t be issued M4s and regular infantry M16s escapes me entirely.

  4. SRW says:

    And to think when I qualified in basic training (AF) I used a M-1 carbine. What progress I guess.

    • Al says:

      I also qualified with a M1 carbine at Lakeland AFB, way too many yrs ago. My grouping was fairly tight, but off bullseye an inch or so of “10 O’clock”. I couldn’t get the range Sgt to let me do a few sight clicks for another round, though. My 3 teen yrs of .22 shooting in a 4H/NRA team had taught me well.

    • Christian J. Chuba says:

      The M-1 carbine was a work of art, especially when you compare it to the bolt action rifles of the day.

      I once told my dad that the M1 was too bulky after watching ‘Saving Private Ryan’ where I saw the M1 garand) . Before my dad said a single word, I could tell by the look on his face that he disagreed with me. I really miss him.
      So what are we going to with today’s inventory of M16+’s?
      This is the problem of a large army. After you equip them, the stuff they hold depreciates and then you have to re-equip them.

      • Christian J. Chuba says:

        To clarify, my dad carried an M1 carbine (not the garand). He loved it because it was lightweight, very little recoil, and was semi-automatic. I believe the previous U.S. army standard issue rifle was a bolt action Springfield.

        I’m not going to criticize the Springfield but the M1 Carbine got my dad out of a tight spot; paper, rock scissors.

      • TTG says:


        The M1 carbine was not designed for front line duty. It was a defensive weapon to be carried by support personnel, far better than a pistol, but not near as powerful as the M1 Garand. I have one, too and appreciate its lightness.

        • Christian J. Chuba says:

          Thanks for replying. My dad did not specify the model. I remember him saying was that he held it above his head and squeezed out 6 shots before emptying his magazine.

          It must have been a Garand. He was behind a wall and very close to the Germans. Just saying that firing 6 shots quickly made more of an impression than than any bolt action could do.

          BTW don’t feel that you cannot challenge my recollections because it was my dad. He had a passion for truth.

          • TTG says:


            If your dad said it had a magazine, it was an M1 carbine. That had 10 round and 20 round clips. The M1 Garand has no magazine. It uses 7 round clips.

          • Christian J. Chuba says:

            “If your dad said it had a magazine,”
            He might have said clip. I’m not a gun guy, the terms magazine / clip are interchangeable to me.

            The thing I do remember was him saying that he was able to fire about 6 shots (close enough to 7, I bet he wasn’t overly concerned about counting).

            I also recall him saying that he stuck the rifle above his head and fired over the wall. That tells me that the recoil was manageable. He wasn’t going for kill shots, just make them take cover and figure it out later.

          • TTG says:


            It really doesn’t matter what he shot, just that it worked and he was there to tell you about it. Firing above your head like that is not that unusual. I’ve seen M-60 and PK machine guns fired like that. Even that recoil is manageable, not accurate, but manageable.

  5. Degringolade says:

    My Grandfather and Father both thought that the Garand was too fancy. They sang the praises of the 1903. Since both of them saw much bigger elephants than I ever saw, I listened to them when I was young.

    Then I got in and listened to the old timers bitch about the M16 and sing the praises of the M14 and it was then I began to understand the whole subculture about bitching.
    I suppose that the new weps will work out fine. I don’t really think that either of these pretty things will be bad, they just won’t stop the troops from bitching.

    Since I spent a lot of time bungling in a jungle, I loved my grease gun. Served the purpose beautifully along with the thumper I carried. Short and to the point.

    Anyway, tastes in weapons are like tastes in women. All of them are beautiful, sometimes you don’t notice at first.

    • TTG says:


      You speak the truth. Why do I prefer wooden stocks to what I derisively call plastic stocks? Pure esthetics and personal whims. That cut down Mosin Nagant I learned to shoot with certainly wasn’t a think of beauty, but it was precious family heritage, with a wooden stock. I liked my AKMS primarily because of the sights. I just had a much easier time shooting accurately with that than with the M-16A1 where the rear ring sight just seemed to fully disappear. I probably needed glasses long before I finally got them. The AKMS also was a breeze to jump with.

      We fired grease guns using an M-16 folding bipod clamped to the barrel and practiced squeezing off single aimed shots. May not have been practical, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. I’d like to try that range finding optic sight with all the bells and whistles on that new rifle, but I’m not about to plank down money for the opportunity.

    • Leith says:

      Degringoglade –

      Love those 03 Springfields. I carry one on my shoulder as part of the Color Guard in the local 4th of July parade, while winking at the Grandmoms on the sidewalk throughout the whole march route. Firing pin hole was welded shut by the Army before issuing to the VFW. Too bad, as it would make a great deer rifle. They are still an elegant piece of engineering. Hard to believe they were designed and built 100+ years ago. My Grampa and Great Uncles used them in France in ’18. My Dad had one in North Africa, but he said he was happy to get a Garand later in Italy.

      I was first issued a Garand. That was before they stuck us with the M14, which was a piece of crap. That Garand had a beautiful walnut stock. I still remember its serial number 62 years later. Wish my short term memory was just as good.

      Guess you are right about the bitching. And right about women, even the Grandmoms.

  6. SRW says:

    I agree with you on the merits of old arms. I have three; a 1901 Swedish Mauser (6.5 mm) that is manufactured as well as any modern arm, a 1948 Swiss Schmidt-Rubin side pull (7.5 mm) that gives justification to the term “Swiss made”, and a 1944 Mosin-Nagant that shows it was made during the war. All of them shoot quite well and when I purchase them they were cheap; $59 for the Mosan-Nagant, $130 for the Mauser and $180 for the Schmidt-Rubin. One thing that they are compared to an M-16 or its derivative, heavy. You had to be in fit shape to carry one and use it. I don’t think I would ever buy any M-16 look-a-like but I would give anything to get my hands on a real M-1 carbine.

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