Groundbreaking: Why the military will love Sig Sauer’s XM5 and XM250

After a 65-year history with the M16/M4 rifle and 5.56mm rifle cartridge, the U.S. military selected Sig Sauer’s XM5 rifle and XM250 automatic rifle as the next weapons for troops from late 2023 will be a real game-changer.

At the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) held in Tampa this week, the New Hampshire-based weapons maker was in attendance and talked about the evolution of the new weapon. of the Army.

Sig Sauer Chairman and CEO Ron Cohen spoke to the media on Wednesday and reiterated that the first weapons will not be in the hands of soldiers until the end of next year.

“Basically they want to start the deployment of the first unit around spring or summer of next year,” Cohen said to National Defence. “It’s going to reshape all of infantry warfare in a way that hasn’t changed since the early 1960s.”

At the end of last month I wrote in these digital pages that the Army awarded a 10-year, $20.4 million contract to replace the venerable M4 rifle and ammunition.

The XM5 and XM250 will use the new 6.8mm ammo which army officials say will increase its combat troops accuracy, range and lethality. The military is looking for a replacement for the 5.56mm cartridge used since the Vietnam War.

Brigadier General Larry Burris, Director of the Cross-Functional Soldier Lethality Team, said of the XM5/XM250, “It’s revolutionary.” Every XM5/XM250 will be fitted with Sig Sauer’s suppressors, which will reduce harmful gas backflow, noise signature and flash

“We should know that this is the first time in our lifetime – this is the first time in 65 years that the military will field a new weapon system of this nature, a rifle, an automatic rifle, a system fire control and a new caliber ammunition family,” he said.

The new XM5 and XM250 will at least initially replace the M4 in infantry, scout, combat engineer and special operations units. While the M4 will continue to be used by the rest of the military. The weapons will also be available for other armed forces to adopt and eventually be available for foreign military sales to U.S. allies.

“Both weapons offer significant capability improvements in accuracy, range, and overall lethality. They are lightweight, fire more lethal ammunition, dampen recoil, offer improved gun performance, and include built-in gun sound reduction. mouth and flash,” the military said in a statement when the contract was announced.

New and improved optics will come with weapons

The two new Army weapons will include the XM157 Fire Control optic, which is being manufactured under a contract awarded to Vortex Optics subsidiary Sheltered Wings in January. According to army officersthis contract will be worth $2.7 billion over the next 10 years as they produce 250,000 optical units.

“The NGSW-FC system is a robust fire control that increases the accuracy and lethality of the Close Combat Force. It incorporates a number of advanced technologies including variable magnification optics, standby etched reticle, laser range finder, ballistic calculator, atmospheric sensor suite, compass, Intra-Soldier Wireless aiming lasers, visible and infrared and a digital display overlay. Cross-Functional Team-Soldier Lethality wrote in a press release.

Sig Sauer’s new 6.8mm ammo is much deadlier and increases range

The new ammunition explains why the weapons will not enter service until the end of 2023. The ammunition uses a hybrid metal case of brass and steel, which reduces its overall weight.

The Army will have enough ammunition to begin field testing weapons next year, but is building a new facility at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri that is expected to begin producing ammunition in 2025 or 2026.

Steve Rose, executive vice president of Sig Sauer, said ammunition is the key to new weapons. “Ammunition is technology. It’s a leap forward in capability,” he said. “Firearms, while great to talk about, they’re just the vehicle to deliver the technology and allow the ammunition to shine.”

6.8mm ammunition will travel supersonically longer than current 5.56mm ammunition, providing troops with a more accurate and deadly round as well as a more controllable round than the current 7.62mm round in automatic weapons. According to army officials, the 6.8 mm cartridge is optimal for close combat between 500 and 600 meters.

American combat soldiers will now have weapons to effectively engage enemy combatants who fire the 7.62mm ammunition at effective ranges that they cannot do now. The M4 is an excellent weapon in close combat, especially in clearing buildings, due to its compact design. But at longer range, American troops were outgunned. The XM5 can now fill in the gaps left by the M4.

Once these Sig Sauer weapons begin to be deployed, the army will be more accurate and deadly in close combat situations. This is not a slight improvement but a revolution that will shift the balance of the battlefield in favor of American troops.

Steve Balestrieri is a national security columnist from 1945. He served as a non-commissioned officer and warrant officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces before injuries forced him into early separation. In addition to writing for and another military news organization, he covered the NFL for for over 10 years. His work has been regularly featured in the Massachusetts Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers.