Goodbye, US Army 6.8 Service weapons vaporware


It feels so good to be proven correct over and over again. As predicted, the Army’s big plans for the 6.8 weapons is never going to be anything other than vaporware and a waste of taxpayers money for the foreseeable future. The superb M4 and the excellent 5.56mm aren’t going anywhere in our lifetimes.


  1. Ignoring real world issues like costs, if I was given the choice I’d prefer to go to war with something a smidge heavier than 5.56. Not .308, but something somewhere in between like a .243.

    I appreciate your views about the excellence of the AR/5.56 system, but is that what you’d choose for combat if you were King and could have whatever you wanted without constraints?

    • Yeah, I’m with you. Something in a 6.something mm x 45 would have been a better pick 50+ years ago than 5.56 IMHO. But I don’t see anything being ever so much better than 5.56 given the current install base in .mil and NATO.

      Really they probably could have picked anything between 5.56×45 and a blown out 8×45 or something like that and it probably wouldn’t have made a lick of difference in the wars we’ve fought since we adopted 5.56. 5.56 is more controllable on full-auto than the larger calibers would be. The midrange calibers would be better at long range and the larger calibers would be better at CQB like the room-clearing in Iraq.

      But it’s impossible to know ahead of time whether you’ll need long shots like in Afghanistan, room-clearing/urban combat like Iraq, or ambush-busting like Vietnam. So you pick one and go with it.

    • Yes I would. I would opt for a heavier projectile but I would choose the service round every time. It does everything pretty damn well and there is nothing that will do what people want their imaginary, perfect service round to do. even a 50 BMG one shot kills arent a 100 percent sure thing

  2. I would just point out that the way these things go, such programs are harder to kill than Dracula.

    Consider, if you will: SPIW, which was flechette/40mm. Failure. Then, they came up with the OICW, which begat XM-8 and XM-25. Sorta like the way the EM-2 wouldn’t die until the Brits put the L85 and L86 into service.

    Killing these “good idea” programs is nearly impossible; there’s too much money to be made. Look for LSAT to come back, eventually. In some guise, at least…

    That said, I’m gonna say that the 5.56mm M4/M16 combo will probably be in service longer than any other individual weapon in US history. How that happened was a travesty, but they accidented themselves into a workable solution for combat in this era. It sure isn’t the one I’d have chosen, but… Well, results speak for themselves.

    What I find so deliciously and darkly humorous about it is the totally random way it went down–Nobody came out of Vietnam saying “Y’know… The M16 is great, and all that, but we really need to make it heavier, longer, and to give it an overly-complicated sight that nobody is ever going to actually use in combat…”. But, they went ahead and did all that to the M16, blessing us with suck in the form of the A2. Which probably had the shortest service lifespan of any modern weapon outside the CETME Modelo “L”–As soon as the Infantry bubbas saw the M4 show up, which was only ever supposed to be a weapon for auxiliary troops like drivers, artillerymen, and so forth…? Why, they glommed onto those so quick your head spun. None of the “support troops” ever saw their M4s. Ever–They got stuck with the “musket version”, which was supposed to be the weapon for light infantry, ‘cos range and accuracy…

    I don’t really think the idiots we have doing small arms in the US Army have a fucking clue, to be honest. It’s like the way we got the M240 as our primary ground-mount MG–Nobody had a plan when the M60 hit the end of its economical service life. If it had been left up to the system, we’d just have bought another tranche of M60s, and been done with it. The M240 was ram-rodded through by the Rangers and the Marines, both of whom were apparently entirely unaware of the rather large volume of history with everyone else who used it that said “This bitch is way too fucking heavy for dismount ops in rugged terrain…”.

    Fuck me, if the idiot Major I talked to was right, most of the Rangers didn’t even know that the M240 was issued outside the United States as a ground gun… His knowledge of it began and ended with it being a “Belgian coax….”.

    That’s who we have doing our procurement, folks: Idjits with no real interest or expertise in the matter of small arms. Don’t ever even get me started about the whole tripod issue, or training…

    Ah, well… My guess is that it’ll be M4s and M16s forever, or until the Republic falls. Then, it’ll be more of the same, ‘cos the successor states will be mostly bankrupt. Or, part of the Chinese hegemony–I wonder what that 5.8mm shoots like?

    • out of all the stuff you have to learn in the Army, even the lowest grunt. is the A2 rear sight really he most complicated?

      • Nobody uses the ‘effing thing. It’s a range toy, pure and simple. It’s excessively fragile, a dirt/dust magnet, and if you’re in a position to use on anything other than paper, cardboard, or plywood…? Odds are, you’re shooting at something that really ought to be getting some tender love from the crew-served parts of your team.

        The idiots that created the abortion of the A2 took a nice, light little rifle that was a handy and effective killing tool, then turned it into an overweight bloated range toy that answered none of the issues identified from Vietnam.

        Then, when the M4 was procured for support troops (who never saw the things…), the Infantry bubbas glommed on to those things, which were never really validated for real combat–They’d done the testing, found the issues, and then said “Well, it’s good enough for the support troops…”. Nobody ever really validated it for becoming the mainline Infantry individual weapon, and it wasn’t until the complaints from Afghanistan came back in enough volume that anyone looked into the lethality issues we knew were there from as far back as Somalia. That’s ten fucking years they had those things being procured and issued out to the Infantry without anyone looking at whether or not M855 out of a 14″ barrel did what it needed to.

        What should have been the M16A2? I think a mid-length 16″ CHF barrel, a collapsible stock, and provision for some workable night sights being built in. That’s what people were actually asking for, what the common-sense review of Vietnam would have said, and what everyone else world-wide was doing. If you see a Valmet M76 from that era, shoot it, and compare? Light years ahead. We could have done it, and probably cheaper than the A2 program wound up being, ‘cos we actually replaced the basic Infantry individual weapon twice in less than a decade.

        Plus, you’d have still had the growth potential there for modern optics and accessories.

        The actual A2 sight came out of the Marine morons responsible for the A2 looking at the Colt MG systems based on the M16, saying “Schweeeeet! We want that…”, and never doing the least little bit of testing or actual thought. They wanted to create the perfect Camp Perry rifle out of the M16, and that’s what they did. No night sights, no “shorter/lighter”, no improved magazines–Which were all three the primary factors identified as needing improvement coming out of Vietnam. Oh, and better coatings for corrosion resistance.

        Shit, you can still see some of the responsible morons over on Arfcom, preening themselves and getting verbal fellatio from all the sycophantic freaks that frequent the place. The fact that they did such a “great job” on the A2 that it was replaced almost by accident by what I’ll contend is still not what we need, the M4? That little fact still escapes them. The A2 was a blind alley, and very clearly what we did not need to be doing. The Finns built a better infantry combat rifle in the M76 than we did, and they did it for a lot less money. The total program cost for the A2 is something that would likely just piss you off, if they were ever to use honest accounting to describe it–We basically threw that money out the fucking window, because the whole thing was replaced as the infantry’s basic individual weapon before we’d even finished fielding it. Irresponsible as hell, and a total waste of money–They should have kept the A1 for the rear-echelon types, and then issued my notional 16″ carbine with a mid-length gas system and some tritium sight elements. Could have been done, and for a lot less money…

        The features of the M4 are mostly there as afterthought work-arounds, like the barrel and gas system lengths being legacy COTS choices from the old XM-177 program. They should have done a better job, but because it was slated for the support troops, it was a “cheap enough/good enough” deal. Instead, it turned into the basic arm of the infantry for direct combat.

        Utter, criminal insanity. Especially after they got the post-Somalia feedback that they did about lethality for the M855 out of the shorter barrel–That, they just swept under the rug, and kept right on keeping on with the fielding plan.

        Frankly, someone should have gone to jail, but they never did. Just like the ‘effing Engineer Branch studiously looking the other way from 1990 on, with regards to armored route clearance and all the MRAP technology they were ignoring. No investigation, no honest self-assessment, and not even the acknowledgement that anyone fucked up and got troops killed for no good reason–We could very easily have had MRAPs going into Iraq, but… Noooooooo… We don’t wanna play that game, so we won’t. The Engineers basically just stuck their fat thumbs in their stupid fucking ears, hummed really, really loudly, and then ignored all the vast amounts of evidence vis-a-vis IEDs, mines, and rear-area battle. I was literally told by some of those worthless freaks that “Well, we don’t want this capability because if we have it, someone will want us to use it, and we don’t want to spend any of our money on it, ‘cos they won’t give us any extra for this stuff…”.

        Believe me, the shit that went down in 2003 didn’t happen because some of the Army didn’t see it coming. We knew–It was just that the assholes running things didn’t want to listen to us. Lot of the same issues with the M4–People knew, and they knew long before anyone admitted and/or did anything about it.

  3. It really doesn’t matter what the DOD fields for infantry small arms in the future. They could propose the single best small arm ever devised or Marlin Model 60’s. The result will be the same: a pointless loss of blood and treasure poured into wars fought at the behest of Beltway Bozos and a “professional military” officer cadre that has no intention of ever winning a war again.

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