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The US Army’s Next-Gen Infantry Weapons Will Be More Lethal and More Accurate

This is the first time in 55 years that the Army has broken away from the M16 series of weapons.

  • The U.S. Army has selected Sig Sauer to build the service’s Next-Generation Squad Weapon Rifle and Automatic Rifle.
  • This is the first time in 55 years that the Army has broken away from the M16 series of weapons.
  • The new rifles are designed to be more lethal and accurate than previous infantry weapons.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Army officially selected a new rifle and infantry rifle for frontline troops. The guns, developed by small arms manufacturer Sig Sauer, have been officially designated the XM5 Rifle and XM250 Automatic Rifle (pictured above). The XM5 Rifle will represent a major departure from the M16 series of weapons, first adopted in 1967 and still in use today.

The XM5 Rifle will replace the M4A1 Carbine as the Army’s close-combat weapon, while the XM250 Automatic Rifle will replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Both weapons will be equipped with the M157 Next-Generation Squad Weapon-Fire Control (NGSW-FC), an optic designed to allow troops to observe and hit targets from greater distances.

The rifle or carbine is the basic weapon issued to infantry, special forces, engineers, and other combat support units. Most soldiers in a typical nine-person infantry squad, for example, will carry a rifle or carbine. These guns are meant to be accurate and directly engage enemy troops. Automatic weapons or rifles, on the other hand, are only carried by two squad members and are designed to put out a large volume of fire. They are meant to suppress enemy forces to allow rifle and carbine-armed infantry to close in and destroy them.

The M4A1 Carbine is a shortened, improved version of the original M16 assault rifle, adopted during the Vietnam War era. The original M16 was notorious for jamming, but the current weapon is very reliable. The problem, as far as the Army is concerned, is that the rifle still uses the 5.56-millimeter caliber rifle round. Body armor has become a standard issue in modern armies, and the concern is that the older round lacks the punch, even with armor-piercing upgrades, to ensure that it can penetrate body armor.
army xm5 ngsw

The new XM5 rifle, sans XM157 fire-control optic.

U.S. ARMY PEO SOLDIER

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