Tactical Tailor

US Army Special Operations Command Seeks Precision Intermediate Caliber Ammunition

During a briefing earlier this week at the NDIA Armaments Congerence in Fredericksburg, Virginia, COL Samuel Ashley, the DCS G8 for the US Army Special Operations Command, discussed a current initiative to identify a Precision Intermediate Caliber ammunition from within the 6.5mm family. In this joint effort between USASOC and PEO Soldier’s PM for Soldier Weapons, they will test 23 different cartridges in 6.5mm Creedmoor and .260 Remington later this month, using the Army’s 2000m Doppler RADAR equipped range, at the nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Based on this research, they will conduct a user evaluation of the selected cartridge, in October. This is a very fast paced effort which aims to identify a 6.5mm family cartridge for integration into a USASOC requirement for a new semiautomatic sniper weapon. It will also give others a leg up in identifying a viable option for an intermediate caliber.

USSOCOM briefer, LTC Mark Owens, PM for Ammo, Weapons and Visual Augmentation Systems supports the efforts of SOF components like USASOC, and added some additional insight into where the ammunition selected from the USASOC study might go. He mentioned that in FY18 we should see the development of a 6.5mm Assault Machine Gun which would result in the fielding, soon thereafter, of an Intermediate Caliber Assault Machine Gun. The cartridge decision will also lead to the fielding of an Intermediate Caliber Sniper Rifle/Carbine in the years FY19-23.

40 Responses to “US Army Special Operations Command Seeks Precision Intermediate Caliber Ammunition”

  1. Bert says:

    What is an “Assault Machine Gun”?

    • Vic says:

      Most likely something like a lightweight LMG

      • Vic says:

        *Lightweight LMG with a short barrel like the Stoner LMG. Because at 10 pounds, 32 inches and with all the capabilities of the m249 that truly must be a wonderful weapon for assaults and mobile warfare in general.
        No idea why my message sent early.

      • AbnMedOps says:

        Which leaves open the intellectual question of how it is envisioned to be employed:
        Is the Assault Machine Gun concept to be merely a lighter, handier MG, but still fired from a bipod or tripod in a support role, OR is the Assault Machine Gun envisioned to be carried and fired during movement through the assault, AND/OR is it envisioned to be rapidly displaced and re-positioned to successive firing positions within a complex or in-depth area of assault? (this last sounds nasty, as an in-depth area of assault implies going against a whole lot of prepared positions, where something with much or penetration than an assault rifle caliber would be desirous!)

        • SSD says:

          I’m going to say that it exists and it’s light enough to carry in the Assault.

        • miclo18d says:

          In Rgr Bn we used the Pig in assault with Bipod AND Tripod. FM 23-67 had assault techniques in it back in the day.

          23lb assault “light” machinegun!!!

      • Leon Vickers says:

        But with deadly pistol grips, flash hiders, and bayonet lugs.

  2. Caleb says:

    Arma 3 is getting closer to reality. .338 NM GPMG’s and now this.

  3. REMF Tacticool says:

    Be interesting to see if we look back at this in many years as the very start of mass transition to a 6.X.

    I’m sure many will say no because of all the financial and logistical concerns and those are valid points. But there seems to be a building of enthusiasm to finally get back to the sorts of rounds that some folks were talking about just post-WW2.

    NB – I’m not saying it’s a perfect idea or that I know how it’ll be made a feasible reality, just conjecturing.

  4. Joglee says:

    The selection of the CSASS is making more and more sense.

  5. JoshZ says:

    I’m calling it right now 260 HK417.

  6. Terry says:

    I don’t understand this requirement. While I have no experience with either cartridge, both 6.5 Creedmore and 260 Remington are basically necked down 308 Winchester – you get a reputation for excellent accuracy but I don’t see either of them giving a meaningful advantage in either weight or range, especially for a light machine gun.

    What am I missing?

    • James says:

      The 6.5’s big advantage is a high balistic coefficient. Which gives it more retained velocity at any given range, meaning a flatter trajectory,less wind drift and more range. To get similar ballistic coefficient bullets and similar velocities in .30 caliber you have to move up to .300 win mag with 220gr bullets.

      • TERRAS says:

        My accuracy AT with 175 berger otm is transonic 1000meters velocity is 2706 fs with varget powder and 2755fs with cfe223 the 308 is not dead with right bullets and powder

  7. John Levanger says:

    Isn’t this the whole reason that the 6.8 SPC was developed? An intermediate cartridge that falls just about half way between the 5.56 and 7.62 NATO rounds ballistically. and still compatible with 5.56 sized magazines.

  8. mudd says:

    math is a super-power

  9. tazman66gt says:

    I really hope this isn’t a glimpse of things to come. The military gets a budget raise and they start wasting it on programs that will never see the light of day.

    • Philo says:

      Programs like this are so small they barely register a footnote in the budget. It’s the waste on too many specialized aircraft, unreliable ships and another generation of tanks we don’t need.

    • SSD says:

      Awhile back I mentioned that the military is going to have enough money to spend on bad programs. However, this is not one of them. Everyone realizes the future is 6.5, it’s just that USSOCOM can get there faster.

  10. Frank Green says:

    The 6.5mm is a no brainer vs. a .308win. Down range performance in terms of left over energy, how flat the bullet shoots and less wind drift is a given. For a sniper type rifle either it being a gas gun or a bolt gun I’ll take a 6.5 any day over a .308win. Also less recoil means a faster recovery time for the next shot etc…Look at the PRS matches. 60% of the guns in the top 50 or 100 shooters are 6.5mm. the balance is 6mm. A .308win. doesn’t even make the top any where. For a gas gun I’d consider the 6.5 Creedmoor over the .260 Rem. In a bolt gun overall performance is basically a wash between the two.

    The 6.8spc is a poorer performer. The .270cal. bullets just don’t cut the wind as good as a 6.5mm.

  11. Bogwalker says:

    Question: ‘Cause I don’t know. Good for 300 to 1,000 meter range. How about 50 meter?

  12. DM55645 says:

    I like how we’ve come full circle back to the 6.5×55 of 1891.

  13. Bazzil says:

    I agree with Frank and imho I think they should start looking at the top match shooters data. There is a plethora of research and info on the 6.5 that has already been recorded and documented in all distances and conditions.

  14. Dmicone says:

    The manufacturers of these rounds need to start being openly honest about barrel life which is mysteriously missing from the above stats. The 6.5 Creed has a reasonable barrel life for a sniper platform but it is in fact 50% less than 7.62 NATO. And they want to drop it in a machine gun too? While researching this round someone needs to evaluate the military’s drug policy because someone is smoking crack.

    • SSD says:

      “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long – and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy. Look at you: you’re the Prodigal Son; you’re quite a prize!”
      Dr Eldon Tyrell to Roy Batty
      “Blade Runner”

  15. ObTunDeD says:

    From the perspective of potential long range precision, the 6.5 is a great choice (although in 1000 yard competition, that field is dominated by 7mm cartridges such as the 284 Winchester) But where this all falls apart is barrel life. The 260 and 6.5 CM have useful barrel lives of 2000 rounds before their precision markedly falls off, and you have just another 5-8 MOA scatter gun. Where the 5.56 and 7.62 had it in spades is their overbore indexes, and retained precision for between 5000 and 10,000 rounds depending on use.

    • Jwv says:

      6.5cm and rem barrels can easily last last 2k rounds. Sure the 6.5×284 is incredibly hard on barrels. Also, accuracy doesn’t just become 5-8 MOA when they are getting shot out. They open up incrementally. Lastly, I won a 600 yard fclass match with my 260ai that had 2200 shots down it.

  16. wheatshocker says:

    The .264 USA cartridge previously developed by AMU seems conspicuously absent from mention in article. Was it not considered for testing or ruled out for some reason?