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US Army Issues Solicitation For 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle

The US Army is concerned about overmatch of its Infantry forces and the proliferation of inexpensive, rifle caliber resistant body armor. So much so, that Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Mark Milley has testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the need for a new 7.62 rifle and ammunition.

GEN Milley

Word is that last Friday morning, the Army’s G8, LTG John M Murray was on the range, firing the three GOTS candidates which might fulfill the requirement: the KAC M110, H&K M110A1 (G28) and FNH Mk17 (SCAR Heavy). Later in the day, on 3 August, the US Army released a solicitation for the purchase of the 7.62mm NATO Interim Combat Service Rifle we began writing about back in April.

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Initially, it had sounded like the Army would just buy one of the three weapons mentioned above. But with an acquisition plan which includes downslecting to up to eight candidates and then awarding a final winner, it seems that the Army wants to see what industry has to offer.

The Notice states that the Army plans to purchase up to 50,000 examples of the rifle which must be in 7.62mm NATO, capable of semi and full-auto. It must also be designed for use with a suppressor. Interestingly, the ICSR’s attributes aren’t quite as stringent as they were two months ago, when the requirement was just an RFI to industry.

It must also be capable of reliably firing the new M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) which is not yet in general circulation. Please recall that prior to the cancelled Individual Carbine competition, industry had a rough time sourcing 5.56mm M855A1 ammunition to conduct development.

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There has been much handwringing in industry over whether the Army would purchase one of the three government issue 7.62mm rifles for the Interim Combat Service Rifle directed requirement, or issue an open solicitation. The Army is asking for something that isn’t a commodity in their ICSR requirement: a full-auto 7.62mm rifle. They just don’t exist as production weapons, save the FNH SCAR Heavy and H&K 417, due to controllability issues. Out of the three GOTS rifles, only the Mk17 is full auto capable, making the need to turn to industry, inevitable.

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Offerors may submit more than one design. The Army will evaluate the candidate weapons based on the following criteria:

1. Dispersion (300m – function, 600m – simulation)
2. Compatible w/ FWS-I and laser
3. Weapon length (folder or collapsed)/ Weight (empty/bare) / Velocity (300m and 600m calculated)
4. Semi-Automatic and Fully Automatic function testing (bursts and full auto)
5. Noise (at shooter’s ear) / Flash suppression
6. Ambidextrous Controls (in darkness or adverse conditions) / Rail interface
7. 20-30 round magazine to support a 210 round combat load
8. Folding sights

NOTE 1: Attributes 2, 6, 7, and 8 above will be evaluated on a zero/full point basis. An Offeror whose bid sample receives zero (0) points for one (1) or more of these attributes will not be automatically eliminated from the competition; however, receiving a zero (0) score for one (1) or more of these attributes will adversely impact an Offeror’s overall score.

NOTE 2: The proposed candidate will be eliminated from the competition with no further evaluation if at any time the weapon becomes inoperable during testing.

They chose to issue a Commercial Opportunity Notice (CON) for Other Transaction Agreements (OTA) for this procurement action. The idea is to fast track the acquisition, with three phases.

It’s obvious the Army is in a hurry here. By September 6, 2017, they want offerors to submit:
a) White Paper Proposal
b) Safety Assessment Report
c) One (1) bid sample weapon system to include manual, cleaning kit, special tools (if required), enough magazines to support basic combat load of 210 rounds, and one (1) suppressor.

If a candidate weapon is one of up to eight selected for the follow-on OTA, the offeror will have to submit the following within 30 calendar days after notification:
a) Seven (7) weapon systems per configuration (if awarded OTA) with enough magazines to support the basic load of 210 rounds per weapons
b) Seven (7) cleaning kits
c) One (1) supressor
d) One (1) specialized tool kit (provide if required), and
e) Seven (7) manuals.

Eventually, they plan to issue an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity for up to 50,000 examples of the ICSR. However, the Army reserves the right to adjust that amount, including purchasing more.

Notice that offerors are required to provide magazines sufficient for a 210 round basic load. There aren’t a lot of 30 round 7.62mm magazines on the market, so 20 rounders will suffice. Magpul currently offers a 25 round magazine in the SR-25 pattern that will likely be tapped. ¬†Basic math dictates that any combination of 20 and 25 round magazines will yield 220 or 225 rounds of rather weighty 7.62 ammunition. ¬†Interestingly, the Army wants to maintain its 210 round basic load of ammunition even though the 7.62mm M80A1 round will more than double its weight.

They must also submit a suppressor. However, we expect that there will be a suppressor competition down the road as well as a telescopic optic competition for the ICSR. There’s not much point in open sights for a weapon expected to engage targets out last 600m.

Finally, there’s the issue of the weapon’s name. It’s referred to as an “interim” rifle leading us to believe that the Army still wants to transition at some point, to an intermediate caliber, a concept we discussed at length during our initial reporting back in April. Don’t forget, USOCOM is currently evaluating cartridges in the 6.5mm family. Our money remains on the .260 Remington.

For full details, visit www.fbo.gov.

83 Responses to “US Army Issues Solicitation For 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle”

  1. Thulsa Doom says:

    So, 210 rounds of 5.56mm ammo weighs the same as 104 rounds of 7.62. We’re doubling the Soldier’s ammunition weight carriage?

    • SSD says:

      Precisely. With the lack of 30 rd 7.62 mags, the basic load will no doubt change.

      • BillC says:

        With all those extra, and bigger magazines to carry a heavier combat load of 7.62 NATO, the soldier is now going to be so much bulkier and heavier. Good luck keeping up with the rest of the team and scaling obstacles.

        • 86MTN says:

          The SAW gunner is already carrying far more weight than that, you wouldn’t even be the most encumbered member of the team.

  2. Jimbo says:

    Full auto in a rifle? Waste of time, money, effort, and rounds. IMO shouldn’t be a requirement for this system. I’ve been in a fair share of firefights (18B/18Z) and I’ve never thought, “gee, I should go full auto with my rifle”. That’s what AWs are for. SAW…Squad Automatic Weapon.

    • AZLT says:

      Thats what I was thinking too. We tried this with the M14, seems the Army can never learn from previous mistakes.

    • AlexC says:

      I believe the British had great battlefield success with full-auto FAL’s in the Falklands War.
      Just because the US Army wasn’t successful with something, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

      • Jim says:

        Not exactly true. Captured full auto FN’s were used used, as the issue SLR (FN) was semi auto. The eficacy of these captured rifles is debatable. Generally you cant hit shit on full auto with a 7.62 NATO Rifle. The heavy barrel FN’s with bipod in the FS role are good though.

  3. S1 says:

    I’m surprised the request has taken this long. Not trying to start a ballistics debate, but I think the 7.62 would be so versatile in many situations. I’m glad they are starting the process with suppressors included.

  4. Josh says:

    Well this is a dumb idea. But then again “Army”.

  5. Reece says:

    I still cant figure out what the over-match the army is talking about is? if the enemy is using 5.45 or 7.62×39 AKs then the 5.56 is not outmatched. If they are referring to an out match of the PKM vs a squad then why are we replacing the rifle and not fielding more M240s or looking at a light weight version of the 240 to replace and or augment the 249? Seems like comparing apples to oranges to me.

    • SSD says:

      Read more SSD. We’ve discussed the additional work being done.

      • Reece says:

        I do check SSD every day. But I’ve yet to see anything that makes this decision make sense if its intended to be more than a replacement for the M14s that are still in inventory.

        • SSD says:

          It’s been discussed at length. So you aren’t convinced. The CSA is.

        • Seamus says:

          Overmatch is more about 5.56mm vs Level IV ceramic armor plates than it is about how it relates to other enemy small arms. Common sense really, if the bad guys cover themselves in armor and our bullets can’t penetrate it, then why the hell am I even carrying a gun in the first place? Arms and Armor have always been in a see-saw battle through the ages, now is no different.

  6. tazman66gt says:

    So, new administration that “likes” the military so they (military bureaucrats) figure they can milk it for all its worth.

  7. Steven S says:

    Controllable full auto in 7.62?!?!?

    I have a good guess that it won’t work well in practice.

  8. Thomas says:

    Okay…so why not just go with .260 Remington?

  9. GMK says:

    Rails on all sides? Paging 2007…

  10. gd442 says:

    what is wrong with 300 blk?

    • Thulsa Doom says:

      Other than the fact that:

      1) the 300 is designed/optimized for short range suppressor use?
      2) the 300 has the ballistic trajectory of a mortar or 45/70?
      3) the 300 is the ballistic/performance clone of the 7.62×39 or 30-30, neither of which is known for its advanced armor penetrating capability?
      4) Joe can and will try to use a 300 Blkout magazine in a 5.56 weapon. Or the other way round. With disastrous results

      The smart money is going to be on .260 Rem. Ability to use M13 links and feed systems, 308 pattern magazines, and a 308/762 parent case means the sustainment and support logistics and engineering are mostly done. Lake City can reuse most of their existing machinery. The only change to existing 7.62 weapons would be a barrel change and new iron sight calibration; all of which could be taken care of by 3rd shops, MMTs, or Anniston.

  11. anthilltiger says:

    7.62 is a good round…..Weight concerns, yes now that so many women are in US military combat groups now… Not sure the Russians worry to much about weight restrictions….?

    • Joglee says:

      Russia issues out the 6.8lb AK-74.

      You don’t see them going to a 12lb 7.62x54r general issue rifle do you?

  12. Mark G. says:

    Here we go again….

    Caliber is not the solution to body armor. A robust stomach for problem solving is.

  13. TKS says:

    50,000 rifles at $2,000 a piece = $100,000,000!! If we get the “government discount” of $1,000/ea that is $50 million. No wonder we are 20 trillion in debt! 50-100 million for an “interim” rifle? Then another 200 plus million to equip every knucklehead with the new caliber, whatever that turns out to be. We just flush money down the defense contractor toilet. Or, how about we not spend the $100+ million on new ANA camo and spend it on rifles?

    Oh I forgot, $100’s of millions to redo all the ranges for the EPR and extended distances. EPR will be punching holes in the pop-ups.

    29 years on Marine and Navy bases, I can only imagine what they could do with the $100’s millions we will spend on interim solutions?

    • SSD says:

      They are working on a 7.62 training round. The Army isn’t going to expand its range complexes.

    • Christopher Schmidt says:

      Do a google search on the price of a single F-35. $100 mil aint much in the scheme of the entire defense budget.

  14. SGT Rock says:

    I miss Weapons Man. I don’t know where his fan base went after he passed so suddenly. Threads like this would have had some different perspectives. SOF and big green are different. Mech and Light Inf are different. Line and support units are different. TBH, I have a .308Win and I retrofitted a sorbothane shotgun recoil pad on it. Accurate full auto my ass.

  15. Joglee says:

    My take on this?

    The SCAR is the only one who can win, this is built for the SCAR-H.

    I have yet to fire an AR-10 platform, and yes that includes the HK 7.62 rifles that recoils as soft and is as easily controlled as the SCAR.

    On top of that I have yet to see an AR-10 be nearly as reliable as the SCAR-H.

    Considering they want a full auto capable rifle that leaves practically only the SCAR-H with actual real world experience as a full auto 7.62 battle rifle, thanks to it’s continued use within SOCOM.

    So my guess is this will go to the SCAR-H and everyone will probably be happy with the platform.

    • SSD says:

      Except that nobody wants the Mk17, including SOCOM.

      • Joglee says:

        SOCOM doesn’t want a 7.62 general issue rifle either.

        • Joglee says:

          Truly I hope we get a AR-10 so that the civilian market can get a standardized receiver set.

          That would be nice, either the GII set out the KAC receiver set. Let the AR-10 market become what the AR-15 has become.

    • James says:

      That would leave a lot of room for conversion to different rounds too. Say they decide 264usa is the right round,: new lower, bolt and barrel, done! Maybe with a wider adoption the issues with optics and lasers will be sorted. Have heard that SOCOM basically uses it for an acceptance benchmark on sights now anyway.

  16. HabuGuy says:

    Trump should issue exec order for .260 Rem. 100-grain Barnes TTSX .359 BC at 3,100 ish = armor piercing, at least 33.333% less round weight and recoil, flatter trajectory, better retained energy, better visual on head shots.

    If they insist on FA, 2-3 burst only. Better yet, same rounds in SAWs.

    Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy! All else is twaddle.

    Yer welcome,

    USAF Vet

    • Zach says:

      A G1 of 0.359? That’s terrible. A 0.264 cal 130gr Berger AR Hybrid has a G7 of 0.590. I’ve pushed those bullets up in the 2900s with my 6.5 CM, and I would only assume a 260 could push it a bit faster.

  17. Thulsa Doom says:

    Pop Quiz:

    1) Second order effects of changing calibers to a heavier caliber include:

    2) Third order effects include:

    Discuss and use specific figures.

    Bonus points for MTOE changes, training, sustainment, and industrial base considerations.

  18. Chris B says:

    As someone who has the historic, technical, and real world experience with the the subjects of battle rifles and weapon designs, I wouldn’t mind hearing from Larry Vickers on this ( or someone else with a similar knowledge base on everything this entails ). Based on my experience deployed and as an owner of several 7.62 platforms, I have my own preference for which I’d like to carry (as does everyone else), but hearing from people beyond my level of knowledge has changed my opinions on past issues.

  19. Robert Walton says:

    The M-14 has been battle-tested and we know it works! Bring back the battle-rifle! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M14_rifle

    • SSD says:

      Um, no…

    • seans says:

      Yes lets bring back one of the worst rifles of all time. Heavy, high maintenance, not that accurate, and extremely sensitive to the environment. Great idea.

    • Thulsa Doom says:

      No.

      Do we still drive 1936 technology cars or fly in Ford Tri-Motors? No. The M14 was a Garand (a 1936 design) with a box magazine. Heavy, inaccurate, and fussy.

      No.

  20. CAP says:

    So, people are saying this is going to “replace” the M4. Do they mean all the M4s? Or will these be sprikled around replacing a few M4s in the squad?

    If the intent is to supplement the squads firepower by replacing a few M4s with this new rifle and us it as a kind of DMR, I think that’s a great idea.

    Is the intent here really to replace all the M4s and 5.56 completely?

    • SSD says:

      No, it won’t replace the M4. While the Army has not released a BOIP, it is intended for use at the IBCT level and may be issued pure fleet to Squads or ILO select M4s.

      • Joglee says:

        With them leaving the option to procure more of them later on, and logistical trains being what they are I can see this eventually becoming a pure fleet item.

        Won’t happen right away, but it is certainly a possibility imo.

        • Joglee says:

          By that I mean how they tried to replace the 500,000 M4’s with the ICC and are now doing it with M4A1’s.

          I could see them eventually buying 500,000 of these.

          Reserve and what not will retain the M4.

          • 32sbct says:

            Not correct! All IBCT including the National Guard would need these. How would we train new Soldiers at OSUT, active duty trains on one weapon system and National Guard trains on another? Also, all the doctrine would have to split between those who have the 7.62 and those that don’t. That would take us back to the late 80’s when active duty had the new big five (M1 Abrams, Bradley IFV, MLRS, Blackhawk and Apache) and the Guard had the M60 series, M113, Huey, Cobra, etc. When the Persian Gulf War kicked off the Guard combat divisions couldn’t integrate or fight alongside an active duty division because of the mismatch in equipment, training, and doctrine. A lesson learned that should not be repeated.

            • Joglee says:

              That is more what I meant.

              There is no way to only issue this rifle out to rapid deploying IBCT’s who will go to Europe and no one else.

              How do we train them? Do we train separate TTPs depending on who may or may not go to what IBCT?

              I mean how do we differentiate between the rapid deploying ones who need the 50,000 ICSR’s and the ones who do not?

              This will either have to go no where, or it will have to pure fleet replace the M4A1 across the board lest TTPs be so screwed up that no one will learn how to do anything because you have TTPs for everyone carrying nothing but 7.62 rifles, and TTPs for 5.56/7.62 rifles.

              Just issuing a select few IBCTs this new rifle would be so convoluted as to be impossible. Unless we end up buying 500,000 ICSR’s and issue them to every active duty Army personnel, completely replacing the M4A1 across the Army.

            • SSD says:

              The CSA doesn’t see it that way.

              • Joglee says:

                Clearly.

                Like I said, you either issue it to every active duty Army soldier or none.

                Being that it will be replacing the M4 for the IBCTs that get it, unless they plant to implement and train on two separate TTPs for two separate general issue Carbine, it will have to be a fleet wide replacement of the M4.

    • SSD says:

      Also, if you’ve been following SSD, you know that there’s still an unfulfilled directed requirement for 6,069 G28s for use in the SDMR role.

  21. mark says:

    There’s quite a few videos on youtube of M80A1 testing against Level IV armor, including testing of the projectile loaded into a .300 win mag @ 3463fps.

    In none of the tests did M80A1 defeat Level IV armor.

    So soliciting a 7.62 battle rifle designed to fire M80A1 in order to defeat body armor…seems dubious.

    • Jamee says:

      Are we sure that’s what we are talking about? In the initial discussion in Congress they were talking about cheap readily available armor. 150$ range iirc. Sounds a lot like AR500 level 3. While 855a1 can do that, not sure about how far out it will. Then again” the wound channel” on YouTube loaded some 80a1 projectiles in 300blk at a velocity approximating the 762 load at 400 and it wouldn’t penetrate level3

  22. Horace says:

    Look folks…I trained at Ft Polk on M-14 7.62 in 68 then when got to Nam downgraded to the M-16A1 5.56…..always wanted the 7.62 back….less rounds or heavier didn’t matter to me….I could body tap at 1000 yards open sights and liked that advantage plus the penetration through a tree or log or whatever to nail bad guy. If not spraying & praying (like actually being a rifleman and aiming) then have no need for the under high cap M-16. 308/7.62 still my favorite round for most all uses….except hunting in Colorado when used 7mm Mag often.

    • Joglee says:

      You weren’t body tapping on shot dropping anyone at 1000M with a rack grade iron sighted M-14.

      • TKS says:

        Unless you were shooting through twigs the M80 doesn’t go through trees, logs, stumps, brick out houses to nail the bad guy. What video game are you playing?

  23. CAP says:

    Ok. I’ve been thinking about this all day, and i still dont get it.

    If the issue with the M4/5.56 is that it can’t penetrate level 4 body armor, then what would be the benefit of the ICSR? Neither M855A1 or M80A1 can penetrate this armor. A new bullet must be designed to defeat it. If we have to go through all the hoops to develop a new round to penetrate level 4 armor, why can’t we come up with somthing in 5.56?

    If the issue with the M4/5.56 is overmatch, what would be the benefit of the ICSR? Does the army really want every rifleman in an IBCT to be able to go toe to toe with a PKM? Isn’t that what M240s and DMRs are for? Do we really expect EVERY member of a squad to be able to engage point targets at 1000m? If so, does anyone really believe that the army will invest in training every rifleman to enage these long distance targets? If not, then how will a 7.62 carbine be any better than a 5.56 carbine?

    If the goal of the ICSR is to replace the M4 as the primary individual weapon of every member of an IBCT squad, then all they will end up with is a bigger, heavier weapon with less ammo, that’s more difficult to use, and more expensive.

  24. Will Rodriguez says:

    Bad idea for many of the reasons already listed:

    -Weight
    -Flawed over match comparison
    -Can 7.62 penetrate these uber plates (how widely are the Russians actually fielding these plates)
    -The wisdom of buying an “interim” rifle for an as yet TBD round (when next decade are we going to do that study?)

    New money is burning a hole in the General’s pocket.

    Or maybe he just wants to make his mark. Shinseki had the Black Beret.

    • Joe says:

      Funny how Shinseki is tied to the beret, but nobody is tied to UCP.

      • Will Rodriguez says:

        Well, GEN Peter J. Schoomaker was the Chief of Staff. Former Army Special Forces…

        The PEO Soldier reps at Ft. Benning personally told me Schoomaker was the force behind no branch and badges being displayed on the ACU (pin on badges ok). He may or may not have created the uniform but he had some role.

        If he was held responsible though it would put a blemish on SOF always getting it right…

  25. KevinB says:

    I’m guessing the rocket scientist that wanted full auto in a 7.62 shoulder fired gun had never shot one…

    Didn’t work in the FAL, G3, M14, SCAR-H, 417 etc. Heck try a Mk48 from the shoulder and your going for a ride and that’s significantly heavier

    • Joglee says:

      So I take it KAC has solved the issue with recoil??

      • KevinB says:

        KAC never produced many auto SR’s.
        Any demo of select fire 7.62’s I’ve ever seen ended up with customers seeing it as useless. If given a K gun I’d prefer it semi than select

        All this seems to me as someone trying to grease skids for a program before the 6.5 CTA LSAT setups are ready.

        Given the overwhelming majority of our troops can shoot their M4’s proficiency- this is yet another braindead empty overmatch argument that misses the point on software (training) with a hardware answer.

        • KevinB says:

          Should have been ‘cannot shoot’ as opposed to can shoot.

        • SSD says:

          I don’t see LSAT happening as an issue weapon. The change in weapon operating system and unique ammunition all at once is a tough pill to swallow.

          As for the move to .308 to pave the way to a 6.5 transition? Well, that’s why it’s called an Interim rifle.

          • KevinB says:

            I know you remember Eric that the Army has been preaching revolutionary not evolutionary for some time.
            A new cartridge is a 1B pill to swallow – I don’t see anyone ponying money up for another brass cartridge.

            The 6.5 LSAT guns aren’t prime time yet – but even as a 7.62 fan, I think this ‘interim’ solution at best a very wasteful one.
            M4 PIP work should suffice until the LSAT concept can be completed and open competition had for it (IMHO)

            The brass cased 6.5 stuff I’ve seen tends to need an 18″+ barrel for performance. While in 7.62 14.5-16″ guns with new ammo works.
            No one is going to accept a 18″ barrel in a 7.62mm sized platform outside the sniper community.

  26. BAP45 says:

    Hey Sorry I’m late to the party, But I think it would be pretty fun to see Ohio ordnance submit their HCAR deal to this. It wouldn’t have a snowballs chance but it would be kind of fun to watch it go.