Tactical Tailor

Program Manager Individual Weapons Issues Request For Information To Industry For 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle

For the last couple of months we’ve been talking about the US Army’s 7.62 rifle requirements.

For quite awhile it looked like they were going to leverage the M110A1 Compact Semi Automatic Sniper System program by purchasing additional Heckler & Koch G28s like they are doing for the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle’s directed requirement for 6069 rifles. Unfortunately, the CSASS weapon would need some changes for the ICSR role. For instance, it’s semi automatic and we understand that was a major sticking point. Consequently, they’ve released a Market Survey to industry in order to identify companies capable of producing a rifle which meets their requirements.

This slide was briefed by PM Soldier Weapons at the recent NDIA Armaments Conference and shows the ICSR as a directed requirement and has been in development for awhile.


Desired Attributes of Interim Combat Service Rifle:
• The rifle must be a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) system readily available for purchase today. Modified or customized systems are not being considered.
• Caliber: 7.62x51mm
• Available barrel lengths, to include 16 and 20 inch barrels, without muzzle device attached.
• Muzzle device capable of or adaptable to auxiliary devices for:
— Compensation of muzzle climb
— Flash suppression
— Sound Suppression
• Fire Control: Safe, Semi-automatic, and fully automatic capable.
• All controls (e.g. selector, charging handle) are ambidextrous and operable by left and right handed users
• Capable of mounting a 1.25 inch wide military sling
• Capable of accepting or mounting the following accessories.
— Forward grip/bi-pod for the weapon
— variable power optic
• Detachable magazine with a minimum capacity of 20 rounds
• Folding or collapsing buttstock adjustable to change the overall length of the weapon
• Foldable backup iron sights calibrated/adjustable to a maximum of 600 meters range
• Weight less than 12lb unloaded and without optic
• Extended Forward Rail

This requirement was initially driven by a need to defeat a threat at 600m, but Army Chief of Staff GEN Mark Milley’s recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee indicates that the proliferation of inexpensive armor which defeats out 5.56mm ammunition by our adversaries to be the current culprit. GEN Milley testified that the Army had developed a 7.62 round which will defeat that body armor. The ICSR is intended to fire that cartridge.

While the RFI mentions the production 10,000 rifles, remember, that’s a nice round number and not indicative of the actual requirement. Basis of Issue has been tossed around, ranging from four per squad to pure fleet fielding for IBCTs.

Naturally, this move to a full and open competition also means that the ICSR may not be the same rifle already selected for use as CSASS and SDMR. From a logistics standpoint this seems unwise to have two different (three if you count the legacy M110s) 7.62mm rifles in service at the same time with few, if any, compatible parts.

We’ve already discussed how the basic load goes from 210 rounds for 5.56mm to 104 rounds for 7.62. Now, consider a 12 lbs rifle with additional optic and other accessories, further driving the weight up. In addition to the load bearing burden, there is another issue at hand which must be considered. Not only is the rifle and ammunition heavier, it’s also more arduous to shoot, and that’s just on semi. The Soldier must hold the weapon on target and deal with the increased recoil impulse. Anyone who shoots both 7.62 and 5.56 regularly will tell you that they just don’t shoot as much 7.62 at a time as they do 5.56. When we add full automatic fire into the equation, we begin to enter relatively unknown  territory. Even when the US Army last issued a 7.62 rifle, the M14, only one Soldier per squad had a full automatic rifle (M14E2) which was configured slightly differently than the semi auto M14 carried by his squad mates. Go back further to the days of the M1 Garand and its .30-06 M1 cartridge and you find a completely different weapon for full auto fire, the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

However, finding a COTS, fully automatic 7.62 rifle will be a challenge. Aside from FN’s Mk17 SCAR Heavy and HK417, there aren’t many others. We suspect the Army will end up looking at a bunch of AR10esque “COTS” guns which coincidentally have just recently been modified to fire full auto. They’ll be reliable guns in semi auto fire, but unproven for long-term full auto use.

Granted, it’s easier to get to an intermediate cartridge (6.5mm family) with a 7.62 platform, if that’s the actual, ultimate goal. The impending release of the Small Arms Caliber Study and USASOC’s current evaluation of 6.5 rounds will certainly inform such a move, but it’s still years off.

Based in these factors, there are many who would understandably prefer to just wait it out for the development of an intermediate cartridge and build a gun around that.

 However, as we recently wrote, the US military currently finds itself at the nexus of a US small arms renassiance. Requirements exist. Solutions, although not perfect, exist. And most of all, political will exists to resource the acquisitions. Rarely do we find ourselves in this position, so we must capitalize on the opportunity. Hopefully, the Army fully considers the full impact of fielding this weapon and make wise choices.

To read the full Sources Sought Notice, visit www.fbo.gov.

37 Responses to “Program Manager Individual Weapons Issues Request For Information To Industry For 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle”

  1. KevinB says:

    Anyone asking for a select fire 7.62 Individual Shoulder Fired Weapon clearly has not shot one in automatic…

    • Kit Badger says:

      Of course not… …because select fire 7.62 are fired from the hip.

      • AbnMedOps says:

        No, not “from the hip”, but from the “Underarm Assault Position” (which is a thing). This involves gripping the stock of the rifle firmly between the inside of the upper arm and the upper torso, close under the arm pit. This absorbs most of the recoil, and provides a natural sensory “index” of the general direction in which the rifle is directed. Aiming (or rather pointing) the rifle is accomplished by keeping eyes on the target, and rotating the torso and/or using the support hand to direct the muzzle. Also applicable to SMG’s and other weapons.

    • Josh says:

      Not necessarily. The MK17 is very manageable on automatic, so with the right combination of carrier group, gas system, and buffer system, an controllable auto 7.62 weapon is easily do-able. Just look at the 7.62 AR platforms that are being run in 3-gun. They fire flat and recoil just a hair more than a 5.56 gun.

      • Will Rodriguez says:

        They aren’t shooting full auto in three gun.

        A fully automatic weapon is firing that second round before the gun comes back on the original point of aim. It’s aggravated when a weapon has a higher recoil.

      • Mark G says:

        Most 3 gunners are also shooting hand loads tailored to their rifle and adjustable gas blocks. It’s really kind of silly to make this analogy…

  2. SVGC says:

    I carried several different 7.62 platforms throughout deployments, selecting them over 5.56 options as I saw fit. The 12lb weight requirement confuses me when the csass was determined to need to be in the 9lb range. When you add optic/mount, muzzle device, laser, flashlight, and sling this will become one unwieldy weapon even before you start talking about a gender integrated Infantry. And I’m having a hard time seeing the usefulness of the 20″ variant if there’s going to still be a SDMR.

    • Joshua says:

      As a 190lb male, I don’t want to hump a 12lb bare rifle that will weight close to 17 when fully loaded.

      That’s just retarded.

      • Will Rodriguez says:

        Yep, it is. All the excitement to going to a bigger caliber is forgetting many of the reasons we left it.

        Remember that saying about failing to learn from history?

        • wheatshocker says:

          This is a quandary. I understood what’s driving the requirement for bigger caliber, be it 7.62 or 6.5-7mm IC, is increased effective range and power to address the ‘overmatch’ problem. History also taught us that 5.56 is underpowered and going that small 50 years ago may have been a mistake.

          I don’t think we can have it both ways can we?

  3. Joshua says:

    Wow…thanks Milley. So glad I’ll be getting out before this happens.

  4. PTMcCain says:

    From a historical perspective, these conversations are absolutely fascinating. It seems that the time-tested bullet in .30 caliber continues to bubble up to the surface when it comes to a “full sized battle cartridge.” It’s interesting how Russia/Soviets/Russia themselves went to a .556 type bullet for their main assault rifle platform, but still field the tried and true 7.62 x 54R.

    • Joshua says:

      And we have had 7.62×51 in the LMG/DMR roll for ages now.

      You don’t see Russia working to issue a battle rifle in 7.62x54r now do you?

  5. Marcus T says:

    Understood this has to be COTS. But it has occurred to me there are probably a few more manufacturers who make exceptional 7.62 rifles that have been tested as select fire, which could fit the specs (or tell you why they don’t offer one).

  6. Kinetix says:

    Unfortunately, the H&K 417 has a nice edge here, being that it was essentially just selected for 2 other 7.62 requirements. That being said, I feel a KAC revenge coming…thus will definitely be interesting.

    • SecondGradeMath says:

      Except HK can’t deliver 10K rifles in 24 months making them in the US.

      Even more so if CSASS actually happens.

      • Joshua says:

        Truth. Everyone I’ve talked to about the CSASS have a feeling it will go the way of the PSR for one reason or the other, but most feel HK will fail to deliver the quantity required.

        Similar to their failings with the XM25.

      • Kinetix says:

        Very true, the USMC ran into the same problem when they wanted more M27’s and H&K was barely muddling through thew first order.

        That being said, I wouldn’t exactly underestimate H&K’s marketing and lobbying, they’ve been at this for more than a decade and somehow succeeded in getting a totally new piston driven rifle, with a bulkier, proprietary magazine, that they likely can’t produce, selected for a competition that really should have just been a sole source contract for modification kits for rifles that Army already bought (M110).

        • Joshua says:

          It had less to do with performance, and more to do with HK has the OSS suppressor and the best optic entered.

          It only won because it was the best “Package”. However it still has a lot facing it and a lot that could spell its doom.

  7. patrick sweeney says:

    12 lbs? Really? We could make a .30 rifle, of wood and steel, at 9.5 lbs, bare, half a century ago. And now, with exotic materials and alloys, the best we can do is 12 lbs?

    Someone is not paying attention.

    And unless you are using an absolutely obnoxious muzzle brake, a 12 lb select-fire .30 rifle is going to be useless.

  8. TexasKrypteia says:

    Isn’t the SCAR MK17 already in the inventory? Tested. Combat proven. Modular. Where’s the problem?

    • Joshua says:

      Honestly out of the possible cots solutions the SCAR would be my pic.

      7.9lbs and easy to shoot and control on full auto, even in 7.62. plus it’s easy to convert calibers. It’s certainly also has a leg up on everyone else due to being in service since 2007.

    • corsair says:

      Eats optics.

    • DangerMouse says:

      I’ve said it before, but as much as I love the SR25, I think the SCAR-H brings something to the table that none of the others do.

      That’s the fact that you could swap the non-serialized lower for .264USA or whatever the next gen cartridge ends up being.

      It is far easier for .mil to purchase accessories than new serialized weapons.

      Nothing else brings that capability that I am aware of except maybe the Colt 901.

  9. Mick says:


    I know there’s lots of informed opinions in the comments (err, everybody else, quit laughing, especially in light of recent “don’t be a jerk in the comments” post), but since this is your site… I’d be curious to hear your opinion on where we’re at, likely outcomes, and best course of action going forward, etc.

    It’s time for an editorial! Give us some recommended solutions!

    About all of it: weapon, caliber, doctrine, etc.
    Add two DMs per inf squad with G28s? HK417s? Give everybody CSASS, but without optics?

    I come for the news, but stay for the expertise…



    • Steven S says:

      If you pay attention to his articles and read his comments (especially from the last two weeks). You should have a good understanding of his views on the subject…

      Now in regards to specific recommendations, he is will probably? won’t get too much into doctrine related stuff. He simply doesn’t do that kind of stuff. Remember, this site is for new developments in gear and other related systems for the individual soldier. Its not a site for strategy, policy, and big picture programs.

      • Steven S says:

        Ignore the ? marks in my previous reply. My phone is going crazy or something?.

  10. Invictus says:

    Was the full-auto M14 really only fielded one per squad? I’d be interested to see what kind of numbers that translated to overall across the services. Seems like it’d be a lot fewer than what I was expecting.

  11. TKS says:

    Read this post on my way out to the range to zero16″ and 18″ AR10 clones. I don’t think a 7.62 battle rifle is the answer. As mentioned many times previously, weight of the rifle, ammo and recoil. What about the 5’2″ 105 pound female soldier of Obama’s new infantry? Historically When Japan had a 7.62 main battle rifle they used reduced loads. This is going to be an expensive disaster. Has anyone in Army Ordnance read the history of the M14?

    I own and shoot several 5.56 AR clones, 6.5 Grendel AR clones, 3 AR10 clones and a .50 Beowulf plus many FAl/L1A1’s. I think the answer no one is considering is the Grendel. Mild recoil, flatter trajectory, lighter ammo and rifle/carbine weighs almost the same as an equivalent M16/4.

    I would love to try the Grendel on full auto!!! As a side thought, forget the combat shotgun. Go with a Beowulf. Same as a rifled slug with more accuracy and range. Same muscle memory as the M4. Will blow door down and kill the guy behind an auto down the road. Think of an ECP, on soldier with the standard M4 one with 350gr solid brass Beowulf. Now that would stop a VBIED!

    • TKS says:

      Forgot to mention the Grendel shoots anywhere from 100-140gr bulllets. That is 2-2.5 the weight of the M855A1. Why do we want to go back to 147gr mule kick?

    • Joshua says:

      It’s not just women.

      We carry enough as is, I don’t want a rifle that adds another 5.2lbs over what we currently carry while also adding another 6lbs for ammo to match our current 210 round combat load.

  12. mudd says:

    KAC m110K?

    • Kinetix says:

      I would guess that the M110K or some variant of their civilian SR-25 Carbine would be likely contenders.

  13. AbnMedOps says:

    Robinson XCR-M. Delivered w/ blank adapter.

  14. wheatshocker says:

    It seems we are forgetting this just supposed to be an INTERIM solution to buy time for the testing & adoption of new caliber in 6.5 – 7mm range and a battle rifle to deliver it. I would think a platform to deliver such caliber size (AR-12?) would be lighter, and have less recoil than any interim 7.62 COTS solution, so the end goal would be accomplished. Am I understanding correctly?