Primary Arms


Naturally, if word gets out that the Interim Combat Service Rifle effort has stopped midstream, folks are going to wonder about other 7.62mm programs, especially CSASS.

Despite a contract award in early 2016 to H&K for a G28 variant, the US Army has yet to field any M110A1 Compact Semi Auto Sniper Systems. So far, the program has no funding. It’s not dead; it just doesn’t have money to buy anything.

However, a directed requirement for 6069 G28 rifles, which are essentially M110A1s minus the optic, is still rumored to be moving forward, albeit rather slowly. These rifles will be fitted with a different optic and used in the Squad Designated Marksman role. While the Army will not have a widespread capacity to bring 7.62 hate, the DMR guns and existing M110s, built by Knight’s Armament Co, offer a limited capability.

However, CSASS is still alive and well with the US Navy and US Air Force, who are reportedly still on track to field several thousand of the rifle system.

Within an hour of this post being published, The Army Contracting Command published an award on FedBizOpps entitled, “Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System Engineering Change Proposal”.

The U.S. Army Contracting Command – New Jersey (ACC-NJ), on behalf of the Project Manager Soldier Weapons (PM-SW), awarded a modification to incorporate Engineering Change Proposals to the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System.

If I were a betting man, that ECP turns the CSASS into a DMR by eliminating the Optic and Suppressor as well as lengthening the Barrel, which results aggregately in lowering the price and producing the desired variant of the G28 specified in the Directed Requirement. If it includes a full-auto function, ICSR could still happen as an ECPed CSASS and offer the Army the 7.62 H&K G28, it wants.

We will update you as we learn the details of this ECP.


35 Responses to “UPDATED – CSASS Update”

  1. Marcus says:

    What is the “limited capability” offered by existing M110’s?

    This appears to be a subject of debate.

    • SSD says:

      Numbers. If you’ve got to get a bunch of 7.62 rifles together very quickly, it would be difficult because there aren’t that many and they are spread out all over the Army.

      • Marcus says:

        Understood and perhaps I’m being pedantic. But that’s not “limited capability”. That makes it sounds as though the G28 variant is bringing some new capability to the fore. My limited understanding, which is subject to those who know better, it that “need” is part of the discussion. For example, this brings “X” capability to the fight that we don’t have or cannot source today.

        That being said, has KAC stated they cannot produce their variant in adequate numbers? Or is that a presumption since they did not win the solicitation?

        I’m not being argumentative, by the way. Nor do I have a dog in this fight. I’m just simply trying to understand the material aspects and decision process.

        • SSD says:

          Ugh…there are only so many M110s in the Army. It makes zero difference how many Knight’s can make. This is what the Army has.

          Woulda, coulda, shoulda means nothing once the balloon goes up.

          • Marcus says:

            I’m mostly concerned with units having a capability gap as opposed to any particular vendor. Is that a factor here or is the main concern simply fielding that capability to units who don’t have it today?

            • SSD says:

              It’s about following the law. The DFAR regulate how DoD buys things. A capability may exist, but they have to go through the proper hoops to get it.

  2. Sam says:

    that photo makes it look like a honey badger

  3. Joglee says:

    Milley is gonna have his ICSR one way or another before he retires it looks like.

    No stopping this train.

  4. TKS says:

    This makes perfect sense. Take the optic off, make the OSS supppressor optional and now you have a common base. DMR or CSASS. It simplifies parts, training, etc. if a caliber change comes and it is based on the 7.62 cartridge all you will need is a new barrel. Damn the AQ kingdom and rice bowls. COTS this now. Doctrine 2-3 per squad?? This is too easy.

    • TKS says:

      Rant ALERT: These rifles are already tested. We don’t need to spend XXmillions on more tests. The British overtested the LMT MWS. So many COTS options. Test the new POF 308 in a 556 sized receiver!

      Caliber tests: will 2020 give more data than the Pig Board? The post WWII studies of the UK, USSR and our own Army all said intermediate caliber. If we will not believe our own or allies or enemies data, what data will we believe? As Me Schultz said, we
      Spend millions on the dream technology of the future rather than incremental and wise choices now. Again, so many COTS choices!

  5. TKS says:

    Pig Board, if anyone has a link pls share it. I have searched and am referencing Army documents that reference the “Pig Board”. I would love to read the original report.

    • I haven’t come across the full reports from the Pig Board and Goat Board, but I seem to remember Maj. General Julian Hatcher actually publishing some excerpts in one of his books. It is probably in “The Book of the Garand,” with an outside chance of “Hatcher’s Notebook.”

    • Kirk says:

      Back in the old days, before the Internet, you had to request stuff from DTIC in writing, and there was a hard-copy catalog of what they had available.

      I vaguely remember going through a bunch of that stuff from DTIC, and seeing the original reports on the so-called “Pig Board” and “Goat Board” were available for some truly unGodly sum in copying fees. I couldn’t make the case for my command to pay for the damn things, and since it was merely to satisfy my personal curiosity, I never followed up on it. I do remember that they were there, back when, circa 1993-ish. I presume you could find them somewhere in the National Archives, as well.

  6. Note that even with the new contract modification, it appears that the Army hasn’t obligated any additional funding to HK since the original ~$281,062 delivery order in March 31, 2016.

  7. Pro Patria says:

    Could the ECP be just for the change to the MLOK comparable rail that has been mentioned before?

    Also why would you think they would ECP a longer barrel for a DMR if they wanted a shorter sniper system.

    • SSD says:

      They already changed to the M-Lok rail months ago.

      Because now they want a different gun.

      • Sal says:

        If they want a fullsize barrel why not just buy more M110s?

        The whole point of this exercise was to field a more mobile precision rifle. Putting a fullsize barrel on it negates the whole point.

        • SSD says:

          Because they would need to eat a new contract. This would probably result in a recompete ala CSASS.

          • Sal says:


            Why would they need to recompete a weapon that is already type classified?

            Did the Army always hold competitions when they wanted more M240s, M249s, M9s etc?

            • SSD says:

              They have to compete for the build of additional guns. How do you think Colt ended up building M240s?

              The problem comes in when the government does not have rights to the TDP.

              This is the same problem going on with the Marine Corps and the M27. Their initial contract wasn’t big enough to buy all the guns they need now.

  8. Kirk says:

    ICSR, CSASS, whatever…

    I’m still waiting to see them articulate what the hell they intend to do with these things, and how they’ll be integrated into our doctrine and tactics. A 7.62mm individual weapon has been tried before, in the US Army, and was found not to work well at all. What, specifically, has changed? Are we no longer using those tactics and operational techniques? Have we changed to ones that require a 7.62mm weapon?

    All this crap is being done in an absence of mind that I find truly disturbing. It’s like the powers-that-be in the Army do not understand what the ever-loving fuck they are supposed to be doing, and are reacting to the whim of the moment and the sense of whatever the last conversation was that they had with some purported expert. Or, they’re just pulling this shit out of their ass, the way they came up with UCP.

    I can think of a number of ways in which you could justify changing over to a 7.62mm individual weapon. But, they all require a near-total change to how we would fight, in order to make them effective and not over-burden the guys out on the sticky end of things–Signally, I don’t see anyone even discussing making those changes.

    One example of what I’m talking about is the fact that once you go to a 7.62mm individual weapon, you’re pretty much effectively abandoning the idea of getting up close and personal with the enemy in things like MOUT. The weapons are just too damn heavy, the ammo as well. If we’re going to go to a 7.62mm individual weapon, then tactics need to change such that we’re not trying to play Stalingrad-on-the-Pech with weapons and ammo that are way too much of a burden to the troops. This would mean that we would need to change what we’re doing, cease trying to close with the enemy in close quarters, and instead draw them out into killing grounds where we can take advantage of the long range of the 7.62mm systems we are talking about giving them.

    I don’t see anyone talking about this sort of thing, at all, sooooo… Tell me again, what all this is in service of…? Or, am I just being a dense old soldier who simply doesn’t “get it” any more?

    • SSD says:

      The 7.62mm rifle was intended as an interim weapon, for a specific threat. Eventually, the plan was to transition it to a new intermediate cartridge, once that was selected. This is a feat moral easily accomplished from 7.62 than 5.56.

      • Kirk says:

        SSD, y’all might, I say again, just might want to go back and take a long, hard look at just how we got where we are today. The M16 “program” was intended to be another of these “easily transitioned interim solutions”, as we progressed on to the promised land of the SPIW. I think we all know how that really shook out, or do I need to spend a few paragraphs highlighting the history, here…?

        Unless there’s a bunch of crap going on in the shadows, what this looks like to me is yet another iteration of the essential inability of the US military to come to grips with reality out on the actual field of battle. We keep basing our small arms decisions on the “feels”, and never bothering to build the theoretical framework we should be basing all these decisions on.

        You go out and talk to the guys doing the fighting, and the thing you keep hearing is that they can’t reach out and touch the enemy with the weapons they’ve been issued. The issue becomes framed as “inadequate weapons”, and the consideration that perhaps we’re trying to apply inappropriate tactics and operational technique to the problem is never considered.

        The 5.56mm/M16/M4 individual weapon “system” is optimized to perform best as the close-in component of an overall tactical framework that includes copious amounts of fire support. We made these choices already, and built everything around that fact, and yet… We’re sending the guys carrying them out into tactical/operational scenarios where the ROE is essentially stripping them of the fires they were assumed to have available, as well as the techniques we planned on using. In the “general European war” scenario that our small arms were designed around, the idea that we’d rely solely on small arms fires from individual weapons to deal with things like enemy MG positions and so forth…? Yeah; those are things we meant to deal with via either the Bushmaster cannon on the Bradleys, or fire support from outside the infantry fire team/squad. So, within that framework, the 5.56mm/M16/M4 system works well–All we’re doing with it there is close-in defense, and the final assault.

        The problem has been that we’ve taken the system into a tactical/operational environment where we’re not blowing the shit out of everything that shoots at us with fire support. In a general European war scenario, that MG position up in the hills firing at us would get erased as a matter of course by the FO elements, using either artillery or air strikes. In Afghanistan? Those assets are not available, so we’re now having to use small arms that were not designed for that mission.

        As well? Think about this: The M16/M4 is what it is, an assault rifle. It’s right there on the tin: Assault. It’s a weapon designed and optimized for the close-in fight. So, what do we do with them? We march the troops carrying them right down the middle of valleys in broad daylight, as though they were so many British Army of the Raj khaki-coated soldiers, and wonder why the hell the assault rifle we issued them isn’t answering the mail.

        Instead of taking on these clowns on the hillsides with PKM by firing back at them with rifles that don’t have the necessary range, the real solution here would be to back off and reconsider our tactics and operational techniques. In other words, we’ve armed ourselves with assault rifles; let us then actually implement us some fucking assaults, eh?

        Instead of waiting for Tommy Taliban to shoot up our patrols out in the hills, why the hell aren’t we creating the opportunities to take these guys up the ass with some close-in assaults? Instead of waiting for them to open fire, why aren’t we finding them in their safe areas late at night, and then going in with fire, sword, and night vision devices to kill and eliminate them before they haul that PKM up into the hills to shoot at us?

        Oh, yeah… That’s right: Against the ROE. Can’t shoot the nice Afghani dusman before he starts shooting at us…

        You’ve got to modify your tactics and operational techniques to make things work, once you start taking systems off the table because of ROE. We haven’t done that, to any appreciable extent–Mostly because we don’t think of things in those terms.

        It makes no sense to do a patrol in an area where we know we’re going to take fire, if we don’t have the ability to effectively answer that fire. And, since we won’t allow the FO to drop a few tons of high explosives on those grape-drying sheds where the enemy is firing at us from, why the hell are we even in that location during daylight, knowing that those mud brick walls are effectively proof against 5.56mm? If we’re going to be doing things this way, the least we could do is arrange things such that we’re working to our strengths, not exposing our weaknesses.

        Of course, ROE precludes us from going in at night and killing these fuckers at the close ranges our individual weapons are optimized for, ‘cos our fucking politicians and commanders think they’re actually running some kind of fucking fish and game department that’s worried more about keeping the population of game animals up nice and high, rather than eliminating the problem permanently.

        Compare and contrast how they wiped out the wolf population in the western US to our current set of fish and game rules. Now, ask yourself why the hell we’re not doing similar ruthless things in the context of Afghanistan, in order to eliminate the Taliban. Hell, I was talking to a Russian veteran of Afghanistan the other day, and he was laughing at us because we weren’t even doing what they did to try to interdict the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan–Which is really nuts, because that’s where the enemy has his safe areas and is getting his supplies. If we were really serious about dealing with the Taliban, Pakistan would be under international embargo, and starving right now. Instead, we’re effectively subsidizing them to sponsor the Taliban to kill our troops and turn Afghanistan into an Islamic shithole.

        Meanwhile, our vaunted military leadership is shuffling the deck chairs on the fucking Titanic by recapitulating the failed M14 program, this time with “Twenty-first Century Technology”. While still holding to the inappropriate tactics and operational techniques that left our guys holding the shitty end of the stick in Vietnam… Does nobody read the fucking history books?

  9. Kirk says:

    Something about this whole thing has been bothering me since I started reading about the whole ICSR issue after it was raised.

    And, I just realized what the hell it is: This is a perfect exemplar of what one could easily term the “Underpants Gnome” school of business management, as applied to weapons procurement.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, there was a South Park episode a few years back where the boys traced their missing underwear to a ring of thieving “Underpants Gnomes” who were taking their undies out of the family washing machines. Tracing the Gnomes back to their hidey-holes, they found that the Gnomes were stealing underwear because of their business plan, which had three key phases: “1. Steal underwear. 2. ???? 3. Profit!”.

    Phase two was never answered, ‘cos the Gnomes didn’t have one, and were just hoping that Phase two would take care of itself, once they’d accumulated enough underwear.

    Plug the ICSR/CSASS process into that, and you have basically got the same damn thing: “1. New Rifle 2. ???? 3. Victory!”.

    There isn’t any map of how the hell Phase 2 happens, or what happens in it. We just think that if we get a rifle that has “moar powuh”, that’ll solve all the tactical problems that really originate in poor ROE, shitty political decisions, and badly thought-out tactical and operational planning.

    Reality is, most of our problems have little to do with our actual physical weapons, and more to do with the issues we have with training, tactics, and operational employment of them in conjunction with the rest of the systems that make up a fighting force in the field. This search for a technological panacea that’s somehow going to solve the years of de-emphasis on marksmanship and skill-at-arms, as well as our poorly articulated tactical system and operational intent…?

    Yeah; sure it will. I predict that even if we said “Fuck it… Cease and desist on the F-35, what we really need are uber-infantry…”, devoted every dime in the F-35 program to buying the latest and greatest infantry equipment and weapons… Well, we’d still be where we are today, because the real source of our problems ain’t the equipment, it’s how we’re using it.

    • SSD says:

      See DOTML-PF

      • Kirk says:

        “DOTMLPF-P Analysis. Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities and Policy (DOTMLPF-P) analysis is the first step in the Functional Solutions Analysis (FSA)”

        Buzzword bingo, laying out a theoretical “ideal process” for addressing military problems. Also, you got the acronym wrong…

        Now, show me where the hell the analysis has been done, where the doctrine has been changed to reflect the issues inherent to reducing the number of rounds carried/ammunition weight carried, the necessary changes to the way we train and select leaders (‘cos, hauling around all that 7.62mm for the individual weapon is gonna mean sidelining almost all them girls we’re wanting to put into combat leadership positions, if we’re honest with ourselves…). While you’re at it, show me where we’re making the thorough changes in the training base to reflect this crap, with all the new ranges, higher ammo expenditures, and higher quality training in marksmanship so as to make effective use of this “new capability”. Let’s not even get into the fact that you’re really gonna need to revamp your physical standards for the infantry, and quit recruiting from the lower percentiles in body size/mass/strength, build new training facilities, and revamp a bunch of policies here in the training base, operational units, and overseas in the forward commands. Little things, like changing the standards for PID on targets in the ROE, y’know…?

        Unless all this shit has been done in the shadows, and kept classified, I see fuck all for it actually having been done outside of a bunch of pretty-pretty slides some Captains Courageous worked up while working on staff somewhere.

        This bullshit is exactly why the US Army is as thoroughly fucked-up as it is. The assholes running the show have substituted PowerPoint slides for actually doing their fucking jobs, which is how Wanat happened. Any real professional would have looked at that situation as it began, realized that they were hanging a bunch of guys out there to get shot the fuck up, and then said “Nuh-huh… We can’t support that shit, we’re over-extended as it is…”. Instead, they went with the pretty-pretty templates back in the TOC, put the outpost where they did, and threw common sense completely out the fucking window. It was so bad that the Engineer junior enlisted who were out there setting the place up could tell it was a bad idea, said so, and got ignored. As usual. Wanat happened mostly because nobody had the balls to admit the Emperor had no clothes on, and was out there freeballin’. But, the slides back in the TOC sure looked good, didn’t they?

        You see the same fucking shit going on with training: We now spend more time talking about and planning training than actually, y’know, doing it. The process has become the tail that wags the dog, and nobody recognizes that fact because they’re too busy building PowerPoint decks to show off to the commander at the weekly training meetings–And, the commander is spending more time in his fucking office at the computer, analyzing the presentations he’s being emailed about training, rather then getting out on the ground and actually inspecting that training in person.

        This is why we’re where we are, today: We’re drowning in buzzword-compliant process bullshit, and the actual meat of that process is getting overwhelmed by all the side dishes of bullshit like whether or not the goddamn PowerPoint decks comply with Brigade Standards ™.

        Assuming the actual work has been done, here, and there is some real “DOTMLPF-P” in existence on this issue, I would wager long and tall money that most of the actual data and thinking is based on totally specious assumptions, poorly-vetted research, and overall egregiously bad reasoning. I’d also wager that there are a metric shit-ton of delusional enablers and connectors, like daydreaming away the genuine need to spend much, much more time on the range to take advantage of these weapons “better capabilities”, and the fact that there are going to be a bunch of people who just won’t be able to meet the friggin’ standards of marksmanship, and who should then be eliminated from the service as dead weight. Ain’t nobody going to either account for that fact, or admit to the necessity of it, which will leave us with a certain percentage of the units out there who can’t hit the barn from the inside with the new weapons, and yet who are adequately able to do so with the current set of gear.

        This whole issue just highlights what the hell is wrong with the Army. We’ve enshrined process over actual performance, and when the performance out in the field fails to comply with the expected results of the process bullshit we’ve convinced ourselves actually shapes reality, we don’t go back and look at what we’re doing from the standpoint that maybe the way we’re doing the process is wrong–We just double down on the already-proven to be fallacious process, and expect reality to conform to it.

        What’s that line about insanity being defined as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the results to change…”?

        • SSD says:

          It’s been updated and updated. When I retired, there were fewer letters. They keep adding on to it.

          Process over outcome is an issue, however, processes were developed to guide folks through problem solving. That way they don’t recreate the wheel time and again, don’t break the law and hopefully, buy something that meets the requirement in an economical manner.

          The answer is somewhere in the middle. You have to have a framework, it’s just that the framework can’t become more important than what it’s meant to accomplish.

          • Kirk says:

            I agree totally that there needs to be a framework.

            What I’m getting at here, however, is that the specific framework appears to be void of any real content, or sign that they’re doing the requisite work to start filling it in.

            This shit isn’t magic; you don’t achieve tactical and operational victory by skipping or half-assing every intermediate step between the initial solution and the end state, which is what I see going on here.

            You think you have a problem with the weapons. Fine, let us procure new and more suitable weapons–But, from the signs I see, the actual situation is that we’ve mistaken what is going on in the field.

            It’s not the weapons, in other words–It’s how we’re using them. Changing what we’re issuing as an individual weapon isn’t going to solve the real problem here, although it might address a few of the symptoms.

            • SSD says:

              Sometimes, you need a new hammer. These directed requirements, like urgent needs, cut out a lot of the process. That can be good, or bad.

              It took well over a decade to choose a new pistol.

              • Kirk says:

                If you’re a carpenter, and the “new hammer” is one that is designed/optimized for a blacksmith…? What then? Have you really accomplished anything by giving the carpenters newer titanium-handled blacksmith’s hammers?

                As well, I think the fact that it took over a decade to determine which pistol to procure is symptomatic of the problems we have in the small arms procurement arena. Had someone had the wit and wisdom to pass off the decision to a collective of SF senior NCOs, and then empowered them to make the decision, we’d have probably seen the Glock 19 decided on after about ten minutes of discussion–And, that solution would be more than adequate for about 98% of all cases we need it for.

                Instead, we spent millions, labored for years, and what vomited forth from the whale was a guppy. The SIG pistol is a good gun, based on what I’ve seen and handled, but after all the money and effort put into it…? We could have given out Glock 19s to the entire force that needs the things, along with enough ammo to actually get proficient on the damn things, and been done with it.

                I’m not sure that using that program is really a good example for justification on any of this crap, to be quite honest. They should have put some similar effort into the replacement program for the M60, only they didn’t, and we got the overly heavy M240B out of the deal.

                Procurement of small arms is broken, and it’s not just the pistol and MG programs. There’s a broken link between what we’re trying to do in the field with these weapons, and the procurement people, not to mention doctrinal tactics and operational intent.

                We’ve got an SCHV assault rifle class of weapon on general issue as an individual weapon. Yet, our leadership keeps walking us into situations where the ‘effing things are operating on an edge case for their capabilities, and they won’t acknowledge that fact and shift tactics or ROE to accommodate what these weapons are actually capable of, with the troops we actually have trained up to use them.

                By this point, if we had a truly adaptive and “learning organization” kind of Army, things would have changed. We’ve got assault rifles, folks–Where the hell are the assaults? Instead, we’re shoehorning these things into engagements that really aren’t that far removed from Boer War-era musketry engagements, where the fires we’re taking are from outside the actual effective range of the individual weapons.

                That problem is fixable, by a number of different means, but I’ll be damned if I see anyone actually doing anything to change the game. We keep walking into the same sorts of engagements, and letting the enemy dictate what the terms of those engagements. Instead of wandering down Afghan valleys on “presence patrols”, and giving the Taliban predictable targets, why the hell aren’t we changing the premise of the engagements to favor our weapons and operations? Instead of wandering down the valleys, why the hell aren’t we targeting the Taliban fighters directly, in their safe areas and when they’re prepping the attacks?

                Everyone knows those clowns on the motorcycles are shadowing our movements and communicating them to the Taliban combat forces that are going to engage our guys. Why are they allowed to do that? That’s an ROE decision, and one that should be changed long before anyone starts talking shit about buying a whole new fleet of 7.62mm weapons to issue in a recapitulation of the M14 fiasco.

                We did this same stupid shit in Vietnam, and I say it is about damn time we stop. False humanitarian concerns outweigh the tactical and operational requirements, and the ROE has come to trump everything else, including the lives of our soldiers and Marines. Fix the ROE, fix the tactics, fix the operational issues, and then if we still need new damn weapons, well… Buy them. Until then, I’m going to continue to point out that the Emperor’s ass is hanging out in the wind, and we’ve got other and bigger problems than the weapons.

  10. Jose says:

    Why is there talk of fielding the rifle without the Schmidt and Bender? My buddy was one of the Bravo 4 NCOs n the down select test at Aberdeen. Collectively the participating Snipers looked at several different optics and rifles during the test; fielding the rifle without the S&B wasn’t what they determined as a result of the test.

  11. Chris says:

    My heartburn with the H&K platform is the proprietary magazine. SR-25 pattern has become a defacto standard for this type of rifle. Most rifles of this type (not to mention any Knights Armament platforms still out there)carried by different allied countries will use the SR-25 pattern and battlefield compatibility is much more likely. Maybe the ECP will address this issue. I don’t see a reason the H&K can’t be modified for the SR-25 pattern magazine. Also accessories like mag pouches will be more readily available. Yes I’m prejudiced and my platform uses SR-25 PMAGs and I’ve never had any feeding issues whatsoever.