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USSOCOM Small Arms Update

US Army COL Joel Babbitt, Program Executive Officer SOF Warrior for the United States Special Operations Command, provided an update on small arms programs during this week’s vSOFIC event presented by National Defense Industrial Association.

The most significant lethality efforts revolve around the adoption of the 6.5 Creedmoor and .338 Norma Mag cartridges which offer overmatch against threat small arms, allowing SOF operators to provide accurate fire at longer ranges than before.

COL Babbitt stated, “The 7.62 round we were previously using allowed engagement out to 7-800 meters, while the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge goes out to 1200 meters.” Likewise, he is excited about .338 NM which offers .50 ranges from a package the size and weight of a 7.52 machine gun.

As far as adoption of ammunition in 6.5 CM, SOCOM is pursuing three courses of action. First, it has developed a government Technical Data Package for a ball round which is being assembled using commercial components. Second, they are purchasing and evaluating “best of breed” cartridges in this caliber. This COA is being used to inform development of other types of rounds such as Armor Piercing. Finally, the command is working with Lake City Army Ammunition Plant to manufacture the ammunition to the TDP.

In other ammunition news, SOCOM is looking at alternative types of ammunition construction to reduce weight 20-30% from current brass case weight. They’ve already looked at .50 and are expanding the search which includes such constructions as polymer, steel and hybrid.

Two weapons development programs currently leverage the capabilities of 6.5 CM, Medium Range Gas Gun – Assault and and Lightweight Machine Gun – Assault. These are slight name changes from previous years.

The MRGG-A requirement is a sniper support rifle unique to Naval Special Warfare. Utilizing Mid-Tier Acquisition strategy, the program is underway.

Interestingly, during a media Q&A session, COL Babbitt revealed that the Lightweight Machine Gun – Assault is currently on hold, pending the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon program which promises to field a carbine and automatic rifle (think Squad Automatic Weapon) in a new 6.8mm cartridge offering similar ballistic parameters to the commercial 270 Win Mag.

With 70% of SOCOM’s forces being from the Army component, NGSW will be a service common solution and if it meets SOF needs, could save the command a great deal of money that can be placed against other needs. Considering this, it makes sense that MRGG-A would continue since it is NSW unique rather than intended to be fielded command-wide. Additionally, COL Babbitt pointed out that NSGW does not have a sniper component and that MRGG-A is a sniper support rifle rather than just a carbine.

Marine Corps Special Operations Command is currently conducting a Combat Evaluation of SIG SAUER’s Lightweight Machine Gun in 338 NM. This will be used to inform a procurement in the coming years. The Marine Corps is also interested in this capability.

10 Responses to “USSOCOM Small Arms Update”

  1. Mamba says:

    Any news on the sig rattler?

  2. Rob says:

    Sig SURG not a thing anymore?

  3. AbnMedOps says:

    I presume “NSGW” is a mispelling of “NGSW”, for Next Generation Squad Weapon?

    Overall, it does seem like a bit of streamlining of the multitude of overlapping or duplicative small arms programs of the past few years, which is probably good news.

  4. Mick says:

    It still seems like there’s more room for deconfliction between 6.5mm creedmore and 6.8mm…
    I don’t see why SOCOM and big army cannot consolidate efforts and make a new SOCOM/Combart Arms carbine and LMG.

    • Jon C says:

      Because they have vastly different requirements for the individual, and SOCOM doesn’t want to wait a decade for the Army to decide what they want.

      Involving Big Army is like going to the DMV…what should take 5 minutes takes 8 hours, and they still misspelled something on it so you have to do it again.

  5. Mick says:

    It still seems like there’s more room for deconfliction between 6.5mm creedmore and 6.8mm.
    Big Army and SOCOM should consolidate efforts and develop one new SOCOM/Combat Arms cartridge/carbine/LMG.

    • Dan says:


      I’m pretty sure that’s why they put a temporary hold on the 6.5 Machine Gun. If the NGSW-AR meets their needs they’ll just go to that. If it doesn’t, or worse the program is cancelled, they’ll still get their intermediate caliber MG…

  6. Mike says:

    I thought it was SOCOM that wanted the 6.8 to begin with? Now we have a competition between the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.8??? Different needs? Somebody needs to check their six because someone’s head is up and locked in there… you want to simplify logistics not complicate it…