Lowa Zephyr Mk2 GTX

US Army Selects SIG SAUER for Next Generation Squad Weapons Program

The US Army has just announced that it has selected SIG SAUER under an Other Transaction Agreement to provide their SPEAR and Lightweight Machine Gun as the new XM5 Rifle and XM250 Automatic Rifle. Both fire a hybrid cased cartridge in 6.8 x 51mm which features a steel head and brass case firing a government provided projectile. This cartridge offers similar performance to .270 Win Short Mag. The 6.8 Common Cartridge Family of Ammunition will be manufactured by Winchester at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.

The Army selected the SIG SPEAR which is a large frame version of the MCX Carbine used by US and foreign SOF and features selective fire and ambidextrous controls. The new beltfed machine gun is lighter than the currently issued SAW and has a lower recoil impulse than the M4 Carbine. It’s a joy to shoot. Additionally, the system includes suppressors for both weapons. Rumor has it the contract ceiling has room to buy over 500,000 rifles and almost 80,000 beltfed machine guns over a 10-year period.

The Army has also put out feelers to industry, seeking manufacturers for conversion kits for the existing 7.62 NATO M240 beltfed Machine Gun to 6.8mm.

The road to the selection of a NGSW system was started about five years ago with a short lived quest for an Interim Combat Service Rifle in 7.62 NATO which quickly morphed into the search for 6.8mm weapons to replace the 5.56 NATO M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in close combat formations which include Infantry, Cav Scout, and Engineer squads.

Both USSOCOM and US Marine Corps are monitoring the program. It will be interesting to see how this affects SOCOM’s 6.5 Creedmoor-based initiatives. As for the Marine Corps, word is that they would only transition away from their H&K produced 416 rifles, named the M27 if it were to a bullpup platform.

An OTA for a Fire Control System to enable NGSW was awarded to Vortex Optics in January.

The other system under consideration by the Army for NGSW was from True Velocity which proposed a polymer cased ammunition and bullpup Rifle and Automatic Rifles. This would have been a shoe-in for the Marines if those rumors I mentioned earlier are true.

Between the two options many in industry considered SIG a lower risk and the “Easy Button” as the ammunition technology is very straight forward and can be manufactured using existing machinery. Additionally, the weapons will seem quite familiar to service members who currently use the M4 and M249 due to similar controls and ergonomics. Finally, SIG has undertaken several successful military contracts for ammunition, optics, and weapons, including the Modular Handgun System.

The Army now faces the arduous task of putting this new ammunition and weapons through developmental and operational testing and determining how their increased range and lethality will affect employment of the close combat squad. Expect some teething pains, but also look forward to the opportunities that come with a new weapon and cartridge.

SIG also plans to offer their ammunition (.277 SIG FURY), Rifle and suppressor commercially.

To wrap things up, I’ll just say that this article from earlier today didn’t age well. A lot of people thought the Army would cancel this program. They didn’t, and they are moving ahead with it. If you’re one of them, its time to go through the stages of grief and make it to acceptance. This is happening.

48 Responses to “US Army Selects SIG SAUER for Next Generation Squad Weapons Program”

  1. DOe says:

    I’m going through the stages of grief that True Velocity didn’t win!

    • Kris says:

      I tried the TV 308 and it shot 2.5 MOA out of a 1MOA gun.

    • mark says:

      “I’m going through the stages of grief that True Velocity didn’t win!”

      Likewise; polymer cases would have offered a real opportunity for cartridge weight savings, and possibly cheaper ammo once production was scaled up.

      My fantasy had been for NGSW to end up with the TV Ammo, SIG 6.8 LMG, and then TV bullpup. That seemed like the best of all worlds.

      That said, congrats to SIG for winning what is likely to be the largest small arms contract in decades, possibly the largest since the M16.

      • SSD says:

        TV and SIG attacked the problem from different angles. TV went for low chamber pressures and long barrels, hence the Bullpup configurations. SIG approached the problem with very high chamber pressures, short barrels and conventional weapon designs. You couldn’t have combined the two systems and have achieved the Army’s objectives.

        • mark says:

          “You couldn’t have combined the two systems and have achieved the Army’s objectives.”

          I had imagined just having the SIG LMG going from its current 16″ barrel to a 19-20″ barrel ala TV bullpup to match the velocity. With possibly some of that extra length offset by using the shorter Brevis suppressor of the TV.

  2. Thulsa Doom says:

    PAO issued a statement today: https://www.army.mil/article/255827

  3. Bryan says:

    Replacing SAWs older than my soldiers? Be still my beating heart…

  4. No1_Important says:

    It’s about time they finally announced the obvious. The SIG MCX SPEAR has legs to grow thankfully, a quick barrel swap to 8.6 blackout in a sub gun or 6.5 Creedmoor in a DMR besides the 6.8×51 seems to be good options down the road. As for True Velocity I hope their ammo gets picked up for the M240 conversions and M134 etc. And last but least for Texas Future Weapons…hopefully they sell a bunch of their rifles to the people who like bull pups.

    • SSD says:

      There will be one 6.8 cartridge type. The TV case geometry is significantly different than a standard cartridge case.

    • Dave says:

      Why would you want a DMR with a lighter, slower round? DMRs aren’t going to be needed much with the capability this weapon presents. Can’t wait to see what it’s capable of out to 800 meters.

  5. SG says:

    So now Sig holds the contracts for the handgun system, the USSOCOM LPVO, the MCX, the MCX SURG project, the MG338 belt fed AND the NGSW contract. Am I missing any?

    • SSD says:

      They don’t hold a contract for the .338 gun. USSOCOM conducted a Combat Evaluation with their gun but the program is just beginning. They’ve got competition from TV and Ohio Ordnance.

      • SG says:

        Thank you for the clarification . I had seen that USSOCOM had purchased a bunch of them but it had been described to me as a contract.

        Curious how it goes, .338 belt fed looks like a great capability enhancer.

    • Joe_K says:

      Ron C. strikes gold again.

  6. Good to see at least some sort innovation attempts. The 6.8 definitely would have been nice in Afghanistan. Based on all demo videos so far however, the rifle platform recoil looks pretty substantial compared to 5.56, so it will be interesting to see the long run result of where we end up fighting next.
    The SIG route definitely looked like the less risky / easier route, but I hope the military continues to support refining the polymer casing tech.

  7. H says:

    I can’t believe you read anything from National Interest. They are waste of electrons. Maybe they’ll improve, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence to suggest so.

    • SSD says:

      It came on my radar today while I was doing some internet searches. The author saw it referenced here and wants to engage. I’m open to it.

  8. 9B8492 says:

    Is there anywhere I can find info on the USMC only entertaining a M27 replacement if it’s a bullpup? Definitely piqued my interest.

  9. Xelaonerom says:

    I don’t see why they didn’t just stick to the MCX if they decided to go with Sig.. Still capable and far less bulk.

    • Dave says:

      Because it wouldn’t handle the chamber pressures needed to push the 6.8 round at the required velocities.

  10. Joe says:

    Back to the battle rifle it is. Curious what kind of doctrinal changes this will bring about.

  11. Hubb says:

    All of this is going to destroy my wallet.

  12. Seamus says:

    Hopefully SSD can now, FINALLY stop answering stupid NGSW questions! I am sure SSD is the happiest of all of us that this is over.

    Until next week and the Army decides on a new dress uniform and camo pattern.

    • Ray Forest says:

      Just a day old and Im already hearing rumors that this project is on shaky funding ground for actual implementation. The word is they are weighing whether to fund this or a new Service Dress Uniform hat. The prototype I saw was a beret but with a brim.

    • SSD says:

      Well, I can finally stop pretending that polymer ammo is ready for prime time.

      • G says:

        Can you expand on this? TV’s ammo, unlike Sig’s, seems like an actual tech improvement. But if it really wasn’t “ready for prime time” the decision to go with Sig’s entrants makes more sense.

        • SSD says:

          There are a lot of things we do not know about polymer ammo. For instance, how does it perform in extreme temperatures. How does it hold up in storage? Some of the .50 ammunition expended for the first few years of this war was manufactured in World War Two.

          Polymer has issues with thin necked cases. Take a look at the case design for 6.8 TVC and how they overcame it.

          Finally, although the polymer cases aren’t reloadable, the base of the case will occasionally crack on extraction. Probably not a major issue, but it will give some pause.

  13. Adam says:

    Can someone explain why we bought a weapon for Afghanistan when the future of warfare is urban? Humanity’s flocking to mega cities. The Corps got rid of their tanks and most of their arty for this reason… yet we hand them a long heavy rifle with less capacity?

    Don’t get me wrong, this rifle is cool. No doubt. But it’s for yesterdays war.

    • Tome says:

      There’s the argument that this enables the guy on the ground to penetrate body armor. Even so I think this program is probably going to end up as an M14-like cautionary tale.

      • AAAAA says:

        Agreed. Seeing the videos of I think Task&Purpose shooting it is like seeing history repeating itself for the M14.

        I think MAC recently made a very strong argument for a caliber change in the M4/16 platform in one of Tims recent videos. A caliber retrofit would most likely be much more effective and easier but it won’t spend the green-backs like a new project will.

        “Armies prepare to fight their last war, rather than their next war” about sums it up.

        • SSD says:

          I was there. The T&P guy had never fired a gun before and weighs about a buck thirty.

          I’ve fired that gun quite a few times, on both semi and full auto. It won’t knock you down, but the recoil impulse is significant and it’s heavy for those used to an M4. A 100 lbs kid will have a tough time with it.

          As for a caliber change in the M4. There really aren’t many options which will make a big enough difference and can be accommodated by the size of the AR15 sized action.

    • SSD says:

      That is right out of the 90s. And then what happened?

  14. Con says:

    So, I’ll ask the question then SSD… Do you think the right decision was made?

    • SSD says:

      Yes, for a variety of reasons. It retains a beltfed in the Squad. The ammunition type is reliable and easy to produce. The contractor has a good history of fulfilling contracts.

      • Con says:

        Good to know, thanks!
        Will the M240 & M134 be able to handle the 80,000psi with the new Sig round? Or do they have a different plan in mind for those.

        • SSD says:

          M240 can take it. I’m not sure if it’s been tried in the M134, but then again, I haven’t seen a requirement for it.

  15. Jamie Wiedeman says:

    Congrats to the SIG team. A stelar group, best of the best.

    • Bob says:

      Well a lot of things can happen after something gets selected.

      Anyone remember Comanche, crusader, the ARH-70?