TYR Tactical

Land Forces 22 – Thales 6.8 x 51mm Prototypes

Thales provides the EF88 bullpup rifle in 5.56 NATO to the Australian Defence Force. In preparation for LAND 159 Tranche 2 which will look for a new rifle and machine gun capability, Thales has developed a new cartridge in 6.8x51mm along with weapon prototypes to perform similarly to the US Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program.

Although they didn’t have an example of the cartridge on hand, I’m told it’s a conventional case design, producing high chamber pressures in order to achieve similar terminal effects to NGSW’s goals.

They produced two different rifle designs, a Bullpup and a Stoner pattern weapon. It also appears that they’ve developed a common magazine between the two variants.

5 Responses to “Land Forces 22 – Thales 6.8 x 51mm Prototypes”

  1. Scott says:

    Interesting. I wonder if their 6.8×51 is compatible with the XM5. And I wondered how long until other companies start making 6.8×51 rifles.

    • Lcon says:

      Pre down select in the US Army NGSW program there were at least 2 more rifles that made it to at least prototype stages MARS/Cobalt Kinetics and Desert Tech. These took the form of a Conventional configuration with a long recoil system. And a Bullpup with a short stroke system. Sig’s M5 was based on rifle originally spec’d for 7.62x51mm and the Army seems convinced that M240 can be rechambered to 6.8x51mm. It seems logical that other off the shelf rifles like Tavor 7, HK417, ARX200 with modifications could accommodate iterations of the 6.8x51mm round type.

      • Vet says:

        Any 7.62mm gun can fire 6.8x51mm that’s by design. Same as they can fire 6.5CR with a simple barrel change. That’s kind of the point. The real question is can it handle high-pressure ammo like the SIG ammo. The M240 is overbuilt so it just might, not necessarily the case for other large frame guns.

        Given the long barrels in both Aussie platforms here, they can still use traditional brass design and get close to 3000 fts. The Aussie program might have less restrictive OAL criteria than the NGSW so they get away from that. FYI, the NGSW OAL was so strict, that SIG went with a fixed stock for the M250 just to save an inch for the folding stock adapter…

        Either way, that’s the brilliance of the SIG Ammo design, they can effectively supercharge any caliber, and as long as the weapon can withstand the higher pressures you can achieve major performance gains from shorter barrels (e.g. the SPEAR/M5 13″ barrel).

  2. Lcon says:

    There were reports that True Velocity was partnering in the Land 159 program. These rifle concepts clearly have longer barrel lengths like what you would expect for their 6.8x51mm. I remember reading that Sig is also in on this likely with an Aussie version of the M5 and M250. We could see a partial rerun here.

  3. Nick says:


    When you say a conventional case design, do you mean strictly not polymer like TV or strictly not a hybrid construction like Sig?