Marine Corps/Army Changes in Infantry Arsenal Coming by 2020?

 In firearms, Military

The US Army and Marine Corps are looking for a new rifle to replace the M16/M4 that has been carried by Infantry members since the 60s. Researchers are looking for both weapons and ammo in “intermediate calibers.”

Why are they looking for a replacement?

The M16/M4 platforms have been around since the 1960s, and though continuously upgraded, they are reportedly being outperformed by the enemy. They also continue to have problems with jamming.

infantry arsenal

Top, the M16; Bottom, the M4

Business Insider reported,

“The M16 and M4 and their variants continue to have problems with jamming, an issue the system has dealt with since its introduction. Improvements in body armor have lessened the lethality of the 5.56 round. Groups like ISIS have also made use of large rounds that outperform the US military’s ammo. (Russia is reportedly working on its own assault rifle using a 6.5 mm round.)

According to some research, Army firefights in Afghanistan, where the US has been engaged for more than 15 years, have mostly taken place at distances of more than 300 meters, or about 1,000 feet. At that range, the 5.56 mm round is far less lethal.”

The testing involves calibers such as .260 Remington, the 6.5 Creedmoor, the .264 USA, cased telescoped rounds, as well as others that are not commercially available. They are looking for a caliber somewhere in the 6.5 range.

Speaking of not commercially available, they are testing rifle platforms that are “unconventional” and will likely not be available to the general public. They are looking for a weapon that is relatively lightweight, lethal, accurate, and has greater range than the current rifles.

The Army Times reported,

Work on the new round began in recent years, Bohannon said, and much of the next steps in developing both the round and rifle will be driven by the Small Arms Ammunition Configuration study.

The study has been going on since at least 2014, according to the Army.

The study is expected to conclude in the next three months, Walker said.

Portions of that report and its findings will likely be made public, but other portions may be deemed sensitive, they said.

Multiple active and retired military arms advocates and industry experts have presented papers and data on the alleged “overmatch” that U.S. troops face on the battlefield with their current calibers.

The US Army chose the Sig Sauer P320 MHS to replace its 9mm Beretta handgun back in January of this year. Dubbed the M17 was chosen out of a field of 12 competing firearms. The Army plans to buy both the full size and compact models of the gun, according to an article in Popular Mechanics.

Debates over small arms for the Military have been ongoing for the last 100 years. Trying to find a rifle that works consistently in the heat of battle is always at the forefront of the discussion. The M16/M4 has been a “workhorse,” according to field officers.  But if they can find something better and an ammunition that increases the lethality,  that’s always a plus.


Featured Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Mark W. Stroud/Released)



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