Only 1 in 4 soldiers likely to see Army’s newest rifle in coming years

Over the next five years, the Army plans to buy a mix of more than 120,000 new light machine guns and rifles, built around new ammunition, to replace both the M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon for select soldiers.

The three contractors selected last year — Sig Sauer, General Dynamics-OTS and Textron Systems — are expected to deliver 38 prototype rifles and 28 prototype automatic rifles along with 660,000 rounds of ammunition for testing and soldier evaluations next year, according to budget documents.

The Army plans to pick the winner and announce the production award by late 2021, according to budget documents.

A big part of the weapon’s development has centered around its ammunition. The 6.8mm decision came after years of evaluation and study, and debate, in small caliber circles. Early efforts also looked at 6.5mm to fill the niche between the existing 7.62mm and 5.56mm currently in the arsenal.

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