OICW: FUTURE RIFLE OR EXPENSIVE MISTAKE ABOUT TO HAPPEN?
U.S. Army "wonder grenade launcher": Hollywood Sci-Fi or Sound Weaponry?
OICW: FUTURE RIFLE OR EXPENSIVE MISTAKE ABOUT TO HAPPEN?
U.S. Army "wonder grenade launcher": Hollywood Sci-Fi or Sound Weaponry?
PUNTA PAITILLA AIRPORT, PANAMA, 1989
Two platoons from U.S. Navy SEAL Team 4 are pinned down by enemy fire attempting to get in close to set explosive charges against Panamanian strongman, Manuel Noriega's Learjet to prevent his escape from Panama. As bullets skip across the runway into SEALs who were trying to block the runway with a light airplane; casualties mount from automatic weapons fire. Someone has to silence the enemy guards firing behind the cover of dirt-filled barrels. A SEAL with a 40mm M203 grenade launcher attached to his M16 Assault Rifle rushes forward to get into firing position. He is cut down and later dies.
4 SEALs dead, 8 seriously wounded before fire superiority is gained and the enemy killed.
A high price to pay for an attack that could have been done at a safe stand-off using the maximum effective ranges of the weapons in their hands.
THE PROBLEM WITH BULLETS
The basic flaw in fighting on the automatic weapons swept-battlefield, is you fight the enemy at best even when you do not have explosives effects. A 5.56mm Kinetic Energy (KE) bullet doesn't explode; so you must maneuver to get a straight line-of-sight (LOS) shot at an enemy protected behind urban cover. The SEAL team firefight was ended when a M136 AT4 84mm disposible rocket was fired at Noriega's Learjet, disabling it. To change this, the U.S. Army's small arms team is seeking a combination 5.56mm and 20mm grenade launcher with air burst capability called the Objective Individual Combat Weapon or "OICW" to replace the current M16/M4 carbine family of weapons. While its a good idea to give every Soldier a grenade launcher, it is added weight for him to carry and cost. Is it worth it? Are there better ways to spend our money and get BETTER results?
EVERY RIFLEMAN A GRENADIER, GOOD IDEA---IS OICW IT?
The OICW system might be called a rifle. Well, not exactly. The weapon does fire a 'standard' 5.56 millimeter rifle bullet. But that's only half the punch. With its attached laser rangefinder, video camera, and electronic fire control, the OICW can also launch a 20 millimeter high explosive projectile that can be programmed to detonate in the air over or alongside of a target. This capability potentially would defeat traditional barriers against direct infantry weapon fire such as rocks, corners, and man-made frontal fortifications that do not have overhead protection.
Earlier this year two companies participated in a shoot-off of this new system -described by an Army Materiel Command spokesperson as "the only weapon of its kind in the world." On April 1 the Pentagon awarded an $8.5 million contract to Alliant Techsystems to develop the OICW as the 21st century replacement for the infantry's current M16 rifle. For this amount of money the company will provide the Pentagon seven OICWs and sufficient ammunition to conduct test and evaluation trials under an accelerated Advanced Technology Demonstration program. If this is successful, the full-scale engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) phase will begin in about two years. Costs for this phase are set at $43 million. Eventually, if all goes well, the U.S. Army and marine corps reportedly will buy 20,000 OICWs. At a cost of $10,000 each, this number of weapons will run $200 million.
BEHIND THE HYPE: ITS A 5.56mm RIFLE WITH A GRENADE LAUNCHER!
OICW is an expensive purchase because we already have excellent, combat proven 5.56mm firing M16A2 Assault Rifles and M4 Carbines that can be fitted with all the electronic "bells and whistles" anyone could ever want. All we are getting is a "smart" 20mm grenade launcher with air burst capability and even this doesn't look too good. The problem is a lack of explosive effects to get through to enemies hiding behind building cover--a tiny palm-sized grenade will not do. If we must have a "smart" 20mm GL, then attach it to the proven M16/M4 5.56mm family, why buy another 5.56mm weapon that does the same thing? Turn in M16/M4 weapons to be "made over" into OICWs.
I trialed the two OICW candidates at last year's Fort Benning Infantry Conference. If its better ergonomics (human interface), or the compact form a specially made 5.56mm rifle/20mm GL weapon can have for ease of Soldier handling, the U.S. Army picked the a good candidate. Instead of the the smallest and best thought-out arrangement they chose the larger OICW! Perhaps it was the FLIR "thermal" sight the Alliant OICW has..... I picked the AAI bullpup over/under OICW candidate which is compact and easy to aim/carry, shown at the top of this page because the Alliant prototype at the show was a side-by-side arranged monster! Fortunately the Alliant team reconfigured their OICW. Here is what it looks like:
Regardless of whether the Alliant or AAI combination is used, I must say we'd might be better off making OICWs using the M16/M4 5.56mm family if just to save money. I may have missed it, but the OICWs I saw need lugs to fit the M9 Wire-Cutter Bayonet since time and time again we end up in close combat where rifle/bayonet fighting is needed. The M9 Wire-Cutter Bayonet should be attached sideways like the British SA-80 Engager 5.56mm rifle for better penetration into ribcages. Do these weapons have iron sights in case their electrical sights fail under field abuse, I mean use?
MONEY BETTER SPENT ON LIGHT TANKS FOR INFANTRY FIRE SUPPORT
$10K for a rifle. That adds up to $200 million that could buy 40 x M8 Buford Armored Gun Systems AKA (Light tanks) that can actually insure we win a close city, fight with 105mm-120mm main gun SHOCK ACTION instead of trying to expose men to enemy fire to launch palm sized projectiles at concrete buildings. The money saved by just buying the OICW 20mm "smart" GL and the kits to make "OICWs" using existing M16/M4 weapons upgraded with a gas piston for greater reliability---could also pay for enough M8 Buford AGSs or M113A3 Gavins with upgun weapons systems to outfit a quick-reaction company of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment to be a "Strike Force" part of the XVIII Airborne Contingency Corps at Fort Polk, LA. Grenade launchers or light tanks?..which do you think is going to do more to win on the battlefield?
BETTER GRENADE LAUNCHER: YOUR RIFLE!
The world is urbanizing, just bullets will not do. Regardless, there is a limit to the amount of explosives a 20mm GL shell can hold. We need something bigger and we need EVERY SOLDIER to have it, so if someone is in position to hit the enemy they can, preventing designated Grenadiers from having to get up and expose themselves into a firing position. That something is the bullet-thru rifle grenade.
THE SOLUTION: Rifle/Hand grenades
Money saved by just buying the OICW 20mm GL and OICW conversion kits for existing M16/M4 weapons should go towards buying a rifle grenade that is placed over the end of the M16/M4 service rifle/carbine or OICW and launched by trapping the 5.56mm bullet as it passes through. This can propel very large charges of explosives up to 250+ meters. Every Soldier can have BT rifle grenades.
The problem is the weight and size of the BT Rifle grenades. What we suggest is that the BT Rifle grenade body telescope to a compact size like FN's do. When ready to use, you extend the fins, put on the end of your rifle, then fire. But taking this the next step, we suggest that the BT Rifle grenade be given the option of being a HAND GRENADE like the German "potato masher" By pulling a pin, the grenade can be thrown with fins extended or compact like a can.
Thus, instead of carrying BT Rifle grenades AND hand grenades, Soldiers and Paratroopers carry just the BT Rifle/hand grenades, increasing their firepower and flexibility.
IS OICW THE "SMARTEST" GRENADES OUT THERE?
Weapons genius Carlton Meyer writes:
"Rifle grenades got off to a bad start in the minds of the U.S. military. During World War II, they required the grunt to use a blank round to propel it. However, during the heat of combat it was common for someone to fire it with a regular bullet under stress, which caused the grenade to explode. This problem was so bad many units stopped using them. They later solved the problem with 'bullet traps'.
The OICW does not use a proximity fuse, it uses a timed fuse which is programmed to blow up in the proximity of the target. The gunner aims the weapon directly at the target and pulls the trigger. A laser ranger finder instantly determines range, instantly programs the timed fuse, and fires the 20mm very low velocity round directly at the target. If all works well, it explodes at the exact microsecond over the target. Obviously, this is so complex they are having problems, and the 20mm rounds are expensive.
I dreamed up a better idea last year, but then discovered it was already done. News item: FN Herstal has unveiled a revolutionary aiming device for its F2000 40mm automatic grenade attachment. To engage a target, the shooter simply aims the integrated laser sight at the target, and the range to the target is automatically locked into the weapon's fire-control system. The shooter then elevates the weapon in the direction of the target and, when the weapon is at the correct firing angle, a pair of green lights appear on the exterior of the sight. With the weapon now a the proper super elevation to engage the target, the weapon is ready for firing. During tests, Belgian soldiers were able to consistently place rounds within two meters of targets 300 meters away.
Here is more info www.ets-news.com/herstal.htm
This is a fairly simple yet revolutionary advance, of course no one has bought it, no money for the grunts".
The "Striker" 40mm automatic grenade launcher shoots a "smart" 40mm grenade out using high pressures, perhaps a low-pressure "smart" 40mm grenades could be developed to shoot from the M203 GL?
Striker completes trials
Christopher F. Foss Published in Jane's Online
General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products has confirmed that the US Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has just successfully completed an operational assessment of the Striker MK47 MOD O advanced lightweight grenade machine gun. The trial was carried out by elements of the 573 5th Special Forces Group and the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, with some 19,000 rounds of 40mm ammunition being fired. During one trial, five targets were successfully engaged with less than 32 rounds of ammunition in 52 seconds - the requirement was two minutes.
The MK47 integrates the latest sensing, targeting and computer technology to enable the 40mm weapon to be rapidly laid onto the target under day and night conditions. It can be mounted on a tripod or installed on a vehicle. It is understood that SOCOM has a requirement for around 300 units.
While General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products is the prime contractor, General Dynamics Canada is responsible for the lightweight video sight and the Nordic Ammunition Company (NAMMO) for the high-performance programme fuze incorporated into the air burst munition. The latter is being tested and is expected to be type classified in 2003 with deliveries to commence the following year. SOCOM will be the first in the world to deploy an ABM.
Editor comments: they are developing a 40MM programmable airburst round for the Striker. Might work for a low-cost M203-based "OICW". If memory serves me, Insite Technologies was working on the range finder/programmer for the M203. Not sure who was funding the work. At any rate we should back this weapon!
With the loss of M551 Sheridan light tanks, retirement of M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles, Iowa Class battleships, our infantry is set for a repeat of October 3, 1993 Somalia all over again. We MUST do something TODAY to give our troops shock action to prevail on the increasingly urban battlefield. BT Rifle/hand grenades, the OICW "smart" 20mm or 40mm GL made out of proven M16/M4 5.56mm weapons but upgraded with gas pistons for better reliability while still able to have full length barrels for 800m range and folding stocks and buying some M8 AGS Buford or M113A3 Gavin Light tanks for the 2nd ACR are something we can do TODAY to solve this. Lets do it before its too late.
E-mail 1st TSG (A)
A noted field-grade Army officer writes:
"Whether we ever go back to the rifle grenade (as opposed to the 40mm M203) is a good question. The 20mm of the OICW is an indicator that the Infantry School is going the wrong way in its never ending pursuit of gee-whiz technical toys. Hopefully, common sense will prevail."
A Combat Engineer writes about a better bullpup format M16A2:
"I think the Army should get rid of the [long-format] M16. We need a short, light and reliable rifle that can do it all. I think the French got it right with the FAMAS. Its a bullpup rifle that serves in all roles: infantry rifle, light SAW, support personnel weapon. It can be fired inside an IFV and can be slung on the body in a more comfortable fashion. The M16 is too long and awkward to carry, especially if the personnel who are using it must do laborious tasks, like an artillery man or dog handler or tank and APC drivers who need a short weapon. The Army thinks the M9 9mm pistol is a good drivers weapon. Being a M113 driver, I would rather have a rifle. Since the Army wants the new 20mm/5.56mm combo so bad, I say, give it to the frontline Soldiers, but don't forget the drivers and support guys. M16 [M4] carbines go part of the way, I think. But, the carbine has a shorter barrel, which loses the longer range effectiveness of the M16A2. THe FAMAS keeps the longer barrel in ! a shorter package. I think theres a smart engineer out there that can use the existing M16 parts already in place and create a bullpup rifle out of them. Let us try."
A trooper writes in:
"Plain and simple we don't need it. If you must have one I think the best and most cost effective arrangement would be an M4 with a 20mm grenade launcher having a tubular magazine, being pump action and fitted like the M203.
With the A3 flattop arrangement any sight could be utilized. very simple and will do any thing the OICW can do.
A bulpup configuration is over rated the M4 has better ergonomics particularly were reloading is concerned. The length and accuracy are comparable to most any bulpup, not to mention that most Soldiers can't get the most from their weapon any way.
Go with the realistic equivalent."
A Combat Engineer writes in:
I'm an E-4 in the XXXXXXXXXXX, a 12B combat engineer. We still have M16A1's, by the way. At any rate, I think it's time we phased out the entire AR-15 (M16) family altogether. It's an acceptable design, but it has some flaws. For instance, the lack of a gas piston that results in debris from the barrel being spit back into the chamber, which is why the M16 needs to be cleaned more than most of its contemporaries. There are plenty of good rifles out there to choose from. For us engineers, a compact, lightweight weapon would be ideal. Hauling a spool of det cord or lugging cratering charges is difficult enough without having to manage a full rifle with it. There are plenty of modern bullpup rifle designs out there; the Israeli Tavor even uses the same magazines as the M16, although nearly any 5.56x45mm rifle could be converted to use standard AR-15 magazines with only a little modification. The OICW is, in my opinion, a fat waste of taxpayer dollars. The price of one of those would buy new M4 carbines for my entire squad. And it's safe-semi-2 round burst is laughable. Full auto fire from a rifle is limited in its uses; but when you need it, you need full auto, you don't need three round burst. Three round burst is designed to maximize hit probability, so they say. Well, instead of putting it on burst and putting three rounds in the bad guy's direction, why not leave it on semi and put one in center of mass? I can think of no tactical situation in which a 'double-tap' option would be useful in a military rifle."
Co. A, XXX En Bn
However you contradict yourself---the M4 Carbine still uses the direct-gas system of the AR15/M16, in fact the larger M16 is more reliable. The real solution is to retrofit a gas piston system to the M16/M4 family. Problem solved!
I prefer the larger M16 because;
1. Longer range 800m
2. Rifle/bayonet close combat fighting
3. Walking stick
4. Better to launch rifle grenades:
Just my preference.
However, the compact M4 is very good for Paratrooping, and a good T-21 parachute could carry it in a pack tray side pouch.
However, if while switching M16/M4s over to gas pistons you move the recoil spring(s) to the front, the stock can FOLD and be compact like you desire without sacrificing barrel length for 800m striking range lethality.
I'd rather have rifle grenades NOW than OICWs too heavy, too expensive too late.
IN PRAISE OF THE M79
Most Infantry readers probably don't remember the M79 grenade launcher- the predecessor to the M203. One man in each fire team carried this handy, lightweight weapon, which was designed to take out machinegun positions and enemy soldiers in bunkers and rooms. It resembled a small shotgun, was easy to use, and could be carried in one hand, yet could be brought up to a firing position without changing grip. Since the M79 was a single shot, a grenadier carried a .45 caliber pistol as well.
When I reported to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in 1970, each infantry platoon had six M79s. Arriving in Vietnam in 1971, I found that the M79 had been replaced by the M203. This gave me a chance to compare the merits of the two.
The key advantage of the M203/M16 combination was that you could fire the grenade and then function as a rifleman without having to take time to reload. (None of the Soldiers wanted to engage the enemy with their .45s.) The platoon got six more rifles without having any more men.
There were several important disadvantages to the M203 as well. First, the combination was heavy. Carrying two weapons in one with both calibers of ammunition was tough. Second, unless specially trained and experienced with the weapon, the M203 gunner tended to fire his loaded grenade, then function solely as a rifleman. The weapon without quadrant sights was less accurate than the M79 and, when the quadrant sights were used on the weapon, they tended to catch on things and break.
Finally, in the confusion of the moment, gunners sometimes pulled the wrong trigger. (Once, an M203 gunner to my left rear aimed with his rifle sights at a target beyond me and pulled the grenade trigger, causing a grenade to impact nearby. Fortunately, it had traveled less than the arming distance and did not detonate.)
As an infantry platoon leader I initially carried a rifle, just as the book suggested. Part way through my tour, I was struck by the idea of carrying an M79 and a pistol instead. I could carry it in one hand, with the other hand free to operate the radio-an important duty while in contact. A shot round in the chamber could provide a quick burst of self-protection if needed, and I wouldn't even have to change my grip or take careful aim. Another advantage was that I could use smoke rounds to mark enemy positions for armed helicopters instead of smoke grenades to mark my own position. I could also use smoke or high-explosive rounds to mark targets for my machineguns. I quickly scrounged an M79 (there were plenty still around) and carried it for the rest of my tour. Luckily, I did not have to put my ideas to a real acid test, because things had calmed down after the Easter Offensive in 1972.
Well, all that's very nice, I can hear you thinking, but it isn't relevant to infantry now or in the future. Perhaps-but consider the objective individual combat weapon (OICW). This weapon of the future is a 20mm grenade launcher and a 5.56mm rifle in an over and under configuration; if it is not a son of the M203/M16, it is a close relative.
It offers a lot of benefits: long range, integral rangefinding, air burst, etc. It also is heavy, unwieldy, and complex. Would the infantryman be better served by a different combination?
Consider the benefits offered by fielding three personal weapons in the squad: an improved M4 with integral sights and rangefinder from the OICW; a 20mm grenade launcher with the rangefinder, sights, and ballistic com- puter; and an M9 pistol. Each weapon would be much lighter and less complex and easier to handle under almost any conditions, particularly in confined spaces such as urban areas. Each would be easier and cheaper to build and maintain. The savings could be used to expand the ammunition selection for the 20mm. A shot round and a slug round would allow the 20mm to take the place of the combat shotgun (XM1014).
Smoke and illumination rounds could be used the same way I used them in Vietnam. Less-than-lethal rounds could be developed as well. Imagine the flexibility offered by arming each two-man buddy team in the squad with one M4 and a 20mm. New tactics and techniques would arise to take advantage of this effective combination. And for once, we'd really be lightening the infantryman's load, at least in comparison to the M203/M16 combination or the OICW.
So, let's explore this alternative (it's the same technology, after all) and test the con-cepts, head-to-head, before a final decision is made.
BG JOHN R. SCALES
Clemmons, North Carolina
Keep the M4 as the 5.56mm shooter and just field a 20mm OICW airburst grenade launcher so it will be lighter and practical to aim/fire with the money saved not reinventing the 5.56mm assault rifle used to field a greater family of 20mm rounds.
Army and marines Speed Up Improvements for Small Arms
by Harold Kennedy
Faced with the possibility of continuing ground combat in coming years, the U.S. Army and marines are stepping up their efforts to improve the small arms used by their infantry.
In recent months, many of the combat operations in Afghanistan have been conducted by elements of the U.S. 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions, using small arms, such as M-4 carbines, 7.62mm sniper rifles and squad automatic weapons. During Operation ANACONDA, I actually witnessed some of my guys taking out al Qaeda targets out to ranges of 500 meters, Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe, from the 10th, told a telephone press conference.
Driving the remaining al Qaeda out of their caves and fortified positions is a light infantry fight, Grippe said.
With this in mind, the Army and marines are speeding up their work to give the infantry better weapons. We want to reduce the size and weight and increase the lethality and survivability of all weapons, said Lt. Col. Gilbert Z. Brown, small arms program manager at the Armys Armament Research and Development Center (ARDEC), at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
Many light infantry units in the two services are exchanging M-16A2 rifles for M-4 carbines, said Lt. Col. A.J. Diehl, program manager for infantry weapons at the Marine Corps Systems Command, in Quantico, Va.
The M-4s, made by Colts Manufacturing Company Inc., of Hartford, Conn., fire the same 5.56 mm rounds as the M-16s, built by FN Manufacturing, of Columbia, S.C. But the M-4s are 5 1/2 inches shorter than the M-16s, Diehl said. The carbines have a collapsible buttstock, and, at 5.65 pounds, the M-4s are almost two pounds lighter than the M-16s.
Those attributes are particularly attractive for light infantry troops, such as Rangers and marine reconnaissance units, who are always jumping out of C-130s and helicopters and climbing through building windows during urban combat, Diehl said.
Both the M-4 and the M-16 which remains the rifle of choice for many standard military units can be outfitted with a system of rails, Diehl explained. This modular system allows the two weapons to accept a wide array of auxiliary devices, such as a day or night sight, laser target designator, flashlight and even an M-203 40 mm grenade launcher.
Right now, Im buying thermal sights, said Diehl. For the first time, were giving our infantry the ability to see through dust, smoke, all the fog of war. This is a great capability that we need to be pushing through, and we will.
The Army, meanwhile, is trying to pick up the pace of development for its futuristic, but problem-plagued objective individual combat weapon, which eventually is scheduled to replace many of the rifles, carbines and grenade launchers carried by Soldiers and marines.
The OICW is being developed by a team headed by ATK Integrated Defense Company, of Plymouth, Minn., which has a $105 million contract from ARDEC. The team includes Brashear Ltd., of Pittsburgh; Heckler & Koch GmbH, of Oberndorf, Germany; Octec, of Bracknell, in the United Kingdom, and Dynamit Nobel AG, of Cologne, Germany.
Like the M-16 and the M-4 with an attached M-203, the OICW can both fire 5.56 mm rifle bullets and launch grenades. A major difference between the two systems is the nature of their grenades. The M-203 shoots a traditional 40 mm grenade, which explodes on impact. The OICW launches a newer, 20 mm version, which can be timed to explode in the air above a target, spraying lethal fragments into an enemy hidden behind a wall.
Originally, the OICW had been scheduled to begin production in 2005. That date was pushed back to 2009 after tests at the Armys Aberdeen Proving Grounds, in Maryland, turned up design problems. During one of the tests, a 20 mm round detonated in an OICW chamber, injuring two testers.
Since then, the ATK team has made changes in the weapons design to prevent a reoccurrence, officials said. In January, ATK completed a new series of test firings of the 20mm rounds. More than 60 were fired successfully, said Randy Strobush, ATKs OICW program director. There were no misfires.
Furthermore, the weapons accuracy far exceeded customer expectations, he said. We tested at ranges out to 500 meters, and the OICW consistently delivered airbursts within a very tight pattern. The successful test results demonstrate the OICWs readiness to proceed to the next step of development, Strobush said.
The Army apparently agreed. In March, the services small arms program officials decided to accelerate the OICWs schedule by two years and begin production of block I of the weapon in 2007, rather than 2009, according to Barbara Muldowney, acting OICW product manager at Picatinny.
Meanwhile, efforts to reduce the weapons weight would continue, she said. The original prototype of the OICW weighed 18 pounds, which the Army said was too heavy for an infantrymans personal weapon, she noted.
Currently, plans call for the weapon to weigh no more than 17.5 pounds when production of block I begins in 2007, she said. In block II, scheduled for 2010, the OICWs weight is scheduled to drop to 15.5 pounds.
Contractors plan to achieve this reduction by taking advantage of technical advances in electronic and power-source miniaturization, lighter composite materials and plastic, rather than glass optics, Muldowney said.
Contractors defended the OICWs weight, claiming that it already is comparable to that of the M-4 or M-16, equipped with the grenade launcher and a full package of optics. They noted that the OICWs 20mm round weighs only one quarter of a pound, compared to half a pound for the M-203s 40mm round.
The current M-4/M-16 system is modular, allowing Soldiers to attach only those accessories that they need at the moment, Muldowney said. The OICW, by comparison, operates as a single piece in its present design. Eventually, the Army plans to redesign the OICW to allow the rifle and grenade launcher portions to be detached and operated separately, Muldowney explained. But that wont happen until block III, sometime after 2010, she said.
The OICWs estimated costperhaps as high as $18,000 a piece is disturbing to many who cite a unit price of $586 for the M-16. But contractors assert that when the grenade launcher and all the other add-ons are included, the M-16/M-4 systems cost more than $35,000 each. OICW critics challenge that claim.
Still, Muldowney points out, the Army doesn't plan to issue an OICW to every soldier. Only four members of every nine-member infantry squad will get one. The others will retain their M-4s or M-16s, she said.
At present, the marine corps has no plans to adopt the OICW, said Diehl. Were pretty much taking a wait and see attitude, he told National Defense.
My personal opinion is that the Army needs to focus more on the ergonomics of the weapon, he said. You need to be able to handle that thing with one hand, and you can't now. Im convinced until they address that issue, they're not going to get the interest of the marine corps.
The corps is slowly replacing its M-40A1 sniper rifles with the newer M-40A3 version, Diehl said. The A1 was put into service during the 1970s as the marines primary long-range sniper weapon, Diehl explained. As the old rifles come in for reconditioning, they are being retired in favor of the A3s.
Each of the weapons is hand-built by craftsmen at the marine corps Marksmanship Training Unit at Quantico, Diehl said. The A3 stock has been modified to accommodate a wider variety of body sizes and proportions, Diehl said. A bipod and accessory rail now is fitted, as well.
The M-40 series is essentially a Remington 700 with a fiberglass stock and day and night scopes specially built for the marines. It fires a 7.62mm NATO round, which has more staying power than the 5.56mm, Diehl said. It is a bolt-action rifle, rather than automatic, which locks the round in place better and provides more consistent accuracy.
In some situations such as hostage situations, accuracy is more important than numbers of rounds, Diehl said.
2011 UPDATE: Gone is the 5.56mm Assault Rifle Attached to the XM25....
The Army finally came to its senses and fielded the XM25--without an attached 5.56mm rifle--to 1 Soldier with air burst HE firepower per 9-man squad. He also carries a M4 carbine for suppressive-point KE firepower.
Now the Army needs to make 40mm grenades and rifle hand-grenades air burst, too. As we have said all along on this web page!