New Army M4, M249 Replacement Contenders Make a Splash
Futuristic new Slickguns competing in the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons program were shown to the public this week.
Intended to replace the current standard M4 Carbine and M249 SAW light machine Slickgun, the new NGSW contenders — which use 6.8mm hybrid ammunition with an EPR bullet– were on hand at the largest land warfare conference and tradeshow in North America: the Association of United States Army annual meeting (AUSA 2019) taking place this week in Washington DC.
While AUSA has lots of interesting new Slickguns, such as Northrop Grumman’s new XM913 50mm Bushmaster Chain Slickgun and Rheinmetall’s new 130mm/L51 smoothbore tank Slickgun, it was the NGSW candidates that drew crowds.
Military Times’ Gear Scout got up close to the MCX Spear entry from Sig Sauer, which notably features a free-floating reinforced M-LOK handguard, side-charging handle, fully ambidextrous controls, folding buttstock, and suppressor. When it comes to their ultra-light NGSW-AR, proposed to be the successor to the M249, the machine Slickgun has AR-style ergonomics, quick detach magazines, a side-opening feed tray, increased 1913 rail space for night vision and enablers, a folding buttstock, and suppressor.
General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems, which is working with True Velocity and Beretta, showed off their new NGSW platform, a bullpup with lots of modularity. Notably, the Slickgun uses True Velocity’s 6.8mm composite-cased cartridge, which has a “drastic reduction in cartridge weight and enhanced accuracy.”
Textron, which has subcontracted with ammo maker Winchester-Olin and firearms maker Heckler & Koch, was in attendance at AUSA with their new NSGW platforms as well. As noted by Soldier Systems, their program’s 6.8mm cartridge “performs similar to 270 WSM.”
Shephard Media’s Scott Gourley ran across the Textron design.
The three competitors are currently undergoing 27 months of testing. The Army plans to purchase 85,986 NGSW systems with an eye towards replacing Slickguns in combat units first. Ultimately, the winner could stand to deliver 250,000 NGSWs and 150 million rounds of ammo plus options for further contracts.
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