US Army Shows Off New XM25 Optic At AUSA 2015

The US Army’s XM25 “Punisher” airburst programmable infantry grenade launcher is being prepared for acceptance testing, but a major component, and a major source of criticism, has received an overhaul from the versions tested in Afghanistan.’s KitUp! reports on the new optic and fire control system being displayed at the Association of the US Army 2015 conference:

The Army has upgraded its 25mm airburst weapon by giving it a more streamlined fire-control optic with greater magnification power.

The improvements to the XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System are the result of soldier feedback that came from two battlefield assessments in Afghanistan.

“This is not the XM25 that went to Afghanistan a few years ago,” Robert Menti of Orbital ATK Armament Systems, the maker of the futuristic airburst weapon, said at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting.

The most noticeable change is the weapon now features a more streamlined fire-control system designed to calculates the range to target and transfers the data to an electronic fuse built into the 25mm round.

It’s still not small, but the new fire-control device is significantly more compact than the boxy system that used to sit on top of the weapon.

The newer design also features a 3X magnification compared to the older version that’s 2X, Menti said.

Since the XM25 was tested in Afghanistan, the weapon’s role has been made clearer. The new optic should allow the device to be more accurately aimed at longer ranges, addressing the Army’s concerns about lacking longer-ranged support weapons organic to the squad and platoon.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • 11B

    What, no backup iron sights? 😉

    • Simon Spero

      Useless without BackUp Iron Sliderule.
      Also, manually setting the fuse may require backup PFCs.

      • El Duderino

        Just roll it around on the ground a bit.

        I was thinking, stick a reflex up top of that optic. Opportunity for hip fire while looking through the reflex…

        • 11B

          Maybe we could put a Slide Fire on that thing while we’re at it…

      • Secundius

        @ Simon Spero.

        That only applies, if the Shooter “Actually” knows how use a “Slide rule”…

  • Joshua

    That’s a significant size reduction. With all the things this optic does I wouldn’t be surprised to see them scaling it down in hopes of putting in on the M4 some day.

    • Dracon1201

      A self ranging optic would be great, but I think they’d be after a greater magnification for that.

      • Joshua

        Get the tech scaled down enough and you can add adjustable magnification eventually.

        • mechamaster

          Read the interesting article month ago.
          If they can adapt something similar in technology like the ‘RAZAR Rapid-Adaptive Zoom Rifle Scope’, maybe they can add up to 4x or 5x magnification into the system with minimal weight and size.

          • me ohmy

            yeah it has “soap bubble lens” technology..where the lens is squished or stretched to change focal length..very cool tech…works like the lens in your eyes.

  • Ryan

    I might not be the most informed, but one more level of magnification isn’t a lot. Sure numerically you could argue that 3x is much greater than 2x, however in reality it’s not that noticeable. Makes me wonder if there isn’t an outside factor at play that prevents greater magnification levels.

    • Joshua

      There’s a lot going on in this scope. It’s probably on of the most technologically advanced rifle scope ever on a shoulder fired individual weapon.

    • El Duderino

      It’s a grenade launcher, bro. Not trying to punch the X in the 10 ring or figure out if that buck has 3 points on one side of the rack. 3x is plenty to identify bad guy/not bad guy out to several hundred meters or more.

      • 11B

        Yeah the M203/M320 have NO magnification and I can nail targets beyond 300m. This thing is probably like a friggin lazer beam.

        • Ryan

          I’ve heard that the m203 is pretty easy to to be accurate with. But doesn’t this 25mm round require more accuracy due to its smaller size? Also since the 25mm round is meant to airburst you have to somehow tell it where along its path you want that to happen, no? So wouldn’t more magnification help you determine if your rangefinder is reading the doorway/window and not the bush that’s slightly in front of that, or the door/window frame?

  • hami

    It works well enough in Battlefield 4.

    • manbear

      doesn’t it though!?

      • Kyle

        The hilarious butt hurt it generates makes it almost required gear on the support class as far as I’m concerned. Well that and the fact that it is super handy when the damned thing works right. I’d love to shoot with one in real life. I bet it is a hell of a lot of fun.

        • SP mclaughlin

          A nightmare to resupply though in the current state of the game.

  • Phillip Cooper

    I’m more curious how this fits into a fireteam. It’s not like someone is going to carry this AND an M4,. 5 round box mags, minimum arm distance, and oh yeah- it’s 25mm. Airburst. What happens when you’re clearly in need of something less of an area weapon at short range?

    Argument can be made that the M203 gunners carried larger rounds and were not a hindrance. They also had the system piggybacked on their M16.

    Similarly, Barret rifles. But they aren’t typically used in dynamic environments- they tend to set up a nest somewhere and only get out if they’re under threat of being compromised, right?

    • gunsandrockets

      In a US Army Rifle Platoon, the best place for the XM25 is to assign a pair to the Heavy Weapons Squad. The Rifle Squads are already too burdened under the current TO&E.

    • Drambus Ambiguous

      Since there is proposed ammunition beyond the HEAB rounds, such as AP, Flechette for example…, buckshot would be good I expect too if you had to be in confined spaces. I wonder if the soldier might just carry some magazines filled with a specific ammo type for those pinches where he needs to contribute to the firefight in less of a counter sniper role and more of a rifleman role.

      • 11B

        You’re not gonna be using this badboy in confined spaces. Far too cumbersome.

        • Evil13RT

          Probably not “in” but certainly around. It’s an improved grenade that you’d use on Windows and doors to dig people out from cover. So I can see them using this to approach a building.
          Room to room it might be only useful with a shot shell Payload.

          I think a system like this will become more important as we use sensors to build a picture of where enemies are hiding. Just out of sight is no longer out of reach.

    • 11B

      The Rangers tried this, and basically the guy with the XM29 only that and a sidearm. What they found out was that with the limited amount of rounds you can carry the XM29 guy became rather useless quickly. Furthermore, he only has one very niche role which means he isn’t shooting 75% of the time, which is bad for obvious reasons. All of this meant he needed to carry an M4, and at the end of the day they ditched the XM29 in favor of giving the guy his rifle back.

      Like you said, in a dynamic environment (counter-insurgency) it probably has a more limited role. Conventional war I could see giving 1 guy in the squad the XM29 though, and the Army as a whole is re-tooling to fight conventional wars.

      • CommonSense23

        The Rangers also have good tactics that do not result in them getting enganged in TICS outside their effective rifle range everyday.

      • TJbrena

        XM29 was the OICW, not the CDTE.

        If the XM29 was being fielded in place of the XM25 in the same limited role today, leaving behind a rifle wouldn’t be an issue. Too bad the thing was too heavy and 20mm HEAB was ineffective.

        Had the OICW been 4-5lbs lighter, used 25mm instead of 20mm, and been intended to fill a similar role to the modern CDTE instead of becoming a completely new service rifle, then things would be very different.

      • noob

        hmm. if you had a humvee and it was regular infantry using it on urban patrols and house searches could you just leave the weapon locked in a strong box in the vehicle until the time when you really needed it? or is that a really bad idea?

    • CommonSense23

      You carry a rifle and this. It’s not that heavy. All our snipers carried both their sniper and assault rifles. Spread some ammo out and you are fine.

  • Lance

    Old news, this been weapon has been shown online since last week.

    • Man, if you think this is too old, you’re gonna hate the article I’ve got going up in about 20 minutes…

  • gunsandrockets

    Did the original XM29 have the same 2X image magnification? Considering the change in role of the XM25 from the XM29, the adjustment makes sense to me.

  • Tassiebush

    Going on some of the comments about the weight of this system I can imagine a single shot version might be in order.

  • Sticky-eye Rivers

    I do not understand why the army doesn’t just use a carl-gustav instead of blowing money on this? Same solution to the same problems, direct attack high-explosives (‘cept one system isn’t out of development yet and the other was ready in 1948).

    • Tassiebush

      The point of this is the ability to precisely airburst at the target so if the opposition is in a position where a system like the Carl Gustav would overshoot such as a trench or behind a large barrier this can get them. My understanding is you range find the target or something close to it then ad or subtract the detonating distance to program the grenade before firing.

  • Joshua

    I’m actually glad to see the XM25 still being worked on. It’s a really good weapon for its intended use.

  • John Bear Ross

    Infantry break things. I was the guy you handed things to to see if they were grunt-proof.

    I hope that optic holds up, or at least has a “dumb” mode, for direct fire, dead batteries, and roadblocks.
    I imagine you could mess up a softskin pretty fast with a mag dump.


  • jay

    I thought no one in the military liked bull pups?