Tommy-Built Custom “XM8” with Military Arms Channel

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed an “XM8” rifle in the wild…

But, its not a “real” XM8, of which few could have potentially made it into the civilian market. The “XM8” shown is a custom build from Tommy-Built commissioned by Tim at Military Arms Channel.

The “XM8” started life as a civilian SL8 (which in my opinion, only exist to provide the base parts for a G36 or XM8 conversion). Due to byzantine German export laws, the base G36 design had to be modified to be sold to the US and foreign markets including fixed thumb-hole stock, a magazine well that only accepted single-stack 10 round magazines, and a receiver that did not accept folding stocks.

With the base rifle (and about $3,000 for the custom work) Tommy-Built custom fabricated various components to convert the rifle to the near clone of the potential US Army rifle. Modifications to the base SL8 include, but are not limited to:

  • Double-stack magazine wells for both G36 and STANAG magazines.
  • Recontoured barrel.
  • Custom fabricated handguard
  • Custom fabricated, adjustable LOP, stock
  • Custom rail and charging handle handguard
  • Etc.

MAC then adorns the rifle with an Insight weapons optic similar to the one originally proposed on the XM8 rifle. Its picatinny mounted (not built-in), but does an excellent job as a stand-in.


If you are interested in your own conversion, check out the custom work by Tommy Built Customs at their website. 


Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Wake Me Up Inside

    I always wanted my own fish gun.

    • Anonymoose

      I do too.

  • Joshua

    Does it melt like the XM-8 did in trials?

    • Jose

      I just chat with Tommy at his Facebook page; he told me that he never carry out any abusive tests with its furniture, and it’s only for the purpose of dress up the rifle. But, as the video shows, the XM-8 kit stands the heat after prolonged shots. He also stated me that he plans to build the rifle from scratch; a co-worker of his, Dan Haga, is working on a new receiver, so it would not be necessary to use the base SL-8 to carry out the conversion. As for the REAL XM-8, it’s being used by the Malayan security forces, and it may be used in combat against Muslim insurgents in their area. Will it work? Who knows.

      • Ryan

        “As for the REAL XM-8, it’s being used by the Malayan security forces”

        I will never understand why people think this. As far as anyone can prove they have 2 XM8’s that have only ever been seen in their yearly military parade. As far as I know they have never been seen in the wild ever.

        • politicsbyothermeans

          There’s a picture of Chris Niedrich “Raven 18” holding one in front of the crossed sabers in Baghdad. I think other alleged sightings were G36Cs or even SCARs.

          • Ryan

            Yeah the pic where he has an M4 or the like hanging around his neck as well. I there is another photo that was speculated to be from Iraq with a soldier holding a rather odd looking XM8.

            I stand corrected Malaysia has 3 as far as I can tell. 1 standard, 1 PDW and 1 DMR.

      • Cal.Bar

        “really stands up? IDK – looked like MAC fired at most a few mags through it before he set it down and smelled smoke. I LOVE TOMMY’s work (and have one of his G36 conversions), but he may need to address the rifle smoking after a few mags.

        • Military Arms Channel

          We got it pretty toasty and it seems to hold heat around the chamber area longer than I would like. I would not take this gun out and run 5-6 mags through it back to back as fast as I could pull the trigger. It may do fine, but I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it. As Tommy Built said, it’s a shootable conversation piece. It’s not a military grade rifle, it just looks like one. I’m fine with that.

          • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Well, thanks for clearing that up. I’ll take something more functional. But it does look cool, it just doesn’t shoot that way

          • Tony A

            Polymers can take alot of heat nowadays probably not that much inferior to aluminum (the ones used in firearms anyway)

          • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Absolutely but aluminum and steel don’t have a plasticizers that can leach out over time. I have a pistol that was used in the civil war and it is still functional. I doubt that will be said for many of the polymer weapons. But time will tell.
            Tony, it really looks cool. I am envious of your disposable income. Just make mine steel. ?

          • Tony A

            I wouldnt necessarily call it disposable income more like an addiction to firearms (i spend more than i should and cant help it cause i love all firearms)

          • Tony A

            I think the CZ BREN is a little nicer than the SCAR and the G36/xm8

          • Tony A

            More affordable to , i got mine for 1450$ off of gunbroker

          • Tony A

            Something more like the CZ BREN 805 is what id choose if the shtf (my 556 #1) but i do love all the Kalashnikovs as well

          • Tony A

            Ive put about 12-13 mags through mine although it seemed to handle it pretty well the heat did build up somewhat, i prob wouldnt want to risk damaging it to go beyond that but it seemed to hold up to the heat as well as any other rifle (ar ak etc)

  • Alex D.

    German export laws? Try American import laws. At least do your homework. Even the Wikipedia article on the rifle would’ve sufficed. It clearly explains the differences between the different variants of the rifle, of which only those intended for the US market have been gimped. All other variants are great rifles. They take double-stack magazines and the regular G36 bolt.

    • Steve_7

      Actually a combination of both, Germany had their own ban at the time that did require all the “military” features be removed, but the single stack magazine was a result of the US LCMM import ban in 1998. I suppose it depends on your definition of “gimped” but I don’t personally care for any variation of the SL8.

  • Marzuq

    some G-36s & a couple XM-8 in the picture. – taken at the Naval Special Operation Force exhibition booth during Royal Malaysian Navy open day

  • NewMan

    The is the rifle that the US military should’ve adopted long ago.

    It completely destroyed all the other rifles in the sand test and the G36 – the rifle that the XM8 based on – is the most reliable 556 in the world right now.

    • Joe

      I thought that about the XM8 when I was enlisted and reading about it in the Army Times.
      Now, not so much.
      I do think trading in M4s for M27s would be a definitive upgrade.

      • CommonSense23

        In no way would the M27s be a upgrade. Having a weapon that breaks sooner isn’t a good thing.

        • Yes, I’ve heard from reputable sources that when SOCOM tested 416 uppers on M4 lowers against straight M4s, the M4s handily beat them, but the report was apparently buried by Crane.

          • NewMan

            about time you back that up (as one of the writer of this site) rather than just relying on hearsay.

            the 416 bolt can last up to 15 – 25,000 rounds. The average M4 bolt can only last for about 5000 rounds.

          • So why don’t you back what you just said up?

            Also, LOL, an M4 bolt only lasts 5,000 rounds? Better tell that to my 6920 that has 8,000 rounds through it…

          • NewMan

            semi auto shooting at the range is hardly equivalent to real combat use.

            The fact of the matter is that the DI AR is the kind of gun that you need to keep your eyes on and maintain very frequently. It is not designed for hard use.

          • OK, so let’s just assume that the “67,000 round” figure is correct (where is this guy’s rifle being shot, a machine gun parlor?), so what does that mean? The bolt on an HK416 is essentially the same design as on a bog standard DI AR-15. So, what, H&K uses electroslag refined steel bolts or something? That’s cool, but what does that have to do with DI vs. oprod?

            Now, do we have examples of DI guns running into the five digits without breaking their bolts… Hmmm, yes, we do!

            Sure, the KAC gun uses a fancy curvy stress-relieved bolt design, but if DI were the problem, wouldn’t we expect to see similar bolt lug failures?

          • NewMan

            There’s no assumption. It’s a fact that he shot 67k rounds through that 416 without ANY major failure. That 416 belongs to “M4guru” from Lightfighter Tactical Forum, he often runs his gun very hard.

            That KAC vid you posted is a “sponsored” testing through KAC. And it should be noted that the SR-16 is not being considered/used by any serious users.

            It’s common knowledge that DI direct hot gas back into the system and therefore considerably shortened parts lifespan, especially under full auto.

            I’m stilling waiting for you and “Common Sense” to show evidence that the 416/M27 “breaks sooner” than DI AR.

          • It’s also “common knowledge” that vaccines cause autism, buddy, that doesn’t make it true.

            I didn’t say an HK 416’s bolt breaks sooner than a DI AR’s (why would it, unless the ol’ Rottweil steel quality has tanked?), I said they use similar bolt design. So maybe the HK has a metallurgically superior bolt (although the evidence you’ve provided isn’t exactly bulletproof, since it’s one guy apocryphally having shot a lot through his gun without an issue – hardly a controlled study, though good for that guy, I guess), but I’ve seen no evidence suggesting that piping relatively cool and low pressure gas back into the bolt carrier is significantly reducing the life span of the bolts on DI guns.

            Maybe it is, but I’ve looked and found no such evidence.

          • Actually, one of the recent NDIA presentations even refutes your 5,000 round figure:

            “The historical part life for the bolt in an M4 carbine averages approximately ~12,000 rounds”

          • CommonSense23

            My last deployment I got to see MK18s versus 416s. And the 416s had more issues in a day than our MK18s had in a year. What was interesting was the attitude of the guys carrying the 416s. The younger guys vastly preferred the MK18s to the 416s.

    • Zachary marrs

      you mean the test where they made sure that the M4 would fail?

    • CommonSense23

      I hope you are being sarcastic.

      • NewMan

        It’s fact that the XM8 has proven itself, and the G36 further show that.

        The only reason why ti didn’t get adopted was purely politics. If it was adopted the troop would’ve had a superior weapon system in their hand 10 years ago.

        • CommonSense23

          What test proves the XM8 was superior.

          • NewMan

            Look at the sand test where the XM8 proved to be vastly superior to every gun there.

          • CommonSense23

            Have you actually looked at the sand test. The actual data from it. How it was applied. There is a reason it has been discredited. Let’s see, they don’t test the current SOPMOD M4A1, nope just rack grade M4s. They run the test twice on the M4. They require Stanag mags for the M4. But competitors use what ever they want. And let’s look at the malfunctions shall we. If we look at class 3 malfunctions which would down the weapon in the field. Well look at that the M4 and XM8 were tied. The XM8 was only better in the class 1 and 2 malfunctions which are heavily based on magazine failures. You want to talk about the headspace issues. Which the M4 crushed the competition in? If all your basing the XM8s supposed superiority on is the Dust test you need to find new sources.

          • NewMan

            All of that is irrelevant.

            The only major different between Block II M4 and the “rack grade” one is the rail. Everything else remain the same.

            The data back me up

            and BTW, they already done the same test with the BLOCK II M4, and it still came out as worse than every piston guns.

          • CommonSense23

            I am really curious what your background with military firearms is.

          • CommonSense23

            Also stating the only difference between a rack grade M4 the Army used in the dust test and the current Block II M4A1s being used by SOCOM is the rail tells me all I need to know about your knowledge base. And what other test state “piston” guns came out better?

          • You mean these dust tests?

            The dust tests where they counted the burst group’s memory as “malfunctions”?

            The dust tests that gave results no one else was able to reproduce?

            The dust tests that have been discredited by both civilian and military scholarship?

  • TJbrena

    If I ever win the lottery, I’m getting at least two. XM8 is my raifu.

  • Rocky Chen

    MAC making it rain money again…

  • Zachary marrs

    Lol, ok.

    You sure did buy into the army times stuff

  • Steve_7

    I am impressed.

  • bobby allen

    Matt isn’t a tool he’s the whole damn bag