BREAKING: Inspector General Report DAMNS XM25 “Punisher” CDTE Program – Is the Army’s New Airburst Weapon on the Chopping Block?

The US Army’s “Punisher” XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement (CTDE) weapon program is in danger, says a report released earlier this week by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office. The program has been riddled with delays and cost spirals, as well as three accidents in 2013, but beyond that the Army has failed to outline a plan for procurement and basic issuance of the weapon, putting the program in jeopardy. From the (heavily redacted) report:

Army officials could have managed the schedule, affordability, and quantity requirements of the XM25 program more effectively. The initial production decision for the XM25 has continued to be delayed since we issued our last report on the XM25 in March 2014. Specifically, Army officials removed procurement funding from the XM25 budget, which extended the engineering and manufacturing development phase by 2 years. Additionally, Army officials contributed to the initial production decision delay by placing a hold on the XM25 capability production document

Later on page 11 the report states:

We recommend that the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, determine whether to proceed with or cancel the XM25 program after reviewing the results of the 2016 Governmental testing, and review and approve the binding affordability constraints developed by Army G-8 officials for the XM25 program within 30 days of the issuance of this report.

Regarding the 2013 accidents, the report concludes that the program did not adequately train the operational units to which the XM25 was issued, resulting in the accidents and in injury to the soldiers:

Furthermore, PM IW [author’s note: “Project Manager: Individual Weapons”, a metonym for the office of the Project Manager] officials conducted forward operational assessments on the XM25 in Afghanistan in 2011, 2012, and 2013, during which the system suffered three malfunctions, resulting in minor operator injuries. A forward operational assessment is conducted in an operational environment to determine the effectiveness and suitability of prototypes. The weapon malfunctions occurred because PM IW officials did not provide adequate training to soldiers prior to releasing the XM25 for use during the three forward operational assessments.

The report explains under exactly what circumstances the XM25 could get cancelled:

The Army Acquisition Executive issued interim acquisition guidance on establishing affordability constraints for ACAT II and III programs in June 2015. The interim policy required Army G-8 officials to perform an affordability analysis and develop binding affordability constraints for MDA approval as a program enters a new phase in the acquisition process. Once the Army establishes affordability constraints for an acquisition program, the program manager must manage the program within the approved constraints. The MDA will enforce affordability constraints throughout the life of the program. If a program manager concludes that a program will exceed an affordability constraint, despite efforts to control costs and reduce requirements, the program manager will notify the MDA to request assistance and resolution. If the program manger determines that a program cannot meet approved affordability constraints, even with aggressive cost control, the program manager must revise technical requirements, schedule, and required quantities. When a program still cannot meet constraints after undergoing revisions, and the Army cannot afford to raise the program’s affordability constraints and obtain MDA approval, the program will be canceled.

This thorough overview of the process for ensuring a program meets affordability constraints may make it sound as though the XM25 isn’t in much danger right now, but eslewhere the report is very explicit about the program’s status:

As a result of continued schedule delays, cost increases, and performance problems, the XM25 MDA should determine whether to cancel the program or immediately schedule an initial production decision if the FY 2016 Government test results demonstrate that the XM25 can meet its primary and secondary performance requirements.

One of the problems with the XM25 program is that the cost of the XM25 and its slated procurement quantity haven’t been adequately validated; in other words, the Army has not successfully verified its estimates for how many XM25s are really needed, and what each unit will cost:

(FOUO) U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCOE) officials did not justify the XM25 basis of issue plan and corresponding XM25 procurement quantity. This occurred because MCOE officials did not conduct and maintain complete and verifiable analyses for determining the necessary XM25 procurement quantity. As a result, the Army has no assurance that the estimated procurement quantity of [REDACTED], at an estimated average unit cost of [REDACTED] per weapon, and an estimated total cost of [REDACTED], is valid.

Worse, apparently the Army has not fully mapped out exactly how the XM25 is going to be issued, in what quantity, and to what units:

MCOE officials did not conduct and maintain complete and verifiable analyses for determining the necessary XM25 procurement quantity. Specifically, MCOE officials could not provide the underlying support for their XM25 basis of issue plan recommendations. Army guidance requires that Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASA[ALT]) officials establish policies for the retention of supporting documentation for a basis of issue plan developed during the acquisition process, including the identification of the data source and the rationale for selection.

ASA(ALT) officials stated Army G-3/5/7 officials are revising the Army guidance, which requires retention of basis of issue plan supporting documentation. ASA(ALT) officials explained they requested Army G‑3/5/7 officials remove that section of the guidance because ASA(ALT) officials believed that supporting documentation used to generate the basis of issue plan comes from previously approved acquisition documentation. Specifically, ASA(ALT) officials stated that they believed the basis of issue plan supporting documentation is already included in the approved capability development document, the approved capability production document and cost-benefit analysis, the system training plan, the basis of issue guidance, and the operation mode summary and mission profile.

The approved capability development document, the system training plan, basis of issue guidance, and the operation mode summary and mission profile discuss different operational scenarios and uses of the XM25. These documents do not contain the underlying support for MCOE officials’ XM25 basis of issue plan recommendations for the different Army squads, platoons, and companies, contrary to what ASA(ALT) officials believed.


Thanks to Daniel for the tip!

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


  • Kev

    ATK recently showcased an improved model so I hope they find a way to keep it. Another route would be to buy Raytheons PIKE missile that can be fired from a standard grenade launcher.

    • SGT Fish

      I love the idea of the PIKE. although im sure it could just as easily be launched from a cheap disposable tube like those rocket powered parachute flares. that way anybody could use them and not have to carry a M230.

      • Kev

        The technology could be incorpareted into the Rheinmettall Hydra 40mm thats can fire MV and standard LV rounds the same capabilities, ammo compatibiliy and a bigger warhead. The Chinese did the same with a sniper grenade launcher weapon. Its also worth noting that both South Korea and China have both developed bolt action systems similar to the XM25 it be a possible future direction?

        • The Chinese QLB-06 is currently the most impressive solution out there.

          Essentially it’s a 20lb 35mm grenade sniper rifle with a 6 round magazine, and can engage point targets to 600 meters, and area targets out to 1,000. If the XM25 had a love child with the Barret M82, it would be similar to this.

          It can fire both conventional impact grenades, as well as smart grenades with proximity fuses and air burst tech.

          Assuming it works (and no reason not to, given that it’s based on the older and established QLZ-87) its one of the most impressive shoulder fired weapons out there.

          • majorrod

            Assuming all the Chinese say it’s true, the QLB-06 weighs about 20lbs and is 2/3 longer.

    • 11b

      That’s an SOF only weapon. Way too expensive for regular grunts, although it’s super cool. There’s also the SAGM which takes the 203/320 and converts it to airburst/counter defilade. Probably a better idea because you retain the rifle capability of the rifleman.

      • Kev

        The biggest advantage of the XM25 was the flat trajectory, a medium velocity 40mm could fill a similar role or incorparate the tech into the fantastic Rheinmettall Hydra.

        • PK

          To be fair, when the XM25 was in development there weren’t any 40x46mm programmable rounds, so that was also a system advantage. It’s no longer the case, and as you point out the medium velocity 40x46mm is around as well now, so… no real point remains to the XM25.

          • majorrod

            Range? Does the 40mm reach? How is the range inputted to the round? If not automated what is the cost in time/exposure to enemy fire of firing multiple rounds to get the right range?

          • PK

            I don’t have the range off the top of my head, but the idea is similar to the MK285 in that the targeting computer bounces a laser for range, and programs the fuze as the projectile passes through the barrel. This is done via rings placed on the barrel which transmit the data. It’s pretty slick, and entirely automatic. Load, sight, fire while holding where indicated.

            It’s also still in prototype stage.

      • jcitizen

        Cant do buildings or overhead cover though, but I still agree that it is more practical, as it can be carried with the regular 40 mike/mike rounds, for the M203; you could always use the dual purpose rounds for those targets.

    • KestrelBike

      Neat! http://www.raytheon. com/capabilities/products/pike/

      • Kev

        Makes you all warm and fuzzy inside doesnt it.

      • jcitizen

        Oooh! Dat looks expensive!! :p

  • PK

    It’s been pushed for cancellation by more than one group during more than one presentation, pushed for adoption by more than one group during more than one presentation, and I’ve felt very confused during all of them.

    No one seems to know what’s happening. I thought for certain it’d be scrapped after the kabooms. “You didn’t use it quite right” isn’t much of an excuse for the gun blowing up. Use an M4 incorrectly and it holds together. Load an XM25 wrong and apparently it can be very, very bad.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      isn’t the threat of a kaboom being “very, very bad” high on all grenade launchers? There’s a lot more explosive material in a grenade than a single round of 5.56.

      • SGT Fish

        both the xm25 rounds and standard 40mm rounds are pretty safe due to the fusing. the only reason the 25 is more dangerous than the 5.56 is cuz of the higher propelling charge.

      • PK

        You misunderstand, the grenades didn’t detonate in the referenced incidents… it was a nose-on-primer situation. That, to me, is a fundamental flaw in a system, if user error can produce that sort of problem without intention of doing so.

        • Roger V. Tranfaglia

          Poor training most likley

          • PK

            Poor training doesn’t excuse a design which allows for a nose-on-primer problem. That’s a fundamental flaw in the system which must be addressed if the makers have any hope of adoption.

          • Roger V. Tranfaglia

            My impression is nose on primer problem is putting the round (grenade) in backwards?

          • DaveP.

            “Nose on primer” is when the round in the chamber or loading tube gets its primer slammed by the nose of the next round behind it, which means the cartridge goes off somewhere other than in a closed chamber. It’s why you’re not supposed to load pointed bullets in a lever action rifle’s loading tube.
            In this case, my SWAG is the user had a double feed and the round coming out of the magazine banged into a live round already chambered or partially so.

          • Roger V. Tranfaglia

            AHA !
            Thank you!!

      • 11b

        You’re not going to kaboom an M203 or M320 by loading, you’d have to literally set it on fire. The fuzing makes it safe out to 25m or so.

        • PK

          Funny aside – thanks to the insensitive munitions program, the most modern 40x46mm grenades won’t detonate even if you do set them on fire. They’re absurdly safe.

    • Uniform223

      ever seen pictures on the interwebs were a rifle comes apart because of a catastrophic malfunction?

      • PK

        Not really the same as a problem in the rifle’s loading sequence blowing it up, is it. Overpressured ammo can cause a kaboom, sure. Using the wrong ammo can do the same.

        But loading the gun blowing it up? That’s a design problem.

  • hking

    I thought the “in theater” guys absolutely loved the things? I would take their evaluation and recommendations much higher than pencil pushers sitting behind a desk.

    • BillC

      No. Those statements were overblown. It was a heavy, clumsy system, with actually limited lethality. It’s 25mm grenades have so little explosives, it wasn’t worth the huge cost in weight and bulk to carry one and ammo. One man using this generally had a negative Opportunity Cost, as in he could be carrying a rifle with grenade launcher with a lot more grenades. Also, I don’t think it actually got any kills in theatre testing. I wish I could link here, but a quick google search and browsing Weapons Man’s history should shed some light.

      I believe it got overhyped and a cult status because the company actually wants to sell these (obviously), especially after a huge sunk cost in developing it. From a bean counter perspective, these actually bring little to the table except the “looks cool” factor.

      • aka_mythos

        Limited lethality was kinda the point since the idea was to mitigate collateral damage. Kill a person in a room but not necessarily the person one plywood wall over.

        • TDog

          And then the other guy discovers plywood armor… 😉

          • aka_mythos

            If the goal is always to just completely destroy everything you have LAWs, 40mm grenades, and air strikes. This capablility was pursued because there were a significant number of reports of engagements in an urban setting where the concern of collateral damage prohibited the use of more energetic solutions. While this is classed as a grenade its intended application is closer to overwatch with a long range precision rifle. Think of it as the cheaper alternative to trying to train enough snipers. It however eliminates the high skill threshold and vantage limitations by means of its technology and airburst explosive charge. Even in ideal scenarios it’s only meant to eliminate one or two combatants… Three if they’re keeping each other warm. It provides greater range and achieves by its airburst improved hit probability and lethality.

            The army moved away from battle rifles because the weapons were heavy, limited carry capacity of ammunition, and the engagements in general disproportionately took place with in a relatively shorter range… And with the majority of soldiers using one type of ammo it’s cumbersome to issue another. So strong is that inclination most heavier machineguns have been abandoned in favor of light machineguns that share 5.56. While the XM25 is fighting to fill that capability gap it runs into the same challenges from this institutional preference. The key difference and why this has gotten as far as it has is that the bureaucracy and supply management for issuing special grenades is more flexible than issuing and distributing two different rifle ammunitions across the whole army.

            They planned the development of more conventional loads for this but this first round is the only one that required the weapon be designed to accommodate.

          • TDog

            I was just funnin’. 🙂

            But seriously, I’ve always thought that making an explosive 12-gauge slug (like the Frag-12) more readily available to the troops would work as well.

          • jcitizen

            I’ve been told by police that those things are basically just a flash bang solution, because you can’t pack enough HE and frag case in a 12 gauge to make enough of a difference.

          • CommonSense23

            What police had access to a frag 12?

          • jcitizen

            My sheriff was the local head of homeland security, and he said he went on a seminar where they basically booed the thing down – I’m just going on what he said.

          • TDog

            Y’know, we landed men on the moon with less computing power than is found in an iPhone… by gum, we can make a 12-gauge grenade that can actually kill something larger than a chipmunk! 😉 😀

          • Tassiebush

            I always wondered about that!

          • Gary Kirk

            So.. Cheaper alternative to training designated marksmen (not snipers) that already have schooling that exists, weapons systems that exist and are familiar, and only require the advancement of what has already been taught.. By using a completely new weapons system that has nothing even close to being familiar, having to create a couple of new schools (from armorers up to end users) using a completely different round than anything else, all while Damn near requiring a degree in computer science to use the thing.. But, I guess it would work for the newer generation who are used to toys like this from call of duty. Instead of ever going outside and shooting

          • Realistically there is no shooting school in the world that solves the issue of an enemy hiding behind hard cover / in a trench.

            Air bursting rounds solve this issue without having to either play whack a mole waiting for their heads to pop up, or having to storm/ flank an emplaced position.

            I’m not sure if the XM25 will be the end all fix, but once air bursting infantry weapons are solved, it’s going to completely redefine combat – even more so then the advent of the assault rifle.

          • Gary Kirk

            Field artillery, close ground support, mortarmen.. There are plenty of shooting schools that address the issue, but with low repercussion.. Well.. And hey, when you’re playing”whack-a-mole” at least they generally aren’t shooting back, at least no where near accurately.
            And airburst is fine by me, but first make it simple enough for a line grunt, second make the ammo work with what we’re already using, third design a new weapons system that incorporates it and advances on it..

          • It’s really intended for being the mortar/ field artillery, but for threats only 100-400 yards away. A small foot patrol in the ass end of a crag in Afghanistan, or a squad in a narrow street in Mosul, or a SF team inserted in some country that we’re “not at war with” can’t count on mortars and artillery, and the XM25 is what offers that explosive fire support. Similar to what lead to the development of the M79 in Vietnam.

            There will be advances made in providing air burst to 40mm GL’s. The problem with the 40mm, and the reason the 25mm was developed, is velocity. 40mm fires at 247 ft/s, slower than a paintball gun. When velocity is that low, the 40mm can only engage line of sight targets at pretty close range; beyond that, the gun has to fire in a rainbow arc, making accuracy more of an art form than a science. Hence the use of tall ladder sights vs. red dots.

            In order for an air burst round to work, the target has to be in line with computer optical sight so that it can calculate range, and send the info the burst fuse. Then the optic has to display an aiming point for the soldier to fire at.

            With the low velocity of the 40mm, to engage a target 300 meters away, the optic would end up pointed at the sky. Whereas with the 25mm, due to its velocity of 690 ft/s, the target can remain within the view of the optic when firing. That results in faster and more accurate shots, albeit at the expense of explosive payload.

          • aka_mythos

            Fired like a rifle it’s effective range is 600yds but because it generally fires the programmable munition whose lethality comes from explosive rather than ballistic force it can effective deliver lethality to 700yds.

          • Gary Kirk

            For threats 100-400 “meters” away.. I don’t really know if I’d want a high explosive response to.. Now, if dug in myself, good possibly I’d call in CGS, but that’s just me

          • n0truscotsman

            Medium velocity 40mm. Airburst programmable. Micro-PGMs launchable from the M203/M320. All better options than 25mm.

          • I’m all for the Pike missile, however I have to imagine that it’s going to be pretty pricey. It’s a guided missile.

            As for Medium Velocity 40mm, Rheinmetal lists the velocity at 328 ft/s. I’m not sure if that is enough velocity to allow line of optic firing in the same way that the higher velocity 25mm allows.

          • majorrod

            Mortars are a company asset. Platoons and squads don’t have them and if the company gives them to a platoon/squad there are two platoons or eight other squads that don’t have them. BTW, each round weighs about 6 pounds.

            Close air (not ground) support is not a solution. First you have to assume we will always have air superiority. Unless you are spec ops you can’t count on having a high enough priority to get it. Even if you have priority it typically takes upwards of 20 minutes for it to arrive. You then have to typically have a JTAC authorized individual release ordnance drop. That means every level of command up to BN. Artillery, IF its deployed and in range takes at least five minutes. Being under enemy fire for 5-20 minutes unable to end the fight isn’t what the Army’s looking for.

            I’ve worked the system. It’s less complicated than a smart phone. Firing a Javelin is more complicated.

          • aka_mythos

            When your goal is a game changers that means the game changes. Anything trying to do something differently is going to run into institutional and training hurdles. When automatic weapons showed up they challenged the status quo and required a rethinking of combat. When rifles first started appearing on battlefields there was resistance because now the average soldiers would have to aim. And before muskets there were similar institutional apprehension about moving away from bows. I’m not saying this will be as significant but the Army wants something that significant which is why they’re seemingly bending over backwards.

            One of the long term issues they want to address… How much training a designated marksman cost and what is the general aptitude required… As it is the retention rate is about 50%… So every 8 years or so you’ve effectively had to pay to replace everyone. When I got to hold one of these it didn’t seem complicated but the goal is to eventually have something simpler than training a marksmen.

          • Gary Kirk

            Didn’t seem complicated.. Get involved in a firefight.. Breathing becomes complicated.. And there is nothing simpler than training one person with no electronic crap, to take one shot, and change the entire field of view.. No batteries, no computers, and hey, we have to get there on our own.. Drag all your gidgets on a 30 Mike insertion if you want.. I’m good with my tried and true..

          • Tassiebush

            I’m a bit behind on the development of this thing but my understanding was that you range the target or something near it using the sight then either shoot as is or adjust plus or minus the burst range on it by something like yard or metre increments.

          • majorrod

            Designated marksmen can’t engage targets behind cover.

            The system isn’t very complicated. You bush a button. automatically a laser range finder figures out the distance, a ballistic computer computes a solution and projects a reticle. Aim and pull the trigger. Operating smart phones is more complicated.

          • Voice_of_Reason

            my understanding is that the weapon automatically determines when to detonate the round based on laser range. the round counts revolutions and “knows” when it gets to the appropriate range.

            what makes you think this is hard to use??

      • Core

        Hillary can issue them to the police when she sends them to take our guns.

      • majorrod

        The ONLY unit that complained about the XM25 were the Rangers. Who often have committed air support to take out the types of targets the regular infantry face. Further they don’t suffer the same kinds of threats as line infantry since they operate almost exclusively at night conducting raids vs. the daylight patrols conventional forces do and who are engaged by the enemy from outside most small arms range.

        ALL the regular units who used the XM25 raved about it.

        • jcitizen

          I’d sure love to read an article about that!! Of course DOD probably wants to hush that up, if they want to suppress any capabilities from the general public.

    • 11b

      Yes and no. Line unit commanders liked it because it adds capability. Rangers (and I suspect regular squad leaders) hated it because you’re taking one guy who was very effective with a rifle and giving him a niche weapon. It has very limited ammunition and therefore can only be used to engage targets in defilade or you’re wasting ammo. Now you’re down one rifle which is an all purpose tool; the XM25 is the exact opposite.

      • randomswede

        Has it been issued instead of an M4/M16, or do you simply mean that you can only use one rifle at a time?
        I would have assumed it was issued more like say the AT-4, a resource to dip into when needed.

        • jcitizen

          What I’ve always read is the foot troops hated it, because it was just too heavy w/ammo, and like they said before, that’s one man without an effective rifle. The problems was apparently so bad, that is the reason there are so few combat examples of its effectiveness. You can’t test a system that is back in the rear with the gear.

          • majorrod

            only folks that complained were the Rangers who have all kinds of other fire support.

          • jcitizen

            There may be a lot of FUD out there, because on every forum I’ve been on, the troops said they were happy to leave them behind – surely these were not all Rangers, but may be. Are you member of DOD BUZZ or Military(dot) com? That is some of the places I see this. I can’t even remember all the sites I’ve read it on. I got out after Desert Storm, so I have to go by what I read in the forums. My buddies had never seen such a weapon in their companies, so I can’t draw from that either.

    • BillC

      There’s a lot of articles about it (negative), over at weaponsman (dot) com. Just search using M25, XM25, and XM-25.

    • 40mmCattleDog

      From what I heard, guys would rather have the firepower of another M4 and would leave this behind most of the time.

      • jcitizen

        That’s what I’ve read too.

      • Uniform223

        I’ve only read that ONCE from a Report of a Ranger unit offered that weapon system but they decided not to. How did one report become multiple sources?

        • ReadyorNot

          Yup, that’s what we call “circular reporting”

        • majorrod

          NAILED IT!

          Everyone is reporting what the Rangers said who have dedicated air support like a Reaper or AC130. They don’t need pocket artillery and the weight isn’t worth the capability. Take away the dedicated air support, operate during the day when the enemy can target you at long range and the story would change.

          • jcitizen

            That is probably precisely who the Army wanted to test it though – they picked the wrong units!

    • n0truscotsman

      that whole love of the XM25 is kitup/dodbuzz hype bull manure, nothing more.

      Those of us that first heard of the concept immediately balked at it, lamenting the army’s seeming lackluster enthuasiasm for their own 40mm, which has plenty of room for improvement. airburst? dedicated HE? smoke *that actually works*? yes please. Forget about 25mm.

      Im glad I never had to carry it.

      • majorrod

        40mm doesn’t have the range, accuracy or reliable airburst capability but why let the truth mess up a good narrative.

        • n0truscotsman

          Curent ‘low velocity’ 40mm doesn’t have the range or accuracy. Thats very true. But reliable airburst capability? If it doesn’t, then how can the 25mm possibly be *more reliable?

          • majorrod

            What existing fielded grenade system programs the round in the tube before firing like the XM25 does?

            Which system then adjusts the reticle providing the gunner a high first hit round capability? (That lowers the number of rounds needed to be carried as well as minimizing the enemy’s ability to take cover or flee.)

          • n0truscotsman

            The technology is already there. Nammo and Rhienmetall, in addition to the Mk47 GMG already comes to mind.

            25mm airburst is a technological dead end.

          • majorrod

            Yes the tech is here. (The XM25 is an example of it.)

            Nammo’s 40mm & Rheinmetal’s DM131 rounds are fired from weapons with fire control systems that are typically vehicular mounted or require a crew of three men to transport (not including the ammo). This is a non-starter for the light infantry squad. Seems there is work still to be done to develop a system with the range, first round hit probability and be one man portable as the XM25 has demonstrated.

            Considering the XM25 has been deployed in the field years before any other with very high marks. “Dead end” is a very inappropriate description.

    • Voice_of_Reason

      I heard the same thing.

  • A bearded being from beyond ti

    Replaced it with a Glock.

  • Sledgecrowbar

    When you’re talking about the military, vaporware like this is exactly how your tax dollars disappear into already-very-rich people pockets. I’d really like to see stuff like this in use, it’s all the science fiction I loved as a kid come to life, but the reality of bureaucracy and corruption ruins every damn thing.

  • aka_mythos

    What this document says: “you’re wasting money by tweaking the design and waffling on who and how many soldiers will get it… Make a decision one way or another”

  • Martin Grønsdal

    so, what if we took the same idea, but made it some sort of repeater (pump or bolt action), and therefore throw away everything that is there for the semi-automatic mode. Would it be less bulky, but have the same efficiency?

    • PK

      It would be more complex, have higher recoil, and likely be heavier. Guns are weird, weird machines.

    • gunsandrockets

      I believe the bulk of the cost of the weapon system comes from the ammunition and integrated fire control system/sight, not the semi-auto GL.

  • Richard

    If the government doesn’t want any, can I have one? Or more?

    • Steven Allred

      I actually don’t see why not. It would be regulated like any other Destructive Device, of course (not that it should be regulated in the first place).

      • PK

        The “why not” isn’t based on NFA or other possession law, it’s that US military surplus weapons being sold to the public is, sadly, a thing of the past. Even the brass is shredded before sale to the public, these days.

        • jcitizen

          Just requires the right SOT and storage licenses. Which is a nightmare to attain, I assure you. Only new machine guns are now finally prohibited to LEOs only. Well – maybe if you had a security corporation you might get away with that too. Class 3 SOTs still do CLEO letter type dealer samples to this day on that also.

          The only other restriction I can think of is you can only possess plastic ‘bazooka’ rockets. No aircraft with weapons hard points, or battleships(unless your a museum) This goofy stuff came from the 1968 Omnibus bill.

          • PK

            No, no… you missed what I said. It DOES NOT matter that NFA laws would indicate the XM25 is legal as a LBDD. What matters is that weapons are now destroyed or given to police agencies, or given/sold to other nations, not sold as-is to the US public.

            As far as the SOT, that’s for dealers (03 SOT) or manufacturers (02 SOT) or even importers (01 SOT) and has nothing to do with personal ownership. Storage, sure, if you’re storing HEs you’ll need an appropriate magazine and a 20 FEL or similar.

            All of that aside, surplus items (but especially DDs) just aren’t going to be sold as functional examples to the US public from the US military. Even handguns aren’t sold to the public, not once-fired brass, nothing.

          • jcitizen

            I should have said no one has dealt in “surplus” weapons of that type since 1968 – they make all their own destructive devices. There is still a lot of legal old war items out there, but the ammo is what is hard to find – if there isn’t a custom manufacturer supporting a certain ammo, then there is just none to be found. The collectors that do have original military ammo are keeping it and not using it at all. These are all a legally registered type of commerce I’m talking about, of course.

      • noamsaying

        I think one of the beefs is that it is not really a destructive device.

  • Big Daddy

    The XM-109 by Barrett was the way to go for a weapon like this to get quickly to the troop that needed it. It had interchangeability with the M82 50 cal rifle. The Army screwed the pooch as usual. The infantry would have the choice of either systems and interchangeability with parts.

    I think the Chinese QLB-06 / QLZ-87B semi-automatic grenade launcher looks like a great infantry weapon. Add the advanced arming and targeting system to something like this. The 25mm round just doesn’t have enough explosive force and fragmentation, especially against troops with advanced body armor and helmets.

    The 40mm grenade in an air burst mode with some type of recoil reduction so that a mid pressure round could be used would probably be perfect. Adding a hydraulic buffer and muzzle break to the M32 might do it. But the XM25 just looked like a total fools gold type weapon system, another US Army boondoggle and waste of more taxpayer monopoly money by the DOD.

    • PK

      Good news, the general overview of what you’re describing (MV 40x46mm, semi-auto, targeting computer) has been in the works for a short while in various forms. We’ll get there eventually.

      • roguetechie

        I personally really like the tkb-0249 crossbow / arbalet. It’s an awesome system that works and could be adapted fairly easily to the proximity/timed fuze combo.

        Overall though I have to admit to liking the Russian grenade launcher ecosystem much more than the western one.

        As an example they have the gp25&30 launchers which can take extremely compact standalone kits. Those same grenades also can be used in the much simpler RG6 Mgl which makes the milcor look like the pig it is! Hell you can also launch the grenades from a damn SHOVEL!

        If you need higher power they have the very nice ags17/30 whose full power grenades can also be fired from the tkb-0249 crossbow!

        Altogether a much more balanced and useful series of systems and capabilities.

        • PK

          “Hell you can also launch the grenades from a damn SHOVEL!”

          Well, sort of. Short range 37mm mortar… there’s one hanging on my wall, actually!

          I’ll admit to a bias toward Russian grenades as well, but with things the way they are, 40x46mm was easier to buy into.

          • roguetechie

            No man they have a grenade launching trifold shovel that fires standard gp25 UGL rounds!


            You know, gizmag featured a really neat Chinese modular shovel and multi tool with a very nice ratcheting mechanism to secure the segments. In a lot of ways it’s already much better than current trifold shovels while still being lightweight and packing down flat into a small carrying case.

            I could easily see ways to make a really compact and versatile tool kit for any number of uses.

          • gunsandrockets

            Well, that’s an interesting way to make a mortar baseplate!

          • gunsandrockets

            Sage Deuce double-barreled 40mm GL is my fav GL


          • Roger V. Tranfaglia


          • gunsandrockets

            This is my fav light mortar


            The ammo must be silly expensive compared to a conventional bomb, but because the propulsion is self-contained in the bomb the launcher must have a fantastic sustained rate of fire compared to other light mortars.

          • Roger V. Tranfaglia

            The Lance looks a lot safer than the “shovel” one.!!

          • Roger V. Tranfaglia

            ??? “They” have this but we DON’T???

          • roguetechie

            They have a lot of stuff we don’t. They think and fight differently than we do on some fundamental levels.

          • PK

            Entertaining, it’s an update of the 37mm shovel mortar concept! Looks like I need to come up with a general idea on paper and submit yet another F1… thanks for that!

          • roguetechie

            Yeah it really is a sort of interesting piece of kit. When I found it I was surprised. In a dug in ambush situation I can see how it could be pretty useful, allowing a small unit to double or triple their initial salvo of grenades fired in the opening stages of an engagement.

            Then again it could be something that doesn’t get used too because it adds weight.

          • n0truscotsman

            i dont even know what to say about that…

          • roguetechie

            I know! It’s awesome, but stupid, but quite possibly stupidly awesome!!!

            My mind has run in several directions when it comes to the shovel launcher.

            Once I finish my current project there’s a good chance of me doing something inspired by that shovel and the Chinese multi tool shovel that will also incorporate techniques and more from my current project.

            At this point I don’t think there’s any disputing that we need to give our troops more and better HE options since we’ve had it pretty forcibly demonstrated in Syria Lebanon and most especially Yemen that determined groups of properly equipped infantry soldiers can wreak absolute havoc on better armed forces with all the cool toys.

            That’s actually a big part of my current project. While not a weapon itself, it’s shaping up to be quite the enabler for existing weapons we already use.

    • gunsandrockets

      Simpler solution: 40mm HE-frag airburst round for the RPG.

      Instead of the fancy programmable fuzing of the XM-25 25mm round, use simple time delay + proximity fuze.

      Complete weapons system weight with 4 rounds of ammunition should be lighter than an XM-109 with zero rounds of ammunition.

      • PK

        “40mm HE-frag airburst round for the RPG”

        You mean such as the OG-7V? It’s been in use a while.

        • gunsandrockets

          No not that.

          I’m aware that 40mm HE rounds have been made for the RPG-7. I’ve not heard of any with proximity fuzes.

          A lighter, faster HE round with proximity fuzing would also be nasty against low flying helicopters.

          • PK

            I glossed over the airburst part, my mistake. So the general idea of the OG-7V but with a proximity fuze… yes, I could see the extreme utility in such an item!

  • Evil13RT

    Seems like the kind of idea that offered game changing capability. Maybe with more ammunition types and further exploration it could be a very effective tool.

    With how little things change in the world of small arms, It’d be a shame to see this get stalled and killed before it reached fruition.

  • gunsandrockets

    Too heavy and too specialized for a rifle squad/section weapon. Too limited for an infantry company weapon.

    Perhaps suitable for rifle platoon level, one assigned to the HQ? Where the expensive XM-25 sight might assist even when the weapon isn’t being fired.

  • jcitizen

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, mount the targeting system on a China Lake 40mm, and upgrade the ammo, and you got something more practical. As long as the targeting system doesn’t weight 4 lbs, that is. This old pump action weighed a little over 10 lbs LOADED w/3 rounds. Maybe they won’t have to worry so much about R&D with an already proven system. They could run sleeves until the old 25mm ammo is expended, for testing purposes. May not have the range – why not modify the old aircraft 40mm the gun ships in the Nam used? Those M75 rounds had more range, but probably kick the crap outta ya too!

  • Black Dots

    This always struck me as a niche weapon which required major tradeoffs (e.g., one less rifleman, heavy, limited ammo, etc.). In some ways it seems to be worse than giving a guy an M79. Also, this project has been in the works since the late 90s (if you go back to the days of the XM29). Now that tech is a lot more advanced, maybe it would have made more sense to work on attachments/ammo that could bring the XM25’s capabilities to the M320.

    • Major Tom

      SAGM. Already done.

  • PK

    I love that there are new production China Lake 40mm pump actions out there, these days. Worth every cent of the $20,000 or so asking price, for collectors.

  • Big Daddy

    Very heavy to carry, slow to load. I know a guy who was a 203 gunner and he could load and fire them pretty fast and very accurately.

    • jcitizen

      I liked my M203 – if they had this same ammo capability for the 40mm and the targeting system, I’d be fine with that! I didn’t mine humping it or the ammo, because it gave me a sense of security.

  • John

    Programmable grenades are for vehicles.

    Straight-forward, reliable grenades are for infantry.

    May as well put the 25mm on a tank or an APC and say it’s done. Meanwhile, soldiers get regular 40mm to aim from an M4.

  • Anonymoose

    I’m surprised it took them this long to can it.

    • Amplified Heat

      Am I the only one who thought it was canned already? I thought the Sorks were the only ones even half-pursuing the concept with their bolt-action version.

  • jcbauerca

    Replace with a Neopup PAW-20

  • Tassiebush

    I can’t help but think this concept of a repeating grenade launcher with distance programmable warheads would be potentially more feasible in a metal storm style launcher attached to the service weapon and a rather spiffy electronic sight system mounted on the service weapon which could switch between being a basic range finding scope for the service rifle to the grenade mode akin to what this model was supposed to do.

    • Iggy

      You mean this?

      • Tassiebush

        Yeah pretty much that with the addition of a smart optic and grenades with a programmable burst range.

        • Iggy

          Unfortunately it’s currently cancelled, but google AICW if you want to know more, does seem like it was a pretty big missed opportunity though.

          • Tassiebush

            It definitely seems to have that mentality about it of we can’t innovate regardless of whether we have a good idea. I can’t honestly see why it’d be beyond the scope of our nation to come up with some good system based on that.

  • tony

    So difficult to read these army writing

  • nova3930

    the stuff about what could get the program cancelled is all pretty standard. probably part of the reason they’re holding off making milestone decisions is they can’t come up with some combination of requirements and affordability metrics that everyone can live with. basically they’re having trouble transitioning from the R&D phase to the EMD phase and the IG is telling them they can’t run an R&D program forever. they have to develop a real CONOPS and solidify acquisition plans or end it…

  • RSG

    The ATF can kiss my ass. I should be able to walk into Walmart and buy this, along with an mp5isd. For all you snickering fudds, “shall not be infringed” isn’t optional. Since they’ve made so many egregious laws that will NEVER get repealed without violence, I choose violence.

  • demophilus

    Some good points here. Maybe a few more…

    If you work out the fusing, etc. for a 20mm system, it might be easy to put it in a 40mm. And the 40mm launchers are in wider inventory. You can supply our troops and allies with hi tech ammo for a low tech system.

    One idea behind this system — a computer integrated into a launcher, that programs a round — is a legacy concept. Now we’re talking networked fire. The computer can be separate from the scope (say, in your commo system), and can tell the round the range after it leaves the barrel.

    Sensor tech has advanced. A 40mm can now prolly host a proximity fuse, and/or focal plane array. Imagine a grenade that can actually see its target, 10 years from now. Why throw more millions at this?

    EFP/MEFP tech and thermobaric payloads have also improved since this started, and the 40mm might make for a better host. IIRC, the concept here was a small EFP payload/plume to kill a point target. You could also use a bigger MEFP, or a thermobaric load in 40mm, or something else.

    Apart from all that, we’ve been using systems like BLU-108 “skeet” grenades since the 90s. The tech has come a long way since. Who’s to say you can’t pack it into a longer 40mm round, LAW, SMAW, 81mm, or UAV submunition? Or now that lasers designators are at squad level, who’s to say you can’t proximity fuse off those, rather than use an integrated range finding computer?

    I used to be a fan of this system; seemed a nice tool for the toolbox. Not so sure about it now.

    • PK

      For what it’s worth, a proximity fuze is now able to fit on a dime. Easily. Fuzing has advanced to an incredible degree in the past few decades, but in this last decade the miniaturization has really startled me.

  • majorrod

    You’re absolutely right about what the article is saying. HQ isn’t doing its job.

    said, the cost is less than what it takes to equip a rifleman from head
    to toe and less than one Javelin missile which can only be used once…

    What’s one life insurance policy pay?

  • Mike

    There were reports of British SF units using this in Libya recently

  • Mike

    Re engineer the ARWEN37. Final version was a revolver type weapon, but prototype included pump and semi auto

  • Dotcoman

    Hope they get the kinks worked out, and it’s not just another political hack getting in the way.

    Vids I saw of this weapon early on were awesome, and think the potential there is just too great to turn a nose up at. If not this weapon, perhaps it will pave the way forward for a better weapon, gleaning from lessons learned here.

    While I was never a ground pounder, I think even a Airedale Squid such as myself, can see the need for a amart weapon like this in the hands of them that do pull a trigger for a living.

  • Voice_of_Reason

    I’m hearing that the troops actually liked this weapon, and were pissed when the ones provided for “testing” ( or “in-theater operational assessment”, or whatever the right term is) were pulled back.

    Apparently it really works to whack BGs behind defilade, but it can malfunction unsafely.

    If the safety issues get worked out, we ought to buy it..

  • khansgod01

    If it aint lining the pockets of a POS politician, they dont like it!!

  • James B.

    I’m curious where the issues have been:with the launcher or with the 25mm rounds. If the launcher works, issuing non-airbursting rounds would allow it to be used as a standard grenade launcher, but with much better ballistics and a much better sight.