New 40mm AIR BURST, SHOTGUN, and BREACHING Rounds Being Developed by US Army for URBAN Combat [NDIA 2017]

Original caption: "A paratrooper from Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade shoots during M320 grenade launcher qualification at Foce Reno Training Area, Ravenna, Italy, Dec 2, 2015." (US Army photo, public domain)

At the 2017 National Defense Industry Association small arms conference in April, the US Army revealed its efforts to produce new improved varieties of 40mm low velocity ammunition for the M203 and M320 grenade launchers. Product Director for Medium Caliber Ammunition Christopher Seacord’s presentation at NDIA lists three new types of 40mm ammunition: XM1166 High Explosive Air Burst (HEAB), XM1167 Door Breach (DB), and XM1168 Short Range Anti-Personnel (SRAP):

Not many details are given in the presentations about these three rounds, but some things are apparent. The XM1166 HEAB round appears to be very similar in desired capability to the 25mm airburst round developed for the now-cancelled XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) weapon, called the “Punisher” colloquially. Wrapping the technology demonstrated by the XM25 program into the existing tried-and-true 40mm grenade launchers is in my opinion an excellent decision that could provide all of the desired capability with far lower risk.

The XM1167 Door Breaching round would provide an important capability for the infantry, as it would allow grenadiers to perform breaching functions without the need to carry shotguns for that purpose. It seems likely that the XM1167 would be the same grenade as (or one of similar design to) the Chemring 40mm breaching grenades tested late last year.

The result of a breaching test with a 40mm Chemring grenade. US Army photo, public domain

Rounding out the lineup, The 40mm XM1168 SRAP round appears to be a successor to the Vietnam-era 40mm M576 buckshot round.



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 nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • CommonSense23

    The door breaching round has been in use for a while now in Socom.

    • Renato H M de Oliveira

      Maybe it will be type classified for big Army now?

    • Well, the Army is generally a lot slower to pick up these sorts of things than SOCOM. We don’t know which door breaching round the Army may adopt yet, either, just that they are looking for one.

  • anon

    “when deployed against enemy personnel, XM1169 grenade enables the grenadier to render an enemy incapable of performing their assigned combat functions of shoot, move and communicate within one second after being impacted.”

    that’s a lot of words to say that they want it to hurt someone real bad, possibly kill them too

    • Jason Culligan

      ‘We wish to politely inform our opponents that we are displeased with their proximity and kindly request their immediate dispersal from the area.’

      • Cal S.

        “After discerning that the opponent was disinclined to acquiesce to our request to cease and desist, we were obliged to render him incapable of further activities.”

        • Phillip Cooper

          Someone needs to take away you guys’ “Word of the day” calendars…

          • Cal S.

            But it’s so FUN!!!

          • Phillip Cooper

            Indubitably!
            (I have one too….)

      • Which is to say, “frag off”.

    • James Kachman

      I know the M855A1 had it’s improved terminal performance kept under wraps. The military, possibly for legal reasons (Hague) doesn’t like to come out and say things are better at killing people.

      • anon

        I kinda doubt that optics are the biggest part of it. It’s not even all that absurd either. Death isn’t the only way to put someone out of a fight. Specific and clinical language helps get everyone on the same page when things are in development or concept stages, plus I think the military just loves euphemisms. In A Rumor of War Philip Caputo relates a story about not being able to write out casualty reports by saying things like “the private blew off his left leg after he stepped on a mine”. The proper term was “The private suffered a traumatic amputation to the left leg after stepping on a land mine”.

        • Phillip Cooper

          This.
          I’ve worked for the GOV most of my life. Euphamisms and talking around the issue are a way of life.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            Here’s how I closed several F15 accident reports in the 80’s.
            “In summary, the (whatever happened) caused the aircraft to achieve an unrecoverable flight attitude, resulting in the loss of the aircraft.”

            The word crash was a no-no. MDC loved the word “achieved” in there.

          • Will Smoth

            using acceptable language how would you describe the f-35s issue of catching fire on the ground whenever it likes?

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            That is a problem that I’m glad I do not have LOL.

          • int19h

            “In summary, the (whatever happened) caused the aircraft to achieve temperature outside of operational parameters, resulting in the loss of the aircraft.”

          • Phillip Cooper

            That’s right up there with “having a departure” meaning “departure from controlled flight”…. ie. the pilot lost the bird, and dorked it in.

          • KidCorporate

            “Non pilot-initiated oxidation event”

    • Brett baker

      I’ve read a lot of places that a wounded opponent is better than a dead one. Guys evacing the wounded aren’t shooting at us. Personally, I’d like to see if they can make a 50 meter shotgun round.

      • Major Tom

        Except historically it hasn’t worked that way. Enemy wounded are often dumped on us. Timmy Taliban never called in CASEVAC, they left their guys on the field for us to pick up.

        • Klaus Von Schmitto

          So did ya?

      • Phillip Cooper

        Depends on the enemy.
        ISIS goons that are likely stoned out of their gourds? Wouldn’t matter.
        The VC? Didn’t matter.
        If we are fighting the Germans, not sure.

      • Gary Kirk

        A slug??

  • A.WChuck

    “Knock, knock”

  • Kamen Rider Blade

    Why can’t we repackage the XM-25’s 25x40mm Grenade to fit into a 10 gauge 3.5″ Shot Shell?

    Volume wise I’ve calculated that the 10 gauge 3.5″ Shot Shell has about 25% more volume than the 25x40mm.

    We have plenty of 10 gauge Shotgun’s out on the market, I’m sure they can find one suitable to the military or develop one and move the FCU from the XM-25 over as a rail mounted top unit.

    • Major Tom

      10 gauge is not a military caliber though.

      • Nathan Alred

        40mm wasn’t a “military caliber” either – until it was.

      • Brett baker

        Awesome upgrade for your H&R turkey gun, though!

        • Major Tom

          Hit a turkey with one of those and there won’t be anything left worth eating though.

      • GaryOlson

        That can be corrected with a few million dollars in development.

      • crackedlenses

        8 gauge Soellkraft magnum FTW!

    • The real question is: Are you a banana?

    • Just Say’n

      12 gauge 3.5″ Ultramag has superseded all things 10ga.

      • MisterTheory

        you take that back!

    • Renato H M de Oliveira

      XM25’s grenades without the fancy fire control system are nearly useless if compared to 40mm grenades – sure, the trajectory is flatter, but the HE payload is much smaller.
      The fact that smart fuzes are relatively large adds insult to the injury.
      In comparison, 40mm is in the inventory, and if for whatever reason HEAB isn’t the “game changer” people think they are, you can always go back to HEDP, which isn’t really a thing in 25 mm.
      So… Why bother?
      Moreover, case volume alone doesn’t mean much – pressure is also an important consideration.

      • I’ve been saying ever since they split off the XM25 from the OICW flop, that a 40mm programmable airburst grenade would be far superior to the 25mm ones, primarily due to payload — but also, versatility. Because the XM25 is only really capable of ONE job – airburst. A 40mm launcher is a lot more versatile, AND you get better payload on target when you do use expensive smart munitions.

        • Renato H M de Oliveira

          My thoughts exactly.
          Without smart fuzes, XM-25 has nothing. If you see a cutaway of it, you’ll notice just how large the fuze is.
          Do the same with a 40mm grenade and – wow. Lotsa HE left.
          If you’re going to use a fancy FCS, then you can make good use of 40mm.

    • You might want to recheck your math. If anything, a grenade intended to fit the 10 gauge/89mm hull should be smaller than the 25x40mm grenade, and perhaps even smaller than the 20mm grenades designed for the original XM29 OICW. The 25x40mm grenade rounds run around 86mm in overall length. The 10 gauge shotshell lengths are the nominal length when the hull is uncrimped, so the typical loaded lengths are shorter. Typical 10 gauge bores run less than 20mm, and the grenade body would need to be even narrower to clear any rifling. You’ll lose some more volume due to the need to aerodynamically shape the 10 gauge slug.

      Then you have the issue that there are very few repeating 10 gauge shotguns on the commercial market. Any grenade shell would also need to be loaded to pressures safe enough for the commercial actions.

      • Gary Kirk

        By the time you’re done redesigning the payload to work around the firing system, and safe pressures of a shotgun.. Ya’d pretty much wind up with shooting an M-80 outta air rifle..

  • Cal S.

    OMG! Confirmed! The government is preparing to invade US cities and kill all Americans! OMG!

    Oh, sorry. I’ve been watching too much Alex Jones lately.

    • Sermon 7.62

      The purpose of Alex Jones and people like him is to create an impression that critics of the so-called elites are nut cases, spreading paranoid ideas. To do this, people like Alex Jones make ridiculous speeches and publish idiotic books.

      And as a result of that, serious researches on the subjects such as secret societies, or Freemasons, etc. are taken as some conspiratorial crap and thus no one, or almost no one is going to believe it. So, if someone mentiones that, for example, the owner of CNN channel is a member of the occult sect “Kappa Sigma”, or that communism was invented by the Freemasons, or that a lot of the US politicians engage in pervert rituals and that behind the current influx of immigrants into Europe there is a plot, most people are just going to think: right, I heard about that… reptilians?

      • Will Smoth

        I’m a Satanist the stuff he says about demonology and Moloch is hilarious. He’s whipping up a frenzy over a canaanite fire god while confusing it with baal hamon the chief God of carthage

      • int19h

        Freemasons were invented by the Illuminati, so they couldn’t have possibly invented communism. ~

        • Sermon 7.62

          No.

          Freemasons were invented by the followers of Sabbatai Zevi. There was a heretical movement in Judaism that he began and it spread throughout Europe. His father was a merchant with connections in London, so the first masonic lodge was opened in England.

          Illuminati is a kind of club for the masonic elite, that appeared later.

    • Phillip Cooper

      2 seconds is too much time watching that bag of slime.

  • Calavera

    “The result of a breaching test with a 40mm Chemring grenade. US Army photo, public domain”
    ===========================================
    It’s an standard bevel (inward swing)) residential exterior door with foam core, held in place by 1″x 2″ pine wood framing and finishing nails. It would be cheaper to apply a size 12 Army boot, or a solid copper 12 ga. breaching round to blow the lock hardware…but that’s not what generates lucrative DOD contracts.

    • Major Tom

      Or a sledge….

    • Madcap_Magician

      And also it fails the MAXIMUM FUN requirement in the RFA.

  • Phillip Cooper

    … and it’s on the main page 3 times now.

    Every. Damn. Day.

    Fix your junk!!!!

  • gunsandrockets

    Instead of an old-fashioned Vietnam era buckshot round, what if the new 40mm short-range AP round is some kind of new-fangled 40mm version of a Shrapnel cannon round?

  • Sam Pensive

    does the design include any new ordinance long distance anti-personnel round? LRAP?

  • Mazryonh

    If users of the M320 say that they want to carry it as a standalone weapon but with more range, then I don’t know why H&K hasn’t made a version with a longer barrel than the underbarrel version. The older M79 had a longer range than the M203 because its barrel was longer. A longer barrel also opens up the possibility of using longer projectiles like unguided rocket-boosted grenades.

    The door breaching version looks to me more like a “barrier-blind” round that is supposed to penetrate light cover in general rather than just doors. But breaching doors the old-fashioned way with a shotgun usually has less collateral damage if you’re using dedicated breaching rounds, and the right shotgun can be a very useful CQB weapon too. Sometimes blowing up infrastructure willy-nilly isn’t good for your public image, because replacing just a door is both cheaper and easier than removing shrapnel from the whole room or hallway behind it. A shotgun door breach followed by a flashbang or other grenade works similarly well.

    The Russians have had their caseless 40mm grenades for a long time too, which means they don’t have to extract the empty casings from their grenade launchers, making tje loading process quicker compared to western grenade launchers. Odd that NATO forces didn’t adopt anything like that soon after the Russians did.