CTTSO Releases Solicitation for .264 USA Rifles, Carbines, PDWs

    The ,264 USA, rendered in SolidWorks by the author.

    The Army Marksmanship Unit’s .264 USA – a medium-sized 6.5mm round in-between the 6.5mm Grendel and 6.5mm Creedmoor in size – is not yet dead, it seems. The round, about which little had been heard in official channels for a couple of years, is the subject-in-part of a new solicitation released by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office’s Technical Support Working Group (CTTSO TSWG). The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) describes a need for a Lightweight Intermediate Caliber Cartridge (LICC) and an “Individual Weapon System (IWS), designed to “overmatch” targets out to 800 meters. The specifications for the new weapon are quire ambitious, with a threshold velocity requirement of 2,650 ft/s with a 108gr bullet, and an objective requirement of 2,750 ft/s with the same, both from an 11.5″ barrel!

    The .264 USA in both brass and polymer composite cased configurations. Image credit: Anthony G. Williams, used with permission.

     

    Along with the .264 USA LICC, the document includes a request for an “Individual Weapon System” (IWS), and a 25+ round polymer magazine to match. Oddly, many of the IWS’s requirements are based on the Colt Canada C8 SFW, a relative of the M4 Carbine. The choice of the Colt Canada weapon as baseline, rather than the extremely similar and much more common M4 is unexplained. The IWS requirements are similarly ambitious to those of the round it is intended to fire: Overall length of the IWS with an Ops Inc. (another odd choice, since that company has been superseded by Allen Engineering) suppressor must be shorter than the C8 SFW, and recoil must be equivalent. Given that the round is 80% more energetic than 5.56mm from the same barrel length, the recoil requirement in particular seems like a major challenge for any vendors interested in bidding.

    The document also includes requirements for SOST-style bullets, similar to Mk. 318 Mod 0, EPR-style bullets like M855A1, and RRLP-style bullets like Mk. 255 frangible.

    Given that the .264 USA is specified in the original TSWG RFP from 2014 as producing 2,875 ft/s from a 16.7″ barrel, the desired velocity numbers for 11.5″ barrels indicate a drop of just 4-8%. For comparison, M855 produces a velocity drop of about 11% going from a 17″ barrel to a 12″ barrel. Even though propellant optimization for short barrels mitigates this loss somewhat, the TSWG requirement is still very ambitious for the .264 USA caliber, in my opinion.

    Some of the language in the Broad Agency Announcement, in particular the terms “IWS” and “LICC” themselves, is reminiscent of that used by the late Jim Schatz, who advocated for a very similar weapon (link starts a download).

    You can read the full solicitation at this link. The section on the LICC and IWS is reproduced below:

    R4116 Lightweight Intermediate Caliber Cartridge (LICC) and Individual Weapon System (IWS)

    Tactical operators require an integrated, user-tailorable, lightweight shoulder-fired individual weapon and lightweight intermediate caliber cartridge (LICC) that can overmatch the current maximum effective range and terminal effects of peer, near peer, and future threat individual weapons and ammunition, while also defeating current and emerging threat individual protective equipment out to 800 meters. This weapon system shall be comprised of four main components: a lightweight .264 inch (6.5 mm) intermediate caliber projectile loaded in a lightweight polymer cartridge case; a lightweight purpose-built caliber .264 USA detachable box-magazine; a purpose-built lightweight modular weapon platform. The LICC IWS weapon system shall be developed, tested, and delivered for developmental and operational testing by a single contractor who shall develop/obtain and integrate all subcomponents into a fully mature, safe, and reliable system.

     

    LICC Ammunition

     

    The US Army Marksmanship Unit developed .264 USA (6.5×48 mm) cartridge shall be used for LICC IWS development, test, and evaluation. This cartridge is available in a polymer case from MAC LLC in Bay St Louis, Mississippi. Two (2) lightweight .264 USA rounds shall be required as deliverables loaded with the following projectile types:

     

    Phase 1 Proof of Concept evaluations.

    • 108 grain Scenar Open Tip Match (OTM) round (Qty: 5,000 rounds) with a muzzle velocity from an 11.5 inch test barrel of 2650 feet per second (fps) (Threshold – T) 2750 (Objective – O) with an extreme spread of +/- 50 fps (T) 25 fps (O). 10-shot extreme spread dispersion from an 11.5 inch test barrel shall not exceed 2 Minutes of Angle (MOA) (T) 1.5MOA (O) at 100 m and 300 m.
    • .264 USA MK255 MOD 1-style frangible training round with Reduced Ricochet Limited Penetration (RRLP) projectiles for Close Quarters Battle testing. (Qty: 3000 rounds)

     

    Phase 2 Optional Development if phase 1 is successful

    • 108 grain Scenar Open Tip Match (OTM) round (Qty: 5,000 rounds) with a muzzle velocity from a 11.5 inch test barrel of 2650 fps (T) 2750 fps (O) with an extreme spread of +/- 50 fps (T) 25 fps (O). 10-shot extreme spread dispersion from an 11.5 inch test barrel shall not exceed 2 Minutes of Angle (MOA) (T) 1.5MOA (O) at 100m and 300m.
    • .264 USA Combat Barrier rounds loaded with Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST-style) projectiles (Qty: 25,000 rounds) (T).
    • US M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR-style) projectiles (Qty: 5,000 rounds) (O). The .264 USA Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST-style) and US M855A1 EPR-style Combat Barrier rounds shall continue on the original shot line after barrier penetration (T), shall be barrier blind out to 225m (T) 450m (O), and shall limit fragmentation (T).
    • .264 USA MK255 MOD 1-style frangible training round with Reduced Ricochet Limited Penetration (RRLP) projectiles for Close Quarters Battle testing. (Qty:10,000 rounds)
    • The .264 USA SOST-style and US M855A1 EPR-style Combat Barrier rounds shall penetrate no less than (NLT) 12-inches (T) of 10% ordnance gelatin at 800m (T); no greater than (NGT) 18 inch at 25m-150m (T); 25m-450m (O) when fired from a 14.5 inch barrel (T), 11.5 inch barrel (O). The .264 USA SOST-style and US M855A1 EPR-style Combat Barrier rounds shall be tested in accordance with current FBI Ballistic Research Facility (BRF) test protocol (T) shall pass all current FBI Ballistic Research Facility (BRF) test protocol (O). A .264 USA MK255 MOD 1-style frangible training round with Reduced Ricochet Limited Penetration (RRLP) projectiles (Qty: 36,000 rounds) with non-toxic primer shall also be required (T). All .264 USA LICC ammunition shall be corrosion resistant (T); water proof (T); and loaded with reduced flash and temperature stable propellant (T) and non-toxic primer (O). Each .264 USA LICC round shall contain markings to include caliber, year of manufacture and manufacturer identification (T). All LICC ammunition should be packaged in 10-round stripper clips (O).

     

    LICC IWS .264 USA Detachable Box Magazine

     

    A purpose-built detachable box magazine holding NLT 25 rounds (T) > 25 rounds (O) shall be delivered with the .264 USA caliber LICC IWS (Qty: 238). The box magazine shall be no-longer-than the current US M4 5.56mm box magazine (T). The LICC IWS magazine shall utilize a self-lubricating non-tilt follower and high-quality corrosion resistant magazine spring (T). Each LICC IWS variant shall be provided with seven (7) magazines (T). The LICC IWS magazine should be fillable using ammunition on stripper clips (O) using speed loaders (O). Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) 2 and 3- magazine pouches shall be available for use with the LICC IWS magazine for operational evaluation (T).

     

    LICC IWS

     

    Phase 1 Proof of Concept Evaluations

    • Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Carbine with 11.5 inch barrel and 5-position collapsible stock (Qty: 4);

     

    Barrel length changes shall be made by operator exchange of upper receivers (T) or by the exchange of barrels in a common receiver (O). Buttstock changes should be made by the operator within 120 seconds and without special tools (O).

    Weapon system operation will not be specified, but gas shall not vent directly back into the shooter’s face. The gas settings shall be rapidly adjustable by the shooter. LICC IWS operating controls shall mirror those of the Colt Canada C8 Special Forces Weapon (SFW) (T) and shall be ambidextrous (T). LICC IWS trigger mechanisms shall provide semiautomatic and fully automatic modes of fire (T); provide a 2 stage consistently smooth and crisp 4.50 pound +/- .5 pound trigger pull (T). The safety/selector switch should move from safe to fully automatic position within 90 degrees of rotation (O). The bolt lock/release should be operable with the firing index finger with the firing hand on the pistol grip (O). Sight and accessory attachment at the 12 o’clock position shall be via a monolithic MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rail that ends .39 inch from the rear edge of the flash suppressor (T) on all LICC IWS variants. Accessory attachment at the 9, 6, and 3 o’clock positions shall be via Modular Locking (M-Lok™) (T). The LICC IWS CQB Carbine variant shall weigh < 7.0 pounds (T) < 6.5 pounds (O) without sights, magazine or signature suppressor. The LICC IWS CQB Carbine variant shall be no-longer-than the Colt Canada C8 Special Forces Weapon (SFW) with 11.5 inch barrel and Ops Inc. signature suppressor. Each LICC IWS barrel shall be fitted with a flash suppressor for use with a quick connect/disconnect signature suppressor (T). The LICC IWS barrel shall be lightweight in nature (T); employ lightweight materials or relieved (i.e., fluted, ball milled) profile (O). The LICC IWS should reduce felt recoil to the operator (O). The LICC IWS should reduce felt recoil to the operator to levels ≤ the 5.56mm Colt Canada C8 SFW (O). Reliability, durability and safety of the LICC IWS shall be equal to (T=O) better than the Colt Canada C8 SFW with 14.5 inch barrel fitted with Ops Inc. suppressor firing 5.56mm MK318 MOD 1 SOST ammunition. Each LICC IWS shall be provided with a field cleaning kit and operator’s manual in the English language (T).

     

     Phase 2 Optional modifications and Enhancements based on Phase 1 successful development

    .264 USA caliber LICC Individual Weapons Systems shall be available in three (3) variants (T):

    • Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Carbine with 11.5 inch barrel and 5-position collapsible stock (Qty: 20);
    • Carbine with 14.5 inch barrel and 5-position collapsible stock (Qty: 10);
    • Recon “Recce” Rifle with 16.0-18.0 inch barrel and 5-position collapsible stock with adjustable cheek piece and butt plate (Qty: 4).

     

    Barrel length changes shall be made by operator exchange of upper receivers (T) or by the exchange of barrels in a common receiver (O). Buttstock changes should be made by the operator within 120 seconds and without special tools (O). The weapon operating system shall be piston operation (T) and include an adjustable gas regulator (T) to optimize weapon function for ammunition, barrel and signature suppressor variables. The adjustable gas regulator shall provide settings for off position (no gas), combat barrier ammunition, frangible training ammo and suppressed use (T). LICC IWS operating controls shall mirror those of the Colt Canada C8 Special Forces Weapon (SFW) (T) and shall be ambidextrous (T). LICC IWS trigger mechanisms shall provide semiautomatic and fully automatic modes of fire (T); provide a 2 stage consistently smooth and crisp 4.50 pound +/- .5 pound trigger pull (T). The safety/selector switch should move from safe to fully automatic position within 90 degrees of rotation (O). The bolt lock/release should be operable with the firing index finger with the firing hand on the pistol grip (O). Sight and accessory attachment at the 12 o’clock position shall be via a monolithic MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rail that ends .39 inch from the rear edge of the flash suppressor (T) on all LICC IWS variants. Accessory attachment at the 9, 6, and 3 o’clock positions shall be via Modular Locking (M-Lok™) (T). The LICC IWS CQB Carbine variant shall weigh < 7.0 pounds (T) < 6.5 pounds (O) without sights, magazine or signature suppressor. The LICC IWS CQB Carbine variant shall be no longer than the Colt Canada C8 Special Forces Weapon (SFW) with 11.5 inch barrel and Ops Inc. signature suppressor. The LICC IWS Carbine variant shall weigh < 8.0 pounds (T) < 7.0 pounds (O) without sights, magazine or signature suppressor. The LICC IWS Carbine variant shall be no-longer-than the Colt Canada C8 SFW with 14.5 inch barrel and Ops Inc. signature suppressor. The LICC IWS Recce Rifle variant shall weigh < 9.0 pounds (T) < 8.0 pounds (O) without sights, magazine or signature suppressor. The LICC IWS Recce variant shall be no-longer-than the Colt Canada C8 SFW with 16.0-18.0 inch barrel and Ops Inc. signature suppressor. Each LICC IWS barrel shall be fitted with a flash suppressor for use with a quick connect/disconnect signature suppressor (T). The LICC IWS barrel shall be lightweight in nature (T); employ lightweight materials or relieved (i.e., fluted, ball milled) profile (O). The LICC IWS should reduce felt recoil to the operator (O). The LICC IWS should reduce felt recoil to the operator to levels ≤ the 5.56 mm Colt Canada C8 SFW (O). Reliability, durability and safety of the LICC IWS shall be equal to (T=O) better than the Colt Canada C8 SFW with 14.5 inch barrel fitted with Ops Inc. suppressor firing 5.56mm MK318 MOD 1 SOST ammunition. Each LICC IWS shall be provided with a field cleaning kit and operator’s manual in the English language (T).

     

    LICC IWS Signature Suppressor

    A quick-connect/disconnect LICC IWS signature suppressor shall be provided with each LICC IWS variant (T). The LICC IWS signature suppressor shall be no longer than the US SOPMOD suppressor (T=O). The LICC IWS signature suppressor shall weigh no more than the US SOPMOD suppressor (T=O). When fitted to any LICC IWS variant the sound signature shall be no greater than 140 dB(A) (T) less than 140 dB(A) (O) when measured at the operator’s ear firing .264 USA SOST-style ammunition. The LICC IWS signature suppressor shall reduce backpressure and blow-back into the weapon (T). The LICC IWS signature suppressor shall provide a minimal point-of-impact (POI) shift when mounted (T). The LICC IWS signature suppressor should provide no point-of-impact (POI) shift when mounted (O). The LICC IWS signature suppressor shall allow the firing of all LICC ammunition types to include USA MK255 MOD 1-style frangible training ammunition (T).

     

    Documentation and Test Support Materials

    Each LICC IWS shall include an operator’s manual in the English language covering all subsystems within the weapons system (T). The vendor shall provide new equipment training (NET) for ten (10) students each at two (2) North America locations (T). The vendor shall provide armorer’s maintenance and repair training for five (5) students at two (2) North America locations (T). The vendor shall provide weapon and signature suppressor maintenance and repair manuals in the English language at the ratio of one (1) per every five (5) weapons (T). The vendor shall provide .264 USA LICC cartridge and LICC IWS chamber drawings (T), .264 USA LICC cartridge and LICC IWS specifications (T), and .264 USA LICC energetic data (T). The vendor shall provide test results on the LICC IWS barrel twist and bore profile as optimized and selected for LICC ammunition types (T). The vendor shall provide two (2) LICC IWS Test Support Packages (TSP) each including enough spare parts, tools and gauges sufficient to support five (5) weapons firing 10,000 rounds each, one (1) 16.7” accuracy test barrel, one (1) 16.7” pressure test barrel and two (2) pressure transducers for the polymer-cased .264 USA LICC ammunition (T). The contractor shall be responsible for obtaining US government approval for exporting and delivering all test articles to the Canadian Department of Defense (T).

     

    The vendor is responsible for delivering contractor test results for this effort after each spiral iteration (phase). Two phases of development are anticipated (Phase 1 – Proof of Concept, Phase 2 – Product Improvement). Government test and verification shall occur after receiving the final contractor test report and required documentation (T). No government furnished equipment shall be provided for this effort. However, Government furnished information can be provided if requested and reasonable. All ammunition should meet MIL-STD­1461E, MIL-STD-1168, MIL-STD-709D, and MIL-STD-636 specifications (O). Post development, and if the research, development, test, and evaluation effort is successful, the Government may also request the vendor to provide test articles and subject matter expert support, as required, in Government safety and operational testing for transition under a contract modification.

     

    A Firm Fixed Price proposal is preferred. Vendor should provide options in their proposal for economies of scale.

     

    Summary of Deliverables Quantity Phase 1

    Proof of Concept

    Quantity Phase 2

    optional

    CQB Carbine with 11.5” Barrel and 5-position collapsible stock 4 20

     

    Carbine with 14.5” Barrel and 5-position collapsible stock   10

     

    Recce Rifle with 16.0-18.0” Barrel and 5-position collapsible stock with adjustable cheek piece and butt plate   4
    LICC IWS Signature Suppressor 4 8
    Rounds, Polymer, .264 USA 108 grain OTM (Scenar) 5,000 25,000

     

    Rounds, Polymer, .264 USA SOST MOD 1 Combat   25,000
    Rounds, Polymer, .264 USA EPR Combat   5,000
    Rounds, Polymer, .264 USA MK255 MOD 1 RRLP Frangible 3,000 36,000
    LICC IWS .264 USA detachable box magazine 28 238
    Test Barrel, 16.7” Accuracy Test   1
    Test Barrel, 16.7” Pressure Test   1
    Transducers, pressure   2
    Armorers (maintenance and repair) training for five students at two North America locations 1 2
    Drawings, .264 USA LICC Cartridge (TAA for Canada) 1 1
    Drawings, .264 USA LICC IWS Chamber (TAA for Canada) 1 1
    Specifications, .264 USA LICC Cartridge and LICC IWS (TAA for Canada) 1 1
    Data, .264 USA LICC Energetic Data 1 1
    Test Support Package (10,000 round support)   2

     

    Thanks to Morgan 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. He can be reached via email at [email protected]


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