US Marine Corps Interested in Next Generation Squad Weapon System

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017 USMC photo by (Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory/USMC)

The US Marine Corps are working with the US Army to find a replacement for the 5.56x45mm ammunition currently available. The Army, has for some time been arguing that even the 5.56x45mm Enhanced Performance Round is insufficient to combat emerging threats.

The Marine Corps, however, have not voiced the same concerns, indeed they even recently adapted the 5.56x45mm M27 to the designated marksman role, as the M38, rather than a 7.62x51mm chambered rifle. The Corps has also opted to continue purchasing the M27 to equip Marine riflemen. However, it seems the Corps is now ready to agree with the Army.

According to Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, said: “We are working with the Army; we have looked at the 6.5mm Creedmoor with the Army and [Special Operations Command].” Shrader went on to say that “We [Marine Corps Systems Command] are lockstep with them looking at a new round.”

A 2015 concept of what the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle might look like – we really need some updated concept imagery! 

This would suggest that the Marine Corps is working with the US Army to shape the parameters of the Armys Next Generation Squad Weapon System and its ammunition. However, Shrader could not confirm if this ‘lockstep’ cooperation would mean that the Corps would be adopting any new weapon developed.

Late last year the army briefly sought to develop an Interim Combat Service Rifle, chambered in 7.62x51mm, but this program was quickly abandoned in favour of developing a Next Generation Squad Weapon System to eventually replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and the M4 Carbine.

The Army recently released a Prototype Opportunity Notice for potential industry partners to develop Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle prototypes. The Army hopes the NGSAR, the first iteration of the NGSWS, will “combine the firepower and range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a rifle, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range, and lethality.” It remains to be seen how the Marine Corps will shape the development of the NGSWS and if they will adopt any weapon developed from it.


’Marines Working with the Army on 5.56mm Rifle Round Replacement’,, retrieved 12/04/18, from source

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: & Overt Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at:

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  • American Patriot American Patriot on Apr 24, 2018

    Just another reason to spend tens of millions of $ shooting guns, I wish I had the job and access to all that tax payer money.

  • TomasEdwardChristian TomasEdwardChristian on Apr 30, 2018

    I once had a dream that the US military just adopted WWSD rifles and a lighter SAW with .224 Valkyrie or 6.5 Grendel or even 77 grain 5.56mm

    I wake up to this nightmare...