On 19 April the US Army announced the selection of SIG Sauer’s entries into the Next Generation Squad Weapons program. Despite an official announcement and a media event to unveil the weapons to the press, details on weight, loadout and capabilities have been scarce.
NGSW Program @ TFB:
- SIG Sauer Wins US Army Next Generation Squad Weapon Contract
- Winchester Awarded NGSW Ammunition Manufacturing Facility Design Contract
- SIG Sauer Comment on NGSW Win
- US Army Set To Procure 30,000 Next Generation Squad Weapons in 2023
- US Army Seeks a M240 6.8mm Conversion Kit
- U.S. Army Awards Winchester $20 Million Series of Next Generation Squad Weapons Contracts
Over the weekend, however, the US Army shared some further detail on the new XM5 rifle and XM250 light machine guns. Perhaps the most crucial information shared concerned the new weapons’ weight. The Army stated that:
The XM5, which weighs about two pounds heavier than the M4, and the XM250, which is about four pounds lighter, are still in their prototype phase and may change slightly by the time it is out for mass production. The XM5 weighs 8.38 pounds and 9.84 with the suppressor. The XM250 weighs 13 pounds with a bipod and 14.5 with the suppressor.
Currently the XM5 basic combat load is seven, 20-round magazines, which weighs 9.8 pounds. For the XM250 the basic combat load is four 100-round pouches, at 27.1 pounds. For comparison: the M4 carbine combat load, which is seven 30-round magazines, weighs 7.4 pounds, and the M249 light machine gun combat load, which is three 200-round pouches, weighs 20.8 pounds.
It is clear that the Army has decided to make key trade-offs in terms of capability and ammunition loadout. This means that the XM5-armed rifleman will be carrying 140 rounds compared to the current 210 rounds of 5.56x45mm. This means rifle-equipped soldiers will be carrying 70 rounds or 33.4% less ammunition although their loadout will be 2.4 lbs heavier. It is unclear what the mass of the Vortex-manufactured XM157 Fire Control Unit, which will be paired with the weapons, is and by how much this will increase the weapon’s total weight. The Army has also confirmed that the suppressed XM5 is 36 inches in overall length with a 13.5-inch barrel.
The XM250 has a 41.87-inch overall length (with suppressor) and a 17.5-inch barrel. The weapon’s stock is no longer side folding, reportedly due to Army length requirements, and the weapon is “not considered [to have] a quick-change barrel like the M249.” In terms of the light machine gunner’s loadout, he is carrying around 200 rounds less than an M249 SAW gunner but his ammunition loadout weighs 6.3 lbs more.
As for the 6.8mm ammunition’s capabilities, Brigadier General William Boruff, the program executive officer for armaments and ammunition, remained vague saying “the Next Generation Squad Weapon and ammunition will provide an immense increase in the capability for the close-combat force.” Brigadier General Larry Burris, the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team director, added: “we are one giant step closer to achieving overmatch against global adversaries and threats that emerge on the battlefield of today and tomorrow.” The Army’s article noted that during the prototyping phase, “the NGSW outperformed the M4 and M249 at all ranges” and that the maximum effective ranges are yet to be determined, pending another phase of testing.
In terms of when will active duty close combat force personnel begin to see the rifles, the Army says that “some Soldiers expected to receive the weapons by the fourth quarter of 2023.” As we reported earlier it appears the plan is to roll the weapons out based on MOS rather than unit with the Army now giving some example MOS that will see the weapons first, including 11B infantrymen, 19D cavalry scouts,12B combat engineers, 68W medics, and 13F forward observers.