The First & Last SAW: Why the Squad Belt-Fed Is a Dead End (Brief Thoughts 005)

Whatever the next infantry small arms configuration is, I hope it does away with the failure that is the belt-fed Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). Why? Let’s talk about it.

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Overmatch: On Bullets, Bombers, and Taking the Right Path (Brief Thoughts 004)

A warning against romanticism in military planning.

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Rheinmetall RS-556 Rifle Interview via DefenseWeb

DefenceWeb recently released a video overview of the new Steyr / Rheinmetall RS-556 assault rifle. The rifle, a sort of hybrid between an AR-15 and a Steyr AUG, was submitted to the Bundeswehr’s System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr trials, competing against both Heckler & Koch’s HK416 and the new HK433 assault rifles. The RS-556, mechanically, is substantially different from a basic AR-15, and therefore occupies an interesting spot in-between being an AR-15 variant and a completely different weapon. The upper receiver is a single piece forged unit, with an AUG-style fixed extension/trunnion and quick change barrel. An AUG-style short stroke tappet gas system and connecting operating rod replace the AR-15’s direct impingement system. In the upper, a steel insert, rather than the aluminum receiver itself, guides the bolt carrier group. This feature is supposed to increase upper receiver life, and improve its maintenance characteristics, although it does make the rifle significantly heavier.

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BOTH HK416 and HK433 Submitted to Bundeswehr Rifle Trials, H&K Confirms [AUSA 2017]

Representatives of the German gun manufacturing company Heckler & Koch confirmed today that the company has submitted both the HK416 assault rifle and the new HK433 modular assault rifle to the Bundeswehr’s System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr (SSB) rifle trials,  which are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

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The HK433: Up Close and Personal at [AUSA 2017]

At the 2017 Association of the United States Army annual meeting, Heckler & Koch brought out a weapon much talked-about but not seen on a US show floor until now: The HK433 rifle. Designed on the heels of the G36 controversy and intended to add a modern, inexpensive modular rifle to the Heckler & Koch lineup, the HK433 melds the features of the HK416 and G36 together into a single platform. From the G36, it takes its basic operating mechanism, polymer lower receiver, and basic disassembly procedure, while from the HK416, it takes the AR-15-compatible magwell, barrel design, aluminum receiver construction, and AR-15 fire control group.

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US Army Wants 13,000 Magpul PMag Gen M3 Magazines

The US Army is seeking 12,600 Magpul PMag Gen M3 magazines, or equivalents, from commercial vendors, according to a recently updated listing on FedBizOpps, posted in early August. This announcement was updated soon after the news that Army TACOM had authorized the requisition of Gen M3 PMags with unit funds, by unit commanders

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US Army Authorizes Magpul PMag Gen M3 for Requisition by Unit Officers

The US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has just authorized the purchase of Magpul PMag Gen M3 polymer magazines through requisition by unit commanders, marking a major step in the use of PMag magazines in Army service. Although a previous clarification in 2012 authorized the magazines for use, they could not be purchased using unit (that is to say, Army) funds. The full announcement is replicated below, courtesy of Soldier Systems Daily:

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1-8x Variable Power Optics for USMC? Squad Common Optic Solicitation Released

The United States Marine Corps is looking for new advanced optics for rifles and IARs that are capable of switching between a low magnification mode and a high (6-8x) magnification mode, according to a recent request for information (RFI) released through FedBizOpps at the end of last month. The RFI, which solicits proposals from the industry but does not kick off bids for a contract, lists stringent requirements for the proposals, dubbed the “Squad Combat Optic”. SCO’s requirements include a 1-6 (or greater) power, ability to identify targets at 600m or more, a field of view of at least 18 degrees, and reticles designed for M4, M4A1, and M27 rifles firing M855A1 ammunition. Each requirement is painstakingly outlined in great detail, as shown in the excerpt below:

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New Suppressors for Devil Dogs? USMC Releases RFI for Commercial Suppressors for M4, M27

Suppressor manufacturers, start your engines. The United States Marine Corps Systems Command (MARSYSCOM) has issued a new request for information (RFI) to the industry regarding future suppressors for the M4 and M4A1 Carbine and M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR). The request is intended to tap potential industry partners for future suppressor production, possibly in preparation for a new contract. The RFI’s requirements are, in the usual military fashion, detailed and stringent:

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50,000 MORE H&K M27s for Marines: USMC Releases M27 IAR Sole Source Notice

The United States Marine Corps has issued a new acquisition notice for up to 50,814 M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IAR), to be sole sourced from Heckler & Koch. The notice is technically not a solicitation in and of itself, but a pre-solicitation notice, intended to give other companies the chance to submit their own proposals or bids if they think they can meet the same need at a lower cost. From the solication:

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3/5 Marines Experiment with PMAGs, Suppressors, UAVs, and Reduced Squads

Infantry Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3/5 aboard the 31st MEU are currently participating in Talisman Saber 2017, a joint U.S. and Australian training exercise working on the amphibious and warfighting capabilities of both forces. However, more than a standard bilateral training exercise, the “Dark Horse” Battalion is involved in a testing regime called SEA DRAGON 2025. The Marines are testing numerous technological advances in addition to the reliability of PMAGs in their live fire and patrolling. The PMAGs were approved earlier by a number of Marine Gunners, hoping to increase reliability and reduction of weight on the infantrymen. Specifically, with 3/5 it appears that only the Infantrymen are being issued a full combat load of PMAGs and not any of the supporting elements such as the Combat Engineers that are attached. The particular PMAGs in question are the Gen3s, which can actually fit in the M27 IAR’s magazine well, unlike earlier versions of PMAGs. This was one of the sticking points about the polymer magazines when the M27 was first introduced and why they were eventually banned within the infantry. DVIDS has a number of photographs that showcase this effort, and we pulled photographs from the website for this post.

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US Army's New Magazine A FAILURE? USMC Test of Enhanced Performance Magazine Shows It Performed Worse Than Predecessor, PMAG

The US Army’s newest magazine for the M16 and M4, the Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM), failed a recent USMC test of rifle magazines, according to a recent Marine Corps SYSCOM document released by National Review. The report shows the EPM coming in last in the tests, with a mean rounds between failures (MRBF) figure below the baseline 600 in almost every subtest. In contrast, the magazine from Vendor A – which TFB has confirmed was the Magpul PMag Gen M3, recently adopted by the United States Marine Corps – was the best performer in every subtest. You can see the results of the test in the slides embedded below:

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6th Marines to Test M27s in Tricked-Out "Uber Squad", but Are They Already Behind the Curve?

According to a Military.com article, an element of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines will be deploying a 13-man squad of Infantry fully equipped with M27 IARs, suppressors, drum magazines, and other pieces of experimental gear. Called the “Über Squad”, it will be chosen from companies within 1/6, and will use the gear through an entire workup, training, and deployment cycle to Europe. From Military.com:

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PROBLEMS with M27 IAR with M855A1, USMC Generals Walsh and Shrader Testify to Congress

In recent testimony to Congress, USMC leadership Lieutenant General Robert Walsh and Brigadier General Joseph Shrader officially acknowledged that the USMC’s M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, made by Heckler & Koch, encounters durability issues when used with the US Army’s new M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round. The testimony is transcribed below:

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Gunner Wade Talks Suppressors

In a rare break with rigid tradition and military bearing, a recent video series has been released in which Chief Warrant Officer 5 Wade discusses suppressor usage within the Marine infantry, in order to dispel some myths that troops might have when it comes to the practical application of mounted suppressors on their weapon systems. In particular, he focuses on the supposed loss of velocity when it comes to 5.56x45mm rifles and associated cans by shooting them through a chronograph. He also showed just how hot a suppressor could get after several magazines of rounds through it. Gunner Wade did this by completing the iconic Youtube bacon cooking by wrapping the suppressor with raw bacon.

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