The Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW), will soon begin its next round of testing. The Army is looking to replace both the M4 Carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with a more lethal cartridge with a longer range. Currently, both weapons are chambered for 5.56 mm. The Army wants infantry and Special Operations units to field a new weapon starting in 2023. Among the prototype new weapons is the intriguing entry from Textron Systems.

Competing with Textron are Sig Sauer and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. The three finalists have already completed an initial round of testing, which was characterized as soldier touchpoint testing. During that round, soldiers provided input on the weapons.

Textron has teamed with Hechler & Kock (H&K), and Winchester. Its prototype is a revolutionary new design in 6.8 mm that will give the American soldier more firepower, greater range, and increased lethality in the near future battlefields. 

The new 6.8mm cartridge was developed specifically to increase not only the range but also the amount of energy delivered on target. The innovative design begins with Textron’s Case Telescoped ammunition: The projectile is encased within the polymer cartridge and surrounded by the propellant; this allows it to be much shorter and lighter. Additionally, it allows for an entirely new operating system wherein the rimless cartridge is pushed forward throughout the firing cycle. (See the attached video below) The polymer case expands slightly during firing.

This operating system is also designed so that the weapon, rather than the cartridge case, carries the ballistic load of the ammunition during firing. The weapon is significantly lighter (weighs only 9.5 lbs) than the ones currently in the inventory and the ammunition weighs 37 percent less than current ammo.