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. 

The amount of equipment and associated weight that each operator carries into battle ever-increasing. Therefore, having an advanced weapons system that is much lighter is a definite consideration. 

Textron went through soldier touchpoint testing at Ft. Drum, NY and at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. It recently coordinated a test through the Global Special Operations Foundation (Global SOF), a privately owned and operated range outside of Ft. Bragg, NC. There, former operators also tested the weapon and provided their input to Textron.

Textron is so confident in their design, they are already working on both blank rounds for training as well as blank adapters for the weapons.

During a virtual news conference on Monday, Textron’s senior vice president of Applied Technologies and Advanced Programs, Wayne Pender told media members that feedback from the soldiers was a very important factor in their development.

“We feel that that feedback is a very important part of this, and it has been vital in our ability to constantly improve our weapon systems,” said Prender.

“We are preparing to deliver 30 rifles and 28 automatic rifles, as well as over 680,000 rounds of ammo,” Prender said. “Those weapons systems and ammo will go through additional reliability, performance, and soldier touchpoint testing.”

SGM (Ret.) Karl Erickson is a former Special Forces NCO and operator. He now has a fantastic YouTube channel called the “Tactical Rifleman.” His videos are always top-notch and he has over 568,000 subscribers. Textron allowed him and a few others to put the weapons through the paces during a 48-hour window at the Range Complex in Fayetteville, NC. Check out the video: