As the U.S. military continues its efforts to find a more lethal rifle and projectile combination for infantry troops, Texas-based True Velocity has unveiled their new 6.8mm cartridge that will compete to be selected for the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW). The intent is to produce a new form of ammunition that will make American troops more lethal and efficient in the fight, phasing out the 5.56X45 NATO rounds American troops first started carrying in the 1960s and that eventually became the standard across the alliance in 1980.
The True Velocity 6.8mm round will be included in General Dynamics’ prototype package, which will also include firearm work from Beretta Defense Technologies. They’ll be competing against two other prototype packages submitted by the AAI Corporation Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. Sig Sauer, of course, has already secured the Modular Handgun System contract with the Army and Marine Corps.
“True Velocity’s 6.8mm composite case design produces a level of performance, consistency and efficiency never before seen in small-arms ammunition,” Chris Tedford, president and CEO of True Velocity, said in the release. “Combining True Velocity’s innovation and technology with the expertise of General Dynamics OTS and Beretta results in a weapon system solution that exceeds NGSW requirements and provides the U.S. Army with a definitive edge on the field of battle.”
The Army currently plans to select a winner in the first quarter of 2022 so it can begin replacing standard issue M4s and M249s early the following year. While this contract is being developed for the Army, it stands to reason that the army’s winner will likely see widespread use across the force, as the branches strive for interoperability and a streamlined supply chain. The competition will call for each of the three groups to provide 43 NGSW automatic rifles and 53 NGSW rifles, along with 845,000 rounds of 6.8mm ammunition for testing.
The decision to transition from the long-standard 5.56 round was made based on the concept that the new round will offer greater lethality at longer ranges than the current stock. The U.S. military actually transitioned away from the 7.62×51 NATO round still employed by U.S. Military sniper rifles in favor of the 5.56 because of its high velocity at range and significantly lower overall weight. It’s unclear if the new 6.8mm round will represent an increase in weight, a reduction in standard ammunition loadouts, or even a reduction in weight thanks to new production technologies at this point. That will all depend on the winner of the program.
Although, according to True Velocity, their round, if selected, will represent an overall reduction in weight over traditional 5.56 rounds, thanks in no small part to a polymer case. According to their press release, these new rounds will provide war fighters with “significant logistical and operational advantages over traditional brass-cased ammunition, including substantially increased effective range and muzzle energy, drastic reduction in cartridge weight and enhanced accuracy.”