Army Times checks out the XM8

1 killer weapon – 8 things you’ll love about the XM8

A reader gave me the heads up on an Airborne Combat Engineer post about the Army Times story on the XM8. I had seen the headline yesterday and spent a fair amount of time looking for the story, but it was “For Subscribers Only.” Somehow, ACE found a working link. Great job!

Go check the story out. Most of the items will be familiar to MO readers, because my January post on the weapon still brings in about half of my daily traffic. But some items of interest are

So far, all of the testing of the XM8 has been open to press coverage. But the senior leadership at Benning recently decided to deny access to reporters to ensure an unbiased assessment environment free of outside distractions, said Rich McDowell, Benning’s public affairs officer.


Although the tested weapons had only a semi-auto/full auto selector switch, company literature indicates a two- or three-round burst selector will be available as an option on production weapons.

Earlier, reports indicated that burst settings would not be available. Studies had said that properly trained shooters were just as accurate on full-auto and that leaving the burst capabilities off would make it slightly lighter, easier to clean, and less prone to malfunction.


The Army is considering adding some type of lifetime monitoring system to each weapon, Army Times has learned, so data such as the number of rounds fired during a particular timeframe or over the entire life of a weapon could be retrieved by waving an electronic reader over the weapon. The system might also include the ability to inventory the weapons with an electronic reader.

There are a number of videos available, but they were overloaded yesterday and remain so today. Everybody’s hopped up about this weapon.


  1. The video of a demonstrator firing 100 rounds on full auto with his left hand behind his back is very impressive. Of course, that possible mainly because the 5.56 is a little varmint round, but I remember firing an very early M-16 on full auto (before the buffer group was modified) and it was at a 20-degree angle skyward at the end of the burst, even though I was holding it with both hands. The question we have to ask ourselves, when we think of adopting this as our service rifle, is: Do we want most of our troops to carry a weapon which is optimized for close quarter battle? (Yes, I realize a slightly longer barrel can be attached for sharpshooting, but how many of those will be issued?) Most of the reliability problems of the M16/4 AR family have been ironed out over the past four decades. (Only support troops who don’t clean their weapons experience jams.) The problem we’re hearing more often now (beginning in Somalia) is related to the cartridge, not the rifle. Urban assault troops prefer at least a .308 round, and troops in Afghanistan what something with at least the same effective range as the AK-47 the enemy uses. As we learned in Vietnam, issuing a service rifle with full auto capability to all soldiers will result in a lot of Uzi-style ‘spray and pray’ firing (as opposed to well aimed shots), resulting in an ammo resupply problem. The Army should specify a field means to de-activate the full auto switch, depending upon mission. The weapon does look good in general, and can accomodate field interchangeable barrels, so perhaps the slightly better 6.8mm round will be adopted later. I’m still not convinced that a full service conversion from the M16 to another weapon which still fires the 5.56 is worth the cost (as the round, not the rifle, is our problem at this point). If our goal is to equip our troops with CQB assault-type weapons which can spray bullets without careful aiming, this looks like a good choice. But sometimes, our soldiers need to take careful aim and accurately place a shot in a guy’s chest or head. As the M4 has demonstrated, very short barrels reduce accuracy and terminal punch, as some of the powder is burning outside the barrel. Personally, since I don’t have to lug lots of ammo around, I’d would love to have one of these weapons which could fire a 7.62-39mm short Russian round. A non-fragmenting FMJ 7.62 round will put more than an ice-pick hole in an enemy, so he’ll have a bleeding problem even if you miss a major organ. The JAG ruling that hollowpoint ammo which fragments can be used in combat could backfire on us. So far, our enemies fire non-fragmenting rounds in their AK-47s, but they could use our actions to justify a switch to hollowpoint or very thing FMJ rounds, could which lead to greatly increased US deaths. Info on the 6.8mm is pretty closely guarded, but I’ve read that it does fragment. BTW, I beleive I’ve found the company which might provide the time/shot monitoring info mention in the Army Times article. See the link at my ACE post. All this said, I’d love to have one of these fancified H&K G36s, with the grenade launcher!