More on the XM25 in Afghanistan

A Soldier aims an XM25 weapon system at Aberdeen Test Center, Md.

Inside the XM-25 After Action Reports from Afghanistan

Last week, MO pointed out a story about how the Army wants more XM25 grenade guns and that they’ve nick-named it the ‘Punisher.’

Kit Up! learned, however, that while the XM-25 is impressive, the weapon had been fired a few more than 50 times in less than 10 engagements and had chalked up only two suspected kills.

Though not a bad start, it’s certainly not a sample size large enough to guarantee success.

The XM-25 has fired 55 rounds in nine firefights between Dec. 3 and January 12, when the formal Forward Operational Assessment ended. Officials say the weapon “disrupted” two insurgent attacks against an observation post, destroying one PKM machine gun position in one of those attacks. That is where the ”usually our engagements last for 15-20 minutes. With the XM-25 they’re over in a few minutes” line came from.

The XM-25 also “destroyed” four ambush sites during engagements on foot patrols or movements to contact. In one instance, the 25mm HE round exploded on a PKM gunner and he was either wounded and fled or scared and fled, but dropped his machine gun, which Soldiers later recovered.

Though the details aren’t given, it sounds as if it could have been a “direct hit” and yet the target was able to flee. That certainly won’t do anything to convince those who wonder if the 25mm rounds are powerful enough. It could be a case where the explosions simply surprised and frightened the target into running off. If the lethality of the XM25 isn’t there, it won’t take long for the enemy to learn that its bark is a lot worse than its bite.

Of course, maybe it wasn’t anything like a “direct hit” and these concerns are not valid.

Go read the rest at Kit Up!


  1. Yep, that’s one of the XM25’s weak points, besides high weight and a very small ammo basic load (well, and cost of the ammo, too) — the rounds fragment into pieces too small for highly effective fragmentation. The original weapon was up-calibered from 20mm in part to solve that problem (and in part to correct some flight issues), but it’s still not enough to deliver the lethality projected.

  2. Admittedly, I am not reading this as closely as you, but from your previous article, you wrote that ammo is about $1000 per round. Given that it seems they spent about $55K to kill 2 guys! That doesn’t sound very beneficial to a nation hopelessly in debt.

    1. Wasn’t the round count per kill in vietnam about 26,000 rounds fired per kill? Even in the 70’s that’s pretty expensive. The current cost for $1000 per round is they are in development and the cost to put rounds together by hand, not automated, is high…that doesn’t mean the cost will stay high…that said, still it’s in the ball park right where it needs to be for effectiveness…you can be tactically effective even if it gives you a chance to manuever to where you can get an effective line of fire to make the kill as well…it gets rid of the issue of defilade in many situations!
      Darn cool…and it is lethal..just not in every scenario. BTW is a .223 round lethal in instances where targets take shelter behind defilade? Not in many cases.

  3. Regular grenades and even mortars and artillery typically leave far more wounded than dead. That’s the way shrapnel works. Most conventional weapons systems are like that until you get up to fuel-air / thermobaric bombs.

  4. It’s a question of how much bang for how much buck. There are alternatives — for example, the Israelis (IMI) have a system in development to use airburst 40mm ammo that adds a sight and programmable backplate to an M203/M4. Sure, it’s only single shot vs the XM25’s 4-round magazine, and the 40mm does not have nearly the accuracy of the 25mm ammo. But it delivers a whole lot more explosive, requires a minor modification of an existing weapon vs. a purpose-built solution, and doesn’t have some of the tactical trades an XM25 requires (like needing a second weapon for close in fighting, or having to develop an entirely new family of ammunition to enable things like smoke, flares, non-lethal rounds, etc). From a pure effectiveness standpoint XM25 is better than an airburst 40mm round fired from an M203, but when you start to factor in cost and non-measureable DOT_LPF performance factors the argument isn’t so clear. But so much has been invested in this single approach to airburst small caliber weapons that the US technical community has not been very open to the alternatives.

    Still, I hope it works out well for the troops using it.

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