MO’s traffic has been down a bit lately, sooooooo…

Robert Douglas (of Backroad Blog fame) tipped me off to a thread on AR15 by an 82nd Airborne soldier about test firing the XM8. With pics.


As you can see, this is the “compact carbine” version of the modular weapon, and it’s sporting the new sliding collapsable stock. This will probably be used mostly for vehicle crews and other non-front line units for self-defense. As we know, this war has no front lines. And everyone is on the front lines.

The sight is just a normal red dot that has brightness adjustments like an EOtech (2 buttons on top). The only issue is there are no Iron sights and if the battery goes dead you are SOL. The sight has a built in IR laser that is calibrated with the red dot. The XM-8 has no rail system but it has oval shape mounting holes on the receiver for lights etc. To my suprise they finaly have put a bayonet lug on the rifle. The XM-8 definately needs a vertical grip (for full auto anyway) Disasembly was easy, remove the pins and it pretty much comes apart. The only thing it needs are captive takedown pins, (its all fun in games until you lose a pin). The grenade launcher was pretty inpresive it replaces the handguard and is mounted with one pin. The trigger is double action so there is no need to open it and recock in case of a malfunction, basicaly you could continue to pull the trigger until it fires or you decide its a dud.

It was my understanding that one of the things that came out of the big tests this past winter was the need for a back-up sight. Maybe these demos didn’t get them yet?

And notice the long-barrel automatic rifle variant in the background of the pic. He got to play with that one, too.


In this configuration it could be used as a SPR/designated rifleman or a SAW. Due to my lack of patience and wanting to throw as much lead downrange as possible I decided I would fire it full auto only (Uncle Sams bullets are free) I picked it up I thought wow! this thing is light! less than 10lbs if I had to guess. I had one of the Soldiers hand me C-mag to see what she could do. I then flipped the happy switch and let her rip!! very nice!! little recoil and very little muzzle climb, needles to say I was impressed. I was equaly impressed by the C-mag, it had zero malfunctions. I was told it was an improved model, maybe C-mags are getting better. This rifle is light and it was easier to keep on target than a SAW IMO.

Someone asked about the rubber end on the grip.

Not sure something to keep the bottom of your hand from hitting the ground during 3-5 second rushes I suppose. They said it can be used to store batts as it will pop off.


Later, he notes that the barrels on the automatic rifle version are not quick-change. Not cool.

A number of folks, here on MO, on the thread I’m discussing in this post, and pretty much everywhere else on the internet are wondering why we are going to a new rifle instead of adapting the current M16/M4 system with new uppers. HK (who make the XM8), in fact, has a piston-based upper for the M4 that would bring all the ballyhooed reliability of the XM8 to the current weapons. Why not take that route?

I was told HK will not be relesing the upper as it might interfere with the Army buying the XM-8.

That doesn’t sound outlandish at all. Similar thinking explains the curved “futuristic-looking” handle instead of the current flat-top integrated rails. How much you want to bet that HK or HK’s close, personal friends, will be the only ones offering any sort of gadgets that are compatible with the curved handle and lack of standard mounting rails?

As for the stocks, a different board member writes

From my experiences, I think HK’s collapsible stocks stink. Too much wobble straight from the factory and after heavy use, the thing starts to permanently droop like an 80 year old man who’s out of viagra. Cheek weld is uncomfortable and awkward, length of pull isn’t great and isn’t adjustable. The MP5F stock is a bit of an improvement, but not enough. Oh, and did I mention that H&K is greedy? $300+ for a shitty stock.

I always laugh when I watch the scene in Die Hard when John McClane uses his MP5 and a sling to rappel down into the ventilation shafts.

That’s funny, because the first time I saw him do that I said “Wow! Guns sure are tough!”

Another observation from FREEFALLE6 the poster who tested the weapon:

The safety was a little on the big side I could see were this could be snagged on our body armor.

[bad joke] That might not be a problem if you’re in the Reserves or Guard. [/bad joke]

Also noted is the new grenade launcher. It has a double-action trigger:

They use this so if their is an misfire you dont have to open the breech/recock it, all you do is resqueeze the trigger.

Good stuff. Go check out the entire thread for more pics and a lot more commentary.

Also, Airborne Combat Engineer notes a FtBraggNC.com story about what appears to be the same round of demonstrations. He’s got links to a photo gallery and a great video from local news coverage. Also covered is the XM312 .50 cal MG/25m grenade launcher. Go check it out.


  1. It’s good to get a report directly from a soldier who fired the weapon. Although the carbine barrel is too short for even good 5.56mm ballistics, a short rifle is a good thing for Airborne troops. Having a long rifle strapped to your leg when jumping can be hazardous. The soldier was mistaken in calling the XM312 the ‘HK 50 cal.’ It’s actually made by General Dynamics. See this link: http://www.gdatp.com/products/lethality/xm312/xm312.htm

  2. The soldier’s comments may seem a little dreary, but what’s missing is the fact that somebody has been paying attention to their gripes – and doing something about them. The discussion thread led to a powerpoint show on the Gen 2 version of the XM8 and a timeline. http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2004arms/session5/smith/pmiw/pmiw.ppt Some of the poster’s original suggestions are apparently coming in the Gen 2, including flip up back-up sights, self-retaining take-down pins and a better selector lever. The Strategy-Page article on melting handguards is also addressed by a new handguard design. Besides some notes on the new 40mm and 25mm grenade launchers, the timeline has a note about a ‘7.62mm carbine’. This is likely either a 7.62x39mm (AK ammo) or 7.62mm NATO. The special forces have put out a requirement for such weapons. While a 5.56 might require some tweaking to get up to 6.8mm, a 7.62 will be a lot easier to go down to one. Personally, I think they need yet another barrel length – something around 16 inches to squeeze more velocity than an M4, but a step below the full 20′ barrel.

  3. Pardon my ignorance but I could help noticing in the photographs the troop’s Kevlar (coal scuttle) helmet. It’s missing a front lip. As far as I have seen all the previous helmets have a slight flair in the front to obviously deflect rain water. Is this new design an ‘Airborne’ thing? Could Murdoc possibly comment on this? Just wondering.

  4. Toejam: I don’t know. I’ve seen this shape of helmet in pictures before, but didn’t didn’t even notice it in these. I must have been focused on the XM8. Or just ignorant. I suspect that you are right and it’s an Airborne thing. German WW2 Airborne troops had similar ‘plain’ helmets to prevent injury or entanglement during the jump and landing, and since we seen to have copied so much from them, this is probably more of that. If someone else has better info (like someone who actually knows what they’re talking about) chip in…

  5. This is likely the Advanced Combat Helmet. In addition to losing the front rim (which I think just gets in the way when shooting from the prone), it’s supposed to have a little taken off the back to make it more compatible with body armor. The ACH is slowly replacing the old ‘Fritz’ kevlar in the active duty world. There’s another version called the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet with built-in speakers and is cut even higher around the sides. Here’s a link on the MICH… http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/article.cfm?Id=1032

  6. Thanks murdoc & Prussian Roulette for the info on the helmet. Now, as I recall, the British 6th Airbore division had similar lipless helmets back in the D-Day landings of 6/6/44 as opposed to the WWI frisbie types the legs wore. Also the WWII German paras went lipless. I guess it’s a natural evolution.

  7. i have a question. when i was looking at pictures of the XM8, i noticed that the end of the barrel cant support a suppreser. i may be wrong. also it doesnt look like you can add alot of accersiors as the m4- such as, vertical stand, flashlight lasers,bayonet.

  8. on the subject of the ACH shape it was designed for better situational awareness. Because with the old Kevlars you cant here to much sound coming from behind you and it cuts out alot of your field of view. So far as far as i’m concerned they work great because i can see and hear more of what is going on around me on the battlefield than i could with the old kevlar this one is also a lot easier to wear for long periods of time.

  9. Has anybody considered doing the M16 ant the M4 in the same lightweight materials as the M8? though I can’t compare the M8 ant the M4/M16 the G36 isn’t as powerful or acurate as the M16. Given that the G36 is a close relative to the M8 this would sugest that the M16 has a beter archetecture even though the G36 may be a bit more reliable. The M4 and the M16 are certanly far more accesorisable than the M8. If the M4 and M16 were built with the same lightweight material as the M8 you’d have a realy nice rifle.

  10. Ugh, the old kevlars suck for all of the reasons stated above. It’s hard to hear, hard to shoot (prone or foxhole, doesn’t matter, it’s hard), and they’re just annoyingly heavy and awkward for peripheral vision. I’m glad they’re getting rid of them. Not that I’ll probably ever have to wear one again, but it’s nice to know that friends still in the Army won’t have to deal with them.

  11. Being reserve I never got issued the new style kevlar but I got fitted for one, the padding on the inside is something like a bike helmet or football helmet, a big improvement over the webing in the older one. I also could NOT get a sight picture when I wore the kevlar plus body armor with neck guard while firing my SAW. It became very scary having to push my kevlar back on my head just to fire my weapon while in OIF2

  12. Even though i dont like the XM8 its still a pretty good gun. Just wondering what you guys think about the Austyer F88

  13. Even though i dont like the XM8 its still a pretty good gun. Just wondering what you guys think about the Austyer F88