10th Mountain gives the XM8 a whirl

Army testing lighter, more accurate combat weapons

A commenter in my most popular XM8 post gives me the heads up the the 10th Mountain Division tried out the new rifle this week.

Soldiers with the Tenth Mountain Division got to try out the new weaponry this week. The sleek, bullet-shaped profile gives the X-M-8 a futuristic look.

That’s part of the design. As one Army official says, soldiers like to have a cool-looking weapon.

I’m thinking that the coolness factor isn’t all that important. No word on what the 10th thought. About the weapon or the coolness.

UPDATE: xm8tests.jpgCame across this pic of soldiers testing the XM8. It’s NOT the 10th Mountain Division. I found it in a February National Defense Magazine article. One weapon appears to be the sharpshooter variant with the longer the barrel. It doesn’t have a bipod so it’s probably not the automatic weapon variant. The guy firing from a keeling position has the baseline carbine variant and an attached XM320 side-loading 40mm grenade launcher.

UPDATE 2: A commenter notes that the article calls the XM8 a variation of the M16. Hadn’t even noticed that terminology. As regular readers of MO know very well, the XM8 is NOT a variation or modification of the M16. It is a totally new weapon based on the Heckler-Koch G36.

All in all, between the confusion about the XM8’s lineage and the focus almost completely on the weapon’s appearance, I’d say this isn’t the most informative article on the XM8 to appear. Nice to know that the 10th Mountain tried them out, though.


  1. It’s the Age of Appearances, Murdoc. The X Generation (and younger) needs a ‘cool looking’ weapon. Remember that most of today’s soldiers grew up seeing similar looking weapons in movies and games, and probably had very cool looking water guns as kids. ;-) Seriously though, the XM8 looks too bulky, and the top piece of plastic looks breakable. I’m thinking I’d rather have the HK36, modified as necessary to have the same functionality. And it needs a standard M1913 rail for the scope, not a propriety attaching method, so other scopes can be purchased as needed for specific missions. I’ve not had an opportunity to fire one, so maybe I’d feel differently if I did. And, IMHO, if they don’t go with a better cartridge (6.8mm SPC, 6.5mm Grendal, or other), it’s not worth the cost, if with all the improvements. And, a 5.56mm firearm firing FMJ bullets with a barrel less than a foot long is little more than a pistol in effectiveness. The bullet doesn’t even have enough speed to fragment. It will just drill a pinhole, which will self-seal. If no major organ or bone is hit, the enemy will not be stopped. Two 5.56mm rounds are heavier than one 6.8mm SPC. So, I hope BIG GREEN doesn’t buy too many of the carbines.

  2. Good catch, Fuz. I missed that. I suppose we could give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s in the process of changing magazines. Gene, I’ll lay odds the XM8 will not be in service nearly as long as the M16 has. BIG GREEN still dreams of a combined kinetic energy (bullet) and payload (grenade) weapon. Splitting the two was just a temporary fallback position since they couldn’t get the weight down and keep the firearm from looking like a big super soaker. I do believe payload rounds (which explode in the vicinity of the target) are the future for combat weapons. I’m thinking someone will eventually (within 10-15 years) figure out how to pack a smart, exploding round in something the size of a 400gr .50 cal bullet, propelled by a cartridge about the size of the old 45-70, so it can be fired in a semi-auto AR rifle. If we can get to the moon, have a drone plane take off and land on a carrier autonomously, and mix shampoo and conditioner, SURELY we can develop a small, smart, payload bullet in this decade or early in the next. At that time, any civilian who wants a M8 (with the burst firing feature deactivated) will be able to buy one for a few hundred $ (less for those with busted handles).

  3. OK, maybe we’ll only get a smart, payload round down to .75 in. or 1 inch. Maybe something about the size of a .770 Tyranosaurus round (sp.), with a 600-800gr. payload. Another idea that has been tried (unsuccessfully thus far) is the idea of little missiles, with some of the powder propelling the round. A mini-RPG, so to speak. An infantry squad should proabably have a mix of kinetic energy (single/burst/MG), payload, and missile weapons. We’ve been stuck on cartridge bullets for quite a while now (well over a century). Time to move on to the next thing, to regain our advantage over our existing and potential enemies, which can outnumber us in terms of troops. Some don’t know that the need for an M16-type weapon, with a large-capacity magazine, was first recognized during the Korean war, when the Chinese sent human waves against our troops. The M1, with its 8-round clip, could not be reloaded fast enough. An airburst round would have been perfect for Korea.

  4. Why do people have such a gut reaction against XM8? Yeah, M16 is a good weapon. But it isn’t a great weapon. It jams. Especially for support troops who aren’t as careful about keeping their weapons clean. HK G36 would be a good replacement. But that’s what they’re using. They’ve just modified it a bit to fit what the Army wanted: new sites, more modular, easier to clean. The underlying mechanism is still the time-tested G36. And will people stop harping about M1913 rails. The attachment system on the XM8 is designed to retain zero on the site. This is a huge win. New accessories can be designed using the attachment system. Also, there is an adapter available. As far as changing calibers. I don’t know that I’m qualified to comment. I do find myself wondering if 6.8 or even 7.62 would have stopped those guys that 5.56 did not stop. Probably would have stopped some of them. Probably wouldn’t have stopped all of them. Barrel length? Same issue, I’m not qualified. Seems like the shorty will have muzzle-velocity issues, though.

  5. Well, Chuck, some of us were around when the M-16 was introduced, with the same kind of hype the XM-8 is being given. I remember firing one for the first time at Ft. Bragg during ROTC summer training. Being just a kid at the time, I believed whatever I was told, so when I was told the firearm was very reliable and the tiny little cartridge was even more potent than a 7.26mm NATO because of its high velocity; I believed it. Pardon me for now taking a ‘show me’ attitude toward the XM-8. It might be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I’ll believe it when the troops in war zones are raving about it, and prefer it over the M16. Let’s equip a company in Iraq with the things, and see how the troops like them after a few months.

  6. ACE, I’m not saying you don’t test the hell out of the thing. I’m just saying that, for some reason, there seems to be a gut-level reaction against this weapon by a large percentage of the people who I’ve seen discuss it in various forums. I haven’t seen you say, for example, ‘this sounds great, show me it works and I’m on board.’ I’ve seen you say things like ‘it needs M1913 rails,’ ‘I’d rather have the HK36,’ ‘the top piece of plastic looks breakable,’ ‘if they don’t go with a better cartridge…it’s not worth the cost,’ etc. Funniest part is when you say ‘I’d rather have the HK36, modified as necessary to have the same functionality.’ Well, guess what, XM8 is HK G36 modified to have the functionality the Army wanted. Finally, you say ‘I’ll believe it when the troops in war zones are raving about it.’ Certainly. But this should also prove that a replacement for M4/M16 is necessary. Troops certainly aren’t raving about the performance of those weapons.