XM8 in Strategy Page

WEAPONS OF THE WORLD: XM8 News (Sep 2, 2004)

A reader tips me off to an XM8 entry on Strategy Page that I missed while traveling last week. Among the X-Weapon goodness:

Meanwhile, the debate, within the army, over converting from 5.56mm to 6.8mm ammo continues. Most of the enthusiasm for the 6.8mm round comes from SOCOM (Special Operations Command.) Their argument is that the 6.8mm round is more accurate at longer ranges, and more likely to put out of action, with one shot, anyone it hits. SOCOM troops (Special Forces and commandoes) are more likely to use single shots to take down enemy troops. This, however, is also increasingly the case with U.S. Army infantry. While less capable (with a rifle) support troops are more prone to use automatic fire, the support troops usually travel in vehicles, with additional ammo supplies handy. However, the preponderance of army leaders are against the 6.8mm round. Converting would be expensive (costing billions of dollars), and the brass believe there are more important things to do with the money.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The XM8 is probably a better weapon than the M16/M4. It’s probably a better system, and in the long run we’ll be better off if we adopt it. But the biggest deficiency with the current system seems to be the caliber of the round, and going to a better 5.56 rifle is a baby step when a lot of folks think we already know what the right full step would be.

Sharpshooters in Iraq and Afghanistan are using the M14. If barrel length were the issue, they would be using M16s instead. That must mean that the 5.56 round is insufficient for what they do, even when fired from a longer barrel. The XM8 barrel is two inches shorter than the M4 barrel. (Search for M14 on this site for more info and pictures.)

As much as I like the XM8, I don’t know if it’s worth it as long as we stay with the 5.56. That’s an Army decision, not an H&K decision.

Many thanks to the reader who tipped me off to this post. He wrote

Since you seem to be the unofficial XM8 news consolidation site

It’s funny, but that seems to be what’s happened. Maybe H&K ought to fly me down for a little test firing for coverage from the blogosphere…


  1. I don’t know if it’s worth it as long as we stay with the 5.56.’ Murdoc, the problem with this statement is that many M16s are reaching the end of their service life. The Army is going to have make a BIG purchase of a replacement weapon soon, not much different than the Marine’s recent announcement. Since they’re gonna have to buy something, why not XM8?

  2. Chuck: I’ve wondered about this before, but I’ve never really been able to track down if there are more M16s reaching the end of their life than normal. If there are, that means that money must be spent regardless, and therefore buying XM8s, even at 5.56 caliber, would be more attractive. Do you have good info indicating that more M16s than normal are nearing the end of their life? Or are you just thinking there must be because of all the use they’ve been getting? (I’m not debating you, just wondering if you’ve heard so meting I’ve missed.)

  3. Can’t remember where, but I distinctly remember reading that a lot of the current inventory of m16a2s date back to the Reagan military build-up and are reaching the end of their life cycles. A full rollout of the XM8 would probably happen faster than these replacements would necessitate, though. Also, keep in mind that XM8 fills a need that neither m16 nor m4 does. The shorty version can be provided as a personal weapon for tank crews (even m4 is unwieldy getting in/out of a tank), and support personel (for whom an m4 might be bulky to carry around, but a shorty XM8 might not). The plan is that some soldiers will be issued the shorty instead of M9, since the pistol can be inadequate protection in certain situations.

  4. Just a question.. wasn’t there some rumours about the p90 in the PDW role? I’m not sure where I read this, though.. so maybe I’m completely wrong:)

  5. the biggest problem with 5.56 isnt that the round is small or light wieght, it is that it going fast enough or braking up on striking the target. when the m16 was first going through testing it had 1 rotation per 9 of the barrel. when the m16 went into production they dropped the barrel spin down to 1 per 12 inches. this greatly changed the fragmention of the round on making contact and also range of the round. even at this understand that 5.56 isnt designed to kill. it is designed to cause wounds that it is hoped will force the target out of combat along with others to insure that they get to the aid station and the cost of taking care of them. i havent seen enough to say where the xm8 fixs this problems or not but just from the fact of shorted cleaning time and being more reliable i would trade in my m16 for xm8 in a heartbeat.

  6. I’m currently preparing for deployment from USAREUR to take part in OEF 6 and my entire battalion has M16A2’s. Personally we don’t care what we get the M4 or the XM8, anything would be better than the cumbersome M16. Though I love its accuracy, and reliability, only having one jam in the entire time I’ve had this weapon I would do just about anything to get the smaller and lighter M4. So I took the only step I could, I bought everything to make an M16 as close as is legally possible. which is pretty much everything but the upper and lower reciever’s and the trigger assembly. I’m in a Support BN, and very few of us has Automatic Rifles. I’m in the 2nd largest support unit in Europe, and we only have 2 M2’s 3 MK19’s (I’m the gunner on one of them) 5 M203’s, and about 20-25 M249 Gunners. My Company has almost 300 people in it. and 80% of us are deploying. the rest all have M16’s. Now on the Cal of round we use, I fully agree with SOCOM, the 6.8mm would be a far more effective round. More stopping and killing power vs the 5.56mm Before rolling out the XM8 I would look into rechambering it to 6.8 or atleast building a few and testing them for range and accuarcy. well thats just my opinion. thank you.