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…