Another XM8 Article for you nuts

Generation XM8

The most interesting part of this one is the fact that the XM8s will probably initially only be assembled in the US out of parts built in Germany.

Though H&K is constructing a 102,000-square-foot plant in Muscogee Technology Park, Simon said the XM8 won’t necessarily be manufactured in Columbus from the start. Instead, it appears, the weapon’s parts would be made in Germany, shipped to Columbus for assembly, then distributed to the military from a center being relocated here from Virginia.

The number of jobs locally — originally pegged at about 200 — also won’t be created quite as fast as originally anticipated.

“I think the initial start will probably result in about 50 positions, and then we grow that as we grow the business,” said Simon, downplaying expectations until the Department of Defense awards a major contract.

In other words, “Not many jobs until you show us the money.” That’s fair enough, I guess.


  1. Good article catch, Murdoc, and I’m glad to see you’re enjoying your vacation. Good thing you didn’t elect to go to Florida, which got hit hard again last night (4th time in one season for 1st time since 1886). A dozen off the cuff, opinionated comments re. the XM8 program and related matters: 1. Good thing JfK is not going to be elected, or he’d tax the heck out of H&K-USA for ‘outsourcing’ the production of XM8 parts, making the business non-profitable for them. 2. It’s still possible Big Green will delay a change in firearms due to budget constraints, given the war. Has the ’05 funding, axed earlier, been slipped back in yet? 3. Smart move by H&K in building their plant right next to Benning, where there’s a small arms development center. Alexander Arms (maker of the .50 Beowulf) has facilties located inside a military complex in VA. Not sure what the deal is on that. 4. I’d suggest they sell a minority interest to one of the Alaskan Indian corporations. Then, the Army can give them a no-bid contract, using ‘set-asides’ for minority and women contracts. Leitner-Wise got a $20M contract from the CG for it’s .499 AR this way. I’ve heard the CG has decided not to use the weapon afterall, and has stopped buying them, but L-W himself has e-mailed saying the contract is ‘very much alive.’ 5. I’m thinking a firearm manufacturing facility on an American Indian reservation would improve one’s chances. Cherokee is a relative short drive from my Lake Hartwell house, so if I ever try to build something for Uncle Sam, I might work that angle, finding an American Indian partner. (They prefer that name to ‘Native Americans’ btw.) 6. Of course, ‘set-asides’ and no-bid contracts (like Halliburton) waste our tax money, since the low-bid is not obtained. My personal opinion is we should optimize military contracts (lowest bidder which can deliver a reliable product) and help minorities and women (if need be) by just writing them checks, if that’s what most feel we should do. With that money, perhaps they can win the contracts fair and square. 7. With all the emphasis on convenient manipulation of firearms from inside vehicles, perhaps we should forget about giving troops rifles and just give them machine pistols, which is about what the shortest XM8 is. That short barrel makes the 5.56mm even less effective. If we’re going to use barrels just barely 10 inches long, let’s chamber a large pistol round like 45 ACP, .40 S&W, or 10mm, any of which is a proabbly a better man-stopper up to 75 yards, and the wt. of 300 rds. is probably about the same. 7B. I’m no terminal ballistics expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and I have read a lot of what the experts say. The latest 5.56mm cartridge does fragment at supersonic speeds, but doesn’t hold that speed very far when fired from a very short barrel. If a FMJ hits at subsonic speed, it just drills a pin-hole which usually self-seals, avoiding blood loss. If the round doesn’t hit a key organ or artery, the turban-head will probably keep firing back. Hence, our soldiers are encouraged to fire two rounds to the chest and one to the head. Three 5.56 rounds weigh more than a 30-’06. 7C. A pistoal round starting with the number 4 drills a BIG hole. Even if you don’t hit an organ, artery, or bone, the rag-head will experience blood loss which will soon render him useless. But, these rounds only retain energy up to about 75 yards. That’s good enough for urban warfare. 7D. A few designated marksmen could carry SERIOUS RIFLES firing .300 RSAUM or .338 Lapua. to reach out and touch someone up to 1K yards or more. And, of course, there’s the XM107, with its huge .50 cal BMG round, good for a couple of miles or more. 8. I’d venture to say the long barrel .500 S&W will do more damage than the XM8 Carbine up to 75 yards. But, it’s a rimmed round, not good for auto pistols. The .50 Beowulf is in the same power range, but with a rebated rim. Let’s see a gun mag comparison test between the .50 Beowulf and the 5.56 and 6.8 SPC XM8, all with a barrel the same length as the shortest XM8. 9. If we went with a machine pistol, we could drop the Beretta 92, which almost nobody seems to like. LE has almost completely abandoned the 9mm for the .40 S&W. 10. I still agree with you that its not worth changing Big Green’s general service rifle unless we go to a bigger cartridge like the 6.8 SPC or the 6.5 Grendel. But, the ‘suits’ are thinking a change in round will cost too much. If so, let’s wait until we can afford to do it right. 11. As you noted in an earlier post, the Marines have already ordered M16A4s, so the Jarheads and Grunts (terms of endearment, both) would have different weapons (but a shared round) if the Army goes with the 5.56mm XM8. The Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard do so little fighting on the ground that what they use isn’t a big consideration. 12. One of the reasons the suits are thinking we should change cartridges is probably the increased use of reserve and NG troops. Refitting all those units with new weaspons would incur a HUGE expense. So, it’s either stay with the 5.56 or support two rounds for a decade or two to come. 13. (Baker’s Dozen). If we’d abandon any pretention of following any old convention as to what we can use in a military round, we could use a killer 5.56mm round. That would make the AR family of weapons quite adequate. 13A. I don’t buy the argument that most of the current ARs are ‘worn out’ and need to be replaced anyway. Worn out weapons are replaced on a regular basis as a part of maintenance procedures. 14. I like the super soaker / war movie / computer war game look of the XM8, and have nothing against it. Our troops need to BE good and LOOK good! Clothes and accessories make the soldier, I’ve heard. I’m ‘retro’ but if gay guys can improve the look of the straight guy, why not? They do seem to have a better sense of style. I wish they’d been consulted on the new battle uniform. ;-)

  2. Dang, I made 14 points and still forgot one of the key ones I wanted to make. A. If they open up the XM8 for true competitive bids (which I seriously doubt they’ll do), H-K USA might be burned. I’m sure other companies would love to have that contract, which will be a money maker for years to come. B. The argument that the developer of a firearm is in a better position to build it doesn’t hold water. Remember that Armalite sold its design for the M16 to Colt. Anybody with a CNC machine can make a weapon exactly like the developer, given the specs. Just look at all the companies who make ARs and interchangeable parts for them. Or, look at all the Browning 1911 pistol clones. C. Last night, the History Channel showed a good example of how the developer can lose out. When the Army wanted to develop a new vehicle (which would eventually be called the ‘Jeep’), it went to a little company called Bantam, which produced small British-lookiing cars. Bantam’s engineers worked with Army people for months in developing specs and prototypes. Then, the DoD went out for bids (like it used to do fairly in the old days). Willys got the contract. But, it couldn’t produce them fast enough, so Ford later got a big piece of the action. D. Since the XM8 is basically a HK36 in gay clothing, perhaps H-K could exercise its patent rights to keep others from bidding on the contract. But, if the Army buys the specs from H-K, it can then authorize any company to build the firearm. If I were Sec. of Defense, that’s how I’d do it, but they’re not asking me. ;-) E. We should probably have AT LEAST TWO suppliers of XM8s, if we go with them. We can’t have a stoppage of supply if a union strikes H-K or terrorists blow up their plants. We already have this problem with a single-supplier of bullets, which is now being addressed. We also don’t need a German company having a monopoly on firearms production for the US military, subject to political influence back home. We could easily ‘nationalize’ the Benning plant, but it would soon run short of parts if the German plant were ordered to stop shipping them. (Sure, this looks unlikely now, but things change in international relations.) E. The good news is it’s not a French firearm. The last time we had one of those as a standard US weapon, it was a piece of junk. The parts weren’t even interchangeable. E1. Rumor has it JfK, if elected, will give at least one firearms contract to the French, in exchange for their sending some policemen, lawyers, and judges to Iraq to solve the problems there with police action. [OK, I’m in Kerry Fantasy Land now — better quit typing.] ;-)

  3. PS: Z. The piston design of the HK36 is said to have been ‘borrowed’ from the original M18 by Armalite. Y. Really new ideas in firearms design come along only rarely. Mostly, firearms companies are ‘borrowing’ ideas from each others. As long as it’s not a spec clone, it’s hard to protect against. X. A few months ago, Colt started some lawsuits against some of the AR clone companies. I’ve not been following how that went or is going, but I’ve not seen any reduction in the ads for AR clones. W. The use of a piston instead of gas impingement is a significant plus for the XM8 vs. the M16/4, in terms of reduced need for frequent cleaning. But, it also has its negatives in terms of smoothness of operation in CLEAN rifles. The brilliance of Stoner’s gas impingement design was its significance and low mass movement. V. I’m currently fascinated by the so-called ‘AR-47′ clones, which use the AR design and the 7.62x39mm AK-47 round. It seems to shame to keep blowing up huge caches of AK-47 ammo when we could use it. An AR is more reportedly more accurate than an AK-47, which gets at least some of its reliability from low manufacturing tolerances. (Match rifles are built to very tight tolerance specs.) For that matter, it seems STUPID to blow up seized AK-47s and buy new ones for the Iraqi troops. But, nobody asked me. Why not fire those RPGs back at ’em? And use those explosives for perimeter defense of US camps. (Now, that’s something I could set up for them, if they’d let me go. Explosives were my specialty in the Engineers.) Waste not, want not. Being blown up or shot with their own weapons and explosives is just what the rag-head Radical Islamic Terrorists deserve. Any of them caught planning or executing the use of an IED should be tied up in a chair over a captured IED, out in an open area others could see, balancing a triggering device on his head, if you ask me. It would be his option to get his 72 virgins quickly, or delay his reward to enjoy life a few more hours.

  4. PS: Re. the punishment for those caught planning/executing IEDs: Tie him up without his turban. In fact, tie him up completely naked, standling, and be sure the local womenfolk are invited to see his final moments/hours/days. Being seen naked by women seems to be the ultimate humiliation for these guys. The Romans were not messed with during their hey-day; because the citizens of occupied countries knew they were ruthless. As a result, there were few problems in occupied lands, and the people were able to pretty much go about their business as they had before the Romans took over. Our troops (and supporting forces) pretty much kick ass anytime they are allowed to; with a kill ratio of somewhere between 10 to 1 to 100 to 1. But, we treat captured terrorists TOO WELL. We need to embarass and humiliate them, at least. Future terrorists, on seeing current ones being humilitated, need to ponder the fact that this may be their future fate, BEFORE they go to their perceived reward. Yeah, Al Jazeera, the French, Al Gore, and John Kerry will criticize this approach; but we need something which works in reducing terror, not something which is PC.

  5. Your boy George sure looked like an idiot on the debate stand last night Ace. But, I suppose to someone who thinks we SHOULD be torturing people an idiot for our country’s leader isn’t so bad.

  6. As I’ve said (that’s me jumping up and down at the back of the pack, waving my arms franticly) in the other two XM8 posts on this site. Great rifle-too bad it’s going to be saddled with the admittedly inadequate 5.56 x 45. The XM8 appears to be clearly (clever hedge, eh?)superior to the M16/M4 series it’s slated to replace for a variety of reasons that have been well articulated by other posters in these forums. BUT! I just don’t get all this carrying on about the 6.8 x 43 cartridge or 7.62 x 39 Russian. Why bother? That’s all logistics needs is another cartridge in the supply pipeline. Nor do our troops need less magazine capacity (6.8 in a single stack in standard M16 mags). We (the taxpayers) don’t need different upper receivers on our legacy M16/M4s to accomodate a ‘new’ caliber either. WHY NOT mandate the military establishment to give a legitimate large scale FIELD TEST to RBCD ammunition chambered in 5.56? Huh? Huh? Huh? The reports I’ve read (and seen in stills and videos) from at least three different sources (independent from the manufacturer)indicate this ammuntion offers tremendous anti armor (hard and soft) performance AND astounding behind armor fragmentation on soft tissue. The blended metal technology of RBCD ammunition apparently fragments explosively upon encountering sudden changes in temperature and material density (like when it hits soft tissue), causing HUGE wound CRATERS. And it WILL NOT (in a 5.56 x 45 chmabering) introduce ANOTHER caliber into the logistics system, REDUCE standard M16 mag capacity, REDUCE the effectiveness of the XM8 (though sometimes ammo effectiveness is dependent on velocity/barrel length) and/or legacy M16/M4 weapons, or violate the expanding ammo prohibition of the Geneva convention. If there are any draw backs (and there may be some) to this ammunition; a large scale field test by those who have NO reason to protect stuff that doesn’t work (our long suffering troops) should reveal them to all. I agree with your post though with the exceptions noted below. 1. ‘Basically an HK36 in gay clothing’….. One should always try to avoid inflammatory self incriminating statements like that. It ‘could’ imply the author of the comment has some specific knowledge that makes them more knowledgeable than the general public as to what constitutes ‘gay clothing’ (in this particular instance). LOL! 2. ‘The last time we had one of those’ (French weapons)….. I’m not as up on my US military firearms history as I should be…….if you’re refering to the French Chauchaut MG of WWI A. It was a POS. 2. That’s going WAY back to get in a dig at the French and their weapons. If you were refering to a more recent French crummy weapon foisted on us by the French and our extablishment—I apologise in advance! 3. ‘The Romans were not messed with in their hey day’……… A. Not even close to the truth. B. I’m not sure we’d really be better off by emulating a culture whose idea of responding to ‘civil unrest’ included genocide and/or ‘just’ depopulating an area, large scale enslavement of the defeated, torture of combatents and/or civilians, scorched earth policies, and feeding the defeated to wild animals. Nuff said!

  7. Some feal that RBCD ‘blended metal’ ammunition may be going to far for the needs of the common soldier. One doesn’t always want to cause catastophic damage to opponents. Still it seems to me, and I am no expert…just readin up too much, that the worst problems of the 5.56mm arose against skinny enemies, ie torsos significantly thinner than 12′ (opponents in Somalia were around 7-8′ in thickness), which resulted in not enough time for common FMJ rounds to flip, fragment, and cause the desired massive loss of blood with consequent loss of consciousness. So some redesign in this aspect should be looked into at least; with gel block tests made thiner for a good test.

  8. Comment continuing on from the comment about treating prisoners too nicely: I was watching the news(uk), and they were actually talking in support of the iraqi prisoner here. The story went that the prisoner ran at a guard and the guard hit him with his rifle butt. The point was that the guard was made to look bad- it was an iraqi sob story- supposedly he should not have hit him!! Ok, in my view the guy is lucky he is not dead, stupid fool. Our problem is that our press is killing us. In response to the XM8, why make that thing? seems to me that there are too many problems, why not just get a US company ie. Barrett to produce the M468 or something similar?

  9. Vstress, why not M468? A: NATO Why not some other rifle upgrade? A: weight (Goal of 20% reduction over similar M4), safety (especially the M320 gl over M203 gl), ease of use (no tools or training needed to do common mods)and consequently faster modifactions, size (polygonal rifling allows shorter barrel w/out loss of velocity) Cost (? debatable since we haven’t seen produciton numbers yet, but the goal is to have the new system cost no more than a similar M4, but since it is a g36 in new clothing and accessories, and the g36 has $950 basic price, the final production of the xm8 should be comparable…I have no idea what the US military is paying for m4s equipped similar to the xm-8…many numbers fly around like so much portk)

  10. Ok, ok, already. I keep seeing the same posts with the same info. Will one of you people come up with something new, please? The round is not going to change for the forseeable future. Get over it. I (being in the military, and understanding logistics) know that many of us pine for a real ‘man-stopper’, but know that we are not going to get one. The XM-8 is a fine weapon, as is the M-16. The round fired from both, however could use some work. Speaking from experience with the military I can tell you that this is not going to happen soon. I believe the answer to this problem is a re-organization of the standard squad. If each Assistant Fire Team Leader (here-after referred to as AFTL) were issued a larger caliber weapon, either a heavy rifle, or SMG, he/she could place critical fire where needed while the rest of his/her FT ‘pinned’ the enemy, or provide suppresive fire while the AFTL eliminated the most pressing threats. The Army of One BS concept, that every soldier is equal, thinking needs to end, your shooters need to be ID’d, and you need to be able to put the right kind of fire in the right place at the right time. Manuever warfare needs to remember it’s beginnings, and someone needs to remember that sometimes you need a special tool to do a special job.

  11. Most NATO rifles will fit 22mm rifle grenades. The grenades slip over the muzzle. Some are bullet trap, some require grenade launching blanks and still others are shoot through. The M series uses a 22mm OD flash suppressor for this reason.

  12. As for why we don’t use siezed munitions, various forces have previously ‘spiked’ munitions at times, things like packing a certain random percentage of the rounds with a high explosive instead of gunpowder. Or rigging RPG’s to explode instead of launching. What would that do to the morale of the local forces that we supplied the ammunition to, or thier willingness to trust us with anything?