Two Marine corporals on the XM8

We Fear Change

Buckethead at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy (yeah, those guys that tried to out-dork each other some time back…) has a great little post up on an encounter with a couple of Marine corporals. He asked them about the XM8. One was against it, but the second was a bit more open to the new weapon:

He said that he had actually fired the weapon in Ashkanistan (his word) and was very impressed by the weapon’s recoil system.
“You can squeeze off three rounds on full auto before the barrel even starts to rise. Close groups, easy to handle. The only problem is, three rounds of five-five-six won’t put a jihadi down. Maybe if we could use hollow points or a soft nose bullet, the stopping power would be better.”

This sentiment won’t be unfamiliar to regular MO readers.

Go read the whole thing.

Incidentally, the Marine Corps decided over a year ago that they would be going with the M16A4 rather than the XM8 or another replacement for the M16/M4 system. Last fall, Marine Corps Times ran an op-ed (linked to and covered here) that specifically pointed out the ammunition debate as a reason to hold off on adopting a new standard rifle in the Corps.


  1. Looks like the Corps made the right decision. The Army does not seem to be moving on the XM-8. Are they testing all those other rifles submitted to compete against the XM-8 now? The Marines will wait until the Army does something (after spending an enormous amount of money). They will evaluate what the Army does and make a decision then. The Corps does not have that kind of money to waste on their own. My guess: If the Army eventually does go with the XM-8, the USMC will wait until the kinks are all ironed out and then adopt a version of it with a full length barrel (18 to 20 inches). If there is a chance to go for a larger caliber at that point, they will go for it. No way will the Corps make a weapon with a 13 inch barrel standard issue.

  2. Maybe if we could use hollow points or a soft nose bullet, the stopping power would be better.’ Fair point, but as that report on the latest ambush in Iraq suggests, some of these Insurgents now have body armour etc. and the hollow point ammo would be seriously lacking in a confrontation with this ‘better equipped’ insurgent. Again.. argument for the fact that it would be better to have a larger round.

  3. The M-16 has had more birthdefects than I can count. Many of them have been patched up. Two remain. One is the round, the 5.56mm poodle shooter. The second is the gas system. I don’t know much abut the new Army toy. I always thought that the sighting system on the M-16 in it’s original state was proof positive that the US Army had given up hope of hitting anything with one shot, so they went to ‘sprinkle’. Any replacement for the M-16 that doesn’t have a full power cartridge, and a gas piston style of recoil system(which at least the XM8 has .. or so I understand) is a waste of time and money. I am a simple kinda guy. I like effective sights, reliability, and a round that hits like a freight train when it lands. I guess that makes me a dinosaur.

  4. You know the one issue that really drives me up the walls on this weapon/cartridge thing is this: Who are the ‘Top Brass’ who are responsible for the what gun do we buy thing? What do they base their judgements on? To whom do they answer, and how are they required to justify their decision that will affect so many over the years? Why do they deserve a cloak of secrecy? And the last question is .. can they read ballistic charts?

  5. Good question Jim B. I am starting to believe that the people in charge of choosing new Infantry weapons are all logistics officers. You know, the ones who cry that having two different caliber weapons would just break our supply infrastructure – even though the average Infantry platoon in WWII used at least 3 different caliber weapons – the .30-06 Garand, the .30 Cal Carbine, and the .45 Cal Grease guns and Thompsons. Wouldn’t want to strain them – might cut down on their time at the club. I know, I didn’t count the current 9mm pistol – it’s hardly ever used. Please give us a new submachine gun! Oh wait, see paragraph above.

  6. Bram I think you absolutely nailed it. Logistics. This month’s issue of American Rifleman has a good article on the XM-8, the 6.8 and names the Colonel heading the overall project, and some civilian techie who worked on the M-16A2 and M-4. It also names the Army orginization workin on the project, and gives their location. However the most telling thing in this issue is the Editor’s comments at the beginning of the mag. It says that the future of the 6.8 (6.5 or the others) is doubtful, as the Army has specified 5.56mm caliber. That just smacks of logistics crap. Or worse, political pressure.

  7. Great… the guy in charge James J. Streilein, PhD Director U.S. Army Evaluation Center U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command Dr. Streilein has received numerous civilian exceptional ratings and commendations. In 1989, he was awarded the Decoration for Meritorious Civilian Service. He was designated as a 1969 Distinguished Military Graduate in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps at Carnegie Mellon University. In 1974 he was an Honor Graduate from the Signal Officers Basic Course at Fort Gordon, GA. He served in various officer positions in the Delaware State Army National Guard until 1979 when he was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain. He is active as an adult leader in the Boy Scouts of America and earned the Eagle award as a youth. ………. so much for that adult leadership thing. Frank J. Apicella Technical Director U.S. Army Evaluation Center U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command Mr. Apicella has over thirty years of test and evaluation experience. In 1970 he was assigned as an Army first lieutenant to U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM) as a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical system project office where he received the Army Commendation Medal for his work in support of the LANCE missile nuclear warhead section program. He spent a year after leaving the Army as a test and evaluation consultant and senior analyst for Braddock, Dunn, and McDonald, Inc. In 1975 he entered civil key test and evaluation positions: Test Division Senior Analyst, Chief Test Technical Support Branch, TRI-TAC Test Director and evaluator, Pershing II Missile System Test Director, Deputy and Director of Combat Support Evaluation Directorate, and Deputy and Director of Close Combat Evaluation Directorate. Mr. Apicella is currently the Technical Director for U.S. Army Evaluation Center. In 1995 Mr. Apicella was certified as a Level III Test and Evaluation Engineering Acquisition Professional. … someone wake me up when I get to an actual rifleman here, or even an Infantry officer. Colonel Rick G. Thresher Chief of Staff U.S. Army Evaluation Center U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command Rick has no details on his page. OH God help us all…………… look at this one… William J. Hughes Associate Director U.S. Army Evaluation Center U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command Mr. Hughes began his government career with the Navy at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard as an Electronics Technician apprentice in 1967. He earned a degree in mathematics from Rutgers University in 1976, and began working for the Army in 1977 at AMSAA. Bill was a mid-career fellow at Princeton University, the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, in 1986-1987 I need a drink

  8. Ucckk! Here are my choices to select our next rifle: Director: Al Grey – former rifleman in the Korean War. By the time of Desert Storm he had become Commandant and revitalized the Marine Corps. Reminded us all that our primary job is to fight and kill as riflemen. A real Marines’ Marine – what a stud. Assistant Director: Dick Marcinko – (I may have chosen David Hackworth if he was still alive – he tested and rejected the original M-16.) He’s a foul mouthed drunk prone to extreme violence – perfect. Even if he messes it up, the Rogue Warrior’s report would make great reading. I don’t think there are many people out there with more ground combat experience. Spokesman: R. Lee Ermey – I think he can curse less in public than Marcinko. Staff: A dozen or so Army and Marine grunts fresh from Iraq and Afghanistan. And me! – Sounds much more interesting than my day job and I have a little experience with rifles in a combat zone. We’ll be cheaper, better, and faster, and we will have a hell of a lot more fun than the guys Jim just listed. And, in the end, we would probably select and / or design a much better rifle than the above-mentioned pencil pushing bureaucrats!

  9. Well, we know the Marines are downright conservative when it comes to rifles. This should not be a surprise to anyone. I have a copy of the WWI pamphlet ‘Fighting on Guadalcanal,’ in which LTC Lewis (Chesty) Puller complaines about the replacement of the M1903A3 by the M1 Garand. The jist was that the Marines used too much ammo when issued the M1s. Now, on Guadalcanal, the latter was a legitimate concern.

  10. here’s the thing thatthe’brass’and the politicians seem to be missing in all this political wrangling over what our forces aught to be arming with.that we need a weapon which will’kill’ the enemy.not wound,not incapacitate,not pacify him into surrender and capitulation into a pleasant,politically correct state of non-aggression,but dead,as in,no longer able to fight or engage in unjustified aggressive action brought on by a misplaced sense of ideoligy,political ambition,or religeous fervor,,bearing this in mind, the powers that be need only consider that the next weapon,be it xm-8,m-16varient,or what not be mated to a cartridge that will have sufficient ‘killing’ power.hunter,prior to a hunt,concider their choice of load vs the game animal that they have to take down.we have got to do the same here,not to say that our nations current or future foe would be thought of as prey,but we have to tailor our load to that which we need to kill.that doesn’t meen shoot at johnny jihad with a bullet deemed only just capable of taking out deer sized game at moderate have a 200 pound animal of hostile intent(whom i might add is also flinging lead in you’re direction)do you fire at him with a light game round that will wound,irritate and possibly,make him even madder at you.or do you shoot at him with a load in the 115 to 150 grain range with sufficient velocity, in the 2800 to 3000 feet per second range,quarrenteed to put his fanatic lites out for good and forever,never to cause grief to you, his people,you,r nations people,and innocents in general?time to wake up,get real,and load up with bullets that do the job the first time,not the fifth,sixth,or seventh time.this mealy-mouthed,politically-correct,world friendly idea of only shooting at the bad guy with projectiles that might injure him enogth to cause him to give up the fight is fanciful,effeet.touchy-feely me,ol mr insurgant out there in the brush isn’t having a long,philisophical debate on how he wants to harm,or not harm us.

  11. Has anyone gone to crye associates yet? They have a modular caseless ammo carbine mock-up rifle for the Objective Force Warrior.

  12. Carried the M14 in Korea in 1965, and the M16 in the Delta in 1967. The 5.56mm was a pretty good choice for Vietnam, where ranges were usually short, targets unarmored, and it was nice to be able to carry lots of magazines — call it an effective submachinegun upgrade. But 7.62 NATO is a more effective general-purpose caliber. As long as it’s around, why spend vast amounts of time and money fooling with compromise cartridges? If our infantry shooters need a more effective rifle for Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s there already in many well-tested variations. Pick one and give it to them. Let the occasional combatants and officers keep their M16s: having more than one cartridge in service is not all that big a deal.

  13. serious, hey, murdoc, instead of just talking lets do something! I say we get a petition going to get the 6.8SPC the new military round of the US military! Its a great, great piece of ammunition and far supperior to the puny 5.56.

  14. chris,i second that motion.the 6.8 began life as a specops originated(i,e,soldier inspired,and soldier endorsed)cartridge design with the desired capability by the very end user,s who will be needing it.sadly,however,it would seem the beaurocratic regime behind adoption and their adjuncts in logistics are falling prey to that peculiar affliction we all know as the’not invented here’syndrome.arguments to glogging up the supply pipeline with another cartridge aside, i think it high time to help our warriors out and give our two cents.for,and remember this,those self-same soldiers demanding this high performance round are citizens just like us,and its our duty to our fellow citizens to help provide support in times of need.whenever there’s a tornado,hurricane,tsunami or what have you,we pour in our money,our time and our service here in this country,why shouldn’t it be the same for the young man out there,who fights in our stead, to preserve our way of life.

  15. None of this would be happening if it wasn’t for US Army top brass rejecting the British .280 round back in the early 50’s, in favour of one based on the over powered .30-06 (7.62 NATO), then a few years later dropping it for the under powered 5.56.

  16. Actually doing something about influencing the selection of weapon/caliber for the next rifle is a daunting proposal. It would involve causing political pressure to overcome what I see as the ‘logistic’s Baron’s’ To these guys we are all just a bunch of current or former grunts who have ‘never grown up’. I wonder in reality how many people truely care that our sons, brothers, daughters etc have the best rifle, in the world of lasers and smartbombs. However I am certain that to do it requires solid information, clear thinging, a good plan, and proper execution of the plan. It also involves obtaining the support of large organizations with political clout. Below is an example of the action taken on behalf of the VFW, and several other organizations concerning the issue of asbestos: ‘The VFW was joined by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Blinded Veterans Association, Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc., Women in Military Service for America, Non Commissioned Officers Association, National Association for Uniformed Services, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Fleet Reserve Association, The Retired Enlisted Association, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Military Officers Association of America, Marine Corps League, American Ex- Prisoners of War, National Association for Black Veterans, Inc., and the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Asbestos was used widely by the military during and after World War II and many veterans were exposed to this deadly substance. Veterans with asbestos-related illnesses are in a unique situation because they have virtually no avenue for compensation under the current system. Sick veterans are prevented by law from seeking compensation from the U.S. government through the courts.’ That is a much bigger bunch of people demanding change that just you and me writing our representatives. And the involvement of groups like this are what would be required to sway this decision.

  17. Hey, I know I have said it before, but I’m saying it again. Check out the 6.5 Grendel. It will do EVERYTHING the 6.8 SPC will do, AND MORE. The only place where the 6.8 might have it beat is the delivered energy at ranges under 40 yards…and not by very much. So far, the 6.8 has yet to impress me with its long range ballistics…the 6.5 grendel was designed to ‘reach out and touch someone’.

  18. 1.the xm-8 was meant to becom an airsoft gun would have mor stopping power that way(not literally) 3.marines will go with OICW 4.the 6.8 is more suited to the xm-8 because after looking at the picture of ALL of the configurations you will see that it isn’t really meant for long range 5.If you like rounds that hit like a freight train look at the ammo for the xm-109 not that it has anything to do with the xm-8…

  19. i just enlisted in the usmc last month, if i get an xm8 i will be PISSED. it is(at best) slightly better than the m16 with just as many birth defects. the integral sight, the plastic mags, the short barrel, the 5.56 cartridge. the xm8 is trying to be an all purpose weapon. there is no such thing. you cant have a heavy machine gun and an accurized rifle on the same platform without having diffaculties. why does the army think its a bad idea to use differant weapons for differant purposes? you cant do everything with one tool, not even a Leatherman.

  20. I’d be curious to see some hard data coming out of the testing for new weapons and ammunition instead of the odd press release and forum rants, which give me no basis for any kind of assumption. As far as the XM-8 is concerned, I have to give them some credit here. If you can set aside the cartridge contreversy it’s not a bad package, unless what I hear about melting issues is true. The system does away with a lot of the AR’s defects and frankly if the shorter barrel will put a round where it needs to go at 500m, I’m not seeing a problem, I’m seeing a benefit. The modularity is something that we just can’t evaluate until we see the raw data. Keep in mind the similar success of the G36 series. As for the caliber, I’ve full support for cartridges like the 6.8 and 6.5 candidates (and it should be noted that while not a trigger puller my opinions have been heavily developed by trigger pullers, some downrange right now), but I think we should also remember some marksmanship fundamentals here. If you put a round through a major blood bearing organ, the target is not going to run at you screaming ‘Allah Akbar’, and under a milimeter of increase on a given side doesn’t give my confidedence any great boost. The 5.56 may not feel as long and hard as it were, but the untold masses killed by our round from our weapons would be appauled at this conversation. Not looking for a fight, but I thought I’d play the devil’s advocate here. How does one remain objective if their drowning in their own voice?

  21. I am pleased their is much emphasis on the emphasis of the M16. Personnally, I believe the XM8 would have been a ‘glorified’ M16. Working with sights, I invented a targeting that mitigates the problems of battlefield or law enforcement stress. Over time, we have added more the body, while not adjusting the targeting device. Wear of kevlar helmet, body armor or even the gas mask add to the body, restricting the body to adjust with a proper sight picture. Keep in mind…I am the inventor, any feedback is appreciated. (By the way, the sight will allow you to shoot extremely well in high stress environments) Ray

  22. The 5.56 vs. 6.8 is quite interesting. Can’t find any balistic charts for the 6.8 Mil? Any recommendations? Crusty old MSgt (retired)