US Army PDW?

Brickmuppet notes that the US Army seems to be quietly looking at the personal defense weapon (PDW) concept:

A report in today’s Jane’s Defence Weekly quotes Brigadier General Mark Brown, the head of the US Army’s ‘Programme Executive Office – Soldier’ and commanding general of the Natick Soldier Centre in Massachusetts, as saying that the US Army is looking to acquire a new personal defence weapon: a compact, medium-powered firearm for issue to vehicle crews.

He stated that the new weapon will be “larger than a pistol and smaller than a carbine” and would be employed by personnel not primarily engaged in infantry combat. He said: “When you get all your soldiers geared up in an uparmoured Humvee, there’s not a lot of room”.

A formal requirement for the PDW is being developed by the Army’s main infantry centre at Fort Benning. The small arms centre at Picatinny Arsenal would be tasked to oversee the procurement.

General Brown said that at this point the service has only a “generalised requirement” for a PDW. The report says it is too early to know whether the Army would prefer an off-the-shelf weapon or a developmental item.

xm8_pdw.jpgLook familiar?
It’s the XM8’s PDW model

Of course, everyone is going to have an opinion on this one. HK MP7? FN P90? Knight’s Armament PDW? How about the Bushmaster Armpistol? Or even a pump-action 5.56 pistol? Maybe reissue the M1 Carbine?

Murdoc says “None of the above“. This ain’t gonna happen.

A major problem is that 9mm-based submachineguns aren’t going to be effective against anyone with any armor, and .45 SMGs won’t be a whole lot better. Two truly promising little weapons, the MP7 and the P90, use new oddball ammunition and are built across the pond.

I think this is going to wallow around for a while. Then they’ll pick either the MP7, the P90, or a snub-barreled M4 and begin development. After a year or two, and a gazillion dollars (or two), the program will be canceled and they’ll just issue everyone either a 9mm pistol or an M4. Which is what they’re doing today.

Incidentally, the XM8 assault rifle had a nifty little PDW version. That program wallowed around for a while and then died quietly. As will this one.

Call me cynical (or even bitter), and I’m totally shooting from the hip on this one, but I will believe this has a chance when the order for the first 100,000 is issued.

UPDATE: This comment sums it up:

A hundred years from now, when we are fighting battles on Mars, our troops will be carrying M16’s and M9’s and bitching that they jam in the Martian dust.


  1. I wonder if they’re considering the Steyr Aug in photo #2 here? With a collapsible stock, it would be nice and compact. It seems unnecessary to develop a new weapon if there’s an existing one that does the job well. P.S. the preview-logs-you-out thing is really annoying.

  2. P.P.S. I think the Steyr Aug is available in multiple calibers including NATO 7.62mm and 5.56mm. 7.62 would be a bit hard to control in a small weapon like that but you can’t complain that it would lack punch.

  3. Reissue the M-1 Carbine? Murdoc, you must be joking. I was issued one (very briefly) back in the 1960’s as a personal defense weapon. Believe me you might as well throw marshmallows!

  4. I’m with you Murdoc. This is just a money sink. Nothing they are doing will ever reach a deployed soldier. A hundred years from now, when we are fighting battles on Mars, our troops will be carrying M16’s and M9’s and bitching that they jam in the Martian dust. When I was in Saudi Arabia, their officers and senior NCO’s were carrying MP5’s. Our guys with pistols were envious. I was in Cozumel, Mexico last week – saw some cops carrying Mac-10’s – a nice personal defense weapon but pretty random for law-enforcement.

  5. Nicholas: Hmm. Had sorta forgotten about the Steyr Aug. Nice catch. (I’d also sorta forgotten about the preview problem with all the host issues I’ve had. I will address it shortly. Sorry.) Toejam: Yes, I’m joking about the M1 Carbine. I happen to think they’re a neat little weapon, but it certainly has no place on the battlefield. I think a lot of the trouble was that too many thought it was a rifle and tried to use it like one. Bram: Agreed. I must say that I found a silver lining in your Mars quote. It’s: ‘We’ll be on Mars in a hundred years?!? Hurray!

  6. ‘Toejam, why’s that, too long & awkward to fire effectively in the kind of situations you’re likely to get into with a PDW?’ NicholasV I discovered the only effective way to use an M-1 carbine was to fix bayonet and use it as a spear! I had a couple of buddies who spent some time up around the frozen Chosen who swore the North Korean padded uniform stopped the 110 grain .30 cal. before it could penetrate through to the body. By the way a special paratroop model (M1A1) had a metal, folding skeleton stock and pistol-grip behind the trigger group. Even with the stock folded its length was 25.5 inches and it weighed 6.2 pounds. Too long, too heavy and no punch!

  7. Those padded uniforms would probably stop a 55gr .223 cal round as well – especially when fired out of a short-barreled carbine. My next rifle purchase will probably be an M1 Carbine – either from the CMP or Auto-Ordnance. Sounds like the best plinker ever.

  8. Actually the M1 carbine or Mini14 style action, in a small, bullpupped pistol configuration (similar to the old ‘Enforcer’ style M1 carbine whippet pistol, but with the pistol grip at or forward of the center of balance)and chambered for a better cartridge (rimless .357 magnum? 5.7 FN or Johnson? 6.5 Grendel? .50 Beowulf?) might just do the trick. Its heavy enough to mitigate some of the recoil and muzzle jump, but light enough to be ‘bigger than a pistol and smaller than a carbine’. And you can’t stick a sliding/folding stock on an AUG or any bullpup due to the mechanism being in the stock. Only way you could do that is with a SHORT action…like that of the M1 carbine.

  9. We’ll probably get to Mars and find out that 5.56mm won’t penetrate armored space suits. Then our guys will be up there with scrounged M-14’s or maybe even M-1 Garands.

  10. We’ll probably get to Mars and find out that 5.56mm won’t penetrate armored space suits. Then our guys will be up there with scrounged M-14’s or maybe even M-1 Garands.

  11. Great Link! I love the box of truth! The .30 cal M1 Carbine beat the AR15 everytime they went head to head – clothes, water, whatever. Very interesting.

  12. maybe we should look at the Hezi-sm1 from israel. It’s a bullpup mod on the .30 m-1 carbine. Low recoil, and compact, with a pretty fair wallop. sounds good to me.

  13. Oh yeah. I forgot about the mechanism-in-the-stock thing with the Aug. That short-barreled version is still pretty short though. Perhaps the 7.62x52mm version with reduced powder loads would be better than 5.56mm and still somewhat controllable? I didn’t realize .30 and .303 were so different. (Well, I kinda did…) I fired a .303 once and I’ve no doubt that thing would go through a padded uniform. Probably several. Maybe even a space suit too.

  14. Murdoc – You indeed have joined the darkside of cynical disbelief in the ways of procurement.

  15. Actually, the MP7 rechambered for something in the .357, 10mm auto, or .45 ACP class wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

  16. Just fix the damn grip angle…uhg, the bastard offspring of the UZI and the USP. Something like the Bren 10, Browning HP, or even my Springfield XD grips would be good…the new S&W M&P style grips would be good too…and you could use standard pistol mags as well as your extended 20 or 30 round sticks.

  17. Hey why not just issue russian krinkov’s in 7.62×39 theyre very nice and compact yet just as reliable as a full sized Ak