XM25 Headed to the Combat Zone

Soldiers to test shoulder-fired airburst weapon

Matthew Cox in Army Times:

Army weapons officials said Tuesday that soldiers will test out the service’s experimental airburst weapon in the war zone this summer.

The XM25, a shoulder-fired weapon that shoots exploding 25mm projectiles, is “going to be issued to a unit this summer for an assessment down range in theater,” Program Executive Office Soldier commander Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller told an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association’s International Infantry & Joint Services Small Arms Systems Symposium.

This could be a truly revolutionary weapon if the 25mm grenades are effective enough.

This has been a long time in coming, it seems. Murdoc once wrote

Unless the XM25 isn’t performing well, which doesn’t seem to be the case from what I’ve been able to gather, some should be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible for some real-world testing. It’s the only way to be sure.

That was in 2005.


  1. Ok, Looks great! Who would not want this kind of firepower at their disposal? However, since the Kinetic Energy Weapon Module (a.k.a. the ill-fated XM8) was dropped from the system due to excessive weight concerns, there has emerged a glaring flaw in the plan that I have yet to hear addressed: What happens when the soldier assigned to carry this weapon has to engage a threat at close range (i.e., within the arming/bursting range of the projectile)? Will he also be assigned an M9 pistol? While this is standard for snipers and machine gunners, these troopers are in the supporting role and have the luxury of a spotter or an AG armed with an M4 to watch their backs.
    Assuming that this system is intended to be used by the grenadier in a rifle team, I think that its utility in the assault would be severely limited. I see this potentially causing a severe gap in the the CQB capability of the squad. Sure, one could effectively clear a room (for example) using a handgun; but this requires a level of proficiency and training that is (unfortunately) not common to most standard infantrymen. Aren’t we going to face the same problem that we had with the M79 in Vietnam? I don’t know, just sayin’…

  2. Riiiiiiiiight … I’m in one of those theaters and I know for a fact no one has asked for it here. Our gear is too heavy as it is; troops aren’t going to hump a 14-lb 4-shot single purpose grenade launcher up these mountains. Maybe if they hadn’t killed the XM307 they could be using it on a truck to 2000m.

    Unlike M203 — no secondary capabilities (nonlethal, flares, smoke). Rounds aren’t big enough for smoke. No buckshot round for close quarters — at short range you’re firing a very, very expensive HE round as a dumb slug. You don’t get to pick when the enemy will pop up in your area. Combat ain’t a range at APG.

  3. I agree Flanker, that would be swell. But let’s face it: “Big Green” ain’t never gonna do it. I think that a new PDW and cartridge would be a bridge too far for the powers that be. Rather, I see some poor Joe shlepping this thing around on his back with an M4 in his hands, fumbling around to put it into action when needed… I witnessed the same thing in Baghdad when the M110 SASS was fielded because short-sighted leaders couldn’t accept that the dang thing could be used as a battle rifle if needed and they wanted the kid to be prepared for any situation. The end result would be that this thing would be employed in a manner similar to an AT4 instead of the next-generation individual weapon that it was intended to be.
    Ironically, the South Koreans seem to have already cracked the code on this problem with the Daewoo K11 dual-caliber air-burst weapon by abandoning the requirement that the grenade launcher be semi-automatic. By making it manually operated, they managed to at least come close to the original OICW objective weight of 5.5 kg (the K11 is 6.1 kg, the lightest the OICW ever got was 8.2 kg).

  4. Roger that BOCAT 9! I never could quite figure why the military and developers HAD to stick with the semi auto feature on the nade launcher module. Yea, maybe it helped absorb some recoil, letting them add in more propellant for more range, but it seemed a very reasonable trade off to make the damn thing, make it reliable, and get it in the hands of the troops, even if it was a pump and didn’t have quite as much range.

    I was never sure why they didn’t look at caseless, or cased telescoped ammo to help address the weight issue for the nade launcher too.

  5. Some sources say there is a Flechette round available for the XM25 which would make it useful for personal defense. In Vietnam, the M79 was loaded with a shotgun round when patrolling in jungle – only one shot but it made a big mess at close range.

    Bobcat’s right about pistol proficiency – most soldiers and Marines stink with them, including me. If a second weapon is needed, the lightest machine-pistol possible would be far more effective in the hands of your typical grunt.

  6. The pistol proficiency issue is basically what led to the M1 Carbine, correct?

    I continue to think that a submachine gun type PDW (.45, anyone?) might be a decent option. Virtually everyone we’re fighting these days is unarmored, so the .45 would not only be good enough, it would generally be devastating. I can see them being useful in room/cave clearing for infantry types, too.

  7. Problem with .45, 5.7 FN, or any other exotic or “different” PDW round is supply. 9mm or 5.56 seem to be the best bet for a usable PDW in a combat environment at the moment for these ABGL troops. Now, personally I wouldn’t saddle them with a full M4, as they don’t need to be loaded down with all the extra doodads that are probably already on the XM25 “Cannister Gun”. A “commando” or 10 to 12 inch M16 variant would work well, or some other compact 5.56 “SMG”, OR a light weight 9mm SMG. The hotter 9mm “AP” and +p ball type loads should do the trick while keeping the weight down for the already overburdened troop. Either that, or considering their environment, let them pack a Suchka (Krikov to the uneducated) which will be compatable with indiginous ammo supplies.

  8. Guys, the Army isn’t going to buy two new weapons just so it can field one weapons. If a second weapon is needed, it’s already going to be in the standard army inventory, so it’s an M4 or an M9. Given weigh of the system, probably the latter.

    And despite what’s on a lot of powerpoint slides out there, the only ammo for XM25 is training and HE. Even the shotshell/flechette round is vaporware.

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