Tag Archives: Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle

Welcome (back), M16A4

The humble original M16 was originally Armalite’s AR-15, and was first ordered for military service with a contract issued to Colt Firearms in May 1962 for the purchase of early Model 01 rifles to be used by Air Force Security Police.

Note, these guns had waffle-pattern 20-round mags, no forward assist, a thin 1:14 twist barrel, and the early three-prong flash hider.

Fast forward to the XM16E1, which became the M16A1 in 1967, and you started to come closer to the standard Army/Marine rifle used in Vietnam and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. It used a forward assist and a 1:12 twist barrel.

By 1983, the M16A2 came about, it had a thicker barrel in front of the front sight, a modified flash suppressor (closed on bottom), a new polymer buttstock (lighter and stronger), faster barrel twist (from 1:12 to 1:7), and a spent case deflector for left-hand users. Considered downright vintage by the Army and Marines, the Navy still sports them these days.

M16A2- check
M9 in drop leg holster- check
Body armor- um, about that……

By 1998, the M16A4 was in play, primarily for the Marines, which had a removable carry handle, a Picatinny top rail to allow for optics, short rails on the handguard for accessories, and a 20-inch barrel with a 1:7 RH twist rate.

Note the size difference between the compact M4 Carbine, top, and the full-length M16A4 rifle, bottom. (Photos: Department of Defense)

Since the GWOT kicked off in 2002, the big shift over the years has been to move from the full-length M16 family to the more compact M4/M4A1 carbine, with its collapsible rear stock and stubby 14-inch barrel, leaving the increasingly old-school style rifle as something of a relic today. Heck, the Army for the past couple years has been very actively working on replacing their 5.56 NATO rifles and SAWs with a new 6.8mm weapon. 

Now jump to 2020, and the M16A4 is now apparently the Army’s designated rifle for Foreign Military Sales to equip overseas allies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Nepal.

Colt and FN are competing in a contract to supply as much as $383 million smackers worth of M16A4s by 2025.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

U.S. Army: Goodbye 5.56, hello 6.8mm hybrid

Big Green has been looking at shrinking the weight of small arms ammo for decades. The theory is: the lighter it weighs, the more can be carried or sent in resupply, making each warfighter more deadly. This has included polymer cased ammo (don’t laugh, the Marines have been buying millions of rounds of polymer .50 cal for years)  and more exotic telescoping cased rounds.

In 2016, the the Army started shopping hard for a new Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R), a replacement for the M4/M4A1 carbine; and the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR), which would take the place currently held by the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Both would be in an updated 6.8mm chambering that would be up to the manufacturer to develop with ammunition industry partners.

Now don’t think this is existing 6.8mm Remington or similar, but something totally different.

At least 37 different arms makers looked at the NGSW program, and five submitted prototype systems last year.

In the past week, three got down-selected to continue: AAI Corporation/Textron Systems in Hunt Valley, Maryland; General Dynamics-OTS Inc. in Williston, Vermont; and Sig Sauer in Newington, New Hampshire. While Gen Dyn has Heckler & Koch as well as Winchester-Olin on board to help carry the load, Sig is going all-in and striking out alone.

They have released the most information on their submissions and they look pretty sweet:

More in my column at Guns.com