The U.S. Army is still on the hunt for a new 7.62 rifle. False reports surfaced from multiple media outlets and blogs in September stating the Army canceled its search for a rifle that uses a 7.62mm cartridge. We sought further information on what we believed were incorrect reports.
“The stories that are out there are based on non-factual information,” the Army’s public information office confirmed with Tactical-Life.com.
Two 7.62 Rifle Options for the Army
“The chief [U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley] wanted an interim combat rifle, or he was only going to fulfill a requirement to have a squad-designated marksman in each squad, called a squad-designated marksman rifle,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, the Program Executive Officer Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Va. “So, there are two efforts going on to get a 7.62 inside the squad.”
The first effort, Cummings said, involves one soldier per unit carrying a Squad-Designated Marksman Rifle (SDMR). The second option is to equip multiple soldiers with the Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR). Both are 7.62mm rifles, an Army press release says.
Cummings points out that the SDMR program is already on the books for the Army. There is a weapon slated to fill that role: The M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS). It’s currently being tested.
But Cummings also stressed that the ICSR and SDMR are not viable long-term propositions for soldiers.
“Right now, many are focused on the ICSR or SDMR,” Cummings said. “But that’s not the long-term way ahead. The long-term way ahead is a brand new rifle for all of the Department of Defense called the Next Generation Squad Weapon.”
The Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) will consist of two weapons: a rifle to replace the M249 SAW and a carbine to replace the M4. The NSGW will also use a different cartridge than the 5.56mm associated with the M249 and M4.
“For the next-generation, we wanted to make one end-all solution,” Cummings said. “With the M4, when you look at it, it’s got all these things hanging on top of it. We keep evolving by putting on things. The next-generation is going to be kind of like what we did with the pistol, with the modular handgun system. It’ll be one complete system, with weapon, magazine, ammo and fire control on it and we will cut down on the load and integration issues associated with it.”
Cummings thinks the Army will likely start fielding the NSGW by 2022.
By 2025, soldiers “can expect to see a fully-developed fire-control system,” the Army press release says.
Until then, the Army is continuing its quest for a 7.62 rifle. In other words, you’ll be seeing either the SDMR or the ICSR being used. The service hasn’t yet made a decision on which system it’s going with.