The US Army’s New Rifle

The US Army’s New Rifle

Zach Dunn

The Rifle Being Replaced

US M4 Carbine

US Army Soldier Fires M4 Carbine

The US M16 Rifle and M4 Carbine have seen almost 60 years of service in the US Army. An extremely long service life compared to many other contemporary service arms. Even the Soviet/Russian Amy has seen their standard rifle change 4 times over the service history of the M16/M4 family (SKS, AK-47, AKM, AK-74 and now the AK-12). The M16 and M4 have soldiered on, but not without controversy.

The AR-15, which stands for Armalite Rifle model 15, from which the M16 and M4 are derived from, was invented in the mid-1950s by Eugene Stoner. It’s gas impingement system and light recoil made for a very easy to shoot and accurate rifle. The US Air Force was so impressed that they ordered 80,000.  The AR-15 soon caught the attention of the rest of the Department of Defense and the rest was history.

When the M16 was introduced as the XM16E1 to soldiers fighting in Vietnam, they were told that the new rifle was self-cleaning.  In fact, cleaning kits and rods weren’t even issued to troops.  In addition to not issuing cleaning kits, the Army had changed the powder used in the .223/5.56x45mm cartridges from DuPont stick powder to a ball propellant made by the Olin Corporation.  Stoner’s original design had called for the use of stick powder. The results were disastrous.

It is believed by many that the Army was responsible for the early XM16E1’s issues and near disastrous introduction, on account they never wanted the M16.  The US Army had spent millions of dollars on the purchase and building of the M14 rifle, which itself was plagued by production and reliability issues.  When the M16 was ordered for Vietnam, Army brass hated the little plastic “toy” as it was not a ‘proper’ .30 caliber rifle made from traditional forged steel and wood and designed to engage enemy troops at hundreds of yards in the fields and hills of Europe. The brass was still enamored with the M1 Garand which had been instrumental in World War II and from which the M14 was derived.

Shop Black Rifle Coffee on Amazon

Whatever the reason for its early failings, the issues of the XM16E1 were fixed by the late 1960s, as the M16A1 was adopted with a chrome lined barrel, forward assist, and some other minor improvements.  The M16 and the later M4 carbine went on to serve well in Grenada, Panama, Gulf War 1, Somalia, and the Balkans.

With the War on Terror, the situation changed. Soldiers found themselves engaging the enemy at longer distances. 5.56x45mm NATO cartridges fired from the M16 and M4 and other coalition weapons were struggling to achieve kills past 500 yards. This has led to the reissue of the M14 as a designated marksman rifle alongside other 7.62x51mm rifles such as those derived from the AR-10. But the Army hates providing two types of rifle and machinegun ammo to a squad or platoon.

Body armor is becoming a great concern as well. As tensions rise with Russian and China, fears of a new war with near-peer adversaries raise the reality that those we fight will most likely wear body armor similar to ours.  5.56 has a hard time punching through level IV armor unless you are using special tungsten ammunition.

The New Rifle

Textron Next Generation Rifle Prototype

Textron Next Generation Rifle Prototype

The Army has tried and failed, to replace the M16/M4 at least 6-7 times. All attempts have previously puttered out, often because of Army Beurocracy and the tangled web of the current procurement process. But I digress.

The US Army seems to have finally settled (just like the last time they finally settled), on a new rifle.  The Next Generation Rifle utilizes a new 6.8mm cased telescoped cartridge that uses a plastic shell casing and has been compared to hitting with the same pounds pressure per square inch as a 120mm gun off an M1A2 Abrams tank. Sounds impressive. But in reality, there are many cartridges that equal the same pressure, including the venerable .308/7.62x51mm NATO round.

Next Generation Squad Automatic Weapon

Next Generation Squad Automatic Weapon

According to the Army, this rifle will enter service alongside a new light machine gun chambered in the same cartridge, the Next Generation Squad Automatic Weapon.  The Army has said it will need to order 250,000 of these weapons and have them delivered over a 3-10 year period.

The Army also plans on introducing an advanced rifle optic for the weapon. According to a recent article from the Army Times:

Researchers are simultaneously working on advanced optics, targeting software and augmented reality to build a fire control that vastly increases target acquisition, discernment and hit probability over what is currently available.

The first submission must include a fire control system that includes a laser range finder, ballistic computer and disturbed reticle. That’s the first wave.

And that first round must be compatible with the Army’s newest piece of optics tech, the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular and Family of Weapons Sights-Individual.

One thing is for certain, these new rifles and optics will be expensive.  Much more expensive than the systems we are currently fielding. And that’s only if the systems are even built. Remember, the Army often cancels new small arms.  Especially if they are more expensive than the system they replace.  The US Military has a knack for shutting down small arms research or settling for a cheaper option with proven technology.  Case in point the recent adaption of the M17 pistol to replace the M9.  It’s still a 9mm handgun, and the M17 can’t do that much more than the M9 it replaced. In fact, the only thing the M17 has going for it is that it is lighter.  

The US Army has also recently placed huge orders for M4 carbines from FN and Colt, at least 150,000 new rifles but it could include as many as 300,000.  With other defense programs such as a light tank in the works, I would not be surprised if the new Next Generation Rifle gets the axed.


You may also like...

Buttigieg and Far-Left: Erase Thomas Jefferson

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Peter Buttigieg has called for things named after President Thomas Jefferson to be renamed or erased. Buttigieg is the latest to demand the re-writing of history that the Left finds “problematic”

Russia Sells 750,000 New AK-203 Rifles

Russia has just signed a deal with the Indian Government to jointly produce over 750,000 new AK-203 rifles. The Indians have long struggled with their notoriously unreliable INSAS rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO.

World War III?

What would a Third World War look like? Would it be conventional, or end in Nuclear Holocaust? Would it look like World War II, plus new technology?

Preserving and Tanning Hides

Hides have provided clothing, blankets, tools, shoes, wall decorations and scores of other things for mankind. Animal hides can provide a hunter with a fine jacket or coat, or buckskin pants that would make Tecumseh jealous.


Do you have a business you would like to promote? 1776TV is offering the chance to put your business in front of tens of thousands of visitors every week! We offer competitive advertising rates and loyalties breaks. Email us at for rates and any questions.

Conservative States Pushing Back Against The Left

Conservative States over the month of May have been pushing hard against the agenda of the Democrats and the Left. For many years it has certainly seemed to most of those on the Right that the Left was unstoppable in pursuing their agenda. May 2019 has seemingly proved them very wrong, to the detriment of the Left.

The Left Wants Us Dead

Leftist Violence is nothing new. In fact it has been far worse. It is escalating again, this is why we need to be concerned.

About The Author

Featured Sponsor

Advertise on

You can become a Featured Sponsor on! Support our cause, promote liberty, justice, and the American Way! Get awesome exposure by putting your business in front of thousands of like-minded, liberty-loving patriots! Learn More!


Customize Your Avatar