17 Soldier driven changes to XM-8 outlined in "Army Times"


August 25, 2004, 04:01 PM
in the 30 August 2004 Issue of Amry Times is a cover story about the second generation of XM-8 prototypes with new changes made after input from soldiers that have used the weapon. i didn't find the article on their website, www.ArmyTimes.com but they do have a 3-D view of the second generation prototype XM-8 on there.

one of the main changes is the combining of the "Designated Marksman Rilfe" and the "Automatic Rifle" into the "Designated Marksman Automatic Rifle" or DMAR. there will be standard 30 round magazines issued with rifles intended for "Marksman" duties and 100 round drum magazines issued with rifles intended for "automatic" duties. i'm guessing those intended for marksman duties will have different optics. thats just a guess from me.

the 17 changes to the XM-8 are as follows.

1. improved bolt locking mechanism and larger bolt release for easier use.

2. increased rate of fire to 800-850 rounds per miunte. this is supposed to help keep the chamber cleaner in adverse conditions such as desert.

3. score marks on the top of the buttstock extension to help soldiers know how far the stock is extended.

4. stronger bird-cage type flash suppressor has replaced the open prong type suppressor. a few early prototypes developed cracks in the prongs at around 15,000 rounds.

5. ambi-charging handle now has a knurled handle for better grip.

6. flip up/down back-up iron sights itegrated into the top of the handguard
(front) and carrying handle (rear). the front sight looks very similar to the M-16 front sight and the rear is a 1 inch tall by 1/4 inch wide post with a hole in the top.

7. windage and elevation knobs for optics can now be adjust with a 5.56mm casing or a small coin instead of the dedicated tool that could easily be lost.

8. windage and elevation knobs now make an audible "click" so they can be adjusted by sound.

9. optics now mount with a lever style clamping mechanism instead of screws which troops tended to strip out durring installation of the optics.

10. improved handguard with upgraded heat resistant material and added heat shields to guard against heat damage durring sustained fire.

11. increased range of infrared pointer and illuminator from 600 to 800 meters.

12. optics controls are now on the rear of the optics unit instead of the side so soldiers can adjust and see the status of the optics easier.

13. optics controls are larger and now have "+" and "-" signs instead of up and down arrows.

14. battery life for optics unit is increased from 110 to 400 hours.

15. the DMAR now has a heavier and fluted barrel for lighter weight and better heat dissapation.

16. Bi-pod legs for the DMAR have been redesigned and can now be adjusted for length and each one can be independently adjusted for uneven terrain and they have been shortened so as not to interfere with the support hand with firing with bi-pod folded.

17. improved buttstock for compact carbine models to allow for easier shouldering of the weapon while wearing body armor or load bearing gear.

the current Gen 2 XM-8 prototypes are all black but production models will be more earth tone-ish.

man i REALLY hope H&K makes a civy version of this rifle. i'll be first in line if they do. all they need to do is put a semi-auto trigger group on it and presto! awesome rifle for the private market. no more worries about "evil" features. keep your fingers crossed. i also hope they offer it in different calibers. it would be fun to have a 7.62x39 and a 7.62x51 version of this thing too.


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Sam Adams
August 25, 2004, 04:23 PM
I'd also like to see a civvie version, but you can bet your left nad that it'll be at least $1,500.

What I'd really like to see is the issue version of this rifle firing a more substantial cartridge than the 5.56 mm like, for instance, the 6.5 Grendel for great long range performance.

August 25, 2004, 04:30 PM
civie version...ain't going to happen. (unless its some ugly bastardized SL9 thingie)
different cartridge...ain't going to happen. Too much bureaucratic inertia to admit that the 223 isn't the end all and be all of small arms cartridges.


Sam Adams
August 25, 2004, 04:33 PM
Next question: how will this largely plastic weapon do if there's hand-to-hand fighting? Does it have a bayonet lug? What happens if the rifle butt is used as a weapon and breaks - is it as useless as the M-16 family?

August 25, 2004, 05:55 PM
I see nothing about making the standard barrel length 20", so I guess the "standard" rifle will have the 12.5" barrel. YAY!!! Our troops will have a rifle with an effective killing range of 25 meters. YAY!!!!

That little cartridge is already handicapped with a 20" barrel, no need to totally emasculate it.

August 25, 2004, 07:15 PM
No bayonet or lug that I've seen. I guess we'd better start equipping them with reinforced shovels in case of hand to hand (works for the Russians).

Black Snowman
August 25, 2004, 07:46 PM
I guess only the marksman are engaging targets at range and everone else is just shell foder and ammo carriers until they get urban. Depends on the tactics and environment I guess.

I hope the final version doesn't have the ugly and pointless curved bow on top and any other extranious crap. It doesn't need to be "science fictiony" it needs to be functional.

If they're not going to a more potent round they need to go back to the designed bullet weight for the 5.56x45 as well.

I haven't really been following this closely. Are there any other condenders for replacement of the AR family? Or is the XM8 the winner by default regardless of how it turns out?

August 25, 2004, 08:06 PM
i haven't heard of any other contenders in the contest and by the way H&K is shelling R&D dollars and building a factory in America so it can call the rifle American made so congress won't throw a fit about the American service rifle not being made in the U.S.A. like they did with the FFDO's program of the USP Compact, i'm guessing that they are virtually guaranteed the contract. so far the weapon has tested very favorably both in functional trials and with the troops in the field.

the article doesn't make any mention of a bayonet lug, nor the durability of the polymers as far as impact goes. i'm guessing its probably tougher than some are giving it credit for. its likely that it will have steel reinforcements like the frame on HK pistols.

i too hope they don't give everyone a 12 inch barrel. i hope they go for at least 16 inches if not 18 or so for the standard issue rifle. thats just my opinion though.

overall its still a very neat a modern weapon with superior reliability and modularity. i could live without the Star Wars-ish looks of it too though.


August 25, 2004, 09:08 PM
I'd buy it....:)

August 25, 2004, 09:47 PM
I read the XM8 got cut from the budget a while ago. Maybe next year.

I'm only interested if it's in 6.8SPC

Testing on the 6.5 Grendel was not as good as expected, the neck before fragmentation was rather long at 5-7". (see the thread on TF)

Kinda worried that the gun will get weighted down with all these product improvements. One of the bigger perks to the XM8 is that it's VERY light. It's also more reliable, in terms of ability to be run dirty.


August 25, 2004, 09:56 PM
$1500.00 might get you a dedicated upper with no iron sights, no bayonet lug and no goodies hanging off the picatinney handguard rails.
The Barnett Military rifle, full automatic, with accessories, runs in the neighborhood of $4800.00 each Government cost.

August 25, 2004, 10:16 PM
I was under the impression, previously, that they were wanting to make the next generation 6.8mm, I think it was.

George Hill
August 25, 2004, 10:22 PM
I was told by a Senator that the XM-8 goes into full production in 2005.

Like it or not, it's our new GI rifle.

August 26, 2004, 02:57 AM
Like it or not, it's our new GI rifle.

They said that about the Krag, about the 1903, about the 1917, about the Garand, the M1 Carbine, about the M14, about the M16....

See a pattern developing?

They even said bad things prior to JMB's vaunted 1911 being adopted.

Badger Arms
August 26, 2004, 03:26 AM
Cut and pasted from a post on HKPRO which I assume comes from the Army Times. Interesting.Issue Date: August 30, 2004

XM8 update: Your fix is in
Thanks to soldier feedback, the Army’s expected next rifle will be lighter, fire faster and sight better

By Matthew Cox
Times staff writer

The Army is about to enter the final round of testing on what is well on its way to becoming your next weapon. The second-generation XM8s sport more than a dozen soldier-inspired refinements that weapons experts hope will help them convince Army leaders to adopt the new family of weapons in early 2005.
Until then, the new prototypes — 17 carbines, 15 compacts and 14 designated marksman versions — are slated for more soldier evaluation through the fall and winter.

The Army developed the XM8 in late 2003 as part of a longer-range effort to perfect an over-and-under style weapon, known as the XM29, developed by Alliant Techsystems and Heckler and Koch.

The XM29 fires special air-bursting projectiles and standard 5.56mm ammunition. But it is still too heavy and unwieldy to meet Army requirements.

The Army decided to perfect each of XM29’s components separately, so soldiers can take advantage of new technology sooner. The parts would be brought back together when lighter materials become available. The XM8 is one of those components.

The weapon was tested in lab conditions, and by soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized).

“Every time we take it to the field Army, they tell us to leave it with them,” Brig. Gen. James Moran, head of Project Executive Office Soldier, said at a June 14 Pentagon briefing.

Soldiers reacted positively, but they also had plenty of ideas for making the XM8 more effective on the battlefield.

The new prototypes — standard carbine, compact carbine and designated marksman models — include changes that make the XM8 more reliable, easier to operate and lighter to carry, said Col. Michael Smith, head of Project Manager Soldier Weapons.

“We did not try to build the perfect weapon the first time,” Smith said. “We did make a lot of changes. Soldiers definitely affected the design of the second generation.”

One of the more challenging changes involved redesigning backup iron sights.

The XM8 relies on special optics for its primary aiming system. There’s a short-range version with a red aiming dot and a long-range version for use by marksmen. But soldiers always want the traditional front and rear iron sights, since anything electronic can fail, Smith said.

The backup sights fold down into the hand guard and carrying handle when not in use.

“I’m very happy with the way it turned out; it’s put out of the way until you need it,” Smith said. The original design was trashed, he said, because it called for the backup sight to be built into the optic.

“What if it is smashed? That’s why [soldiers] wanted it to be separate.”

Both optics have also been improved on the prototypes.

The battery life for each has increased from 110 hours to 400. And the new designs feature a lever-style clamping mechanism for attaching the optics to the weapon instead of the screws that soldiers tended to strip during testing.

Both the short-range and long-range optics have a built-in infrared pointer and illuminator similar to the PEQ2 attachment soldiers currently use on the M4 carbine. Plus, there’s more range on the pointer and illuminator — designers upped it from 600 meters to 800 on both optics. Soldiers can focus the pointer and illuminator on the long range or 4x optic while the same infrared features on the short-range or unity optic remain fixed.

Better aim

Developers said the full-auto capability should be more reliable now that they have increased the rate of fire by 25 to 50 rounds per minute. The change makes the XM8 capable of firing 850 rpm.

“We did the change to give us better a capability in nasty environments like the desert,” Smith said, explaining that the higher rate should help push more sand and grit out of the chamber when firing. “You get a little more force blowing that stuff out of there.”

The Army changed from full-auto to three-round burst on the M16A2 in the 1980s when the service decided most soldiers did not fire effectively in the full-auto mode.

But weapons experts now say a soldier using three-round bursts is no more effective than one well-trained in the use of fully automatic fire.

Unlike the first generation, the designated marksman and automatic rifle models are now the same weapon, except the automatic rifle will be fielded with a special 100-round, drum magazine. The designated marksman variant will use the 30-round magazine used on the standard carbine.

The high-capacity magazine, which can be used in all the XM8 models, is intended to give commanders the option to beef up a squad’s volume of fire beyond the current M249 squad automatic weapon, which is belt-fed and equipped with quick-changing barrels.

“We are not proposing that we replace the M249 in the light machine gun role,” Smith said. The XM8 squad auto rifle’s barrel can be changed but the process takes too long to perform in the middle of a firefight, he said.

“It’s not designed to give you that continuous high rate of fire the machine gun will give you,” Smith said.

Lighter load

The second generation XM8s include several ergonomic improvements, such as new ridges or knurls added to the cocking lever for a better grip. They also are about 15 percent lighter than the first prototypes, Smith said. That’s about a pound less on the carbine model which now weighs in at 7.14 pounds with optic and loaded 30-round magazine. An M4 carbine with its standard attachments and a 30-round magazine weighs about 8.5 pounds, he said.

The prototypes are black, but Smith said the final production models would most likely be a solid earth-tone since the Army’s recently approved Army Combat Uniform has no black in the new digital pattern. Camouflage tests have shown that black is too easily detected during movement, Smith said.

The Army’s senior leadership is scheduled to make a decision on replacing the M16 with the XM8 in February, Smith said.

There were plans to possibly field the XM8 to two infantry brigades in 2005, but Congress chose not to provide the roughly $27 million needed for the purchase in the fiscal 2005 budget or in supplemental funding, Smith said.

The Army could still begin fielding in 2005, but the money would have to come from existing programs, Smith said.

Before those decisions are made, however, the second-generation XM8s are slated to go through desert testing in Arizona in September, tropic testing in Panama in October and arctic testing in Alaska in December. A limited user test, involving an undisclosed, active infantry division is also scheduled for October, Smith said.

“As always, we are testing the changes to verify them,” Smith said. “We want the very best for our soldiers. They deserve it.”

Blackhawk 6
August 26, 2004, 07:12 AM
The funding for the XM-8 was dropped from the FY05 budget. It may become the new rifle but it probably will not happen next year.

August 26, 2004, 08:29 AM
My best friend is working on the XM-8 project in Maryland as we speak. He loves the rifle and thinks highly of it. But then again, he is an engineer and not a combat soldier. The last round of testing that he did was, "Shooting the rifle until the handguards melt." And he gets paid to do this? :confused:

El Tejon
August 26, 2004, 09:24 AM
Anyone else have an uneasy feeling in their stomachs?:scrutiny: :uhoh:

Before Big Army does this, I pray they test it, not just in a lab, but by giving it to a bunch of 19 year olds and letting them roll around in the dirt with it.

August 26, 2004, 10:39 AM
giving it to a bunch of 19 year olds and letting them roll around in the dirt with it.

..and may they be female. Okay, my mind is obviously elsewhere.

The update is battery life is huge. I wonder how they did it? My guess is that it takes a bigger battery.

I too wish they went with a new cartridge.

August 26, 2004, 11:02 AM
I'll believe it when I see it. Personal feeling is that it isn't going to get adopted.

Refer back to this thread in a few years and see if I'm right. :)

August 26, 2004, 12:31 PM
I've heard they've already tested prototypes in Iraq and other places. Last I heard, testing in Arizona, Alaska, etc is about to be under way.

August 26, 2004, 02:21 PM
Testing on the 6.5 Grendel was not as good as expected, the neck before fragmentation was rather long at 5-7". (see the thread on TF) Could you eplain this comment a little better to those of us who are maybe not quite so up on the lingo? Also an actual link would be appreciated.

August 26, 2004, 03:32 PM
Bah......I don't know why they're going through all the fuss to make a new rifle. One of the best infantry rifles in the world is already in production as the Daewoo K2 and its varients. All they have to do is ask the Koreans permission manufacture it here and mebbe tweek it a little for the larger cartridge.

Andrew Wyatt
August 26, 2004, 04:11 PM
I don't see daewoos with RIS's or acogs anywhere.

IMHO, the XM* is a huge step back because it's significantly less modular than the m-16

Badger Arms
August 26, 2004, 05:47 PM
Before Big Army does this, I pray they test it, not just in a lab, but by giving it to a bunch of 19 year olds and letting them roll around in the dirt with it.They have done this twice now. The initial prototypes and then the newest batch. The article refers to a third wave (maybe second) with improvements made based on field... FIELD testing if you didn't read through this.The funding for the XM-8 was dropped from the FY05 budget.Well, that was also addressed in the article. The funding SPECIFICALLY for the weapon in addition to the general budget was dropped, not the entire program. Your post reads like a John Kerry campaign ad, tell part of the truth and let the reader make the false connection. A lack of additional funding does NOT denote cancellation of the program.IMHO, the XM* is a huge step back because it's significantly less modular than the m-16On which planet? I've read your arguments on this before and I'm still baffled. Don't worry about an answer, you beat me into submission. I give. But please define modularity for me.

August 26, 2004, 06:13 PM
The M-16 A2's buttstock is actually incredibly tough, something that you do NOT want to get clubbed with. The A1 buttstock was rather fragile, but they improved upon the design a lot.

Andrew Wyatt
August 26, 2004, 06:52 PM
Modularity is the presence of user changeable modules in significant numbers.

As it stands right now, the XM8 only has user replaceable handguards and a sight rail on it which may or may not be compatible with anything but the xm8 sight (and pcaps, which doesn't fit anything right now)

the m16 has user replaceable uppers(which can be replaced without tools), user replaceable PG, user replaceable buttstocks, and user replaceable handguards.

I'm not even counting the flat top versions of the m-16, or the ones with the various sorts of RIS/RAS.

and since those parts are replaceable, they can be fixed if they break or wear out.

PAC 762
August 26, 2004, 07:17 PM
Excuse me for being behind the times on this subject, but what exactly is the purpose of replacing the M16/M4 with another (more expensive) 5.56? What problem is this the answer to? :confused:

August 26, 2004, 08:08 PM
Grendel Testing (http://www.tacticalforums.com/cgi-bin/tacticalubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=78;t=000819) I assumed the use of TF, being a link in my profile would be sufficient, guess not. In summary of the remainder of the "lingo" the 6.5 Grendel terminal performance testing did not go so well.

A long neck in a fragmenting military style bullet increases the odds that the bullet will fully penetrate before it begins to do significant damage, resulting in damage that is similar to that of a .22LR. Very clean in and out small diameter hole.

The "neck" here is more than 10cm and less than 15cm.

The "neck" here is at least 15cm, and less than 20cm.

Glad to hear that the XM8 isn't getting too much heavier, I would like confirmation however, that it will not be a 5.56mm rifle.

The XM8 should be cheaper than the M16/M4, lighter in weight, and more reliable.
If it uses the 6.8SPC cartridge, the weapon will not suffer from the poor terminal performance of the 5.56mm cartridge in the short barreled M4 since the 6.8SPC was designed around shorter barrels, and performs very well in them.

While the lighter weight, and greater reliability would be a plus, they would not IMHO justify the: hassle, expense, etc. without the upgrade in cartridge as well.


August 26, 2004, 08:34 PM
Didn't look at your sig line. Thought that was what you meant by neck but wasn't to sure. However, wouldn't it be possible to design a bullet for more rapid yaw and fragmentation than the current Lapua FMJBT? Bullet construction, it seems to me, would be pretty vital to the performance, and a little bit of engineering should be able to solve that issue (something that I think should be done anyway so as to optimize performance for any military bullet). Besides, the 5-7" neck sure seems comperable to the 7.62 NATO in your illustration below (15cm=~6"). Get a bullet that will yaw faster and fragment reliably and it would seem to me to be a pretty good solution.

August 31, 2004, 04:22 PM
This is a response to my post about the XM-8 on TacticalForums.com from Jeff White, a moderator. He makes a good point about the lawsuits.

"Congress recently diverted funding for the XM8 into other funds topay for the war in Iraq.

Will it be our next service rifle? Who knows? I predict that Colts, FN and any other manufacturer who's rifle wasn't considered will sue the Army and delay adoption or maybe even kill the program.

Army Times is a civilan publication and nothing you read in it can be considered official information unless directly quoted from an official source. The quality of the writing has gone downhill and the editorial tone has taken a sharp turn left ever since Gannet Publications bought the Times newspapers."-Jeff White

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