Weapons: April 14, 2004

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The U.S. Army has asked Congress for an extra $26 million to buy 7,000 XM-8 rifles next year. These weapons would be used to equip to infantry brigades and thus give the rifle a wide scale test. The money would also pay for the staff needed to monitor the testing closely and fix any problems found. 

The rifle has already undergone thousands of hours of user testing and there have been some recommendations, all minor. For example, the buttons on the sight are to be rearranged, to make the sight easier to use. There were also complaints about battery life for the sight, and a new battery is being obtained that will boost battery life from 200 to 400 hours. A more serious problem arose when the hand guard began to melt when several hundred rounds were fired in a few minutes. It was expected that the barrel would get very hot in these situations, but the heat resistant hand guard material was thought capable of dealing with that. So now a new hand guard will be needed, with more heat shielding. This will add some weight to the weapon, which is now 6.4 pounds. The designers are trying to get the weight down to 5.7 pounds. The issue of changing the caliber from 5.56mm to 6.8mm is still taking place in the background, with there not even being official recognition that there are 6.8mm version of the XM-8 being tested. There is a bit of competition among combat divisions to be the first to get the rifles for the 2005 test, with many officers lobbying to get one of their divisions brigades selected. 

 


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