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The US Army will soon have snipers that can engage targets farther and machine guns that are more accurate and lethal than existing weapons. The Army and special forces units are set to introduce two new small arms rounds in the near future meant to improve the effectiveness of troops in the field. Special operations snipers will replace their 7.62 bullets with a new round favored by civilian precision rifle shooters, while the Army’s next-generation squad machine gun will be chambered in a new caliber using new casing technology.
The Special Operations Command is switching from the current 7.62×51-millimeter round to the relatively new 6.5-millimeter Creedmoor round, according to popularmechanics.com.
The 6.5 Creedmoor travels at a higher velocity than the 7.62. At 1,000 yards, a 6.5 Creedmoor round requires less correction for bullet drop (gravity) and for wind than the 7.62 round. This reduces the margin for error for long range shots, especially when calculating the effects of wind.
The new 6.5 Creedmoor round is fairly easy to adopt on existing rifles — typically, 7.62-millimeter rifles just require a barrel swap to take advantage of the new round.
The updated sniper rifles should also be externally identical to non-updated rifles, and magazines will hold the same number of rounds.
The new round for the Army’s Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) will replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in Army service. The M249 shoots 5.56-millimeter ammunition, the same as the M4A1 carbine. The Army is eyeing a 6.8-millimeter round as its replacement. One possibility is combining the 6.8 round with so-called “cased telescope” technology, which Army officials believe would reduce the weight of ammunition by ten percent.
The most likely 6.8-millimeter round under consideration is the 6.8 SPC, or Special Purpose Cartridge. The 6.8 SPC was developed by U.S. Special Forces as an alternative to the existing 5.56 round. It never caught on, but there might be renewed interest in the round among Army leadership now.