May 2nd, 2017

SOCOM Considers New 6.5 mm Chamberings for Semi-Auto Rifles

U.S. Special Operations 6.5 Creedmoor .260 Remington SOCOM
Cartridge photo courtesy

According to Military Times, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is considering replacing the 7.62×51 NATO in semi-auto sniper rifles with a mid-size 6.5 mm cartridge. The two leading candidates are the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .260 Remington. These 6.5 cartridges would deliver a flatter trajectory, better long-range ballistics, and reduced recoil compared to the 7.62×51 NATO (aka .308 Winchester). While the .260 Rem enjoys a case capacity edge over the 6.5 Creedmoor, in the real world, performance is similar — both cartridge types can push a 130gr bullet to velocities around 2900 fps. (See Sierra 6.5 CM Load Data.)

Military Times Reports:

“Major Aron Hauquitz told Military Times Tuesday that SOCOM is in the preliminary stages of exploring a sniper rifle chambered in the 6.5 mm caliber. The two commercially available rounds being evaluated are the .260 Remington and the 6.5 mm Creedmoor.

Research shows that both rounds will ‘stay supersonic longer, have less wind drift and better terminal performance than 7.62 mm ammunition’, SOCOM officials said.

‘We’re purely in the exploratory phase’. Hauquitz said. ‘We’re trying to see if we can take a weapon that is 7.62 and give it greater range, accuracy and lethality.'”

U.S. Special Operations 6.5 Creedmoor .260 Remington SOCOM

The SOCOM representative indicated that test rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor and/or .260 Remington might be issued to test teams later this year, but there was no issue date in place yet. Hauquitz said the 6.5 mm exploration came out of preliminary results of the Small Arms Ammunition Configuration study, which assesses commercially available ammunition and new ammo technologies.

SOCOM Also Considering Polymer Cartridges
The Military Times report also revealed that SOCOM is considering polymer-cased rifle ammunition, with the goal of reducing load weight. SOCOM’s research shows that a polymer-cased mid-sized 6.5 mm cartridge could be one-third lighter than conventional brass-cased 7.62×51 ammo. That means the next-generation 6.5 mm ammo could “come in at 5.56×45 mm weight ranges”. While SOCOM is seriously looking at this new option, polymer-cased ammo will NOT be required for SOCOM’s new semi-auto rifle. In other words, if the polymer ammo is not ready, that “would not delay potential fielding of a 6.5 mm rifle” according to Maj. Hauquitz.

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