My colleague Greg Grant who edits Defense Tech had a chance to head out to Aberdeen Test Center, Md., to shoot some of the Army’s top weaponry yesterday.

He broke the news that the Army is set to deploy the XM-25 Individual Airburst Weapon to a unit from the Special Forceswho will take it with them to Afghanistan “this summer.” This marks the first real-world use of the Starship Troopers-esque gun that fires a “smart” 25mm round which can explode in a pre-programmed proximity to a target.

There has been a lot of skepticism in the past over wiz-bang systems like this, but while heavy and a bit tech-dependant for its sighting and fire control system (I mean, do you need a WSO for this one?) it’s one of the few really Buck Rogers weapons that garners enthusiasm among the rank and file Joes.

Greg and I examined the excellent research paper written by Maj. Thomas Ehrhart on the “Infantry Half-Kilometer” and one of our takeaways was the infantry platoon’s lack of organic direct fire weaponry that can reach out to the standoff ranges insurgents are attacking from. Greg and I chatted about this story before he posted it to Military.com and he likened the XM-25 to a modernized RPG.

Back when we spoke with Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway, we mentioned this gap and he said that from his perspective the XM-25 has great promise. Seems this is really a weapon Grunts could appreciate.

When the snake eaters put the system through its paces in Afghanistan, we’ll truly see the effectiveness of the weapon and its durability. But in the end, it will surely be useful for Joes – and anyone else in the U.S. military – to have this precision, direct fire weapon that can eliminate threats from 700 meters.

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Spc.Poole May 6, 2010 at 9:41 am

Good stuff make it lighter and less bulk and Ied take it with me.

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Dawag May 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

700 meters eh? Less than half a mile. That's what the Marine's are trained to shoot (actually 500m). Now, if you simply had a round that could travel that far and be lethal, well, you wouldn't need all that billions in research and can't shoot when the D batteries go dead. Go back to the .30 caliber bullet and train infantrymen (women?) how to shoot.
From a Marine who always shot expert and qualified for U.S. Marine sniper school.

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sam crews May 6, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Boy, if we would have had this in Viet Nam we could have had a bunch of fun.(173rd Airborne Bdg-11B)

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sam crews May 6, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Boy, if we would have had this in Viet Nam we could have had a bunch of fun.(173rd Airborne Bdg-11B)

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Thunder350 May 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm

This thing always reminds me of the rifle rocket attachment in Battlefield 2142 (just alot bigger). But things are always getting smaller and better..

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M.G.Halvorsen May 6, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Jee-zuz!!! How about a rifle that actually will knock down a human, instead of the world's favorite mouse gun? Less "zoom-zooms & wham-whams" and more practical firepower…please!

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M.G.Halvorsen May 6, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Jee-zuz!!! How about a rifle that actually will knock down a human, instead of the world's favorite mouse gun? Less "zoom-zooms & wham-whams" and more practical firepower…please!

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Dawag May 6, 2010 at 6:41 pm

700 meters eh? Less than half a mile. That's what the Marine's are trained to shoot (actually 500m). Now, if you simply had a round that could travel that far and be lethal, well, you wouldn't need all that billions in research and can't shoot when the D batteries go dead. Go back to the .30 caliber bullet and train infantrymen (women?) how to shoot.
From a Marine who always shot expert and qualified for U.S. Marine sniper school.

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R. MILLER COL. RET May 7, 2010 at 8:29 am

HEY I ALWAYS LIKE THE OLD .O6 FOR A ROUND IT WOULD TAKE DOWN ANYONE IN ITS PATH. LONG LIVE THE GARAND M. 1 AND THE OLD B.A.R. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW I'M FROM THE OLD SCHOOL. NEVER SAW AN ENEMY THAT I COULDNT ELIMINATE.

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nraddin May 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

None of the rifle comments are the point. This is not a weapon to replace the battle rifle, it's a weapon that replaces the m203 (More or less). I understand the need/desire for a different rifle than the m4, but it's missing the point to be upset about this weapon because it's not a new battle rifle that you want.

700m, kill behind cover. That's pretty nice… What I want to see now is some video/data on how much damage the round actually does. That round is pretty small after all.

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RGo May 7, 2010 at 11:00 am

That's why they have trials on these things, field a few, see if the grunts like um, and if not, ditch the program. It would be nice to see at least one piece of the XM-29 assault rifle monstrosity to make it to the field. I do agree with the call for bigger rounds though. Since we're issuing multi-cam to troops rotating into the Stan, why not field more EBR's and 240s as opposed to M4s and 249s. I know it was a logistic cluster*$#@, but in WW2 your average squad leader had a veritable buffet of weapons systems to employ against a range of threats at various ranges. We'll have to see if the XM-25 proves to be popular on that menu.

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strikehold May 7, 2010 at 11:23 am

I get what they're trying to achieve with this system – and yes, being able to put an explosive round through a window and have it explode inside the room from several hundred metres away is pretty cool. But is that the main reason for having it? And it is a lot of bulk, weight and expense to carry around to replace the M203. Frankly, I think I'm more impressed by the EGLM for the SCAR. And I've seen that there are some pretty cool 40mm rounds out there nowadays.

And for those times when you absolutely positively have to deliver HE through the window and kill every mofo inside? I believe there is a very wicked version of the AT4 that does just that…

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michael lee May 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

design a 1mile range titanium made xm and call it ml1

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@Earlydawn May 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm

This is pretty sweet, but I'd still like to see conventional units hauling the Carl Gustav in the interim.

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James May 8, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Why not go with the MGL-140 or the new XRGL40? Denel is developing a 40mmx51 ERLP (Extended Range Low Pressure) firing a 200 g projectile at 120 m/s for a range of 800m. The Carl Gustav would be a good choice as well

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Flashbangman May 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Your right this is a replacement for the m203 and it has a great practical purpose in urban and house to house fighting. Shooting through a window an having a round that you can adjust the depth in which it will go though the window and detonate is super. It not only gets the shooter but the spotter and the other parts of an squad watching the other openings. Thes weapon should have a self destruct on it that if it gets into the wrong hands it blows or melts or ??????

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nraddin May 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm

The Cal Gustav weight is 17lbs empty. The XM-25 is 14lbs loaded. I know that rocket launchers are kewl and all and I don't think we are going to drop the AT-4 (Or something like it) anytime soon. But the weight you are talking about per shot makes it a hard sell to the grunts.

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Sam May 10, 2010 at 5:29 pm

yay! time to confuse soldiers with even more annoying equipment! its a good idea and all but its nice to have something as straight forward as the m203. yeah so maybe it is getting outdated, but then again, so is the m16a2, but we still use it right? weight plus batteries plus combat equals failure.

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McGyver May 11, 2010 at 6:48 am

My fear is that some of these weapons will get into the hands of our local police. Good way to break up a protest group. NOT!

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jonathan May 11, 2010 at 6:59 am

That is a great weapon for urban warfare,but they do need to make it lighter so our joes can carry while on the move.

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Iman Azol May 11, 2010 at 7:43 am

The .30? You young kids are wimps. Back in my day, we used the .45-70. That was a MAN's round!

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varminthunter May 11, 2010 at 9:19 am

Pays to be a Winner !

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C. Opitz May 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Just call in an air strike.Whats the big deal. The bone rules.

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Ewr Khazniack May 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Before commenting, has anyone here actually FIRED ones of these?? I mean, you dont know what your talking about until you have…. PERIOD!!

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r.aye May 11, 2010 at 11:27 pm

you hit the mark ,,, m203 replaced the m79 this replaces that seems like it is an improvement

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BillM May 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm

I saw this demo'd on Future Weapons and it does as advertised. Awesome weaponEvery squad should have one.

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John Brady May 11, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Each Army unit trains and sets standars for the range, my unit 1-501st ABN has been training to shoot at targets of 800m with the M4 A-2. The only true Sniper School is located at Ft, Benning GA. For that last 10 years the Army has beat the Marines at the annual competition, This new weapon will fade and never make it to regular units.

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SARGEQUANGTRI May 12, 2010 at 1:42 am

lmao–all good comments–personally I used an ak-47 in nam–plus a 12 gauge remington-slung over my back–was I needed in the environment we were in-oh yeah–also carried 2 colt 45 1911s–plenty of fire power and no batteries–just my opinion
SARGE

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Lance May 12, 2010 at 1:44 am

I'm old school myself but I do realize that I need to accept new technologies. This weapon looks nice but the rounds are what I am excited about. Can they be fired by other weapon systems? HK is on top of their stuff as always, and I am sure that they will continue to make adjustments and improvements. I agree with most that the system (freakin rifle) needs to be lighter. Oh, and can we attach a launcher if needed?

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SPC. Hill, JW May 12, 2010 at 6:46 am

JW HILL – 2/319AFAR 82nd ABN DIV
You do make a valid point, but I wouldn't underestimate the enemy. They seem pretty much pro-geurilla in their combat tactics, but they are also determined to eliminate us at any expense. We do have an advantage as far as Training, Weapons, and Funding, but what they lack in personell and good training they make up for in their ability to improvise. I am sure that they could find some a-hole with an inside connection who could get them the rounds needed to oprerate the new XM20. Lets just hope that I am wrong, but most of all, lets hope that our boys make sure that the only view the insurgents get of this inovative weapon is down the barrel, just before the flash.

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Jack Hampton May 12, 2010 at 7:36 am

That is absurd by your standard every member of congress would have to test a weapon before they deemed it fit to fund. You can form an opinion based on accurate information and experience in the field. I believe they are following the right course of action.

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Jack Hampton May 12, 2010 at 8:00 am

Just wondering did you use claymore bags or regular ammo cans to hump all that ammo?

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Grunt4Life May 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

@Iman Azol – you realize that we young kids don't go to the government and say, "Excuse me Mr. President, Senator, Congressman, or Mom, I think we need a smaller round so that we can fire more of them down range for no reason…" It's more like this, "Excuse me sir could you actually give me a round where I hit someone with it, it would cause their F***ing head explode PLEASE! Because I am really tired of hitting the same target more than twice!" One shot, one kills for me thanks…. thats why I love the real MAN's round Iman, its called the .50 cal Barrett or M107 MUAHAHAHA!!!

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Mr. X May 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

Give em to the Afghan freedom fighter. He's only equipped with a flint lock rifle.

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KWN May 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

do not forget the m-79

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mohrzart May 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

This thing looks like something I was trying to build when I was on drugs! I took apart an airsoft Steyr Aug, and a Benjamin (i think) air pistol-and some other do-dads..etc…etc…Thanks for making me proud by completing a project I left way in the recess of my imagination! Good Luck in Afghanistan!

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Jamin May 12, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Are you kidding me? You think this is impractical? This weapon is amazing! You can take out people hiding around corners, down in foxholes, inside bunkers, inside buildings, without the worry of line of sight… This 1 weapon has the ability to have more practicality than an entire platoon of rifles combined…

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jeff K. May 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm

thats a cool weapon. the weapon that I feared the most while in RVN was the RPG, Why don`t we have it. we spend all this $ designing and building space age weapons to fight an enemy of the 18th. century. give me a M-14, M-2 50 Cal. machine gun with a range of 4.5 miles…..ahhh the good old days and bring back napalm.

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TomM submariner May 12, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Let's give it some time. Once deployed, the value of the weapon will be better able to be evaluated. Feedback from the people on the line will be more valuable than all the testing accomplished by fresh and well rested, clean testers w/well maintained weapons.

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TomM submariner May 12, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Let's give it some time. Once deployed, the "actual" users will be able to provide valuable feedback. This info will be more valuable than that of the "test teams" stateside who deal with new well maintained weapons, and who are rested, clean and go home to sleep at night in a bed.

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C L Cranston May 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

look back at nam wash. lost that one . every time we had them beat wash would change rule of engadgement and we would start all over again . ___WASHINTON ___ needs to stay out of it let the men over their whip there buts so they can come home. If you politicians want to fight then go where the fighting is you won't need weapons you can talk them to-death. …………..

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danny irwin May 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I think if it will give our guys/gals the advantage maybe more will come back alive, regardless the cost, I'm glad they have the majority of the people supporting them and not like vietnam

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nraddin May 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm

The Bushmaster (Navy, LAV, M2A2) fires a 25x137mm, which has a shell casing larger than the mag in this weapon. As far as I know this round is 25x57mm, which make the total shell/projectile length about the same size as the projectile alone from a 25x137mm round.

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Tom May 12, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Who you calling wimps, we carry 25+ pounds alone of armor, on top of what ever gear, ammo and supplies we need. You ever try shooting with a vest on its not the easiest thing in the world.

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Jeff Dulin May 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Great, but expensive ammo I bet. Looks to me like the guy with this is just the new squad "THUMPER" from my day with the 1ST ID (68-9). Fine,… investigate it and test it a bit, you've still got problems with the M-16 based platform and all the toys hanging on it for the item you have today. Still the 5.56 round and not enough of tghe 416 tops for one. Mags are still crap and lower receiver cracks directly above the buffer retainer plunger if hit hard on he toe of the stock.too Result is a broken gun you can't open to fix because the bolt carrier is jammed into the bummer tube area. Ever notice how the M-16 doesn't show up at international surplus weapons sales. They're all broken and junk. As to its chambering selection of the .223, it just gets worse there!

I'm a lover of the .7.62 NATO we obtained due to advanced propellant development and better steel and machining advances. However, I DO BELIEVE that we would do well go re-evaluate the 7.9 Mauser round the Germans carried long ago. It was shorter than the '06, fit in auto weapons well and it.s .32 dia ballistics does very well when you look at distance and punch. It works for the worlds three demands: Short, Mid & REALISTIC Long Range for the average rifleman. Beyond that, leave i to your new sniper groups and special weps people. For Up close, if we're stuck with the 9mm so be it. A 9mm pistol/sub gun for those guys is not unheard of and works well. Look at the Ruskies and their PPSH/Pistol round the 7.62×25: HOT for that type of weapon and that will be what this new guy will be carrying as a personal weapon if the 25mm mentioned here is adopted.. Keep it simple children: IT WORKS EVERYTIME!!
Remember: Beware the Military Industrial Complex.

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brutus Inquisitor May 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Yo, its called a US Marine + M-14

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Wulfram May 12, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Well said

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SGT Ausems May 13, 2010 at 1:26 am

Ok Sam you need to remember that the average of of a soldier is only 22. all the new young guys that would be getting this weapon grew up playing video games so throwing a weapon at them that would seem complicated and confusing they may pick it up and 30 minutes later be able to teach anyone to be able to fire the weapon.

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semperfi May 13, 2010 at 8:47 am

sounds like its not a cheap weapon to make or to arm…did anyone tell Obama yet.

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whatever man May 13, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I like the weapon system but seriously it's not going to be put into the regular Army for a long time and ten years after that for the National Guard. Another toy for the spec ops. ONLY.

Now I can be wrong because if you have noticed most spec ops equipment and wear (multicam, berets etc.) becomes regular issue after a while because some general says hey that would be cool if the regular force had it. But as I said the guard, your out of luck and those chemical guys, and other non-combat MOSes will never see them, maybe in 25 years.

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MinuteMan May 13, 2010 at 5:24 pm

The XM-25 seems like a portable claymore that you can place almost anywhere that you need it. The enemy would have to very inventive to hide from this weapon. With weapons like this and the unmanned drones warefare is taking on a sci-fi feel. Not to say that is bad, because if it saves manpower and lives I am all for it. My only concern is the size it is built more like a primary weapon than a secondary assisted weapon. A soldier can only carry just so much.

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Ron Johnson May 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm

This weapon cost $30,000 according to Army times. I would rather have a Honeywell Fly-K 52mm silent mortor which has a range of 900m. The rounds weigh 1.5 pounds each with a 25m bursting radious. The weapon is actually no louder than a 22 cal rifle. This means if your down wind and fire it the range is only 700m but the bad guys won't hear it coming down and take cover. Addidionally for $30K I can get 6-8 of them.

This system also has a vehicle mount that will hold up to 12 rounds and you can fire from 1 to 12 rounds with a quick dial of the switch. The mount spins 360 degrees and automatically makes the spread for multiple rounds.

Ron Johnson
Master Sergeant (Retired)
U.S. Army Special Forces

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KAYBECK May 14, 2010 at 5:41 am

This is just another way to spend money and make some company billions of dollars. Not only is the technology expensive but it will require technical support that will cost the government millions extra. You can't tell me that you can't make a 40mm round that does the same thing as this one. why do you need a whole new system. money.

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Jay May 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

Again we reinvent something that was already done in the past to combat the same problem, it was called a rifle grenade. Probably would cost $10 a round compared to god knows what for this weapon. But remember, the new army knows tech toys are better! ha, ha

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Gen. Woods May 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm

How about THANKS TO THE MINDS WHO COME UP WITH THESE WEAPONS. SO INSTEED OF SOME DIAPERED HEADED BAS??RD KILLING YOUR MEN THEY THE ONES MEETING ALI

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Mitchel May 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

it's so baaad…….
Balistic test show us a lot of slaps of this gun

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Kramer May 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

M-14s are heavy and they have a huge recoil and the bullets go through walls

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Prof. Marley May 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Bring on the new weapons! —-All I had was a BAR (most of us only had those .30 Cal Carbines and the great Garand) in Korea when we were surrounded for 15 days straight and I enjoyed popping those heads when they appeared above the 'horizon-of-view'. I wish there was some way to improve the old BAR but I just can NOT imagine how it could ever be done because it was the perfect weapon for shoulder-fired or fired from a prone position or any way you used it—it got the job done! Hand-to-hand I smashed the head of a gook with the butt and the other two ran—dropped their weapons and took off—1952 and I bet they are still running.

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Prof. Marley May 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I got a picture of me when I first got issued that old BAR—I was so proud of it that I slept with it that night–not knowing that I would probably be doing that a lot. The guys in my outfit called me the BARtender. Quite frequently, I was called up to take out a "target" that would give us a bit of trouble—SL would say "Hey BARtender, mix that one a stinger" —all it usually took was one pop —and we moved on. I sometimes thought I carried too much ammo. That was one helluva weapon.

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Pete Milkowski May 14, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Marines can't shoot worth a damn especially Marine snipers. In the last 10 annual international sniper competitions held each year at Ft. Benning the Marines only won one time and that was last year when they brought in their sniper school training instructors to compete against regular soldiers. Each of the previous 9 years, the Marines finished between 5th and 8th place.
As far as qualifying at 500 meters, they only fire 15 rounds from that distance, they are in the prone position and they have 10 minutes to hit a stationary target, big deal!

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SFC Hutson May 15, 2010 at 9:30 am

I know plenty of great shooting Marines(although more Army ones), I would bet that the "best" weren't sent to the competition to shoot paper but deployed shooting what they are supposed to be shooting, Islamic terrorists. It feels a little strange sticking up for Marines but I guess I just think your an A$$h@le pete, what is up with you? Did you lose your girl to a Marine or something, I saw another post on anther site where you were bashing Marines.

Got to love America, still even now it the best place on earth… and if you don't make it better or leave.

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ehran May 15, 2010 at 1:42 am

before you get too enthused remember the lethal radius of the round is a bit under 2m. i am also interested in what the practical range of the weapon is vice the claimed 700m. i see this as a useful support weapon especially in urban combat but it's certainly not going to replace anyone's rifle.

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ehran May 15, 2010 at 1:55 am

they have had smart grenades like this for shadowrun rpg for a long time. once we started using them the lethality of the firefights went way up as you could hit people hiding behind cover easily. one or two generations of weapons down the road all the grenade launchers are going to be smart and that will seriously change the dynamics of a firefight.

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SGT ROGERS 3-7TH CAV May 16, 2010 at 5:49 am

HELL WITH ALL THE BS .. IF IT FEILDS WELL WITH SF AND SAVES LIVES. PUT IT OUT ON THE LINES. HELL WE TOTE ENOUGH BATTRIES TO POWER A SMALL COUNTRY ANYWAYS. AS LONG AS IT WORKS WELL IT BECOMES A BATTLE FEILD MULTIPLIER NOT A HINDERANCE FOR OUR TROOPS . I'M SURE THE BOYS COULD HAVE USED THESE IN IRAQ WHILE CLEARING THE TOWNS. I'D RATHER HUMP THE XM 25 ARROUND THAN AN AT-4 ANY DAY MORE ROUNDS. IT'S NOT A MATCH STRIKE AND GONE.!! LIKE THE AT-4. I LIKE IT .

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Rob May 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm

God. Why do we need such high tech weapons? I love the old M4 or the M16, they are both good weapons, and this thing looks like i could snap it in half if i really wanted to.

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TJRedNeck May 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

I second that! I love my Garand, I can pound nails at 600 yards easy. Problem nowdays is that we have a small round that can't bring down squat and a rifle that is only good if it has a bayonet. I know many Marines that choose to have an old M-14 over the POS M-4/M-16. We need to get away from the gas operated M-16 and sorry 5.56 round. If they need to make more room for the fighting men to carry more ammo, then get rid of all this other crap they have to carry. My god, they practically carry their footlockers with them into battle!

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TJRedNeck May 17, 2010 at 9:01 am

It's because of the POS M-4 and M-16 that we need new weapons in the first place. I would take an M-14 over those any day. If the military needs a good stop gap weapon for now, they should get Galil's in .308 and M-14 for long range. These are far more reliable and will bring down anyone at 600 to 800 yards, even in a cross wind.

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gulahmad July 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

I am an afghan Contractor I run Young Afghan Construction Company.

I would like to know about the Construction Solicitation for US Army in Afghanistan.

Please send me the Website so i can check what is posted for the Construction in Afghanistn.

I hope you help us in this regard.

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sam crews September 15, 2010 at 6:18 pm

What a surprise. My name is also Sam Crews and I also served with the 173rd Airborne as an 11B. I was there in1971. We operated out of LZ Uplift. We pulled missions in the 506 Valley (twice), the Soui Cai valley, The Nui Cung Chap Mountains and several other areas where I had no idea where we were at. If you would, please contact me at bozoboy777@yahoo.com. Looking forward to hearing from you. AIRBORNE!!!!!!!!

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Charles October 26, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I'd like the civilian version!

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anthony December 12, 2010 at 3:12 am

A rifle our corps should be proud of. Deadly and yet light and easy to handle.Lets keep it in our own hands not our enemies!!

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