Explained: The U.S. Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon

The U.S. Army’s ambitious Next Generation Squad Weapon, intended to be a catch-all replacement for the iconic M16, M4 carbine, and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. There are currently three firms in the running, and have offered fairly different platforms — and testing is now in its final phase.

All three of the contenders are built around the 6.8mm Special Purpose Cartridge, a government-designed medium-caliber rifle cartridge that falls in-between the 7.62mm and 5.56mm NATO cartridges in terms of bullet diameter. Though the actual bullet is mandated, what the cartridge looks like is up to the individual NGSW entrants. One thing that all three firms’ entrants have in common, however, is a removable suppressor.

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