It’s Official: Army Looking to Replace 5.56 NATO Rifles with 7.62 NATO


It’s Official: Army Looking to Replace 5.56 NATO Rifles with 7.62 NATO

Well, this is nuts, and not something I expected to read this past weekend: TFB has the scoop that the Army has just released a solicitation for an M4 replacement, and they want it chambered in 7.62.

That’s right, the plan for the Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) program is to go backwards to the older, much heavier 7.62 round before going forward to something like a polymer-cased 6.5mm round.

Given the decline in PT scores in the infantry, I can’t imagine that adding some 40% more weight to the already overloaded grunt’s ammo loadout is a good idea. In fact, I think it’s bonkers, and that also seems to be the consensus of the folks in the TFB thread.

This is a victory for Robert Scales. He has made a second career out of bashing the 5.56 NATO round, and when I say “career” I mean that literally, because my guess is that he’s getting paid to do this.

It’s also a victory for defense contractors who want to sell the army a whole new run of rifles and related parts, before turning around and doing it all over again when the military moves on from this “interim” rifle to whatever’s next.

Don’t get me wrong — I love my LMT LM8MWS in .308, and never pass up a chance to mention on here that I have one. But it’s heavy, and I definitely wouldn’t want to hump it through the desert with ~200 rounds of 7.62, plus body armor and everything else.

Anyway, I said all that I have to say about this issue in this earlier article.

Note that a solicitation doesn’t mean that the Army is officially ditching 5.56. These trials fail all the time. It just means they’re taking the first steps. We’ll be keeping tabs on this as it unfolds.

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Jon Stokes is Deputy Editor at

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