Below is Jared Keller’s abbreviated review of Sieg Sauer’s involvement in weapons testing:
“On a hot Wednesday in May, I went to the SIG Sauer Academy in New Hampshire for the pleasure of joining hundreds of soldiers and marines participating in the testing of prototypes of the new generation of army weapons. A competition is currently underway between weapons manufacturers SIG, General Dynamics-OTS and Textron Systems for the right to supply their weapons to replace the M4 carbine and 5.56-mm light machine gun, designated M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, in the army’s arsenals. And I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to test out what could be the weapon of the US military over the next few decades as they refocus from the global war on terror to near-peer foes.
During my trip to the SIG Sauer academy, I was able to obtain various weapons systems, including two examples of weapons created under the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) program, the M17 pistol, which the army recently adopted as part of of its Modular Handgun System program, and a shortened version of the MCX Rattler (rattle), which is currently used by special operations forces around the world.
My conclusion. These weapons work and could be in the arsenal if the SIG makes contact with NGSW in November 2021.
The company’s unveiled NGSW rifle, known as the MCX Spear, is based on the SIG MCX platform and, according to officials, is partly based on the company’s bid for the Army’s Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) program back in 2015, which won a competition from Heckler & Koch.
The NGSW automatic rifle introduced by the company, known as the LMG-6.8, resembles a smaller version of the MMG 338 medium machine gun, which was purchased by the US Special Operations Command last year for testing.
Both systems are designed for the 6.8×51 cartridge in accordance with the requirements of the army for the NGSW program. According to the Army’s FY 2021 budget request, the completion of the NGSW-R and NGSW-AR will provide “increased lethality to a wide range of targets, which will exceed the capabilities of weapons in service. The weapon has increased range, accuracy and chance to hit, a flash suppressor and sound absorber, as well as improved handling and mobility.
The MCX Spear I is a fumes-based automation with a 13-inch barrel and both standard and left-handed non-reciprocating charging handles. This allows you to load the weapon without removing your hand from the pistol grip. The MCX Spear features a side-folding stock, a free-floating M-LOK reinforced handguard, and typical assault rifle ergonomics and controls.
According to SIG Sauer CEO Ron Cohen, the weapon’s features have been continually improved over months of “unprecedented access” by military personnel to weapons testing and receiving feedback from them.
For several decades, the US Army plans to equip soldiers with lighter and deadlier weapons. But the MCX Spear is noticeably heavier than the standard M4 Carbine and weighs around 8-9 pounds. According to SIG representatives, this is due both to the size of the weapon, comparable to the SIG 716 or AR-10, and to the additional weight of the silencer attached to the end of the barrel. And also with the weight of the Tango 6T scope, which the Army has recently chosen as a sniper rifle optic, direct view scope, and variable power scope.
The MCX Spear also has a fair amount of recoil, which SIG says is on par with the 7.62x51mm weapon system. Combined with the hybrid 6.8mm SIG cartridge, the rifle is more effective at ranges and targets that the standard M4 can’t reach. Indeed, when I fired off the 20-round MCXSpear magazine, I discovered that I received a bruise from the rifle.
As for the LMG-6.8 light machine gun, its use is so simple that it resembles an action movie. It is an air-cooled machine gun with an open breech and a side-opening loading chute. It weighs much less than the M249 SAW and has significantly less recoil thanks to SIG’s recoil suppression technology. The blow to the shoulder was minor when fired from a prone position.
The LMG-6.8 features automatic rifle ergonomics for ambidextrous firing, quick-release magazines, increased M1913 Picatinny rail rail space, and a SIG-designed quick-release silencer. The feed tray has a lateral layout that not only simplifies handling, but also allows you to easily install additional attachments. Like the MCX Spear, the machine gun is equipped with a left bolt handle for loading.