U.S. Army Seriously Considering the Adoption of a 6.8mm cartridge

From Army Times, May 7, 2018

At the recent 2018 National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Armaments Systems forum “Army Lt. Col. Andrew Lunoff, product manager for the service’s small caliber ammunition program, said that the round currently under consideration is the 6.8mm caliber.”
“The 6.8mm round is the offspring of a project formerly known as the Enhanced Rifle Cartridge Program that put together Special Operations Command, the Army Marksmanship Unit and Remington Arms to create an alternative to the 5.56mm round currently in use across the force.”

CT has been under development, seemingly, for ever.
I believe that part-polymer still has some issues.

Shell Shock is, perhaps, the new hope:



That is a possibility, from the Army Times article it appears that brass is out for the case material and the replacement is not known (for the public to know?) at this time.

Quoting from the article:
"Lt. Col. Loyd Beal III, product manager for the Army’s crew served weapons program, said the requirements to lighten the load will mean not just a new projectile for increased lethality, but a new case to carry that bullet.

“The requirement is going to drive us to a new type of ammunition,” Beal said. “It’s going to have to be lighter. You can’t just go out and get a brass type, which pushes us to a polymer or some type of steel or something I don’t even know about yet.”


I think that the heading is in error - it is certainly a 6.8mm cartridge that the Army is considering, but not the 6.8x43 SPC. It is something much more powerful (more powerful even than the 7.62x51 NATO), probably packaged in a cased-telescoped round, and is intended to penetrate modern body armour out to long range.

Note the chamber pressure they are looking at: 75,000-100,000 psi, compared with the usual 50-60,000!

I’m greatly relieved to see the; ‘new,’ low weight, cost effective barrel and ‘signature reduction proposal,’ that will enable: high pressure, be wear resistant, have high tensile strength, be heat resistant and…heat conducting (dissipating).
Any such alloy ‘materials,’ (like Tantalum, or Stellite) should not require significant amounts of strategic materials (elements) predominantly sourced from our potential adversaries.

I like the; ‘purple bit,’ and am already enthused.

Appreciate that this is an aspiration :-)

It also sings, dances and makes the tea…

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…called marketing…
And when the first batch of guns is in troop’s hands it will show.
Reminds me of the M16 when it came out…
Wise people once said history is repeating.

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I changed the thread title, the mystery continues. The alchemist are hard at work as long as the money holds out.


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The round it reminded me of is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.276_Enfield

Only it appears to be even worse, as while the .276 Enfield generated 2,900 ft lbs, involving lots of recoil, muzzle flash and blast, plus excessive heating, the 6.8 mm CT round reportedly develops 3,000-3,400 ft lbs. Modern technology will relieve some the problems the Enfield had, but it remains to be seen whether a magnum-class 6.8mm (it’s about as powerful as the .270 Weatherby) is really a sensible choice for a standard squad AR/rifle.

Tony, do you mean they’re thinking about the 6.8mm cartridge OVER a standard AR/rifle on website? i mean, i was thinking they only want to add it, not to replace.

Look at the bottom left of that PowerPoint slide: “…by providing the next generation cartridge (carbine, SDMR, etc)”

The theory is that future near-peer enemies will all be wearing high-grade body armour, and small arms will be useless if they can’t punch through it.

I suspect that if they do choose something like that, there will soon be a demand for a compact and handier PDW (maybe one of those really small .300 Blackout guns) for use against easier targets.

Incidentally, entirely apart from this, SOCOM has decided to adopt the 6.5 mm Creedmoor (preferably with a hybrid polymer/metal case), which is basically the 7.62x51 necked-down, so 7.62mm NATO weapons should be able to fire it with little more than a barrel swap. This is obviously technically much simpler so likely to happen, and will maybe become the backup solution if the fancy CT weapon+ammo is rejected.

Head shot :)

An effective solution in theory, however not in practice.

Not much to pierce there I feel.

Once again, “The Best is the enemy of the good.”

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The practical problem with designing an entire family of weapons to defeat a specific target - Level 4 body armour, or whatever - is what you do when the enemy’s armour is inevitably upgraded to Level 5, and so on. Will the standard infantry rifle end up being in .50 BMG?

Does anyone know the comparison of the performance of this round to the old British 280/30 we decided against back in the 1950s?


Lew, the 7mm EM-2 fired a 140 grain bullet at around 2,450-2,550 fps depending on the version. The 6.8mm CT will allegedly fire a 125 grain EPR type bullet at 3,300-3,500 fps.

Update, the U.S. Army recently awarded five companies contracts to develop a prototype weapon intended to replace the 5.56x45mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
The companies are:
AAI Corporation Textron Systems – Hunt Valley, MD.
FN America LLC. – Columbia, SC.
General Dynamics-OTS Inc. – Williston, VT.
PCP Tactical, LLC – Vero Beach, FL.
Sig Sauer Inc. – Newington, NH.

The caliber and type of ammunition is up to the companies and it is reported that most are using the government provided 6.8mm projectile. The ammunition must weigh 20 percent less than an equivalent brass case ammunition.




Interesting. Thanks for the update, Brian. I’m betting we’ll see both semi-polymer casings and telescopic rounds, especially with AAI and PCP involved.