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Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Planned US Infantry Rifle Fires ‘Telescoped’ Bullets 3X Deadlier than 5.56 mm

Telescoped ammo LMG

(Photo : Textron) Textron Compact LSAT LMG

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(Photo : Textron) Textron 7.62 mm telescoped rounds for the LSAT.

U.S. defense conglomerate Textron, Inc. recently unveiled an experimental U.S. Army automatic rifle firing what's called "telescoped" ammunition that pierces deeper and kills better than the traditional 5.56 mm round used in the Colt M4 carbine family of rifles.

The new automatic rifle from Textron fires the new 6.5 mm polymer encased telescoped bullet. Standard bullet cartridges have a bullet seated about halfway inside a brass or steel shell casing filled with gunpowder.

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In contrast, a telescoped round is one where the projectile is partially or completely enveloped by the propellant.  Telescoped ammunition is some 40 percent lighter than traditional ammunition.

While each 6.5 mm round is lighter than a 5.56 mm, it takes up more magazine volume than the brass-encased 5.56 mm. Hence, a 6.5 mm magazine only holds 20 rounds.

The new Textron 6.5 mm rifle and 20 rounds of ammunition weigh 9.7 pounds. The standard M4A1 and 30 rounds of ammunition weigh 8.74 pounds.

The new rifle makes-up for its smaller magazine load with its greater killing power, meaning fewer rounds will be needed to take down a target.

The bigger and more destructive 6.5 mm telescoped rounds are meant to solve a long standing complaint against the M4s lightweight 5.56 mm rounds: insufficient killing power especially at long range. This deficiency means a shooter has to fire a lot more rounds downrange to take down a moving human target.

Textron claims its new 6.5 mm round has 300 percent more energy than the M855A1, the standard army bullet. This massive energy means more knockdown power against human targets; better armor penetration and longer range.

Textron's new rifle is a gas-operated, piston-driven rifle with many familiar features drawn from the M4A1, including a charging handle and gas block. It features Picatinny rails for the attachment of devices such as lasers.

If Textron can build a rifle that's reliable and inexpensive, and if the army accepts the design tradeoffs that come with the telescoped design, the 6.5 mm telescoped ammo rifle might be the first all-new rifle design fielded by the army in 51 years.

Textron's involvement in telescoped ammo began in 2003 when it began testing its LSAT (Lightweight Small Arms Technologies) light machine gun firing 7.62 mm cased telescoped rounds. Cased telescoped ammo for the LSAT has now reached technology readiness level, said the army. 

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