The Army has announced a name change for its forthcoming individual service rifle. Formerly designated the XM5 to replace the M4 carbine, the Army now plans to call the 6.8mm rifle the XM7.

The announcement was released by an Army spokesman from Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey today.

“The Army originally chose the designation XM5 as the name of the new rifle in March. Since then, the service learned that the M5 name is used by Colt Industries for one of its 5.56mm carbines. As a result, the [Next Generation Squad Weapon] Rifle will now be called the XM/M7,” according to the statement.

The light machine gun replacement, the XM250 will remain the same. That weapon, also chambered in 6.8mm, will replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

The “X” used in the weapon nomenclature is to distinguish it as a weapon not yet fielded. Once fielded the firearm will drop the “X.”

Both weapons are part of a years-long known as the “Next Generation Squad Weapon” program, an effort to replace the decades-old 5.56mm M4 and M249. The 6.8mm common cartridge is an intermediate caliber round that falls between the 5.56mm and 7.62mm found across the services and in NATO militaries.

The first batches of XM7 and XM250 are expected to field later this year. They are manufactured by Sig Sauer, which also produces the M17, the 9mm sidearm that replaced the Beretta M9.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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