The SIG Sauer XM250 is a new machine gun developed as part of the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) program. The NGSW aims to create a new family of weapons that would be lighter and more modular than the existing M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) and M4 carbine. The result will be the commissioning of a light machine gun and an assault rifle that will considerably increase the U.S. troops’ firepower.
Currently, the M249 is the preferred light machine gun of the U.S. Army. It has been in service since 1984 as a lightweight alternative to the heavier M60 machine gun. It is a popular weapon with soldiers and Marines due to its reliability and firepower. However, it seems that the M249 days are numbered since the NGSW chose the XM250 as its replacement. Additionally, the M249 shows its age with the new technological advances in body armor.
The emerging body armor is increasingly more robust, and the M249’s 5.56mm NATO rounds aren’t as effective as they were in the past. As a result, the U.S. Army will need new weapons to penetrate this modern and stronger body armor. This is where the Sig Sauer XM250 comes in.
The XM250 features the latest innovations of the twenty-first century. This cutting-edge machine gun outperforms the M249 with an improved gas system and a more powerful cartridge, the .277 Fury. This cartridge is more effective and more likely to be deadly.
The .277 Fury cartridge and the XM250 were built based on past combat experiences with insurgents and extremists in the Middle East. It ensures that the machine gun and its ammo meet the actual needs of modern soldiers. Furthermore, the XM250 has several improvements over the M249, including lighter weight, a more ergonomic design, enhanced accuracy, ambidextrous ergonomics—and of course, it is far more lethal.
The XM250 weighs roughly fourteen and a half pounds with a bipod and suppressor, which is substantially lighter than the M249 SAW, which weighs about twenty-two pounds loaded. In addition, its smaller size makes it easier to transport and deploy.
It also features a state-of-the-art suppressor that considerably reduces the noise when firing. This allows communication between soldiers during combat, which is quite challenging with the outdated M249. Consequently, the SIG Sauer XM250 is set to replace the M249 in the U.S. Army—and probably in other US military branches.
The U.S. Army and Marines Corps tested the XM250 during a twenty-seven-month evaluation process. So far, soldiers and Marines have noticed the difference between the XM250 advanced machine gun and the older M249 model. Its potent 6.8mm cartridge outperforms the current 5.56mm, which has been in the spotlight since the Vietnam War, where many soldiers felt that less stopping power was a disadvantage compared to the 7.62mm rounds—even if the 5.56mm ammunition prevented a considerable recoil.
For this reason, the .277 Fury cartridge is a middle ground that gives greater flexibility, unmatched power, and superior efficiency, increasing lethality and speed while reducing weight.
Like the XM5, the XM250 will be available by 2023 and officially become the M250. However, the M249 will remain in service until the M250 entirely replaces it. By the time it is fully adopted by the U.S. Army, it will undoubtedly influence other NATO countries to embrace the M250 as a standard light machine gun—and it might become the first global light machine gun of the twenty-first century.
Mario Samuel Camacho is a military enthusiast who has been closely following the military industry and its armaments for years. He has collaborated with several magazines to inform about the military news around the world.
Image: Department of Defense.