U.S. Army Cancels Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) Program

By Dave Dolbee published on in News

Last week, The Shooter’s Log ran a throwback article on the Top 5 Combat Rifles of All Time. The debate was lively to say the least, but the one overarching theme was a feeling that the 5.56 simply did not have enough punch. The U.S. Army seems to agree. So, last August, the Army announced the Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) program. The ICSR was tasked with replacing the Army’s M4 carbine with a 7.62 mm rifle. A month later, the program was cancelled.

Multicam in Afghanistan

The ICSR was tasked with replacing the Army’s M4 carbine with a 7.62 mm rifle. A month later, the program was cancelled.

In truth, much criticism of 5.56 is misplaced. That is not an argument for the 5.56, just an observation that most readers’ criticism does not match the Army’s. Like most readers, the Army is concerned with the power of the 5.56×45, but not in the way most who have offered comments seem to believe. The 5.56×45 has plenty of lethality. NATO required a 62-grain bullet to ensure it would penetrate a steel helmet at 600 meters. The original 55-grain tested was considered in humane and believed to do too much damage. The 5.56×45 is lethal to be sure.

The Army’s desire to abandon the 5.56×45 in favor of a 7.62 mm round was two-fold. First, the army wanted a cartridge with greater stopping power at a longer range than the 5.56×45 offers. It also needs a round that provides better penetration through modern body armor. This fact echoes critics’ claims that “The 5.56×45 does not have the distance or lethality needed for modern small unit tactics, especially after upgraded body armor has been shown to be able to defeat the 5.56 mm round.”

However, as the program’s title declared, the 7.62 mm was only supposed to be an “interim” solution. The U.S. Army has another program that is actively developing an intermediate caliber round and rifle combination that would fall between 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm, giving soldiers greater range than their current weapon and greater power and penetration.

If you were tasked with coming up with a new rifle round for soldiers that fell between the 5.56×45 and 7.62 mm, what would you choose? What rifle, or rifle characteristics, would you mandate? Share your answers in the comment section.


Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (74)

  • Larry Castle


    I was looking for an AR platform that was chambered in 243 winchester but the only ones i found were over $1200.00. I don’t understand other than the popularity of the 5.56, that could drive the price up that much, I can get a AR15 / AR10 for around $600.00.


  • Chet


    Someone does not like my comments. I just sent one in and now all of a sudden my password no longer works.

    I guess freedom of Speech no longer works on Shooters Log. I felt like I had a voice and was considered equal with my brothers who enjoy shooting. Now I am not so sure.



    • Dave Dolbee


      It’s not on this end Chet. At least not that I can see. ~Dave Dolbee, Editor


  • Chet


    That seems odd to me. The 6.5 Grendel out shoots the Creedmore, as well as the old WWI 6.5 Carcano and matches while nearly passing the 6.5 x 55 Swede. The main problem they are having it modern thought process. Most specs do not want to exceed 140 grain bullets. The European military specs shot 160 gr Round Nose. The 160 gr is long and balances well, also maintains the energy. But US Military will not accept anything proven by others. The 7.35 mm Carcano was the worst round I ever worked with in reloading, no way to get good accuracy with it, but the 6.5 because of different shape ballistics worked better. The old 06 is still my preference! But it won’t cycle like the military wants or needs.


  • Randy Donk


    The Army did the initial work, and came up with the 6.8 SPC, though they blew the chamber dimensions. the 6.5 was rejected for poor terminal performance, and had they chambered the 6.8 correctly there would not have been random pressure spikes, causing the round to have to be loaded down. The firearms industry took over and introduced the 6.8 SPC II. basically rechambered and loaded up.. then cam the improvement I bought from AR performance, the 6.8 ARP. Similar to the improvement over the .223 rem (.223 Wilde) it gives decent velocity from 130 gr. 277 bullets. all fitting in the ar15 platform.
    this round would fill the bill.


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