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.

SLRule

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 (67)

  • Mark Norman

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    6.5 Grendel for shorter / lighter cartridges is better at longer ranges than 6.8 SPC or 300 Blackout, although both are a bit better at close range… 6.5 Creedmoor is more the size of a 7.62 round, it’s the obvious choice for the larger round profile.

    Reply

  • Tenrai

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    I feel the 6.5 Grendel is a nice middle spot.

    Reply

  • James Smith

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    Why does it have to be a new caliber ? That means refitting an entire military force , also causing problems with resupply from allies that “still” use 5.56 or 7.62 . Make a better cartridge that fires from the same / current weapons and magazines : IE , Heavier bullet in 5.56 ?? , Lighter Bullet with steel penetrator >7.62 ? how about lighter Lighter ammunition for the 7.62 ( aluminum casing ? Blazer did it before , and it’s not like the Military reloads the shells left in the field, so why does it HAVE to be brass ? )

    Reply

  • John Pendleton

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    I believe a viable option might be a 6.5 creedmore.

    Reply

  • Keith

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    I would agree the 6.5 creedmore would be the way to go. With lighter, bulk ammo weights than the 7.62 to carry. Plus the ability to reach out at longer distances with so much more accuracy is also a plus. The added bullet weight, and profile should get the penitration needed in the field. Way less recoil than 7.62 means faster recovery rate for follow up shots. The bullet drop on the 5.56 is just too much for many of the missions these days. A modern round for a modern military!

    Reply

  • TASR

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    7.62 all the way. The AR 10 is the same size as the M16/M4 and has the distance and stopping power needed. Teach our troops how to shoot. The Air Force has a 4 hour classroom and then out to the range in Basic training. Not enough time to learn proper marksmanship.n All show adopt the USMC marksmanship training. Then all of our troops would know how to hit what they aim at.

    Reply

  • Jordan

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    6.8 if it could be produced economically enough. Also What about 300 blackout?

    Reply

    • James Smith

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      .300 Blackout would only be good for Spec Ops CQB and night ops ( suppressed ) where shots wouldbe inside 150 yards . That round is NOT a sniper round in the least . I believe they are desiring a 6.5 type that could use the current AR/Stanag mags from 5.56 , of AR10 types wit minimal modification/retooling . One of these responses is very factual and the .260 Remingtion fits the parameters.

      Reply

  • Paul

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    The 6.8SPC is a medium choice between the 5.56 and the 7.62. It is a .270 caliber bullet and has a trajectory close to the 7.62 (.308) so mildot scopes can be used for both calibers. The 6.8SPC has more punch and greater terminal velocity at longer yardage than the 5.56. It was developed in Afghanistan and designed to seriously wound or kill where the 5.56 would only lightly wound allowing the enemy to continue to fight.

    Reply

  • Jason Parks

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    6.5 Creedmore , heavier , faster flatter shooting

    Reply

    • Bob Gay

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      I would like to see them. Go with a 7MM rem mag. Make them all snipers like the Marines

      Reply

  • wg

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    I think the Army is totally missing the point. Here is what I know for fact. Almost all of these kids cant hit the broad side of a barn. That is the truth. My son is in the Army and has told me of all the hours on the range because the majority of these guys cant qualify with an M4 let alone the M249. If they cant handle that they cant handle anything bigger. Its terrible their training isnt better. Just my 2 cents.

    Reply

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