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)

  • Anthony G.

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    Best in my opinion is a 300 Blackout with a 95 grain. 2400 plus feet per second, not bad at distances, hard hitting, light recoil and easy modifications for the M4.

    Reply

  • Sam

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    6.8 SPC. 50% more energy than the 5.56 but still functions through a milspec sized rifle. It’s the perfect comprise between power and weight and falls evenly between the 7.62 and 5.56. It was specifically developed for exactly this purpose. Remington’s inaccurate SAAMI specs hurt its commercial acceptance but it’s performance is outstanding.

    Reply

  • JSTRM

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    To use the same lowers, which would save a lot of $, the 6.5 Grendel would work well. If a total re-do is warranted, had to beat the 260 Rem. Less logistical cost = 308 brass necked down. 6.5 Creedmore is good, but higher overall cost than the 260 and no ballistic advantage worth mentioning.

    Reply

  • Randy Donk

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    I keep seeing 6.5 showing up here, but for a combat weapon, its about the worst possible choice. the Grendel is too large for the bolt face in the M4,
    while civilians use it, on SEMI auto, and in limited doses, the bolt face is too weak to support full auto, or heavy sustained fire without bolt head failure on a grand scheme. the Creedmoor is a poor mans 260 rem, and therefore requiring a 10 – 11 lb weapon. and its shorter than the .308 or 260 and therefore will not be reliable in an action designed for the .308 under battle conditions malfunctions are all but assured.
    the 6.5 rears it head from time to time and goes away ALWAYS, because even though it is VERY accurate, and even a poor marksman can shoot it well the high ballistic coefficient which is responsible for its aerodynamic flight giving it excellent long range capability ON PAPER and SMALL game it travels through flesh easily as well offering poor terminal ballistics. the military is forced to use full metal jackets so expantion is not on the table, as a civilian shooter bullet construction is controllable, but still that which performs well at 600 yards is useless at 50 yards. the 264 mag was popular, until enough field time showed performance on game was spotty and barrel life sucked, then came the 260, same thing it took off, until mulies sometimes ran off with good hits
    then the creedmoor. advertising hype, and in a few years, as people who bought into it realize true performance on game is marginal, back to the .308, a round that penetrates doors and structures in urban combat without much deflection, PROVEN combat performance, and a well rounded battle rifle cartridge, that coupled with the M4 converted to 300 Blackout gives ground forces 2, 30 cal weapons capable of performing battle, and special duty.

    Reply

  • Canis Lupus

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    6.8mm aka 270.

    Reply

  • Richard

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    Hands down it has to be 6.5 Creedmoor. Superior down range ballistics after 600 meters as compared to 7.62 x 51. Coupled with shooter friendly recoil it is a great round.

    Reply

  • K. Wolfe

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    I love how relevant some of your articles are, and I enjoy reading them. With that wrote; I knew that the 7.62 was only temporary, and thought I read somewhere that the 6.5 Creedmoor was in the Army’s sights. That round is an excellent replacement, considering it would make it very common, and enable it to become less expensive for civilians. As of now, it isn’t very budget friendly.

    Reply

  • Patrick

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    I love my mauser 98k. The 8mm Mauser is amazing I propose that we simply switch to a 7.92×45 round. this round will fit into all 7.62×51 magazines and only requires a new barrel.

    Reply

  • Bill H

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    The US Military sh0uld try the 300 blackout, which has more punch, more killing power, longer range, larger bullet mass. They could save millions by just replacing barrels. Even the magazines will stay the same.

    Reply

    • Eric G

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      Longer range than what?

      Reply

  • Mike Thornton

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    The 6.5 Grendel has greater cross sectional density; therefore, greater range and ability to penetrate body armor. Only requires a new barrel. Satisfying several requirements with one upgrade. Better than going all the way out to 7.62X51mm and retains most of the cost and weight advantages of the 5.56X45mm NATO round.

    Let me know what you think of my idea in kind words please.

    Mike

    Reply

    • Cigam

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      Mike, I agree with your Grendel approach but thought you also need a matched BCG and Mag.

      Reply

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