M134 Minigun rotary machine gun now can fire with 6.8mm cartridge

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WASHINGTON, BM – The next-generation weapons development program is in full swing in the United States. In addition to pistols, assault rifles, snipers, and machine guns, ammunition is also part of this program, which is a challenge for many American companies to fight for non-standard solutions. One of the icons of the United States during the Vietnam War, which, incidentally, is still used today, has already received its modification for the use of ammunition of various calibers.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The M134 Minigun is a rotating machine gun used by the US Army Marine Corps and based on the M61 Vulcan 20 mm air cannon. Its production began in the distant 1962, and continues to this day, and is also in service to this day among American helicopters.

The American company True Velocity recently announced that it has made significant progress in modernizing the M13 Minigan. Until now, it was known that this machine gun fired 7.62 mm rounds, but True Velocity modified it to fire 6.8 mm. According to the company, to switch from 7.62 mm to 6.8 mm cartridges, it is necessary to make a barrel change.

“The Next Generation Squad Weapon program has allowed us to do that… Not only do we have this forward-leaning momentum with next-generation capabilities, but we have a plug-and-play application that can be fielded on the battlefield today with weapons that our soldiers are carrying into battle,” says in his commentary Patrick Hogan, True Velocity’s Chief Sales, and Marketing Officer.

But the M134 Minigan is not the only weapon that has been modified to fire a 6.8mm cartridge. The other weapons are an M240B machine gun and an M110 rifle. The company says that tests are being done separately on the Remington 700 bolt-action rifle, as well as variants of the RM277 weapon system.

According to True Velocity, the 6.8mm cartridge gives much greater advantages over the US military. Greater clarity is providing by a detailed analysis in The Drive magazine, which says that “True Velocity describes the 6.8mm TVCM cartridge as offering as” switch-barrel capability “for weapons that fire the 7.62x51mm round, a NATO-standard design that was first developed in the 1950s. This has to do in no small part with the fact that the 6.8mm TVCM’s cartridge case is also 51 millimeters in length and is very similar in size and shape to the one used on the older 7.62mm design. The front portion of the case is notably different, but a complete barrel assembly typically includes the firing chamber, which would also have to be resized to make the change from 7.62x51mm to 6.8mm TVCM.”

According to various experts, another advantage of the 6.8mm cartridge is that due to its pressure during firing, the weapons that are exposed to fire with such a cartridge have no risk of explosion or another spectacular failure. I.e. the firing pressure of the 6.8mm TVCM is very similar to that of the 7.62x51mm.

In addition, True Velocity says that the 6.8mm TVCM circle, when fired, creates pressures that are very similar to those generated by conventional 7.62x51mm circle types. All this means that weapons designed to withstand 7.62×51 mm ammunition firing are not at risk of explosion or otherwise catastrophic failure and must normally function reliably when firing 6.8 mm cartridges of True Velocity. This data also generally implies that 6.8 mm ammunition would not cause significantly more wear and tear on these weapons.

A typical 7.62x51mm cartridge on the left and a 6.8mm TVCM round on the right., photo credit: The Drive

The weight of 6.8mm is also important. Currently, True Velocity relies on a polymer sleeve, which according to some experts is 30% lighter than the standard 7.62×51 mm.

They received interesting data from the company when they had to test a 6.8 mm cartridge on an M240B machine gun of the Belgian company FN, but its American branch. According to analyzes, the 6.8 mm cartridge can increase the range of the machine gun by almost 50%. This means that the 6.8 mm TVCM circle can provide hitting point and area targets at a distance of up to 2,700 meters.

“You’re talking about something as simple as pulling a barrel off the M240 and replacing it with one that accommodates 6.8 TVCM,” Hogan added. “All of a sudden, you’ve increased the effective range of this weapon by more than 50 percent … and you’ve given our soldiers a meaningful advantage on the battlefield.”

In general, True Velocity’s 6.8mm ammunition can be not only an effective solution for something out of the ordinary and precise from the American battlefield but also a way to reduce the cost of production and use of such ammunition. But, the road that will have to be walked is still at the very beginning, because the True Velocity company, and others like it, have to find a way to readily convert back and forth between the rounds, allowing the use of existing stocks of ammunition for operational or training purposes, as desired.

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6.8mm cartridgeDefense Newsm134 minigunSoldier EquipmentUS Defense News