06 MAR 04. Barrett Firearms (check its new intro flash) is now featuring its M468, an AR action rifle which is chambered for the Remington 6.8mm SPC round being considered by some special forces military units in lieu of the longstanding 5.56mm round. (as covered in previous ACE posts).
The rifle features a muzzle brake, selective integrated rail (SIR) system fore end, folding front and rear sights, 5, 10, and 28-round magazine configurations, two stage trigger, and a dual spring extractor system.
- Caliber 6.8 Remington SPC
- Operation Semi-Automatic, Gas Operated
- Barrel Length 16 in. (Chrome Lined)
- Rifle Weight 7.3 lbs.
- Overall Length 35.4 in
Barrett says this of it:
The Barrett M468 leaves the performance of the 5.56mm for others to ponder. The M468 can be utilized by law enforcement, military, and civilian shooters. The performance of the 6.8 Remington SPC far surpasses that of the 5.56 mm. This opens new hunting opportunities in states where the 5.56 is to small for larger game. Complete rifles or the upper conversion units are available.
Hunting? No. Having: Yes!
While I can't see this rifle being all that popular for hunting (some do use .243 and 7mm for deer hunting, but usually with longer barrels), I'm sure a lot of civilians will want to buy it. Everyone who wanted a 5.56mm AR will want one of these. Those with Armalite .308 (7.62mm) ARs probably will not want to power down. (I want to see some independent ballistic data proving the 6.8mm is equivalent to the 7.62mm.) The integrated rail makes it look rather busy up front, but does add enable adding attachments most useful to LE units.
Hope the military is also considering a 6.8mm AR, in addition to the 5.56mm XM8
Hopefully, the military is considering several alternatives to solve the current limitations of our M16/4 service rifle, which are mostly related the limitations of the 5.56mm cartridge, not the rifle itself (the many early problems having been solved over four decades). Several previous ACE posts cover the HK XM8, with a primary 5.56mm barrel and the ability to change barrels in the field. But I doubt barrels will ever be interchanged for basic troops, and most complaints about the M16/4 today center around the lack of stopping power to the relatively anemic 5.56mm round, not reliability. So, if a general switch is ultimately made to the XM8, and if the 6.8mm really has ballistics as good as early numbers suggest, I hope the M8's are chambered for 6.8mm SPC. (I doubt the demo guy will be firing an XM8 chambered for 6.8mm SPC on full auto with one hand behind his back, however.)
Can a cartridge which holds only a little more powder lob a larger bullet a lot further, faster, and flatter, with more terminal punch?
I've read generalizations which say the 6.8mm SPC is ballistically closer to the 7.62mm NATO round than the 5.56mm, even though its powder capacity is closer to the 5.56mm. The muzzle velocity figures I've seen (see earlier ACE posts for the numbers) are, to be frank, unbelievable. This seems to defy the basic laws of physics, and everything I've experienced in reloading. I look forward to some independent ballistic comparisons (including terminal ballistics) between the 5.56mm, 6.8mm, and 7.62mm, using the SAME powder. The 5.56mm round was adopted in the 60s based on exaggerated claims about the destructive power of a small caliber, high velocity round. One Washington "suit" in particular (a member of the so-called "brain trust" which thought it had all the answers) seemed unduly impressed by watermelons exploding. Let's not make that mistake again. If it really proves better, great!
Gas tube or piston?
They don't say, but I assume the M468 uses a gas tube (like the M16/4), and not a piston like the AR18 and 180 and the HK XM8. (Had the military not switched to dirtier ball powder back in the 60s, against Stoner's specifications, and if cleaning kits had been issued and used, the jamming problems would not have been nearly as frequent.) But, a piston is inherently less problematic than a gas tube, and I hope the military never buys another gas tube rifle. The XM8's piston can be field stripped and cleaned. Interestingly, the XM8 action is based on the HK36, which has a piston design borrowed from the old AR18.
To read earlier ACE posts on the Remington 6.8 SPC cartridge, 6.8mm AR uppers, and the HK XM8, click on Weapons and Firearms in the right sidebar.
Here's Barrett's current lineup of firearms (including the M107 adopted by the military, which is slightly different than the M1A2 civilian version:
I've read Barrett will soon offer (again) the M98 .338 Lapua Magnum semiauto rifle [my kind of rifle], now that it is getting caught up on 107 orders; and the 25mm Payload Rifle is covered in a later ACE post.
The militaries of currently 35 countries are now using some variant of the M82A1 semi-automatic rifle and there are 15 users of the bolt-action M95 or M95M.
Angela Barrett shows off the new M468 in 6.8mm SPC at 2004 Shot Show
(photo from GunBlast.com - see more show photos there)