Angela Barrett shows off Barrett's new M468 6.8mm SPC AR-action firearm at the Shot Show:
photo from gunblast.com
The baby of the Barrett bunch:
Who will buy it?
Whether this cartridge is adopted by the Army in general remains to be seen. The Marines have recently placed a large order for the M16A4 and M4, chambered for 5.56mm, so they'll be staying with the little varmint killer round for some time to come. Spec Ops is free to make its own choice, so perhaps it will order some of these things from someone, or the HK XM8 chambered for this round. And, of course, Barrett has potential sales opportunities with some foreign armies as well as government/LE.
To hedge its bet on military/LE use, Barrett is also promoting the M468 as a hunting rifle, saying: "This opens new hunting opportunities in states where the 5.56 is to small for larger game."
Can't quite see a guy heading into the woods to hunt deer carrying this "assault weapon" (as the gun control advocates call such firearms) but it's a free country (governed by state hunting laws). Given the strong interest in this new round, I expect to see lots of 6.8mm hunting rifles hit the gun shops this year. Many paper punchers and can plinkers (like myself) will buy almost anything new in the AR world.
It's crowded in the 6.5 to 7mm range
The .270 Winchester has been very popular for hunting since it was introduced in 1925. In the US, it far outsells the slightly larger 7mm Remington Magnum (introduced in '62) and the .280 Remington (always an also-ran, even after being renamed the 7mm Express Remington), and is second only to the .30-06, once the cartridge of choice of the US Army, back when battle rifles had significant firepower.
Whether the new 6.8mm Remington round can take significance business away from the .270 Winchester or the 7mm Rem Mag, in the long run, remains to be seen. But it will almost certainly make a temporary dent. Only the XM8 rifle and "The Passion of the Christ" have been more hyped of late.
For more on the .270 (.277)* family of cartridges, read this Chuck Hawks page.
As an example of a successful earlier marketing coup, consider the 7mm Remington Magnum, which stole the thunder of the then popular .264 Winchester Magnum, introduced in 1958, whose sales then wilted. Prior to the commercialization of the 7mm RM, several wildcats were formed by necking up the .264 to 7mm. The two cartridges have the same case size, and the bullets differ in diameter by only .020 (.284 - .264).
The 7mm history goes back to 1792, when the Spanish army adopted the 7x57mm Mauser. (A US market was created when American Soldiers brought Krags chambered in this back from the Spanish-American war, just as WWII Soldiers later brought back 6.5mm Japanese rifles.)
Many love to create their own wildcats and some even attach their own names to these "designer" cartridges and/or bullets; but it's becoming increasingly hard to find a gap which has not already been filled by cartridges for which one can simply buy cases or dies.
In the same neighborhood, and only very slightly smaller, are the 6.5mm family of bullets and cartridges, introduced in 1897 and used by the Japanese in WWII. I'll save a discussion of new developments in this caliber, including the highly hyped 6.5 Grendel, for another ACE post, I've no doubt already lost some readers before they got this far.
An interesting (to me, at least) historical tidbit:
[for the few readers who have read this far - and have too much time on their hands ;-)]
The British entertained .256 to .280 bullets, in various sizes of cartridges, over years, starting early last century. In some cases, they abandoned what might have been a more optimum general military service round to adopt NATO rounds pushed by the US.
A footnote about the naming of cartridges, for those who don't already know:
*Why .270 (.277)? There are 2 measurements, the bore size before rifling and the diameter across the rifling groove bottoms, which is also the bullet diameter. These are called the bore and groove diameters. The grooves are typically around 0.004" deep, making the bullet diameter about .008in. larger than the bore diameter.
There are inconsistencies in how cartridges are named, in terms of caliber or metric designation, as this and this note. Some cartridges, like the .30-06, are named for the bore diameter (and the year of introduction, '06 in this case, though the - year extension has gone out of vogue). Some are named for the actual bullet diameter, like the .338. Some are given a number which is not found on the specs, just to be unique or sound more powerful, such as the .44 Magnum, which is really a .429. A .38 Special cartridge can be fired in most .357 magnum revolvers (but not the reverse), since the cases share a .379 diameter (which is where the .38 gets its name), and differ only in case length, not bullet diameter (which is where the .357 gets its name). Some cartridges are designed using metrics, then marketed using caliber, and vice versa. The only way to know the exact diameter of a bullet is to find its detailed specifications.
Literally, 6.8 millimeter = 0.2677 inch, and .270 inch = 6.858 Millimeters. I'm still looking for a graphic specification of the new Remington 6.8mm SPC, as that's the only way to tell for sure what its bullet diameter is. Barrel makers, die makers, and reloaders require exact dimensions to 3 decimal places.
My usual disclaimer: I'm no firearms expert. It's just something I like to learn about. If I've made any errors, pls. correct me with a comment.