Army testing new SAW, lightens weight 40%

Posted on: October 17th, 2013 by Will Rodriguez 16 Comments
LSAT SAW Photo by Will Rodriguez

Every infantry fire team has a light machine gun called the SAW (squad automatic weapon).  The SAW gunner carries a 17lb weapon and typically a 600 round basic load which is another 15lbs for a total of 32 lbs.  The LSAT SAW the Army is testing cuts the same load down to 19lbs.

I was able to get my hands on the Lightweight Small Arms Technology (LSAT) SAW at the Maneuver conference at Ft. Benning in Sep.  The LSAT SAW is a highly modified SAW firing a unique round called cased telescoping ammo or just telescoping ammo. It’s experimental but the tech is very promising. It cuts the weight of the SAW to a little under 10 pounds due to the use of a stamped aluminum receiver. Rate of fire is around 650/min. 

The big advantage of telescoping ammo is it eliminates the brass casing, the heaviest part of the round. For his particular round (5.56) that’s a 40% weight savings.  Interestingly that’s virtually the same weight savings we got when we went from 7.62 to 5.56.  Instead of a brass case the bullet sits inside a plastic cylinder which contains the bullet, propellant and primer.

The difference in design of the LSAT SAW is the breach is rotating.  Think of a one cylinder revolver where the breech rotates into and out of battery.  The round is loaded by a “rammer” taking the place of the bolt in the SAW. Rammer pushes the telescoping round into the rotating breech.  Rotating breech rotates to the left to line up with the chamber.  Round is fired.  Breech rotates out of battery.  New round pushes used plastic casing out of breach. Note the opening on the right side of the SAW forward of the feed tray?  That’s to eject the plastic case of each round.  After going through a belt of ammo you have two separate piles, one of links and the other of cases.  Here’s a video worth watching. It explains the operation (1:30) and gives you a good look at the ammo.

The Army has been looking at this weapon since 2011 and could be fielded in inside of 2-5 years depending on money and desire.  USASOC recently conducted its own testing in Sep firing 15k rounds through its version of the LSAT SAW which features a telescoping AND folding stock, modified the carrying handle to a folding barrel change handle and improved flash hider.  Both the Army and USASOC’s testing has been favorable with the low recoil system improving accuracy. 

LSAT SAW stock folded Photo by Will Rodriguez

LSAT SAW stock folded Photo by Will Rodriguez

Besides funding the greatest shortcoming is the LSAT SAW ammo is not interchangeable with the M4 family and vice versa.  There is an initiative to create a telescoped ammo M4 but no interest from the Army as of yet.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,
Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • YankeePapa

    “…with the low recoil system improving accuracy.”   Ok, I’m game… How did they reduce the recoil?   In part of its active service it has to be fired on the move. 
    YP

  • YankeePapa You don’t have a bolt slamming back and forth inside the reciever feeding, firing, extracting,  So there’s less mass moving.  
    I’m also told the long piston system also assists in controlability but I can’t speak knowledgeably why that works.

  • ArcticWarrior

    Less weight = more nut sacks!  The plastic cylinder the round sits in…. just wondering how long term exposure to extreme cold/heat will effect them. Polymer gets wonky in the extremes with tight tolerances. The video showed static testing in th elab. Brass is predictable. Still its an evolutionary if not revolutionary step.  Definately a step into the future.

  • engelbrad

    What ever happened to rocks?…LOL… Thanks for the intel Maj. Wish I wasn’t and idiot on this subject. That being said… I keep reading!

  • engelbrad I probably get more excited about cutting weight off the soldier’s load than most.  I was 6’4″ before they put that life sucking big green tick we call a ruck on my back.

  • engelbrad

    majrod engelbrad Getting lighter seems to be very wise in asymmetrical theater… I just hope approval processes are efficient and complete. Again, great write up Maj!

  • ArcticWarrior

    majrod engelbrad The Load will probably stay static. Now you will take more and stuff it in your ruck because the new SAW cuts 18lbs. See now more room for batteries…. 18lbs more room   ; )

  • engelbrad

    ArcticWarrior majrod engelbrad It seems to be the way of the world AW… Give 2 take 3…. but batteries are in demand!…. lol!

  • ArcticWarrior majrod engelbrad   We do have a very bad habit of hanging moe stuff on the grunt like a Christmas tree.  The only time I saw this really addressed was in the 80’s and a little in the 90’s. 
    I think part of the problem is we have moved from a mindset where we operate away from a base for extended periods to one where we live in them and send out patrols along with an abundance of vehicle support.
    That sort of environment leads to a thought process where we overload troops.  “They’re only going to be outside the wire for a limited period.”
    This will change the next time we’re in a war and people are dropping from exhaustion routinely without the possibility of MEDEVAC becausethe enemy will shoot down your helicopters.  The same type of environemnt we trained for back in the 80’s & 90’s.
    What was once old will become new again.
    There’s a lesson there…

  • ArcticWarrior

    majrod ArcticWarrior engelbrad I agree the mindset regarding patrolling swung way too far.
    Sometimes mobility saves lives. Lightfighters, I always hated the thought of what a heavyfighter was humping.
    People say armor and such are no longer needed, no more maneuver warfare. Only means the next big dust up will be a heavy HIC.

  • ArcticWarrior

    engelbrad ArcticWarrior majrod batteries, optics and comms.

  • 5000area375

    If this works in real combat conditions it is a major break through. Something needs to be done to lighten the combat load. Unless I was clearing rooms or in a un armored vehicle patrolling city streets, I prefer soft cap and light weight uniforms because I view heat related exhaustion, being slowed down and heat stroke as a greater threat to causing a bullet sponge to be overly absorbing bullets than without. Speed makes security.

  • YankeePapa

    5000area375,
    .

    …Unless you have reason to believe that you will be engaged in massive combat actions… or are in static mode such as base defense or in vehicles in convoy… full body armor is not to your advantage. Will and myself and some others agree on this… unfortunately also agree that under the present system, a commander who decides to “armor down” and then loses a man will be crucified.  But the laws of physics apply to soldiers as well as ordinance.  
    .
    …A fully armored squad running in high heat… charging up an alley after three muj in jeans, T-shirts, and tennis shoes with AKs… is not going to catch them… And being well on your way to heat exhaustion does not prepare you for a firefight on the way back.  
    .
    …If you are in a place where it is reasonably possible to get most of the locals on your side… stomping around looking like Imperial Storm Troopers isn’t going to help your effort.  That doesn’t mean armoring down for PC reasons… but like all things in unconventional warfare… a reasonable risk/benefit analysis needs to be made.  But of course, this means that high brass and politicos have to keep their mitts off if something goes wrong… unless the decision was reckless or pure PC…
    .
    …Regular troops are at an initial disadvantage just being around civilians of a different culture.  And being one man lumbering tanks in an alley is just a bad joke…  Not every scenario is Con Thien or Khe Sanh… 
    YP

  • 5000area375

    Agree totally you spelled it out much more eloquently.

  • Pingback: Maneuver Conference 2014 » Grunts and Co()

  • Pingback: Initial Insights from Maneuver Conference 2016 | Spotter Up()