Olin-Winchester announced this week it was awarded a new Pentagon contract to complete a manufacturing study in support of the Army's new Next Generation Squad Weapon program.

The $9 million contract is for tracer projectile production for the new 6.8mm caliber Common Cartridge Family of Ammunition that will be used by NGSW platforms. The work will be done at the Winchester-run Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri. This comes just 10 months after a previous $20 million contract for Winchester to plan production of 6.8mm ammo types at Lake City.

The ammo plant is the country's main federal small arms ammo factory, making assorted 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO, and .50 caliber BMG rounds and has been run by Winchester since 2020. The award comes at a time when the Army is embarking on an ambitious ammunition plant modernization program at its six government-owned, contractor-operated installations. 

"Winchester is very excited to begin executing this critical 6.8mm NGSW trace ammunition study at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant,” said Brett Flaugher, president of Winchester. "With the goal of improving soldier capability, this groundbreaking work will utilize new tracer technology to create robust production processes and enable the transition of prototype trace technology into fielded NGSW tracer ammunition. This NGSW tracer ammunition produced at Lake City will equip the future American Warfighter and help maintain the safety and defense of our nation."

Currently, SIG Sauer is the only maker of the Army's 6.8mm ammo.

6.8x51mm cartridge
The hybrid bi-metallic case on the 6.8x51mm cartridge developed for the Army by SIG Sauer uses a steel base/head and a brass case to allow the pressure to go from the traditional ~68,000 psi of an all-brass case to the region of 120K psi without any failure while still using conventional primers and powder. This translates to a 350 fps boost in velocity. Alternatively, this also allows for 16-inch-barrel-level velocities from an 8-inch barrel or a 24-inch-barrel-level velo from a 14-inch barrel.

At a press conference on the NGSW program in April, Army officials said the expected start date of 6.8mm ammo at Lake City would be around 2026 followed by possibly opening 6.8 ammo production "to commercial vendors like we do with the other calibers" around 2029.

The Lake City plant, which encompasses 408 buildings, 43 magazines, nine warehouses, 11 igloos, and a storage capacity of 707,000 sq. ft, also serves as a national and regional test center for ammunition performance and weapons firing. Winchester was awarded a $28 million contract to manage the plant in late 2019 and, if all the options are exercised, could run the facility until Sept. 27, 2029. 

The 150-year-old company also operates its manufacturing facilities in East Alton, Illinois, and Oxford, Mississippi. Winchester, in 2016, was selected by the military to supply as many as 100 million rounds of 9mm ammunition– M1152 Ball, M1153 Special Purpose, and M1156 Drilled Dummy Inert– to the Pentagon as part of SIG Sauer’s successful Modular Handgun System. SIG is also the primary contractor on the NGSW platform, delivering its MCX Spear/XM5 rifle, XM250 light machine gun, and companion suppressors.

revolver barrel loading graphic