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XM29 OICW Mockup

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The OICW – Objective Individual Combat Weapon – was part of a program in the 1980s and 1990s to replace the whole lineup of uS small arms with a consolidated group of new high-tech ones. The M4, M16, and M203 would be replaced by the OICW, the M240, M2, and Mk 19 would be replaced by the Objective Crew Served Weapon, the M40 sniper rifle would be replaced by the Objective Sniper Weapon, and the M9 pistol would be replaced by the Objective Personal Weapon. The OICW was basically a mashup of a 5.56mm carbine with a semiautomatic 20mm grenade launchers. The weapon received a lot of attention because it sounded really impressive on paper – the grenades could be programmed with a laser rangefinder to detonate at any desired range. Just past walls, just inside windows, that sort of thing. The weapon had a big multi-function optical sight that would allow both day and night vision and a bunch of other features. 

In reality, however, the XM29 (as it was designated) was a 15-pound clumsy and awkward boat anchor of a weapon. While the many capabilities may have looked good on paper, the XM29 was pretty awful for regular soldiering – heavy to carry and slow to use. The whole program would end in the mid 1990s. However, the carbine element of the OICW would go on to become the XM-8 family of rifles, which did make a serious bid at replacing the M4/M16 as American standard infantry weapons. We will look at the XM-8 family tomorrow…

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