In this writer’s opinion, one of the coolest firearms of SHOT Show 2023 was the XR338 rotary machine gun which was displayed at the Radical Firearms booth. This machine gun is designed by Kris Paulson and Matthew Steinhauser of DTV Tactical Innovations (Radical Firearms is their manufacturing partner). It is chambered in .338 Norma Magnum and at a minimal weight increase over the M134 Minigun, it is a huge force multiplier with about twice the effective range and much higher energy of the projectiles at any given distance.
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The receiver diameter of the XR338 is identical to that of the M134 Minigun, however, because the .338 Norma Magnum barrels are much thicker than the 7.62x51mm barrels, the XR338 has five barrels as opposed to the six barrels of the Minigun. The manual of arms and location of controls of the XR338 is identical to that of the Minigun which is of course a big advantage in that a minimum amount of time and resources will be needed to make Minigun operators familiar with the XR338. The XR338 also has about 50% parts interchangeability with the M134 Minigun and can be mounted to any Minigun mount which will make its fielding even more cost-effective.
An important design improvement of the XR338 over the M134 Minigun is that the new machine gun can be disassembled (including removal of the bolts) without a use of tools which will make servicing the gun or clearing malfunctions in field conditions much faster and easier. Another improvement is the onboard lithium-ion battery that powers the XR338 making it independent from the power source of the vehicle it is mounted to. This means even if the vehicle is down, the operator of the XR338 can still use the gun. The life of the current battery is 30,000 rounds but an improved one with several times longer life is in the works.
The XR338 is also designed to be easily converted to fire other cartridges that share the same case head and overall length dimensions with the .338 Norma Magnum such as the .338 Lapua Magnum … or even .416 Rigby and .450 Rigby in case of a Jurassic apocalypse! Kris and Matthew have also designed an Inconel suppressor for the XR338. A version of this machine gun chambered in 12.7x55mm (.338LM parent case loaded with .50 cal projectiles) and firing suppressed subsonic loads would be really cool.
The overall length of the XR338 machine gun equipped with a suppressor and DTV fire control unit is 52.58″. The length of the barrels is 25.69″. The overall weight is 66 lbs unsuppressed and 72 lbs suppressed. According to the designers, it’s only 10 lbs heavier than an M134 Minigun in a comparable configuration.
Looks like the XR338 indeed offers huge advantages over the Minigun. Considering the US military’s interest in fielding .338 Norma Magnum machine guns, this could be a really effective replacement for the Minigun fleet. Let us know what you think in the comments section.
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