Heckler & Koch XM-25
Category: Shotguns and Smoothbores
The XM-25, popularly known as the Punisher, is an air-burst grenade launcher and a small arms weapon that uses smart technology. The punisher was designed and is manufactured by Heckler & Koch and Alliant Techsystems. Though it will officially enter service in late 2015, the XM-25 was fielded to US soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2010. The state of the art weapon is very effective at hitting targets behind covers or dug into the ground.
The Punisher weighs 6.35 kg (14.0 lb) when empty and measures 749 mm (29.5 in) in length. It uses 25 x 40 mm cartridge with muzzle velocity of 690 ft/s (210 m/s). Its effective firing range is 550 yards (500 meters) for point targets and 765 yards (700 meters) for area targets. It has a 4-round box magazine feeding system.
The XM-25 fires 25 millimeter grenades that are designed and set to explode when still in air at or near the target. It has laser rangefinder that determines the target distance. The weapon automatically transmits detonating distance in the firing chambers and enables the user to manually adjust the distance by upto 3 m (10 feet) longer or shorter. The grenades track the distance they have traveled by recording spiral rotations after they are fired, then detonate at the targeted distance, producing an air-burst effect. According to studies, the XM-25 is the most effective weapon when it comes to engaging the enemy.
The XM-25 was first field tested in Afghanistan in summer of 2010 by the US Army. The initial costs of the early XM25 models per unit ranged from US $30,000 to $35,000. The US planned to purchase 12,500 XM-25s in early 2011 at a cost of $25,000 each, enough for each Special Forces team and infantry squad. Five XM-25s were deployed in Afghanistan in the month of October 2010, along with other 1,000 hand-made air-burst rounds. The US troops termed the weapon “a game-changer” and “revolutionary”, and nicknamed it “The Punisher”. They reported that the gun was extremely effective and useful at neutralizing or killing enemy combatants firing on them from covered positions.
The first contact for XM-25 was December 2010. By February 2011, the XM-25 had been fired at least 55 times in 9 engagements by 2 units in different locations. The weapon had destroyed 4 ambush sites of the enemy, taken out 2 PKM heavy machine gun positions, as well as disrupted 2 insurgent attacks on observation posts. Platoon leaders commented that the weapon shortened typical 15 to 20 minutes engagements to just 5 minutes. In one of the engagements, 2 enemy machine gunners is said to have been so frightened of XM-25 that they dropped their rifles and ran away. The military men were so pleased with the XM-25 that they carried the gun as the primary weapon without carrying the M4-carbine as a secondary.
The system was developed by Heckler & Koch and Alliant Techsystems while the targets acquisition and fire control was developed by the L-3 IOS Brashear. The manufacturers have indicated that the gun may later use special bullets with small explosive charges with the capability of stunning the opponent rather than killing them.