I can see rifles still being used for personal protection and for the defence of the heavier weapons. They should therefore be optimized for snap shooting. The Foregrip should have attachment points (Picantinny rail interface system) for accessories such as disposable grenade launchers, flameprojectors and shotguns. The weapons would be modular to have as many parts in common with the SMG and LMG variants. One variant would be an H-Bar version with a barrel of 20-24" that could serve as either a marksman's weapon or a light machine gun. This will replace the OICW in lightly armed squads and supplement it in heavily armed ones. The rifle could use the variable recoil regulator described later -bleeding off gas from a full power round to make autofire more controllable at close range -and will have a spike bayonet.
Best idea for a new rifle is from my friend Ed -a weapon he calls the BLAST (Bullpup, Large Ammo, Sackett Type), but I call the Sackett Universal Rifle. Described in his own words, with my comments in square brackets and black text.
"I'm now doing a few drawings of my full-power infantry rifle. It'll be a bullpup, 80% Austrian AUG scaled up for 7.62 NATO, with a top-mounted helical magazine and a 6X scope. The bbl may be quick-change if that won't compromise accuracy (I want 1.5 MOA, like the production M14), but at least it can be made handily removable. The bullpup layout is required because the standard bbl length will be 26 inches, plus the flash hider. Yes, 26", because I want maximum velocity from the loads I'll tailor for this iron. Also, of course, the muzzle uproar w/ a shorter bbl and a muzzle close in front of the shooter's face would induce flinching, and the idea here is to train marksmen."
[I'm not sure about a 6x scope for a combat arm. A 3-4x with a x1 setting may be better. With a bullpup configuration it should be possible to make the standard rifle 35-36" loa. -about the same length as a AKM or M4.
The straight line layout and the action being braced between the hand and shoulder should also make the weapon very controllable. Such a weapon has the potential to be as handy as AKM or M4 while having a greater range and better performance against body armour.]
"And I'll build in something that's been around since the beginning but oddly neglected: a thumb trigger, or rather two thumb triggers, one on each side. (There's a reason for that; see below.) The thumb trigger has long been known to make accurate shooting easier, simply because the thumb is under superior control compared to the index finger. It's also much stronger, so that trigger pull can be made very heavy as a safety feature (relax, I'll also build in a manual safety), and it's easy to operate with a thick mitten on your shooting hand."
[The thumb trigger may work very well, but I'd also include a more conventional trigger on the design]
"That helical mag (we'll try for 40 rds capacity) will differ from others in being driven not by a spring but by a lug on the bolt carrier, which strikes a matching tooth on a disc on the end of the helix, driving it around one increment to index the next round. Mags can be stored loaded for years and still be instantly usable. With plastic construction (and only one moving part), these mags can be cheap: - reloadable in peacetime, expendable in war. A top-mounted mag allows downward ejection, so that AT LAST the infantry can field a truly ambidextrous rifle -- and no brass flying into the air to reveal your position. All controls will of course be duplicated for right- or left-handed operation; there: that's why I specified two thumb triggers."
[Such a feature is essential for a bullpup weapon, since it allows the soldier to fire round either side of available cover. An idea I also like is that it may be possible to top up the installed magazine with chargers -Canadian FALs could do this and it is a feature I'd like to see on other assault rifles. ]
"Unlike the AUG, my rifle will have a big, comfortable beavertail forearm, hollow and made of plastic, with a cunning little door so it can be used to store spare extractors and firing pins, cleaning kit, lens caps, gloves, condoms, chewing gum, small items of loot, and scurrilous cartoons of the CO. I think my beavertail forearm will be slightly soft, i.e., compliant, to make it a suitable rest for careful shooting over a barrier (resting the forend on a hard surface changes the point of impact, even w/ a free floating bbl)."
[A heavy barrelled LMG version of this rifle would prove useful and I would also like to see a 12g shotgun version of this weapon.]
308 gas system The Japanese Howa Type 64 7.62mm rifle uses a reduced charge round that's externally identical to the standard NATO round but uses a lower charge giving a muzzle velocity of 2,296 - 2,345fps (700 - 715m/s) from a 17 barrel rather than 2,624 - 2,645fps (800-897m/s) for full power ammo. The Type 64 is of similar weight to most other 7.62mm battle rifles so the shooter experiances less recoil. This combined with the intergral bipod and low cyclic rate reportably make the Type 64 an easy weapon to use accurately. The reduced power round is distinguished by a purple tip and (one presumes) headstamp markings indicating Japanese manufacture. The Type 64 can use NATO standard ammo by adjusting the regulator to bleed off gas to produce the similar ballistics to the reduced power round. The La France M14K reduces the velocity of a standard 7.62x51mm to 2,500fps (762m/s) by a larger gas regulator to improve control during automatic fire (Jane's Infantry Weapons claims the regulator was to reduce the cyclic rate). Recoil was said to be similar to a 5.56mm weapon.
Stan Crist points out: ".....the modified M60 gas cylinder La France installed on the M14K was not "to improve control during automatic fire." It was to permit sufficient delay in the gas impingement on the piston so that the operating rod would not be slammed to the rear too soon, thereby keeping the bolt from unlocking until chamber pressure had dropped to reasonable level. It's purpose was to minimize stress and wear on the bolt and other operating parts. Also, the super-size gas cylinder had nothing to do with reducing the muzzle velocity. Velocity was lowered as a consequence of shortening the barrel to 22 inches to 13 inches. I know this because I was at La France Specialties during the time period that the M14K (and M16K) was being developed and tested."
The above weapons do however suggest that it would be possible to make a regulator for a M14 or FAL that allowed full power shots for long range shooting and controllable reduced power fire for an autofire during an assault.