CHANTILLY, Va. — At June’s Showmaster Gun show inside the Dulles Expo Center, nearly 300 vendors showed off a wide range of firearms, from handguns to rifles. Plenty of those vendors offered the AR-15, the most popular and customizable American rifle for more than 50 years, typically chambered with the 5.56 NATO round. But people attending that show say they’re looking forward to the AR-15’s successor, Sig Sauer's MCX Spear, chambered with the new .277 Fury round.
When asked what made them excited about the new rifle, one attendee answered, "Probably the new round it fires. Knowing what they put into it. It’s supposed to reach out a little bit more than the 5.56, since our current engagements are typically longer than what a .556 can reach out to like in the Middle East and whatnot."
Another attendee looked forward to trying the new .277 Fury round with the MCX Spear saying, "Seeing which one affects the most, which one can do the most damage, how the damage and impact, how it looks and stuff like that on the target."
The MCX Spear, shown in a promotional video from manufacturer Sig Sauer, won the competition this year to become the US Army’s so-called “Next Generation Squad Weapon.”
"It has to bring a significant change to warfare. It has to be lighter. You have to get the range. You have to get the terminal ballistic," explained Sig Sauer CEO Ron Cohen in the promotional video.
The Army’s new rifle is now for sale to the general public, both under the MCX Spear and XM5 names. It currently sells for $8,000. Various vendors we talked to at the Dulles gun show expect that price to go down by half in the coming years.
It can be accurate up to a thousand yards with enough power to punch through nearly all body armor according to the US Army. The Army says it wanted the new .277 Fury round because the Army’s current round, the 5.56 NATO, often fails to punch through enemy body armor at long range.
"The US military is calling it a game changer. And that means that that kind of game-changing gun will be in the hands potentially of 18 and 19-year-old kids. And I think we need to, we need to examine all the games that it might change," said former firearm company executive Ryan Busse, now working for the Giffords Campaign for gun regulation.
"There are probably almost no law enforcement agencies, probably almost no domestic police agencies, that are set to have body armor set to defend against the .277 Fury," added Busse.
While police vests can be pierced with current AR-15 rounds, the rounds the MCX Spear shoots are specifically designed to pierce through all but the toughest body armor, according to the US Army.
Local police agencies in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia declined to confirm the level of body armor their officers wear.
But, some law enforcement sources tell WUSA9 that officers are not equipped with the “Level 4” armor required to stop the rounds these new rifles can shoot. According to Busse, most mass shootings are at close range within a building.
But the abilities the MCX Spear has in taking on America’s foreign enemies can, in the wrong hands, make long-range shootings like the recent Highland Park shooting which killed seven, or the 2017 Las Vegas shooting which killed 60 people, even deadlier.
"The vast overwhelming majority of people who own AR-15s, don't use them illegally or any criminal, horrific way, but we've seen a few do. And I think we should be worried about what the sort of marketing and encouragement that might happen with this gun because it's going to be a lethal gun at a long distance," added Busse.
We reached out to Sig Sauer for comment about how it plans to sell and market its XM5 rifle. We have not received a response. But in a company blog, Sig Sauer's CEO says, "This is a rare opportunity for passionate consumers to own a piece of history." Cohen added the MCX Spear is "now the most innovative and advanced AR platform in the world."
Meanwhile, there was an expo floor full of people waiting, and wishing, to get to try America’s latest, lethal, innovation.
"It’s Sig. Sig is pretty good. And the military decided to go with them," said one gun show attendee.
We reached out to Virginia and Maryland gun stores when they expect to sell the Sig Sauer MCX Spear and the XM5 rifles. They tell WUSA9 they expect it in the coming months once it gets in stock at so-called “Master Dealers.”