FN America says its new version of the MK48 may address SOCOM’s desire for an assault machine gun and new caliber round.

The military small arms manufacturer on Tuesday unveiled a new prototype of its MK48 machine gun, which is now chambered for the 6.5 mm Creedmoor round, at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida.

SOCOM has been interested in the 6.5 mm round for several years. Experts say has the potential to lighten loads, increase accuracy, reduce recoil and increase range.

Research has shown that the 6.5 mm round will “stay supersonic longer, have less wind drift and better terminal performance than 7.62 mm ammunition,” SOCOM officials previously told Army Times.

The 7.62 version of MK48 has been a program of record for SOCOM since 2003, and is fielded by Army Rangers and Navy SEALS.

The new MK48 MOD 2 version of the FN manufactured machine gun is scaled down from the 7.62 mm to the 6.5 Creedmoor round.

The 6.5 Creedmoor version of the MK48 will have a softer recoil and “better more predictable trajectory,” Lynn Ashley, assistant vice president of individual weapons military operations for FN America, told Military Times.

“It’s like shooting a 5.56,” Ashley said.

The new MK48 also comes with new enhancements like a new saddle for mounting lasers and lights, a new grip, lock charging handle, adjustable stock, improved bi-pod and better feed tray, according to Aloysius Donovan, the director of individual weapons military operations for FN America.

Ashley says the new MK48 could save taxpayers money.

Though, changing the barrels wouldn’t provide the special operators with all the bells and whistles that come with the full MOD 2 upgrade, Lynn added.

“You want a program or a platform that allows you to evolve,” Lynn said.

In April 2017, Army Times reported that SOCOM was interested in a polymer version of 6.5 mm round to reduce the weight carried by special operations forces.

In 2018, SOCOM decided to replace their 7.62 sniper rifles with 6.5 Creedmoor round, in an effort to increase range and accuracy of its special operations snipers.

Army Times reported that special operations snipers would see modifications and barrel changes to support the new 6.5 Creedmoor round in 2019.

Ground combat reporter Todd South contributed to this report.