I have a theory on this; my people were big Braves fans (so don't you try to tell me what optimism is!) all through the 1970's and 1980's and even to this day. My maternal grandfather was chiefest amongst them. He passed away in the middle of one of the worst seasons ever for the Braves (which for the Braves is saying something). The next year they went to the World Series (lost, but went), battling their way to the pennant from a 39-40 record . They also played in the 1992 World Series. When folks we knew would express wonder at the turn around in fortune the Braves seemed to be experiencing, my relatives would say it wasn't unexpected - my grandfather was now able to directly intercede with the Good Lord on their behalf.
With that in mind, perhaps the late Col. Cooper has been making the case to the Good Lord that the poodle shooter's time has come and a more manly weapon is needed to smite the enemy (or at least let ol Chesty take a fiver cause you know he's been making the same appeal since he got there).
As for considering a bigger cartridge, I'm not surprised by this one whit. Once the Army went co-ed I knew eventually they'd realize that bigger is better. After all, you try to tell any woman that "size matters not". Go ahead. I dare ya. (Even a green Jedi master wasn't about to try to tell that BS to anyone but a guy. Luke mighta bought it, but Leia? puh-leaze!)
In the 1920's there was an argument for a 7mm-ish round, but this was downsizing from the mighty .30 that our doughboys took over there. It took final form in the .276 Pederson. That cartridge lobbed a 140 grain pill at 2400 fps from a case that was a tapered 2 inches (51mm) long and all together the cartridge was 2.8 inches tall. (The .280 British was similar, but still-born due to the u.S. shoving the 7.62x51mm down NATO's throat.)
Contrast that with the .260 Remington - 140 grain bullet launched at 2750 fps from a case that's 2 inches (51mm) long and all together the cartridge is 2.8 inches tall.
I've said for years that the best* general issue long gun** for the military would be a BM-59 chambered in a hot little 6mm or 7mm cartridge. The .260 Remington would fit the bill nicely (with a 1:8 twist).
Replace the rear handguard with a rail mount, add an electronic sight or LER scope, add a tritium front sight and start passing them out. Oh, use an elevation knob calibrated in yards (cause Murica) and add about 3 and 1/3 inches to the bayonet - cause size matters.
And great Bastet bouncing on a beach ball - the first person that "suggests" "upgrading" to a plastic stock should be [censored due to punishment being too graphically described and possibly causing a PETA civil suit] until they repent of their sinful ways. If for some reason walnut ain't good enough there's always a nice laminate. (You don't want the third option. You just don't.)
(Want to get all slick? Add a variable gas system, with a dial from say 1 to 6. Then issue a guard round for close in work - say a 140 grainer pushing 2400 fps. Adjust the gas system for reliability and you've got a very controllable automatic carbine** for going into a city. Though this wouldn't be essential it's a nice thought.)
Price would be a problem; BM59 receivers are Garand receivers with some additional cuts on them. But if a company such as Ruger cast the receivers instead of having some middle aged fellow wearing a brim with a cigar hanging out of his mouth machine-whittle them out of raw organic free range steel then they might be cost competitive-ish. I'm sure MagPul could make polymer mags, possibly even adding 5 or 10 rounds to what the steel mags currently carry.
Speaking of mags, Fulton Armory has a page up contrasting M14 feeding devices with those of the BM59. I do not think a BM59 mag would survive a direct hit from a nuclear missile, but I'm confident the pieces would be identifiable.
A BM59 in .260 Remington (
Shame the military brass that handles procurement hasn't been hitting on all eight since about 1957-ish or I'd get my hopes up. Ah well, it was a nice thought while it lasted.
* I could still make an argument for a Garand, but in a concession to all the damned whippersnappers who think not having a box magazine is just too damn much hard work, or they might chip a fingernail, I'll posit Beretta's variant on Mr. Garand's rifle as the best design to date. Now don't say I never compromised (and don't ever expect me to do it again, ya heathens.)
** I consider 20 inches the dividing line between rifles and carbines. The BM59 models (except the BM59E and BM59SL) have 19 and 5/8" barrels or less, so to my mind they're still carbines, as are most all AR's and AK's and anything else with a pipe shorter than a cubit. Great carbines but carbines none the less.