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Arming the Troops II
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Once again, complaints about the AR15 platform are coming out of Iraq/Afghanistan.
Official reports show high levels of dissatisfaction with the M-4 carbine, M16 rifle magazines, and M249 machine gun. The small size of the 5.56mm bullet used in these weapons is also highly controversial among some troops...

In one official report, 13 to 20 percent of soldiers reported jamming in the M-4 carbine, even though many augmented their cleaning kits with special brushes and picks. Fifty-four percent of those equipped with the M249 machine gun reported maintenance problems, and up to 35 percent said they were not confident in the weapon. There were also complaints about the M9 pistol, that it suffers from corrosion problems and the weak magazine spring does not reliably feed rounds into the chamber. Complaints about poor performing M16 magazines are also common.

The small size of the 5.56 mm bullet for the U.S. M4 carbine, M16 rifle, and M249 machine gun is highly controversial among some troops. One official report said troops "asked for a weapon with a larger round, 'so it will drop a man with one shot.'"

...Soldiers' blogs and e-mails report many of them like the lighter weight of the small caliber weapons, and the large amount of ammunition troops can carry, but some say those bullets are "too small and too stabilized" thus making them "woefully inadequate as a man stopper."
When I posted about this the other day, some people came out of the woodwork—as usual—to defend the AR15 platform, and the 5.56mm round. I am unimpressed with such defenses, as, apparently, are a significant proportion of the shooters.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this Stars and Stripes report earlier:
Complaints centered on lack of range and reliability problems.

“The most significant negative comment was reference [to] the M-4’s range,” the Army report stated. “In the desert, there were times where soldiers needed to assault a building that may be 500+ meters distant across open terrain. They did not feel the M-4 provided effective fire at that range.”

Safety was another concern. The M-4’s bolt can ride forward when the selector switch is on safe, allowing the firing pin to strike a bullet’s primer.

“Numerous soldiers showed us bullets in their magazines that had small dents in the primer,” the Army report said.
Note that we are fighting in a desert country that has, outside the cities, many, many areas with essentially unrestricted range and sight lines. In that environment, 300 meters isn't good enough range.

You see, the defenders of the 5.56 and AR15 platform always assure us that most infantry combat is fought at ranges below 300 meters. That's true. "Most." So, "most" of the time, the AR15 platform is just peachy, I guess. "Most" of the time.

Call me crazy, call me a dreamer, but I'd prefer a rifle where the word "most" has been replaced by "all". Where our soldiers, rather than using a 40 year-old platform that works acceptably "most" of the time, use a platform that works acceptably all of the time, at all ranges where combat takes place. Where, if our soldiers can see the enemy, they can shoot the enemy. Where they can hit what they aim at, even if it's a building 500 meters away.

I guess my question to the 5.56/AR15 defenders out there is, "If there's a weapon system that is easier to maintain than the AR15, and uses a round with a) longer range, b) more stopping power, c) congruent weight, and d) similar recoil and controllability, why not switch to it?" I really don't understand the objection.

UPDATE II: Oh, and there's also this:
In a confidential report to Congress last year, active Marine commanders complained that: "5.56 was the most worthless round," "we were shooting them five times or so," and "torso shots were not lethal."

In last week's Marine Corps Times, a squad leader said his Marines carried and used "found" enemy AK-47s because that weapon's 7.62 mm bullets packed "more stopping power."...

Here at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, the government's own engineers have done the most extensive testing on the 5.56 since 1990 and issued two draft reports.

In the first, dated 2004, the 5.56 ranked last in lethality out of three bullets tested.

A second draft, dated last month, confirmed that rating, ranking the 5.56 dead last in close-quarter combat.
But, hey, nothing to see here...Move along.

It should be noted that the Army looked at the Picatinny report, declared it misleading, and that the 5.56mm round was the cat's pajamas. Big Green—although I think they'll need to change their nickname back to Big Blue by the end of the year, since the green service uniform is going the way of the dodo—isn't interested in moving away from the 5.56mm round.
 
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Comments
The small size of the 5.56 mm bullet for the U.S. M4 carbine, M16 rifle, and M249 machine gun is highly controversial among some troops. One official report said troops "asked for a weapon with a larger round, ’so it will drop a man with one shot.’"
Yeah, but what do trigger pullers know?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Not a soldier, never been one...BUT, the M-249 is based on the MAG-58,one of the most reliable weapons in the world. It ain’t the weapon.... plus "maintenance problem" means the bipod is bent, or the feed cover has a ding in it, not only that the weapon has failed in any significant way. Plus, many CS and CSS units may be using the M-16 magazine rather than the 200 round box, THAT has feed problems. It ain’t the m-249 that’s causing the problem.
One official report said troops "asked for a weapon with a larger round, ’so it will drop a man with one shot.’"
OK, that means that we are issuing the troops the .45 cal. and the DeLisle Carbine, also in .45 caliber, PLUS the infantry get a 12.7 X 99mm rifle, because that’s about the only set of weapons that will have that effect.

The "Stopping power" of the M-16 is the equivalent of "who is the sexiest woman/womyn in the World." It has many definitions, I’m sure... much of the complaint against the 5.56 mm is that those who shot at Bob, MISSED BOB, but rather than own up to it, it is that the M-16 lacks "stopping power." Plus, the complaint is that, from some, is that 223 is too small, after all deer hunters use larger rounds. Well deer survive being hit by 30-06 or Winchester .308-temporarily at least. One shot one kill means a hit to the Central Nervous System (CNS). And 5.56mm or 7.62 or most other rounds besides something akin to 12.7mm simply can NOT guarantee a kill, immediately, unless there is a critical CNS hit. So SHOT PLACEMENT IS AS IMPORTANT as caliber.

Finally, the VAST MAJORITY of infantry combat, from WWII on occurs(ed) at 0-400 metres. 7.62 X 51mm or Winchester .308 are too much round, for the typical infantry engagement. The make too many demands on the weapon, resulting in too massive a weapon for the needs of infantry combat. Sure the M-1/Mauser/M-1903 can make kills at 800-1,000 metres, ASSUMING YOU CAN HIT THE TARGET, which is not typical for most combat personnel. It’s like giving every driver a NASCAR stock car, nice but it’s a waste of resources. Something less than 7.62 X 51 mm is necessary. AK, 7.62 X 39MM has WORSE BALLISTICS than the .223 round, as I understand it. 6.5 mm Grendel is touted as a great LONG-RANGE round, which is something that isn’t necessary. 6.8 X 43 SPC has been tried, by SOCom... from what I’ve read they’ve decided that 6.8 mm is NICE, but doesn’t justify the expense and bother of a different round. It’s better than the 5.56mm but not that much better, considering that you get fewer rounds for a given weight. Seems to me like 5.56 mm is a decent round for most combat.

Of course the round is NOT the same as the weapon...sure the M-8 might be a more reliable weapon than the M-16. And yet, from my friends who serve, they comment, Keep the M-16 clean and it’ll work."

Bottom-line: 5.56mm ain’t a bad round and the M-16 ain’t a bad weapon...if you keep it clean, something that CS and CSS troops oftern DON’T DO. So the problem may not be round or weapon but personnel, NCO’s specifically.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
So SHOT PLACEMENT IS AS IMPORTANT as caliber.
That’s your solution? "Aim better, you dumb grunts!" Really?

Oh. Wait a minute...
Not a soldier, never been one...
Ah. Yes. Well. Thanks for dropping by with your opinion.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
So the problem may not be round or weapon but personnel, NCO’s specifically.
*chuckle*

Right, Joe ... it’s the NCO’s fault.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Dale,

I had heard that one of main reasons for settling down on the 5.56 round was that a typical infantryman would be able to bring more bullets to the fight. Isn’t this round supposed to be lighter (compared to say, 7.64 or whatever the warsaw pact used) ??
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Yes, it’s a much lighter round than the 7.62 NATO. But, if you have to fire more rounds to achieve the same effect, then is the trade-off effective?

As I mentioned in my previous post, the new 6.5mm Grendel round seems to be more effective and longer ranged than the 5.56mm, yet the round’s weight and felt recoil is very close.

So, if you can use a round with more stopping power, and still carry a large load into combat, that’s the best of both worlds.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"When I commented on all this the other day, some people came out of the woodwork—as usual—to defend the AR15 platform"

Out of the woodwork? What the h* is that supposed to mean? I am hardly lurking unseen in the woodwork waiting to pounce on defenseless victims. Defend the AR15 platform? No, I was defending the M-16, not the M249 or M4 or any other weapon.

You want to reference your previous post? Okay.

"For 40 years, combat troops have complained about the weapon as actually used in combat. Apparently, that means nothing to you."

As long as there have been armies, troops have complained. So what? Did you present any actual evidence of an actual problem? No. You finally, probably after much research, answer the arguments in the previous post, and present something from "spacewar.com", whatever the h* that is, and decide to cop an attitude. Again. If these complaints are so critical(and after 40 years I am a little skeptical), and you care so much, why havn’t you presented this vital information to Congress? I am sure you can find at least one who will be more than happy to ask embarassing questions of the Bush administration about why they are sending American boys and girls into combat with dangerously useless weapons. As the saying goes, put up or shut up. You can continue to posture here, flaunting whatever firearms expertise you claim to have and sneering at those who disagree, or you can actually try to solve this supposed problem by going out into the real world and playing with the big boys. My guess is you will stay here.

"Who cares if they are doing all they can to beg, borrow, or steal M14s to use in lieu of the M16?"

Got any evidence?

"So SHOT PLACEMENT IS AS IMPORTANT as caliber."
"Ah. Yes. Well. Thanks for dropping by with your opinion."

Well, I have been an infantry soldier, and I agree. I ante up my CIB and a purple heart. Your bet, Rambo.

*****************************

" Yeah, but what do trigger pullers know?"

Some know a lot, and some are morons, just like every other job field. You should know that.


"Right, Joe ... it’s the NCO’s fault."

Sometimes it is, and again,you should know that.

By the way, do you happen to have any of these alledged "official reports" mentioned in your excerpts, or is spacewar.com your idea of a primary source?


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
By the way, the spacewar.com article you link to is dated Jan. 6, 2006. Hardly breaking news justifying the lead "Once again...". To misuse an old SNL routine, "Once again, Franco still dead". Try google.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
As long as there have been armies, troops have complained. So what?
<sarcasm>You know what? You’re right. F*ck ’em, the whiny little bastards. After all, you were a shooter and liked the M16 just fine, so anyone who disagrees with you is just an ass.</sarcasm>

You know, it strikes me that there are complaints and...complaints. There’s a very real difference between, "Hey, these MREs suck," and "Hey, I just put four torso shots into that guy and he’s still shooting back at me."

Also, what does it matter what research I did, or didn’t do? Your mind is already made up. Christ, you act like you’ve got investments riding on the issue. At least, you’re invested enough that you appear to have no interest in finding any of the reports yourself. Why don’t you try Google, ass? Because, frankly, aside from snide comments, you haven’t done a bang-up job of providing any contradictory information, yourself.

Oh, and about your CIB and Purple Heart: Thanks for your service. My problem with Joe’s comment is that he hasn’t done that service. By the way, who’s CIB carries more weight: Yours, or McQ’s, who disagrees with you?

After telling us that he’d never been a soldier, never been trained for infantry combat, never went out on patrol or convoy, or sat in a foxhole, and never carried the M16 day after day for 10 years like, well, I did, he then proceeded to tell us about what the soldiers needed to do better, and how it was all the NCOs’ fault.

My simple point is that if you’ve never spent a day in uniform, you’re probably unqualified to speak knowledgeably about the subject.

Oh, and by the way, the M16 and the M4 are both weapons built on the AR15 platform.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
silly question: as i understand it, both US navy & USAF have always, *always* gone for a heavier, more powerful weapons platform on their planes/ships rather than a lighter, maybe faster platform. on the theory that ’more is better’ when it comes to firepower. i assume the army/marines trend the same way also. have read it’s kinda canonical, in fact.

but the grunts have to make do with smaller & weaker? kinder & gentler?

what’s up with that?
 
Written By: ed
URL: http://
Uh, actually, the USAF is primarily responsible for the US military switching to the M16 in the first place. Curt Lemay thought the M16 was peachy, and he ordered a whole bunch of ’em for the Security Police. After that, since the DoD was already buying them, everybody else just sort of...went with it.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
OK, it’s wrong, but I can’t walk away from this:
" Yeah, but what do trigger pullers know?"
Some know a lot, and some are morons, just like every other job field. You should know that.
Heh. Yeah, I do. And guess which category you’re slipping into?

Now, I’m sorry I had to do that, but I wasn’t just gonna let that straight line just...lie there.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
...as I understand it. 6.5 mm Grendel is touted as a great LONG-RANGE round, which is something that isn’t necessary.
No. The Grendel is touted as a round with similar weight and recoil to the 5.56 round, but with longer range and superior stopping power at all ranges.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
If these complaints are so critical(and after 40 years I am a little skeptical), and you care so much, why havn’t you presented this vital information to Congress? I am sure you can find at least one who will be more than happy to ask embarassing questions of the Bush administration about why they are sending American boys and girls into combat with dangerously useless weapons. As the saying goes, put up or shut up. You can continue to posture here, flaunting whatever firearms expertise you claim to have and sneering at those who disagree, or you can actually try to solve this supposed problem by going out into the real world and playing with the big boys. My guess is you will stay here.
Stupidest. Challenge. Ever.

Congress already has the info. CBS News featured it on Special Report. Army and Marine field commanders have written reports to Congress complaining about it. What, precisely, am I going to accomplish by going to Washington and telling Congress something they already know?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
," so anyone who disagrees with you is just an ass.
No, that seems to be your attitude, but it is contagious.


"Hey, I just put four torso shots into that guy and he’s still shooting back at me."

Any reliable corroboration on that? I have a few tales of my own that, upon reflection after the confusion is over, proved to be mistaken.

"Your mind is already made up."

Actually, it isn’t, but I do need some actual evidence. Maybe one of those official reports I hear so much about.


"At least, you’re invested enough that you appear to have no interest in finding any of the reports yourself. Why don’t you try Google, ass?"

Maybe because I am not the one claiming they support me? Do your own research.
***********************************
"Because, frankly, aside from snide comments, you haven’t done a bang-up job of providing any contradictory information, yourself"

You "cite" unattributed complaints, I provide first hand testimony of my experience. And you do not seem to be a slouch at making snide comments, yourself. Or name calling, either.


Your first sentence from your first comment in your first post;
"So why not just give the troops less reliable weapons. No need to worry about it, right?"
Sounds a little snide to me.
Your second sentence;
"For 40 years, combat troops have complained about the weapon as actually used in combat. Apparently, that means nothing to you."
The third and fourth sentences;
"Because, who cares, really, if the people actually in the shouting and killing people business have full confidence in the weapons they are required to use? Who cares if they are doing all they can to beg, borrow, or steal M14s to use in lieu of the M16?"
Perhaps I am overly sensitive, but I seem to detect a little snideosity in all those sentences. I could probably find more snideliness, but I weary of this.

*******************************************
"My simple point is that if you’ve never spent a day in uniform, you’re probably unqualified to speak knowledgeably about the subject."

Aside from the fact that that is not always true, why are snide comments necessary?

"Oh, and by the way, the M16 and the M4 are both weapons built on the AR15 platform."

Yes, I know. And I still havn’t defended anything but the M-16. Or is it my blasphemy against the M-14 that is the problem?

" Now, I’m sorry I had to do that, but I wasn’t just gonna let that straight line just...lie there."

I can forgive that, as I suffer from the same temptation from time to time. As a matter of face, I knew it was a good straight line, I just didn’t expect it to be used.


"CBS News featured it on Special Report"

Is that as reliable as 60 Minutes? You have read all these official reports? Why is it you have never bothered to share them with us? It would certainly be more convincing than spacewar.com.


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Apparently earning a CIB makes people like to argue.

some questions from a non-soldier:

a. would I ever want more ammo just to be able to do more covering fire, etc. rather than kill the guy? Seems like nowadays we are pinning the enemy down for airstrikes to come an do the killing? (could be a dumb question...)

b. could this be related to the idea that a wounded enemy takes more resources from the enemy than a dead one? (not applicable to Jihadis?)

c. What about body armor? I am referring to the enemy’s body armor. We use it a lot, and I am sure our enemies will use it more and more. Should we be adjusting for that as well?

d. If we switched to lasers instead, wouldn’t that be far cooler? (j/k)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I think simply pointing out that the M4 platform is 40 years old is something of a red herring. The military uses plenty of ancient hardware to tremendous effect (the B-52 harkens back to the 50’s). That being said, your point isn’t invalid, but did you consider that maybe the DoD is looking at factors aside from battlefield usefulness? Say, maybe budgetary concerns over adopting a new rifle/round service-wide (especially for a limited deployment like Afghanistan), or, more ominously, the effect of the manufacturers themselves. You guys shouls know that military contracting is a very small world; some people carry far more weight than others.

On a broader level, I think you’re running into a problem of looking at one instance and wondering why a normal cookie-cutter unit doesn’t hack it. In Afghanistan, there is significant rural fighting and less direct urban warfare. The Corps already have a designated marksman rifle for this purpose: the SAM-R. It has a limited deployment right now (i per unit, if I recall correctly), but instead of adopting a new service-wide rifle (which really is frightfully expensive), do you think redeploying more precision support units could make an effective stopgap while everyone else considers options?
 
Written By: Josh
URL: http://www.conjecturer.com/weblog
The guys I have spoken to who served in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan have all made comments about the 5.56s lack of stopping power. And this is first hand from folks who have used it in combat. They do need something with a bit more power.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
The guys I have spoken to who served in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan have all made comments about the 5.56s lack of stopping power. And this is first hand from folks who have used it in combat. They do need something with a bit more power.
That complaint has been made since Viet Nam and anyone who isn’t aware of that hasn’t been paying attention.
Sometimes it is, and again,you should know that.
Nonsense. NCOs have zip to do with design deficiencies or stopping power. I remember very well the days of cleaning that weapon at every break or stop during a day of patrolling and still seeing them malfunction and jam. So no, it’s not the NCO’s fault. It’s just not a very good weapon.

It should also be remembered that one of the reasons we went to 5.56, as mentioned, was the idea that by increasing the volume of fire we’d have the same effect on the target as aimed fire with a heavier round. That was done by making the weapon able to fire on automatic. It was believed that the stopping power of a heavier round would be equaled by the stopping power of a lighter rounds hitting the same target in bunches.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the premise was flawed. It doesn’t work since trying to control a light weapon on automatic is difficult at best. Now soldiers are no longer able to fire on automatic, but are still stuck with a round with inferior stopping power.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Now soldiers are no longer able to fire on automatic, but are still stuck with a round with inferior stopping power.
I believe all non-full auto variants in service all still have a 3 round burst or semi-auto selector.

I could be wrong about that.

The 5.56 will make a one shot one instant kill if you hit the CNS. Aimed fire and shot placement work. It is true that even a .444 Marlin will only kill eventually (if by eventually you mean the target can still act for a few seconds—whitetail goes three jumps when shot through the heart) unless you make a high CNS hit.

If we can agree the .22s are too small and the .30s are too large, .259 or 6.56mm is splitting the difference (’til the thousandths column of circular area). Take a round nosed heavy fast spinning round/barrel combo in that caliber for snipers/precision shooters and a lighter point nosed round that’s spinning just enough to keep it stable out to 5-600yards for the regular infantry. Keep the rounds interoperable for pinch hitting.

Would that make the people who can be made happy, happy?

Come 2020 or sooner, the infantry will have powered armor and recoilless backpack fed 20mm cannon or some sh!t, and none of this will matter.

And Dale, I gotta tell you, if you have four normally distributed 5.56 torso hits on someone and they aren’t out of the fight, I bet you can count those incidents on one hand. For all the AR-15’s history at that.

McQ wrote:
"Nonsense. NCOs have zip to do with design deficiencies or stopping power."
The AR-15 was supposed to have fast burning powder and chromed barrels and chambers. It wasn’t built or fed as it was intended to be by the designer. Aimed fire stops. If they are going to shoot in the enemies general direction instead of aiming, give them belt fed .22LRs with 3000rnds each. ;^) That’ll still keep bad guy’s heads down.

And I’d love one surplus.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I believe all non-full auto variants in service all still have a 3 round burst or semi-auto selector.
That’s correct, and the reason is obvious. It also speaks to my point. Three rounds to do what one heavier round would/should do, and the basic admission that unsupported automatic fire is, for the most part, wasted fire.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Three rounds to do what one heavier round would/should do, and the basic admission that unsupported automatic fire is, for the most part, wasted fire.
I call BS. The three rounds are a substitute for well aimed fire. Missing/winging with heavy (starts with a 3) round isn’t as good as hitting once with a light round (starts with a 2).

The three round burst is to turn the rifle into a long range shotgun, so that aimed fire of average skill (that would otherwise be a miss) still tags the bad guy at long range, and for close work the guy is as dead as if you’d put a round of buck and ball into them. And even if you did do that, they’d still have to bleed out/get discouraged before they could not act against you, that would be true if they had Kelchworth .40s.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

PS. Big SF geek props to whomever knows what the Kelchworth in .40 is.
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I call BS. The three rounds are a substitute for well aimed fire.
No sh*t, Tom. That’s the point. If you had a heavier round, then you wouldn’t have to substitute three rounds for well aimed fire would you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
If you don’t have aimed fire, why do you care what size the hole in the dirt is?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
But we should be teaching aimed fire (with a larger round) and that would mean fewer holes in the dirt and fewer necessary holes in the enemy.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And I’m agreeing a somewhat larger round is merited. I’m saying nothing is wrong with the AR-15 concept as designed (as opposed to what showed up in Vietnam) and reminding every body that not many people who are having to shoot people and get shot at are going to be happy with their weapons no matter what they are given.

If a heavier, larger caliber round is used, then either it will icepick more at short range to have the oomph it needs at long range, or it won’t get to those ranges.

And remember that if you hit someone even at long range with a 5.56, and it’s a torso hit that enters a body cavity, they’re probably gonna die if they don’t get patched up—and if you hit someone in the pinkie with a .50, they’ll just lose the pinkie.

One shot instant incapacitations only come from high central nervous system hits, and that’s true of any rifle one guy can carry (that I know of).

An aside:
Supposedly, the same guy who worked on the GAU-8 did a shoulder fired 20mm rifle, one that fired aircraft cannon shells but from short cartridges and the whole barrel recoiled on the stock. Talk about a scope cut!


Do you propose we should go back to .30 caliber weapons and only 60-90 rounds per gun?

And then when we go to a 700yd capable, mid caliber round, and "the troops" are b!tching about "knockdown power" at 800yds, are you going to tell them to pound sand?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
And I’m agreeing a somewhat larger round is merited. I’m saying nothing is wrong with the AR-15 concept as designed (as opposed to what showed up in Vietnam) and reminding every body that not many people who are having to shoot people and get shot at are going to be happy with their weapons no matter what they are given.
I understand that Tom, and what I outlined above is how that concept (and the weapon) has been found to be wanting. If the concept had been found to be valid, then an argument can be made for the round in question.

I’m also saying based on that flawed premise, it is time reevaluate the entire system and consider going to a heavier round and teaching aimed fire again.

My argument isn’t based in the dissatisfaction of people who "are having to shoot people and get shot at" being unhappy "with their weapons no matter what they are given."
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I am unimpressed with such defenses, as, apparently, are a significant proportion of the shooters.
One of the problems is that the "shooters" often have too high of expectations, in part based upon TV and movies. Also, "shooters" sometimes miss and then blame the round for poor stopping power.

This is not to say that "shooters" experience is to be discounted, but it needs to be weighted, and combined with other information.
You see, the defenders of the 5.56 and AR15 platform always assure us that most infantry combat is fought at ranges below 300 meters. That’s true. "Most." So, "most" of the time, the AR15 platform is just peachy, I guess. "Most" of the time.
The AR15 platform is quite capable at ranges longer than 300 m when properly set up. I’d rather have a properly set up AR15 at 500 m than an M-14, for example.

Of course, the M-4 with its 14.5" barrel is a poor choice for long range work, so not all versions of the AR15 platform are good long range performers.
"If there’s a weapon system that is easier to maintain than the AR15, and uses a round with a) longer range, b) more stopping power, c) congruent weight, and d) similar recoil and controllability, why not switch to it?"
I’m not familiar with such a beast.

We could switch to a 6.5 or 6.8 and improve range and stopping power (depending upon the specific bullet design), but then we would be increasing recoil and the weight of the ammo. To get recoil in line, we would have to increase the weapon’s weight.

I’m inclined towards 6.5 myself, since if offers the potential for excellent "designated marksman" or even true sniper use, and much better SAW performance.
In last week’s Marine Corps Times, a squad leader said his Marines carried and used "found" enemy AK-47s because that weapon’s 7.62 mm bullets packed "more stopping power."...
The bullet testing done by Dr. Martin Fackler and others indicate that the Russian 7.62x39 round produces a narrow wound channel and consequently has poor "stopping power". This is further supported by wound data from Vietnam and more recently domestic shootings, where 7.62x39 victims have had very high survial rates.
Here at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, the government’s own engineers have done the most extensive testing on the 5.56 since 1990 and issued two draft reports.

In the first, dated 2004, the 5.56 ranked last in lethality out of three bullets tested.

A second draft, dated last month, confirmed that rating, ranking the 5.56 dead last in close-quarter combat.
It would be interesting to see their reports. It conflicts with published data from good scientific sources, as well as experience in Vietnam and elsewhere.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
...as I understand it. 6.5 mm Grendel is touted as a great LONG-RANGE round, which is something that isn’t necessary.
It would be good for designated riflemen, snipers, and SAW gunners. The heavier bullet would enable it to defeat more cover: shoot though trees, etc.
No. The Grendel is touted as a round with similar weight and recoil to the 5.56 round, but with longer range and superior stopping power at all ranges.


It has greater weight and recoil. Also, I’m not sure about its stopping power. The 6.8 round as designed has greater stopping power, since it was designed to fragment. The Grendel was designed for long range work, and I don’t recall its tendency to fragment. Bigger does not always mean better stopping power, at least in rifle rounds.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
“The most significant negative comment was reference [to] the M-4’s range,” the Army report stated. “In the desert, there were times where soldiers needed to assault a building that may be 500+ meters distant across open terrain. They did not feel the M-4 provided effective fire at that range.”
The 14.5" M-4 barrel means that past 50m or so, the bullet will not fragment. So, at 100m you would be putting tiny wound channels in anyone you hit.

However, an M-4 could be very accurate, and enable hits quite a ways out. Assuming you used an ACOG or some other improved sighting system.

As an aside, I read about Korean War snipers shooting at 55 gal drums at 500 yards with their M1D (Garand) sniper rifles, and achieving few hits. In actual combat, those few hits would drop to very few to none.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Some comments on M855 effectiveness here.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I understand that Tom, and what I outlined above is how that concept (and the weapon) has been found to be wanting.
And an AR-15 pattern rifle in a midrange caliber with a fast enough powder to not have burning particles enter the working parts (where they are extinguished by the rapid fall in temp/pressure, so they become heavy fouling) and a slow enough twist the bullet was just stable at the extreme intended range would do fine. A three round burst that usually hits with at least one where the one is light enough you can carry a lot is better than a heavier caliber if you get a clean miss one third of the time.

If had my druthers, I’d want a rifle that fired either semi-auto or a three round burst but had a toggle for fully locking the bolt at a precise headspace, but I don’t think such a thing has been built.

So an AR-14 variant will do (except for the M-4 having the bolt slip—that’s bad).
As an aside, I read about Korean War snipers shooting at 55 gal drums at 500 yards with their M1D (Garand) sniper rifles, and achieving few hits. In actual combat, those few hits would drop to very few to none.
Really? A 55gal drum is, like, large. Not tiny.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Some comments on M855 effectiveness here.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I enjoyed reading the CBS report Dale, note it was nicely done in that in mentioned the 5.56 mm came in last for lethality...BUT what were the other 3 rounds, and the fact that it came in last for lethality, without that referent makes the study, as evidence shaky...it was last compared to the 12.7 MM, the .460 Weatherby?

So we’’re back to mythical stopping power...Please define this, and then define an adequate level of stopping power. Then let us examine whther your adequate power makes TACTICAL sense and can be issued tot he troops at an acceptable cost.

For example, grant the .45 caliber a Stop Rating (SR) of 75 and a 12.7 X ((mm a SR of 100. What is an adequate level of SR? 35, 50, 75? What weapon produces that SR? What does it weigh? How many rounds can you carry as compared to 5.56 mm?

I think you make a firefight into a gun fight and it’s a little more than that... the guy with the best rifle doesn’t win, consistently. It’s not about is the M-16 beter than the M-1, but rather is the rifle section performing AS A WHOLE better.

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Really? A 55gal drum is, like, large. Not tiny.
1) 500 yards is quite a ways.

2) The snipers were not necessarly expert long range riflemen, most likely just the best shot in their unit (at least they were receiving some additional training).

3) The M1C and M1D sniper rifles are not inherently more accurate than standard M1 Garands. The flashhider could actually reduce accuracy, and at most they might have had specially selected barrels (I’m not sure about that). The main difference was they mounted a low magnification scope.

4) They used standard M-2 ball ammo.

5) A service grade M-1 using M-2 ball has to exceed this level of accuracy: three ten shot groups at 100 yards with an average group size no larger than 5.2" and maximum group size no larger than 8". At 500 yards, then, a service grade Garand must shoot 10 shot groups that average better than 26" and are no worse than 40" (well, actually it could be worse since it is easier to shoot 5.2" groups at 100 than 26" groups at 500).

6) A 55 gal drum is 22.5" in diameter. Some service grade Garands simply cannot keep all their shots in side a 55 gal drum at 500 yards.

Match grade Garands (and M14s) require lots of special work like bedding the action. They can shoot into about 1 MOA, in some cases maybe a little bit better. The USMC rifle team used to re-bed their ’14s after 700-800 rounds, then have them rebuild after another 700-800 rounds. The design of the M1 and M14 require that you essentially glue ’em together for accuracy, and they tend to shoot themselves loose.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I enjoyed reading the CBS report Dale, note it was nicely done in that in mentioned the 5.56 mm came in last for lethality...BUT what were the other 3 rounds, and the fact that it came in last for lethality, without that referent makes the study, as evidence shaky...it was last compared to the 12.7 MM, the .460 Weatherby?
Joe, the 5.56 came in behind . . . the 5.56. The testing was done of different versions of the 5.56 round:
In a recently completed multiyear study, weapon testers at the New Jersey-based organization compared the round, dubbed "M855," with seven other military and commercial 5.56 mm variants, according to Army Col. Mark Rider, the project manager for small- and medium-caliber ammunition at Picatinny.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Well then, Don I guess that study isn’t as "Dispositive" as some might think. We’re still wed to the M-855 Ball are we not by virtue of the fact that the barrel of the M-16/M-4 is built with a certain twist and the M-855 is built AROUND that twist? M855 is the US verion of the SS109 round optimized for barrel with a greater twist thant he M-16a1’s barrel...1:10 rather than 1:14 or something like that?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well then, Don I guess that study isn’t as "Dispositive" as some might think.
The CBS quotes Dale linked to are, well, typical of CBS it seems. Some would call it "lying", but in our "meaning of is" world, the concept of truth seems a little . . . quaint.
We’re still wed to the M-855 Ball are we not by virtue of the fact that the barrel of the M-16/M-4 is built with a certain twist and the M-855 is built AROUND that twist? M855 is the US verion of the SS109 round optimized for barrel with a greater twist thant he M-16a1’s barrel...1:10 rather than 1:14 or something like that?
The M16A2 and M4 have a 1 in 7 twist, to stabelize the much longer tracer round. The M855 does not require such a fast twist: 1 in 9 works and slower twists might.

Here is what they tested:
Army testers compared the M855 with four commercial-off-the-shelf rounds, ranging in grain from 62 to 100, said Army Lt. Col. Matthew Butler, a member of the assessment team. They also tested three military versions: the 55-grain M193; the 77-grain Mk262; and the 52-grain armor-piercing M995, he said in the same May 26 interview.
The Mk262 and the M193 both work fine with the 1 in 7 twist. The M193 may not be optimal for bench rest accuracy, but the Mk 262 should work better with 1 in 7 than the M855 does. My "M4gery" with its 1 in 7 twist barel works fine with XM193 (same specs as military M193) and in theory it should do very well with Mk 262.

There are a varity of trade offs which might make M855 the best choice for now.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Also, as an aside, those wishing to use Mk 262 or similar in their AR may be in for dissapointment. Many civi ARs use a 1 in 9 twist, which may not work (I know that sometimes they do work, at least out to 300 m or so).

I specifically looked for the mil-spec 1 in 7 twist for my M4gery. My competition AR has a 1 in 8 that would also work.

Prior to installing my 1 in 8 on my target rifle (back when it was still a 1 in 9), it worked fine with Hornady 75 gr HPBTs, but not with the longer Hornady 75 gr AMAX. I never tried the 77s. With marginal performance, bumping up the velocity might improve things, so the hot Mk 262 should work better than slower civi target loads.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
A 55 gal drum is 22.5" in diameter. Some service grade Garands simply cannot keep all their shots in side a 55 gal drum at 500 yards.
I’ve got to admit, that’s way worse than I thought it would do OOB.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I would love to have a weapon that light, compact, accurate, but have stopping power of a fifty cal. However, such weapon does not exist. Comparing to other service rifles in existence (minus the ones in R&D), the M-16/M-4 is still a superior weapon. I have used the AK-47, the G-3, and M-14, and I still prefer our current service rifle. The AK, despite reputation, suck.

(1) Ergonomic: Functionality of the weapon is superior to all other weapons. It is the easiest and fastest one to go from safe to fire. It is the easiest and fatest to reload.

(2) Weight: It is light. Those who want to go back to the M-14 rifle tend to be over 6 feet high and over 200 pounds in weight. They tend to ignore the little guy like me. I am barely 5’3". When I was in Iraq, I weighted 115 lbs soaking wet (I blame the MRE). Dragging around an M-14 is not practical, not to mention the recoil. And if you have to shoot from a window of a HUMVEE, forget about the M-14; it is too damn long.

(3) Reliability: It is not bad if you maintain it. I think the problem is exagerated. For more than a year in Iraq, I cleaned my rifle every other day, my rifle did not jam once. And I was no Fobbit; I was out on convoy everyday - and at least test fired it everyday. This was also true of the people I was riding with.

(4) Stopping power: I never shot anyone so I cannot speak to it personally. However, I shot at engine of cars that came too close to the convoy. Since I could stop a car, I figure I could stop a person. From other soldiers that had to shoot people, double tapping seem to be sufficent. No one know if one shot would work; since everyone double tapped. The horrored story of several shots in a torso and the guy did not go down surely happened. But it must be rare; since I have not heard it from anyone who personally witness it.

Sure, I like a even better weapon; and I hope that we come up with one (assuming we can still keep all the positive features of the M-16/M-4). But the current service rifle is not crap as many suggested. There are rooms for improvement, but it is still the best service rifle.
 
Written By: Minh-Duc
URL: http://

 
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