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Author Topic: Will the Military Replace the 5.56 Round?
airforce
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They've been talking about it for years, but now it looks like they might be serious about it.

quote:
The U.S. military has been talking about it for years, but now the stars may be aligning to force a closer look at replacing the standard military rifle issued to most American troops.

The Army is reportedly exploring how it might outfit all its front-line troops with a rifle chambered in a larger round than the 5.56mm M4 and M16 for the current fight in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, insiders claim. Service officials are increasingly worried that that soldiers are being targeted by insurgent fighters wielding rifles and machine guns that can kill U.S. troops at a distance, while staying out of the effective range of America’s current small arms.

“A Capability Gap exists for 80 percent of US and NATO riflemen who are armed with 5.56mm weapons,” weapons expert and former Heckler & Koch official Jim Schatz stated in a recent small arms briefing. “The threat engages friendly forces with 7.62mmR weapons 300 meters beyond the effective range of 5.56mm NATO ammo.”

“These 5.56mm riflemen have no effective means to engage the enemy.”

So the service is considering options to outfit soldiers with a true “battle rifle” chambered in 7.62×51, a more powerful round with a greater range than the 5.56, analysts say. It’s unclear which system the Army will pick if it decides to go this route, with rifles like the Mk-17 SCAR-H, M-110 and now the M110A1 CSASS either getting set for fielding or already in the inventory.

But military planners aren’t stopping there.

Multiple sources confirm that the service is also looking at fielding a so-called “intermediate caliber” round that can be used in both machine guns and infantry rifles that deliver better range and lethality than the 5.56 but in a smaller, lighter package than the NATO M80 7.62×51 ammo.

Dubbed the .264 USA, the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia, has been shooting a prototype intermediate caliber round for years. Similar to the 6.5 Grendel but with a case sized for use in a standard M4 magazine, the .264 USA has an 800 meter effective range and better terminal ballistics further out than a 5.56.

The round is also being developed with a polymer case instead of brass, which cuts down the weight significantly, experts claim.


“Stand-off shooters in Afghanistan employ the suppressive merits of 7.62x54R weapons by raining down .30 caliber projectiles onto troops armed mostly with 5.56mm rifles incapable of returning effective fire,” Schatz wrote. “A lightweight polymer-cased intermediate caliber cartridge and projectile would thus improve the probability of hit, incapacitation and suppression for all members of the squad without the weight and recoil penalties associated with 7.62mm NATO ammunition and weapons.”

The notion is to field one caliber that can work for a variety of missions — from close-in battle clearing houses to distant engagements using a rifle or a machine gun. In fact, there’s increased interest within the service to evaluate a new medium machine gun chambered in .338 Norma Magnum that would replace the M240 and potentially even the decades-old M2 .50 cal in some missions.

The Army has not taken an official position on the fielding of 7.62 battle rifles for its front-line troops or on the development of an intermediate caliber. The service did conduct a Small Arms Ammunition Configuration Study to look into the issue, but the results have not yet been publicly released.

And weapons experts within the military and in industry confirm to WATM that the debate is heating up.

Two experts who spoke to WATM questioned the wisdom of fielding a 7.62 battle rifle as an interim solution, arguing the current M4 could benefit from better constructed, longer length, free-floated barrels and top-notch ammunition to make up for some of the ballistic shortfalls.

Another veteran and firearms expert said the M4’s range problem is more a training issue than it is a caliber one, calling the Army’s marksmanship program “a joke” and arguing good ammo and a longer barrel could solve many of the engagement distance problems.

Additionally, one world champion competitive shooter and tactical trainer told WATM that top-tier special operators who’ve taken his classes are using 18-inch barrels on their carbines, moving away from shorter options geared for tight spaces in favor of the range advantages of a longer gun.

The military has been debating the wisdom of sticking with the 5.56 since operations in Somalia prompted discussions over the terminal ballistics of the “varmint” round, but despite multiple studies claiming there are better options out there, the Army and the rest of the services haven’t seen a compelling enough reason to make a change.

Yet with the potential for increased defense budgets, a replacement for the M9 pistol coming on board and a Pentagon leadership that seems more in tune with the needs of troops fighting terrorists on the ground, the drive to rethink America’s arsenal could lead to major changes.

Onward and upward,
airforce

Posts: 16443 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
Breacher
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Yeah, no thanks.

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Life liberty, and the pursuit of those who threaten them.

Trump: not the president America needs, but the president America deserves.

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airforce
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Maybe I'm showing my age, but the dumbest thing the military ever did as replace the M14 with that stupid Mattel toy. Yeah, the 5.56 round is lighter. But that advantage disappears pretty quickly when there's some guy with a deer rifle 600 yards away.

Onward and upward,
airforce

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The Answer
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Just make the AK our standard rifle already

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Semper vigilantes, numquam exspectantes

Posts: 525 | From: Somewhere in these blue ridged mountains | Registered: Apr 2009  | Report this post to a Moderator
airforce
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Ballistically, the 7.62X39 is about the same as the 5.56. I want a round that will actually go through something.

Onward and upward,
airforce

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Mexneck
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For many years I was brain washed that the weapon I served with was the best weapon available. I could see no wrong in my civilian AR. But then I started to think about how the Army always went with what was acceptable to the economic situation and adaptable to all service members. Now all the experts will hop on the bandwagon bobble heading at whatever decision the Army comes too. No doubt the civilian version will fly off the shelves. Not for me though. I'll stick with my 7.62X39 and .308 AKs since uncle sugar no longer provides for my guns.

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Well, this is it.

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Breacher
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There has always been the concept of military and police using proprietary calibers and ammunition not normally in civilian circulation. It comes and goes, but the bottom line for small arms ammo in the US is the government accepts a cash subsidy from the civilian shooters for ammunition production in lake city.

[ 04-24-2017, 09:52 AM: Message edited by: Breacher ]

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Life liberty, and the pursuit of those who threaten them.

Trump: not the president America needs, but the president America deserves.

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The Answer
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See the thing is there might be some bullshit Charlie is hanging out behind. I want my rounds to go through said bullshit and still ruin Charlie's day.

Furthermore, I can beat someone's face with an AK

Furthermore, someone's face isn't gonna ruin my AK

Plus I can fix it with a hammer

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Semper vigilantes, numquam exspectantes

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Huskerpatriot
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By this measure my old SMLE Lee Enfield is a solid battle rifle!😉

Big, ugly, solid... made for bashing. 18" bayonet doesn't hurt either.

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airforce
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quote:
Originally posted by Huskerpatriot:
By this measure my old SMLE Lee Enfield is a solid battle rifle!😉

Big, ugly, solid... made for bashing. 18" bayonet doesn't hurt either.

It isn't a bad one (in fact, I've got one of those too). But I'll still take my M1A. [Wink]

Onward and upward,
airforce

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Mexneck
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I still recommend having access to at least one 5.56 NATO firearm as that may be the most prolific ammo available should the balloon go up.

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Well, this is it.

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airforce
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Does anyone know if the polymer case for the .264 would be reloadable? My gut feeling says no, but I'm not sure.

Onward and upward,
airforce

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Archangel1
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quote:
Originally posted by airforce:
Does anyone know if the polymer case for the .264 would be reloadable? My gut feeling says no, but I'm not sure.

Onward and upward,
airforce

Don't know but my gut says no too. I am wondering if the polymer will hold up to extraction, and if chamber temperatures with full auto will effect the plastic.

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"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always Bad Men." Lord Actin 1887

I fear we live in evil times...

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Archangel1
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quote:
Originally posted by Mexneck:
I still recommend having access to at least one 5.56 NATO firearm as that may be the most prolific ammo available should the balloon go up.

I assume that there is a lot of .223 and 5.56 on the shelf between civilian, National Guard and US military acquisitions for many years to come.

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"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always Bad Men." Lord Actin 1887

I fear we live in evil times...

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Breacher
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We actually had dire shortages of it in the National Guard every single time anything serious went down. That's part of why I kept several thousand rounds in the relevant calibers at my house when I was still in the NG, and that included belted ammo for the bigger stuff.

In peacetime the weapons have higher value due to production cost and basic economics, but in a conflict zone, there is usually inflated prices for ammo while empty or dropped weapons are plentiful. That's why I mentioned the need for keeping gold for bulk ammo purchase post-SHTF in the other topic.

Ther are also some serious dangers with oversize weapons stockpile security when there are predatory groups looking to get a hold of such from individuals and small family groups under conflict. The military being aware of that isn't very often keeping large supplies of small arms and ammunition in the same locations, which severely complicates supplies every time someone proposes some new proprietary cartridge. So apart from limited special operations use, I strongly suspect that any major ammo changes will go nowhere in the foreseeable future.

[ 04-25-2017, 07:11 PM: Message edited by: Breacher ]

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Life liberty, and the pursuit of those who threaten them.

Trump: not the president America needs, but the president America deserves.

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Mexneck
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Well said Breecher.

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Well, this is it.

Posts: 271 | From: San Antonio, TX | Registered: Oct 2012  | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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