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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: 17234 | 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.

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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: 569 | 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

Posts: 17234 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
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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"Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at it’s worst, an intolerable one."
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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.

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airforce
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New rifle, and bigger bullets

quote:
...Army researchers are testing half a dozen ammunition variants in “intermediate calibers,” which falls between the current 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm rounds, to create a new light machine gun and inform the next-generation individual assault rifle/round combo.

The weapon designs being tested will be “unconventional,” officials said, and likely not one that is currently commercially available.

Some intermediate calibers being tested include the .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .264 USA as well as other non-commercial intermediate calibers, including cased telescoped ammo, Army officials said.

If selected by senior leaders, the weapon could resolve a close-quarters weapons debate about calibers that critics say dates to the 1920s and has influenced military small arms ever since.

If successful, the new rifle and round combination would give troops a weapon they can carry with about the same number of rounds as the current 5.56 mm but with greater range and accuracy in their firepower — with little change in weight.

The new rifle would likely replace the M16/M4 platform, which has been in the hands of troops since the 1960s and undergone multiple modifications and upgrades....

Critics of the M16/M4 and the 5.56 mm round say no matter what has been done to improve the M16 and its subsequent variations, the 5.56 mm round lacks the range and lethality needed in modern firefights.

Some of the concerns Scales said he believes are driving military leaders to finally look at an alternative to the 5.56 mm and the M16/M4 include:

— Improvements in adversaries’ body armor, which make the 5.56 mm less lethal.

— Current adversaries such as the Islamic State terror group and others using bigger rounds with more reach against U.S. troops, creating an overmatch.

— Jamming problems with M16/M4 variants that continue to plague the design....

Onward and upward,
airforce

Posts: 17234 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
Flight-ER-Doc
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Interesting. All three calibers mentioned are .308-length cartridge, so they would have to switch to an AR-10 pattern rifle. This means they would also need all new magazine pouches and the rest of the kit. This could be considered a feature since it would make chambering a 5.56 round by mistake more difficult.

Something like the 6.5 Grendel, OTOH would use the same lowers, and the same magazines (and other kit) as the M16 pattern. The long distance and terminal ballistics are pretty much the same.

I have an AR-10 pattern in 6.5 Creedmore, and a 6.5 Grendel upper for an AR-15, both are superior to 5.56 in every way except cost.

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Emergency Medicine - saving the world from themselves, one at a time.

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Posts: 1930 | From: Slipping the surly bonds of earth | Registered: Dec 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
airforce
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The Army has developed a round that will penetrate 5.56mm-resistant body armor.

quote:
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told senators Thursday that the Army has developed a round that can penetrate 5.56 mm-resistant body armor.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Army's budget request, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, asked Milley how the Army was doing in developing a new rifle to replace the M4 and a more powerful round to replace the 5.56 mm bullet it fires.

"We think we have a solution," Milley said. "We know we have developed a bullet that can penetrate these new plates."

Milley said that rifles and body armor for U.S. troops are "critically important," noting that 70 percent of U.S. casualties are borne by ground troops, mostly infantry and special operators conducting infantry-type missions.

"The 5.56 round, we recognize there is a type of body armor it does not penetrate, and adversarial states are selling that stuff on the Internet for about 250 bucks," Milley said.

Army Times reported earlier this month that experts at the Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, were testing half a dozen variants of "intermediate caliber" bullets that fall between the 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm rounds now used by nearly all U.S. troops.

Onward and upward,
airforce

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JWF
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I was reading an article on the rfi over on the firearms blog and according to that article this Milley guy and the other high ups have a hard on for the Scar platform , i have to wonder why though? wouldnt an ar10 variant be less hassle and alot cheaper? Being a civie that never served I hate expressing too much of an opinion on anything regarding the military but it really seems odd that we as a country are trillions in debt and dont have money to wipe our *** yet they are considering some of the most expensive options...When this new administration said they would invest more in the military i thought they meant invest "wisely"..then again obamacare is still there and foodstamps are still being handed out like crazy so whats a couple billion more in debt..its just tax dollars(face palm).

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airforce
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The dumbest thing the military ever did was replace the perfectly good M14 with the M16. It will never happen, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to just go back and shove the mothballs off those old M14 rifles.

Onward and upward,
airforce

Posts: 17234 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
Rudy
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It isn't always the round or the rifle used, I believe it is the training that isn't given.

Our local NG went to the sandbox about 12 years ago. The club I belong to offer the guard the use of our range for free. We have steel silhouette targets at 300 yards all the way out to 1000 yards.

They declined our offer. We were told that they were already marksmen because "they used sub caliber ammo at reduced range targets." Meaning they used air rifles at 25 yards!

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"Once the pin is pulled, Mr. Handgrenade is no longer our friend."

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