Army Stops Use Of A1 EPR Ammunition In Shoot Houses, Round Has Too Much Penetration

intvw02

Perhaps a downside of trying to make an enhanced performance round meet environmental regulations (which only matters on the training range), is that the two inevitably end up at odds with each other. Case in point, the modern M855A1 and M80A1 rounds have been prohibited – for the time being – for use in shoot houses, due to their potential to penetrate existing live fire shoot house barriers. From SoldierSystems.net:

Early this year, the US Army released guidance curtailing the use of M855A1 and M80A1 enhanced performance ammunition in live fire shoot houses until further notice due to over penetration of ballistic backer materials in the structures.

R 061517Z JAN 15
FM ALARACT RELEASE AUTHORITY WASHINGTON DC
TO ALARACT
BT
UNCLAS
SUBJ/URGENT ALARACT 004/2014 – STOP USE OF M855A1 AND M80A1 EPR AMMUNITION FOR TRAINING IN LIVE FIRE SHOOT HOUSES (LFSH) UNTIL TESTING IS COMPLETED

THIS URGENT ALARACT MESSAGE HAS BEEN TRANSMITTED BY USAITA ON BEHALF OF HQDA ASO//DACS-FS//

1. (U) BACKGROUND. THE EPR 5.56MM M855A1 AND 7.62MM M80A1 ROUNDS BOTH HAVE INCREASED VELOCITY AND IMPROVED PENETRATION CAPABLIITIES OVER CURRENT STANDARD AMMUNITION (5.56 M855 AND 7.62MM M80). THERE ARE SAFETY RELATED CONCERNS THAT THESE NEW ROUNDS MAY POSSIBLY PENETRATE THE EXISTING MATERIALS THAT ARE USED IN CONSTRUCTION OF LFSH (SHOCK ABSORBENT CONCRETE, WALLS FILLED WITH PEA GRAVEL OR SAND, AND 3/8 INCH AND 1/2 INCH AR 500 STEEL).

2. (U) TESTING IS ONGOING TO IDENTIFY WHICH LFSH CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS WILL CONTAIN PROJECTILES. THE M855A1 AND M80A1 EPR AMMUNITION SHOULD NOT BE USED DURING TRAINING IN ANY LFSH UNTIL TESTING OF CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS IS COMPLETED AND ANALYZED.

3. (U) HQDA G-3/5/7 HAS AUTHORIZED THE FOLLOWING AMMUNITION FOR USE IN LFSH: LIVE BALL-M855, M80; SHORT RANGE TRAINING AMMUNITION (SRTA)-5.56MM M1037 BALL, M862 PLASTIC AND 7.62MM M973/M974 LINKED 4
BALL/1 TRACER; AND CLOSE COMBAT MISSION CAPABILITY KIT (CCMCK) FORCE-ON-FORCE LOW VELOCITY MARKING AMMUNITION.

4. (U) POC: Redacted by me.

5. (U) EXPIRATION DATE IS 22 APRIL 2015.

While the Army now has some additional work to do creating new LFSH barriers that can reliably stop the two new rounds, at the very least this development should help assuage concerns that the rounds don’t represent a meaningful improvement in performance over the older standards!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Riot

    If these shoot houses are all short range training then why not just issue rounded nose ammunition?

    • US Army insists on using issue ammo for training. The problems with this should be obvious.

      • KestrelBike

        US Army insists on being inefficient.

      • Sulaco

        Well that makes a certain amount of sense kind of like using .357 to qualify instead of .38 spl when troops were issued .357 for street carry like older police qual courses did. Train with what you use not something you will not have in combat is not out there in concept…

        • Kivaari

          In the old days when we had .357 magnum revolvers, we chose to switch to .38 Special +P. The days of using .38 mid-range wad-cutters for qualifying ended 40 years ago. When we tried qualifying with .357s, it showed us we were not doing well at all. A miss with a .357 doesn’t have much stopping power.

          • Sulaco

            We still did that (quals .38 wads issued .357’s for carry) in 78 when I started but it ended only when we switched to semi autos mostly in 9mm which require a certin power level to function…around 82 or so…

      • Kivaari

        It makes sense to use the issue ammo. Our department required us to use 9mm+P+ for duty, and reloads equal in bullet weight and velocity in training. The “actual qualification” was shot with the high priced duty ammo. It cost more money, but it is a wise policy. We always attempted to have a strong training record just in case we ended up in a lawsuit.

        • CommonSense23

          Except there is absolutely no need to use the same ammo for this. One this isn’t about accuracy, two training rounds like serta, frang, or paint rounds will have almost the same ballistics path at this range, and is far safer to use.

          • Kivaari

            My point is use a round that has the same bullet weight, velocity and doesn’t cost as much. In PRATICE we used reloads that duplicated the weight and velocity, but costs considerably less. Then for the final qualification we used duty ammo. It cost about 4 times as much to use the “service loads” for training. Therefore we did not use it except for the final “for record” shooting. Frangible costs more than regular ammo. Paint ball is useless except for force on force shooting. It costs more as well, and requires special guns (or uppers). Paint ball loads do not come close to the feel of real ammo.
            We would shoot 250-500 rounds or reloads each month, always ending with duty ammo of the record. Some of the service ammo we used cost close to $1 per shot. So the final for score costs $60 to $90 for each officer.

          • Anonymoose

            B-but muh lead-free!

          • CommonSense23

            Yeah, but this isn’t about accuracy training. So using ammo that is ballistically similar is just not conductive to training. The vast majority of CQC training can be done with a rubber gun. First the price of using the ammo I stated earlier is offset in the long run by a variety of factors. One, just killing a guy alone cost the government a insane amount money. Factor in the cost of damage to the building, lead exposure, and limited training locations that can handle service ammo. By using these rounds, you can be safer and train more realistically than if you are using something such as 855/855A1.

  • CommonSense23

    I don’t know why this is still a problem. You would think that after NSW learned the hard way that you should only use Frang, Serta, or paint rounds in a house, after losing a guy to a freak accident, the rest of the military would have realized the need to use the proper rounds in the house.

    • Grindstone50k

      Implying that the branches communicate effectively to each other.

      • raz-0

        yeah, that’s crazy talk.

  • Giolli Joker

    Is this the ammo for which the Army has to pay royalties per round to the IP owners?
    Isn’t it that they’re trying to reduce its usage?

    • spotr

      Liberty ammo had to fight them in court to get the ruling. 1.4 cents per round goes to the patent holder until 2027.

      • Giolli Joker

        Exactly, my wild guess was that they might prefer to reduce usage where possible, considering that overall they’re probably shooting millions of rounds per year in training and the “royalties” were not in the budget.
        But, as I said, just a wild guess.

        • Mark N.

          At 1.4 cents per round, the royalty is $14,000 for 1,000,000 rounds. Do you think the Army cares?

          • Giolli Joker

            Yeah, it’s taxpayers money so they might not care.
            I have no idea how much the Army pays per round, 1.4 cents might be a higher percentage than we’d think, tho.

        • I think the A1 is just penetrating barriers. The core is much, much larger than M855, which already will chew up AR500 targets in pretty short order.

  • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

    They penetrate well, ok. But how will they fare in all the other aspects – accuracy, wear of the firearm, etc.?

    • Joshua

      1-2MOA capable at 300M from the M4A1 and according to the most recent SOCOM revised schedule for weapons maintenance on the M4A1 and CQBR which takes M855A1 into account. 6,000 rounds – I(inspect) on the barrel, bolt, and 10,000 rounds – R(replace) on the barrel and bolt.

      • CommonSense23

        Where did you get the the data that takes the M855A1 into account.

      • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

        Thanks.
        How that compares to regular M855?
        And what is 1-2MOA? Extreme spread? Mean radius?

        • JSmath

          Google “MOA”

          • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

            I know what MOA means.

            Depending on what and how you measure it, such a spread can be great or terrible.

          • JSmath

            With respect to accuracy, referring to MOA is used almost exclusively to describe the extreme spread as observed by the shooter/tester.

            -Fire separate groups of ~3-5 shots.
            -Measure distance between furthest hits. Consider that that “MOA” of that group.
            -Possibly rounded as a mean between the results of multiple groups, of the same or different loads.

            As described above, that would mean an M4A1 putting 3-6 inch groups on targets at 300yrds. Effectively, it produces the same information as using the mean spread, but also foretells of consistent but significant deviations.

          • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

            That is not bad for GI rifle + ammo.

      • Frank

        Given the quality of commercially available M855 I find that hard to believe.

        • Joshua

          M855A1 has significantly better accuracy than M855.

          • Uniform223

            I always read the A1 had better accuracy over the old green tips, but out of service rifles the accuracy was so slight that it was almost negligible. Where the A1 really shines over its predecessor is when you have a match grade barrel as seen at Camp Perry Ohio.

      • Grindstone50k

        Link to source? Not doubting, just very curious.

        • Joshua

          No can do, whish I could. Documentation is not allowed for distribution on civilian sites.

          • Grindstone50k

            Understood.

          • CommonSense23

            If you had a SIPR account where would you look this one up.

          • Joshua

            Not sure. I can find out. Me and a friend were discussing the CQBR and M855A1 and ended up looking over the revised Maintenance standards which were revised from 6,000 to 10,000 rounds.

            But I don’t have it on file.

  • Esh325

    Seems like their new round is working too well. I did not know they already adopted an improved 7.62×51 round.

    • Curious_G

      How so? Did you read the article?

  • Lance

    One of many issues poor M-855A1 has along with dirty powder and over pressure.

    • M855A1 is less likely to create an overpressure situation than M855.

      • Echo5Charlie

        How?

        • More temperature-stable propellant. M855 has a lower peak pressure (58K PSI), but when the chamber temperature reaches above 200 degrees it can produce pressures in excess of 90,000 PSI). M855A1’s propellant, SMP-842, greatly alleviates this, despite the higher preak pressure (63,000 PSI).

  • Grindstone50k

    … I’ll be in my bunk.

  • Dude

    This was EXACTLY my experience in a green-on-blue in 2013. 24x rounds 5.56mm and 12x 9mm hits including a head shot in 4x strings of fire from 2x shooters to finally kill the attacker, who was not wearing armor, because all 5.56mm rounds penetrated completely at close range.

  • Giolli Joker

    It might be a bit too expensive.

  • Dan

    Oh so very pretty! Me likey

  • noguncontrol

    Sell of those to the civilian market as surplus !

  • Steve Truffer

    Reading the docs Nate gave me a while back, They praised the penetration of the round and made that a main reason why it was “improved”. So we got an overpressure round that penetrates extremely well, and now we’re shocked it works as advertised?

  • Phil Hsueh

    Somebody needs to forward this article to the ATF in regards to their proposed, and now shelved M855 ban.

  • Zebra Dun

    Wait, What?
    Training rounds penetrate more than normal combat rounds yet are environmentally, protective, effective?
    Sounds like the old Marine Kinder, gentler NaPalm.

    • Agitator

      M855A1 is not a training round, it’s recently the standard issue for the US Army. The old M855 “green tip” rounds remain as a substitute standard.

      • Zebra Dun

        Good to know, good to go, Thanks Bubby!

  • patriotism-matters

    I think it is BS marketing material to justify taking it off the civilian market. They can say”even our brave military stopped using this dangerous ammo” It’s BS to support a political agenda.

    • Or it’s just not safe to use in shoot houses.

      • Echo5Charlie

        The Army was well aware that most shoot houses were not able to handle the M855A1 round at adoption. This is honestly no surprise other than IF they were using it in shoot houses they believed were equipped to handle the M855A1 round.

        Aside from the “match grade” claims made initially, the M855A1 is living up to its claims. Time and combat will tell the rest.

  • buzzman1

    Arent Brown tip ammo Armor Piercing?

  • ghost

    Hasty live fire in bamboo and thatch huts always went thru walls.