Army and Marines Butt Heads On M855A1/Mk. 318

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The Army and Marine Corps’ ongoing schism over standard issue 5.56mm ammunition came to a head during a recent House Armed Services Committee meeting. The USMC, which still uses the 1970s-era M855 round, supplemented by their Mk. 318 SOST ammunition, were a particular subject of contention:

U.S. lawmakers recently questioned Army andMarine Corps leaders on small-arms and why the two services buy completely different bullets for the M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines.

“You guys are using two different rounds, and you have procured several million rounds to date and you have used them in combat,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., said at a March 19 House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Sanchez, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, wanted to know why the Marine Corps uses the M855 5.56mm round and the Army uses the M855A1.

The services met with the subcommittee to discuss Fiscal 2016 modernization efforts — a touchy subject these days since the Pentagon is facing another round of mandatory budget cuts under sequestration in 2016.

“Maintaining two inventories of the same size combat ammunition is probably not the most efficient way to go,” Sanchez said.

“I just think it looks bad. It makes us all look bad. It appears very wasteful from the outside to have the Marines and the Army not buying the same bullet.”

But the Marine Corps and the Army’s decision to use two separate types of 5.56mm ammo is not a simple oversight.

The Army adopted the M855A1 in 2010 after years of struggling to find a lead-free replacement for the Cold-War era M855.

In recent years, troops also criticized the M855, saying it often delivered ineffective results on enemy behind battlefield barriers such as car windshields.

The M855A1 features a steel penetrator on top of a solid copper slug, making it is more dependable than the current M855, Army officials have maintained. It delivers consistent performance at all distances and performed better than the current-issue 7.62mm round against hardened steel targets in testing. It penetrated 3/8s-inch-thick steel at ranges approaching 400 meters, tripling the performance of the M855, Army officials said.

The Corps had planned to field the Army’s M855A1 until the program suffered a major setback in August 2009, when testing revealed that some of the bullets did not follow their trajectory or intended flight path.

We recently linked to an interview with Sal Fanelli, explaining some of the reasoning behind the USMC’s choice of the Mk. 318. The Mk. 318 can be seen as essentially the back half of a brass solid mated to the front half of an open tip match bullet. M855A1, on the other hand, is designed as a general-purpose cartridge, relying on the fragmentation of its jacket for terminal effect.

Representatives of the Marine Corps have stated on several occasions that they are interested in adopting the M855A1, pending testing. How this will turn out is anyone’s guess, but it’s clear that there is significant pressure to standardize with the US Army on ammunition.



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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  • Giolli Joker

    Personally I’d rephrase the title…

    • Anonymoose

      I wouldn’t. I think it’s perfect. :^)

  • powerwiz

    Id go with what the Marines say any day on this issue…13 years Marine Corp here. The Army is bogged down in levels of bureaucracy, huge massive monolith organization. Generally Marines tell it like it is, listen to the Marines on the ground.

    • Sancho

      Thirteen years and you never learned that it’s called the Marine Corps.

      • Joshua

        Makes one wonder.

      • powerwiz

        2015…I am part of the texting generation.

        • Joshua

          So am I, and I still get my branch right.

          • wzrd1

            They’re not a branch of service.The Army, the Navy and the Air Force are branches of the military.
            The US Marine Corps are a corps of the Navy.

            Still, when it comes to firearms, ballistics and terminal ballistics, this near 28 year Army veteran would trust that corps of the Navy. That is due to the corps specialty and overall proficiency with small arms in particular, which is a side effect of both a small corps size and the nature of their mission.

            After all, when it absolutely, positively must be smashed and tangos eliminated overnight, you don’t call in Big Army, you call in SF, Rangers or the US Marine Corps, depending upon mission specifics.

          • Joshua

            Yeah I get that. I was Army, hence why I said I get my branch right.

            If I had been a Marine I would not go around calling them a corporation.

            I also like how you compare the Marine Corps to Army SF and SoF. As if they are anywhere near comparable.

          • wzrd1

            Force Recon is Special Operations capable. The Marine Corps has a special operations command that works closely with the rest of JSOC.
            But, SF is a small part of SO.
            It’s shame that the pretender above doesn’t have the terminology down.

          • Ron

            SOC was a title MEUs were certified as after they completed their SOCEX, Force did do many of the SOC specific missions but not all of them. MARFORSOC is the USMC component of USSOCOM

          • Ron

            You may actually want to look at Title X of the US code. The term “Corps” and “Commandant” are historical in nature from when the Marine Corps was an security and landing force of the US Navy. In 1947 the Marine Corps was made a co-equal service of the Department of the Navy. The Commandant is a full member of the JCS.

            Many people have a shallow understanding of the organization structure of the Department of Defense, its various military departments, those Departments’ services and agencies. The Department of the Navy consists of two uniformed Services: the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps and the Secretariat

          • jdkchem

            That would be a department of the Navy. Specifically the Men’s Department.

          • Core

            It helps that the Corps shares the Federal ballistics lab. By SF you must mean Navy.. Joshua I didn’t know you were the grammar nazi for the Corps? Don’t be so critical jeeez.

    • Indoctrination successful!

    • dannye

      Yes let’s all go back to the 1911 while we’re at it.

      USMC is the fudd service.

      • powerwiz

        US Marine Corp Special forces already have and they have the option of using a Glock 9mm.

        • dannye

          Then why’d they waste $24 million on a handout to Colt for a bunch of overpriced 1911’s with a penchant for cracking frames?

          • powerwiz

            The same reason why the US Armed Forces have allowed the F-35 to mushroom from the under 100 billion per plane to unreal 250 billion per plane…there idiots.

            24 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost over run on just that one program.

          • dannye

            Comparing the Colt handout to the F35 catastrophe is hardly a justification for said handout.

          • Exrakfist

            You’re off by a factor of 1,000. Sorry, I’m a math nerd.

          • Uniform223

            Last I checked the USMC is the first to get the make their version of the F-35 IOC.

          • buzzman1

            Yeah and it cant perform in the CAS mission nor carry the small diameter bomb it was designed to use. Big help there,

          • wzrd1

            Don’t forget Big Army’s bondoggles, the new artillery which has had more overruns than Carter’s got little liver pills, the perpetual motion machine that is the XM-25, which will likely go into production, considering the current rate of progress, in the 22nd century and more.

          • CommonSense23

            Nostalgia and the fact that Marine SOF has one of the most screwed up chain of commands imaginable.

          • Joshua

            To be fair, Colt fixed the frame issue before any were delivered.

            Still an over priced 1911, but I have to be honest.

          • dannye

            If by fix, you mean tighten the replacement schedule?

          • Joshua

            The frame cracks came from exaggerated slide serrations and lightening cuts in the frame.

            They removed both, changed location of the slide serstions and it fixed the cracking problem

          • wzrd1

            I think that the issue was that Colt started making their M1911 line geared toward the more popular 185 grain round. Any newer innovations, such as deeper serrations to enable easier usage in field conditions didn’t take into account the heavier round/load.
            I had another brand M1911, the first thing I had to do was change their crap extractor and put in a Colt spring, as I was suffering from slide battering.

        • Phil Hsueh

          Marine Corp? Since when is my beloved Corps a corporation?

          • Joshua

            Least he didn’t say Corpse.

          • buzzman1

            Like Obama has.

        • wzrd1

          First, there is no US Marine Corps Special Forces. Force Recon, perhaps? I’d not call a Force Recon guy SF and expect to not be corrected, possibly percussively.

          • Joshua

            Ever hear of MARSOC? Marine Corps Forced Special Operations Command. Recently renamed to the Marine Raiders.

      • Nicks87

        I agree 100%

      • Anonymoose

        Needs moar 1903.

      • dhdoyle

        No… The USMC always has to to make due with a budget that never stretches far enough. It regularly has to adapt old gear and weaponry because there isn’t any money for a large procurement of new stuff. M855A1 is much more expensive to produce than its predecessor. Mark 318 isn’t as hard on the budget but M855 is good enough and much more affordable.

        • dannye

          If the USMC is broke, why’d they spend over twice as much per-unit on a bunch of overpriced handguns instead of sticking with the tried and true M9?

          • Delta3-6C/A2

            Because the M9 was not often tried nor always true. Pistol arming lists in either garrison/AOR were often very tiny – and rarely encompassed what most people would considered ‘end users’. (All the cool guys had Sigs, or ‘other’).

          • dannye

            Ah, so indeed the Colt 1911 splurge was an attempt to emulate the “cool guys” but with a fudd fetish, as opposed to any real demonstrated need. Let’s face it, the M9 and the 9mm round is perfectly adequate.

          • wzrd1

            I never had to double tap with an M1911, always had to with an M9.

          • Joshua

            Haha, oh god there it is .45 vs 9mm.

          • buzzman1

            Josh, You always seem to forget that in a 9mm vs .45 discussion in these forums the military uses “Ball” ammo and not the high speed controlled expansion hollow points civilians buy.

          • And everbody seems to forget that all FMJs poke cute little holes in people regardless of caliber.

          • dannye

            *cough* BS *cough*

        • Do you have a source for Mk. 318 being cheaper?

      • ekimp252

        As a 2531 in the late 70’s and early 80’2, I carried a 1911. And still do.

        • dannye

          That’s before the adoption of the M9, ergo irrelevant in the context of current equipment acquisitions.

    • n0truscotsman

      I wish that was true.

      If this was the case, the F35 gorilla in the room would have had a axe taken to its skull and a new AAV would have been adopted. Not to mention a come to jeebus meeting where the marines discussed their priorities on what it takes for 21st century amphibious forced entries. The entire reasoning behind their existence.

  • Ron

    The Marine Corps stated at past Army Marine Corps Board meeting that it would adopt 855A1 when the fouling problems were resolved.

    M855A1 is not as bad as many make it out to be, but it still has issues

    • Mitch

      I don’t understand why mk318 hasn’t just become the all-around standard at this point. Performance is proven, cost is relatively low, no overpressure issues… Someone’s getting filthy rich off of M855A1, and shady backdoor deals seem to be the order of the day in this case. MK318 as the standard issue for all branches, and 77gr OTM’s for DMR’s. Done.

      • Joshua

        Have you seen overpressure issues with M855A1? Or are you just restating the same info, restated over and over that came from one or two individuals?

        • Alex Waits

          855a1 is a higher pressure round, accelerating barrel erosion, I think that is what he meant

          • Joshua

            Like I said, has he actually seen these issues for himself? Or is he regurgitating internet stuff.

          • dhdoyle

            Actually, Alex is right. I have an Army acquaintance who possesses large-quantity repair data on M4’s. They have adjusted their maintenance schedules for rifles using M855A1. For example, in his unit, barrels are now replaced at 4,000 rounds, as opposed to the previous 5,000 round count. Other parts are being replaced with a general 20% reduction in service life.

          • Joshua

            I don’t believe you, given I have seen with my own eyes the latest revision in regards to the M4A1 and Mk18/CQBR.

            That should tell you where the ones I have seen came from. Pretty sure his Unit does not get issued CQBRs.

            Maybe his Unit does that, but it is not Army wide. I’ll go by what SoF and SF does first.

          • dhdoyle

            Gee, and I was ready to ask him for permission to quote him. You don’t have to believe me. I don’t have a dog in this hunt and I could care less. I’m FIDO.

          • Joshua

            Don’t take it personally. When I have seen the most recent revision to the M4A1 and Mk18 maintenance schedules I just have a hard time to take a random unit seriously. Especially given some Army units idea of maintenance.

            Like I said, the guns I worked with saw 1,690 rounds a week through them often. Firing schedules were much harsher, and M855A1 is becoming the standard issue round. Even with that the maintenance standards were revised from 6,000 rounds to 10,000 rounds.

          • Uniform223

            The newer M4A1s with the thicker barrel profile and better buffer assembly and spring, wouldn’t those two changes alleviate any “issues” (increased barrel wear, chamber over pressure) the M855A1 would caused initially on the original mass issued M4

          • Joshua

            You may be right. I clearly didn’t read his message clearly enough because he does refference the M4.

            I honestly have not seen the maintenance schedule for the M4, just the M4A1.

          • Core

            We were looking at 10k+ on the Navy M4 with original M4 barrel. I can’t see how the thicker barrel would reduce erosion, or buffer and spring? The barrel metallurgy and coating technology would be a great place to start to address higher pressures. I would think ensuring the gas port is sized for the higher pressures would also be a cheap and effective mod. I’m not sure how the piston system effect barrel erosion but with the R5 and Colt piston models available to the military it would be worth investigating prior to investing into guns with the same barrels. A barrel revision may be required to ensure cost effectiveness. I think we should invest in hammer forged melonited barrels anyway at his point IMO.

          • Not necessarily.

          • It’s higher pressure but more temperature stable. Which means the nominal pressure is higher but there are fewer and lower excursions from it during fully automatic fire.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Isn’t this the highly-touted ‘green, Eco-friendly’ ammo?

    • Joshua

      It’s only as Eco friendly as any all copper round. It’s not some special magic making it lead free. Copper slug and steel penetrator are pretty eco friendly.

      • lucusloc

        Unless you bury a few of the rounds in the cambium layer of a tree. There is typically enough copper in a solid copper bullet for a few of them to kill a tree. Lead core copper jacketed bullets are safer for trees since they deliver a significantly smaller dose of the metal.

      • Pete Sheppard

        True; that was the buzz at the time. I wondered if there still bugs to be worked out accuracy-wise, and that was why the Marines were not enthusiastic about the round.

      • mytraintrax

        All ammo is eco friendly as long as it stops the methane leak out of a sand monkeys a$$.

  • 6.5x55Swedish

    I don’t know about you but I see a perfect opportunity to switch caliber so something better instead of reiteration the same old caliber. The US army is, as far as I understand, looking to upgrade their rifles, changing parts etc. And the newer rounds need different twist rates. The US army and Navy have not had such a good opportunity in a while.

    • Rick

      Oh, Swedish,don’t you know, the AR15/M16/M16a1/M16a2/M16a3/M16a4/M4/M4a1/M4a1+ is perfect, has been perfect and always will be perfect, so there’s no need for improvements, even though continuous practical experience and testing and attempts to find a better weapon only to call it all off when the other weapon which outperform ours are suddenly no longer improvements but unnecessary burdens, because our guns are already the most reliable in the world, which is why our own people keep on keep on wishing we had AK reliability, to make it fair to the other guys, and our rounds are the most perfect, lethal ones in the world, which is why we must change them an the barrel twist rate constantly, because we keep on getting confirmed reports of guys who take 5+ of them to the chest and still come back later to kill our guys. Gosh, you’re so ignorant!

      • Joshua

        Go back under your bridge.

      • n0truscotsman

        LOL right because AKs haven’t been improved either since the late 40s

        http://www.army-technology.com/projects/ak-74m-assault-rifle-russian-army-military/

        http://www.enemyforces.net/firearms/ak100.htm

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AK-12

        Oh right…oops.

        Neither has the FAMAS, G36, L85, or any other small arm in mass use since the 1960s… 😉

        • iksnilol

          They have been improved, but they also worked before the improvement.

          Think of it like a sandwich with cheese and salami, it tastes good, so you add some slices of paprika. It makes it taste even better, but without the paprika it is still fine.

          • Joshua

            The M16A1 worked before we started chopping the barrel off.

            We just didn’t really start improving the M4 until we got into Iraq and had no choice.

            A lot changed when we entered the GWOT. We also started shooting our guns a whole lot more. It is not uncommon for SoF and SF to go through a crate of ammo(1,690 rounds) a week in their M4A1’s.

          • iksnilol

            I have handled the A1, not in a millitary setting. Wouldn’t trust my life on it. Maybe if it was a straight pull bolt action.

            But of course, the timing issues when the hacksaw came out didn’t help.

          • Man, I’m gonna be honest with you, when you say things like that it really doesn’t reflect well on you.

          • iksnilol

            Well, if you have problems with the gas system then removing it from the equation would make it easier.

            Contrary to you my friend can’t just order a new BCG, gas tube and gas block from Midway for his illegal M16. I don’t have to explain that firearms parts are way more controlled in the rest of the world than in the US? Especially when it is a country that had a war recently (for some reason both the governments, EU and the UN doesn’t like us having weapons).

          • “I have handled the A1, not in a millitary setting. Wouldn’t trust my life on it. Maybe if it was a straight pull bolt action.”

            Come on. Saying something like this makes it sound like you took one look at the rifle and scoffed that it was a Mattel toy, don’t you see that?

          • iksnilol

            I should clarify, I fired some rounds, so did the owner, it f***** up. Then we fixed it… Then we didn’t shoot it more due to the fact we really didn’t want to have to fix it again.

            Like I said, if I had less heat on me I would probably get new parts for it as a gift because the owner is a close friend. Maybe some better ammo? I don’t know.

            The owner didn’t use it for direct fighting, he used it more shoot from distance where it wasn’t that dangerous if the gun jammed up. He stopped using it like that when he eventually got a scope for his AK.

            I know that a popular joke is that our special forces have version AKA the worst version.got to be the best because we make the worst guns run. Seriously, our special forces used/use the Famas. The first

            Regarding the Mattel part, I wouldn’t buttstroke with it. Not that I am afraid of breaking the stock, but I am afraid of bending or rattling the buffer tube just enough to make it run worse.

          • So why didn’t you say that?

          • iksnilol

            Because I think that handling usually also entails firing some rounds. If I hadn’t shot it, then I would have mentioned “I handled it but didn’t get to shoot it”. The “not in a millitary setting” part is just there so that people won’t think I am millitary or impersonating millitary.

          • Uniform223

            “Regarding the Mattel part, I wouldn’t buttstroke with it. Not that I am afraid of breaking the stock, but I am afraid of bending or rattling the buffer tube just enough to make it run worse.”

            younger and stronger me went through the bayonet course with the M16A2s. Yeah those but stocks are stronger than people think. Would you intentionally drop it from 15ft right on its ass? No. Yet if you do a full forced butt stroke to the head, neck, mid section, or groin. I guarantee those stocks wont break and the poor sap on the receiving end will. After that, my M16 worked just fine on the range.

          • Hillary’s Gaping A-Hole

            Has there been an occasion when he said something that DID reflect well on him?

          • n0truscotsman

            Well technically, Stoner’s designed “worked” before the “improvement” as well, until that “improvement” was proven to be substandard and it had to be “improved again”.
            It astonishes me that people bash the M4 because “it has been improved and modified substantially since the 60s, OMG!” but they fail to realize a couple key points
            1.) Other weapons have also been substantially modified, especially following practical experience and evolutions in small arms technology since 2000
            2.) The US has been in the forefront of most of these modifications, due in no small part to our experienced gained in the types of conflicts we have been involved in since the end of the cold war. name one other country that is in the same boat besides Israel (and this further validates my point. Israel has extensively modified existing firearms based on their real world experience accrued).

    • I am certainly in favor of a change for the better – and I think the timing now is quite good, since there’s a great deal of fresh experience to draw from and relatively little fighting going on – but I have serious reservations about going to larger calibers for the infantry rifle.

  • Isn’t the Mk. 318 more of a Match round than GPC like the A1? So aren’t we comparing apples to oranges?

    • That’s one way of looking at it, yes. At the end of the day, the two rounds were designed around slightly different requirements.

  • Lance

    Again the USMC is right and has the better product than the Army. Mk-318 is more reliable, less dirty and uses standard 5.56mm cartridge pressures M-855A1 is none of that.

    • How is Mk. 318 less dirty? It uses the exact same powder as M855A1.

      • iksnilol

        Maybe due to less pressure? I am just guessing here.

        • I doubt that it is less dirty.

          • Ron

            The fouling issue is not powder based but jacket material fouling in the barrel. So much so that after a thousand or so round without de-coppering weapons fired from precision mounts have problems maintaining accuracy requirements. Once decopped accuracy returns.

          • Do you have a source for this? The jacket material is the same gilding metal it’s always been.

          • Ron

            I saw the testing results

          • Do you have a source?

  • Vitor Roma

    In my opinion the stupid thing about the A1 was to remain a 62gr bullet while increasing the pressure from 58k to 63k psi. Such high pressure (63k psi) could easily propel a 70gr bullet with superior ballistics and range at a similar speed that the old 58k psi could with the 62gr.

    The extra speed gained with increasing the pressure while maintaining the same weight offers little advantage, since it will be lost due to the higher resistance with the air and barrels wearing out faster.

    In my dream world, they would pick the pressure of the A1 and apply to a heavier 70gr version of the M318. Now you have a 5.56mm ammo that can will make 700 yards easily.

    • Joshua

      M855A1 makes 600M easily.

      • CommonSense23

        Have you heard exactly what the MOA requirements of the M855A1 and how it actually performs, especially in regards to extreme spread and mean radius.

        • Joshua

          Max allowable is 5.5MOA at 300M….I believe, may be 200M, but pretty sure it’s 300M.

          I have yet to see a lot go above 3″ mean radius at 300M.

          • CommonSense23

            Yeah just try

          • iksnilol

            So a 42 cm (16.5 inch) grouping at 300 meters?

          • Joshua

            It’s the same Max allowed accuracy of M855.

            I guess it could be possible to one day a chief that level of accuracy, but so far M855A1 as a whole appears to be a more accurate design and has not had any significant opening of groups going to mass production.

            So far it has held right under, or at 2MOA at 300M. I don’t see that changing.

          • Pretty sure it’s 300m.

    • JoelC

      These aren’t lead core, they are copper and steel. In order to increase the bullet weight you would need to lengthen the bullet and still maintain the same overall length. This would boost the pressure even higher than it already is, burning out barrels even faster.

    • Man, 55gr Brown Bear will make a 700-800m easy, so I don’t think that would be necessary.

      • iksnilol

        What are its effects at those distances though? I am curious why there aren’t any ballistic gel tests at distance?

        • For a 55gr steel-jacketed FMJ? Probably crap at that distance.

          The gel tests for M855A1 are still classified. Why, I don’t know.

          • Uniform223

            This is what I think happens. Purely unscientific assumption.
            Upon impact on soft targets (flesh), the open exposed steel penetrator keeps moving forward creating exit wound along with a temporary cavity. The copper base slug breaks off as the round impacts and travels forward into the target. As the copper slug breaks off it goes along a different path, copper being a softer metal either mushrooms or breaks apart as it tumbles and yaws inside the body.
            Again this is just me thinking what might happen and purely unscientific assumption.

          • Joshua

            Pretty spot on. Though the slug doesn’t mushroom, it just travels a different path.

          • Joshua

            No idea, the few rounds that made it to public testing were forced to be pulled from the internet by a certain ballistician when the data disagreed with his opinion.

          • Oh that sounds juicy; email me and tell me more!

  • MountainKelly

    So back to the 45-70 it is!

    • Anonymoose

      .50-70 was better. :^)

      • Peadair

        LOL

        • jsmith6

          You have rock and stick? I’ll just stick to my old reliables on my left and right, known as Jack Johnson and Mike Tyson. I seen bears run from them!

          • Frank

            I’ll stick with a tried and true weapon since the beginning of time: gravity. Killing Mastodons before Jesus.

      • marathag

        Posers.

        Everyone knows that the Buck and Ball .69 was the ultimate in stopping power

        • iksnilol

          Pfft, I am sticking to my saber. These “firearms” are just a fad.

          • Uniform223

            Saber too complex too expensive. Me stay with hard shard rock tied to stick.

          • Tothe

            Why you use stick? Better to throw rocks.

          • hurr

            Rock lousy alternative to fist.

          • FANg

            Bah, big lumpy fleshy fists. Teeth are the way to go. Tried and true through 500 million years of evolution.

        • Anonymoose

          .72 or nothin.

        • The Brigadier

          I remember reading about a Nitro .800, a gun especially designed to drop a bull elephant with one shot. I think it might have the honor of being the ultimate. Anyone know about a more powerful rifle than this one?

          • marathag

            That can be fired from the shoulder, or from a rest or bipod?

            Before you get into the realm or ‘crew served’ I would say the various 20mm Anti-Tank guns from WWII

          • jcitizen

            You mean the .700 Nitro Express? I’d still say the .50 BMG green tip beats that cartridge! It is only because of the grandfather clause in the BATF regulations that those cartridges are not considered full blown destructive devices. I think the Curio and Relic regs cover that one.

        • valorius

          nothing says stopping power like a heavy gun fire for effect. m110’s for the win!!!!

  • Matt in Germany

    “probably not the most efficient” said the congressperson…. HAHAHAHAHA

    • nadnerbus

      Oh yeah, Congress is all about the efficiency now. That’s why we have only one combat aircraft in production right now. It’s way more efficient to let Lockheed r@pe the taxpayer instead of multiple manufacturers.

      They are just looking out for our best interests.

      • The Brigadier

        With the current deep budget cuts in the DoD they are building very few of the F-35s, just like they did with the F-22 Raptors. The Air Force is now down to slightly less than 90,000 total personnel making it extremely vulnerable and difficult to carry out its worldwide mission. Liberal progressives in action.

        • Hillary’s Gaping A-Hole

          The Air Force was over 500,000 military personnel currently, 330,000 of them active duty. Plus over 185,000 civilian personnel.

        • noob

          We ask them to be invisible, take off vertically, carry 2 tons more than an a FA-18F and turn 1.5g harder.

          Then we cry when it costs too much, or is late, or is not living up to specifications.

          “In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one tactical aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3½ days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.”
          — Norman Ralph Augustine (1984). Augustine’s Laws. ISBN 978-1-56347-240-4.

          Meanwhile a Chinese PAC JF-17 Thunder costs $32 million dollars and has a range of 840nm.

          It’s a difference of philosophy.

    • Blake
  • Cannoneer No. 4

    Firearms, not politics, or politicians.

  • JoelC

    The most annoying part about the A1 is the push for it to be a green bullet. the higher pressure is a mistake and they were forced to compromise everything in order for it to be a green round. Bonded lead-core bullets are the way to go.

    Considering the type of soldiers we have been fighting, going to an expanding hollowpoint, possibly with a small tungsten penetrator, would be ideal. (blah blah blah, I know it is against the geneva convention, etc. but we never officially signed any documents of the sort, and the people we are fighting definitely didn’t sign it so it doesn’t matter.)

    The best change they could make would be to go back to a 1:9 or 1:8 twist rate. Forcing everyone to go with a 1:7 twist to stabilize a single round type(tracers) makes very little sense.

    • Miles

      If you happen to shoot a lot of tracers, which Uncle does, the needed twist rate makes perfect sense.
      Just because *you* possibly don’t shoot tracers doesn’t mean the need in combat is nonsense.
      Seriously, think about that a few seconds.

      • Steve_7

        Through rifles? Hmm.

        • buzzman1

          Yes the army does have 5.56 tracer rounds. I’ve fired a lot of them

          • Steve_7

            I can’t remember ever using tracer through rifles in the military, only MGs. And that was back in 7.62mm days when they would have been more visible. I’m not sure I can even remember seeing any loose 5.56mm or 7.62mm tracer in boxes, only on belts.

          • Ron

            When I was a commander and later MITT, I would carry a mag of tracers in my gun and at least one extra mag so I could mark targets and as the initial rounds for escalation of force.
            When I was a commander, all my junior element leaders also were required to have one mag of just tracers

          • Steve_7

            I dimly recall being trained to load it as the second round if we had any, to know when to change mags, but we never had any!

          • valorius

            m856 comes issued in 20rd boxes as well as linked.

        • Hillary’s Gaping A-Hole

          Yes, through rifles.

          As in “SPC, put a couple of HEDPs where my tracers are impacting” or “Chief, I need some 25mm into the treeline where my tracers are impacting.”

      • valorius

        imo tracers are pretty useless for ground troops.

        – ex us army infantryman

      • Steve_7

        Actually thinking about this, the reasons people have put forward for tracer use don’t actually add up to the need for a 1/7 twist. E.g. fire direction control, marking targets, etc. You can do all of that with M196 tracer. The idea behind SS110/M856 tracer is that it has the same trajectory as the SS109 ball round. Which makes sense on a MG belt but I’m not so sure it matters out of a rifle. The length of the M855 bullet is 23mm and the length of the M196 bullet is 23.1mm. However the M856 bullet is 29.3mm, which is more than 20% longer. Hence the need for the much faster twist.

        The only real advantage of M856 is that it has a longer burn than M196 but is it that important?

        Bearing in mind the 1/7 twist is known to increase shot dispersion, so you give up accuracy for a longer trace, doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Joshua

      M995. Also M856 is why we have a 1:7 twis.

      • valorius

        m856 is the reason for 1:7 you are correct.

    • I really don’t agree with this. Many effective bullets are lead free, as lead is a rather poor material in every respect but density and ease of manufacture. The M855A1 is a bullet that has a lot of research and development behind it, and it is more effective than most COTS solutions, while giving excellent penetration characteristics.

      The biggest flaws I identify with it are the exposed penetrator which doesn’t jive well with the feed ramps of the AR-15 series, and the long bearing surface, necessitated by the 5.56mm case.

      • buzzman1

        Nat,
        The steel perpetrator is softer than the steel used in the weapon so it won’t hurt your AR however the increased pressure of the round has the potential to cause serious problems. The MK 318 performs as well or better and there is no pressure issue with them.

        Back when the big game hunters first went to Africa they used cast lead bullets. No matter the caliber they tended to make shallow wounds on large animals because the lead broke apart so easily. They next tried solid copper rounds and they had a tendency to go straight through the animal. Ultimately they settled on the full metal jacket we use today as it imparts the best of both types. The lead provided the mass needed to keep bullets shorter and the softness to cause the round to mushroom while the copper jacket allowed for better penetration and a controlled expansion of the bullet making it more lethal.

        BTW get rid of your aluminum mags and go to steel or polymer and that will end most of your failure to feed problems.

        • The steel feed ramps are not what are being worn out, the aluminum “M4 feed ramps” are.

          Mk. 318 lacks the hard target penetration capabilities of M855A1, though I agree it’s more effective against soft targets at close range.

          Normal FMJs are subject to the fleet yaw problem and have a higher fragmentation threshold. They’re good bullets, but not as good as what we have available now.

          My rifle feeds fine, thanks.

          • Hillary’s Gaping A-Hole

            No 5.56mm has “hard target penetration capabilities” worth talking about with a straight face.

            The sole reason for the adoption of the M855A1 was satisfying the stupid “green bullet” requirement that DOD decided was important.

          • buzzman1

            Are you using aluminum mags? Probably not. Army found out almost 30 years ago when they started fielding SAWs that after even one use aluminum mags could not be used in them. They went back to steel for a few years and then the idiots started buying aluminum again.

          • The lower ramp portion is what’s getting worn out:

            http://tr182md.smugmug.com/Other/AR-15/i-xpJ8xVS/0/M/IMG1298-M.jpg

        • Ron

          The penetrator actual can actually create small gouges in the feeding area after high round counts.

        • Hillary’s Gaping A-Hole

          The higher pressures are simply going to make existing problems with the M4 even worse. Expect even more issues with failures to extract, due to excessive bolt velocity. Probably going to see more issues with bolt lug failure as well.

        • valorius

          the mk318 does not perform as well as m855a1 against armor or tactical barriers.

          it is not even close.

          • buzzman1

            Havent had any personal experience with either round but from things I’ve read everyone thats used the MK318 are very happy with its performance. On the other hand any neg comments by people using the A1 round seem to be suppressed.

          • buzzman1

            BTW neither round is AP.

          • valorius

            m855a1 is definitely an ap round, it has a hardened steel penetrator.

            wtf, over.

          • valorius

            m855a1 has a hardened steel penetrator, and is in fact an ap design, regardless of classification.

    • wzrd1

      First, hollow points, explosive rounds, etc are not against the Geneva Convention, they’re against the Hague Convention. The Geneva Conventions were in regards to treatment of prisoners, the Hague in regards to prohibited weapons and munitions types. The US has signed and ratified both treaties that issued from the conventions and they are hence, the law of the land.
      That said, what we’ve been fighting isn’t a war against soldiers, it’s an undeclared war against insurgents, who are not protected by the Hague or Geneva Conventions.

      That all said, the Mk-318 did appear to have superior performance, terminal ballistics and effects upon the target than the greater penetrating M855xx class. Of course, the two are entirely different beasts. The M855 family is a light armor piercing round, whereas the open tip Mk-318 is a rapid expansion round.

      The excuse of the windshield is just that, an excuse. You don’t fire a single round or burst into a windshield of an oncoming enemy, likely riving a VBIED, you repeatedly fire at the same part, the windshield delaminates and the rounds go through and explain the error of his ways to the driver and passengers. Ricochet is more of an issue than penetration, due to the angle of the windshield.

      • Steve_7

        Officially M855 is: “heavy ball”.

        • wzrd1

          Originally, the Army had them labeled “Light armor piercing”.
          The original M855 was a tungsten penetrator, the M855A1 has a steel penetrator.
          For the complaint listed of not penetrating a windshield, that complaint issues forth in hopes of the audience is ignorant on the subject of penetrating a windshield. You don’t need a penetrator, you need greater mass to shatter the inner and outer layers of windshield before significant deflection occurs.
          Meanwhile, in the real world, several rounds tend to defeat windshield glass, if tightly grouped. That tends in Army situations to not be common, although marksmanship training has improved matters, it’s still complicated by a moving vehicle that is attempting to evade terminating their desired action.
          To defeat that, we took a two team approach, one team “left”, one “right”, two per team as a minimum in a minimal manpower situation and one team took the passenger, the other took the driver. We suffered no casualties from our teams, the vehicle suffered 100% front seat casualties. Several times, the VBIED detonated at a safe distance from my teams.
          Once, the vehicle stopped immediately, the occupants laying low and awaiting capture. Those were non-combatants, fleeing some very unfriendly folks, who were similarly engaged. The occupants of the first vehicle were searched, processed and later released.
          There were no survivors in the subsequent vehicle of unfriendly folks. When driver and front seat passenger were eliminated, other occupants exited and attempted to engage, then learned what a Mk-19 can do.

          • M855 never had a tungsten penetrator.

          • buzzman1

            Nathaniel,
            I was in the army when the M855 round first came out and they were the army was telling us it had a tungsten penetrator core.

            But you are right it never did.

          • Can’t tell you what sort of information was distributed, but the round never had a tungsten core.

          • buzzman1

            The army constantly puts out bad info to its soldiers and that was one of them. I thought it was BS when they told it to us because there wasnt enough tungsten being mined to use in all of the bullets the army would buy and still leave any for civilian uses.

          • valorius

            m995 has a tungsten core, buzzman is probably mis-remembering.

            original m855a1 also used a tungsten core.

          • valorius

            the original m855a1 design used a tungsten penetrator.

          • That’s not quite right; early developmental models had a steel penetrator and were identical to M855 except the lead core was replaced by a tungsten-dust composite.

            That ammunition did not shoot very well, and the requirements for improved terminal effect and accuracy were incorporated, leading to the modern M855A1.

          • valorius

            ive read that the amount of tungsten required had the original m855a1 prototype gone into full production, would have drained the entire us tungsten inventory.

            i believe something like 16 million of the prototype rounds were delivered to the army. i wonder what they did with all of them.

          • Hillary’s Gaping A-Hole

            M855 was never designated anything other than “ball, 5.56mm.”

            And it was never had a tungsten penetrator. It has been steel since the XM855 was developed from FN’s SS/109 loading for the NATO small-caliber standardization tests in the late 1970s.

        • According to what source?

          • Steve_7

            The field manual, ammunition identification guide.

          • Could you provide a link to that for me?

      • buzzman1

        WE didnt sign up for the no hollow point portion of the Hague.

        • wzrd1

          A nation doesn’t “sign up” for a part of a convention treaty, it signs or signs with reservations. We did not sign with reservations on hollow points, which is why they weren’t used in WWII, the Korean war, the Vietnam war or technically, now.

          • buzzman1

            Wiz,
            Thats BS. We went to automatic weapons which historically didnt operate well with hollowpoints, AND hollowpoints are more expensive and time consuming to manufacture. They also don’t penetrate barriers well.

    • buzzman1

      Joel,
      You are confusing the Geneva Convention with the Hague Convention and if you do some research you will be we didnt sign up for the Hollow Point/Dumb Dumb portion of the Hague.

      • JoelC

        Exactly proving my point. Some people say we signed onto it, some say we didn’t. I don’t care because we don’t follow the other parts of the Hague convention either. We do use landmines and burning ammo(tracer) which were banned. I also have been told that bomblets/submunitions are banned by the convention and we use those too. Why we stick to this one part makes no sense to me.

        As far as the lead goes, I agree with buzz. It holds more energy going through targets. According to the marines the bonded-lead core holds together better going through cinderblocks and other barriers. I’ve seen youtube videos disproving this, but they were testing against other lead core bullets, not copper. I also hear that the bonded lead 7.62 is far superior to M82, especially from a modern shorter barrel.

        Also about the M995/M856: While I don’t use tracers, I know the services do. However I also know they don’t shoot it nearly as much as they shot old M855. It seems like you want a twist rate that will best stabilize your most common ammo. (Then again, there are powders we could use that would be better
        optimized for 14.5″ barrels,which are becoming the norm, and we still
        load it for full length barrels of rifles and the 21″ barreled M249s.) As I recall, part of the accuracy controversy for M855A1 was that the army used heavy 1:8 twist barrels against M855 with the normal 1:7 twist M4A1 barrel to show that the new round was more accurate…

        Bottom line, if neither change is at a whole new level, and there isn’t even enough difference to show that one of these two is superior to the other, lets go with the one that costs least in both the short(cost per round) and longterm(barrel erosion).

        • The Brigadier

          I agree with your last paragraph.

        • buzzman1

          Joel,
          I have worked for over 20 years with army acquisition and your 3rd paragraph on testing would not surprise me in the least. The testing was don TO PROVE the A1 was better and not to actually do a head to head. Usually if even fudging the test isnt enough they simply write the results up to show what they want.

      • valorius

        the us honors all aspects of the hague conventions, including the restrictions on expanding ammunition.

        ask any JAG.

  • Anonymoose

    Same with every service having their own speshul uniform.

  • i1776

    Ahhh friggin Jarines. Gotta be different when you have no dough! Hey Marine, you gotta pay for that fancy F35, you have no money for fancy boolits.

    • Max Glazer

      That goes for USAF and USN too

  • jdkchem

    How many Army aircraft had to take off and land from a carrier? Other than the Doolittle raid, none. When the call came from the Commander in Chief to invade Afghanistan the Army stated they would need months to prepare. The Corps said when do you want us there. Shove your retarded comment back up the orifice you pulled it out of.

    • LCON

      Army helicopters have been landing on Carrier decks way more then you think.

      • jdkchem

        My comment was in reference to WWII.

        • LCON

          you referenced Operation Enduring Freedom.

          • jdkchem

            As well as WWII, the Doolittle Raid speciffically was WWII. If you noticed there are two different statements in the comment.

          • LCON

            “How many Army aircraft had to take off and land from a carrier? Other than the Doolittle raid, none.”

            That is your WW2 Reference

            The implication that was the only time the Army has operated off a Flat top, Which is in error. the US Army’s Rotary wing fleet has operated off LHA,LHD, CV,CVN’s and lesser ships all the time.

            ” When the call came from the Commander in Chief to invade Afghanistan the Army stated they would need months to prepare.”

            Your follow up and refrence to Operation Enduring Freedom, the implication given the Doolittle Raid reference that Some how the Army is no longer able to operate with the navy in a rapid strike.
            The fact that the Doolittle Raid was planed as a one way trip for the Crews and that it was launched in April months after the Events of Pearl Harbor are forgotten.

            “The Corps said when do you want us there”

            Again the implication The Army is slow well the Marines were ready to go. Of course the fact that the USMC is designed as a Rapid deployment force well the heavy formations of the US ARMY are not escapes this statement.

          • jdkchem

            If you read the original comment the opportunity only refers to WWII. I added th OEF reference which has nothing to do with aircraft whatsoever. For those who can read there was never any implication that the Army never operated off carriers. Two entirely different subjects. How you managed to come to your silly conclusion is a mystery.

  • derfelcadarn

    Go with the 7.62×51 and carry a man’s rifle, or as close as we are allowed to get these days.

    • A man’s rifle? That piddly little thirty cal? In my day we wouldn’t kill anything bigger than a skunk with .32 roundball, let alone a dink .30!

      Nah, what the infantry needs is a REAL man’s gun, like the Winchester 1886 Carbine in .50-110 smokeless!

  • Torrorojo

    I want my 4 deuce mortar back

  • Bal256

    Mk. 318 or M855a1? Improved performance over barriers and soft targets or an improved round for fighting Russian body armor? Personally, I see us getting into more conflicts with uneducated dirt farmers more likely than I see WWIII against the Russians/Chinese/One World Order happening.

  • Ron

    The problem that initially caused dual path solution was the M855A1 was not ready for fielding when the Marine Corps decided it needed an enhanced lethality round for its carbines. The whole M855A1 program has one set back after another. The “green bullet” program started in 1995 and they have had to go back to the drawing boards numerous times because the mandate to use a non-lead projectile caused numerous initial dead ends that were found to be either unstable for longer range shooting or in the end more toxic than lead. The Marine Corps even said when the Mk318 started limited fielding in AFG, that it was an interim solution until the problems with the M855A1 were fixed.

    • “Dual path” generally refers to the M4 upgrade program and the IC Competition, just FYI.

      • Ron

        Nathan, I worked in the Pentagon long enough to hear dual path be used for dozens of programs.

        • Sure. Did they ever use it for Mk. 318?

          • Ron

            I have heard it used when referring to the M855 replacement by the Marine Corps

  • Guido FL

    Considering the cost of one trouble prone F-35, that program makes a monkey out of the inquiring congresswoman about $$$ concerns !

  • jeffrey melton

    Because congress is the paradigm of efficiency right? Must be a parallel universe where congress is thrifty with the tax payers money.

  • Steve_7

    Perhaps it’s just me but couldn’t you make the same argument for getting rid of the M16A4? Or the USMC? Or the House of Representatives?

  • Chuck Haggard

    It wouldn’t be an issue if the M855a1 wasn’t damn near a proof load. Oh, and the Army stole the bullet design from the guy that invented it….

    The search for a PC “lead free” bullet for the Army has been a multi million dollar waste of time. They should be asking why the Amry ammo development system is so inefficient and why the Marines has been so successful without wasting money.

    • Except the lead-free bullets perform better, and the USMC’s Mk. 318 Mod. 1 is also lead-free.

  • buzzman1

    The M855 costs a lot less that the A1 and d the Mk-318 is better than the A1.

    • Uniform223

      do have any public document backing that?

      • Ron

        It’s a couple years old but the FY12 DOD ammo book lists
        DODIC A059 (M855) at 40 cents per rounsd
        DODIC AB49 (Mk318) at 57 cents per round
        DODIC AB57 (M855A1 EPR) at 68 cents per round

        • Uniform223

          Its been pretty well established that the M855A1 EPR was an overall more expensive round. What I was asking, is there any publicly released data supporting the assumptions that the Mk318 has superior performance over the EPR. Sorry if I didn’t clarify that the first time around.

          • Ron

            There have been some testing done comparing both rounds on gelatin and through various intermediate barrier with gelatin to determine post barrier effects on flesh but the results are not publicly releasable

          • Uniform223

            Fair enough.

  • toms

    Why is Loretta Sanchez, D. California, the gov’s VIP for tactical land assets? Expecting her to know anything useful about military science is a joke. I feel so much safer now.

  • dannye

    By the same logic, people who steal pennies from Santa’s jar aren’t crooks because there’s some guy in a government office stealing a trillion dollars at a time.

    • wzrd1

      By your logic, you must complain that the military disposes of more than 24 million dollars in food every year and more than that in expired medicines.

      The logic is, worrying about the hemorrhage, not the broken finger.

      • dannye

        I’m concerned with both. You should be too.

  • Ron

    Historically yes it was hence the usage of Corps and Commandant for its head, but the 1947 National Security Act established it as its own service.

  • ConservativeSurge

    This seems like a case for…6.8 SPC Man!

    • I’ve always found it a bit strange that when addressing issues of low muzzle velocity and poor ballistic shape of 5.56mm, some insist on suggesting a round with even lower muzzle velocity and even poorer ballistic shape.

  • Raguel A’septem

    Why should a liberal DemRat care about the ammo the Marines use?
    Well…
    Under current bullshit, the BATFE could more easily ban M855A! because of its ability to penetrate.
    WHY is this a concern?
    The BATFE has already tried to ban “armor piercing ammo” under a bullshit law because there are AR15 and other pistols capable of firing this round (5.56). The M855A1 is way better than the M855 in penetrating armor. In this case, the anti’s may have grounds to ban the supply of surplus M855A1.
    The supply of M855/SWS109 in the US is cheap ONLY because of surplus (armories cycling their stores to keep ammo fresh). This “cheap surplus” on the market is because of such; it helps the gov’t keep costs down by selling old stock to the civy market (at cost) then using those funds to restock. It’s a great system that allows us civys to buy surplus M855 at near “contract” or “market” cost. In return, the GI’s get fresh ammo.
    Now, take that in consideration… M855A1 is deemed “armor-piercing” and is restricted to “NOT of the people” (government elites the founders warned us about). No dumping of surplus on the civy market, prices go up! Surplus ammo will have to be destroyed (no selling of surplus components on the civy market). M855 and other gov’t surplus “allowed” to “we the people” will dry up or become so expensive nobody will be able to afford it.
    So… in the eyes of a demented democrat from Kali, this is the perfect win-win scenario; get the Marines to switch to an ammo already banned, eliminate or drastically reduce the ammount of ammo available to the sheeple, and you disarm the american people and prevent the means for an effective uprising against the progressive state.
    See how that works? She doesn’t give a rats ass about the cost of ammo used for the Marines, it’s all about what will wind up in the hands of “we the people.”
    Never trust a Statists and never yield freedom and rights to someone only concerned with the preservation and advancement of an authoritarian government. NEVER! These statists (as “progressives”) have infiltrated every corner of this government from low-level bureaucrat to elected official. Call them out wherever they may be and prevent their power-grab! The very future of our republic really does depend on it!

    • Raguel A’septem

      Oh, and for all my Christian friends out there, just read Revelation 12:12 and Revelation 13:18 for reference to what “Progressives” are and why you should be alarmed.
      The rest of you just read some history and draw the conclusions.

  • Blake

    Interesting that they didn’t bring up all the recent patent- & ban-related issues…

  • iksnilol

    Doesn’t seem like a bad sandwich, then again it has at least 30-40 years of improvement on it compared to the originals. Is it yours (the one you are issued)? Got to admit, the color scheme is a bit weird with the accessories being camo but the rifle isn’t.

    • Uniform223

      No, I wish this was the one I was issued.
      This was a picture of one I just found on google.
      I was still in when only the M4s were issued to infantry troops. The rest of us still had the M16A2. I got out when the M4 started become standard issue across the board.

  • jdkchem

    Not WWII. RIF Reading Is Fundamental.

    • LCON

      except the USMC does not operate AH64 models.

      • jdkchem

        My mistake the USMC does not fly Apaches.

  • Diver6106

    Nuts that this even gets to Congress. They need a board of Army, Marines-Navy, Air Force to decide. this is why we need a United Military Forces rather than the cost of competition. This goes from small arms all the way to major weapon systems – and American Taxpayers foot the bill! We have like 16 intelligence agencies, and THEY are supposed to COORDINATE their positions? What happened to E PLURIBUS UNIUM?

  • valorius

    for high intensity conventional warfare the m855a1 is clearly superior to usmc mk318.

  • Carlos Velazquez

    Soon they’ll have slingshots and steel ball bearings.