Say Goodbye to the Minimi? British Army to review usage

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A report from Jane’s highlights a move within the British Army to review the requirements and usage of their LMG, the famously nicknamed “Minimi” (FN Para Minimi), and their M6-640 Commando 60 mm mortar system. Both of these weapon systems are currently fireteam (Minimi) and platoon assets (mortar). Essentially, what is going on here, is that the British Army has unofficially concluded that their L85A2 Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGLs) and their L129A1 Sharpshooter rifles (7.62 LMT ARs), have essentially beaten the Minimi and the M6-640 out of a job. In that, the UBGL and the Sharpshooter are more than sufficient for taking on area targets, being an indirect fire asset, and suppressing the enemy than the mortar system and the Minimi are. So why have both sets which would further burden a platoon, when one set is just as efficient, is the question that the British Infantry will be reviewing in the upcoming months.

The British Army is to review the use of belt-fed weapons by dismounted infantry platoons, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) official responsible.

The justification for the review is because of the existing variety of the weapon systems in use within a rifle platoon, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Moodie, responsible for the Dismounted Close Combat section within the MoD’s Capability Directorate Combat, said on 14 March. This has made the need for an integral indirect fire capability redundant, he told the SMI Soldier Equipment and Technology Advancement Forum in London.

Currently each British Army infantry fire team is equipped with one L85A2 5.56×45 mm assault rifle (SA80); one L85A2 fitted with an underslung 40 mm grenade launcher (UGL); one L129A1 7.62×51 mm sharpshooter rifle; and one FN Herstal Para Minimi 5.56×45 mm light machine gun (LMG) to provide suppressive fire. Each rifle platoon is also supported by an M6-640 Commando 60 mm mortar; however it was reported that due to the way that it has to be operated, firers are only achieving 3% of first-round hits on target.

The review is looking at the use and potential removal of the LMG and mortar from dismounted infantry platoons – on the basis that the UGL and sharpshooter rifle adequately fulfil current requirements.

Currently the M6-640’s ability to supress targets at ranges of up to the 1,384 m is not a requirement for platoon operations; this can be delivered by company- and battlegroup-controlled weapon systems such as the L16A2 81 mm mortar or the L7A1 (FN MAG) 7.62×51 mm general purpose machine gun (GPMG).

Although a review is being undertaken, no final decision on withdrawing the LMG or the 60 mm mortar has been taken.

The most important and underlying tone to this, or any military small arms program, is that the weapon systems a military chooses, are reflective of the deployment and theory in which that military operates. The weapon system has to fit the job that the military wants its troops to accomplish, roughly speaking of course. In this particular instance, we see yet another modern military branch, after the U.S. Marine Corps, looking into dropping its belt fed weapon systems, in favor of more accurate suppressive fire. This change was quite dramatic and painful in the Marines, with the adoption of the M27, and regulating the M249 SAW to a true machine gunners role in the weapons platoons in the line companies. However, just like the British, the change is reflective of the environments we found ourselves fighting in, i.e. Helmand Province. The British, as did the U.S. Marines saw the small arms environments we were being engaged in, and they weren’t the 300 meters that former wars had seen, but instead were much further out, even out to a kilometer with Taliban PKMs. In that environment, the M249 SAW lost most of its advantage of suppression, in that past 600 meters or so, the light machine gun wasn’t as accurate as a designated marksman’s rifle because it was an area fire weapon system. The British seem to be realizing this out as well. The one qualm I have with this review, is that there doesn’t seem to be anything left to the British Infantry squad, where they can really lay down some accurate suppressive fire, like the M27 does for us. Of course their L85A2s have an automatic selector, but it is not capable of maintaining the amount of suppression that an M27 would, and that a Minimi absolutely would be able to.

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The choice of the M6 640 (640mm is the length of the tube, there are 3 total available, each one longer than the 640) mortar seems like a long time coming. Again, this goes back to how each Army operates, and that goes back to how the country is employing them. Maybe in times past, the British Army worked well with a mortar asset attached to every platoon. Contrasting this with the U.S. Marines, 60mm mortars are in a weapons platoon that support the entire line company as a company asset, while 81mm mortars are in a weapons company, that support the battalion as a battalion asset. Somewhat different methodology of employment. I’d assume this goes back to the United States being a comparatively much larger in a logistical light, than the British Army, which can’t afford the sheer amount of support that the U.S. Marines receive. But as the article mentions, the mortar system is made almost redundant at the ranges it is employed at, due to the oftentimes parallel use of the 7.62 L7A1, and the 81mm mortars in use.


Miles Vining

Prior Infantry Marine and currently studying at Indiana University. I’m an avid shooter, you’ll find me most at home picking apart an interesting rifle or pistol. When not receiving horrible results at Steel Challenge competitions, I’m busy learning Pashtu, cycling long distance, and getting outdrunk by the English. I’ve written for Small Arms Review/Small Arms Defense Journal, Combat & Survival magazine, Forgotten Weapons, and SHTF Journal. Feel free to contact me at miles@tfb.tv


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  • tony

    Good choice

    • MartinWoodhead

      The l86 LSW was rubbish a poor LMG and a mediocre dmr especially as it was disliked and became the crow cannon carried by the newest members of the platoon.
      with a longer barrel and an optic the minimi is of more use the 60mm as an individual platoon weapon depends on who is using it get a good mortar man its useful otherwise its not and that is very variable.

  • Bullphrog855

    Honestly I haven’t been hearing a lot of good things about the 249 lately, or the 240 for that mater.

    • CommonSense23

      240s biggest weakness is weight. They make great medium machine guns, but they are heavy. The 249 biggest weakness is the rounds it fires. M855 and M856 link. And both have the issue of having horrible maintenance programs.

      • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

        The IWI Negev NG7 seems to be a good option. 7.60 kg (16.8 lb) and fires 7.62x51mm NATO, and 1000 rounds per minute (downside?):

        • CommonSense23

          It would be interesting to compare it to a MK48, which shoots the same round(at a slower rate of fire) while being a pound heavier. The issue is the 48 isn’t meant to replace a 240. And I am going to assume based off the weight of this gun, its not either.

          • Gjert Klakeg Mulen

            You’re right, it’s a light machine gun, not a general purpose machine gun, there is no tripod mount for this thing. My point was that it would probably serve well as an 7.62mm NATO LMG, at least compared to the 7.62mm versions of the FN MINIMI and its derivatives.

        • Cmex

          The barrel is short for the round it fires. What this means is faster heating, less accuracy, quicker loss of accuracy, and above all else, less downrange power and reach.

      • milesfortis

        I can testify to the 249’s maintenance requirements.
        They are a very time and parts intensive system.
        And the MK48 is worse.
        A stripped 240L with just the collapsible stock, not including the short barrels which are lighter, is within 2lb of MK48 weight.

        • CommonSense23

          Have you got much time shooting a 240L. Was wondering how well it handles from the standing.

          • milesfortis

            Less than a thousand rounds. I was literally on the way out the door on retirement when we were getting some in. One quick trip to the range was ‘it’ for me.
            As I remember, it was as manageable as a MK48 and I knew it would be better when the short barrels became available.
            Find a way to stick a 249 forward pistol grip on it and IMO, you’ve got a winner.
            But, it’s not my problem now.

          • jono102

            Part of the reason for our C-9’s getting replaced was they were getting old and a drain on the system to support, especially the key non repairable parts like the recievers.
            The FN’s/Mk 48’s for us are running pretty well so long as they aren’t treated like a GPMG or worse SFMG. We’ve found them a good trade off between the the weight of the MAG and lack of range /power C-9.
            One thing I’ve noted (on a range/accuracy basis) an average MAG gunner will generally beat out a good Mk-48 gunner just because of the difference in the guns design and function. That being said, What makes the MAG more accurate as a platform in both GPMG/SFMG (weight/mass) is what makes it less flexible at section or fire team role

      • Cmex

        The hilarious thing about western GPMG weight is that Russia’s PKM is just 16 pounds.

        • CommonSense23

          And insanely accurate. Only thing that sucks about it is the non disintegrating belts.

  • Major Tom

    M27 has more suppressive capability? The L85A2 and the M27 both feed from 30 round mags (STANAG compliant or otherwise) and Beta C-Mag 100 round drums are not liked by the Marines and not issued.

    And it seems Western militaries have learned the wrong lesson from Afghanistan compared to the Russians. They found mag-fed LMG’s like the RPK-74 are insufficient for the ranges seen there and for intensity. Hence why they developed the PKP Pecheneg.

    • HenryV

      That is on top of the original reason why Minimi was purchased because the Light Support Weapon variant of L85A1 wasn’t up to the job. Even if the latter worked a lot better than the IW variant.

      • Major Tom

        I wouldn’t be giving the L86 that much praise. From what I understand, when set to Auto it fires to your 1 o’clock rather than along your sightline.

        It’s better than the Chauchat but that’s not saying much.

        • HenryV

          Completely unsuitable for the task it was purchased. But if you have a go with one it surprisingly “shootable”.

          • jono102

            It was the “Ace up the sleeve” the Brits used at shooting comps for a while. As an LSW it went up against belt fed guns. Light in comparison with an optical sight, it could clean up as it was only punching cardboard. Other nations caught on and added “Belt fed” to the requirements.

    • Ground Control

      “Hence why they developed the PKP Pecheneg.”

      You chose your nickname well, since it seems that you are lost in space with that statement.

      • Major Tom

        How so? The Pecheneg allows 1000 meter shooting from a bipod or tripod while being light enough and accurate enough for use as a SAW at short to medium ranges 300 meters or lower. It was developed precisely because of lessons learned with the RPK series and the PKM in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

        Specifically the RPK-74 couldn’t reach enemies beyond 500 meters worth beans and both its capacity and barrel were ill-suited for sudden high-intensity firefights where you needed tons of bullets downrange and fast. It overheated too soon and reloads were way too frequent.

        • Ground Control

          Its because you never mentioned the PKM in your first post.

          It is true that the Soviets ran into problems with RPKs in Afghanistan, but they had the PKM all along with them. When needed, it filled the SAW Role without any issues. A GPMG designed from the beginning to fit multiple roles, SAW being one of them.

          One might argue that the PKP was indeed developed solely because of combat experiences and the resulting change in doctrine. However, it does not change the fact that its just a modernized PKM.

          The Pecheneg does what the PKM does, only better.

    • Cmex

      Major Tom, I’m not really sure why they developed the PKP when the PKM is quite possibly just about the world’s best GMPG. The state industries develop stuff all the time, just very little of it ever makes it into real steel in a hotspot. 1994 featured a ton of weapons development, my guess was to attempt to revitalize the economy starting with the military-industrial complex.

  • Petto

    L86 comeback? that wouldn’t be bad idea

    • Has the L86 ever been imported to the states? I literately never see or hear of it outside of context of the British Army or IMFDB articles

      • toms

        Yes in very small numbers like less than a dozen.

        • Damn; I’m assuming in the short time after it’s adaption and before subsequent bans and restrictions in the 80’s and 90’s?

  • gunsandrockets

    The multitude of different weapons available to the infantry company was bewildering even by 1939. And since WWII and despite attempts at consolidation, that multitude has only increased and with that increase the temptation to burden the foot soldier with even more weight. It only makes sense to eliminate redundant or less efficient weapon systems from the pool of company weapons.

    Ah, but that is the real question. What should be discarded? And what shouldn’t?

    I can see the logic of ditching the platoon HQ mortar. But ditching all the 5.56mm LMG? That seems like a mistake to me.

    But then I am also dubious of the fad of dividing the rifle platoon into identically armed four-man fire teams, which seems to promote bad decisions when it comes to assigning the proper number and type of crew-served/support weapons organic to the rifle platoon.

  • jono102

    It seems to be the same old argument with comparing apples and oranges and then forcing the answer to work for every environment or situation. A 60mm can do things a GPMG or DMW can’t and vice versa. Right they way up from fire team to section , to Platoon these are complementary weapon systems.
    At Pl level they are assets a Pl Comd can layer in his plan as they are “his assets” to suit his plan and/or target/effect. After that he is effectively “Bidding” for Coy and Bn assets he may not get due to priorities or the higher comd intent. Its also working on the premise that they will always operate within Coy or Bn umbrella which has proven not to be the case over the last couple decades especially in Commonwealth forces.
    A lot of proven lessons learnt seem to be getting dropped or ignored

  • Randomer

    By all accounts this might be mostly down to funding.

    The Light Mortars were a Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) for Afghanistan (to replace the lost 51mm capabilty) taken out of the treasury contingency budget rather than a core MOD programme. If it is taken on as core it will have to be funded by the MOD. A withdrawl was previously announced excepting Para and RM units but then shelved and now seems to be back on again.

    Minimi may be staying on as a single weapon in a section (rather than 2 at the moment) but with a longer barrel (thus reducing amount of linked 5.56mm to be carried and thus weight). All the none SF Minimis currently have short barrels making there effective range well under 300m. Also talk of replacing it with 7.62mm Minimi (jokingly called Maximi) as has partially been the case with SF and SFSG who bought a batch of them. However, funding for this is doubtful.

    All very much up in the air at the moment but seems not to be about adding capability or effectiveness but getting what we can out of the budget pressures.

    • jono102

      Our 60mm mortars were a UOR as well. They are looking at getting the same or similar system online with the Bn’s in the near future.
      The weapon systems the NZ Army has or currently procuring are based off a study a while back they conducted into capability/lethality vs likely threat groups. That’s what drove the likes of decision to get our 7.62 LMT DMW’s (same as Brit L-129 but 20inch barrel and 4-18X Leupold)and to drop the C-9/Minimi for the 7.62 FN/Mk48 (Maximi term is also used by the Aussie’s and catching on here). Its also what’s driving the intended change from .308 to .338 for snipers and the adoption of a AMR/50 cal rifle.

    • MechanizedSwede

      Effective range well under 300m with short barrelled minimis? What are you smoking?

      • Hans Gruber

        …………………

    • CavScout

      Effective range well under 300m??? You’ve never fired one, have you? Did you read all that stuff on the internet?

  • Lance

    Seems belt fed 5.56mm weapons are becoming unpopular with infantry the SAW is replaced in the Marines by the IAR. Seems. If you want a effective belt feed weapon stay with 7.62mm.

    • CommonSense23

      Curious how many belt feds you fired Lance?

      • Lance

        3 types or squad machine guns.

        • Lance

          Not saying the SAW is bad just militaries have abandoning the SAW role back to BAR style automatic rifles. We are doing it with the IAR Brits doing it with the L-85 LMG versions. To me seem a heavier GPMG is better since 5.56mm was more for use against infantry where a MAG or M-60 could be used against more like light vehicles and helicopters for instance.

        • CommonSense23

          On really, what were they and where did you do that at?

          • Lance

            M-60, BAR, M-1919A4
            Both here in the US and in SE Asia.

          • Mikial

            I would have liked to have been able to shoot a BAR, but it was too long before my time in the Army for any to still be around.

  • Kyle

    The M249s I saw while active duty were all heavy pieces of garbage. My unit got IARs right before I got out and everyone was pretty stoked about it.

    • Uniform223

      I was US Army but before I got out I did some training with Marines in Camp Pendleton. Got to see and use the much (overly) lauded M27 IAR… nothing special there. Marines pretty much used and employed it like their M16A4s. They liked our M4s better because it was lighter and more compact.

  • dan

    i wonder if Australia will take em for spare parts

    • jono102

      I don’t know how much longer the Aussies will run a mixed fleet of Mk 48’s and Minimi/F89’s. I doubt they will drop them, but if they do they’d most likely end up being written off and provided as military aid to some country

    • sadf

      No need. Australian makes the Minimi under license locally.

  • Anonymoose

    Maybe they should evaluate the Minimi Mk3 7.62 or Mk48. It would certainly give a boost to their effective range over the regular 5.56 Minimi, and the kiwis seem to like theirs.

  • Mike

    The British Military are usually slow to change things, they use equipment until it is worn out and obsolete. Glad they are looking to make improvements.
    Maybe bring back a modern Bren Gun.

    • BattleshipGrey

      I doubt they’d have something built from the ground up again after all the mods they had to do to the SA80/L85. Though I think a modern version of the Bren would be awesome.

      • Tom

        There is just not the capability to design and manufacture a “new” weapon system in the UK and certainly not the political will to change that. So unless some one else in Europe produces a modern BREN its not going to happen.

  • Mazryonh

    Why the move away from the belt-fed squad support guns? Surely those can provide sustained fire for longer than most magazine-fed ones?

    • Anonymoose

      Especially a 16″ piston AR with 30-round (5.56) or 20-round (7.62) mags.

    • Hedd Wyn John

      British Army Minimis are para variants, they’re not much use beyond 300 metres.

    • SGT Fish

      they can, but with the same amount of training or less you can reload AR mags much easier and faster. time a reload on a belt fed and compare it to an M16. that being said, belt feds are great for certain uses, and very fun to play with. thats why i own one. But the guys that carry a 249 everyday overseas and only keep a 100rd nutsack in the gun, dont have much advantage over an M4 with a 40rd mag and some backups

      • CommonSense23

        He is the thing, the guy rocking the SAW with 200 round belts, is going to absolutely crush the guy who is using mags to in M27 to keep pace. Its no contest.

      • Tassiebush

        No idea on reliability but one of the 100round quad stack mags would have to be superior to the belt if it is reliable enough.

  • sadf

    The 40mm grenade, short barrel-Minimi, 7.62 DMR and 60mm mortar (also M72 rockets) were all short-term purchases that were hastily introduced for Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Now the Brit Army has to figure out how to field it all.

  • AMJ1977

    When HQ Infantry in Warminster was choosing a new LSW they chose the minimi because it was the cheaper out of the three on test, plus it made a loud noise. The H&K was deemed too expensive and the Negev wasn’t selected, I can’t remember why. It may have been a joke but I do remember when it was selected my dad saying the soldiers liked it a lot because it made a big noise. The test weapons are on display at the small arms collection in Warminster, which is open to the public but you have to ring to arrange a visit.

  • Division Charlemange

    Well, this makes sense. They shouldn’t need a machinegun until the next war, and F-35’s sure are expensive for not doing anything useful.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Replacing an indirect fire weapons system (mortar) with a direct fire weapon (DMR) seems rather idiotic.

    Definitely think this is a beancounter issue.

    • Mikial

      The UK is always short on defense budget funds. During the Faulkands War some of their frigates had been built with one less SAM battery than they were originally designed to have as a cost saving measure, which resulted in them being less capable of defending against aircraft attacks. Not sure if this proposed change to the infantry TO&E would have as profound an effect, but it seldom seems like the people making the decisions are the ones who have to live with the consequences.

  • Tassiebush

    Totally on a tangent but in the second last paragraph the mention of how army scale plays a role reminded me of a significant difference I noticed around sniper rols reading Maj John Plaster (US) compared to Mark Spicer (UK). Plaster pointed out a number of approaches that only made sense if the sniper could assume they were part of a force that was dominant. Stuff like taking positions in trees to support assaults.

  • Stuart Dodman

    Did we get it right with the Bren? Imagine a .338 modern Bren, range, effect, lightweight.

    • jono102

      The top loading mag idea died where it should with the Bren and no longer holds any advantage over a standard mag feed apart from being an interesting historical design feature. The range of the round would be of little use without a comparable optic to get any worth out of it. An auto would be financially crippling given the (current technology) life span of barrels and the amount that would get shot out over its life.
      So you’d have a semi at best with a large scope that would require a greater training regime to get the capability out of the cartridge i.e. Kivaari, Ulfberht and what LMT apparently have in development.
      Not saying a .338 cart will ever be used in a LMG/GPMG role, as the idea has been tossed around. It just won’t happen any time soon though and until: 1. A key military decides there’s an actual requirement and 2. Technology makes it feasible (tactically, logistically and financially)

    • Aski

      Modern belt-fed 7.62mm are lighter than a Bren. The UK should issued optics to their GPMG gunners. If you want a modernized-Bren, get a FN SCAR or HK417 with full-auto.

      • jono102

        The L129A1 they already have is in alot of ways pretty much a modern equivalent to the Bren. It doesn’t need to fire bursts to be effective. An infantryman with minimal extra training can produce effective fire at 600m+ at a rate of a round every 3-5 seconds. The key to that though is the ability to see the enemy.
        The mass of a machine gun allows it to maintain a consistent cone of fire and beaten zone at range. The SCAR-H and 416 would be to light to do this or maintain high rates for any worth while time.
        A big issue for the Brits will be if they deploy into the likes of close/jungle type terrain without a belt feed at section level. A belt fed gun comes into its own being better suited to fix or suppress an enemy that has concealment to maneuver in. Kill areas in ambushes and Final Protective Fire around defensive positions are the realm of the belt fed. A belt fed gun doesn’t stop every 20-30rds.

    • Stephen Beat

      Just noticed this comment, Stuart – I said the same thing! 😉

  • LazyReader

    It’s not like they have a pool of candidates to replace it with. Yes there are several light machine guns out there. but the Minimi is one of the most prevalent. The CETME, not likely, the only real options they’d have to replace would be the MK46, the Ultimax, the IAR, the SS-77 and the MG4.

  • Stephen Beat

    My short response to this is – bring back the BREN gun!

  • brainy37

    Most of the US military had the same problem but it wasn’t due to the weapon being inferior but rather being worn out. Many had not been rebuilt since the first Gulf War and showed serious wear and tear. Those units which did have rebuilt M249’s had few problems with theirs. I’m willing to be the British were in the same boat and had worn down Mimi’s which had serious reliability issue.

  • brainy37

    The L86 was an abject failure. It couldn’t sustain the kind of fire needed (not helped by being a bullpup) and didn’t bring much to the table that the L85 didn’t already. They’re already trying to shoehorn the M27 isn’t a DM role and it seems that this is following the L86 path to the letter. The M27 can’t sustain heavy suppressing fire and accurate suppression has it’s limits. Especially when you realize that the M249 is not as inaccurate as some make it sound. Ranger competitions regularly engaged silhouette targets out to 600m.

  • Cmex

    If anyone’ve’d read Taking Back The Infantry Half Kilometer, this would not be a surprise.

    You can find the whole thing online, but I’ll post the gist. Ready? 5.56×45 does not provide the effect needed out at ranges like 500M and beyond. The round lacks punch and noise, especially out of carbines and Minimis. This is the reason why coalition forces have so often been engaged from long range by terrorists armed with Enfields, Mosins, DShK’s, SVD’s, and AKM’s — these 30cal weapons can travel the distance and still hit for lethal effect versus 5.56. Anecdotal evidence also supports these assertions. If anyone’ve’d read Taking Back The Infantry Half Kilometer, this would not be a surprise. You can find the whole thing online, but I’ll post the gist. Ready? 5.56×45 does not provide the effect needed out at ranges like 500M and beyond. The round lacks punch and noise, especially out of carbines and Minimis. This is the reason why coalition forces have so often been engaged from long range by terrorists armed with Enfields, Mosins, DShK’s, SVD’s, and AKM’s — these 30cal weapons can travel the distance and still hit for lethal effect versus 5.56. There is also this quote from Scribd. Pay attention to the last two sentences.

    “Comments from returning non-commissioned officers and officers reveal that about fifty percent of engagements occur past 300 meters. The enemy tactics are to engage United States forces from high ground with medium and heavy weapons, often including mortars, knowing that we are restricted by our equipment limitations and the inability of our overburdened soldiers to maneuver at elevations exceeding 6000 feet. Current equipment, training, and doctrine are optimized for engagements under 300 meters and on level terrain. There are several ways to extend the lethality of the infantry. A more effective 5.56-mm bullet can be designed which provides enhanced terminal performance out to 500 meters. A better option to increase incapacitation is to adopt a larger caliber cartridge, which will function using components of the M16/M4. The 2006 study by the Joint Service Wound Ballistics-Integrated Product Team discovered that the ideal caliber seems to be between 6.5 and 7-mm. This was also the general conclusion of all military ballistics studies since the end of World War I.”

    Anecdotal evidence also supports these assertions. There is a reason why armies which switch to SCHV have had tendencies to still hold onto GPMG’s as well as to adopt DMR’s. The Soviets were the first to really jump on relatively SCHV rounds and promptly adopted the AK-47, SKS, and RPD. During further combat experiences, they realized that their intermediate round did not satisfy the distance or power demands placed upon CSW’s, so they went back to 7.62x54R and designed the SVD and the PK in the early 1960’s. These weapons have been mainstays of 2’nd world arsenals ever since, even with the adoption of the RPK and 5.45×39. Clearly, there is still a need for a heavy round even in primarily light carbine forces. When the USA went into Afghanistan, the lack of range of the M249 and M16 and M4 prompted the adoption of the M14 for the increase in range. The SCAR-L was rejected by USSOCOM, but the SCAR-H was allowed to stay, proving that the heavier firepower still remains essential. Last year, Germany increased adoption of the HK417, the 7.62×51 brother of the 5.56×45 HK416, as a way to augment the firepower of its 5.56-dominated elements. And now Britain is looking at going for a heftier main MG. The writing on the wall is clear — rifles can be light, but they need support from heavier firearms with more range and power. There is a reason why armies which switch to SCHV have had tendencies to still hold onto GPMG’s as well as to adopt DMR’s. The Soviets were the first to really jump on relatively SCHV rounds and promptly adopted the AK-47, SKS, and RPD. During further combat experiences, they realized that their intermediate round did not satisfy the distance or power demands placed upon CSW’s, so they went back to 7.62x54R and designed the SVD and the PK in the early 1960’s. These weapons have been mainstays of 2’nd world arsenals ever since, even with the adoption of the RPK and 5.45×39. Clearly, there is still a need for a heavy round even in primarily light carbine forces. When the USA went into Afghanistan, the lack of range of the M249 and M16 and M4 prompted the adoption of the M14 for the increase in range. The SCAR-L was rejected by USSOCOM, but the SCAR-H was allowed to stay, proving that the heavier firepower still remains essential. Last year, Germany increased adoption of the HK417, the 7.62×51 brother of the 5.56×45 HK416, as a way to augment the firepower of its 5.56-dominated elements. And now Britain is looking at going for a heftier main MG. The writing on the wall is clear — rifles can be light, but they need support from heavier firearms with more range and power.

    • brainy37

      “Enfields, Mosins, DShK’s, SVD’s, and AKM’s” – No AKM is going to be very good at 500m. You’re already starting their rainbow trajectory at 200. By 400 you’re already dropping by 50 inches. The other weapons you’ve mentioned are all specialized including 1 that has to be towed. The only range advantage the Afghanis ever had is fired from elevated positions. On flatter ground they lose all advantages even with their bolt actions. Let’s not even forget that a m249 with a proper barrel can still reach out past the 500m with no problems. It’s not like a magic wall pops up and says “no 5.56 beyond this point).

      “The SCAR-L was rejected by USSOCOM, but the SCAR-H was allowed to stay,
      proving that the heavier firepower still remains essential.” — The SCAR-L and SCAR-H are two different platforms altogether. The SCAR-L wasn’t needed as it didn’t provide any major advantages over the M16 family. The SCAR-H was shoehorned as a DMR to replace the terrible M14’s and you’ll never see one without any glass mounted.

      • Cmex

        Afghanistan is not short on elevated terrtain, given, as I said, it’s a mountainous desert. And given coalition habits of sticking to roads, which are built low on mountains relatively speaking, it’s not too hard for rounds to be dropped onto the poor guys. 7.62×39 is still hitting hard enough to be painful at 500M, and if you’re a talib, it’s better than coarse language. A DuShKa weighs 75 pounds — people can carry it; it’s lighter than an M2. I never said 5.56 has a 500M wall, but I did say that 500M is getting beyond the comfort zone of that cartridge, and I wasn’t talking about just M249’s, I also meant M4’s and so on. The point of my SCAR statement is backed up by what you said — there IS a need for a heavier infantry weapon, which is why the lighter one got the boot. “The SCAR-L wasn’t needed as it didn’t provide any major advantages over the M16 family.” Well, the army’s reality is what the army says it is; their reaction to seeing the MP44 was ‘what a useless piece of junk’, and they kept the lone marksman myth alive against data to the contrary, a thing they didn’t quit until Vietnam forced them to accept that assault rifles were not just a passing fad.