A Different Perspective: Army’s Cased Telescopic Ammo Program

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One of the blessings of being a writer with TFB is that we are able to collaborate and learn from one another. Its a heck of perk, as between the staff here there is an incredible wealth of knowledge that I learn from on a regular basis. On the flip side, occasionally we disagree on topics, of which I do disagree with Nathaniel F on his assessment of the Army’s CSAT program. In a recent article focusing on the Army’s cased telecopic ammo program, Nathaniel came to a few conclusions that I do not agree with, given my own resources.

First, let’s start with what we agree on.

1.) The Army has proven, time and time again, that they are fully capable of screwing up a perfectly good program. Both Nathaniel and I agree that the Modular Handgun System program is far from what it could be.

2.) Trying to have individual infantry engage to 1200 meters with a carbine or standard rifle is a fantasy. The optics that would be on a common rifle would be insufficient before we even talk about actual marksmanship abilities, etc.

3. Agree with the following direction the Army wants to go:

: An emphasis on advanced, next-generation stabilized optics, lightweight cartridge cases, and small arms ammunition effective to 1200 meters or beyond.

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However, I do disagree with the key paragraph summarizing the results and the conclusions drawn from those summations:

Three things are evident from these slides: 1.) CTSAS seems to be seeking a 1200m effective range for the ammunition for both the support weapon and carbine (shown on slide 11), 2.) 6.5mm CT retains energy better, but is not significantly lighter than 7.62mm CT ammunition, and both are 30% heavier than even brass-cased 5.56mm, 3.) CTSAS has given up on the lethality and mobility increases cited by the LSAT program in 2014 as advantages of the lighter weight 5.56mm CT weapon versus the M249 (the 6.5mm and 7.62mm CT weapons and ammunition are both heavier than the M249 and its ammunition):

  1. The Army has only shown that the caliber and current loading is capable of maintaining more energy downrange out to 1200 meters. The slides have not shown that the Army is wanting this as a point-target engagement in their individual carbines. By “effective” as Nathaniel is implying the term in its holistic sense (including accuracy), not the Army’s retained-energy only definition per the slides. All slide 11 shows is a carbine, with no claims as to its intended engagement ranges.
  2. Yes, the 6.5 is not significantly lighter than 7.62 CT, but it is significantly lighter than 7.62 traditionally cased ammunition. CTSAS has stated that the 6.5 loading is based off of the 7.62 loading. They have not yet explored the “hybrid” loading that would put the round in the territory of 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC, which the Army is open to per my knowledge. The 6.5 is being left its current state now as sizing is the same as the 7.62 for ease of logistics to get the technology to TRL 7 from its current TRL-5.
  3. By its nature, lethality is increased by having more retained energy in the projectile. Mobility is increased by reducing the load, which the CTSAS does over the 7.62 standard ammo. In fact, the presentation said nothing of eliminating work on the 5.56 CT ammo, just that it was going to explore the 6.5CT in the carbine form.

 

From my sources at Picatinny, the CTSAS Program is designed to get the technology up to TRL-7 and prove that it is capable. The Army will then evaluate if the potential for CT given its advantages (weight) and weakness (accuracy for example, is reduced as the round has much more distance to obturate prior to engaging rifling). If the technology is proven to be up to the task, further programs will be initiated based on it for development.

In my reading, information, and opinion, this is an example of a small program being executed well. If anything, we should be thankful of the trepidation the Army is taking to it otherwise we just might end up with a OICW or ACR program that goes off the deep end…



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Patriot Gunner

    Hmmm…..yeahhhh….probably going with Nathan F on this one

  • Hey Nathan, have you gone through all of the government NDIA presentations from this year and last? The indicators for what I said are all there.

    Not to mention the Army’s very consistent history with development programs like this…

    • Also, according to people who were present at this year’s NDIA, work on 5.56mm CT has ceased.

      • TJbrena

        Was it positively stated it was ceased, or were 6.5mm and 7.62mm the only rounds mentioned and it was inferred that if 5.56mm CT was still on the table it would’ve been mentioned?

        • I don’t know, I wasn’t there.

          • TJbrena

            In that case I’m not sure the guys in charge of LSAT are wearing pants on their heads just yet.

        • Joshua

          It was a “we are pushing 6.5mm by taking away the ability to use 5.56”, that and LSAT wasn’t working with the chamber pressures required of M855A1.

          LSAT actually didn’t like hot loaded ammunition in 5.56 period.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I wonder if the internal case geometry and propellant were having a bad mix trying to get the M855A1 up to the required velocity. This kind of reminds me of the argument that Nathaniel F. and I were having recently over the .276 Enfield and its pressure excursions. Nate sort of implied that it was just a bad batch of cordite, but I don’t think so. A .303 Brit case can be stuffed to the brim with cordite without getting pressure excursions, but the larger case of the .276 Enfield doesn’t like it at all. Similarly, the 7mm Remington Magnum case that he and I compared the Enfield cartridge to doesn’t like being near compressed loads with IMR 4350, yet the .276 Enfield seemingly loves it. I really hope that haven’t totally given up on making the M855A1 work with a case telescoped cartridge, the .224 bullet just has too much potential to be dismissed for military use.

          • I don’t at all recall saying there was a bad batch of Cordite. I said early smokeless propellants sucked, which they did.

          • Kivaari

            There was another reason the British used cordite. The power sticks were put into an unformed case, a fiber wad was placed on top of the cordite and then the case was sized to final shape. The idea is the same as finding a cotton ball I a pill bottle. The use of cordite that way stopped the degrading of the powder while travelling all over the known world where constant rough handling would make loose powder become dust and off-size grains. The very same reason medications get that cotton, that people keep saying is a waste. It was a very good idea when roads were so rough and the camels roughed up men and ammo.

      • randomswede

        It sounds to me like they could be pleased with the performance of 5.56mm CT, as a prototype, and are focusing on the new calibers.
        This being different from burning the blueprints.

        But then I can’t read minds so I don’t know.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Well, the general sense seems to be that they can’t get the velocity they want at a pressure level that they find acceptable. With a larger case volume it might be doable, but one of the key selling points of SCHV ammo is its compactness.

          • randomswede

            I wonder how daring “acceptable” is, in modern times I always assume they have to much of a safety factor.
            I’m also curious if they are looking into more modern powders that aren’t as “peaky” as the stuff in common use today.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The SMP-842 propellant that they use to get the brass cased M855A1 up to 905m/s is already pretty advanced stuff, that’s probably why they’re having trouble matching it in the polymer case-telescoped rounds.

          • Kivaari

            Trade offs.

  • Jacob

    Battle of the Nathans

    • DW

      Who won?
      Who’s next?

      • HollowTs

        Who knows!!! I read this whole thing and now I’m stressed!

  • nova3930

    So from some of what you’re saying this is an R&D type program and not a procurement program. If that’s the case I think the probability of success goes way up. Big army has typically done better with R&D than they have with procurement in recent memory…

  • therealgreenplease

    Question: would the barrels theoretically last longer because a portion of them isn’t rifled? Or is throat erosion throat erosion regardless of whether or not rifling is present?

    • ostiariusalpha

      Throat erosion is throat erosion. It changes the length and angle of the throat, which has negative consequences for precision & energy of the projectile.

      • Kivaari

        Erosion also increase friction.

  • Isaac FluffyWolf Rader

    Bit skeptical on this one. I’ve seen how earlier projects have gone…

  • VF 1777

    Regardless, in it’s current configuration, it’s still heavier than my mother after a long holiday season

  • Vitsaus

    Once again, it seems that a 6.5mm projectile is nearly an ideal combat bullet.

    • There’s very little that’s special about that size. It is a convenient middle ground if you want a universal caliber, but besides that it mostly gets its reputation from the civilian availability of low-drag projectiles in that caliber.

      • ostiariusalpha

        I tend to agree with you there, in that there are no stable “ideal” caliber sizes. Even so, if you take three different caliber boattail bullets that all have a similar ogive geometry, with the same G7 ballistic coefficient, and then fire them at the same velocity, so that their trajectories are identical, the largest caliber bullet will have the most recoil and smallest caliber bullet will have the most throat erosion. I’m not saying that .264 itself is magically in such a “sweet spot” between recoil and throat erosion, but it can be said that such loci do exist. Now, that doesn’t necessarily account for how that locus might change depending on how much expected effective range is considered desirable, or if you are shooting a single-shot, bolt-action, semi-auto, or full-automatic firearm. It’s too complex to claim that one caliber is an objectively ideal size for all applications.

        • Right, it depends what you’re doing, really.

          Technically, the most efficient low drag bullet is simply the biggest and heaviest one, if shape remains constant.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Except that when you need a larger case to get that bigger, heavier bullet to perform, that’s not really very efficient. A 6.5 Creedmoor has less overall case capacity, and with the 140gr Berger VLD, a lighter bullet than a 230gr Berger in a .308 Winchester case, but we know which round will stay supersonic longer. At the same speed the big 30 caliber bullet has the definitive advantage, of course, but it is considerably less efficient at reaching that speed.

          • The real reason the Grendel has a disadvantage when replacing 5.56mm is because of the higher bullet weight, actually.

            Anyway, I think our understanding is roughly the same.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Heh, this is where I be a stinker and point out that a .300 BLK cartridge with a 150gr bullet weighs less than a 123gr Grendel cartridge, but you are right, the projectile is the largest factor in weight differences between rounds.

          • The two biggest contributors to cartridge weight are the projectile and the case head, so yes, that sort of thing can happen.

          • Kivaari

            The .300 BLK at its highest velocity peters out fast due to the horrible bullet shape. The 220 gr, subsonic boat tail load falls on its face real fast. The .300 is trying to be an easy to suppress round for replacing the .45 ACP 230 suppressed guns, where just an upper barrel change gives them what is needed. The .300 Whisper says what it was intended to be. It can never be a good combination for 200m shooting.

        • Mike

          I just want to mention that the Japanese & the Italian had a reason why they (tried to) changed their military calibres to more bigger ones. They learned it the hard way during two WW. I wonder if all the money spend has been considered including the expiriences gained during WW I & WW II. My opinion is that a 7mm would be the best choice – they even should have considered the 7.35×51 Carcano Round in their testing.

          • ostiariusalpha

            That had more to do with the tracer technology of that time. 6.5 calibers were not easy to get an adequate quantity of pyrotechnic charge in for long range visibility, they’d just run out of flare compound too early. Otherwise, they were quite deadly in the terminal ballistics category.

          • Jay

            Yep. You also have to remember, that, back in the begining of ww2, the rifle caliber machine gun was used in a lot more applications than they are used today.
            Both the Japanese and the Italians used rifle caliber machine guns as both offensive and defensive weapons on their aircraft. 6.5mm was too weak for those applications and basically everyone used some form of .30 cal in their aircraft machine guns. Obviously, fighter aircraft weapons quickly went up to much more potent weapons.
            When you look at all the things a general purpose round had to do back then, compare to today, it’s clear that in ww2 the rifle caliber weapon was used against bigger/harder targets than today, so there was a need for a more powerful round. Today, the job of the general purpose round is to kill personnel and non armored targets. It doesn’t have to shoot down bombers.
            Today a lot of the anti materiel side of the general purpose round was taken over by more powerful specialized weapons, so you wouldn’t loose much going from .30cal to 6.5mm.

          • ostiariusalpha

            That’s very true of the 7.7x58mm Arisaka, but not for the 7.35x51mm Carcano. The Carc was originally meant for a smaller, proto-intermediate cartridge focused on anti-personnel use. Its light for caliber bullet loses energy quickly and has terrible ballistic trajectory for machine gun use against airplanes or other distant targets.

          • Kivaari

            Many armies of the era issued heavier machinegun rounds compared to the rifles. Look at Norway and Sweden (and Central Europeans) that did issue 6.5mm rifles (powerful like the 6.5×55 and weak like just about every other round) and issued odd 7.7 and 8mm rounds (not just common 7.9×57) because the 6.5 rounds were not heavy enough. Sweden issued its machinegun crews with a matching rifle, so if the machinegun went down, the crew could still use the very heavy 8mm in the special rifles. Like the Japs that had special 7.7 SR machineguns and matching rifles, which no one wanted to shoot.
            I hope people recognize that the powerful by comparison the 6.5 Swede was, it wasn’t adequate for the perceived need for a harder hitting MG.
            Like I said elsewhere, again, the Finns adopted the “D” chambering so they could fire captured Soviet MG ammo in rifles. Look at Russian “match” ammo we buy today. It is the same bullet. A heavy FMJ-BT. It gains hundreds of meters of performance thanks to the weight and shape of the bullet.

          • Jay

            In aircraft machine guns, the Italians used the 7.7x56R cartridge. Later, like everyone, they switched to mostly .50cal and 20mm guns.

          • Kivaari

            Like the 1:7 twist in 5.56 rifles. Without the need for tracers we wouldn’t need 1:7 twists. But, since it is there, we can shoot longer and heavier bullets which makes the 5.56 more useful.

          • Kivaari

            Except, the 7.35 never had enough room for trace filler. At least it never made it to the troops. The US surplus market was selling mostly new 7.35mm rifles in the 50-60s. Once the ammo dried up they became junk to most. Many were “sporterized”, and became even les wanted collectables. Now the 6-round clips that we used to throw away are selling for $8.

          • Mike

            1.)
            Military Rifle Calibres of Italien forces were M91-95 RN Ball 6.5×52 Carcano – Solenite filled Ammunition .2665DIA – 162Grains – used in WW I & WW II with progressive twist – meaning there was a minimum errosion at the thoath while the twist changed to a higher rate short before the muzzle making it quit precise stabilizing the bullet. In WW II this time consuming method was discontinued because of comprehensive reasons related to the hughe amount of needed weapons in the upcoming conflict.

            2.)
            Military Rifle Calibres of Japanese forces were M30 RN Ball 6.5×50 (in Europe its labeled 6.5×51) Arisaka, later with FMJ Ammunition .261 DIA – 139 Grains used in WW I & WW II

            3.)
            The 7.35×51 Carcano was created because WW I & WW II expiriences concerning the used 6.5×52 Carcano resulted in admitting it was “weak & underpowered”

            4.)
            The 7.7×58 Japanese was was created because expiriences WW I & WW II concerning the used 6.5×50 Arisaka resulted in admitting it was “weak & underpowered”

            5.)
            In both conflicts WW I & WW II there were organized well trained soldiers opposing each other mainly fighting out of well entrenched positions.

            So the question why suddenly a 5.56 bullet is not god enough anymore might be understood if we will observe that fighting with determined enemies who just doesnt care if they are wounded or not is best done from distance keeping them on distance this reducing the own casualties.

            If we observe how the 7.35 Carcano Bullet is made i think that this would be the right way. Its in fact a hollow pointed covered bullet where the covered hollow cavity is filled with lighter aluminium and a lead base make it tumbling on impact.

            So everything has already been tried out in the past and its comming back in the future. The only difference is that what is known is based on real WW I & WW II ballistic studies with real Wartime expiriences.

            @ostiariusalpha:disqus
            Yes thats correct but this was not the main reason to change a completely switch of ammunition which is logistic heavy and cost-intensive. Anyway the 5.56×45 will stay for much more years, whatever the US – Army is excavating out as new invention.

          • MPW

            Good study Mike!
            One thing to be born in mind is that combat scenarios are not all the same. There is a combination of long range and point blank; over and under-penetration. Just from this point one single ammo cannot be universally the best.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Actually, if he had really studied, he would have found that the light projectile 7.35x51mm Carcano performed even worse than its 6.5 predecessor in both external and terminal ballistics.
            The 6.5x50mm Arisaka is indeed a weak cartridge, but not because of the bullet. The 7.7x58mm operates at higher pressures with more case capacity, so in any caliber it would have been an improvement over the 6.5 Ari. The switch to a .311 bullet was entirely about desire for adequate tracer rounds to be used in machine guns.

          • Kivaari

            And the Japanese used three different 7.7mm calibers. The 7.7mm rimless for rifles, a 7.7mm semi-rimmed for machineguns and a 7.7mm rimmed, that was the .303 British for the Lewis guns.

          • Kivaari

            It has a flat base bullet that caused loss of performance. Once again it wasn’t caliber but shape.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Even with a boattail, that .298″ 128gr bullet has really unimpressive sectional density, and is going to run out of steam rather quickly.

          • Kivaari

            The Italians did not learn a thing during WW1. They chose the wrong route to get better performance.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Well, as I previously mentioned, they were originally aiming to develop a 7.35x32mm proto-intermediate cartridge for anti-personnel use in a semi-auto service rifle. Due to the Italians use of more primitive smokeless propellants all the way into WWII, even when they bumped the case length up to 41mm, it wasn’t able to provide adequate energy compared to even contemporary proto-intermediates like the .30 Remington.

          • Kivaari

            The 7.35 mm cases were the same OAL as the 6.5mm. The 6.5mm rounds of the era that were based on the M-S came with only neck lengths changed. 6.5×51, 52, 53,54 or adding both a neck length and rim or semi-rim. All over Central Europe the guys with the longer length chambers could shoot the shorter length enemies ammo.

          • Kivaari

            The .25 and .30 Remington were essentially the 6.5 cases adapted to “our” American market. I have never seen in any of my reference library an Italian 7.35x32mm cartridge. There were Several Swiss “assault rifle” rounds based on a short 7.5 case.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Originally for the Modelo 1921 Moschetto Automatico per Fanteria, Nathaniel F. has mentioned it in passing before.

          • Kivaari

            Your reference article is quite good. I have to admit, there were a couple rifles I had not seen before. I have or had a very good reference library and a few of those were not even footnotes. I can’t locate the book now, but I had one that showed about half-a-dozen Swiss 7.5 x short assault rifles. They were quit modern in appearance, but made in the 1930s. A few had tubular receivers that looked like the VG1-5??? Like the German rifle the high temperatures degraded the action spring wrapped around the barrel. That method, as in the Remington M8/81 were horrible to maintain. Add water and mud and that outer jacket needs to be removed or the gun is destroyed. That was a problem with the German M88 and the first Belgium Mausers.

          • Those sound like the Furrer carbines, in 7.65mm caliber. I mentioned those in the above post.

          • Kivaari

            That is why I said it is the proportions that matter. As Nathaniel states it is the shape and weight. If you want the maximum range you use a dense core. If you want more destructiveness, you put a lightweight insert at the nose, so it tumbles upon impact. Keeping the 7.35 the same weight but adding a boat tail doesn’t get the proportions correct. That is why, I said, several times, that had the Italians spent money on improving the projectiles in the 6.5 Carcano the weapons would only need a re-stamped rear sight.
            Like, again, why the Finns re-chambered and remarked the rifles to use the “D” load, it improved the performance. Simple fixes that many armies failed to grab.

          • Kivaari

            Like the 125 grain .300 BLK.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Right, it’s a bullet that would have done well in a smaller cartridge if the Italians had used a propellant other than Solenite.

          • Kivaari

            The concept of putting a light weight material in the nose isn’t new. The British .303 MkVII did so in WW1. Winchester made 4 lots of 6.5 Italian after WW2. It was decided to rearm Italy with US rifles and the ammo was sold as surplus. LH Oswald used some of it to kill JFK. It was conventional FMJ-RN with no insert.

          • There is a very, very big difference between current bullet technology and what was available to nations during the interwar period.

            The “bigger bullet” fallacy simply will not die… Well, a bigger bullet does you no good at all if it doesn’t perform like it should. The emphasis should be on getting the most performance from the lightest bullets possible; the EPR series of bullets has been excellent for this, so any future US Army projectiles should emulate that design.

          • Kivaari

            YES

          • Core

            Good point. My 7. 7mm Japanese can be loaded with modern tech to have amazing reach beyond the. 308.

          • Kivaari

            The 7.35mm used a bullet with a composite core. A lightweight aluminum nose piece was included so the bullet would tumble upon hitting. It was a wasted project. They could have easily changed the 6.5mm bullet (160 gr. FMJ round nose) to a 130-140 gr. spritzer boat tail and observed instant benefits. Higher velocity, flatter trajectory and better terminal ballistics. Some of the old nations using rifles from the 1890s did change from the known poor performers. The biggest challenge was recalibrating the sights. That is quite simple as shown by several nations. Like the Soviets moving to metric from Arshins. Re-stamping the sight works. It was odd to see that most nations seemed to be satisfied with less, since they had “ended all wars” after WW1.

          • Kivaari

            The little cases used in most 6.5 and the 7.35 are just too small to get the long range performance that armies needed. That is why nearly every nation using 6.5mm rifles, adopted large bore and much more powerful cartidges for machineguns. The 6.5 Italian and all the 6.5 M-S based cartridges were not powerful enough to do damage at the longer ranges expected from MGs. That is the 1200m issue that is raised here. It is simply not the job of a rifleman to engage men 1200m away using his personal rifle. That is the job of crew-served weapons.

        • noob

          Could a metallurgist or composite materials specialist do some research into harder wearing barrel materials/treatments?

          And somebody come up with better powder/propellant?

          Imagine full auto on a 4000fps super small diameter solid core AP bullet?

          In order to get the edge over everyone it looks like it’s time for more basic research or throw out gunpowder to start again with railguns and lasers or something.

          • MPWS

            That material is ‘stellite’; it had been used on 50 BMG.

          • And the M60.

          • Kivaari

            .50 M3HBs as well. One local gun-black smith, was making bolt action rifles from M2 barrels removed metal around the chamber to thread it for his own action. On the first round down range, another gunsmith, torched off a round, and the barrel and chamber went in different directions. It amputated some of Carl’s hand. The builder was well known for making crude end products. I learned early on to never trust him or his work. Both were defective.

          • Camilo Emiliano Rosas Echeverr

            Mike, the lessons that Japanese and Italian learned in WWII was “You don’t change your logistics train on the eve of a major land war”. Nothing about calibers. History actually vindicated their choice, even if by today’s standards they are utterly obsolete calibers.

          • Kivaari

            France had already made good progress in adopting a new cartridge and the weapons that used the modernized rounds. The 7.5mm French rifles MAS 36 and machineguns were a good move. The 7.5x54mm French round is simply a rimless version of the Russian 7.62x54mmR. It took no new ballistics testing, just simplifying the weapons to use rimless ammo. If we look at American v. European ammo, we find that even the .30-30 and its cousins using a rim, were simply the 6.5mm Mannlicher round with various calibers stuffed in the with different neck lengths. The 25-35, 32-40, .25 Rem, 30 Rem, 32 Rem, 38-55 were just a rim away from being the same case.
            Italy knew better in 1900, but the army doctor that showed the high command what was needed to improve performance was ignored. It received more interest n 1989 by the US Army. Dr. Fackler sent me a photograph of the gelatin testing he conducted in ’89. That Italian knew his stuff back then. Much like other advances in every field, good stuff gets ignored.
            The Japs also knew better but was run by idiots. Thankfully, the command staff screwed up.
            BUT, keep in mind that even with the war being ongoing, not many nations stood still. There was a great deal of effort put into new ammunition. Like the 7.92x33mm and 7.62x39mm. Like the USA Army looking to find a more efficient cartridge to replace the .30-06. At first the .300 Savage was leading the pack. If you look at ballistics charts from the era, the .300 Savage outperformed the .30-06. The Savage M99 tilting bolt system had a little too much spring (compression) and the loads were reduced. Like the .30-06 and the .308 Winchester, they are so close as to not make a difference.
            The US introduced the .30 carbine. They also issued Winchester M94s in .30-30 for the Army guards in the Pacific Northwest lumber mills. “Spruce rifles”.
            Many armies were scrambling for all kinds of weapons. Just about all the combatant in both World Wars bought and issued half a dozen or more caliber rifles and machineguns because they could not produce enough of the standard issue. Like the US in WW1, building M91 Russian rifles (not delivered in 1917 because of the Revolution). Then US Army troops were armed with them when they participated in the Russian Civil War. We had troops in Archangel and in the Russian Eastern territories.
            Germany adopted every weapon in the conquered countries. Standard issue weapons were taken from Naval forces and replaced with captured arms. Talk about logistics problems.

          • Kivaari

            It’s been done. It costs more money. At 4,000 FPS there aren’t many barrels that will last very long. Hammer forged barrels and button rifled barrels have work hardened surfaces. That helps retain performance. Accuracy can or can not be better. Life expectancy should be better.

          • Kivaari

            Early Stoner rifles tried lined barrels with a lightweight outer jacket. They failed during the water test.

        • Kivaari

          If you were around when the .264 Win Mag came out, it was notorious for throat erosion. Getting 1000 rounds down the tube resulted in needing a new barrel. The original Remington M700 in 7mm Rem Mag had more expensive stainless steel barrels to counter the erosion. That was expensive and since MOST shooters never fire more than a few boxes from hunting rifles Remington went back to common steel. That helped the profits since unlike the stainless barrels, the regulars did not need special bluing.
          Lower power loads, with newer powders, and better barrel material will last a long time. Every time people want high velocity it has weaknesses attached.

      • DetroitMan

        I disagree. Calibers between 6mm and 7mm have shown time and again that they sit in a sweet spot for rifle calibers. The high availability of low-drag projectiles is a function of that, not a cause for it. The benefits were known since the late 1800s when militaries were experimenting with them, before American civilians had any interest in them. The fact remains that calibers in this range offer the best combination of ballistic efficiency, sectional density, ability to buck the wind, and manageable recoil. Go smaller and the bullet wanders off target in the wind or brush. Go larger and recoil becomes an issue. If you want to have your cake and eat it too in a shoulder-fired weapon, a caliber between 6mm and 7mm is the ticket. Everything else developed so far requires a compromise. You can argue that there are reasons to make that compromise, but you can’t deny calibers in this range offer an outstanding mix of traits that other calibers cannot duplicate.

        • This idea gets repeated quite a lot, and virtually never supported. In response, I will just quote a comment I made on another article of mine:

          “I feel like Sisyphus whenever anyone brings up the “all studies ever done have all concluded the 6.5mm is best”. It’s my fate to just keep pushing that boulder uphill, says the Oracle at Delphi.

          Well, here’s a head-scratcher for you: For almost half a century, most studies conducted in countries across the world, with a handful of exceptions, determined that .30 cal was the best infantry caliber there was. France, Japan, the USA, the Italians, and numerous others all conducted studies and came up with .30 cal as the “ideal”. So why didn’t they all conclude that 6.5mm was the best? Were they all stupid?

          No, they had different requirements. There are requirements that will lead any research team to conclude that 6.5-7mm is the best caliber, but not every study started with those requirements (in fact, most didn’t).

          It continues to baffle me that this myth gets repeated in serious ammunition discussion circles so often, as many times I’ve seen it rolled out again by people who are aware that in the 1950s, the US Army conducted a caliber configuration study and settled on the .22 caliber! It was that study led directly to the 5.56mm. Here is my proof that this study occurred, below are cartridges in my collection, some of which were created for that study:

          http://i.imgur.com/XgbKIvT.jpg

          The middle three are the .22, .25, and .27 Light Rifle, each basically 7.62 NATO necked down to its respective caliber.

          Here’s just a hypothetical example to make it clearer: Let’s say I am going to order a study on what the best infantry caliber is. I am going to tell those conducting the study that the caliber must be able to penetrate 15mm of armor at 1,000 meters, because there is a requirement for infantry to be able to engage technicals at standoff distances. They come back to me and tell me they’ve determined the ideal infantry cartridge is the .416 Barrett.

          Should I then go to all the forums on the Internet and parade around my study as the ultimate and final answer on what the ideal infantry round is? No, of course not! Not even if I’d conducted a hundred such studies. The requirements of the study don’t match the reality, obviously.

          So, “every” study ever conducted says 6.whatever millimeter is the best. …Including studies conducted in the 1890s, 1920s, and 1950s, I presume. How relevant is a study from the Fifties? From the Twenties? From the Eighteen Nineties? Probably not very relevant! Much has changed in both infantry combat and ammunition design since.

          That doesn’t mean the 6.Xmm caliber isn’t the right choice, either, but just throwing out that line – which isn’t even correct at all, as there are as many if not more studies that point to other calibers as there are ones that point to 6-7mm – as the final word in the discussion is ludicrous.”

          • Kivaari

            Excellent. I feel as you do, that people simply will not look at the real world. As stated elsewhere, if 6.5 is so good, why did every nation using 6.5 rifles adopt machineguns having in.30 to .35 caliber? No one can convince me that a lucky hit at 600m with a 5.56 M855 isn’t going to hurt like hell. I should add that the M855 is not accurate enough for long range. That little steel core is not always stable.

          • DetroitMan

            You’re pretty proud of that cross you’re carrying. For the record, I never said that every study since the 1800’s proves that 6.x mm is the best. I said that the benefits have been shown in military studies since the 1800’s, before the American civilian shooter was interested. That was a response to your contention that people only think they are great because civilians have so many ballistically efficient bullets available in this range.

            “How relevant is a study from the Fifties? From the Twenties? From the Eighteen Nineties? Probably not very relevant! ”

            Do you really want to argue that? American trials in the 20’s led to the recommendation of your beloved .276 Pederson (a 7mm cartridge). Studies in the 50’s led to the SCHV concept. If old studies are no longer relevant, then we had better be looking for a replacement for the SCHV cartridge.

            So let’s review. All I said was that calibers between 6mm and 7mm have an excellent blend of characteristics that are very desirable in a rifle cartridge. There is plenty of math and empirical data to back that claim. They are not ideal for every set of requirements, but you can’t deny the math and the data. These calibers sit in the sweet spot for a “do everything” cartridge.

            If the army is looking to extend the infantry rifle’s expected reach beyond 300 meters, then they are smart to look at calibers in this range. If they are looking just for a replacement for the 7.62mm NATO, then it would be stupid not to look at calibers in the 6.x mm range. At some point, the current cartridges will become obsolete. I am glad that the army is continuing to study the problem and reevaluate its choices. I want us to be leading in military technologies, not playing catch-up.

          • Kivaari

            Except the 6mm-7mm range CAN NOT do everything. If they could every army would use them. Most of the nations that issued 6.5mm rifles and carbines, also issued larger and more powerful machineguns, because even with its best loads no 6mm to 7mm bullet can deliver what is needed at extended ranges. Remember the Swedish 6.5x55mm rifles, among the most power of the military 6.5 cartridges, could not do what the Swedish Army wanted. That is why they made 8x63mm machineguns and bolt action rifles for the crew. They were significantly harder recoiling than the 8mm Mauser.
            The nations that had 6.5mm machineguns in the interwar years opted to adopt heavier caliber machineguns. It complicates logistics, just like having 7.62mm M240s. But, the trade off is worth it. Look around many nations that use or have used the 5.56mm LMGs are adopting bigger and heavier guns. Adopting a new LMG round in that 6-7mm bore size will complicate things, since they will not do what a 7.62 can do. Close, and I actually like the idea, but if the rounds can’t offer a real advantage, why do it?

          • DetroitMan

            You are ignoring 70 years of technological advancement and a few other factors. Back when the Swedes were using the 6.5×55 and the 8×63, bullets were simply lead slugs with a jacket. The newest 5.56 rounds with penetrators and modern construction will outperform most WWII era rounds in terms of barrier penetration. As others have pointed out, a general purpose machine gun round in the 1940’s was expected to do a lot a more than they are today, including bring down airplanes and light vehicles. Nobody would ask the same of the general issue round today, nor should they. It’s also worth noting that nations that had general issue rounds larger than 6.5mm also developed machine guns in larger calibers and complicated their logistics. For all these reasons, you cannot argue that because 6.5mm proved inadequate in past that it should not be reconsidered today.

          • Did I say you did? I replicated another comment I made elsewhere that addresses much of what you said. It’s not a perfect match, but it saves me a lot of time typing out most of the same points.

            Do I really want to argue that military caliber configuration studies from the 1890s aren’t very relevant to the modern problem? Yes, I do. Anyone who would argue the opposite is silly. The same is true to less extreme degrees for studies from the 1920s and 1950s, as well.

            Here’s the thing you and many other people seem to not be understanding: I can like something a lot without thinking it is the best thing ever. I like the .276 Pedersen because I think it’s cool and I’ve studied it a lot, but that doesn’t mean that studies from the 1920s should inform modern caliber selection. I think that kind of argument is stupid; Well, those blokes who were worried about trench warfare and existed in a time before strategic bombers, main battle tanks, missiles, and nukes thought we should use a 7mm caliber, so obviously we should. Seriously? That isn’t logic, it’s pandering to emotion and appealing to authority. An authority that’s dead and buried, even!

            But you didn’t make that point, except then you did? I’m confused now.

            Yeah, studies in the 1950s led to the SCHV concept, and those studies have the most weight behind them as to being relevant to today. The paradigms that existed then weren’t that different than what existed today…

            Except they were still different. Nobody was engineering stuff for a brush war against insurgents with car bombs and “Allahu ackbar” on their lips. Everyone was worried about a nuclear conflict. The EPR bullet design didn’t exist back then, and nobody knew what fleet yaw was. Precise supersonic projectile design based on aerodynamic research had only been invented a few years prior, and hadn’t trickled down into small arms research yet. Body armor as we know it today didn’t exist. There were a lot of differences.

            Now, are you thinking “but aren’t these potential arguments for a 6.Xmm caliber?” Yes, they could be, and that’s OK. There are arguments for that caliber. Contrary to what my critics think, I am not wedded to the SCHV idea. I thump on it a lot because it has some very real advantages that people are very happy to just forget about because David Fortier told them the 6.5 Grendel is a super cool round that the Army ought to adopt.

            “So let’s review. All I said was that calibers between 6mm and 7mm have an excellent blend of characteristics that are very desirable in a rifle cartridge.”

            This statement speaks itself ignorant of the fact that all “6-7mm” means is a range of diameters. You could have a 40gr round nosed 6mm bullet, or a 700 grain 7mm flechette. It’s a further silly point to make; since the 1890s, the range of calibers that have been in use for military service as standard issue for infantry have been .221 – .330, and .243-.284 covers just about half that span. It’s almost tantamout to saying “the range of calibers that have been in use for infantry weapons is the ideal range of calibers for use for infantry weapons”. It’s a terribly silly thing to say!

            “There is plenty of math and empirical data to back that claim. They are not ideal for every set of requirements, but you can’t deny the math and the data. These calibers sit in the sweet spot for a “do everything” cartridge.”

            There is no sweet spot, that range comes up often when discussing universal calibers simply because it’s in the middle of the range of common infantry rifle calibers! There is no magic to it, it’s simply in the middle. If you want to split the difference between two calibers designed for two different roles, surprise surprise, you end up with something vaguely in the middle.

            “If the army is looking to extend the infantry rifle’s expected reach beyond 300 meters, then they are smart to look at calibers in this range.”

            Or, they could design a 62gr .224″ bullet with a lower form factor. Doing so would dramatically increase the effective range of 5.56mm, by 90-230 meters. There are in fact quite a lot of options, which people who have their eyes glued to the 6.Xmm wunderkalibers are likely to miss.

            “If they are looking just for a replacement for the 7.62mm NATO, then it would be stupid not to look at calibers in the 6.x mm range. At some point, the current cartridges will become obsolete. I am glad that the army is continuing to study the problem and reevaluate its choices. I want us to be leading in military technologies, not playing catch-up.”

            As long as they actually study the problem, instead of looking for validation on 65Grendel.com.

          • DetroitMan

            “Well, those blokes who were worried about trench warfare and existed in a time before strategic bombers, main battle tanks, missiles, and nukes thought we should use a 7mm caliber, so obviously we should… But you didn’t make that point, except then you did? I’m confused now.”

            No. The point I was making is that calibers between 6mm and 7mm offer an excellent mix of traits, and that studies all the way back to the 1890’s have shown this. This is in response to your original post stating that these calibers are only popular because so many ballistically efficient bullets are available for them today. My point is that the virtues of these cartridges have been known for a very long time, before large numbers American civilian shooters were ever interested in them. The age of those studies does not diminish the findings that these cartridges offer a great mix of ballistic efficiency, sectional density, and manageable recoil. I recognize that military doctrine and requirements have evolved since these studies were conducted, and I never argued that we should apply military thinking from a century ago to today’s battlefield. I simply contend that the virtues of these calibers have been known for more than a century, and that the availability of modern bullets enhances that. I disagree with you that the only merritt of these calibers is the modern bullet selection.

            “This statement speaks itself ignorant of the fact that all “6-7mm” means is a range of diameters. You could have a 40gr round nosed 6mm bullet, or a 700 grain 7mm flechette. It’s a further silly point to make; since the 1890s, the range of calibers that have been in use for military service as standard issue for infantry have been .221 – .330, and .243-.284 covers just about half that span. It’s almost tantamout to saying “the range of calibers that have been in use for infantry weapons is the ideal range of calibers for use for infantry weapons”. It’s a terribly silly thing to say!”

            First of all, I deliberately said “rifle cartridge” and not “infantry rifle cartridge.” I recognize that military rifle cartridge requirements differ from what a civilian might want. Second, I’m not an idiot, and I am very aware of the fact that 6mm to 7mm is just a range of bullet diameters. Of course you can design all kinds of projectiles in that range, and you can also design all sorts of different cases to put behind them.

            “There is no sweet spot, that range comes up often when discussing universal calibers simply because it’s in the middle of the range of common infantry rifle calibers! There is no magic to it, it’s simply in the middle. If you want to split the difference between two calibers designed for two different roles, surprise surprise, you end up with something vaguely in the middle.”

            I disagree. If I can get high ballistic efficiency, high penetration, good resistance to the wind, and manageable recoil, then I call that a sweet spot. It’s not magic. It’s math.

            “Or, they could design a 62gr .224″ bullet with a lower form factor. Doing so would dramatically increase the effective range of 5.56mm, by 90-230 meters. There are in fact quite a lot of options, which people who have their eyes glued to the 6.Xmm wunderkalibers are likely to miss.”

            Sure, lots of things are possible with modern engineering. Two problems with that solution. First, less mass means less wind resistance and increased chance of deflection by grass and other minor barriers. The comments on your article were full of remarks about how difficult it is to compensate for the wind at longer ranges. A heavy bullet will not eliminate the effect of wind, but it does reduce it and make the shot easier. Second, the forces that be are pushing for the use of lighter materials in bullet construction. This means that bullets either have to get longer or their weight will be pushed down. You only have so much to work with in the 5.56. The current top end match bullets for 5.56 already cannot be loaded to magazine length in the common service rifle platforms. So we either have to live with the constraints or alter the platform. Altering that platform may be necessary anyway to move to the CT ammunition. For all these reasons, it makes sense reevaluate whether we want to stick with 5.56mm. Maybe we do, but I think it would be foolish to rule out anything else just because we have used 5.56mm for so long.

          • Kivaari

            Why are armies using .338 Lapua, if the sweet spot is 6mm-7mm?

          • DetroitMan

            Because if you want a long range round for snipers, more mass makes a lot of sense. It’s worth the extra weight, blast, and recoil because of its limited application.

            Look, I’m not suggesting that 6mm to 7mm is the solution to absolutely every tactical scenario. The “sweet spot” is simply that you get an excellent blend of desirable traits without excessive recoil or weight. If you want to kill targets beyond 1000 yards, there are better cartridges (like .338 Lapua). If you want to kick doors and spray everything inside with zero muzzle climb, there are better cartridges. These days there is a specialized cartridge for nearly every specific application that you can think of. Infantry don’t get the luxury of choosing the exact cartridge and platform for the immediate task they have to tackle. The infantry rifle is a general purpose tool by nature, and I think 6mm to 7mm is optimum for general purpose rifles.

          • Here’s a refresher of what I actually said:

            “There’s very little that’s special about that size. It is a convenient middle ground if you want a universal caliber, but besides that it mostly gets its reputation from the civilian availability of low-drag projectiles in that caliber.”

            In other words, the 6.5mm is just a measurement. The reputation the caliber has received for having excellent ballistics comes from the long ogives available for bullets in that caliber, not anything inherent to the measurement.

            “First of all, I deliberately said “rifle cartridge” and not “infantry rifle cartridge.” I recognize that military rifle cartridge requirements differ from what a civilian might want. Second, I’m not an idiot, and I am very aware of the fact that 6mm to 7mm is just a range of bullet diameters. Of course you can design all kinds of projectiles in that range, and you can also design all sorts of different cases to put behind them.”

            Please read more carefully. I did not call you an idiot, I called what you said “silly”.

            “I disagree. If I can get high ballistic efficiency, high penetration, good resistance to the wind, and manageable recoil, then I call that a sweet spot. It’s not magic. It’s math.”

            You can get that even moreso with the .224 caliber, which is why the Soviets replaced their 6.5mm biathlon caliber with a 5.6mm one. So where’s the sweet spot, then?

            “First, less mass means less wind resistance and increased chance of deflection by grass and other minor barriers.”

            Actually, wind resistance is more complex than that, and deflection even more so. Projectile size and shape is, for example, an important factor in both of those.

            “The comments on your article were full of remarks about how difficult it is to compensate for the wind at longer ranges.”

            If your limiting factor is wind drift, you’re already extremely lucky.

            “Second, the forces that be are pushing for the use of lighter materials in bullet construction. This means that bullets either have to get longer or their weight will be pushed down.”

            Right, but the thing is that this affects all calibers equally, density being a linear factor. It does shift the caliber paradigm up a bit, sure, but that also affects the “magic” 6.5mm.

            “The current top end match bullets for 5.56 already cannot be loaded to magazine length in the common service rifle platforms.”

            Since there’s exactly zero chance of a new round being adopted in conventional brass cased format, and with a new cartridge design you could make the OAL whatever you want, why does that matter?

            “So we either have to live with the constraints or alter the platform.”

            How does 6.5mm not suffer from this problem?

            “For all these reasons, it makes sense reevaluate whether we want to stick with 5.56mm.”

            Yes, absolutely.

            “Maybe we do, but I think it would be foolish to rule out anything else just because we have used 5.56mm for so long.”

            And just who, exactly, is doing that?

          • DetroitMan

            “In other words, the 6.5mm is just a measurement. The reputation the caliber has received for having excellent ballistics comes from the long ogives available for bullets in that caliber, not anything inherent to the measurement.”

            Yes, I don’t dispute that bullet design plays a large role, but I think there is more to it. Ballistically efficient bullets tend to be long, and that increases their mass. That is good to point, because it increases resistance to wind and deflection. It brings increased recoil and weight with it though, which effectively places an upper bound. Cartridges in the 6.5mm range tend to be the most powerful that most people can shoot comfortably. So if you want to give the average soldier the best chance to engage beyond 300 meters, cartridges in this range should be considered.

            “You can get that even moreso with the .224 caliber, which is why the Soviets replaced their 6.5mm biathlon caliber with a 5.6mm one. So where’s the sweet spot, then?”

            Biathlon targets are shot at 50 meters, over perfectly groomed shooting ranges. I don’t see how that relates to infantry combat. It sounds to me like the Soviets developed a specialized cartridge for a very specific task.

            “Actually, wind resistance is more complex than that, and deflection even more so. Projectile size and shape is, for example, an important factor in both of those.”

            Weight still matters. Take the same projectile design, scaled to two different calibers. Build them of the same materials and launch them at the same velocity. The larger one will do better in the wind because it is heavier.

            “Second, the forces that be are pushing for the use of lighter materials in bullet construction. This means that bullets either have to get longer or their weight will be pushed down.

            Right, but the thing is that this affects all calibers equally, density being a linear factor. It does shift the caliber paradigm up a bit, sure, but that also affects the “magic” 6.5mm.”

            I never said it didn’t. The fact remains that the smaller the caliber, every grain of weight you give up affects it more. If the goal is to get infantry shooting beyond 300 meters, weight will help compensate for other factors.

            “So we either have to live with the constraints or alter the platform.

            How does 6.5mm not suffer from this problem?”

            My point was that if we are going to cling to the current 5.56mm, this is our choice. Moving to 6.5mm would always require altering the platform.

            “Maybe we do, but I think it would be foolish to rule out anything else just because we have used 5.56mm for so long.

            And just who, exactly, is doing that?”

            There is a cult of the 5.56mm that won’t accept anything else. I’m not saying you are part of it, but it’s out there. There are people who believe that the 5.56 is the be-all and end-all, that it always fragments in the most catastrophic way, and it is the soldiers’ best friend. It’s entrenched in current army doctrine, since they don’t expect the infantry to shoot beyond the effective range of 5.56. Our soldiers have a weight problem, since they are loaded with so much other stuff that their weapons and ammo are seen as a burden. Lastly there is plain old army stubbornness to move away from a system they already know. For all these reasons, there are people who will oppose any caliber change, especially if the proposed bore diameter is larger.

          • “Yes, I don’t dispute that bullet design plays a large role, but I think there is more to it. Ballistically efficient bullets tend to be long, and that increases their mass. That is good to point, because it increases resistance to wind and deflection. It brings increased recoil and weight with it though, which effectively places an upper bound. Cartridges in the 6.5mm range tend to be the most powerful that most people can shoot comfortably. So if you want to give the average soldier the best chance to engage beyond 300 meters, cartridges in this range should be considered.”

            That depends on your requirements, as I have been saying. .338 Lapua, .416 Barrett, and other larger calibers can be made comfortable, depending on the intended purpose.

            “Biathlon targets are shot at 50 meters, over perfectly groomed shooting ranges. I don’t see how that relates to infantry combat. It sounds to me like the Soviets developed a specialized cartridge for a very specific task.”

            At the time, actually, biathlon went out to 250 meters, but I wasn’t saying it was relevant to infantry combat. I was pointing out that a lot of those characteristics can be had with smaller calibers; what is the “optimum” depends greatly on your requirements.

            “Weight still matters. Take the same projectile design, scaled to two different calibers. Build them of the same materials and launch them at the same velocity. The larger one will do better in the wind because it is heavier.”

            Yes, but the nice thing about smaller calibers is you can fire them at HIGHER velocities…

            “I never said it didn’t. The fact remains that the smaller the caliber, every grain of weight you give up affects it more. If the goal is to get infantry shooting beyond 300 meters, weight will help compensate for other factors.”

            Having shot 5.56mm long-range for a long time now, it’s not the caliber that is the limiting factor in this problem, it’s the soldier.

            “My point was that if we are going to cling to the current 5.56mm, this is our choice. Moving to 6.5mm would always require altering the platform.”

            Uh-uh, if a new 5.56mm caliber is the right choice, it’s the right choice. Portraying the problem as giving up the current standard to “upgrade” to 6.5mm is the wrong lesson. The right lesson is that, when the time comes to change calibers, the configuration must be determined as the result of considerable study, and without bias towards any one caliber or configuration.

            “There is a cult of the 5.56mm that won’t accept anything else. I’m not saying you are part of it, but it’s out there. There are people who believe that the 5.56 is the be-all and end-all, that it always fragments in the most catastrophic way, and it is the soldiers’ best friend. It’s entrenched in current army doctrine, since they don’t expect the infantry to shoot beyond the effective range of 5.56. Our soldiers have a weight problem, since they are loaded with so much other stuff that their weapons and ammo are seen as a burden. Lastly there is plain old army stubbornness to move away from a system they already know. For all these reasons, there are people who will oppose any caliber change, especially if the proposed bore diameter is larger.”

            Hah! There are a lot of people who don’t see the point in spending the money to get a new whizzbang caliber, but I’ve never found the secret lair of this 5.56mm cult. But then, I’ve spent most of my time hanging around the very obvious 6.5mm cult.

          • DetroitMan

            “That depends on your requirements, as I have been saying. .338 Lapua, .416 Barrett, and other larger calibers can be made comfortable, depending on the intended purpose.”

            The requirement that the Army is exploring is for infantry rifles to be able to engage at 1200 meters. I think that’s unrealistic for a variety of reasons, but I’m pretty sure they won’t get there with a 5.56 round.

            “Yes, but the nice thing about smaller calibers is you can fire them at HIGHER velocities…”

            …and they will still experience more wind drift than a heavier bullet that was launched at a slightly lower velocity. (Example: 7.62 NATO at 2700 fps vs. 5.56 NATO at 3000 fps.) How fast are you planning to launch your new 5.56 round to compensate for that? And if that trick works so well, why has nobody deployed a high velocity 5.56 round as a sniper round?

            “Having shot 5.56mm long-range for a long time now, it’s not the caliber that is the limiting factor in this problem, it’s the soldier.”

            I agree that soldiers will need additional training to shoot at long range. However, there is a reason that long range competition shooters mostly use calibers larger than 5.56. When all else is equal, the bullet that drifts less in the wind is easier to get on target. That doesn’t mean we should just adopt their caliber and cartridge, but it should at least inform the discussion of what our soldiers need if they are going to engage at longer ranges.

            Also, a 5.56 does not have much energy left when you extend the range. There is a difference between hitting the target and killing it. By the time a 5.56 launched from an M4 passes 300 meters, the likelihood of it tumbling and fragmenting is all but gone.

            “The right lesson is that, when the time comes to change calibers, the configuration must be determined as the result of considerable study, and without bias towards any one caliber or configuration.”

            Which is what I have been saying. I don’t have the same faith in the 5.56 that you do, especially if we are going to extend the effective range of our rifles. But if a new 5.56 CT cartridge can make it all work, then I won’t be opposed to its adoption.

          • “The requirement that the Army is exploring is for infantry rifles to be able to engage at 1200 meters. I think that’s unrealistic for a variety of reasons, but I’m pretty sure they won’t get there with a 5.56 round.”

            Sure.

            “…and they will still experience more wind drift than a heavier bullet that was launched at a slightly lower velocity. (Example: 7.62 NATO at 2700 fps vs. 5.56 NATO at 3000 fps.) How fast are you planning to launch your new 5.56 round to compensate for that? And if that trick works so well, why has nobody deployed a high velocity 5.56 round as a sniper round?”

            Nobody? The Chinese have, with the 5.8mm QBU-88. The Americans have, too, with the Mk. 12 SPR.

            “I agree that soldiers will need additional training to shoot at long range. However, there is a reason that long range competition shooters mostly use calibers larger than 5.56. When all else is equal, the bullet that drifts less in the wind is easier to get on target. That doesn’t mean we should just adopt their caliber and cartridge, but it should at least inform the discussion of what our soldiers need if they are going to engage at longer ranges.”

            I am confused; I was talking about requirements being the axis of what calibers are “ideal” or not. I was not saying that 6.5mm is a bad long-range caliber (or that 5.56mm is a good one).

            “Also, a 5.56 does not have much energy left when you extend the range. There is a difference between hitting the target and killing it. By the time a 5.56 launched from an M4 passes 300 meters, the likelihood of it tumbling and fragmenting is all but gone.”

            5.56mm (and virtually all rifle bullets, actually), tumble regardless of velocity, although there’s great variation in the depth at which they lose stability.

            As for 300 meters being the fragmentation limit for 5.56mm, yeah, it’s the limit for that caliber and just about every other one, too. There isn’t a caliber out there that will give you 1200m of frag range.

            “Which is what I have been saying. I don’t have the same faith in the 5.56 that you do, especially if we are going to extend the effective range of our rifles. But if a new 5.56 CT cartridge can make it all work, then I won’t be opposed to its adoption.”

            These are inert bullet spitters we are talking about here, having faith in them is universally misguided and unwise.

            On the other hand, the risks of adopting a new, heavier caliber are extremely well-characterized.

        • Kivaari

          Only if they have the correct proportions. It isn’t the caliber that makes those 6-7mm bullets perform it is shape and velocity. If you want a low recoil carbine, shoving a heavier 6.5mm bullet is going to kick more and have a larger case, both of which reduce carry capacity. Nothing is magical about the 6.5. Yes, a 6.5 can hit targets at 1000 yards in the hands of a skilled shooter. BUT, it doesn’t kick as hard. A .308 bullet having the optimum proportions needs to be shoved harder to get the same trade off. It is why the 5.56 is such a good choice. It has great ballistics without heavy recoil. 5.56s out shoot 7.62 rounds as shown in competition and laboratory testing.
          To get your “ideal” caliber what are you willing to accept as the trade-offs? Do you want heavier carbines? Do you want a lower round count because the ammo is heavier and bulkier? Are you willing to accept heavier recoil and increased flash? Will you want an effective suppressor that is larger and heavier? Nothing comes for free. If you restrict the new caliber ammunition to GPMGs it would be easy to replace the 7.62mm NATO. If you want a common round for a lightweight rifle/carbine you wont get it. Common ammo between rifles and belt fed machineguns should not be considered. I never worried about having ammo common to my handguns and long guns or the same as a fellow officer. If he runs out of ammo and asks you for more, I’d hesitate. If he wasted his ammo without hitting, why do I want to give him more ammo to miss with?
          Replacing the M249 seems to make sense. Putting a newer LD bullet in the 7.62 NATO seems like a better idea without huge expense. A non-lead core 7.62×51 bullet having those ideal profiles will add range while lowering recoil would be a good thing. Every NATO country could convert by swapping barrels (maybe) or simply just keep on shooting. A new rate of twist may be needed, but that’s pretty easy to do. New barrels cost a great deal less than an entire weapons-system. As I said elsewhere if the 6.5 Swede is so great why don’t we just convert the machineguns to it?

          • DetroitMan

            What I want is to not be wed to the idea that 5.56mm is the be-all and end-all of infantry calibers. At some point it will be obsolete. It has been in service nearly as long as the previous generation of 6mm to 8mm service cartridges. Technology has evolved. Nobody thought they needed more than a big bore black power cartridge until the French adopted the 8mm Lebel. Nobody was rushing to adopt SCHV until America put it in service. What I don’t want is another sham trial by the army to prove that what they already have is the best available. I want an honest trial, and if that shows that 5.56 is still the way to go, that’s fine. It just seems to me that a lot of people here and in the army have blinders on and will oppose anything not 5.56 because 5.56 is the wunderinfantrykaliber.

            Let’s be honest: a move from 5.56mm to 6.0mm would be a small one in terms of increased weight and recoil. If a 6.0mm offers real advantages, then why not consider it for general issue? Especially if a move to CT ammunition will require significant retooling of the rifle, you might as well wrap in the caliber change.

            6.5mm would be a bigger increase, and I recognize that. At that point, we have to consider whether our current list of assumptions about infantry combat are correct. We also have to consider whether other technologies are mature enough to support the move. It probably does make more sense to restrict this caliber for GPMG, DMR, and sniper applications. Or maybe it makes sense to upgrade the 7.62mm with the newest bullet technology. Again, let’s have an honest trial and figure out what we need.

            As for the 6.5×55 Swede, we both know it has been surpassed. (BTW, I never argued for its adoption, even though I love it.) There are newer cartridges between 6mm and 6.5mm that will outperform it. Furthermore, the Swede has an odd case head dimension. If you’re going to adopt a 6.5, there are a number based on the .308 that would only require a barrel change and tweak of the gas system on existing 7.62mm weapons. For these reasons, I would choose a different 6.x cartridge for adoption if I was going to choose an existing one.

          • Kivaari

            It’s not that the current 5.56mm is not going extinct, it will. What will replace it will likely be some plastic or self consuming case. At the current state of the art, there is no reason to change. I don’t object to this concept. I don’t care what caliber it is as long as the soldier is not overloaded, and the weapon remains as easy to use as the M4. I could not care less what caliber the GPMG becomes, as long as it is an improvement all around.
            The US military has tried every caliber you can think of. We had primitive 6mm rounds, not just the .236 Navy but the 6mm SAW.
            I am not wed to the 6.5x55mm which many seem to deem the finest caliber ever. Put a .260 Remington (6mm-08) with the finest bullet you can find. If it performs better than the 7.62x51mm then do it.
            Get other NATO partners to agree. Don’t simply change for the sake of changing. We have tried quite a few different projectiles in the 7.62mm, sabot rounds (SLAP), duplex bullets, and all kinds of composites and profiles.
            I would be happy with a 6mm or 6.5mm carbine as long as it doesn’t have baggage of increased weight, bulk, cost, require a new rifle etc. We don’t need a carbine and machinegun to share ammo. It’s OK, as long as we don’t lose anything we now have in the M240.
            Don’t underestimate the knowledge of our ancestors. We had quite a bit of knowledge prior to WW2. The low-drag bullets people want today, were pretty much the same as we see today.
            Look at 7.62x54mmR “D” loads. Soviets used them in machineguns to get 1300 range. The 150 gr flat base (actually has a shallow cone shaped dimple) was a much shorter range slug. It did perform, as flat based bullets do kill better than the VLD bullets. The VLD bullets allow hits at greater range. A .30 caliber bullet, properly shaped goes a long range and hits with good energy.
            The US Army issued both flat based and boat tail designs. With a considerable number of them being AP, and those went far and killed, but required heavy rifles and MGs. The M1 rifle was the best of WW2, but it had quite a few undesirable traits.
            Today, there are no magic bullets that deliver much more than 70 years ago. We may have refined the shape to get a few more meters out of them, but that’s about it.
            Tumbling bullets are over 100 years old. I like to point out that the 5.56mm performance was good enough, that the Soviets expended a great deal of effort to mimic the performance, and fit it into the AK platform. What that did for the average foot soldier in mother Russia, was allow them to hit 2.5 times better than they did with the 7.62x39mm. That change gave the Soviets a desirable improvement over the M43. It lightened the load and increased performance.
            If we go to any new caliber, I doubt it will displace both rifles and GPMGs. Rifles would likely degrade the soldiers in “some manner” (heavier, more recoil, more flash). The same round in the light machinegun, if it is more reliable than the M249 is great.
            I don’t believe replacing the M240 with a cartridge still different than the rifles and LMGs is bad. As long as it gains in performance without adding weight. It wont ever work well at this time to have the M4, M249 and M240 all in the same new wonder caliber.
            Give us change, without a downside, and I’ll go along.
            Don’t put down those old timers. I like to remind people of the Italian Army surgeons circa 1900 medical testing that showed how poor the 6.5mm round performed, and why he suggested a new projectile. His primitive testing protocol stood up to modern science, when the US Army tried duplicating his tests using ordnance gelatin. 90 years after that Italian officer showed us the way, we found out he knew his stuff. We have ignored a lot of science simply because it didn’t get to the right ear at the right time.

          • DetroitMan

            The army seems to disagree that there is no reason to move away from 5.56mm. They have identified a goal to extend the infantry’s range to 1200 meters. I don’t think that is a realistic goal for a general issue rifle / sighting system. However, if they want to extend the reach much beyond 300 meters in a short, handy carbine, then they are not likely to get there with the 5.56mm NATO. Perhaps a new 5.56 CT round will be able to launch a long enough projectile to achieve it. Or perhaps they will need to increase the bore size.

            “I would be happy with a 6mm or 6.5mm carbine as long as it doesn’t have baggage of increased weight, bulk, cost, require a new rifle etc.”

            In my opinion, that is the attitude that blocks any sort of change. You have essentially said “the M4 is perfect, and we can’t afford to trade anything it has in order to gain something it doesn’t have.” Well, the technology has reached a plateau. The most efficient 5.56 bullets (the ones that beat 7.62 “all the time” in matches) can’t be loaded to magazine length. So the only options you leave on the table are to live with that, or develop a new CT round that can accommodate those bullets within the available magazine length. That will cost something since every rifle will need to be rebarreled, at minimum, so it doesn’t technically meet your criteria. But unless we can make a new CT cartridge work in the M4, or some radical new technology advances the conventional cased ammo, we won’t advance the infantry’s reach much beyond 300 meters.

            If we want to give our rifle more capability, then there can’t be any sacred cows. We need reasonable parameters and constraints so that the new weapon system is not too heavy, does not recoil too much, etc. Beyond that it should be an open design contest. The ergonomics of the AR pattern can easily be duplicated in a new rifle. As for cost, the military pours billions into new programs every year. Some of those are cancelled and therefore a complete waste, and some drag on like the F-35. We could replace every rifle and every round of ammo in inventory for a small fraction of the cost of the F-35 program. We have the money, it’s just a matter of allocation.

            “Don’t underestimate the knowledge of our ancestors.”

            I don’t, and I don’t know where you get the impression that I do. My comparison of what existed in the 1940’s with today was not a put down of our ancestors in any way. It was a simple statement that both technology and doctrine have changed since those using 6.5mm cartridges felt a need for a heavier MG cartridge. One quick example: during WWII, we did not have the powder technology to produce the 7.62 NATO, so everyone was using longer heavier cases with heavier charges of powder to get the same performance. That shows how much advancement happened in just ten years.

            “I like to point out that the 5.56mm performance was good enough, that the Soviets expended a great deal of effort to mimic the performance, and fit it into the AK platform”

            That was in the early 1970’s. Once again, technology has advanced. Maybe we can do better. We won’t know if we don’t try. If we just sit back and congratulate ourselves for forcing the Soviets to advance 45 years ago, then we may be the ones rushing to catch up next time.

            “Give us change, without a downside, and I’ll go along.”

            Every change has a downside. You can’t get something for nothing in rifle cartridges. Every successful change in infantry rifles has required us to question our assumptions about what a soldier needs and what tactics will be employed. Every successful change was resisted by people who said the current state of infantry rifles was good enough. If we aren’t willing to question our assumptions now, then we might as well cancel the study that was discussed in this article. The army might as well forget about extending the infantry’s reach to 1200 meters, or even 600. If you aren’t willing to trade something to get there, then we won’t get there.

          • Kivaari

            No one says the M4 is perfect. It is able to perform the job quite well. Until newer technologies find a better weapon and ammunition I see little reason to change NOW. Weapons research has been ongoing and MAY find a new system. That’s fine by me.
            The 1200m issue is silly. Look how poorly 7.62 rifles and machineguns do at 1200m. Even from stable platforms using good glass it is hard to hit anything at 1200m. Especially when we know the 7.62 round goes out of control at a little over 900m. If we can improve that with a 6.5x51mm, I would mind at all.
            Asking a rifle or carbine to hit at 1200m is silly.
            Regarding the powder issue during WW2, it had already been found. Long before the war, Savage introduced the .300 Savage rifle and ammunition. Original .300 Savage gave velocities higher than the .30-06. The 7.62mm project started using .300 savage ammunition. It was an off-the-shelf answer to what they thought was a problem. About the only thing the Army did was add a longer neck. Hunters already had the answer.
            Since 7.62 can’t reach 1200m, they can do something to remedy that issue. Snipers wet to .300 WM and .338 Lapua. We won’t see soldiers with carbines capable of reaching 1200m, in our life times.
            The M4 isn’t perfect, but it is doing a great when used as it was designed for. It wasn’t designed for extreme range. It doesn’t need to. No enemy we face has a rifle or carbine that outperforms the M4 without going to larger calibers in better rifles. But, take a Mk 12 SPR with good ammo and it reaches farther.

          • “What I want is to not be wed to the idea that 5.56mm is the be-all and end-all of infantry calibers.”

            Pray tell, who here said that?

        • Here, let me further demystify this issue for people:

          Projectiles have three basic characteristics relevant to external ballistics. There are more than these, but these are the most basic ones:

          Size,
          Shape,
          and Density.

          Size is essentially the one we’re talking about when we talk about 6.5mm calibers being “the best” or whatever. We’re talking about a particular size of projectile, one that is 6.71mm in diameter or thereabouts. Now, notice that completely ignores two of the other basic elements.

          So what effect do shape and density have on the projectile? Well, we can boil these three elements down into factors in our ballistic coefficient equation:

          Mass / (Diameter* ^2) / Form Factor = Ballistic Coefficient

          *This is a little bit of Fudd math, as frontal area should really be pi times radius squared, but it is standard for these calculations.

          Weight essentially is a function of density and shape, diameter is a function of size, and form factor is a function of shape. So the ballistic coefficient of a bullet is a function of these three elements. Now, note a couple of things, first that form factor essentially tells you how efficient your projectile is in terms of its weight (a better – that is, lower – form factor means you’ll have less drag without increasing projectile weight), and second that the Weight / Diameter^2 bit, which is called “sectional density” collectively, essentially informs how efficient the bullet will be for its size. The higher the sectional density, the higher a ballistic coefficient the projectile will have, all other things being equal.

          This equation is terribly useful because you can work it backwards extremely easily. Here’s how I do it:

          Ballistic Coefficient desired * Form Factor possible = Sectional Density required

          Sectional Density required / Mass desired = 1 / (Diameter^2)

          So for any given requirement, I can pretty easily find my ideal caliber within seconds. No need to proffer about this mysticism about 6-7mm caliber being “the best”, just plug and play. There’s a little more to it than this, but that’s the basics of finding the most efficient projectile for your needs.

          • Kivaari

            Excellent. That is what I was trying to get across, but the 6.5 crowd just seems unable to accept that it isn’t magic.

          • Kivaari

            Un older Sierra loading manuals they had images of the Low Drag bullets from Sierra and I think Lapua (they use each others research).
            When the ideal profile is shown, the bullets look like they are all the same, unless a scale is available for comparison. Those idea bullets all fly better than bullets not having that profile. It is quite simple, but the 6.5 and 7mm crowd don’t get it. It’s like people wanting to issue .45ACP HK pistols as standard, when almost no one can hold onto them properly thanks to the terrible grip size. “But, it has to be a double stacked .45, or it isn’t worth a damn”. I was looking to buy a complete set with the can, until I picked one up. Useless. Now a SIG P220 single stack .45 is much better. After shooting one with a can, inside of a small room, I want one.

          • I’ll work a problem for people. Let’s say I’ve decided I need a projectile with a 0.250 G7 BC (roughly 0.500 G1 BC, although you should basically never use G1 for modern rifle bullets), and that it can only have a maximum weight of 5 grams (77 grains). Let’s also say I have designed an excellent bullet shape that gives me a 0.86 i7 Form Factor, which is really good (but still possible). Therefore:

            0.250 * 0.86 = 0.215

            0.215 * 7000; we have to convert to pounds here = 1,505

            1,505 / 77 = 19.545…

            1 / 19.545… = 0.0511…

            sqrt(0.0511…) = 0.2262″

            So we’ve determined that within these parameters, a 77gr .22 caliber bullet will meet our needs. Now, if we were to further explore the problem, we’d find that such a bullet is possible with lead construction, but would probably be too heavy for lead-free construction, so then we’d have to go up in caliber and weight until it was feasible.

      • CountryBoy

        I wonder about how much of its efficiency is by the ratio of length to diameter. From the photos of the bullets, the 6.5 seems to be longer will being less “fat” around the middle (much like I used to be, when more efficient as well!).

        Some cars are more aerodynamic in longer versions than shorter, simply because of the way the air flows around them and leaves the back end without much turbulence, something more difficult to achieve with a shorter vehicle.

    • Kivaari

      The key issue is not the diameter of the bullet. It is the shape that maters along with weight. If you saw an image of a low drag projectile, without having a reference scale, you could not tell what it is. It is why when bullets of differing calibers sit
      side-by-side they look the same. It really comes down to aerodynamics. The “perfect 6.5mm” is silly. Having the proper proportions to achieve that optimum flight translates to all calibers made in the proper configuration will out perform bullets that do not share the same features. It is why 5.56mm 77 gr. OTM bullets have taken the top spot for 600-1000yd ranges replacing the 7.62x51mm.
      Going back to WW1 and early WW2 many nations issued special ammunition for the machineguns. In Finland as the Soviets advanced then were shoved back to the existing border, the Finns captured millions of rounds of long range 7.62x54mmR machinegun ammunition. Those rounds added several hundred meters to the performance over the standard flat based rounds. Finland re-chambered many if not most of the rifles to the “D” (long range) rounds. Take the common flat based loads and compare them to heavy bolt tailed rounds and even when they start out at lower velocities, the heavy loads pass the flat based loads pretty quickly and hold energy to longer ranges. Do it in any caliber and you get the same results.
      I like the concept of the 6.5CT for machineguns. It will be easier to implement changes in such guns while leaving rifles and carbines alone for now. No matter what “reasonable” cartridge used it wont make riflemen capable of hitting much beyond where they are today. Machine-gunners have a different role. They may want to hit an individual soldier way out there, but they do it by dumping a cluster of rounds out, like a shotgun. That role is quite unlike an individual rifleman.
      We have made the M4 capable of greater range thanks to ammunition (not M855) and better glass.

  • Captain Obvious

    I suppose if the intention is to eliminate the 7.62×51 from inventory and replace it with one caliber that will work at both short and long range then the 6.5 has some merit. Frankly though, the 5.56 is so entrenched in NATO countries that I don’t see it likely to be replaced. It has proven to be combat worthy and is in the pipeline.

    • forrest1985

      Although 6.5 is great for long range, I can’t see 5.56 being phased out anytime soon especially for FIBUA etc….

  • Major Tom

    Whoever wins this argument, Nate loses. :3

    • Kivaari

      I think he won, because he IS correct. None of this is new science. None of it missed being tested in combat going back 125 years.

      • ostiariusalpha

        He’s riffing on Nathaniel and Nathan’s names.

        • Kivaari

          OK.

  • Clearly, Nathan won the debate.

  • Marc

    My gut feeling tells me that a 115 gr 6 mm would have fine external ballistics and plenty terminal effectiveness.

    • Have fun trying to make one lead-free, though.

    • Kivaari

      At what range? Not 1200m.

  • Billy Jack

    You guys and your drag profiles. What bathroom does 6.5mm use?

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      That depends on if it feels like a long range or short range cartridge that day.

      • leonard Haraway

        Great reply.Could not have said it better!Not to say I did not appreciate Billy Jack’s initial response.

  • forrest1985

    Its probably me being stupid, but the weight above is listed as 9.7lbs for 6.5CT ammo from a 20rd mag……what is the weight of an AR with 6.5 Grendel as I remember reading mags for that platform come in 25rd? Again i know this is a prototype for a DMR (although it says carbine) but this seems very heavy versus what already exists? I have little knowledge of civilian catridges so please excuse any ignorance on my part.

  • AmmoMFG (Drew)

    I didn’t hear a single “get some” or any reference to “anyone who runs is a…”

    The heavy machinegun role is already met by the M2, the medium MG role is already well met by the M240, Mk48, and the LMG is filled by the M249. The .30 cal, in many ways is still an anachronism, having served with the US military since the 1880s, originally the concept was a 220, then 200, then 170gr, and now finally a 147-150gr bullet. The current generation, is rather squat for caliber, giving it a form factor that greatly increases drag, dropping the caliber quickly increases bullet length and gives more desirable form factors. The .338 achieves a desirable form factor by just by increasing bullet weight, with a nominal increase in bore diameter.

    In all, there is a lot of thinking both in various circles that simply increasing bullet weight solves all lethality problems. Unfortunately this isn’t necessarily true, as maximum pressure is a hard limit, and increasing weight comes at the cost of velocity, and in physics, velocity is what gets all the work of lethality done.

    As a result of these considerations, it’s really necessary to evaluate things that are between .22 and .30. We’re seeing a bit too much of the “heavy better” thinking in a 130gr bullet, when in reality, a bullet of 80-110gr would likely deliver the necessary energy, and then optimizing caliber to optimize form factor is a better approach.

    In an ideal world, a .30 cal with an exploding bullet at relatively low velocity (2200fps?) would solve the recoil, energy, and retained velocity problems, as even a slow exploding bullet would do equal damage to a high velocity exploding bullet. But, the geneva convention kinda frowns on this.

    • Kivaari

      What people want is to have the laws of physics repealed. It wont happen.

  • Kivaari

    Remember that several armies using 6.5mm rifles also issued 7.62 to over 8mm in special rounds that would not interchange with the service rifles. That includes the Swedes and Norwegians. Heavy M98 Mauser rifles using rounds larger than 7.9x57mm.

  • Cmex

    Our MG’s are fine. The SAW just lacks the range and the M60 and 240 could do with less weight. The automatic rifle concept died back in Vietnam when both the light and heavy automatic rifles (XM16E1 and the M14) proved inferior to just having light assault rifles backed up by heavier machine guns. We already have heavier rifles back in the field, such as the M14 again (makes sense in Afghanistan (not sure if still back out thought)). The problem is that 5.56×45 has pretty much reached the end of its capabilities.

    • Kivaari

      Or the 5.56mm has found itself as being good enough for the job. If it could do so without the higher pressures that would be good. If it had a 20 inch barrel it wouldn’t need high pressures, but then it will be long again and wont do the mission as ell as the M4 – trade offs.

  • Kivaari

    I think many people think that the nations using 6.5mm rifles used those rounds in machineguns to exclusion of what they did to FIX the shortcoming of the 6.5mm rounds.
    Like Sweden which issued 8x63mm for MGs and special rifles for MG crews. They also used a BAR variant in a heavier caliber. Especially since the 6.5x55mm swede is or was the most powerful 6.5mm caliber of the day. They ARE great long range RIFLE rounds.

    Japan with 7.7mm M92, M99 and Lewis guns.
    Madsen’s in 8mm Danish were used by over 30 nations, including many that used 6.5mm rifles.
    Italy didn’t just use 6.5 or 7.35 MGs. They also issued Breda MGs in 8mm and 8.59mm (M1937-38), Schwarzlos 07/12 (after they adopted the M1891 in 6.5mm)
    Fiat-Breda M1937, Fiat-Revelli M1935 in 8mm
    The British also issued Breda MGs in 8mm Mauser.
    It leaves me wondering why the 6.5mm x “anything” were not suitable then, but they would be better today. If all the users of 6.5 rifles adopted bigger MGs, why are we rushing to go to what they rejected in the pre-WW2 era. Maybe they knew something the 6.5 crowd will have to learn over again. Isn’t there something about having to relearn history’s mistakes or improvements?

    • I think my arguments about learning too much from the past cut both ways. Bullet technology is much better now than it was in the 1950s and before. Just because a study in the 1920s determined that 6.5 or 7mm was the ideal caliber, doesn’t mean that’s true today. The flip side of that is that a 6.5mm bullet may indeed be much more effective now than it was then, too.

      What I am very skeptical of is that the fundamental capabilities of infantry in terms of their ability to project direct firepower onto the enemy are so greatly increased that we now need a 1200m standard infantry round!

      • Kivaari

        I think it is more in-fantasy to go for 1200m with a rifle or carbine, that isn’t at a minimum a .300 Winchester Magnum or a .338 Lapua. Snipers have a great deal of trouble making hits at 1200m even with the best rifle and scope combination. As soon as the concept of every infantryman needs a 1200m capable rifle and scope, they will no longer have the rifle or carbine they need almost all of the time.

        • Yeah, people flat-out don’t believe me when I say that I’ve shot 5.56mm 62gr and 7.62mm M80 out to past 800 yards and couldn’t tell the difference in trajectory or wind drift. Both, at that range, suck.

          .300 WM is a world of difference, and .338 Lapua is cheating.

          But this is all on a static range on a clear day in perfect conditions…

  • Ryan

    Honestly, I really feel like this another case of the U.S. Military working in collaboration with Defense contractors to waste an awful lot of good money chasing a solution to a problem which does not exist.

    While this article does provide, imho, a slightly better explanation as to what the diagram describes as compared to what distance our armed forces might intend to actually utilize it at.

    For example, as a child of 5 years old the first thing my father taught me before handing my first rifle was what was written on the side of the box of the .22lr ammunition. “Lethal up to 2 miles” that statement alone gave me a moment of pause as I was amazed that this tiny bullet could possibly kill anything that far away. Of course my Dad did nothing to disuade me of my belief that a .22 could kill at that range as he was attempting to use his son’s analytical mind as a tool to increase my desire to use the weapon safely.

    For two years I was really afraid that were I to shoot over the edge of the ridge we used for a shooting range on my great grandma’s farm, that I might kill some cow across the Texas countryside. He purposely neglected to mention that it would require a markman of superhuman capability, along with a complete lack of wind and firing the round in a parabolic arc that would look like a literal rainbow in shape to acheive such a feat.

    Now if our Armed Forces are attempting to unify their light weapons program into a do it all cartridge that can replace most small arms AND intend to pair it with the future generations of Tracking point style optics (the current state of the technology is good but far too large, heavy, fragile, and dependant on a depletable resource, batteries) that has perfected the great concept into a much faster platform that is rugged enough to be thrown from a Blackhawk mounted to its host without damage or loss of zero, and is as light or better still even lighter than current ACOG scopes, then maybe it will be time to seek a new round technology that can take full advantage of that optics capabilities.

    Right now we have options that could be modified from the current 5.56 round, without requiring replacing every part of the current (quite capable) carbines in service. Could we put a 6.5 projectile into a modified 5.56 brass case for use with the vast stockpile of current lowers, uppers, bcgs, and magazines? Sure we could.

    The only real problem with the excellent 6.8spc is the fact that it requires a rifle that only looks likes its M-4 ancestors but really has differently sized parts for most of the weapons vital components.
    Some may cry about .300 Blackout in supersonic varieties being an option, but it just hasn’t proven its efficacy and accuracy at extended ranges to be enough better than current 77gr 5.56 rounds that require nothing more than a proper twist rate to utilize.

    To be best utilized by the proven optics, training procedures, and firearms currently in service what we really need is a round that maintains the 5.56 cartridge length and parent case and require only a barrel change but do provide an increase in battlefield lethality and accuracy. This is more than possible with much cheaper solutions than a total ground up rebuild of our millions of current service weapons currently fielded in 5.56×45 NATO.

    That NATO designation is yet another consideration. Our allies must also be able to afford to make whatever changec we do in order to remain compatible for the evolving trend of combined forces operations to continue effectively.

    As it currently exists, the FMJ ball ammunition remains a lethality limiting factor. While headshots may not be optimal from a marksmanship standpoint, they will defeat a target with every connection, almost regardless of caliber. Training can make this a much more realistic tactic. Utilizing JHP ammunition versus unarmored targets would make the currently issued 5.56 ammuntion far more effective on unarmored targets, which being realistic about the combatants we currently face, comprise the vast majority of those opponents. AP ammuniton is available to defeat soft armor, but defeating a Level 4 plate is beyond the capabilities of anything lightweight enough to be considered for use by infantry, who are already at the limits of human endurance with their current loadouts.

    So leaving the dispacting of such hardened targets to our current crew served weapons, despite their technology dating back to WWII, is perfectly sufficient. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a favorite euphemism of mine.

    Returning to a 20″ barrel would increase the velocity, and potential accuracy of the M-16 family of firearms, though an 18″ is almost equally as effective while providing a slightly more maneuverable platform. Dropping the M-4 to its current 14″ configuration significantly reduces the velocity of a round who’s initial selling point was very high velocity providing the required kinetic energy upon impact. Certainly I’d rather hump a M-4 for days on end or even just all day, than I would a M-16A4 simply because of the weight. But given my choice, all else being equal, in an extended range (400+ yards) engagement I’d much rather have the A4 and it’s very accurate 20″ barrel.

    Building a better moustrap is often an excercise in futility. Often it’s simply a matter of better utilizing the current technology in a smarter fashion that makes the most difference, and is certainly more cost effective. Given the current levels of waste taking place in every facet of our government, and increased boondoggle projects coming faster and faster to the Military in particular, I think we can better utilize what tools are already in service to serve the described need for this new “magic bullet.” From advanced backpack micro portable anti personnel drones, to old standby 60mm infantry mortars with smart munitions (or not) can easily defeat any enemy at extreme ranges that isn’t firing from a hardened bunker, in which case no LMG or Carbine, regardless of it’s range or lethality, will ever defeat. Those targets are why we’re taught how to call in indirect fire or air support solutions. The CT program seems like a money chase much moreso than it does a serious need of our boots on the ground.

  • RickOAA .

    The Army is great at spending tax payer money on dead end programs.

  • MontieR

    As usual with our wonderfull government witch tirelessly endevors to fix things untill they are broken. It seems there is a requirment for continually reducing the inteligence of supervisory beurocrats to achieve complete incompatancy.

  • Mike11C

    What a waste of time and money. What I want to know is, who will get the kick-back if the Army adopts this weapon? I just doesn’t make sense to add more than two and a half pounds to a Soldier’s weapon (empty and without optics) in the hope being able to hit a target at 1200 meters. You would need an optic as big as the gun to even see that far and then, you would have to be sniper trained to “dope” your scope unless, they spend an astronomical amount of money on some computerized optic that lazes the target, senses atmospheric conditions and, automatically makes the corrections for you. Besides, most engagements happen at ranges closer than 300 meters. So, what’s the point?

  • glenn cheney

    Well, I’m civi now, been for long time, so, I’m not an armorer or a Gunny, but after 2 5.56’s, 4 7.62×39’s, 3 300AAC BLK’s, I was about to START my first 7.62x 51 build, AR-10 platform….Read this article, and mused.
    I’ve been a Meanie Greenie (Grendel) fan for a while, needed that extra reach the 5.56 lacked, and the 300 AAC and 7.62X39’s are basically 200 yard tools plinking the piggies.
    I looked at ammo prices….That was my deciding factor.
    I’ll cost 60-70 cents to plink a 308, 80 and up to harvest…..WPA, 6.5 Grendel, 100 gr. FMJ, 30 some odd cents per poke.
    500 rounds now for approx. 185.00. SOLD, to the Russian with the case of ammo. Ammo cost was my deciding factor, and yes, we’ll be running 123 gr. Amax or psp away from the paper punching bench.
    Good discussion by well informed people. I’m not up to operational stds. to enjoin this squad, but us “civies” are situationally aware. All my bbls. are 416r S.S. match grade sniper, save for the two 5.56. I’m now reconfiguring to 4150 moly, steel gas blocks and melonite gas tubes for high heat/rate of fire semi/full auto.
    I’m fresh off a 9310 vs. 9310 AQ steel for Grendel bolts that were breaking in 158’s.

  • cwolf

    1. The R&D community does R&D. R&D by definition is high risk; there are lots of false starts. The entire community from the requirements folks (USAIS), the researchers, and the PM work interactively. Add into that equation the DOD and Army budget folks.

    2. Ammunition performance is one variable in a much larger equation. Warfare is changing. Artillery used to be the predominant killer is WWII. Today it’s small arms and folks like Squad Designated Marksman appear to be very successful. Better sights are proliferating and likely account for much better performance. Equipment is changing; everyone wears IBA, etc. Add to that the various MOS and roles; the average infantry rifleman might not shoot at 1,200 m, but the sniper might.

    One problem is we really don’t have hard data on all those effects. Keeping in mind military shooting is different than either law enforcement or hunting. Recon by fire or suppressive fire are not valued in law enforcement or hunting as much. Reliability in full auto fire is less important for hunting. Hunters rarely shoot deer driving cars or armored vehicles. Even hunters might choose different calibers for different game/targets.

    3. The entire weapon community not only looks at calibers (range, lethality, weight, etc.), but also looks at producing well over 1 billion rounds/year in high speed machines, cost, reliability, and transport/storage issues. Military ammo can vary widely lot to lot (some notable exceptions by NSWC folks who do exc work).

    4. Sadly, a lot of military shooting training is still KD supported position. One test showed highly “qualified” KD shooters unable to hit moving targets. In the RVN era they trained shooting 556 at center mass at 500m. Strange considering the bullet drop, but the experts insisted 556 was flat shooting. And, perceptions count even though they’re not scientific. “I shot center mass at a running target at 200m and he wasn’t knocked down.” Or try full auto with an M14.

    5. So, the “perfect” ammunition in terms of range/lethality/weight will only be fielded IF it meets a wide range of other criteria. Meanwhile, the R&D folks will be working on a new concept or requirement. Hmmm, maybe a 25mm rifle with a computerized scope with range specific fuzing? Naw, that’s too weird.

    Cheers.

  • IndyToddrick

    With modern digital scopes in a couple years any moron will be able to hit a target one mile away without any skill.

  • Chuckwagon524

    Why not mount the auto trajectory scope on a 50? I bet in a well funded DARPA lab somewhere, someone is working on a man portable energy weapon for this very purpose.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    In 22 years of military service I have learned a few things. People in Hell want ice water and the military can screw up the simplest things. They will not peel off the bucks for Tracking Point Scopes. They will not outfit our soldiers properly no matter what.
    Only Black Ops is outfitted remotely properly.
    All wars are Bankers wars and all soldiers are expendable because depopulation is also an intent. They DO NOT CARE about us they NEVER have.

    • Doom

      Thats why in 40 years we went from a cotton shirt, leather boots, canvas webgear, and a rifle to thousands and thousands of dollars worth of gear for protection? As well as 1000 dollar optics? While all of that could also be called “Military industrial complex” it has a side effect of stopping bullets from killing people.

      And depopulation? not going to get far with like 10k casualties in 15 years of war. that was a good day in WW1 or 2

  • Rocketman

    The Russians copied the 5.56 idea and made the 5.45 cartridge with a special bullet that has the front end hollow and the rear end fulled with a lead plug. It tumbles when it hits flesh or bone. Why can’t we do the same thing with a 5.56 round to increase lethality?

    • Current US projectile design is more advanced and lethal than the projectile design of 5.45x39mm 7N6.

  • Wasn’t that guy running pressures up to like 100,000 PSI? Cool as that is, modern metallurgy really can’t support that kind of pressure.

    • randomswede

      You are thinking about someone, this was done by the “Knox Engineering Company” and they tested a number of different mixtures and the paper refers to ” acceptable pressure ranges”.

      These are powders that burn slower and cooler while producing more gas per weight. There are no pressure curves published, to my knowledge, but I can only assume it’s wider rather than taller resulting in a larger area under the curve, compared to commercially available powders. As I stated above, powders similar to these have been around for artillery for some time now.

      • Um, no, the company I am thinking of is Knox, and the scuttlebutt about their project was that they were destroying Mann test barrels with the obscene pressures they were producing.

        And you know, it makes intuitive sense. Where does the force for projecting a bullet come from? It comes directly from the pressure of the cartridge. Now, the curve of that pressure has a lot to do with it, too, but you can’t produce a “plateau” style curve without injecting fuel (propellant) into the firing chamber during combustion, which is – needless to say – a pretty complex task, and beyond the possibility for self-contained metallic cartridges.

        That means, given the smaller firing chamber for the Knox rounds, the only way they are getting higher performance is through higher peak pressures. So I find the claims that they were running pressures through the ceiling to be not just believable, but likely.

        • randomswede

          The last sentence in the paper reads:
          “It has also been demonstrated, that these enhanced propellants can be employed in the M855 cartridge itself to produce significantly higher muzzle velocities without the significantly higher pressures that would be encountered by increasing the existing loads.”

          It could be a fabrication/hoax of some sort but I have no watercooler intel to support that.

          You don’t have to inject fuel into to chamber if it’s already there.
          If all the gas pressure was created before the bullet left the casing then a higher peak is to be expected but as gas is created as the volume behind the bullet expands, energy can be added by maintaining pressure in the larger volume. The paper refers to this as “coupling”.

          The picture is of black powder vs smokeless powder and it’s relevant only because the curves have different characters as the powders have different chemistry. The area under the curve from zero to muzzle dictates muzzle velocity.
          In the picture the smokeless powder has a high peak and fast drop and the black powder rises faster to a lower peak but drops of a good deal slower.

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    For those of us not up on Mil spec speak, defining the acronyms and abbreviations would have been helpful. I guessed some based on context, but I didn’t get much out of the article because I didn’t already know the terminology. Try reading it and pretend you don’t already know the meaning of CT, CTSAS, TRL-5, CSAT or LSAT. Was the point of this article to convey what you know, or to prove that you know stuff I don’t? If the latter, you win! I guess it’s a Marine thing. I’m an electrical engineer, pilot and amateur radio operator. I bet I know a lot of acronyms you don’t know! 🙂

  • Doom

    Yes, I am aware of agenda 21, but that isnt going to be used against soldiers of the governments trying to implement it. Killing people in other countries by the tens of thousands a year is much more effective in poor countries where their birth rates are very high, Rich countries like the US and European nations already have a sub replacement rate birthrate for whites, so given time our numbers are already shrinking. Blacks and Asians numbers are booming, not ours.

  • Lyle

    I didn’t find anything about telescopic ammo, whatever that might be.

    6.5, 5.56, 7.62, retained energy, blah blah…where’s the telescopic ammo?

    And who says 1200 meters is unrealistic? You’re not one of those people who thinks he needs a 40x scope and a HBAR to attempt shots at that distance, are you? I know people who compete with iron sights at 1,000 yards. With black powder loads in 45-70. Give them a modern 6.5 and a 4x scope and they’d feel like they were cheating.

  • Kevin Gibson

    Just a thought…is the 1,200m range with the intent that a single rifleman will engage at that distance? Or is it just a cartridge performance criteria? Machineguns are often employed at extreme range, so if the cartridge is intended for LMG’s and individual rifles, then the 1,200m performance criteria has some merit.