EXTREME Fragmentation Range from 7.62 M80A1 EPR – .300 Blackout Test from The Wound Channel

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We have been covering the US Army’s latest M855A1 and M80A1 “Enhanced Performance Rounds” (EPRs) here at TFB for the past few years. We’ve seen how in independent tests both M855A1 and M80A1 fragment early, thanks to their yaw-independent characteristics and special jacket design. One question that has not been answered publicly, however, is at what point do these rounds fail to fragment and upset; in other words, at what velocities do the EPRs not have enough gas to create the kinds of dramatic terminal effects we’ve so far seen from them?

William of The Wound Channel set out to test this by loading the 130gr M80A1 projectile into .300 Blackout cases, and firing them at ClearBallistics gelatin. The results he got, shown in the video embedded below, were quite impressive:

Even at 1,929 ft/s muzzle velocity, more than 1,100 ft/s slower than the muzzle velocity of 7.62×51 M80A1 Ball, the M80A1 projectile still fragmented, yawed, and both its penetrator and slug made a complete penetration of the gel block. That’s good news for .300 Blackout shooter who want an effective, fragmenting projectile with decent AP capabilities, but what does it mean for the fragmentation range of the M80A1 and even M855A1 EPRs? Well, the ballistic coefficient of M80A1 isn’t yet known, but even with a conservative 0.185 G7 BC, complete fragmentation at 1,929 ft/s like we see here would represent at least 430 meters of solid fragmentation range for the new 7.62x51mm round, which is not just good, but unprecedented.

We can’t be sure that the same is true for M855A1, but both rounds do share the same basic design. If we assume that M855A1 also fragments at such low velocities, this is great news for troops equipped with that ammunition, as that would extend the fragmentation range of the M4 all the way out to 340 meters or beyond. This is a huge improvement, as the M80A1 shown here exhibits similar fragmentation at just over 1,900 ft/s as the older M193 or M855 rounds do at muzzle velocities of about 2,600 ft/s!



Nathaniel F

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


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  • The Wound Channel

    Thanks for sharing!

  • PK

    Fingers crossed for eventual sale of new projectiles, not pulled, right along with loaded ammo. I know eventual public sales of M80A1 and M855A1 are in the works, but I hope the same goes for the projectiles for the reloading market.

    • DanGoodShot

      You can buy the projectiles. Check out the wound channels first video on the m80a1. He has a link where to buy them.

      • Anon

        They sold out a while ago.

        • DanGoodShot

          Ah, I knew I should have bought some when I was last on their website. Damn.

      • PK

        That was pulled projectiles, in a small amount, at high cost, from ammo sold as surplus due to consistency issues. I’m talking about retail sales of the projectiles, new and in spec. There’s no option for that, but it will eventually happen I think.

        • The Wound Channel

          The M80A1 projectiles I bought were brand new, not pull downs.

          I hope it’s available to US civilians soon as loaded ammo and projectiles though.

          • Simon

            Can you post the load data for M80 and the M80A1?

        • DanGoodShot

          I sure hope so. I’m also hoping they pass the Hearing protection act. That would be GREAT! I’m not holding my breath, but I’m going to do my part to help it along! If your not familiar with it. Google it!

        • person-in-the-know

          I recommend you all stay away from buying this, if you want to avoid legal troubles

    • Joshua

      It will eventually. However all ammunition production is going to the Military for now.

    • James Kachman

      In the meantime, what do people suggest as the best 5.56 round in terms of terminal ballistics?

      • PK

        Personally, I’m partial to the Speer 62gr Gold Dots. Product number is 24445SP.

      • Austin

        First we need to know what you are going to be shooting at?

      • Joshua

        70gr Barnes TSX. SOCOM has been using it for a while now.

      • ostiariusalpha

        If you are interested in something with decent penetration of light cover (glass, sheet metal, etc.) while maintaining good terminal performance, then you’re going to want to look at solid copper projectiles such as the Barnes TSX. Mk318 Mod 0 is also available to civilians and performs excellently at penetration and terminal ballistics; it was also quite affordable when it first came onto the market.

  • Major Tom

    So second coming of the M-14 when? With that kind of performance there’s not very many reasons to use 5.56mm over that.

    Maybe we can load up a standard issue version of the SCAR-H so not all AR features are abandoned.

    • Anon

      As long as it’s not the rifle that won solely because of rigged trials and politics (the M14, seriously, that thing had no right to be adopted).

      I’d say that you’re wrong on the 5.56, because carrying more ammo, faster follow-up shots, higher magazine capacity, and lighter rifles are more than enough advantages to justify staying with the 5.56.

      • Major Tom

        “As long as it’s not the rifle that won solely because of rigged trials and politics”

        Funny, that’s how the M16 came to be as well…crooked political connections and bribes.

        • ostiariusalpha

          No it’s not, nobody bribed McNamara to champion the SCHV assault rifle, he just had enough insight that it actually was a good idea. It’s too bad that he lacked the wisdom to properly develop the rifle for hard combat before deploying it in a real war zone.

          • Major Tom

            Armalite pulled every political connection they had and pretty much blackmailed (because AR-10 soreness) their way into using the XM16 without proper trials or evaluations. McNamara had no insight about it. I’m not sure McNamara had insight at all, otherwise he would have advised us staying the H out of Vietnam…

          • ostiariusalpha

            Insight in a few areas is not a guarantee of good judgement everywhere, McNamara was a perfect example of that truth. As for ArmaLite, their only real “political connection” was to General Curtis Lemay, the Air Force Chief of Staff, and he didn’t need to be bribed to want the AR-15 for his men.

          • Major Tom

            Of course not, he was being blackmailed into using it over the AR-10 fiasco during the trials that brought about the M-14. It didn’t help that the Army and Air Force did tell them back then “you can try again at our next evaluation” or similar which they held over the heads of Le May and anyone else until they got their way.

            Any way you cut it, the adoption process of the M16 wasn’t clean unlike say the M1 Garand or the M1903 Springfield. (The only “dirty” or “corrupt” things about those were the Army didn’t want to change ammo to Pedersen’s .276 caliber in the 30s and Teddy Roosevelt had to meddle with their choice of bayonet on the 1903.)

          • ostiariusalpha

            What is your bizarre obsession with blackmail? LOL! LeMay and the Air Force had nothing to do with the AR-10, good or bad, he actually wanted an SCHV rifle and Gene Sullivan of ArmaLite convinced him that they could deliver one, which ArmaLite did. The M16 met all the Air Force’s requirements and was more than adequate for the purpose it was intended for. It certainly outperformed it’s competitor, the Winchester LMR.

          • Joshua

            He ignores the huge success it had with ARVN and Navy SEALs long before the Army adopted it.

          • The M14 was a disaster (and still is, but it’s there, and therefore better than superior rifles that aren’t there), and by 1961 it wasn’t even being deployed on the front lines of the Cold War, in West Germany.

            McNamara decided, in light of this, to cancel the program and end production of the M14 in 1963. Whether this was a good move or not is debatable, but once he had done it, there were exactly two rifles at that time that could have been produced immediately in the United States to meed the needs of the country:

            – the Colt M16

            – and the M1 Garand

            Between those two, it is a very, very easy choice.

            P.S., why in Great Heck would Colt care about the Army “snubbing” Armalite in the mid-1950s? Nevermind that that didn’t happen (the AR-10 actually drew so much interest that CONARC requested the AR-15 be developed), even if it had, why would Colt in 1963 give a damn?

          • Smith

            The ramrod bayonet for the M1903 Springfield was failure, it was a good thing Teddy Roosevelt made them change to a blade-type bayonet.

          • To be fair, LeMay was far too cozy with Fairchild and ArmaLite. He was a hunting buddy with Fairchild president Richard Boutelle. Life Magazine covered one of their African safaris in which ArmaLite firearms were on display. Another LeMay hunting buddy, Burton Miller, was deeply involved in the USAF’s development and evaluation of the ArmaLite AR-5 survival rifle and later, the Colt AR-15. Upon retirement from the USAF, Lt. Col. Miller was hired as ArmaLite’s Vice President.

            One thing that gets glossed over regarding ARPA’s Project Agile
            evaluation of the AR-15 is the number of folks involved in the decision were later accused of influence peddling and other corrupt activities. Deputy Director William H. Godel was arrested by the FBI in August 1964 in relationship to an embezzling scheme related to Project Agile. Forced out of ARPA, Godel jumped into a consulting position at Cadillac Gage. However, he would resign this position in December 1964 after he was indicted. Godel would ultimately be convicted.

            Another Project Agile alum, Col. Richard Hallock, was accused of
            “triple dipping” in his post-retirement consultancies with the US DOD,
            the Govt. of Iran, and US defense contractors during the 1970s. The DOD hired him to keep the Iranians from getting fleeced by the defense contractors, but then the Iranians hired him to consult on which weapons to buy. This allowed Hallock to then act as a gatekeeper for his own clients in the defense industry.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Yeah, I don’t want to seem as though I’m glossing over that LeMay was very much a “political connection” for Fairchild/ArmaLite, but in the case of the AR-15, it really was the better rifle over the LMR and M14: it won fair-n-square. As skeezy as Godel and Hallock were, they weren’t trying to make a bad rifle look good in the way that Dr. Frederick Carten had with the M14.

        • Anon

          No, that’s what RUINED the M16, the basic design was fine, it’s just that the DoD and the “Whiz Kids” had the bright idea of saying the rifle was self-cleaning, not issuing cleaning kits, using powder that sucked, and not having a chrome lined bore.

          No, what happened with the M16 was not that the rifle sucked and had no right to be adopted, it’s that the DoD had a bunch of morons that thought that cost-cutting was a brilliant idea. If those idiots didn’t try to cut costs in vital areas, the M16/AR 15 platform wouldn’t get half the crap it gets today for being “unreliable”.

          • Major Tom

            Same story, different page. Go look up the articles on the Light Rifle concept between the M1 Garand and its evolution into the M14. A fair number of improvements and innovations got canned in the Light Rifle development for precisely the same reasons you mentioned. (Or got dropped for unknown reasons.)

          • Anon

            There is a slight difference in that the M14 was a fundamentally flawed idea from the get-go (it was 20s vs 50s technology, the FAL or AR 10 should’ve won, just look at that retarded op rod track and exposed rotating bolt that’s easy as hell to stop up, unless the rifle gets special preparation for arctic trials that the FAL didn’t), if there was anything better than the M16 at the time of its adoption, I’m all ears.

            The difference is that the M14 was a crappy idea to start out with, because the M1 Garand design was REALLY dated with all of the other options there were, the M16 wasn’t.

          • Good response, Anon.

    • Austin

      Well as far as I know the M39-EMR is still in use

      • Major Tom

        Barely. It’s on it’s way out because Marines have this weird fetish for uniform everything even down to rifle designs. Everything must be based on the M16, everything. Even such as the case with the M27 when it comes to a detriment to the intended role. (In that case it’s a very crummy SAW.)

        Meanwhile the Mk-14 EBR is still in full DMR service in the Army though I’ve heard its more sniper roles will be supplemented and possibly replaced by the G28 (HK-417 derivative).

        • Austin

          Yet they order more 1911s

          • Gecko9mm

            and M9A1s.

          • Austin

            Maybe they’ll order some cap and ball revolvers next

          • That depends– are the cap and ball revolvers STOVL capable, so they can re-fight the Battle Of Henderson Field anywhere in the world (that can be reached in one hour’s flight time worth of gas)? If so… buddy, you need to get yourself a gummint contract and start figuring out ways to work constant-upgrade software into the design.

    • Joshua

      The 5.56 isn’t going anywhere.

      The battle rifle idea is a flawed idea and sucks for a general issue weapon.

      .308 serves its role fine for LMGs and marksmen rifles, but for a general issue Carbine a 400M capable 5.56 cartridge is more than enough.

      • Major Tom

        And yet none of the recent conflicts held up to the whole “400 meter shooting? You crazy?” thing. We went into Afghanistan in 2001 doing that whole “Nobody I mean nobody shoots beyond 300 meters! Nobody!” thing and guess what happened? Our M16A2s could barely reach the enemy in some instances and our M4s and M4A1s were often outmatched in the countryside by sometimes century-plus old weapons which did not follow the notion of sub-300 meter warfare. It’s a good thing Taliban shooters are such poor marksmen, otherwise we would have been shot to pieces and sent running back home in defeat.

        That’s why the M-14 came back into limited front line service and why the DMR concept exists in the first place (in Western militaries).

        The battle rifle idea is flawed but so is the compact carbine idea and the assault rifle idea. Each has flaws, none are perfect or anywhere near. The advantage of the battle rifle is consistent ballistics. Take the EPR’s for example. If you have say a Mk 17 (SCAR-H) and an M4A1 both armed with their respective bullets, the Mk 17 has consistent ballistics out to beyond 400 meters unlike the M4A1. At 400 meters you might need to hit a target 2 or 3 times to get the same kind of wounding as a proper fragmentation would do at shorter ranges with an M4A1. Meanwhile the Mk 17 still fragments at that far and requiring you only hit him once to do the same wounding profile as you would see at closer ranges.

        And if you want a universal weapon like an AR which fight at long range just as well as it can in room to room, you need to acknowledge that sometimes you’re going to find yourself fighting in places where so called conventional wisdom doesn’t apply on a battlefield. The “conventional wisdom” of assault rifles and carbines didn’t hold up in Afghanistan. Pity it seems we’ve already forgotten that lesson and are back to aping the same tired old cliches as we saw in the 1990s.

        • It’s almost like the M16 and M4 were designed for a combat paradigm where long range organic assets like the infantry mortar are available.

        • Joshua

          No such thing as a universal does it all Carbine.

          Also did you go to Afghanistan for any significant period?

        • Also, the Mk. 17 only fragments that far with a 20″ barrel and M80A1 ammunition (and maybe Mk. 319). That’s good, for sure, but you act like it is an age-old truth, and that’s not the case.

    • Christopher Schmidt

      On the contrary, the new ammunition is more reason to KEEP the M-16 family, or at least 5.56 as a standard issue rifle round. Most nay-sayers of the rifle seem to focus on that round’s alleged poor terminal performance. With that problem essentially solved, there is little argument against it. Most Soldiers who actually have to carry a rifle with basic load through Afghan mountains are not screaming for a heavier rifle and heavier ammo, anyway.

      • Uniform223

        They already have to hump 50+ lbs of “light weight” gear…

    • Wait, does this performance somehow make 7.62 ammo lighter or something?

      As for the M14, it’s a stinker.

      • Major Tom

        It makes it consistent. It means 5.56mm now no longer carries the whole “but our bullets fragment on impact!” schtick.

        • The whole advantage of 5.56mm is weight. Close up there are some terminal ballistics benefits, but the BFD about 5.56mm is weight.

          M80A1 doesn’t really change the weight equation much.

    • 40mmCattleDog

      The “second coming” of the M14 already came when they reuissed them for Afghanistan, and no it was not our savior or messiah. Its actually more like we got sucked into this cult and are still trying to get out of it today and field a proper semi auto battle rifle. If anything the new projectiles validate the wisdom of keeping the 5.56 in place.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        I’m pretty convinced the only people who still want an M-14 in the SAGE chassis are people who got sucked into thinking the military always chooses the best gear.

        • 40mmCattleDog

          I agree, seems everyone thinks that thing is the cats meow but my god that things weighs a metric sh@t ton for what you need to get the m14 to be even an average performer in the realm of .308 battle rifles.

          • Major Tom

            Which is why I’m referring to the “second coming of the M-14” in concept. The SCAR-H is a metric ton lighter than the M-14 and is that much more modern. You would build a weapon based on that and other modern improvements, not the original wooden stock pigs of Vietnam.

          • Nelson Kerr

            A lightweight ,308 Rifle recoils like a mule kick making it a specialists weapon not suitable for general issue.

          • Secundius

            Buy any British Made FAL, Rifle was Produced in Imperial Units and NOT Metric. Designed to be Heavy to Absorb Much of the Recoil Energy of the 7.62x51NATO Round…

          • Nelson Kerr

            The F AL was designed to handle the recoil. Simple physics would show that th we b designers were diom we doped to fail and the F AL is not a ll ight rifle by any.means even if it is too light for its cartridge. I died a FAL and it has significant recoil.

          • Secundius

            ALL British made FAL’s were produced in Imperial Units. ALL British Commonwealth Countries were produced in Metric Units (Lighter Weight)…

          • Nelson Kerr

            So what? That has no bearing on what I stated.

  • Gary Kirk

    Still wanna know if/how well the 130s will stabilize in a 1/12 26″ barrel..

    • Gary Kirk

      This ammo is giving hope that I won’t have to swap the barrel..

      • JumpIf NotZero

        … Who sold you on a 26″ 30cal barrel? You should probably just change barrels.

        • Gary Kirk

          Wasn’t something I went looking for, just a chance deal on a rem 700 action.. Like I really needed another one, but nib for a hundred bucks hey why not.. Didn’t know it was a 1/12 till I got it home, and isn’t really on my need to rebuild list at the time.. Too many other project guns that money could go to.. If I can find some decent ammo it likes as is great..

    • I cannot think of any reason why it wouldn’t. See if you can’t get some bullets, and find out!

  • sean

    What barrel length was that tested from?

    • Joshua

      10.5″

  • Josh

    That’s a really awful BC..

    • John Yossarian

      M80 and M80A1 are not designed for long-range precision shooting – They have other bullets for that.

      • Plus, M80 gives better performance at pretty much all ranges than M80, so who cares what the BC is?

    • M80 has a 0.195-0.200 G7 BC. Nobody knows what M80A1’s BC is yet, but we can observe that the bullet has a somewhat finer shape than M80, and is lighter. So the BC is probably at best similar to M80, and at worst probably about the 0.185 given here.

  • Treyh007

    Big nasty! 👍🏻👍🏻

  • Secundius

    M80A1 EPR and Magic Decoder Ring Translation: Ammunition I’ll NEVER See At My Local Gun Store…

  • uisconfruzed