What Would a Long Range Sharpshooter Infantry Paradigm Look Like? Part 1: The Weapons

A_coalition_Special_Operations_Forces_member_fires_his_sniper_rifle_from_a_hilltop_during_a_firefight_near_Nawa_Garay_village_(120403-N-MY805-202)

More and more, it seems like we are on the cusp of a break in the small arms “plateau”, and that major changes may be coming both in the technology and use of infantry small arms and ammunition. The biggest harbinger of this coming paradigm shift has been Picatinny’s Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program, now superseded by the Cased Telescoped Small Arms Systems (CTSAS) program. As CTSAS and similar programs make headway, it seems increasingly likely that some sort of next generation lightweight ammunition paradigm will force a shift in infantry small arms, and that the current fleet of metallic-cased ammunition and the weapons designed to fire it will have to be replaced by new designs.

This likely shift in technology may also bring with it a shift in how infantry weapons are configured and used, and indeed many in the industry believe it should bring about such a shift. This post will explore one of the most heavily promoted future infantry small arms system concepts: A shift from close range 5.56mm assault rifles and automatic rifles backed up by longer-ranged 7.62mm weapons in the weapons squad and used by designated marksmen in the rifle squads, to a new, longer ranged marksmanship-oriented force designed to achieve “overmatch” (i.e., to outrange) against enemy 7.62mm small arms, and to defeat them with superior precision and lethality of fire.

Post-publishing note: In the original release of this article, I didn’t adequately clarify two things. First, I am not a proponent of this theory of infantry weapons and tactics, but I have read a lot of work from and I have talked quite a bit with people who are. Second, this article doesn’t directly examine the question of whether a system like this should be adopted, but just assumes that such a system will be adopted and explores the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

A_coalition_Special_Operations_Forces_member_fires_his_sniper_rifle_from_a_hilltop_during_a_firefight_near_Nawa_Garay_village_(120403-N-MY805-202)

Sourced quote: “A coalition Special Operations Forces member fires his [Mk. 20] sniper rifle from a hilltop during a firefight near Nawa Garay village, Kajran district, Day Kundi province, Afghanistan, April 3 [2012].” From: commons.wikimedia.org

For illustrative purposes, I am going to create my own picture of what such a configuration would look like, which may or may not be representative of concepts put forward by specific commentators and experts. The point of this article isn’t to perfectly represent absolutely every opinion regarding future small arms calibers and weapons, but to simply explore the different tradeoffs being made in configurations of this type, and to better flesh out what the infantry platoon would look like and how it would operate in this sort of paradigm.

The first and most central change to be made in this new paradigm would be in the ammunition. Instead of having two rounds, 5.56mm and 7.62mm, organic to the infantry platoon, a new long-range marksmanship-focused system would have more even requirements for range and performance across the weapons of the platoon, and this would likely both allow for and drive a unification in the calibers. Since the infantry rifles themselves would be expected to regularly engage enemies at 600 meters and further, a round more powerful than 5.56mm would be needed, and such a round would likely also make a good substitute for 7.62mm in the weapons squad’s general purpose machine gun.

The most obvious way to accomplish this would be to simply replace all 5.56mm weapons with 7.62mm weapons, but this has glaring disadvantages. 7.62x51mm is not a very efficient round for various reasons, and it carries with it a large weight penalty that would severely hamper the longevity of the automatic rifle in a fight. While mobile 7.62mm machine guns do exist and are used in short raids and assaults by special forces, the 7.62x51mm round is just too heavy to allow the automatic rifleman to do his job as it currently stands.

Therefore, it has been suggested many times that, instead of replacing 5.56mm weapons with 7.62mm weapons,weapons both calibers be replaced with ones in a caliber in-between the two in size and weight, but benefiting from low-drag bullet designs and therefore able to match the larger 7.62mm in range and performance. “Universal” calibers like this are typically suggested in the 6-7mm bore diameter range, with 6.5mm being an increasingly popular choice. However, while small rounds like the 6.5mm Grendel have many proponents online, most produce sedate muzzle velocities that would be a serious drawback to achieving the kind of accurate, long range fire necessary to make this concept work. This lack of muzzle velocity is a very serious concern for anyone seeking to transform the infantry into a long-range force of marksmen, as even though these “slow and steady” rounds do retain energy quite well, that energy can only be put to use if the shot is a hit, or perhaps a very near miss if we are considering suppression. Because of this, rounds with muzzle velocities of 875 m/s (2,870 ft/s) or higher, like Stan Crist’s 6mm Optimum or the .264 USA, are probably the better choice for this sort of configuration. This creates a challenge for designers, as the aspects of retained energy, flatness of trajectory, and round weight, must be carefully balanced with each other to meet the needs of such a force. A solution is possible, though: It seems that a variant of the 7.62x45mm Czech, necked down to 6-6.35mm and loaded with long, lead-free projectiles, could produce the kind of performance necessary to dominate space in the 600 m – 1,000 m distance range, while still weighing little or no more than current 7.62x39mm ammunition. If this shift comes with the benefit of lightweight cases, an even more powerful round could be developed, probably similar in performance to the .264 USA or possibly even as potent as the very powerful 6.5mm CT, which outstrips the .260 Remington.

.264 USA Compared

The .264 USA is intermediate in size between the 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO calibers. It gives long range performance similar to the 7.62mm, while being somewhat lighter and lower recoil. Such a caliber could be incorporated into a long-range infantry rifle system. Author’s render.

 

Any of these rounds, however, would require longer rifle barrels than are currently being used. The .264 USA is specified to produce its nominal 2,875 ft/s from a 16.7″ barrel, 2.2″ longer than that of the current M4, while the aforementioned high velocity Czech-based round would need an 18 or 20″ barrel to maximize its performance. It is thus reasonable to expect that the rifles and machine guns designed for the new universal round would need to reverse the century-and-a-half old trend of shorter and shorter barreled infantry weapons, and be equipped with a barrel of length from 16 and 20 inches (406-508 mm). Also, to maintain precision even during intense firefights where fully automatic fire is needed, these barrels would need to be very thick, comparable to the SOCOM-profile M4A1 barrel that is currently being phased in with the US Army. Due to this thickness and the necessary extra length, the barrel of the new rifles alone would add a significant amount of weight to the new rifles, versus the old.

For the new rifle, this sort of weight increase will accompany most aspects of its design. Receivers, magazines, bolts, barrel extensions, and other elements of the weapon’s design will need to be enlarged in both width and (except with cased telescoped – which would need a completely new design) length, creating a corresponding increase in system weight. More weight would also come in the form of larger and more capable optics (more on those later), bipods (Harris’s popular bipod, used on the USMC’s M27, weighs – depending on model – 0.60 to 0.90 pounds [0.30 to 0.41 kg]), and other devices including the usual suite of PEQs, lights, etc.

Accounting for all these increases to reach an estimate for the weight of a new carbine is relatively simple. The current M4 (not A1) Carbine’s weight breaks down like so:

  • Base rifle (no handguards) – 2.61 kg
  • KAC M4 RAS – 0.240 kg
  • Aimpoint M68 CCO – 0.335 kg
  • Surefire M951 – 0.261 kg
  • PEQ-15 – 0.213 kg
  • Vertical fore grip – 0.070 kg
  • 30 round magazine loaded with M855 – 0.473 kg

For a total weight of 4.22 kg (9.31 lbs). How would the new rifle compare? We can estimate this thanks to a couple of “intermediate” sized (between AR-15 and AR-10) rifles that already exist with known weights; their receivers appear to add about a pound – maybe a little less – when compared with the AR-15. So, taking the base rifle, we’ll add 0.45 kg to the weight of an M4 to compensate for the larger receiver, which (deleting the weight of the delta ring – about 0.070 kg) gives us 2.585 kg. Since the new rifle would have a heavier and longer barrel, we need to account for that. SolidWorks gives me a mass difference of about 0.41 kg for a heavy contour 450mm (17.7″) barrel, compared to the standard M4 barrel. Based on numbers for the HK416’s 9″ rail and barrel nut, we can also add about a pound (0.45 kg) for the rail system. This gives us a base weight for the new rifle of 3.445 kg, or 7.60 pounds. It’s possible that such a rifle could be a little lighter (or a little heavier), but since this is an estimate, let’s round that to 3.4 kg for the unloaded, bare rifle.

EDIT: Ugh, late night math. I made a decimal place error when doing the calculation above, which changed the end result from what it should be – 3.85 kg – to 3.445 kg. Normally, I would correct it, however I feel as though the more conservative (but erroneous) figure of 3.4 kg aligns better with the AMU’s AR-12 below (nominally 7.2 pounds, 3.27 kg), and therefore better makes my point. Still, it should be noted that the math above isn’t right. You can thank me staying up until 5 AM working on it for that!

mar04

The Army Marksmanship Unit has developed an intermediate-length AR pattern rifle, designed for its .264 USA cartridge. It is about a pound heavier than the existing M4 Carbine. Image source: sadefensejournal.com

 

Before we calculate the loaded weight of the rifle system, we need to take a detour and talk about optics. Unlike the current fleet of M4s and M4A1s, this new rifle is intended to be very capable in combat beyond 600 meters, and to do that it needs a bigger and more capable magnified optic. We can look to the British L129A1 for inspiration, since it fills a very similar role to the rifle imagined here. It uses the quite porky TA648 6×48 ACOG, which clocks in at 36.9 ounces without piggybacked red dot, and our rifle would need something similar. However, newer optics like the Trijicon VCOG are somewhat lighter, at 28 ounces with mount and battery. Still, this gives us a range of 28-37 ounces (0.80-1.05 kg) for an optic capable enough and rugged enough to be the primary sighting system on a long-range infantry rifle. It seems reasonable, therefore, to settle on an even 0.85 kg for the optic, a conservative estimate. Keep in mind that optics are improving all the time, and so a next generation rifle of this type could possibly have an even more capable (and therefore probably heavier) sighting system, such as one with an on-board laser rangefinder and ballistic computer.

Now we can determine how heavy our long range infantry rifle system might be:

  • Base rifle (HK416 handguards and nut) – 3.400 kg
  • Long Range Rifle Optic – 0.850 kg
  • Surefire M951 – 0.261 kg
  • PEQ-15 – 0.213 kg
  • Vertical fore grip – 0.070 kg
  • Harris 9-13 bipod, LaRue Picatinny mount – 0.408 kg
  • 25 round magazine loaded with long-range intermediate caliber ammunition – 0.605 kg

All together, a total “in your hands” weight of 5.807 kg, or 12.80 pounds. This means that, according to our estimate, a long range intermediate caliber weapon will be 1.587 kilograms (3.50 lbs) heavier than the current M4 Carbine, or a little heavier than the combat weight of the old British L1A1 SLR FAL derivative. This certainly isn’t “off the map” as far as infantry rifles go, but it is heavy, and perhaps more concerning is the fact that much of this extra weight is added forward of the rifle’s magazine, giving the resulting weapon a poor center of gravity. This would make a rifle of this type and configuration more tiring to use unsupported, which could be offset somewhat through use of the bipod in static positions. It is true that perhaps the bipod needn’t be issued to every soldier, but even if it is deleted the rifle still weighs 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs) and would still have a very forward weight-bias, although perhaps not as bad. Weight reductions versus this estimate are also possible in the barrel, optic, and other areas, but each reduction would likely come with a reduction in capability, raising the question of why the rifles are chambered for such a powerful 600m+ round if they are not suitably equipped to be used at that distance. Regardless, it should be noted that there are different potential configurations, some of which may be lighter than this estimate. It is difficult to imagine, however, how a rifle meaningfully longer-ranged than the current M4 could manage to be lighter, or even merely as light as the current carbines. It is therefore very safe to assume that any long-range rifle of this type will come with a corresponding weight penalty in addition to augmented capability.

Flickr_-_DVIDSHUB_-_Marine_fire_team_evaluated_for_small_unit_leadership_(Image_4_of_4)

This image of an M27 IAR in full drag gives us some idea of how a long range marksman’s rifle might be configured. Equipped with a powerful optic, bipod, foregrip, and designator, such a rifle would be a heavy – but capable – weapon. Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

This is also true for cased telescoped weapons, as well. The developmental model of the CTSAS 6.5mm carbine weighs 3.95 kilograms, and is therefore unlikely to ever materialize at a substantially lower weight than the estimate quoted for the rifle above, even if substantial weight reductions are made.

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Textron’s 6.5mm CT carbine is still in the mockup stage, but currently weighs 8.7 lbs unloaded, 9.7 pounds loaded. Even if weight is substantially decreased, it will still be significantly heavier than the current M4 Carbine. Image source: dtic.mil

 

There is a silver lining to the additional weight, however: Even though such a rifle would by definition fire more powerful ammunition than the existing M4 Carbine, the 37% weight increase helps tame the recoil of the new rifle, and as a result very comparable or even superior recoil characteristics to existing 5.56mm weapons could be achieved fairly easily via tweaking the rifle’s mechanism and/or the addition of a modest brake. These favorable recoil characteristics would not only allow good control in the fully automatic fire mode (especially if the cyclic rate were managed down to 600 RPM or so), but also aid in making accurate, rapid follow up shots in semi-automatic – a key ingredient to the concept as a whole.

The picture gets a little brighter too when we turn to the rifle’s machine gun counterpart. Setting aside the concept of a magazine-fed automatic rifle (which could just be a variant of the above described rifle), a long-range intermediate caliber machine gun not only could replace both the existing M249 LMG and M240 GPMG, but it could potentially be lighter than either. The reason for this is that neither the M249 nor the M240 score very well with respect to weight, and there are much lighter weapons comparable to both that already exist. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this is the 17-pound Russian PKM machine gun, which is comparable in weight to the 5.56mm M249, while being chambered in the 7.62x54mmR caliber, directly comparable to the M240’s 7.62mm NATO. With a similarly optimized design, a new long range intermediate caliber machine gun could be made even lighter than the PKM, perhaps in the range of 13-15 pounds (5.9-6.8 kg) for the base weapon. This means that even equipped with an advanced optic comparable to or even better than the ones equipping the rifles, an MG in the same caliber could still clock in at less than the current M249 sans optic. In the GPMG role, this would save the gunner a full ten pounds (4.5 kg) or more versus the M240, while significantly lightening the weight of ammunition carried by the weapons squad even without the benefit of lightweight case technology.

Now that we have a better idea of what the infantry weapons of a long-range marksman-based paradigm might look like, we are ready to move on to discussing the procurement, tactics, and organization, which we will tackle in the next installment. A final note: One aspect I did not thoroughly discuss is the matter of ammunition weight. For a breakdown of ammunition weight in the platoon for polymer cased telescoped ammunition, refer to my previous articles An Analysis of the Soldier’s Load with 6.5mm Cased Telescoped Ammunition, parts 1 and 2. Also helpful is the universal caliber ammunition weight calculator published in this article.



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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  • cwp

    I’m aware that you’re not the biggest fan of them, but it would seem at first glance like one way to avoid a forward weight bias due to heavier ammunition would be to opt for a bullpup layout. That would also mitigate the expected increase in overall length from a longer barrel.

    • Spike

      Was thinking the same thing, can’t imagine America adopting a bullpup though…

      • GD Ajax

        Technically the LSAT rifle and LMG are already Semi-bullpups.

        • Spike

          Agreed, but not adopted… yet.
          Problem with this new bullpup would be length of pull – people already moan about 556, going to a longer round would increase that.

          • Simon Spero

            I wonder if the missing, er, link would be some form of electronic Fire Control System with current mechanical connections carrying the control signal and engagable as a backup.
            IWI + Rafael? FNH + BAE?

          • Spike

            BAe/RSAF did test a version of the L85 years ago called the E.I.W. for the FIST programme, don’t know what happened to the research.

          • Phillip Cooper

            I’m not seeing how the length of pull is affected by cartridge size differences between 5.56 and 7.62 or similar..

    • I like bullpups just fine, if someone would design one that’s worth a damn. 😉

      Joking aside, that’s precisely the argument I know Anthony Williams would make. However, I don’t think a bullpup would do very much to reduce the overall weight, so I didn’t consider it.

      It might improve the balance and handling in confined spaces, but it may also bring with it many other disadvantages for a rifle concept like this.

      • roguetechie

        Working on it…

        Though truthfully our friend from Berlin has pretty much proven the basic elements needed to build a better bullpup already.

        What I’d love is a pull then push feed bullpup so that the magazine rear could sit just forward of and underneath the chamber.

        Pair that with something like a Beardmore Farquhar inspired operating system preferably with some way to allow bore evacuation and you’ve really got something.

  • noob

    Interesting – would that mean that for room clearing and vehicle work, the M4 or a subgun would be in the vehicle?

    and would a special forces infantry soldier replace the pistol with something like a MP7 (meaning having to carry a load of PDW ammo too)?

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    Great article.
    Not an expert by any means, but I have some things I’d like other people here to express their opinion on:
    -Other than maybe COIN operations, wars rarely have pure infantry battles. I mean other arms are engaged also, such as Artillery(in particular)
    -Few terrains favor really long range engagements, more than 500-600m
    -Long range engagements by every soldier require every soldier to have the means of acquiring target at long range and having the situational awareness necessary
    -While longer range capable weapons are always a good thing that should not be at the expense of short range capability, because contacts with the enemy might not always begin at long range
    -Tactics developed by both friendly and foe are really what determine the needs considering infantry weapons. I mean, the enemy might not agree with your choice of infantry combat, and certainly the enemy will try to counter your long range advantages (as today tries to take advantage of your long range shortcomings.
    -I still believe that the short range (below 300m) is the most critical area in infantry combat and weapons should be designed with that as a priority. Having said this, I also like to repeat that long range is a favorable characteristic.

    Again, great article!
    flanker7

    • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

      Fully agree with you. Consider the complementary points:

      – Thankfully, there have been very few wars as of late. COIN is by far the most common type of ops, and infantry is very important in COIN
      – Armies don’t choose where they will be sent to, long range is an important capability
      – CONOPS and suitable training are the single most important elements in armed forces. Period. The weapon systems and logistics are the effectors, but the best weps and logistics will be useless without decent CONOPS and training. The current “red dot” sights already are quite effective, and longer ranged optics are just around the corner. A good starting point could be the current DM sights. But without decent training they’d be useless.
      – Absolutely correct. An in-between caliber weapon system must be designed with sub-500 m and CQB in mind, so they can be effective at all ranges. But if the weapon is designed to be useful at 500+ m AND is controllable in aimed semi-auto, it will be devastating at shorter ranges

    • I agree with all your arguments. They are valid criticisms of the long range infantry rifle concept.

      I am not a proponent of a concept like this, but I’ve done a lot of reading of and talking to people who are. Here’s how I think they would address these arguments (NOTE that I am not actually making these arguments, just relaying them):

      1. In many cases ROE restricts the ability to call upon artillery or air strikes, and even if these can be called, there is a delay between when the call is made and when the ordnance falls. The infantry needs weapons that can pin and possibly even defeat the enemy at long distances quickly.

      2. In Afghanistan something like 50% of engagements occurred over 500 meters. Also, a larger caliber would have superior close range lethality and barrier properties.

      3. Yeah, I’ve brought this up a few times and I don’t think they do a good job addressing it. You usually hear something about how this will all be made better with advanced optics.

      4. Most proponents of this idea seem to just dismiss this concern. I don’t think they believe that such a rifle is at a substantial disadvantage at closer distances.

      5. In theory, the new caliber would be better suited to combat at both long and short range so there would be fewer “chinks in the armor” to exploit. Not sure I believe this, but I think that’s what they’d say.

      • Weston

        Where did you find the data on the engagements in Afghanistan? I would be interested in learning more about it.

      • Phillip Cooper

        One of the main reasons the Marines and Army went to the M4 was due to ease of negotiation in and around vehicles- IE, barrel length as an impact on OAL. I’d buy this argument for the longer range and thus longer barrels, but they’ll have to go with a shorter overall package. The immediate thing that comes to mind is a bullpup, but could a folding stock work just as well?

        • User

          Dude… a bullpup is for far more than this bit vehicle stuff…

          Better balance. Less tired arms when aiming, more accurate easy shots. Short for CQB but still high power and high range, higher barrier and armor penetration. Less muzzle blast. Can set a diffrent baseline for high performance cartridge loads that would not perform from shorter barrels.

          With push trough ejection you can make a 18 or 20″ barrel Rifle that is as short as a frigging Ar15 sbr with stupid short barrel. And still it would be fully ambi, instead of shooting brass in your face like common bottleneck platform bullpups.

          A folding stock literaly ONLY solves this single vehicle argument, and nothing else.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Hey, no need to convince me.. you’re preaching to the choir. I’d love to have a bullpup battle rifle if they weren’t ridiculously expensive. Still thinking about saving my pennies for a Tavor.

          • n0truscotsman

            I hate bullpups, but am glad I bought a Tavor. Its an enjoyable, convenient rifle to shoot.

          • User

            Im not a fan of the Tavor, for many reasons.

            The main ones are, eating hot brass when shooting around a corner. The gassing of the near piston. The weight (actually rather heavy). And …the bore to sight height is just stupidly high.

            And i think a flared magwell would be better for easy and fast reloading under stress for bullpups.

            Ofcourse coming more modern bullpups for military use wont have these problems when theyr well designed.

          • Goody

            Bullpups are great, but how do you get less muzzle blast by bringing it 6 inches closer to your face?

          • ostiariusalpha

            He means less blast than an SBR of equivalent overall length to a bullpup.

          • Goody

            Understood. I was thinking for an equivalent barrel length.

          • iksnilol

            A bullpup with 20 inch barrel and a conventional rifle with a 12 inch barrel have the muzzle about the same distance away from you. I don’t need to tell which of those two creates more muzzle blast

          • Kivaari

            The concussion is higher. Shooting a 16″ AUG makes me want to puke. Body armor limits that, but the shock wave is significant. They need a can or blast-diverter.

          • User

            What i mean is a CT bullpup with a specific overall lenght vs a non bullpup bottleneck rifle with the same overall lenght.

            -> conventional Rifle with the same overall lenght would have a stupidly short barrel = less performance from loads/ or insane chamber pressure, wear, efficiency loss, extrem muzzle blast.

      • Robert Rodriguez

        While most engagements are not certainly pure infantry battles, it is necessary to have infantry hold the ground and occupy it, which is why something as militarily miniscule as a rifle is so important.

        While there is certain emphasis on various missions, almost all missions are in support of infantry operations.

        The only reason for the widespread adoption of the M4 as of recent was because of the highly mobile and mechanized operations in Iraq necessitated a smaller weapon, as there is a premium on space inside vehicles, and an M16 is rather clumsy inside vehicles. Also, which not a lot of people will admit to, everyone wanted to look all high speed operator with their M4’s and their PEQ-2’s.

        Short barreled rifles are only really useful in the confines of vehicles, as seen by the previous developments of the XM177/GAU-5 and the M231, the former initially designed for pilots, and the latter designed for the crews of a Bradley. All that Hurr Durr about needing a short barreled rifle to clear rooms is more based on a perceived need than a legitimate fault. You can clear a room with an M16. It isn’t that hard. Hell, the Soviets had to clear rooms with a damned Mosin Nagant, and they proved that you can do it.

        • crackedlenses

          “Hell, the Soviets had to clear rooms with a damned Mosin Nagant, and they proved that you can do it.”

          You can clear rooms with a Sprinfield musket if you absolutely had too. Doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea, any more than clearing rooms with a full-length Mosin-Nagant would.

          • tts

            Yup.

            “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

        • Kivaari

          By late ’43 the Soviets adopted the ’44 carbine due to complaints about the M91-30. But an M16 is no longer than a M44.

          • Robert Rodriguez

            And of course, everyone glosses over the point I was trying to get at and focuses on the example instead…

          • Kivaari

            I got your point. And yes everyone wanted the M4 as it did the job really well in Iraq, and most of the time in Afghanistan. I don’t think issuing and inventorying so many rifles is a good thing. Before I am willing to say the M4 is inadequate in the theater I’d like to know how many casualties are really being taken at ranges in excess of 500m.
            The PKM doesn’t outgun the M240.
            The AKM/AK74 don’t outrange the M4.
            Not many .303s are being used and they don’t shoot any better today than they did in ’43.
            How many casualties are the enemy inflicting upon our forces with the assortment of weapons they are using?
            What are the causes of our casualties? I understand it isn’t small arms but IEDs.
            So when our guys are taking fire from the enemy, are they actually getting hit by aimed fire?
            When we shoot back are we hitting more or less of them?
            Or do we engage them with standoff weaponry?
            How are they getting wounded and killed?
            I suspect the M4 is doing the job most of the time and that an M16A4 wouldn’t change anything because what limits our hitting is the range and not the gun. At least not between the two contenders.
            I suspect that adding a new caliber to the rifle inventory wont make much difference. You get out to 500m and unless you have superior optics not much will get hit regardless of the caliber chosen.
            I can see where a new MG round can really make a difference. The inability of the 7.62mm NATO to fire a long low drag bullet does limit it. Maybe the new M80A1 has solved that issue.

          • lostintranslation

            Current U.S. statistics reveal that 21% of small arms KIA’s and WIA’s in Afghanistan are from 7.62x54R caliber weapons.
            Ref:
            The Small Arms Defense Journal, The Future Of The Military Assault Rifle, 17 April, 2015 · Features, V7N1, Volume 7.

          • Ron

            Although it varied depending on phase of the war(s) during the GWOT, around 75 percent of US wounds were caused by explosives generated fragmentation

          • Kivaari

            That’s the point. Are the small arms casualties from close or long range encounters. The demand is for a long range rifle to fight a long range machinegun war. Of the 21% hit by 7.62mm fire we don’t know how many are AK or PKM delivered. A dozen enemy soldiers spraying AKs at 800m have a chance of hitting something. A PKM has a better chance if run right. I am just not convinced that we are outgunned by a bunch of guys with AKs and a couple PKMs. I haven’t seen enough data that shows the wounds are a result of long range contacts. Lately the deaths have been few and far between and most remain the result of IEDs. I just don’t think long range is really all that big of a deal.

          • Robert Rodriguez

            When your rifle won’t reach that far, of course you won’t have any data on casualties that far away. It’s a moot point.

          • Kivaari

            It’s a battle between machineguns and not rifles. An m4 carbine out distances an AK. The threat is from the PKM. We have the M240.
            WE kill the enemy with supporting arms and the machinegun. When the enemy is within range of their AKs, they are within range of our M4s. An M16-20″ doesn’t have that much of an advantage over an M4 and both out-range all the 7.62×39 and 5.45x39mm rifles and machineguns. When clearing buildings/villages the M4 does just fine.
            That doesn’t mean having a new caliber wouldn’t be a bad idea, just a questionable one since the 5.56mm has performed the job in every theater.

          • lostintranslation

            Do you have a Reference for the 75% figure?

          • Ron

            It is from numerous reports I have read on the subject because of my line of work.

            30 seconds of Google gets you this report
            Chap 2 of weapons effects

            “The increase in explosion-related injuries and concomitant decrease in gunshot-related injuries in the past century and a half of US conflicts is summarized in Figure 1. This trend has accelerated substantially during recent years. This is illustrated by increases in explosion-related OEF and OIF casualties from 56 percent in 2003 to 2004 to 76 percent in 2006 and in the number of surgeries for fragment wounds from 48 percent in OIF I (2003) to 62 percent in OIF II (2004 to 2005)

          • lostintranslation

            In my; ‘previous life,’ it was nearly always necessary to include, where possible, verification or substantiation of data and the correct attribution for published work.

            I still find these things helpful in trying to make sense, particularly in today’s Internet ‘information rich’ environment.

            Appreciate your reply and the additional background.

          • lostintranslation

            Appreciate the substantiation of the 76% figure.

          • Kivaari

            What are the raw numbers?

          • Kivaari

            The 21% number for 7.62mm wounds just doesn’t tell the story adequately. Which 7.62mm and at what ranges is more important. I suspect most of those wounds are from relatively close range encounters. Some of the fights that resulted in blue force injuries took place at close range. I’d really like to know how dangerous the 500m+ encounters result in KIA and WIA.

          • Robert Rodriguez

            My issue is putting yourself at a disadvantage when it is unnecessary.

          • Kivaari

            Notice also I was pointing out that the M44 carbine is the same size as the M16.

        • Uniform223

          I am guessing from your comment you were never deployed let alone in the military (specifically Army or Marines).

          When I joined I qualified and had the trusty M16A2 for the first half. I was trained on how to do convey operations and later urban with that weapon. I was also taught a rather unique unorthodox way of utilizing the M16A2 in close quarters.
          Here is an EXACT example… (time index 1:26)

          My last unit was a Civil Affairs BN and we started to get (as far as I can tell) brand new M4s. When we did FTX that were either Convoy Op or CQ Urban Operations, the difference was damn near night and day. The overall handling qualities of the M4 just made everything so much easier. I didn’t have a long heavy 20inch barrel swinging around. On the range the differences (if any) as far as I can tell were non-existent.

          People wanted the M4 over the M16 because it could do everything the M16 could do but in a lighter weight and more compact package.
          So in short to your response… soldiers and marines can do CQ Operations in a urban environment/terrain with the M16. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should/have to, ESPECIALLY if there is a BETTER option available (M4) to the soldiers and marines.

          • Robert Rodriguez

            And your assumption was wrong. I was in the military and I have deployed. And since you want to play credentials, I was with a LRS unit, so my infantry trumps your kissing hands and shaking babies.

            As I said earlier, the M4 was designed highly mobile operations in mind, such as convoys, mechanized units, and helo insertions as the smaller profile definitely helps when you’re in an area where space is at a premium.

            Does the M4’s size help out when it comes to CQB? It does help some.

            Is it an absolute necessity for CQB? No.

            Can you clear a room with an M16? Yes you can.

            Is the M16 that much of a musket and is so unwieldy that it must absolutely be exchanged for an M4? No.

            If you you say yes, then you need more training bro. Either that or you have some T-Rex midget arms which might at that point necessitate that you exchange an M16 for an M4. I’ve gone through training and premobilization as well, and I can clear a room with the Beretta, M16/ M4, 249, and a 240B. Hell, even the snipers in our sniper section could clear a room with no problem using their M110’s It’s not an issue of mechanical function, it’s an issue of training.

            Any unit worth their salt tends to have multiple weapons issued to them, so that they can use stuff necessary for their mission. If not in use, it is stowed away in the back of the humvee but always within reach.

            “On the range the differences (if any) as far as I can tell were non-existent.”

            A 300m static range is far more different than being on a COP in the mountains where the target is usually 600-1000m away on the opposite side of a valley.

            The M16 is routinely used at Camp Perry matches where shooters can make 1000m shots from rack grade rifles using standard M855. There’s a reason you don’t see M4’s doing that. That 14.5 inch barrel loses a lot of steam by the time it makes it to 500m. The one advantage in range in terrain that necessitates the use of weapons that can reach out the distance, and the M16 has is given away because people “need” to clear rooms. It is absolutely stupid to put yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t need to.

            Again, an M4 may be fine for highly mobile operations and MOUT/ CQB work, but it is not for long range, like in Afghanistan, for instance.

          • Kivaari

            You noticed most of those rifles had 10 inch or 16 inch tubes. Some 20 inch guns showed up in scenes.

          • Uniform223

            I was merely pointing out the rather unorthodox/unique way I was taught how to handle an M16 in confined/close quarters. I don’t know if they still teach that or if that “style” is known.

          • Kivaari

            I think it is pretty easy to use a standard size M16 (20″) for buiding clearing. I prefer a shorter gun, but that isn’t based upon the activity outside of the vehicle, just the easy of which I can move around in a vehicle. My time was spent in Crown Vics and Caprices where the small size was handy. For most of my time I carried an MP5A2 or an M4. We had 20″ M16A1s that we did not put in the cars. My military time was spent with the M16A1 and for what I did they were just fine. As far as I am concerned they could just do a simple upgrade to those rifles and things would be fine.
            Simple things like upgrading the extractor tensio, M4 feed cuts, a better aperture for the rear sight, the handguard and we have a good rifle. It isn’t as handy as an M4 but it sure is a good rifle.

        • A.WChuck

          Soviet deaths were incredibly high as the Soviet doctrines was to just keep throwing men at thee enemy until they overwhelmed them. Besides, most room clearing was likely done with PPS 43 and hand grenades.

          • Robert Rodriguez

            Way to miss the point. Soviet deaths have nothing to do with the fundamentals of clearing a room with a rifle.

          • A.WChuck

            Yes, I think you are missing the point. Completely.

      • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

        Thank you for the reply.
        I’ve also written an article in the local (Greek) defense press regarding the small arms at Squad and Platoon level.
        One of the key points in my article was how riflemen soldiers usually use their weapons. I mean rapid fire towards the target area until desired effect is achieved. This mean that most, if not all rounds fired are misses. Regardless of caliber.
        Other soldier have the weapons and tactics to do better in regard to accuracy. Such as DM or Snipers. These people though fight in the environment created by riflemen. I mean, DM or Platoon Snipers are effective, but if all the Platoon is made of DM it doesn’t mean it will be more effective in all situations.
        So, the conclusion was that a mix of weapons (and calibers) where most are suited for the critical shorter range and some are better suited for the demanding longer range is the optimal.
        Now, why I consider the shorter ranges critical. Because you don’t have time at shorter ranges. Plus all people can join in the fight and all are relatively effective. Plus events move closer towards you and the all psychological factors kick in. Plus… Plus.
        Longer ranges give you time usually.
        So, the current mix of weapons is, in my opinion, good enough. And good enough is very important in the military, as opposed to “best”. Especially if best means spending money.
        If the above mix can be achieved by a single platform (variants of a single weapon concept) and a single caliber that would be ideal, but again, most weapons should be optimized for the shorter ranges.
        Again, not an expert by any means!! And never been in combat!!
        I’m however for more than 20 years in the military, all at infantry positions and was trained both as a sniper and a mortar man over the years
        flanker7

    • cwolf

      Sadly, even though today’s artillery is highly accurate, the military has minimized its use. I think that issue needs to be revisited.

      Most of today’s battle are infantry. Armor doesn’t do well in mountains or cities.

      I agree the proposed “264” would be only one weapon/caliber in the weapon/caliber mix. It would likely be given to the SDM and SDM numbers could be increased. Lots of TOE/BOIP options.

      It seems infeasible to give the 264 to everybody; the infantry company weapon mix exists to meet a variety of missions. What do you give up?

  • Billy Jack

    Just the conversation I’ve been wanting to hear.

    • datimes

      Coffee break at Aberdeen Testing.

  • The 6.5 grendel is vastly underrated

    • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

      The 6.5 Grendel is great but it has 2 serious limitations: same COAL as 5.56×45 and very reduced taper. Both were intentional, to keep it AR15-friendly while achieving a bigger case volume.
      The former limits projo selection, especially when going lead-free. And the former causes feeding issues in adverse conditions, especially when in a machine gun.
      Neither are serious issues on bolt actions, and for civilian use in general.
      But in a military environment each of them alone would be a big fat no-go, both together only add insult to the injury.
      If you are willing to forfeit 5.56×45 COAL, you may as well use a bigger case with a more pronounced taper.

    • micmac80

      grendel lacks speed and flat trajectory to be of much use and its designed for ar15. Hype sorunding grendel was quite decieving comparing low drag match bullets with not very low drag military bulet used in both 5.56 and 7.62

  • therealgreenplease

    I’m going to echo what a few others have said: if you’re going to switch to a CT intermediate caliber you might as well do so with a bullpup design. Most of the intermediate calibers above benefit from longer barrels. Plus with CT it’s comparatively easy to achieve ambidextrous ejection via the push-through-feed mechanism.

    It’s an ambitious project but you could potentially
    -hold the line on weapon weight/length
    -have a truly ambidextrous weapon
    -possibly slightly decrease system weight (weapon+ammo)
    -increase effective range
    -increase lethality
    -streamline logistics

    You know what would be a really nifty trick (but an absurd stretch I’ll admit): use a common bore and case diameter for CT handgun ammunition. Why? I’m envisioning a mobile ammunition plant. Let’s say we have to go back into Afghanistan and we do so with our new “overmatch” weapons and a new generation of drones providing surveillance and CAS. We use an initial “surge” to establish FOBs that economically isolate the entire country and then play a waiting game. Normally this would be an expensive and risky proposition as our weak-link would be resupply of said FOBs. With solar providing a lot of the energy and on-site manufacturing providing ammunition and repair parts for drones (I’m thinking 3D printing) all you’d need is periodic air drops for food and periodic airlifts to cycle troops in/out.

    While I’m thinking out loud here, I’m really surprised that the military never invested in an ordinance system specifically designed to flatten mountain tops. Given our ability to precisely target and time the detonation of bombs, you’d think this wouldn’t be too hard of a task. Imagine taking the absolute tops of strategic mountains at will simply by blasting it flat and then air dropping in your troops and supplies in the dead of night. Seems useful.

    • CommonSense23

      How much experience do you have with demo? Cause flattening moutaintops is going to be hard to do with nukes much less JDAMs

  • claymore

    All well and good thoughts for the “Current” wars. BUT and it’s a biggy this falls apart IF the battlefield changes into one of a jungle or forested environment where even if you have the more long range weapons they are of no better use IF ONE CAN NOT SEE THEIR TARGETS AT LONGER RANGES.

    • yodamiles

      That’s the thing. Personally, I advocate for micro caliber ammunition (5mm or less, like 4.8mm) in CTSAS package.

      • User

        We have a certain round in that cateqory but its a rather expensive special version. The 4,52mm and 4,24mm ADAP+ Special Purpose with a supersonic range of 3000m (theyr diffrence is just velocity and trajectory). But with standart issue rounds this is too small, 5,7 to 6mm are a better way to go.

        • yodamiles

          I’m not talking about special ammo, I’m talking about round like 4.85mm British or other micro caliber ammo that was created in the 60s and 70s. These rounds were lighter, low recoil, and flat shooting round. Combine with the fragmentation of EPR technology, then stopping power would not be an issue.

          • NamelessInsider

            Oh i tough you was talking about mid power extrem velocity micro caliber round. Where velocity bleeding is just far to high, because for a certain energy such small rounds are over a speed limit that is just too much for bullet aerodynamic and velocity goes down extremly quick.
            But if you mean light weight low power micro caliber at normal velocity. Yes i know what you mean.

            And thats a concept evaluated by us as the LCER (Light-CloseEngagementRound) with EPR projectiles, and CT cartridges. Where it performes good. Its goal is to give a low recoil platform with more rounds. But the MLIR concept under development right now uses certain innovations that gives it extrem performance, for just a tiny bit more weight, so its much more sencefull to use this, than waisting money for the much lower performance LCER.

            The MLIR still has only ~75% the weight of 5.56×45, but can compete with fullpower 6.5CT(which weights 125%) at 1200m. And by far outperforms it in most other therms.
            Also its weapon system is sicnificantly better.

        • Pedro .Persson

          What rounds are those? I can’t seem to find much information about them.

          • yodamiles

            You mean MLIR? Yeah, I can’t really find anything on it.

          • Pedro .Persson

            Yes that as well, but the 4,52 and 4,2-something calibers, can’t get any correspondent result for the acronym that makes sense. Weird considering someone mentioned MLIR being a project.

          • User

            Who sayd its an official, open source or already finished project. Its a part of a larger Project. The concept has not been possible in old common limits. But uses new innovations to break the old “advantage+ automatic drawback” curse.
            Both Rifles and Ammuniton is under development since years. 3 Main Rounds in 2 diffrent cartridge shapes. (+ a few backup rounds)

            The standart issue round (MLIR) has verry high performance for its weight and moderate recoil (with the Rifle verry low recoil).

            As sayd the 4,52mm ADAP+ (number 3) is not intendet for standart issue. Rather Spec Ops, Delta Force, DEVGRU, and special dangerous missions of Marines.

            The second (hpIF concept) could be made standart issue too but its still under testing. Its potential performance is extremly high by far exeeding even the MLIR. And uses less expensive resources than the 4,52 ADAP+ Special purpose round. But as sayd its under testing, to evaluate and go sure it does not have some drawback.

            Its cool to hear you googled it, sorry that there isnt yet official information.
            Have a great day.

          • Pedro .Persson

            That sounds interesting, if not a bit vague. Can you clarify what exactly those are and say what the acronym means?

          • User

            No i dont want to give out too much information that allows development in this area yet. But if you want to know all the details as soon as theyr safe to release. Add me on G+, or even Skype if i can find my old account. Do you have one of the two?
            Also im verry open for disqussions in Infantery Smallarms & Infantery Ammunition therms, reading some comments of you, you seem to have good views in this area.

    • Nicks87

      I agree, the author’s idea would make sense in areas like Afghanistan, mountain to mountain fighting, but change the terrain and many issues would develop. IMO a four man team should consist of two men carrying carbines or shorter weapons (one with a grenade launcher for indirect fire purposes) one designated marksman with a scoped rifle length system and one individual with something belt fed (or IAR) for suppressing fire. A diversity of weapon systems is more important than standardization, squads have to be prepared to meet a multitude of different scenarios and adapt to each situation differently.

      ***waits for Nathaniel F. to accuse people of not reading the article and then commences to argue the meaning of words***

      • No, I actually agree with you here. These articles are me playing devil’s advocate for a concept that I don’t back.

    • User

      @Claymore. Verry verry great comment! True indeed. A heavy, high recoil, low capacity round will be the death to many soliders in this envoirment.

      • Kivaari

        That sounds like an M1 rifle.

    • Hi Claymore,

      For the purposes of these articles, I am not worrying about the practicality of a system like this, but just assuming it will be so.

      Also, this is me playing a little bit of devil’s advocate. I do not consider myself a proponent of a system like this, but many people are, so I want to see where the idea leads.

  • yodamiles

    Instead of going with heavier and larger diameter round like 6.5 or 7.62, why don’t we just load telescopic round with heavier and more ballistic coefficient 5.56 bullet like 77 ge or 80 gr or even 90gr (if they could fit). You will end up with a round that have similar performance to 6.5 grendel while being lighter and achieve greater velocity. From what we know, the CTSAS rounds are shorter than traditional ammo, which give us some space to load longer bullet while maintain the oal.

    • NamelessInsider

      The CT ammo have problems with long ogives, so in general the for factor will be rather bullshit.

      But luckly modern, fast, verry high bc 5.7 (“5.56”) and 6mm projectiles are under development in the MLIR Project.
      Reducing ammunition weight by 25% compared to 5.56×45 but even beats fullpower 6.5CT at 1200m, and in most other therms.

      • tts

        What about just redesigning the existing M4/16 platform + magazines to shoot standard 5.56×45 brass but with the super long 90gr+ bullets?

        You can still shoot existing ammo + magazines with a magwell adapter, the weight might not go up too much, and you still get much better lethality + probability to hit at 1000yd without doing a whole new weapon and cartridge.

        Yeah you won’t get the performance or ammo weight savings of what a totally new cartridge would do but lots more testing and development needs doing there and it’d give you a decent upgrade in the short/mid-term while the wrinkles on the new ammo + gun get done.

  • chris

    We had long range weapons in both worldwars, in Korea and first half of Vietnam and the fighting was consitently below 300m so why would you sacrifice the already low mobility of infantry for long range capabilitys?
    On open ground infantry will always be dominated by armoured vehicles, tanks and artillery and in infantry typical terrain you just wont get the chance to shoot over 500m.
    Reducing weight and increasing information flow combined with modern optronics is what makes infantry more effectiv.

    • User

      I know what you mean. With the exeption of armored vehicles which are wiped out by lock on rocked launchers. In a vehicle you basicly feel like a sitting duck against scattered, tiny, hard to spot and extremly deadly infantery.
      As soon as thermal clothes are in use (unvisible for vehicle cameras…) vehicles really get recked.
      Aircrafts will have problems too, they need a specific target spotted by theyr infantery and risk to get shot down by lock on AA launchers and heavy AA in the area that locks the sky.

      I think in coming modern direct military vs military combat, artillery cannons and rocket artillery systems will be usefull against infantery. But vehicles and aircraft will get some problems.

      • chris

        If you start using infantry out in the open where they can use there “new weapons” range they would be much easier to spot. Also over this longer ranges you need guided missile systems to score hits angainst vehicles. First that is expansiv. Second modern armor is very effectiv against heat warheads (factor of 3-3,5 of the actual thickness). Third with modern ERA and soft-kill APS the chance to get a hit and kill is greatly reduced and that will even more so with hard-kill APS.

  • Dave Lange

    As noted by Renato Olivera below, one supremely critical aspect to adding this capability is training. At least in the U.S. Army, infantry troops currently get just enough range time to maintain minimal proficiency at 300m. Gaining and maintaining proficiency to engage targets to 600m and perhaps beyond would require significant increases in range time. Whereas currently, units go to the range semi-annually for training and qualification, keeping proficient out to 600m would probably require range sessions on at least a quarterly, if not monthly or even weekly basis, due to the greater complexity of shooting at longer ranges (bullet drop, wind drift, etc become vastly greater factors at longer range. Better cartridges can reduce the effects, but not eliminate them.)

    The second order effects to this would be significant. The first and most obvious is increased ammo expenditures, and thus bigger budgets to pay for it TAANSTAFL.

    Second is the need to construct new range facilities, because current facilities were built for current doctrine and capabilities, as well as utilization rates. So not only would new ranges need to be built (or existing ones upgraded) to allow for shooting out to 600m and beyond, but more of them would be needed to account for increased utilization rates necessitated by the greater training needs.

    Finally, as Napoleon is often quoted, “You can ask me for anything you like, except time.” More time spent on the “Shoot” leg of the triad means less time available for training on the “Move” and “Communicate” legs. Once again, TAANSTAFL. Some of the big brains at TRADOC and FORSCOM would have to figure out where the optimal balance would be found.

    (There’s also the question of whether the support troops – cooks, clerks, mechanics, etc – should be equipped and trained with the new weapons, or whether they would be given something more akin to a PDW. The M1 carbine rides again!)

    • Training is going to be a major part of the next article.

  • iksnilol

    What about those lightweight barrels with CF or aluminum sleeves?

    • User

      Yes, i from a designer standpoint also would really like to know if theyr usefull for military use. Or if they have direct disadvantages. I think i just got an idea, im going making some drawings.

    • I know of at least one effort to explosively clad aluminum to steel to make rigid lightweight barrels.

  • Steven

    The other side also gets a say in this plan. Focus on training to take them out at long range and they will train to grab you by the belt (NVA). Train for point blank shoot outs and they will sit on the ridge with a belt fed PK. I think we need for flexibility than that.

  • Don Ward

    Or – and call me crazy – we can loosen up the rules of engagement and allow soldiers on the ground to actually use Company, Brigade and Divisional assets like heavy machine guns, portable rockets, mortar, light and heavy artillery, armor, fixed and rotary wing support, drones and missiles to take out adversaries that are just out of range of an infantryman’s rifle.

    • tts

      If they’re actively being shot at or attacked then they can, and do, already do that. Even in Afghanistan where the RoE is indeed fairly dumb right now.

      Where RoE becomes a mess is when it isn’t clear who is dangerous and if its terrorists who are shooting or a bunch of locals just shooting into the air to celebrate a wedding or just being dumb.

      • Don Ward

        And yet in the scenarios the 6.5/6.8 caliber mafia envision, it is some Afghani cunningly out ranging our troops with an old SMLE or 65-year old Russkie LMG when – hey – we already have a Shiite-ton of weapons in the arsenal meant to kill badguys from 300 to 2000 meters and have been doing that sort of thing since WW2.

        • Kevin Harron

          When it comes down to it, I think a 300m PDW backed up by precision HE is the actual new paradigm that will come in to play. MG position/Sniper to deal with? Put a guided 40-70mm explosive round on target. If that’s a Spike 40mm grenade or an APKWS II round from an Apache or loitering drone. I understand that some will disagree with me.

          • Don Ward

            I agree with this assessment. Something like a modern “grenadier” attached to the squad like the “bloop” gunners of Vietnam or rifle-grenadiers of WW2 seems a more logical step.

            I think where this has been stymied is that the geniuses try to make everyone carry a grenade launcher/rifle combo that weighs 18 pounds. When you should just give the guy a sole purpose grenade launcher with a light-weight PDW if he needs to defend himself.

          • Uniform223

            “Something like a modern “grenadier” attached to the squad like the “bloop” gunners of Vietnam or rifle-grenadiers of WW2 seems a more logical step”

            > “bloop gunners”? I am guessing you’re referring to the M79. I never heard them referred to as “bloop gunners”. Most of the Vietnam Vets at my bar always throw around the nickname “thumpers”.
            Yeah that does seem some sense in my head as well. I would guess that hypothetical dedicated grenadier would be armed with the XM25. I would wonder what other type of weapon they would be issued along side the XM25. I don’t think any current PDW would be sufficient enough. I would guess (in my line of thinking) a SBR version of the M4A1 would be a better candidate.

          • Don Ward

            And yet the M79 had a variety of nicknames, one of which was “bloop gun”. Also “bloop tube”. “Blooper”. Etc.

          • Kivaari

            We have grenadiers in the squad packing the M203 or M320 40mm, but like in Vietnam they don’t have the reach. 400, is about it and it is not all that accurate at long range and if the wind is blowing.

          • Kivaari

            Perhaps a single shot 25mm launcher is in order. A small single shot with a good optic on top having a range finder system built in. A trooper could carry a pile of lesser grenages but due to the reduced caliber really reach out farther than the 40mm M203. Something built on a 10 ga H&R shotgun would be better than the nothing being issued today.

    • Jeremy

      1)Heavy machine guns are, as the name suggests, too heavy too lug around everywhere.
      2) Pretty sure rockets are already organically a part of a platoon.
      3)Mortar is also too heavy to lug around every patrol
      4)Artillery is overkill in most circumstances in COIN. Are we going to waste an Excaliber or let loose a barrage every time a dumbass decides to pop a few rounds off an AK?
      5)Armor can’t always get to places that you need them to be.
      6) Air support is not always cost effective, like the excaliber problem

      • Don Ward

        Yawn.

      • VanDiemensLand

        Not yawn 😉

      • CommonSense23

        Belt fed machine guns are easily man packable. Same as mortars.

        • Major Tom

          He’s referring to big HMG’s like the M2HB/M2A1 or Kord or KPV. They are technically “light” enough to lug around on foot and the manual and training says so (hey, it was done in WW2) but realistically nobody does so anymore unless you’re humping HMG’s to build a fortified position on ground not easily accessed by vehicles. Something you’d be doing on a planned endeavor, not a daily foot patrol.

          Of course, said HMG’s are also usually mounted en masse on vehicles such as HUMVEE or T-90 or whatnot making the need to carry them by foot a rather ridiculous proposition under nearly all circumstances.

          • User

            Yes, and a big HMG bullet in noway means that you will magicaly kill more. Lethality at range rely far less on energy (HMG is overkill anyways) but much more on hit propability. The exact opposite happens, you carry stupidly heavy ammo and insanly heavy weapon, but in combat you shoot you few rounds, than run empty, and dont hit anyways because % hit propability is extremly low in combat.
            Many light or mid weight rounds are far more usefull as anti Infantery.
            And against vehicles lock on rocket launchers are mostly more usefull than HMG’s.
            As you sayd HMGs are for stationary bases.
            And in therms of heavy weapons a GMG absolutly reks infantery, HMGs are senceless compared to it.

          • Major Tom

            The thing with HMG’s is you get an absurd amount of versatility out of them. With a good mount and a deep can of ammo an M2 .50 cal can in the course of a single mission:

            A) Turn an enemy infantry squad to hamburger at up to 2000 meters.
            B) Swiss cheese the truck or light APC they came in.

            C) Shoot down the helicopter that comes to find out WTF happened and/or save their sorry bums.
            D) Bust through all but the sturdiest of cover, stuff you’d only really batter through with heavy artillery, tanks or airstrikes.

            GMG’s lack several of those capabilities, they’re really closer to rapid fire mortars and field guns than actual machine guns. Likewise GPMG’s and small arms have great difficulty at best in achieving some of those things such as defeating a helicopter or light APC.

          • User

            I know what you mean. But i dont think HMG’s are any practical for Infantery as long as it isnt on a vehicle or in a base.

            You will carry a stupidly heavy weapon, and have an insanly small amount of ammo for it… Your slowing down your entire squad, and with so few rounds dont directly achive the goals you mentioned.

          • Major Tom

            On that, we’re not exactly in disagreement.

          • Ron

            HMG and AGLs are great pieces of gear, however when taken in the OEF perspective why they are so effective is not their ability to penetrate targets but instead the psychological effect of them firing on their target. The British Army did a pretty good study on effects in the 08-09 time frame of near misses and the bigger the bullet, the more margin for a miss you get to suppressive effects on the target. Since in AFG we are often firing at a very poorly located target or in the general direction of where we think the fire is coming from the larger margin of error the better.
            Penetration is oversold when it comes to operations in Iraq and AFG, the building (and defensive positions) are made in such a way that no small arms and in some case 25mm will reliable penetrate them. Down in Southern AFG, nothing smaller than a TOW was going to get into the 36 plus inch think mud brick walls and in Garmsir there were cases that compounds would take 36 round converge sheaf 155mm attacks without being destroyed and 500lbs JDAMS would only take out one room of a multiple room house.

    • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

      That’s why I mentioned CONOPS – which does include ROEs.
      Unfortunately, in the current spineless and politically correct environment we live in, the tendency is for the ROEs to get stricter, not loosen up.

      • Don Ward

        I guess with the next Administration, we’ll see whether ROEs will be loosened up and if they continue to be an issue.

      • Ron

        I have throw my OBC instructor hat on, the ConOp or concept of the operations describes in general terms how the unit (and others assisting in the op) will accomplish the mission from start to finish; IDs phases of operation; Identifies mission essential tasks; Identify main effort; IDs decisive point, form of maneuver / defense, & other significant factors

        ROE is part of coordinating Instructions; however what most people colloquially refer to as ROE, it not ROE but tactical directives, ATO SPINS or target engagement authority.

        • Renato H. M. de Oliveira

          Thanks for the info!

  • Ark

    Forgive me if I’m not convinced that the urban-centric warfare of the last 30 years is on the cusp of melting away in favor of every grunt making hyper-accurate shots at a kilometer away. We had a “marksman-based” paradigm for many decades. The fact that it never lined up with the reality of war is why we transitioned to intermediate cartridges in the first place.

    Besides, there are hundreds of billions of dollars worth of vested interests and half a century of institutional inertia behind the current infantry weapons platforms. A decade ago, the Army spent a bunch of money on trials for new rifles and ended up turning around and giving the contract right back to Colt to keep manufacturing the same old thing. Military procurement has always been a political process that is NOT driven by data or field requirements or basic common sense. Look at the Bradley. Look at the F-35. Look at any procurement program from the last 50 years.

    If you want to predict the future of American infantry arms, look at who spends the most money on Congressional campaigns, or who has the most factories scattered around the most Congressional districts, or who employs the best lobbying firms. Procurement is NOT a meritocracy. You can have the best rifle in the world, but you’re still going to lose out to Colt because Colt spent money on recruiting Congress instead of trying to compete with you directly.

    • Parvusimperator

      Yes this. Aside from the excessive optimization for Afghanistan that others have mentioned, and conveniently ignoring the experience in Iraq, it’s ignoring the realities of procurement.

      We were thinking about a change to the .276 Pedersen cartridge before, but we didn’t. Why? Because we had a giant stock of .30-06.

      We have a giant stock of 5.56, plus plenty of inertia there, spares, parts in the system, Colt/FN lobbyists, etc.

      So you’ll get killed by logistics/the dreaded Budget Kill. Even if the longer range cartridge/”marksman-based” paradigm was actually better for the infantry, and nothing above has convinced me that it has.

      • Ark

        Indeed. A lot of “combat” in Afghanistan does take place at longer ranges. I say “combat” in quotations because with some notable exceptions, most of it is little more than two small groups firing in the vague direction of the enemy for however long it takes for US troops to call in air support. But Iraq was all urban, all the time.

        I just don’t know how anyone could possibly look to the future and believe that we’ll do all our shooting at extreme range.

        • User

          @Ark I agree with you, but “all” the time urban combat in Irag isnt that right. In the counter Insurgency yes. But in the invasion there was quite a bit of open ground. But even then, actually the Iragi soliders where astonished and scared by the performance of 5.56×45 (speed, trajecory, recoil etc). And sayd its much more usefull than theyr 7.62×39.

          • Kivaari

            Ahhh! A dose of truth.

          • roguetechie

            Personally I really like 5.45 & 5.56.

            However, I’d like to see a cbj type saboted round up to about halfway between 5.56&7.62 in COAL from a relatively shoulder less case that keeps the original M193 MV from an m16 out of a 16-18 inch bbl instead.

            Between the extra case capacity swept volume etc that wouldn’t be at all hard to make happen.

            Done right, it would hit like a jackhammer and fly straight as a laser!

            What’s not to like there?

          • User

            CBJ sabots are a small step in the right direction but really really unoptimal. Far better ones are under development.

            Having a minimum of 3300 and a maximum of 3600fps. (not a “possible maximum” of 3600fps but rather the designs dont exeed it, due to aerodynamic issues over 3700fps. The concept is to not design the round slower than 3300fps but not exeed 3600 for the explained reason.)
            But they dont work in an M4/M16.

          • User

            Thanks buddy. Btw what did you do back in the day, and who are you. Im reading a lot of TFB articles, just staying anonym, and you often bring good arguments in disqussions where people say senceless or unlogical things in smallarms therms.
            You certainly know your stuff. So im wondering.

          • Kivaari

            I am just an old guy that has been around. I served in the Navy (VN), Army NG, police officer (ret. sgt.) gun store owner and at one time a gun writer for LEO and survival oriented pubs. I’ve read a lot of stuff that is well beyond the popular press, being actual military studies from Sweden, USA, China, Canada and Yugoslavia and a bunch more. TFB provides some very good information. That and I’ve used all the caliber commonly discussed. After all these years I’ve found the 5.56mm rifles to be just great with them having a great balance of performance, weight, accuracy and in quality rifles.

          • User

            Oh ok, i quessed its in this direction. Cool to hear. I hope we meet some day.
            Yes 5.56 is a great balance in standart metal bottleneck cartridges. Its not perfect (like its nose ogive…) But to adopt a new caliber it takes a lot lot more than just a few % in some performance areas. So i think the US does really well with waiting for a truly good round that breaks the current limits than just adopting some expensive bs that is just another “small advantage+automatic tradeoff” thing.

            Do you have G+ or an Email adress? I think you have some good opinions and arguments in the caliber discussion, and background knowledge. So it would would be interesting to talk a bit. Greetings

    • n0truscotsman

      To reinforce what you’re saying in the 1st paragraph, the world (especially 3rd world -stans and -ia’s) will become more urbanized, not less so. A majority of the world’s population is housed in urban aras.

      Afghanistan is the exception to the rule, not a new trend.

      • Kivaari

        Yep. Look worldwide at potential combat zones and Afghanistan is one of very few places where long range is an issue. Most will fit into the MOUT mold.

  • M1911

    I think it is a mistake to think that most future wars will be similar to Afghanistan. I think we are far more likely to fighting in urban areas than in the mountains, and long, heavy, long-range rifles would be a hindrance not an advantage.

  • John

    I foresee a return to World War 2-era tactics. A couple of good guys engage an enemy from long distance with 7.62 rifles, while the rest of the good guys get in close and use 5.56 weapons for effect.

    The whole “build a new gun/switch calibers” doesn’t really mesh with good marksmanship, which to me is killing a bad guy in one magazine or less.

  • roguetechie

    Heh,

    You can almost feel the foundation being laid for a philosophical death blow to a concept as you read this article.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    I think that the cons that you’re bringing up are largely due to the rounds that you’ve decided to compare to the 5.56 and your attempt to select a round that replaces both the 5.56 and the .308. The new round doesn’t have to be in the middle of 5.56 and .308, it can lean closer to the 5.56.

    What we need is a high velocity round (at least 2,800 feet per second) that has a better ballistic coefficient than the 5.56 while still being as light and soft shooting as possible.

    The 6mm Optimum and the .264 USA are probably still a bit too powerful. Something in-between those rounds and the 5.56 would probably be more practical.

    As to the .308; if anything, I don’t think that it’s powerful enough for its intended role. The .308 should be replaced with a round that has a better ballistic coefficient and a little bit more power behind it in order to reach out and touch any enemy that tries to outrange you. And the added weight will be whatever since the people that are carrying those weapons will already be used to lugging around a heavy weapon and ammo.

    • User

      Your correct in therms of energy. And its in development. 2000 to 2300J or max 2400 is totally fine. Doesnt have to be high recoil, high weight, 3200-3300J rounds at all.

      But with 7,62×51 yes it needs a better bc, but not powerfull enough…? Outrange? What the heck do you want to shoot at, and at what range. And high bc fast 6 to 6.5mm bullet will sicnificantly outperform it in trajectory anyways, while beeing far lighter.

    • The cons I’ve brought up would exist with any round fitting the criteria you’ve suggested, as well as things like the .264 USA.

      You want a high velocity round that has a better BC than 5.56mm, and to get that you will certainly need something that is longer than 5.56mm, which means a longer receiver and magazines. It will probably also need a wider base, which means a wider bolt and bigger receiver (probably).

      So you’re looking at a weapon that is, with a heavy barrel to soak up heat*, about as heavy as the estimate I’ve given here. Even if some compromises are made, you’re still talking a weapon over 10lbs – and probably over 11 – once you put everything on that is needed for combat operations.

      *There are possibly other ways to do this than just a thick barrel, but none are so very much lighter as to dramatically throw off the weight estimate.

      • A Fascist Corgi

        Increasing the size and weight of the weapon doesn’t really concern me. The M4’s weight and size is relatively rare when you look at the assault rifles that other nations are using. The HK416 weighs about a pound more than the M4, but countries and special operations units are still adopting it. And increasing the barrel length by a few inches won’t suddenly turn the M4 into an unwieldy long-range competition rifle. Perhaps an 18-inch barrel would be a better compromise.

        My primary concerns are the other issues that you brought up – such as the the weight of the ammo, the recoil, and barrel heat.

        I agree with the criticisms that you and other people have made about focusing too much on environments like Afghanistan. But even in Iraq and Syria, which are much more urbanized than Afghanistan, I’m still mostly seeing long-range engagements where town after town is being fought over, where snipers take shots at each other, and huge anti-aircraft guns mounted on trucks are being used like artillery.

        But room clearing and urban warfare within cities are still obviously a thing, so is fighting in jungle environments where combat tends to be close range.

        So, I guess that my point is that the 5.56 is too centered around Vietnam. It’s centered too much around close-range combat. We need more powerful ammo that has a better balance of close-range and long-range performance. It needs to be a bit bigger in order to increase the effective range of the average soldier, but not too big that it becomes a liability during close-range combat.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Useless premise. Infantry are not Archers. They each have a job to do, and Archers have been off the battlefield for how long?

    • Major Tom

      Since the 1940s. At least anything with publicity. Google Jack Churchill.

      • Phillip Cooper

        I’ve heard about this guy before. Thanks for bringing him back top of mind!

    • some other joe

      Pssst. Archers were replaced by artillery, not rifles.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Thank you, Captain Obvious.

        At no point did I say they were.

  • As tends to happen when I work into the early morning on a post, there are some minor errors and omissions in the text. I’ve added notes correcting them, but if you’ve already read the article, it might be a good idea to skim it again and read them.

  • Joseph Goins

    I love how the guy who was never in the military is lecturing on infantry tactics.

  • Kris Walters

    37% weight increase? Have you ever carried enough equipment to sustain your self in combat operations for 36 hours? That increase in weigh is asinine and heading back in time when it comes to modern battlefields and tactics.

  • Goody

    I’m not convinced about the optics, weight, full auto fire etc, but a transition to a 6.5 caseless cartridge can almost be seen as being inevitable. Coupled with a bullpup layout, a suppressor and a 1x variable you pretty much have my ideal fighting rifle.

    • User

      “ideal” no CT6.5 actually is really not a great idea. It asbolutly should not be overhyped. Its low capacity, high recoil, muzzle blast, certain barrel lenght requirement but the Rifle cant provide this barrel in a short overall weapon lenght. Just stupid weight 125% more than brass cased 5.56×45, which is a big step back for infantery.
      In urban combat its just bullshit, when you cant make some slow carefully aimed shots.
      Absolutly perfected 5,7 to 6mm projectiles will vastly outperform it in urban combat, capacity, recoil, weight, and will just have a few Joules less at range, while also having a flatter trajectory.
      6.5 as a diameter is far far from ideal.

  • I was six paragraphs in before I stopped expecting this to end up as an early 4/1 joke article stumping for the return of the Garand.

    Really, the one thing that hamstrings this concept the most– aside from the additional weight– is the requirement to essentially replace almost every infantryman’s long arm with something completely new, a highly unlikely prospect in a defense appropriations climate where the giant transforming robot lion’s share of funding goes to things like a billion dollars’ worth of new software to force the F-35 to accidentally do its job on at least two out of five attempts.

  • Passerby

    Actually, this conundrum has been resolved………….by the Russians……since the 60s.

    – Troopers get 7.62×39 or 5.45×39 for out to 300-400m (they can hit out to 600m but that’s really stretching it just as 5.56mm)

    – DMR roles are undertaken by SVDs using 7.62x54R

    – Supplemented by PKMs in 7.62x54R

    Ammo incompatibility is an issue at the squad level though. Thus, the likely scenario is this:

    – As a base, the DMR role is accomplished by a 5.56mm DMR. This is to eliminate ammo incompatibility.

    – The DMR is also issued with a 7.62mm DMR held in reserve. This is to be issued during specific situations, when the need arises eg in open terrain requiring long range accuracy and suppressive fire.

    – 7.62×51 isn’t too much of a logistics burden as you would have in the logistics chain 7.62×51 for you GPMGs

    So, while the current situation where DMRs are issued 7.62mm rifles in Afghanistan etc are indicative of the shortcomings of a small calibre assault rifles having real combat range limited 300-400m, the solution to equip troops with 7.62mm DMRs is more likely to be well optimized and permanent than temporary or sub-optimal.

    • Goody

      You only have people armed with SVDs & PKMs engaging distant targets in this case, the conundrum remains. A transition to a longer range caseless platform would have every infantryman capable of making plays out to 800m.

      • User

        Caseless with all respect, is basicly pure bs to adopt.
        Polymer cartidges have tiny bit more weight but have incredible advantages and not an insane amount of disadvantages compared to caseless.

        With distance vs close range performance balance i agree.

        • Goody

          You are right about poly cases, thanks. I get jumbled up with this sci-fi stuff.

          • User

            No problem. But this “scifi” stuff is 30 to even 60 years old.

    • Yep, I agree with this.

    • User

      Seriously 30-06 and .308? You can make far slimmer projectiles with less recoil and weight that performs perfectly at those ranges too.

      With all respect. Saying 400+m requires .308 or .30-06 is just bs.

      • Passerby

        I am not disagreeing with both your statements. All I am just saying is that the Army hadn’t adopted the best / most ideal projectiles from the onset. The current 308 or 5.56 are not ideal. But they will do the job nonetheless – if not okay-ishly.

        The proliferation of 308 and 556 is an incumbency problem. Just like the famous example of the humble QWERTY keyboard. It was not designed to be ideal layout for maximum efficiency, but its the default incumbent and does the job….and it will take hell lots of effort to replace it with an “ideal” layout.

  • tts

    But they wouldn’t have to redesign the entire rifle. Bolt, barrel, and gas system, trigger group, stock, buffer group, etc. would remain the same. What they’d have to do is redesign the upper, lower, and feed ramps to accomodate the cartridge.

    Or just use AR10 receivers and lowers with modified existing or a magwell insert. Its not like the Stoner design can’t scale or is particularly difficult to modify.

    I didn’t know that about the larger/longer 5.56 bullets but why not use 80gr or 80gr or whatever it is that is largest practical round with steel or EPR bullets.

    Don’t be hyperbolic, it doesn’t work well in a text communication setting and it isn’t warranted here either. Doing that wouldn’t put all the new tech “in the trashcan”. Its a short/mid term change, so you can get decent 1000yd performance out of the 5.56mmx45mm cartridge while the kinks get worked out of the new tech. You wouldn’t even be changing out all the guns in the military either.

    Those nifty small caliber rounds and the gun to shoot them look to be the better part of a decade away at least. Its not a bad idea to tweak existing ammo/guns to deal with the long range shooting issue. If its really such a huge problem they have to do something to address it now rather than years from now.

    • User

      “wouldt have to redesign” MILLIONS are spend since DECADES on designing Rifles. That will be the absolutly least problems and is already done!

      You just simply cant totally waist all this money, and work, and spend further dozend millions on something that is outdated since serval DECADES. And than keep it for the next serval decades…. that is just insane. Your idea would literally be the death for many soliders.
      Giving them extremly underperforming Rifles compared to what they actually could get.

      As said 5.56 (5.7) to 6mm as diameter is good i agree. But not in theyr old form. Only with modern innovation they get to theyr potential really high performance.

      Its like saying nah lets keep roundnose projectiles and bolt action rifles, rather than spitzer bullet semi autos.

      • tts

        Oh come on how in the world would a short/mid term stop gap weapon to address long rang targets –better– than existing common weapons while still chambering standard 5.56x45mm brass and ammo be ‘underperforming’, waste millions, and be the death of many soldiers?!

        Yes a whole new weapon/ammo would be better in the long run but that isn’t going to happen for long while yet. At best you’re looking at 3-5yr wait, realistically its more like a decade. Having something in the meantime to address this issue, if it really is all that massive of a issue to consider spending billions on a whole new weapon/ammo, makes sense.

        You’re just trolling me at this point. Or at least it reads that way.

        • Quest

          I know what you mean, but at the end of the day you wont get the Rifle and ammo your describing into service before the sort of Rifles and ammunition im talking about.

  • RetroG

    The next great leap in guns and ammo has been just around the corner ever since the end of WWII. Let me know when it happens.

    As far as going to one cartridge or rifle for all situations, that’s going to fail. Unless you find a way to adjust the propellant load on the fly.

    All successful militaries have dealt with multiple weapons, short, medium and long distance. It’s called logistics, and it is one of the primary ways wars are won and lost.

  • Ghost930

    The easiest, simplest, and most economical solution is still the modular weapons system. This can still be based on existing M4 or like lowers, with interchangeable specific mission uppers. All of this can be stored in one cartable case for each soldier. No one caliber is a do all depending on time, terrain, or situation. And, as we have seen in the past few years, civilian ammunition is fast out distancing the performance of traditional military issue rounds. Rounds like the 6.5 Creedmoor offer true 1000+ yard capability with low recoil, low weight, and less prolonged shooting fatigue than existing military issue calibers. The same can be said for the extended range roll with calibers such as the .408 and .375 Cheytac rounds fast outpacing even .338 Lapua, and certainly 300 Win. Mag. in the long range sniper role. As with most things military, they are running a decade or more behind the power and technology curve in weapons, and ammunition. At this writing, there are numerous manufacturers making take down rifles based on the M4/Stoner platform (and others) that are capable of being quickly configured for multiple sizes as well as calibers to fit COIN/CT missions, to traditional open battlefield conflicts. The same for long range sniper rifles in various makes, barrel lengths, calibers, and optics. Both systems can be stored in man transportable individual cases, and quickly configured prior to mission, or pre-mission training. Flexibility, ease, reliability, and configurability are the catch words for any new weapon systems in the future, as that is quickly becoming the nature of the fight. Just my two cents worth.

    • lostintranslation

      ‘The Golf Bag Concept.’ Choose the appropriate tools for the task and the terrain.
      Good for SF, but too much hassle for the Big Army.

      • Ghost930

        Fighting smart isn’t always hassle free, but the right thing to do. The “Big Army” issue is basically an operator malfunction issue on the Army’s part. Donald Rumsfeld had the right idea when he was SecDef, the Army needs to be smaller, lighter on it’s feet, and better trained all the way down the line (the old mobile, agile, lethal concept). We have the technology to solve the logistical end of the hardware problem, and we have the advanced equipment, we just don’t have the will, and sense to put it to proper use in a timely manner. Really, how hard is it to carry one Pelican case with one lower, and three uppers (PDW, Carbine, Main Battle Rifle) all in one to be decided caliber? Yeah, you don’t have to be an 18X to do that. Same for snipers and DDM’s, one chassis two or three calibers easily changeable. We already have these items, they have been fielded for years and are reliable, and off the shelf in many cases. The problem is bureaucracy, and mindset, not equipment or technology. If you have it, and don’t implement it or use it, that’s just dumb on us…………….And it cost lives.

  • KUETSA

    You can’t just “choose” to engage at 600 – 1000 yards. You always wind up kicking doors in Mosul.

  • n0truscotsman

    That is one 6.5/intermediate solution that has been interesting so far.

    • User

      No not really interesting actually. Its low capacity, high recoil, muzzle blast, barrel lenght requirement but the Rifle cant provide this barrel in a short overall weapon lenght. Just stupid weight 125% more than brass cased 5.56×45, which is a step back for infantery.
      In urban combat its just bullshit, when you cant make some slow carefully aimed shots.
      Absolutly perfected 5,7 to 6mm projectiles will vastly outperform it in urban combat, capacity, recoil, weight, and will just have a few Joules less at range, while also having a flatter trajectory.

      I just showed that graph to make clear that 7,62 is extremly unoptimized and with optimisation the diameter itself would be just not be actuall usefull for Modern Infantery.

  • GD Ajax

    .338s such both Norma and Lapua Magnum are also replacing 7.62×51 for longer range engagements.

    If mass produced caseless versions were adopted than 7.62 Nato will wind up obsolete on the modern battlefield.

    • User

      Your absolutly correct on metal bottleneck 7.62×51. And .338 CT wont be as stupidly heavy as usual .338 wich in my opinion is just dumb from a weight standpoint, (with the exeption of Marksmen use). Also caliber and weight could be reduced when the projectile would become fully optimized.
      Even tough, i use diffrent concepts in the role the .338 fills, which both sicnificantly outperforms it and are lighter

  • MrBrassporkchop

    Well whatever happens I’ll just sit back and let all you early adopters drive the price down for me.

    I’ll just kill time playing with all the guns I bought from guys needing funds for the latest new rifle.

  • Pedro .Persson

    Since there is a push for longer barrels and perhaps even a bullpup, why not go with the same bullet weight as currently used but on a smaller caliber, say .204, so you don’t have to deal with extra weight or added recoil while still having a flat trajectory of the system but still gets a benefit at longer distances? Or a lighter bullets travelling faster but with a similar or better BC than 5.56 with pretty much the same benefits. The disadvantage would be a longer barrel but since it’s already being considered for the scenario of the article I don’t see a problem on it.

  • Cory C

    I must be mistaken, but I thought the conventional wisdom surrounding the adoption of the 5.56 round was that it had a flatter trajectory than 7.62, no? Or is that it has a flatter trajectory to a point and then falls off whereas a 7.62 keeps cruising?

    • User

      Bit flatter, but at higher ranges the trajectory will get worse again. But basicly only because of the really bad nose ogive NOT the caliber as some people think, with a long well shaped nose ogive it would hold velocity really well. There are tons of other reasons why 5.56×45 is superior for usual Infantery combat.

      Half the recoil -> really easy fast follow up shots. Half the weight -> carry double the rounds = capable of shoot a shitton of supression fire to get fire superority, higher magazin capacity, back in the day with FMJ’s the higher speed allowed to tumble more easy + fragments, compared to icepicking high recoil heavy bullets that not use theyr energy in the target. Also allows for fullauto fire -> accurate supression, closer quarters, or an opponent running for cover (single shots on running targets work really bad you mostly shot infront or behind him unless absolutly perfect timed, but under stress thats unlikely).
      Lighter and slightly shorter Rifle, (much lighter barrel and action).
      M855A1 EPR since 2010 has some really high steel and terminal performance and gave the 5.56×45 a big upgrade.

  • Seamus Bradley

    How is no one pointing out the obvious, that advances in enemy armor and not distance will most likely be the determining factor in any caliber change. With ceramic armor becoming cheaper and cheaper, advances in metal foam armor and the possibility of graphene armor on the horizon the ability to penetrate armor not necessarily distance and accuracy will most likely be the deciding factor in any caliber change.

    • User

      You cant use a normal bullet type cartdige that goes trough lvl4 without bringing recoil , weight, weapon weight, low capacity, few rounds to carry – to an insane level.
      Lvl4 can hold .388LapuaMagnum (6600+ Joule) (with some backface deformation).

      Having a light, low recoil, high capacity round will hit head, arms, legs, neck with higher %hit propability. Instead of shooting insanly unpractical huge rounds desperately trying to going trough armor. And at range (prone) opponent body armor isnt presented towards the shooter. And 90% of the time the enermy wont stay infront of you, and almost ever be in cover just presenting a part of his head. Here as sayd, again al ot of, light, low recoil, high capacity rounds will have extreeemly higher %hit propability.

  • Spike

    Simon, thanks for posting the PDF, I would have posted it myself but couldn’t find it earlier (must have deleted it).

  • Jim Jones

    Problem is, we used to be a nation of rifleman that could actually hit things with accuracy and precision. I don’t know many people these days that can hit the broad side of a barn from the inside. Change in culture would make it damn difficult to have a more accurate and long range military than what we have. Sad.

    • Kivaari

      Training. We haven’t been a nation of riflemen for 100 years. Urbanization had already taken hold by WW1.

  • Joshua Knott

    Wait, hold up, you currently use solid works? I’ve been thinking about buying the software,but everyone I know that uses the program work in civil or defense and ,we’ll let’s be frank our taxpayer dollars pay for that and I can’t stomach the 600 dollars and the subscription fee, so I have to ask, is solid works worth the cash ?

    • Depends what you’re doing. In my case, I find it very useful, and I think you would too if you’re doing any kind of design.

  • spiff1

    What’s wrong with the 6.5x54MS, just trim the rim a bit and you have a well known cartridge that should work in magazines…Probably not accessible as it is not a “new” cartridge…Or an up dated .276 Pedersen ….Again not “new”….

    • Kivaari

      The case is what the 7.62×39/45mm is based upon. So it sure isn’t anything new. I suggested that years ago with the 6.5mm Carcano throwing a modern low drag bullet in the 120-130 grain range. If we had done it decades ago, we’ed likely be happy today. Except of course, there would always be someone saying we need something different.

  • lostintranslation

    Some additional background (historical) reading, only missing the most recent ‘events.’

    University Of Calgary
    NATO Infantry Weapons Standardization: Ideal or Possibility?
    by
    Yi Le (David) Zhou
    A Thesis

  • Kivaari

    Why are we worrying about effectiveness in Afghanistan?
    I’d like to know how far the forces are separated when engaged MOST of the time.
    Are they getting hit with aimed gunfire?
    If 50% of the engagements are 500m and more, do we get hit often? Do we get them often?
    It seems to me that most of the injuries and death on our side take place at close range. And many are a result of IEDs.
    Are there any REAL numbers on casualties like we saw from previous wars?
    GSW wounds? Death?
    Mortar/rocket fire?
    Conventional mines?
    IEDs?
    And then the reverse. How are we killing the enemy? Airstrikes, gunfire, mortars, arty?

    • Ron

      supporting arms (Arty, mortars and air) inflicted most of the enemies loss. Of what’s left machine guns do almost all the rest.

  • adverse4

    All they need are pistols. Rifles are so passe.

  • RSG

    Someone needs to answer this for me; what the hell was wrong with the trackingpoint systems? I don’t want to hear about cost, that’s not relevant, considering it accomplishes the one goal of being able to outperform every known military rifle in both range and accuracy (for equivalent calibers). They were available in multi calibers, too. Perhaps not appropriate for every infantryman, but each crew could have one DMR in addition to sniper teams. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to snuggle with one, but every bit of print I ever read said it was really amazing. It turned complete novices into extreme long range precision shooters.

    • CommonSense23

      Cause it’s a gimmick. It doesn’t solve the biggest issue of long range shooting. Calling wind. And then its going to make it actually harder for a trained shooter to work also. It comes nowhere close to making complete novices into long range shooters.

  • FulMetlJakit

    I think we can agree on one thing at least.
    Many of these comments read as though they were “proof ridden” under the influence.

  • Uniform223

    “equating an M16 to a musket is dishonest”

    > Before I my ETS I started to hear soldiers (younger and older than me) call the M16 a “musket”…

    “M16’s are seriously not that unwieldy.”

    > Compared to an M4, oh yes they are.

    I am not saying you’re full of bovine fecal matter but your comment seems to be a load of bovine fecal matter you had to shovel.

  • Uniform223

    I like these type of articles. Its good food for thought. Keep up the good work!

  • Ron

    Even in the COIN centric operations in Iraq and AFG, we have used quite a bit of artillery (both cannon and rocket), mortars and aerial fires. Arty and Mortars are hamstrung and slowed because with concerns with safety (the troops, friendly aircraft and civilian aircraft) and aerial fires are slow because of ATO cycle and limited number of a high demand item.
    So much of the work done to cover the gaps is to provide smart weapons to maneuver forces to allow them to put HE close to themselves without the need for all the clearance needed to fire IDF.

  • alphawhiskey

    So…there’s all this discussion about about developing some new wildcat cartridge in an intermediate caliber to essentially replicate the performance you get out of a .270 Win. I mean, that would have been the caliber of choice for Garand and Pedersen if it hadn’t been a sticking point for the Army brass.

  • El Rico

    The Still-In-the-Closet .243 ~

  • Kivaari

    Interesting footage. Why was his machinegun not being fired. It seemed like he was without an AG to help him load and direct fire.
    It seems that no one really got on that gun. I see it without ammunition and getting moved about but unused. I wonder why no one thought to get on it. I assume the tangos were in the tree line. As it says they finally turned the tide, with their 5.56mm carbines. It was more fire and movement that did the job even though that Mag 58 was idle.

    • lostintranslation

      Many thanks for your reply and comments.

      I posted the video footage to try to elicit a response regarding the range and the calibre of the incoming fire…

      The point that I was trying to make, but, probably not making very well, was in regard to the difficulties in making post incident judgements of range and calibre of incoming fire.

      From the video, my immediate conclusions were slightly different.
      I read into it that the ambush was probably on three sides, or at least from three different locations and, ‘most importantly,’ the opposition firing points could not be clearly identified.

      The dirt splashes around the patrol were indicating incoming near misses (as also mentioned by the commentator).

      Better optics might have given them improved situational awareness and enabled them to clearly identify the firing points.

      The tree line, as a potential firing point, was, probability, out of effective range for the 5.56 assault rifles. Therefore, even if they had identified the tree line as a firing point their return fire options were somewhat limited. Better optics and a different rifle ammunition combination might have given them better chance to neutralise the ambush.

      In this circumstance, when you do not have fixed wing, rotary, mortars or artillery, immediately on hand, then, in reality, the choices on the ground might be somewhat limited.

      My hope for the future, is that, infantry should have the ‘organic capability’ to overcome opposition, in such a circumstance.

      Otherwise, every foot patrol will constantly require heavy weapons support…….
      .
      © Anthony G Williams,
      Editor IHS Jane’s Weapons: Ammunition
      “Small arms don’t matter at long range – immediate heavy fire support will always be on call.”
      This may not necessarily be the case in counter-insurgency scenarios when foot patrols may be thinly spread over a wide area. And even when it is (or if portable HE weapons are carried), the risk of collateral damage may restrict its use: US artillery and air support was considerably restricted in Afghanistan for this reason. As General Petraeus said: “Every Afghan civilian death diminishes our cause.” Use of excessive force, he argued, could turn “tactical victories” into “strategic setbacks”.

      Just some thoughts!

      • Kivaari

        I suspect the range was within 556 distances. MOST Brits use a good optic on the rifles. From the video I can’t judge the distances. Knowing that would be helpful. Seeing it from one aspect doesn’t tell the story good enough. Like How did they overcome the enemy? Did it entail fire and movement using small arms, mortar fire, air strikes, HE missiles or simply the Taliban melting away. It would be good to know the big picture.

  • Kivaari

    The PIKE seems like a great new weapon. Maybe a 25mm variant developed so the number of rounds in a squad would go up. The two-Km range of the 40mm PIKE is great.

  • Nicholas Trueblood

    they tried this in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s with the 6.5 Lee Navy. might have been a lost oportunity