INTERVIEW with Kori Phillips, Program Officer for LSAT and CTSAS, Part 1: Program History and Ammunition Technical Discussion

Kori Phillips holds some linked 5.56mm CT ammunition side by side with a belt of 5.56mm brass-cased dummy ammunition at media day at Picatinny Arsenal on May 4, 2015. Image credit: David Vergun, public domain

Not long after SHOT Show, I got the chance to interview Mrs. Kori Phillips, former program officer for the Army’s Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program, and current program officer for the Cased Telescoped Small Arms Systems (CTSAS) program. We talked at length about both programs, the technology they developed, and the state of lightweight ammunition today. The interview, which spans fifty-five questions, will be broken up into three sections, each covering questions about different aspects of the program, to be published monthly once each in March, April, and May. This first installment deals primarily with the history of the LSAT and subsequent CTSAS programs, with a little bit of the ammunition technology thrown in.

Before we begin, I would like to take a moment to thank Kori and Frank for taking the time to speak with me. They were very patient with me and did not hesitate to answer any of my questions.

Now, we’ve got a lot to get through! My questions are labeled with a bold “TFB“, while Kori’s answers are labeled with a bold “KP“:

 

TFB: LSAT began in 2004, correct? What were its origins and how did the project start?

KP: The first contracts were awarded in 2004, but there was preliminary research done in 2003 to establish state of the art for this type of technology.

 

TFB: You were involved in the program from the start, right?

KP: You got it. I started on LSAT in 2003, before it was LSAT.

 

TFB: Can you tell me more about the genesis of this program? Was this sort of a reaction to the abandonment of caseless ammo after the ACR program?

KP: It didn’t really have anything to do with ACR. The genesis was some combat load studies. They had never asked us before to strictly reduce the weight; it was always “can you reduce the weight and make it shoot further?” or “can you reduce the weight and make it more lethal?” Eventually we drew a line in the sand and said “look, we’re gonna reduce the weight and that’s it.” They were very happy with that, we called it “weight watchers for weapons”.

 

Original caption: “PICATINNY ARSENAL, NJ — Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddux, Picatinny Senior Commander and PEO Ammunition, fires the inaugural shot at Picatinny Arsenal’s new small arms range on Dec. 16 [2011]. Maddux is firing the Lightweight Small Arms Technology Light Machine Gun (LMG), which is currently in the technology base by the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny.” Image source: commons.wikimedia.org, credit Picatinny Arsenal. Public domain.

TFB: This is where you went to the lightweight 5.56mm machine gun?

KP: Yes, initially it was called the Lightweight Family of Weapons and Ammunition. That included a carbine, an LMG and a medium machine gun. At some point we ran headlong into the XM8 program, and because these two programs intersected they asked us to stop working on the carbine and just focus on the LMG. That was when we changed the name to Lightweight Small Arms Technologies, and it became strictly a 5.56mm belt fed light machine gun, but we hadn’t decided on the ammunition configuration at that point – caseless or cased telescoped.

 

TFB: So you were the program manager at that point?

KP: Actually I was working for a guy who was running the family of objective weapons, so that actually included OICW, OCSW, and this new system. He retired, and then I inherited this program; the other two were transitioned out. Technically, I am a project officer not a project manager, but we have the same duties, just for smaller scale programs.

 

TFB: By the time it became LSAT, had you decided on an ammunition configuration, caseless or cased telescoped?

KP: We hadn’t yet. The decision to change came after.

 

TFB: The caseless ammunition effort from LSAT was inherited essentially from Dynamit Nobel, right?

KP: Yes, although since the 1980s, their ammunition had since become impractical to produce in the 2000s, for cost and environmental reasons. Essentially, they were using a solvent based process where you mix all the ingredients together wet, and then let them dry out. That’s not something we prefer to do now because it produces a lot of toxic gases.

 

TFB: When doing research for this interview, I found some indication that there was a lot of “tribal knowledge” at Dynamit Nobel related to the caseless program that was subsequently lost when the program ended and people retired. Is that the case, and could you elaborate on that?

KP: I think Dynamit Nobel was actually purchased by another company which took their name. The people who actually worked on this technology had all retired or moved on. There was nobody to call, really. The thing is, they didn’t really have a complete recipe for the caseless ammunition. It looked like a complete recipe, until we went to go make it and then it wasn’t the same.

 

TFB: So you had to do a lot of work yourself to make a feasible caseless round?

KP: Yes, there was a combination of reverse-engineering the ammunition that we had, and also sort of analyzing the data that we had to figure out what was missing. But we were able to successfully recreate the exact chemical configuration that Dynamit Nobel delivered for ACR. It ended up costing too much to make!

 

Original caption: “Spc. Timo Swaner engages a close range target with the light machine during a military unit assessment at Fort Benning, Ga..” Image source: commons.wikimedia.org, taken 4 November, 2011 by Eric Kowal, RDECOM. Public domain.

 

TFB: So from your perspective you were able to catch up to where they were at for ACR, and it turned out to have some shortcomings?

KP: Right. We did what we call TRL 5. We tested it, it worked, and based on the manufacturing study that we had done, it was basically unaffordable in that configuration. This was about 2007 or so, I think. We did that test, and then what came out of it was a realization that if we wanted to continue with it we would have to change dramatically from the original configuration.

 

TFB: Is that about the time you decided to hand off caseless in favor of cased telescoped?

KP: Actually, we worked on it for a few years after that. The thing that drove us towards CT and away from caseless was that we had a request to do an operational assessment. So basically, we needed to get our act together, get a baseline, and get a bunch of ammunition made. That’s when we decided to focus our efforts, and then hand off the caseless to Office of Naval Research. And to be clear, when we started LSAT, we already had the ONR on board. The caseless program being managed by ONR addresses not only performance, but also manufacturability and cost.

 

TFB: OK, so they had already been your partners in that, and decided to take caseless under their wing while you prepared for the operational assessment with CT.

KP: Yep.

 

TFB: What did you start with when you had inherited the program? Was there a body of research to build on?

KP: Initially, we didn’t envision using caseless and cased telescoped. We talked to the industry, asked for their best ideas, and those two concepts came back to us a couple of different times in a couple of different ways. The initial suggestion was that these were the best ways to maximize the weight reduction for a whole variety of reasons. What we had done prior to that in 2003, was looking at making legacy ammunition out of polymer. Our conclusion was that the return on investment wasn’t really there, so we didn’t pursue it. With CT, we saw we were looking at an immediate 33% weight reduction without any compromises in how the ammunition worked. The difficulty then was that you needed a brand new weapon system. That’s what makes this such a hard sell, because it’s brand new ammunition and you can’t retrofit older weapons for it. We were trying something different that was very technically successful, but it’s always been a problem logistically because you have to commit to buy both systems at once, ammunition and weapon.

 

Original caption: “Spc. Brandon Smith holds the [LSAT] light machine gun in the air at Fort Benning, Ga., during testing.” Image credit: Eric Kowal, RDECOM. Public domain.

TFB: What is the relationship between CTSAS and its contractor Textron? Have the developments shown recently been direct requests from the CTSAS program to Textron? To what degree are they independent developments by Textron?

KP: Textron is under contract with the US Government to develop these technologies. The Government does not dictate the design specifics, Textron has years of experience and understanding of CT systems, and is fully qualified to develop the best system within the required parameters.

 

TFB: With regards to how the CTSAS program and Textron are related, are you literally unified teams, or are they your contractor?

KP: Let’s step back a bit. Back in 2004, we awarded two contracts, one was for General Dynamics, the other was for AAI. We downselected to AAI in around 2005, and in 2008 we awarded another contract to AAI. Textron subsequently bought AAI, and the team remained the same. Back in 2004, we were one team basically, the government half of the team and the contractor half of the team worked together seamlessly. We had a large Government team, including ammunition and weapons experts, as well as experts in propellants, ballistics, materials, systems engineering, and acquisition. We also had user representation from the Army and Marine Corps. On the contractor side, subcontractors to AAI included ARES Inc., ATK (Lake City, MO and Brigham City, UT locations), Veritay Technology, and GD-OTS St. Marks Powder. In the peak years, we had over 60 people participating in the program. Over the years, our funding has been cut back, and now I no longer have a government team. It’s just me. So essentially, it’s a contractor-driven effort with government oversight. It’s still the same people at Textron that were at AAI. As well as a government and industry person can understand each other, AAI/Textron and I have a great relationship. So I am pretty confident that even though I don’t have a government team supporting them, that their team has the tools they need to be successful.

 

TFB: So at this point in the story, you start having functioning weapons and actually are putting rounds downrange. How did that go, and how did they compare to the M249s? What problems did you have, and what improvements did you make?

KP: Every time you shoot it, you learn something. Sometimes it’s something minor, sometimes it’s something major. Here’s an anecdote: The four star general of TRADOC was shooting with us, and he gets behind the gun, and pulls the trigger once and the gun fires. He pulls the trigger again, and nothing happens. It turns out that the ammunition was actually coming apart, the endcap and the case were coming apart. We knew that, because there was propellant spilled all over the place. This was very early in the program, and what that was was that we needed a different way to attach the cap to the case. That was a good example of a problem that you wouldn’t discover in the lab, you had to actually shoot it.

Another problem we had was that because the ammunition parts are molded, that can provide you with a very high level of repeatability, but it can also be bad if your mold isn’t set up correctly. What happened is our mold got off-center some time along the way, and the primer hole and where we were inserting our primer were not co-located. There was a gas gap there that led to some pretty ugly misfires.

TFB: That brings up an interesting point, you know you’re not just making a new caliber of ammunition or a new bullet, you have a completely new kind of manufacturing and loading that you have to troubleshoot. Which makes me think, did you ever have a problem with solvents or other chemicals getting on the polymer and damaging the ammunition?

KP: Actually, part of the technical testing we did for TRL 6 or 7 is a whole series of environmental testing, hot, cold, sand, dust, ice. One of those tests is chemical compatibility. We were nervous, I gotta tell you. There’s this whole list of like 20 different chemicals that you have to expose them to, one of them is DEET, bug repellent, which is incredibly corrosive. Another one is tropical bleach, which is nasty stuff. So we went through all the chemical compatibility testing, and we actually passed it all. We didn’t have any problems. This polymer that we selected is a very resilient polymer, it’s a medical-grade polymer, so it can be sanitized, it can be bleached, and it still continues to function. It’s a really good material.

 

Original caption: “Sgt. Jason Reed, Soldier System Center in Natick, Mass., demonstrates firing the LSAT light machine gun from the kneeling position.” Image credit: Eric Kowal, RDECOM. Public domain.

 

TFB: Now does that polymer still give you most of the cost advantage vs. brass that you would get with another polymer?

KP: Well, it’s one of the most expensive polymers you can get your hands on, but the cost is worth it because we need it. The cost per pound is a lot more than brass, but remember you’re using a lot less polymer by weight for each case than you would be with brass. From a strict material cost perspective, it probably costs a little more than brass at this point.

 

TFB: Do you think that cost will come down if we get to the point where you are producing a billion rounds of it per year?

KP: Yes. If it’s gonna be used for small-caliber ammunition, I think it’s a different ball game altogether. There will be a huge cost savings because of the economy of scale. Plus, you’re doing injection molding instead of drawing a brass case in 12 steps or however many, so there will be a substantial cost saving from that.

 

TFB: One of the big draws for me for LSAT/CTSAS is that the ammunition promises to be a lot less expensive.

KP: Yeah, I’ve tried and it’s actually hard to make that argument because at this stage, I just can’t prove it. We aren’t buying the material in quantity yet, we don’t have a production level manufacturing facility. But yes, my feeling is that it will cost less once you get to true production status. There’s a lot of disbelief, people think “it can’t possibly cost less than a brass-cased round”, and there’s some truth to that. Brass ammunition is very cheap in terms of manufacturing cost, like fifteen cents to make a round. It’s hard to compete with that. But I think CT will be cheaper.

 

The second installment of this interview will be published in April. Stay tuned!



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 is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Giolli Joker

    “The interview, which spans fifty-five questions, will be broken up into
    three sections, each covering questions about different aspects of the
    program, to be published monthly once each in March, April, and May.”
    So you not only have the beard of George R. R. Martin…

    • PK

      I also raised an eyebrow at that sort of spacing. I’m certain it’s just as worth waiting for as this first installment of the interview, but what an odd way of spacing things out.

      • If it were my decision, I would publish them back to back.

        • PK

          Fair enough, thanks for the clarification! It seemed strange for certain.

        • Jay

          Well. Whoever made this decision forgot the purpose of a blog. The main advantage of a blog is to speed up the release of information.

          This interview was recorded at the shot show, so this is already over two months old info.
          Now you guys are going to stretch it for another three monts to milk more clickbait out of it.
          Sorry, but this is pretty pathetic.

          • Sorry, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            And the interview was recorded after SHOT Show in Febryary, not during.

          • Dan

            You were never told no much as a child were you? TFB take notice Jay has a “right” to this information and he wants it right now before the tantrum starts.

    • Paul White

      If it was George R Marting it’d be March of 2018, April of 2020, and May of never

  • roguetechie

    You’re killing me Smalls!!!

    Two whole months to get from start to finish??!!??!!

    I may die with nervous anticipation!!!

  • MPWS

    One point of curiosity I have about plastic cased ammo is how much the heat of burning propellant burns the casing. It must stay integral for ejection.
    Also, casing being thermoplast (for molding purposes) is more vulnerable to heat.
    This is apparently being accomplished.

    • George

      Rocket engines use rubber (EPDM / raw HTPB) or plastic / ablative insulation inside the case. Thermal transfer is very complicated but part goes by T emperature and t ime and P ressure, part by T^2 and time, and part by T^4 and time, part by P^2. Avoiding umpteen million pages of equations and references, the shortness of the pulse in firearms and insulative properties of plastic help. You may melt, burn, or ablate the inside but if it’s thick enough (thicker than brass but not TOO thick; much less than brass’ weight for area) it is fine.

    • MPWS

      Gentlemen I appreciate your response; thanks.

  • yodamiles

    So, is caseless ammo still in the work or they ditch it? From the article, I would assume that they ditch the idea.

    • PK

      I would be amazed if caseless ammo is doable at this point. The various issues that occur, the cookoff problem, manufacturing costs, storage considerations… it seems that we don’t yet have the base technology to produce caseless ammo that works well and costs less than brass or polymer, all things considered.

      Telescoped cased ammo is a huge step forward, perhaps one day we’ll have caseless but I’m not holding my breath. It’s going to be difficult to have caseless ammo actually survive rough handling and solvents and so on.

      • ostiariusalpha

        We’ll probably have perfected coilguns by the point caseless ammo is ready for prime time, which would make it pretty niche for scenarios like EMP attacks.

      • roguetechie

        Caseless is like fusion power, always 10 years away from being commercially viable.

        I’d honestly bet on something like handheld combustion light gas guns using the standard hydrocarbon fuel of choice for feedstock and a separate projectile feed well before caseless of the type they’re talking about.

        • randomswede

          The saddest thing with fusion power is that fission power covers all our foreseeable needs if we actually used it (and built the plants to spec. in non earthquake areas).

          I’m not a chemist but as I understand it the problem with gas is that it’s less dense than liquid that’s less dense than solids. So if you want the same power to volume ratio that powder delivers you need to essentially compress the gas until it can only exist as a solid.
          That’s how I understood it when I researched the concept. I had the idea of variable charge (super- to sub-sonic) “with the flick of a switch”.

          • roguetechie

            Yeah I was kinda joking about CLGG small arms, though there are patents for using diesel kerosene gasoline etc as propellant and sorta resembling a cross between the caselman air machine gun and the daisy VL which … Yeah they work hehe!

            However, step it up to 30-200 mm and they have the technology sorted, and to a point where MV on 100 caliber barrel guns blow even smoothbore tank guns out of the water performance wise.

            The zumwalt should’ve had 155 CLGG’s not the gun etc they have or the notional rail gun which has also been 3-10 years away since the 30’s!

          • “The Answer: Why Only Inherently Safe, Mini Nuclear Power Plants Can Save Our World” by Reese Palley covers this in great detail.

            One of those fantastic, world changing books that only made it to a first edition.

          • randomswede

            I put a great deal of hope into the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR). The model they are currently working on is for a relatively small essentially “mass produced” reactor, if you need more power; buy two.

      • randomswede

        It wouldn’t surprise me if the best way to do caseless ammunition is the first way it was made, that is like the Volcanic/Rocket ball.
        Perhaps some kind of hybrid with gyrojet to make it extra fancy.

        I’m assuming that telescoped case ammo can’t progress as far as brass smokeless ammo has since the early 1900’s but it would be silly to assume that it isn’t a sidestep that opens a path forward.

        • mig1nc

          I remember that guided bullet article posted a year or so ago. I could see that done with refined gyrojet projectiles. Basically tiny guided missiles.

        • Tassiebush

          I could see it being semi caseless where it heads out the muzzle with the projectile but drops away.

          • randomswede

            Like a multiple stage rocket and/or a sabot?
            That could work but if you retain the mass that’s already been accelerated it will retain velocity longer and both velocity and mass are good for terminal ballistics. Also a longer projectile will have a lower Cd.
            On the downside a nose heavy bullet is less likely to tumble.

          • roguetechie

            I’ve actually looked at that idea too … It’s interesting, but would be ever so tetchy.

        • PK

          Modern Volcanic-style caseless, you say? The problem you run into is that small caliber high velocity doesn’t work well with that particular style. However, it’s still very doable with larger caliber, slower lead bullets…

          Here’s a .403″ 180gr bullet, about 700FPS.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/34f50c6764caa1a3244782b952066a57e5aeab83ed670e4f115676eb2fd204e4.jpg

          • randomswede

            I’m guessing those aren’t completely caseless?
            Just from that pictured it looks like they leave that “coin” behind?
            A small case, larger than this even, could solve lots of the issues of caseless, question is if that negates the positives. Microcase could be a good name for it if there isn’t one.

            For a say 7-8 mm round there _are_ new powders that could change this. But then the bullet weight would go up a good bit so you’d need more powder for the same V0.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/161bb88dfaf38cdb9f6f51ee2c13d2e203946602fae216c8d841626228445d86.jpg

          • PK

            The primer parts fall out of the muzzle, and the mild steel band (for seating the primer) is part of the bullet.

            Interesting idea on the smaller case with a faster propellant with a different burn curve. I keep thinking that eventually we’ll see a 5.56mm projectile akin to SS109 being pushed by a small charge of what amounts to a fast explosive inside of something the size of a .22lr case.

      • roguetechie

        Pk, I’m just hoping we see a small enough round to make a 2.0 version of the ARES AIWS with it’s ultralight belted ammo in a 100 round drum for the IW!!!

    • Caseless is still being worked on by the Office of Naval Research.

    • Jay

      I think the whole program is doomed. The army pulled all their people and most of the funding from the projectand dumped what’s left of the program on Textron.
      That’s what it looks like.

    • Rnasser Rnasser

      Caseless ammo is long dead…

  • Walter E. Kurtz

    Excellent discussion of something that really matters and can definitely alter future firearm designs. We’re in the 21st century and we’re still using brass cartridge cases developed in the 19th century: the horror….the horror…

  • Jay

    Are you really going to stretch this interview until May?
    Don’t you think it makes more sense to publish the next part, while people still rember this one?
    It’s good material, but you are ruining it if you stretch it for three months.

    • QuadGMoto

      IMHO, one a week would be much better pacing.

  • Blake

    Pretty awesome interview, thanks. Gazillions of cheap intricate plastic parts coming out of China prove that injection molding has better economies of scale than brass case manufacturing, so hopefully we’ll get there.

    Just don’t use it in a fluted chamber or roller-locked guns…

    • roguetechie

      Wanna know something cool?

      The most likely candidate to replace the polymer frame striker fired pistol is likely to be very strong alloy framed striker fired pistols!

      They’ll be made using all the fun techniques we use to manufacture stuff out of polymer just running at slightly higher temperature using bulk metallic glass.

      They are likely to have polymer covering “gaps” in the metal frame etc because the parts shaping, differential heat treat etc will be optimized for maximum strength with the polymer there to flesh out the metal bones!

      • I’d like to hear more about this if you have any more info on it. For example, what are the benefits of a metallic glass frame over polymer?

        • roguetechie

          Ok, so the neat thing about bulk metallic glass is you can make whole batches relatively cheaply.

          You can then use things like injection molding to form parts to a gross shape. Mill etc them still in this soft and amorphous state to final net shape. Then you can use pretty straight forward heat treat or etc to “shock” the amorphous structures back into crystalline metallic structure!

          In the amorphous state metals have softening points etc just a bit above some PEEK based materials used in 3d printing.

          Really there’s 1001 different ways you could do your materials processing etc depending upon the tools you already have, what would work best for your products etc.

  • ostiariusalpha

    Congrats, Nathaniel! This article is a real coup for firsthand information on the maturation of a potentially dominant ammunition technology. Imagine if someone had been able to do an interview with Hiram Berdan or Edward Boxer back in the day. These articles are probably going to be reference material for future historians.

    • noob

      Will we get juicy materials details? From a management perspective this was illuminating but i wanna know what the CT case polymer was.

      I’m guessing medical grade sillicone

      • ostiariusalpha

        Ms. Phillips herself called it a medical grade polymer, and I believe that’s what she meant. But as to whether it is a polyetheretherketone, polysulfone, polyphenolsulfone, or polyarylamide is yet to be revealed.

        • roguetechie

          The guys on the guns.Ru forum have identified a few possible materials by obsessively downloading DTIC PDF’s and some deductive reasoning.

          Said PDF’s are no longer available so I wouldn’t bet against them having it right or being damn close.

          They’ve also worked up designs for several CT weapons including a compact pistol/pdw, a rifle, and possibly an LMG.

          interesting read even after Google translate.

          For those who may look

          Shop= magazine
          Trunk = barrel or chamber I think.

        • My guess is some kind of PPS blend.

  • Uniform223
  • PersonCommenting

    Nate, I dont always agree but dang you get some good interviews! Keep up the great work!

  • ARCNA442

    Keep up the good work. Outside of TFB, most of the reporting on this project has just been repeating press releases which is far less than such a potentially revolutionary technology deserves.

    I do hope that the release of the next two sections will be accelerated as spreading an interview over three months seems inexplicable.

  • Tassiebush

    Thank you that was really interesting! It’s fascinating to speculate where this might end up. It’s obviously pretty focused on reducing weight and matching performance which is completely justified and would make sense for a standard weapon but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets turned towards matching the ballistics of something like 6x47lapua or 6mm creedmore. I wonder if such a round might match the current weight of 5.56×45?

    • roguetechie

      I think it’s safe to say that all of us are very worried about feature creep and the damn good idea fairy

      • Tassiebush

        Haha “the damn good idea fairy”

        • ostiariusalpha

          A 6mm case-telescoped cartridge with the weight of a 5.56 NATO round would be rather fascinating. What kind of applications would you forsee for such a thing? It would still kick harder than current intermediate cartridges, but would have lower joules than a short-action round. Maybe more comparable to one of those “6-6.5×47” wildcats that precision shooters get the vapors for, though they don’t generally concern themselves about their ammunition’s weight.

          • Tassiebush

            I was thinking DMR and squad automatic roles rather than pushing it into the general service round role. I’ve just been reading about how impressive and popular those rounds are in precision rifle matches and the projectile weight seems a good opportunity to extend range and save weight Vs .30cal offerings.
            I’ve not checked out some things though which might not be in favour of it. I’ve probably underestimated round weight as it’d be approx a 107grain 6mm projectile and it may be a bit small for tracers too but basically was thinking those types of rounds seem to be dominating precision rifle matches (6.5 is too but is heavier so prefer 6mm) so it’d have to be advantageous to make a service round equivalent as weight savings are always good. I used standard 5.56 weight as a benchmark but don’t think that would have to be a make or break criteria.
            It may not be destructive enough of barriers though.

          • roguetechie

            You can actually go bigger than 6mm and still stay within or even below the the weight of a loaded m855 cartridge.

            Hell, with a heavied up and much zippier CT FABRL style AR-2 bullet with construction like 855a1 and weighing 55 grains you’re dipping into the same weight class as 5.7×28!

          • randomswede

            Just as a point of discussion: as the cartridge would go into a brand new weapon it could have solutions for a lower felt recoil (than an M16A4 firing M855) such as balanced action without being overly complex.

        • roguetechie

          I hate that little psychopath with wings

      • Tassiebush

        I guess it’s killed quite a lot of innovation trying to fit too many features in one step.
        I reckon it’d be good to just see this make the step into a cheaper and lighter ammo tech. Then other promising configurations like really efficient projectiles can piggyback off this step being made.

        • roguetechie

          Tassie, it’s not so much that it’s killed a lot of innovation etc doing it this way…

          It’s that there’s literally half a century worth of innovation already sitting on the shelves and in government archives (at least some of it is still on the shelves, unfortunately untold millions if not billions in development bucks worth of R&D has been lost and or destroyed so prime contractors can redo the research again later.)

          Examples:

          1. XM235/248: near as I can tell not a single gun out of the guns produced has been kept for placement in museums much less as engineering samples in case we wanted to pick up where the original programs left off. I can only hope that they’re in the rock island collection and just haven’t been put on display since Rodman Labs were located in the rock island arsenal complex.

          2. Dover devil / it’s competitor:
          Once again, I don’t know of any still in existence, and have heard that what guys from the original program didn’t salvage and take home from the project documentation was destroyed or lost.

          Then there’s the even more frustrating situations like the ARAS electrically powered 7.62 & .50 caliber machine guns which, at the very least, appear to be warmed over versions of either a GE design or the Colt EPAM. Most frustrating of all though is that they’re patenting the design etc even though they shouldn’t be able to because the design is almost assuredly decades old!

          I’ve actually run into this a disturbing amount, especially in applications filed post 2012 which is just someone redoing the drawings to 3d models changing some wording and securing patent protection on items that there’s no way in hell should be patentable!

          Truthfully the two biggest things slowing down western small arms technology are patent troll bullshit and laws like ITAR!

          On a societal level the west has been coasting since the mid 70’s while playing stupid and society breaking monetization and litigation games.

          If we don’t wake up and get back on track soon, I genuinely fear that by 2117 we’ll be a footnote in history books… At best a cautionary tale.

          • Tassiebush

            Excellent points! You’re absolutely right. The shifting or difficult criteria is minor compared to so much innovation being shelved and not used or even worse done to be shelved to avoid competitors (Winchester’s use of Browning and some electric car tech) using the same line of technology is just an innovation killer. It’s in no way efficient or economically advantageous to have a bunch of money men messing around with that to the extent that they do. It’s gone past it’s original intent and moved into perverse outcome territory. I often think the same thing about how this period will be viewed in the future. On a whole lot of fronts we’re sleep walking.

          • roguetechie

            We’re definitely in trouble if we don’t fix some stuff but I’m just a simple gun guy…

            Totally not true of course, somehow I’ve developed interests across dozens of fields and thus need to live to 200 just to finish the projects I’ve already got going!!!

            On the plus side my workshop is like Dexter’s friggin laboratory mixed with the shipping container from lords of war or w/e featuring Nick Cage…

            What really shocks people is just how little cash has went into my workshop to get the tools and etc I have.

          • nadnerbus

            “On a societal level the west has been coasting since the mid 70’s while playing stupid and society breaking monetization and litigation games.”

            With the exception of computing and information technologies, I have long since come to the same conclusion. I think maybe those skates by so far because they are to technical and complex for lawyers and government to screw up yet.

          • roguetechie

            They’ve been trying really hard to eff them up, but luckily the EFF etc have saved us so far from the worst of it.

            If they can hold them off for a few more years things will be golden!

    • I think something like a 6mm PCT launching a roughly 80gr, VLD profile EPR projectile (basically an aerodynamically optimized 6mm version of the M855A1) at 3,000 fps would be pretty sweet.

      That would give you a 1,600 ft/lb cartridge with tolerable recoil, and assuming a BC of .420 (Berger 87gr VLD is .412, 105gr is .498, so ballparked this) it would still be going 1718fps / 528ft/lbs at 650 yards.

    • FulMetlJakit

      All I can think of right now is “fifteen cents per round”…

  • Stephen Paraski

    It is going to have to be some kind of electronic ignition to be a true “case less” round, maybe a piezo igniter.

    • roguetechie

      Good thing it’s not caseless then

  • Alan Perez
  • Battle Buddy

    Who thinks Kori is hot?