Army Chief Milley Says Army Has Developed New Bullet to Defeat Level IV Body Armor

Original caption: "Cpl. Brandon L. Blair holds out the enhanced small-arms protective insert plate that stopped a gunshot against him. He doubted the plate's abilities before the incident. He now preaches the importance of wearing all the protective gear issued to Marines." Author: Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran, Department of the Navy. Public domain.

During Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley spoke before the Senate and answered questions about the Army’s readiness and future modernization efforts. One of the concerns raised by the hearing’s members was that of the inability of current US Army small arms ammunition to penetrate current Level IV-type hard ceramic plates, such as the Army’s own E-SAPI plates. A transcript of a conversation between General Milley and Senator Angus King is given below:

King: “…One of the things we learned [from the hearing on the 18th] was that the current M4 caliber ammunition will not penetrate the newly developed body armor of our adversaries, which is to me a disaster in waiting. Your thoughts on a new weapon and how do we do the procurement in a timely and cost-effective way, and avoid some of these problems that we’ve had in the past. First do you think this is an important area of attention, and second can we pull it off in a reasonable amount of time at a reasonable cost?”

Milley: “I think yes and yes. I think it is critically important. 70% of American casualties are ground forces, typically infantry, special forces type units or units performing infantry missions, and the small arm and the other equipment to include body armor SAPI plates, and so on is critical, and we oughta be providing the very very best for our soldiers that our nation can provide. The 5.56 round, we recognize that there is a type of body armor out there that it doesn’t penetrate – we also have that body armor ourselves – and that adversarial states are actually selling that stuff on the Internet for about 250 bucks. So, yes, there’s a need, and there’s an operational need, and we think we can do it relatively quickly. The key on any of these things is not so much the rifle, it’s the bullet. It’s the ballistics of the bullet, and down at Fort Benning, we’ve done some developmental work, we think we have a solution that we know we have developed a bullet that can penetrate these new plates, so-

King: “Does this bullet require a new rifle?”

Milley: “It might, but probably not. It could, it could be chambered – the bullet can be chambered in various calibers – I don’t want to get into the technicals of ballistics, but it can be modified to 5.56, 7.62, or, uh-”

King: “Is there a possibility of an off the shelf, an existing rifle that could be an upgrade to the M4?”

Milley: “Yes. There’s several options out there.”

King: “And that would be an option, I-”

Milley: “There’s absolutely options out there.”

King: “I commend that option to you.”

Elsewhere on the Internet, there seemed to be confusion about what Milley’s statements mean – with the Army Times even claiming Fort Benning had introduced an entirely new 7.62mm armor-piercing round for the M4. In the full context of the statement, this is clearly not true. Milley is plainly referring to a new projectile design which could be manufactured in different sizes for any number of rounds – explicitly including 5.56mm. It’s entirely possible, for example, that the bullet he is referring to is an improved version of the Army’s M995 and M993 tungsten-cored armor-piercing ammunition which have been in service for over two decades. However, the context makes it seem more like the Army has developed a new variety of armor-piercing projectile which would be an improvement over the existing tungsten-cored ammunition. Later in the briefing Milley elaborated when questioned by Senator Jack Reed:

Reed: “Just one quick follow-up question with respect to small arms: To what extent if we adopt a new round would it impact the inter-operability of our relationship with NATO countries and the rounds that they have, and related to that is what would it cost us to refurbish the worldwide stockpile, which is now 5.56 and 7.62?”

Milley: “Right, and those are all part of the analysis that we’re doing down at Benning, but just to put your mind at ease a little bit, what we’ve developed is a 7.62 bullet. So, it’s not something that’s not in the inventory anywhere. We’ve developed a pretty effective round down at Fort Benning. We think that we can get that into production here in a year or two, and get that fielded out to the force. It is 7.62, not 5.56, but not everybody necessarily needs – uh – this idea that the entire Army needs the same thing all the time is not necessarily true; there are some units, some infantry units that are much more highly likely to rapidly deploy than others, and conduct close quarters combat, that we would probably want to field them with a weapon – a better grade weapon – that can penetrate this body armor that we’re talking about.

Reed: “And, uh, but would this round be inter-operable with NATO allies?”

Milley: “I, uh, I should probably owe you a specific answer – I think yes. It’s a 7.62 round, so I think the answer is “yes”, but let me get a specific ballistics answer.

Reed: “Thank you, sir.”

The proliferation of and ease of access to hard ceramic body armor is indeed a growing problem for small arms ammunition designers, but the solution is not as simple as just a “new round”. In order to penetrate such armor out to combat distances with conventional projectiles, a new caliber would have to be far, far larger and more powerful than anything currently carried by the Infantry today. Such a round – which would have to be in the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum or even larger – would be impractically large and powerful for infantry use. Therefore, other solutions must be explored, such as different core materials (e.g., tungsten or depleted uranium) or different projectile designs (e.g., flechettes).



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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  • Darhar M.

    Interesting article.
    Thanks.

  • Ark

    I don’t place a whole lot of stock in answers spat out on the spot in a Senate committee hearing. He’s speaking to a technologically uninformed, largely geriatric audience.

    I’m sure a more capable AP projectile in existing calibers would be a useful thing to have, but also…our enemies have been living with the reality of fighting armored opponents for decades. We’re not going to have an instantaneous technology solution to every battlefield problem.

  • RSG

    I raised these exact concerns yesterday in the bullpup thread. I was told that defeating level4 armor was a fools errand. Still, I know that velocity and bullet design are key. I also know that the technology exists for us to chamber 308 caliber rounds in an M4 sized receiver set with a BCG that maintains the same dimensions as it’s 556 counterpart. Defeating enemy armor should be our number 1 priority, while maintaining size/weight practicality, if we are going to consider designing new rounds.

    • steveday72

      The only round that meets the dimensional requirements you listed above is the .300 AAC/Blackout. It uses 7.62 projectiles in a necked-up 5.56 case, and to fit in standard M4 magazines the projectile is stuffed way down in there – leaving little room for powder. They shoot pretty flat out to 300yds, but even the supersonic loads have nowhere near the velocity of the 5.56 (~2200fps vs ~3200fps).

      To increase speed of that round further you would have to mess with the powder type/blend and increase chamber pressures to unsafe levels. It would be a hand-grenade waiting to explode.

      • RSG

        I was an early adopter of the 300blk. That’s not what I’m referring to. Go look at the POF Revolution. It’s 308 chambered in a AR15 sized receiver. The bolt is the same dimensions as a 556 BCG. Still, what I’m talking about is developing a lighter, say 100 grain bullet in a necked down 308 size case. We know that to defeat armor a 556 cartridge has to reach 3100fps without any AP properties. That should be the starting point.

        • Dan

          So basically you’re proposing they switch to a .243win ?

          • RSG

            243 has an awful BC and poor terminal ballistics past 200 yards, although recently have managed to produce some cartridges with decent velocities.

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            An awful BC? In general they have better BCs than .224s, no?. The Berger 87 VLD fits in 6×6.8 and has a G1 BC of .412. That is pretty good IMO.

          • Macht

            Are you high? 6mm bullets tend to have very high BCs for their weight. There is a reason the majority of PRS competitors use 6mm cartridges. Terminal ballistics is also not an issue until you’re 600+.

        • Kivaari

          It is NOT an AR15-sized receiver. The magazine well has to be larger. Sure overall size is close to a 5.56mm but everything is scaled up to handle the bigger round. You simply cannot make a 7.62x51mm AR as small as a 5.56mm model.

          • RSG

            Of course the magwell and ejection port are larger. But the rest isn’t. Check out the POF YouTube page to see the video on the Revolution. Even the BCG is the same size, exceptnthe bolt face.

          • Kivaari

            It is quite small. My point is people have been saying you can just take an M4 and plop a 7.62 NATO upper on it and all of a sudden it’s a 7.62mm. Many people think the installation of a .300 blk or 7.62x39mm upper somehow makes the gun perform like the 7.62 NATO.

          • Stephen Paraski

            I want a .270 AR.

  • SGTSCHMEGMA

    All hail Darth Milley

  • Pete Sheppard

    It’s a repeating cycle. Once a bullet is developed that penetrates current armor, the panic will be on to produce armor that will stop the new ammo…and on and on… and the soldier’s load gets heavier.

    • Some Rabbit

      The problem with AP is that on soft targets it zips clean through without producing an instantly incapacitating wound. This has been a complaint with green-tip fired from the M4. Maybe we need two shot burst and the mags loaded with alternating 55 gr. FMJ and AP black-tip.

      • FT_Ward

        There is no such thing as an “instantly incapacitating wound” that doesn’t hit a vital organ or via psychological response. If an AP round goes through a vital organ the organ will cease to function. If non-vital organs are struck who knows what will happen.

        • Joshua

          He means it doesn’t fragment.

          In order for something like M995/M993 to work against armor, means it’s horrible against soft tissue.

        • iksnilol

          You’ve obviously not seen what a 60mm grenade does to a human body.

  • Major Tom

    So the solution in the future will be….become headshot masters like we’re in Halo?

    • p

      No, just EPR rounds that fragment instantly in arms, legs, neck (and skull anyways). And at best not a to heavy low capacity one. Rather medium/light recoil and high capacity.

    • iksnilol

      HEAT rounds.

      • Major Tom

        So screw issuing rifles altogether, RPG’s for everyone? I like.

        • iksnilol

          I’m just saying. You make better armor, then better bullet comes, then better armor… ad infinitum.

          High explosives tho? ARMOR AIN’T S### FOR HEAT ROUNDS. So people will focus on avoiding/hiding than risk getting blown up. Mobility will increase like at least hella^2.

      • Uniform223

        Miniature heat rounds… that sounds cool.

        • demophilus

          I saw a PowerPoint deck somewhere, think it was a DTIC/NDIA présentation, to the effect that the 25mm grenades out of the XM25/OICW could host something like an EFP — the “airburst” could be either an EFP, or a cone of molten shrap.

  • Squirreltakular

    Well SLAP ammo has been on the table since at least 2013. Silver State Armory made it in 5.56.

  • Some Rabbit

    Velocity defeats armor better than mass. I think the biggest issue for the 5.56mm was the switch from the M16 to the M4. The shorter barrel of the M4 reduced muzzle velocity from over 3,000 fps to 2,800 fps completely undoing whatever potential the 5.56mm had in wounding, armor piercing, range and trajectory. Both the 55 gr. FMJ and green-tip were designed to take advantage of the higher velocity and now perform poorly.

    • James Kachman

      “Both the 55 gr. FMJ and green-tip were designed to take advantage of the higher velocity and now perform poorly.”

      And they’ve likewise both been replaced by the MK318 and M855A1, which are tweaked for 14.5″ barrels.

      • valorius

        M855A1 would penetrate better out of a 20″ barrel than a 14.5″ barrel. It’s physics, and is just not debatable.

        • p

          Still not lvl4…….. So whats even the point if your unhandy long 20″ craze.

          • valorius

            I carried a 20″ m16 in the infantry, there’s nothing unhandy about it at all.

            Compared to guns of yore, like the M1garand or M14, the M16 is actually very handy.

            A 20″ barrel is simply better for combat. It’s just that simple.

          • p

            Again: The propellant is simply so degressive that the end of the barrel is extremly inefficiently used. You only have tiny pressure left for acceleration, at the expense of weight, unbalance, and a lot of lenght.

          • valorius

            Im willing to be M855A1 is about 200 fps faster out of a M16 than it is out of an M4.

          • iksnilol

            Compared to a 14.5 inch barrel it is hella unhandy.

          • valorius

            Compared to a pistol an M4 is unhandy, so what?

            All current armored vehicles in the US inventory were designed to be M16 friendly.

          • Tom Currie

            20″ is only “unhandy” when getting in and out of your Battle Taxi.

            14.5″ is a compromise — still unhandy for MOUT but a tiny bit lighter to carry and easier to get in and out of the vehicles.

          • USMC_grunt2009-2013

            The 20″ barrel can be handy enough with a telescoping buttstock, like the Canadian C7.

          • USMC_grunt2009-2013
          • noob

            Oh Canada!

          • Kevin Harron

            My Home and native land!

          • Stephen Paraski

            Like the Wings eh?

        • James Kachman

          I wasn’t talking about armor penetration, the power types and projectiles of MK318 and M855A1 have been tweaked to provide superior terminal ballistics relative to M855 out of carbines.

          • valorius

            If you took Mk318 and M855A1 they would both have superior velocity out of an M16 than they do out of an M4.

          • James Kachman

            Of course, but the requirements of the Infantry are for shorter rifles, which means its nice to have rounds whose burn rates better match 14.5″ barrels and have terminal ballistics independent of velocity.

            You’re arguing that 20″ barrels aren’t a detriment compared to 14.5″ barrels, whereas SF the world over, the Marines, the Army, and almost all combat arms have adopted 14.5″ or shorter.

          • valorius

            And now they want 7.62mm battle rifles….

            These people are idiots.

          • James Kachman

            No, they don’t. You won’t find end-users begging and pleading for battle rifles, those are idiotic congressmen and retired Officers (see, Scales) with an agenda to push. The guys on the ground, given the choice, almost always gravitate towards 14.5″ carbines.

          • valorius

            “Army chief testifies: Infantry needs new 7.62mm rifle”
            May 24, 2017, military dot com.

            The Army is now in a full fledged push for a 7.62mm rifle.

            I was a guy on the ground and i gravitate toward a M16A5 in 5.56mm with a 20″ barrel.

          • Uniform223

            The comment section about the topic over at military.com is an echo chamber of poor thought process or people who are still stuck in 1965. Some are real knee slappers and others are just down right ignorant.

          • valorius

            I agree 100%. “Back in the nam we all wanted the M-14 cause of it’s rip roarin’ knockdown power on charlie! The M16 couldnt kill a flea!”

          • Martingard

            I trusted my M-14 in the `nam, didn’t want the M-16, period. Kinda like carrying a fly swatter.

          • valorius

            Not me man, I only trusted the old Korean M1 my buddy in supply dug up in Na Trang.

          • XT6Wagon

            and when the M-14 fails to operate like it always does, you can club a man to death with your wood and steel brick, can’t do that with your plastic barbie toy can you?

          • Uniform223

            Having gone through the bayonet course in BCT and the IDF’s Krav Mags incorporated the M16/M4 into cqc curriculum… you sure can. Ever use the end of the muzzle on a rifle or carbine to “punch” someone?

          • Robert Kalani Foxworthy

            I hated the m4 less velo and less accuracy.

          • Robert Blake

            Furthermore, as part of the LSAT program, Textron was asked to develop (and has) a 6.5mm cased telescoping rifle.

          • valorius

            I continue to to believe the M4 was born because FN won the M16 contract, and because the F4 is easier for the gurls to carry.

          • James Kachman

            ” continue to to believe the M4 was born because FN won the M16 contract, and because the M4 is easier for the gurls to carry.”

            Nonsense, shorter barreled carbines have their roots in the Vietnam war, and have been valued even before FN started competing for the M16 contract.

            “I was a guy on the ground and i gravitate toward a M16A5 in 5.56mm with a 20″ barrel.”

            I understand that, and I agree that there is merit to be had with the additional velocity granted by a 20″ barrel. I’ve got two 20″ builds in the pipe as we speak. The point that I’m trying to make, however, is that there is a large number of end users (read, “grunts”) who prefer the 14.5″ weapons due to their lighter weight and shorter size, and so there’s benefit to be had by designing cartridges and bullets around those smaller weapons.

            And while I understand your position on 20″, and share it to a degree, the vast majority of people right now on the ground prefer carbines, and so we should respect their equipment preferences.

          • valorius

            Short barreled carbines have their roots so deeply based in vietnam that they were never general issue there, or in any of the major wars or invasions that followed over the course of the next 4 decades. The Army was perfectly content with the M16 until the moment FN won the contract to produce them, then all of a sudden they wanted M4s.

            I rather suspect the vast majority of support for 14.5″ barrels is from support elements who never fire their weapons, not grunts who seem to complain pretty loudly that their M4s are badly outranged in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

            About the only time a 14.5″ is superior is if youre doing patrols in a humvee or something, like our troops were forced to do in Iraq because Rumsfeld is a cheap fk and refused to send sufficient forces and assets to the theater to prove his “transformational” combat doctrinal theories. (which predictably fell flat on their face)

          • James Kachman

            “Short barreled carbines have their roots so deeply based in vietnam that they were never general issue there”

            Nor did I claim them to be, but SF types recognized the appeal of a shorter, handier carbine even then. Colt was producing carbines quite consistently even before FN got involved.

            Also how exactly does FN gaining production of the M16 mean that the Army wants M4s? You do realize FN is making the M4 now, right?

            “I rather suspect the vast majority of support for 14.5″ barrels is from support elements who never fire their weapons”

            Which is why the Marines are giving their Infantry the M4 first, and leaving the support arms with the M16A4, right? And why the CAR-15 saw use by Delta and the Rangers in Panama and Somalia?

            “About the only time a 14.5″ is superior is if youre doing patrols in a humvee or something”

            Or if you’re fighting in an urban area, or inside a forest, or if you’re inside of vehicles (such as an Armored or Stryker Brigade), or if you just want a shorter, lighter rifle in general…

            The thing about us being “”outranged”” in Afghanistan is the way the Taliban fight. They shoot harassing fire with DShKs and PKMs from the next village over and scram. Congrats, an infantry rifle can’t match a PKM. A 20″ rifle would be just as badly outraged then anyway, which is why you’re better off giving the rifle platoon a few Carl Gustavs and letting the rest keep their carbines.

          • valorius

            SF guys are not infantry forces. Its’ a very different mission.

            At the time the M4 was adopted, Colt was outbid for M16 production and all of a sudden the Army wanted M4s, made by Colt, of course. FN makes the M4, but Colt gets paid for each one cause they own the design.

            I flatly disagree that an m4 is superior in an urban area, or in a forest, or anywhere else. Afterall we won WWII fighting through villiage and city alike with M1 Garands. We fought Vietnam with 20″ M16s. I’ve never heard any veteran of WWII complain that his Garand was just too big and heavy, and I’ve never heard anyone blame the loss in Vietnam on the M16.

            The Stryker was specifically designed for M16 armed Infantrymen, btw.

            I rather suspect a Carl Gustav cannot reliably outrange a heavy machine gun either (wiki lists 1000m with rocket boosted ammo vs stationary targets), but a M16 with an ACOG and Mk262 can definitely hit man sized targets at 600 meters in a good rifleman’s hands- certainly as far as a rifleman with an m14 and similar optic could hit.

            In any case, the US Army is now stating outright it wants 7.62mm battle rifles for infantry use- not Carl Gustavs. This right after they just spent billions on the M855A1.

            I think the army is being stupid, as it is so fond of doing. (As it was when it adopted the M4 for infantry forces to begin with.)

          • G B

            I love browsing through the comments section and seeing a bunch of people arguing with someone that I have had blocked for months/years. It has happened quite a few times with Mr. valorius in particular.

          • Robert Kalani Foxworthy

            Or developing a new load and weapon

          • James Young

            I think the reason is they just want a do all carbine instead of a combat rifle. There are tradeoffs with each

          • valorius

            Very true. I just get irked when people who are M4 acolytes act like the M16 doesnt have real world advantages of it’s own. To me, for the infantryman, the M16s advantages are more useful than its disadvantages, especially with regard to an M16A5 variant with a collapse-able stock.

          • Robert Kalani Foxworthy

            easier to clear small halls in the middle east they be small as people. and easier to use in vehicles.

          • Stephen Paraski

            So you advocate a Bullpup style?

          • James Kachman

            Me personally? I’m iffy, I don’t have any experience with the bullpup, but it doesn’t seem to be popular.

            The US military? No chance in hell of adopting one.

          • p

            Not in a bottleneck system yes. CT tough completly changes the game.

          • Martingard

            And that’s just because that is what is issued to them. No choice in the matter.

          • James Young

            Marines have been using M16 (20″ barrels) throughout Afgan and Iraq. Three of my buddies used them and they are all around 5’4″ – 5’5″. They didn’t seem to have an issue with the M16. I believe the Marines started the shift to M4s in 2015. I would think the preference in Afghanistan would be the extra velocity, but I don’t know I’m just a civilian who shoots a 10.5″ AR pistol at a 50 yard A/C cooled indoor range for fun.

    • ActionPhysicalMan

      That depends on the type of armor. Also note that a 250gr .338 at 2700fps won’t penetrate a level IV plate but it looks like the back face deformation will put a real hurt on the person behind the armor anyway. I suspect that most heavy (250gr+) bullets that don’t shatter on the ceramic at a reasonable velocity will do that.

      • carcrusher

        Yeah, you get hit in the plate with a hot .338 round (3000 fps, close up) and blunt-force trauma will do you in. Collapsed lungs, ruptured spleen/liver, you’re done.
        An armor piercing .338 Lapua knocks a hole right in A500 plates.

        • SuperFunkmachine

          Small arms coursing fatale blunt-force trauma is really just a myth.
          It’s just newtons third law, that much force is really beyond any rife.
          I’m not saying that it does’t happen, look at sports and car crashes
          Any armour that stops penetration will spread out impact to some level.

    • Uniform223

      “Velocity defeats armor better than mass”

      > you forgot density. There are many factors that lead to effective armor penetration. However in simple terms…
      velocity + density = greater kinetic penetration

      • Mystick

        Density is a function of mass in space. Just making something denser isn’t always the answer.

        • Uniform223

          “Just making something denser isn’t always the answer”

          > no but it sure does go a long way. If the material you’re trying to punch through is denser/harder then lead, you go to steel. If it can stop steel you use tungsten and so on.

          • Mystick

            They already use steel core… to comply with the terminal effects “minimal wounding” clause of the Geneva Convention.

      • p

        seem to lack hardness lol …. otherwise lead would be quite armor piercing…

    • Ryfyle

      Bo’-pup ’nuff said. Seriously though Keltecs RDB really does the job.

      • The RDB is very far from suitable for military service.

        • Ryfyle

          Is it not a neat concept that could be polished more?

          • Vhyrus

            Yes… or the military could just buy a whole bunch of proven tavors from our allies and be done with it.

          • Ryfyle

            Their double the price of our M4’s. Not even the IDF use them a lot. Also not ambidextrous.

          • int19h

            It’s a standard issue rifle for IDF, is it not? What do you mean by “not use them a lot”?

          • Ryfyle

            Clearly they equip them due in part that they own the company, However I doubt that they will sell them to us for the same prices we get our M4’s for. Israel is also flooded with M4’s.

          • Kevin Harron

            No.

          • No, not really.

          • Ryfyle

            What is precisely the issue?

          • It has a number of problems, downward ejection, the architecture, etc. I’ll go over all of them in my review.

          • Ryfyle

            Okay then. I look forward to seeing it.

          • XT6Wagon

            not sure how the downward ejection is an issue… should we compare the downsides of upward or side ejection? Forward ejection is about the only “good” place to throw brass, and both rifles I know of that do that have some reliability issues thanks to that very feature.

        • XT6Wagon

          I like it very much, but yes, needs a pile of money and brains thrown at it before its good enough to survive the abuse it would see in the hands of the army. Two things IMO it needs most are better sealing and a buffer to prevent damage when the user has it over-gassed. After that maybe make a metal lower pic rail as a structural stiffener between the gas block and the chamber, as currently any force on the front hand guard makes for excessive change in where the rounds hit.

    • p

      Thats why M855A1 EPR exist… and it rocks.

    • gunsandrockets

      It’s probably fair to say the future of military rifles will be longer barrels rather than shorter, and smaller bores rather than larger.

      Perhaps a bullpup rifle, with 24 inch long progressive rifled squeeze bore barrel, firing a .223 case head ammo, and a squeeze bore AP projectile with an exit diameter of 5mm?

      • valorius

        I think they should just stick with what we’ve got until laser rifles are ready.

        • Jim_Macklin

          Reflective mirrors will defeat MAN PORTABLE LASERS.
          We need light sabers and Jedi Knights.
          Or maybe we need a lot more MOAB and less concern with so-called “innocents” among the enemy?

          • valorius

            MOAB sounds fine to me. Then we can issue our infantrymen mops, to literally mop up the remains of the enemy.

          • MSG1000

            Mirrors won’t stay reflective in battlefield conditions. The real key is ablative armor, distort the beam before it can do much damage.

          • demophilus

            There was a DoD program called the Pulsed Impulsive Kill Laser that created a plasma bubble on the target surface out of high frequency pulses. It didn’t penetrate the target so much as make the air on the target surface explode, with an EMP effect. Don’t know that mirrors or ablation would stop that; could make it worse.

            Apart from that, don’t know that I’d want to wear an ablative uniform from the lowest bidder. Think I’d rather hide, or dig. ; )

      • demophilus

        Squeeze bore is possible, but maybe unnecessary. In WW1 the German 9mm AP round was sintered iron — compressed, like we make frangible bullets today. IIRC, some of the frangible patents refer to the ability to microengineer the payload, and in the R&D phase some frangible compositions don’t work as planned. They don’t shatter or powder, as desired; they get harder and/or shear, and punch through.

        So it might be possible to engineer a material that forges itself on launch, and/or impact.

        Apart from that, longer barrels are generally better because they harness a longer gas column, but the Army has done research on getting more out of shorter, lighter barrels. It’s called a traveling charge propellant. The projectile carries some propellant down the barrel, which replenishes the gas column behind so it doesn’t attenuate. More bang out of a shorter barrel.

        Big Army was looking at that for light tanks. Probably won’t work for small arms; for example, there isn’t enough room in a 5.56 projectile for a travelling charge. But IIRC, 5.56 tracer is longer than standard bullets; maybe a tracer element could be re-engineered to be a travelling charge. Especially if you sinter or 3D print the bullet.

        Would make for more recoil, and faster barrel burnout, but they’re also working on ceramic barrel liners.

    • iksnilol

      Or high explosives, those work even better.

      Just give everybody a belt fed 20mm grenade rifle. Armor don’t help with a head full of shrapnel.

      • valorius

        LOL! That would probably be counter productive for CQB. 😉

        • iksnilol

          just stick behind cover.

          Like, just poke the barrel in the opening and let ‘er rip. Then hope the wall you’re hiding behind is strong enough.

          Hostage resque it ain’t for sure though, nothing’s perfect.

          • valorius

            lol

      • crackedlenses

        Sounds like the route the Space Marines took.

        • iksnilol

          GOD EMPEROR PROTECT US FROM HERESY!

          Amen!

          • crackedlenses

            Now we just need Trump to invent powered armor suits and we’re set.

    • Gun Fu Guru

      All they really need to do is seat the bullet deeper into the casing. That creates more pressure which will add velocity.

      • Kevin Harron

        #whatiscasevolume?

    • RealitiCzech

      The .204 Ruger with an AP bullet would be very interesting.

  • James Kachman

    Anybody know why he couldn’t be talking about the M855A1 EPR round? He says “I don’t want to get into the technicals of ballistics, but it can be modified to 5.56, 7.62..” which is something that’s already been done for the EPR round.

    • Uniform223

      The M855A1 and it’s 7.62x51mm counter part M80A1 are not AP rounds. They are considered general purpose rounds even though they are exceedingly more effective against hard targets (barriers and some light personal armor) when compared to older ball round variants of the same caliber.

      • James Kachman

        But did he specifically say that these new rounds are designated AP rounds? It does, like you said, have good performance against body armor.

        • CommonSense23

          M855A1 isn’t doing crap against hard armor. Standalone plates are getting lighter and far stronger at a rapid pace.

        • Uniform223

          In order to effectively defeat level IV body armor, yeah it needs to be a dedicated AP round. A ball round 55g 5.56 (M193) out of a 20 or even a 16inch barrel (if loaded hot) can already defeat most level 3 body armor and that isn’t considered an AP round. Level 3+ can stop m193 and m855 rounds yet the m855a1 will go right through it. The Wound Channel on YouTube demonstrated this and showed that a level IV rated ceramic plate can effectively stop the m855a1. The plates in the older IBA and current IOTV are at least better then level IV. The general is worried about going up against a possible adversary that can field that level of body armor.

  • FT_Ward

    If US adversaries have access ( (frequently or why bother with new rifle bullets) to ceramic plates that stop current rifle rounds presumably they also have access to soft body armor- which should be more common. If this is the case why would the army be looking to go to hollow point pistol bullets? If armour is becoming common the partial answer would seem to be to go to a pistol round with greater penetration not less- perhaps .22 TCM.

  • Veteran for Trump

    If you can’t kill the enemy with center of mass shots, you better start doing head shots, you idiots.

    • CommonSense23

      Do you realize how hard it is hitting the head?

      • valorius

        Legs, nuts, arms, head— whatever, any of them will cause a casualty. 90% of troops are gonna scream medic and get off the battlefield.

      • valorius

        “In Fallujah, [Iraq] Marines with ACOG-equipped
        M16A4s created a stir by taking so many head shots that until the
        wounds were closely examined, some observers thought the insurgents had
        been executed.”[104]
        – Venola, Richard. “Iraq: Lessons From The Sandbox”. Combat Arms. ISSN 0810-8838

        • Warren Ellis

          Wasn’t that at relatively close range, with only the heads sticking out of cover?

          • valorius

            having not read the quoted book, I would not want to make a definitive statement on the subject, but I do suspect it was 100 meters and in type shooting.

        • USMC03Vet

          Haha and they did it with 20 inch barrels.

          • valorius

            Yep.

    • p

      No.. just use EPR rounds that fragment instantly in arms, legs, neck (and skull anyways). And at best not a to heavy low capacity one. Rather medium/light recoil and high capacity.

  • Clinton Matthews

    Depleted Uranium.. f yea now your talking!

    • Uniform223

      10x24mm caseless explosive tip light armor piercing round.

      Those who get the reference gain an additional +10 to their cool points status.

    • XT6Wagon

      nah, just start issuing more disposable rocket launchers. DU isn’t “suitable” for anything but all out war. So if you want a long range, not very PC weapon…. Go for something with explosives. Or you know, tungsten like everyone else who needs a really dense metal.

  • FT_Ward

    The law of unintended consequences.

    The US Army fields a new round which zips through hard armor.
    It’s enemies steal it, receive them as gifts by the host countries troops or design their own version.
    The US Army makes it’s armor heavier.
    US soldiers become even more immobile.
    General pushes for higher fitness standards so troops can carry the extra weight.
    General’s career ends when he’s accused of trying to keep girls out of the infantry.
    O2- O6s take note.

    • Uniform223

      “General’s career ends when he’s accused of trying to keep girls out of the infantry.”

      > that is an entirely different “political” s**t storm we can avoid right now…

    • yodamiles

      Or the round zips through hard armor but possess poor terminal ballistic. More complaints about 5.56 can’t kill and the military ended up spending couple more $100 million to find another short sighted solutions.

    • Gun Fu Guru

      The real question is what non-NATO country issues Level IV armor (or their national equivalent)? No country – not even Russia – does that with their standard field units.

      • noob

        I have a question – when is DARPA going to finish Project Hot Girls In Power Amour?

        • .45

          Is that the one where they have to strip naked before putting it on?

      • Tom Currie

        No other country issues Level IV body armor for regular troops because the rest of the world feels that the weight and rigidity do more harm than good. BUT other countries DO have Level IV body armor that they do issue to some troops for some missions and that they COULD issue in larger quantities if they felt a need to stop our current magic 5.56 not-quite-AP rounds.

        Of course anyone who might fight us, and who has the capability to develop their own Level IV armor also has the capability to develop their own rounds to defeat OUR Level IV armor.

        The battle between arms and armor has always been a race that has always been like a see-saw.

        It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about the French knights at Agincourt, or the German Tiger II and Soviet IS tanks, or today’s overburdened infantry — impenetrable armor is not the panacea that its developers pitch it to be.

        • Young Freud

          I think that you should be thinking less about “developing” and more about “acquiring”. It’s probably more likely to run into Level IIIA and IV armor with a relatively internationally-supported foe like ISIS than another standing army, with their body armor either sourced from looted or donated sources like Mid-East national armories or bought personally overseas. While they probably aren’t decked out in SAPI ceramic plates, they would probably have something similar, like AR500-AR650 steel armor or ballistic plates bought off AliBaba.

      • int19h

        It’s kinda tricky translating NIJ levels to Russian GOST, but it seems that 6B23-2 armor might be close to level IV? It’s rated against 7N13 “increased penetration” round from SVD at 100 meters.

      • Robert Blake

        Note true. Disqus doesn’t like links, but Russian current issue 6b45 body armor contains GOST R 50744-95 level 5 boron carbide ceramic plates, front and back.
        The for-POGS 6b46 armor set contains the same plate in the front only (soft kevlar elsewhere)
        They will stop 7.62x54R rounds (SVD, PKM/PKP machine gun, etc) and are roughly analogous to ESAPI plates.
        A quick google image search will show you Russian troops wearing these in everything from parades to field exercises to Syria.

  • p

    I doubt they have something that pierces LVL4, and as soon as its fielded it will only do so barely, an Opfor army can adopt new armor and were stuck with way to heavy rounds that then dont defeat body armor, low mag capacity, and completly LOOSE fire superority.

    Medium/light recoil, high magazin capacity EPR rounds are what work against armored opponents. They fragment instantly in arms/legs/neck (and kills in the head anyways). AP will zip clean trough arms and legs.

    • p

      (it basicly only could be 7.62×51 SLAP…)

    • Joshua

      5.56 M995 has been punching holes in NIJ IV armor for a while now.

      • p

        Really? Why dont they just use that then and dont make all that craze? Hard to believe it really gets trough that.

        • Joshua

          Because it has horrible soft tissue performance.

          It’s a dense piece of tungsten with a bimetal jacket.

          It doesn’t tumble or fragment, it ice picks soft tissue, however it has no problem against ESAPI plates.

          It’s part of why we’re working on XSAPI plates, something that can stop even hardened tungsten carbide rounds.

          More than likely this new round he speaks of is designed to fragment or tumble after defeating the armor….if that’s even possible.

          • p

            Mh, ok. But why then even 7.62×51 with its large drawbacks.

          • Joshua

            I have no idea. Whatever bullet he’s talking about is so secret, no one I know has ever heard of it.

            Which is wierd. Idk how they’ve kept it such a secret.

            So right now me and everyone I know are just as in the dark as everyone else.

          • valorius

            He’s probably simply making it up.

          • FactChecker90803

            No, the General can’t make it up, he is testifying before congress, so he has to state facts.

          • I know what you mean.

            But… Ret Gen Scales makes 90% up when he testifies…

          • Kevin Harron

            Scales actually believes the bullshit he spews though. Doesn’t make him right, but he does actually believe it.

          • valorius

            Sure he does.

            5.56mm M995 will EASILY penetrate lvl IV armor plate. In fact it will penetrate almost 1″ of armored steel plate. Google it for yourself.

          • valorius

            If they’d have made M855A1 in 55gr instead of 62gr, and were still using 20″ barrels, there’s a very good chance it would defeat lvl IV armor.

          • Biker Bob

            M193 will do it.

          • valorius

            M193 will defeat III, and some III+.

          • valorius

            I’m not sure how it just ‘zips right through’, physics pretty much dictates that it will tumble due to instability caused by denser tissue.

          • p

            It might go trough plates, and might tumble or even if not does enough damage because it hits the vitals.
            Rather its performance against non armored thin areas, it has no time to tumble, in arms and legs, where the EPR has the advanatage.

          • valorius

            All spitzers tumble.

          • p

            NOT fast enough in thin areas……..

          • valorius

            Life is imperfect.

        • valorius

          M995 will punch through almost an inch of steel plate.

          • p

            Who even cares about steel, ceramic is the real problem.

          • valorius

            The Russkies use Titanium.

          • int19h

            The best modern Russian armor is ceramic/polyethylene, same as Western stuff. There simply isn’t a better material so far.

            Titanium plates are used, but they fill a niche between steel and ceramic, protection-wise.

    • valorius

      We already have rounds in 5.56mm and 7.62mm that defeat lvl IV. M995, and M993.

    • Biker Bob

      M193 out of a 20″ barrel will.sail straight through 1/4″ steel…..body armor is far less challenging.

  • Clinton Matthews

    9x39mm for short range AP? Although I haven’t experienced the round everything I read has high praise and has been in service for a long time now.

    • 9x39mm will penetrate soft body armors and some thin steel plates. Not even close to penetrating Level IV. Plus, it’s unsuitable as a combat round for a bunch of other reasons.

  • JP

    And here I was thinking m193 from a 20″ barrel was known to punch through level 4. All the YouTubes say so!

    • p

      Dude… it goes trough lvl3 steel. Not Lvl4 ceramic.

    • valorius

      M193 goes through lvl III, and even some lvl III+ (which was invented to stop M193)

      • int19h

        It goes through *some* lvl3 steel at 25 yards. But not at, say, 100.

        And it doesn’t go through lvl3 polyethylene (but M855 does).

        • valorius

          M193 generally out performs M855 at armor penetration at any range inside 100 meters. Ive never personally seen a video test where M855 succeeded but M193 failed.

          Ive also never seen level III steel that stops M193. Level III+, yes. but not not Lvl III.

    • M193 will sometimes go through Level III, and that’s because of adiabatic shear. Ceramic armor is not vulnerable to the same trick.

  • Cal S.

    Maybe with AP rounds and the need to fire more for the same effect, larger-capacity magazines will become standard. Then again, there is that AR-pattern .300 Win Mag out there…

    Also, I see a lot of angst in the comments about the soft tissue performance of these AP 5.56 bullets. But, I’d bet $10 any number of these individuals has shouted down .22lr detractors with the cliched “No one’s gonna shrug off a hit with a .22lr!!” despite its own so-so soft tissue performance in humans.

    • p

      If 5.56×51 AP icepicks, the 7.62×51 AP will do even more so.

      • Cal S.

        Shot placement is key. Find something that pens the first layer, but not the second.

        We should just upgrade to plasma rifles already.

      • XT6Wagon

        I’m not sure you care if its a difference between chewing up the fabric cover over his chest plate or poking a hole straight through into the fleshy bits. Be nice to have an ammo that does both soft and hard targets well, but if you are shooting ap… One assumes the target is armored.

  • valorius

    That sound you hear is the flushing of hundreds of millions of dollars down the toilet on another un-needed, sure to be cancelled fiasco.

  • valorius

    M995 5.56mm will EASILY defeat lvl IV armor plates. M855A1 will defeat lvl III+.

    Had they made M855A1 in 55gr instead of 62gr, it would probably defeat lvl IV armor as well.

    • Doubtful. Not at any appreciable range, anyway.

      • p

        Are there even occasions where an opponent at range in combat presents himself nicely open to shot his body armor….? I dont think so.

        Its common unless its absolut point blank room clearing …that they are atleast partly in cover…

      • valorius

        I think it’s actually highly likely. 20″ optimized 55gr ‘M855A1’ would most likely pack another 200-250 fps than M855A1 does from a 20″ barrel now.

        What do you define as “appreciable”?

        25 meters? (that covers all CQB), 50 meters? That covers almost all combat in jungles and dense forests.

  • valorius

    Oh, so that switch to 14.5″ carbines from 20″ rifles wasn’t conducive to good armor penetration? Hmmm…how about that.

    • p

      Dude.. for normal combat with non AP bullets theres no reason to have an unhandy long Rifle in urban combat.

      The 20inch barrel makes only sence against lvl4 armor as soon you use AP.

      • valorius

        Yet the Marines want to put suppressors on M4s and make them as long as M16s.

        I was in the infantry, the 20″ M16 is in no way unwieldy, and given the choice, i would carry an M16 into battle over an M4 literally every day of the week.

        • p

          I dont agree on the supressor use too.

          Hint- noone cares about whats your preference. There are thousands also in the Infantery who disagree with you.

          The propellant is simply so degressive that the end of the barrel is extremly inefficiently used. You only have tiny pressure left for acceleration, at the expense of weight, unbalance, and a lot of lenght.

          • valorius

            People care even less what your preference is bud.

          • p

            The thing is you scream around to want something changed. I just say it doesnt make much sence.

          • valorius

            The M16s are all still in inventory. Would be a very easy move to reissue them to the infantry.

          • p

            Are they at the quality level of upgrades M4A1’s?

            As said, doesnt make much sence, not until much much more progressive propellant is used.

          • valorius

            M16A4’s are outstanding weapons. M855A1 would still have a higher mv out of a 20″ M16 than it does out of a 14.5″ M4. It would also be no particular big deal to just put a 20″ optimized propellent in them either.

          • int19h

            At the very least, M16 needs to have the stock problem solved. It’s just too long to shoulder comfortably with body armor (ironically, the Army pointed that out back when A2 was being adopted).

            Not that it’s hard to switch to M4-style stocks. Canadians did this ages ago. But still.

          • valorius

            M16A5 conversion solves your problems.

            The M16 wasnt that bad with the PASGT armor we used.

    • Err, you know that 5.56mm from a 20″ barrel won’t penetrate Level IV, either, right?

      • valorius

        It will penetrate more than it will from a 14.5″, right? Had they made M855A1 in 55gr weight, it might very well defeat lvl IV from a 20″ barrel.

        And this entire issue is a lark, since when are lvl IV armor clad enemies an issue? If it’s been an issue then why did we just field a round after spending ENORMOUS boat loads of money that won’t defeat it?

        The Army, for whatever reason that makes no sense at all, suddenly wants a 7.62mm rifle, so this is just a talking point to advance that argument, even though M995 already easily defeats Lvl IV, even from 14.5″ barrel.

        • “It will penetrate more than it will from a 14.5″, right?”

          No, neither will penetrate at all.

          “Had they made M855A1 in 55gr weight, it might very well defeat lvl IV from a 20″ barrel.”

          No, that is very unlikely. Level IV is designed to stop M2 AP at the muzzle.

          “And this entire issue is a lark, since when are lvl IV armor clad enemies an issue?”

          They aren’t an issue until they are. You think that technology gap will remain forever? I think you’ve got another thing coming.

          “If it’s been an issue then why did we just field a round after spending ENORMOUS boat loads of money that won’t defeat it?”

          Maybe because that new round is a serious improvement over the previous one, even if it won’t defeat Level IV armor. Which, by the way, nothing will except tungsten-cored stuff.

          • valorius

            M2AP is both slower and has a larger frontal area than 55 gr 5.56mm. So it is a very fair bet that 55gr 5.56mm configured like M855A1 but optimized for, and fired from a 20″ barrel would handily out perform M2 AP.

            We already have 5.56mm ammo that EASILY penetrates lvl IV armor at any realistic range- M995. Again, this entire issue is a non issue.

        • XT6Wagon

          You are thinking the wrong way, long heavy core in a aerodynamic shell. 4-5mm “dart” from tungsten that is long as possible would be the way to go as the core, rest of the round designed for ballistic performance with a side of soft target damage. You want a bunch of mass with a minimal frontal area. See modern anti tank kinetic rounds. Only ditch the sabots because we aren’t trying to use a perpetrator only 1/3 the barrel diameter.

          • valorius

            Tungsten was considered for M855A1 and rejected based on cost and raw material supply limitations.

            In any case, a M855A1 style projectile in 55gr, fired from a 20″ barrel would clearly out penetrate the existing round fired from a 14.5″ barrel.

  • valorius

    Can’t wait to see the ladies lugging around 7.62mm rifles and even heavier body armor.
    “Will you carry my armor for me? I’ll hold your hand in the barracks when we get back to base.” -Female “Infantryperson” to dumb male soldier.

  • Raptor Fred
    • p

      Seems a bit to heavy to get any good velocitys…

  • Ed

    Think it’s mostly hype and spin. First I don’t see the Army going and or going back to 7.62mm again. Recoil weight and whiny solders would put a quick end to that. This body armor theatre has been over blown before. In the 1980s over scar about Soviet armor lead to M-855 ball ammo but after the cold war we found out it wasn’t bullet proof. Most of our threats today like ISIS and North Korea dost use body armor Sotheby’s current need for AP rounds isn’t as high of priority as other dod needs. And after all M-855A1 has not been fully integrated into the Army so be best to give it a chance before a new round or new 5.56mm bullet is needed.

    • XT6Wagon

      The designated marksmen are getting specialty rifles, so why not part of the ammo be special as well?

  • LGonDISQUS

    Increasing armor abilities will lead to increased firepower, which will go full circle until we’re at minovsky particle powered beam rifles.

    It’s only 450 years ’til UC 0068.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fe55c9f56aacd5de8271b0f6015cf3e6a5977985ed19e0298b884b7c48978970.jpg

    • Anonymoose

      According to the original timeline they had before they made 0080, it’s only 62 years to the OYW. We’ve already missed the dates for Macross and Evangelion, but we might be on the right schedule to have things Ghost in the Shell going on in real life when it’s supposed to happen.

  • gunsandrockets

    Sounds like a new AP bullet initially intended for the .300 Winchester Magnum.

  • trjnsd

    To paraphrase an old joke, The three most effective forms of communication yet devised: Telegraph, Telephone, Tell a Congressman! How did we ever win past wars without blabbing all our weapons secrets to everyone! Loose Lips Sink Ships, anyone? These things should not be bantered about in congressional hearings and the press but only in closed sessions, and only within the bounds of secrecy.

    • Chris

      Yes ,but why not let a potential enemy spend millions to defeat something we don’t actually plan on fielding ? “STAR WARS ” ,ring a bell ? Let an enemy develop a heavy super armour , to slow them down ,…And we use 40mm rocket assisted ,laser guided dp …or hellfire from a drone ?

  • gunsandrockets

    Is an enemy with level IV body armor really a significant threat?

    Of course heavy armor is important to Americans because we are so concerned with minimizing our fatalities.

    But would an enemy using such heavy armor actually be more difficult to defeat in combat, or increase American casualties? Or at best for the enemy, would they just suffer fewer fatalities?

    What I’m getting at is the practical limitations of infantry worn body armor. Peasant guerrilla forces are as likely to die from bleeding out from a limb wound as survive a body hit from an ball round. And weighing themselves down with body armor might actually decrease the chance of a guerrilla forces surviving longer term in the field by hampering their mobility.

    Facing the Russians or Chinese in battle, enemy body armor is going to be the least important problem American infantry would face. And again the enemy infantry is going to be defeated without necessarily killing them outright via body armor penetrations from small arms ammunition.

    This whole issue might be at best one of morale. The belief by our own infantry and (ugh!) News Media that the enemy is ‘invulnerable’ to our rifles.

    • Gun Fu Guru

      I have never seen a Russian or Chinese solider with body armor.

      • Bulldogdriver

        Russians have build-in adipose armor under their skin. Level of protection depends on the number of vodkas consumed in their lifetime.

    • Logic Rules

      Exactly what I’ve been wondering!!!

      Is being able to defeat body armor really that important on the battlefield???

      Many people would consider the question above be stupid, but let’s think about it. The armor plates only protect roughly 25% of the body. Yes, they cover some of the most susceptible parts of the body, though not the most susceptible part which is the head. A bullet to an extremity may not kill, but it will hurt and can easily take a soldier out of the fight. With a decent chance of still getting shot in the head, an extremity, or a part of the torso that the armor doesn’t cover, most all soldiers will still take cover from incoming fire just as if they had no armor at all. This means that suppressive fire still works just as good. While soldiers do aim for center mass since it’s the easiest to hit, I question whether a significant portion of wounds are occur right where the armor would be as opposed to being distributed greatly over other parts of the body (surely there’s some studies on this somewhere).

      A motorcycle helmet doesn’t mean that a rider won’t get seriously hurt or even killed if he crashes. The helmet merely increases the chances of surviving, and doesn’t let a rider take much more risk. Body armor could permit a soldier to easily walk away unharmed after taking a bullet in the armor, but since he still has a high chance of getting hit somewhere else and still being killed or greatly wounded, he won’t be inclined to take much more risks than without the armor.

      It seems that having body armor doesn’t increase combat effectiveness that much at all, but mostly just lowers the chance of being killed outright. In that sense, it’s a safety feature but not a combat multiplier. Body armor is nice to have (as would be ammo to defeat it), but it doesn’t greatly help you or your enemy to win the fight, so why the huge worry about enemy soldiers having it. Some people seem to freak out and act as if body armor would make the enemy almost immune to fire and make our non-armor defeating ammo almost worthless. That seems to be a ridiculous viewpoint.

      P.S. I do still think that body armor can be an advantage and a concern (particularly so in close quarters where a greatly wounded enemy soldier with one functioning arm and three seconds of consciousness remaining can still be a serious threat from across the room). But I don’t think that overall it’s as big of a concern as many others seem to think.

    • I dunno man, you tell me:

      • gunsandrockets

        Tell you what? That the video supports some things I said and refutes nothing that I said? Or did you think otherwise?

    • SuperFunkmachine

      Body armour is partly psychological as it improves moral and it does protect against fragments.

  • iksnilol

    Son of a b####, now we gotta make level 5 plates which are even heavier.

    Thanks a lot.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Nah, that Composite Metal Foam is pretty lightweight.

    • int19h

      It will be the ultimate irony if it goes the other way around – they’ll switch to 7.62×51 as the standard infantry round for increased ammo penetration, but then the standard ammo loadout goes down because of increased weight… and to keep it the same, they’ll reduce the armor.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    This statement really highlights that the Army is still preparing to fight a conventional army (which issues armor) while we are currently fighting terrorists (without armor). I only hope that any knew round is better at killing unarmored terrorists than M855. That stuff is awful.

    • MSG1000

      The M855A1 is the new round and is indeed miles better at killing terrorists. The M855 sucked because it was too much of an AP round. Thus the irony over the Congressional conversation.

  • bigzjoe555

    I would say the General is simply alluding to M80A1.

  • lowell houser

    What I find interesting about this is that the 5.45mm with it’s longer bullet and smaller diameter is a better cartridge to develop an AP bullet for. More mass behind smaller diameter. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Russians already have a version of M855A1 in final testing ready for the rollout.

    But I think it’s “The Wound Channel” on youtube where the youtuber got his hands on M855A1 and M80A1 bullets and did a lot of testing with them and found that there is no steel plate that will stop M855A1, and the civilian available level IV isn’t 100%.

    • MSG1000

      Their standard 5.45mm round is already near full on armor piercing because the USSR was convinced of a conventional war like us. They won’t be switching from it for a long time because they have so many of them in storage.

  • Jim_Macklin

    Armor will always improve and so will ammunition. The knights of Old could be un-horsed by a skilled bowman. Their armor got thicker and crossbows firing iron bolts would kill and with minimal skill/ Armor got thicker.
    Then the peasants got hand cannons.
    Our guys can learn to shoot more accurately and take them out with head and neck shots or the Pentagon can buy multi-caliber rifles that can use 7.62x51in a six pound rifle with a built-in recoil system. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b0df39c04f0ce3c9c765866b0ee4f877d180eb2f142472341154e267252689ad.jpg

  • 22winmag

    Casualties from small arms fire is a drop in the bucket compared to artillery/IED/shrapnel.

    In any event, expect more head and thigh shots.

    • Kevin Harron

      With stuff like the 40mm Spike precision munition, and squad level drones with laser designators being possible, every grenadier is precision strike capable, once they decide to pay for it.

  • .45

    Not sure what difference it makes, the enemies can put in as much armor as they like, the air strike will still kill them.

    I’m joking, but seriously, modern tactics against most opponents revolve around suppressing them until the bombs hit whenever possible, yes? The armor piecing business is more important for those involved in CQB, not those doing patrols out in the middle of nowhere.

  • Smedley54

    I’ve been trying to figure out if he’s talking about a 7.62×51, a new 5.56 NATO bullet, a .300 Blackout variant, or something altogether different.

    A 7.62×51 would require a new rifle instead of a modified M4, so either it’s something else or the General was hedging.

    Simply a new 5.56 NATO bullet would probably work in current M4’s, so why the reference to 7.62?

    A Blackout variant would mean new barrels, but otherwise very few changes. But it would be a new NATO round (and oh, the politics of that,) it would lack range, and it would mean logistics problems. Sure, we can do this without NATO, despite the issues that would create.

    What have I missed?

    • MSG1000

      I personally pick neither – I suspect the general was BSing because he needed to give an answer.

      • No one

        Well I mean there’s a chance he was referring to something like M995 or M993, both of which can defeat Level IV (4,000+ fps Tungsten sub caliber cores don’t mess around.) and is passing it off as some new round despite being rather old to save face like in the article.

        The problem is, even if that is the case, Tungsten isn’t exactly common to the point you want to issue it to every soldier for cost and rarity reasons, so it doesn’t really solve much.

    • uisconfruzed

      velocity- it takes speed to punch through and liquefy metal.

  • Bulldogdriver

    To solve the 14.5 inch vs 20 inch barrel prob: (14.5+20)/2= 17.25. Lets work with 17.25 inch barrels!

    • uisconfruzed

      The military DM barrel is already 18″

  • Anonymoose

    The proliferation of and ease of access to armor piercing ammunition is indeed a growing problem for body armor designers, but the solution is not as simple as just a “new plate”.

  • I’m going to go ahead and say: Anyone that thinks the Russians, Chinese, or even ISIS won’t avail themselves of the benefits of modern body armor are seriously indulging in wishful thinking.

    • Paul Rain

      Don’t be ridiculous Nathaniel. There are export controls on these things- they can’t even buy them.

    • robocop33

      Export controls notwithstanding, ISIS will obtain at least some of the rounds that can penetrate modern body armor. The idea is to stay one step ahead of your enemies,

  • Stephen Paraski

    Tungsten is dense. Same mass but more weight, I think that is the 7.62 option only. Putting it in a 5.56 will be pointless.

  • Ned Weatherby

    So who is selling this magical foreign body armor for 250 bux on the internet?

  • Vincent Kanowsky

    Idjits Since the 1970’s US doctrine has been when confronted w, body armor to shoot the OPFOR in the lower body or call in Arty w/airbursts

  • Y

    Which lvl is it? Normal lvl4 or something else?

    • int19h

      Russia uses its own classification which doesn’t directly map to NIJ.

      And their standard issue infantry armor has several variants, ranging from no hard plates at all, to ceramic (which I believe is roughly lvl4 equivalent). It’s hard to tell which these are from the photos, although they clearly have some kind of plates in some of them.

      I know a guy who knows a guy etc; I’ll try to find out.

  • Martingard

    And these new rounds would immediately fall into
    the hands of our adversaries if distributed to NATO.
    If we have a round like this we need to keep it under
    our belts not give it to untrustworthy NATO supposed
    allies. We give far too much stuff to our enemies as
    it is, knowingly or not.

    • p

      Opfor can just develop them too and we have to use even heavier plates + are stuck with heavier ammo. Then they change armor too and were stuck with thousands of Rifles and a Round that dont penetrate armor anymore, is extremly heavy (=few rounds and complete loss of fire superority!), has low magazin capacity, stupid recoil, etc.

      For millions to billions ofcourse….

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      Yes, you should never use the secret weapon, in case the enemy learns about it.

      Not only was there a movie about that, but the Franco-Prussian War was lost that way.

  • jpcmt

    It’s just velocity. Don’t gotta go 30 caliber, just stick with a 5.56 or 6.5 grendel or if they want the full power cartridge, do a nice 243. Screw NATO compatibility. Get something moving along like a 22 250 and don’t worry about the other guy’s armor.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      Those won’t penetrate SAPI plates, either.

  • Agostino

    A former customer of mine –I’m a gun dealer– said he did four tours of Iraq as an Army Scout. He carried, at various times, an M4, an M1A, or an AK. He preferred the AK. He liked the gun better than the others, and he preferred the 7.62X39 round over the 5.56X45.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      And?

      You realize that’s a .30X39 divot in the image, right?

      • Agostino

        My point was, to paraphrase, it’s the cartridge, Stupid. For urban warfare, that is, short range combat, the 7.62X39 (I never heard it called .30X39) is a better round than the 5.56X45. I would imagine the AK-47 round can be upped just as the M-4 round can.

        • MichaelZWilliamson

          First of all, the Russians stopped using 7.62X39 43 years ago. They use 5.45 now. The Chinese use 5.8mm. Everyone else who matters uses some variation of those or 5.56mm.

          Second, no, it has inferior ballistics. “Some guy who was a Scout” is a user, not a ballistics expert.

          5.56mm causes significantly greater wounding. This has been proven for over 50 years of battlefield medical studies.

          • Agostino

            Okay, let’s agree on something. 5.X is .22 caliber. You said .30 caliber which is 7.X. Secondly, there are lab measures and real life experience. For effectiveness I’ve yet to meet a combat veteran who thought 5.X was a good round. There’s a good reason Marine squads going door to door have a 12 gauge component rather than relying on the M-4 and its 5.X round. If you’re a combat veteran who used a 5.X and found it effective, I’ll yield to your opinion, but I suspect you’ve read too many magazines.

  • Guido FL

    The US military is counting on the 5.56×45 rd. and refuses to move on to a more powerful rd., WHY ?

    • Norm Glitz

      Yeah. Let’s bring back the .30-’03.

      • MichaelZWilliamson

        .45-70, none of those .30 cal poodle shooters.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      Because rifles are largely irrelevant, every major military uses about the same caliber, and to fix the “problem” we’d all need to be carrying .50 BMG, and even that won’t penetrate some armors.

      The purpose of rifle fire is to pin the enemy in place while you use the radio to call for real weapons.

  • Norm Glitz

    Reminds me of a joke I first heard quite some time ago.

    Two Lieutenants pass each other in the Pentagon and strike up a conversation. It got around to assignments. “I’m assigned the task of developing an armor that will stop any bullet” sez one. The other “You’re the guy! I’m supposed to develop a bullet that will penetrate any armor”.

    And so it goes.

  • mb

    Maybe the Army has a lust for SVD’s and 7.62x54R…. I bet Putin would be willing to make a deal so both sides can dispatch ISIS to their 72 virgins post haste.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      That won’t penetrate modern armor, either.

      • mb

        may not penetrate, but the recipient of the shot will have several broken ribs, and possible liver or spleen damage, he will not be getting up.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    I should have said Level IV armor.

  • Smedley54

    Exactly, e=mc2; energy to punch through body armor requires mass and velocity. Blackout has mass, but low velocity, so it’s a poor choice for a general purpose battle rifle (but I say that carefully, knowing five others will jump in and claim it’s a perfect choice.) I’m just trying to extract some sense from testimony that, as provided, makes little sense.

    What does a new 7.62 bullet, fired from a modified M4, that can defeat contemporary body armor, and makes a decent general purpose combat round look like? A 7.62×51 NATO is perfect, except that you need an AR10, it increases combat load weight or decreases round count, and the increased recoil makes it hard work to control on full automatic or even burst.

  • Corey

    Has anyone entertained ceramic sabots? A bit less nasty than depleted uranium and harder. Basically the same stuff used in tank armor. It’s light, would allow FPS gains and denser than the ceramics and alloys used in plate armor.

  • bobk90

    I feel that the 10 x 12 coverage and Weight is not worth the Immobility! Since there is a allot of the Human Body that is still exposed as a target, another words the size of an average mans hand or 5 MOA shot group, that most marksmen can easily hit! A 5 MOA shot group is the size of your head, neck , buttstock pocket of either shoulder, a couple of 5 moa’s in the belly area and so on right? All those exposed areas will easily get you KILLED and bullets do weird things when they hit bone, just sayin!

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    So once we do the math, which pretty much no one in comments seems capable of, some idiot thinks if we just equip all our troops with a “round powerful enough to penetrate the strongest armor,” we’ll win the engagements we’re already winning, when the politicians allow us to. Of course, we’ll continue to lose the ones the politicians don’t allow us to win.

    And that magically our troops can carry enough .50 BMG to fight an engagement, on top of their armor, food, water, etc.

    This assumes stronger armor doesn’t develop as a result.

    It also assumes rifles are a significant battlefield weapon anymore.

  • Wow!

    It isn’t that hard to make an armor piercing round. Scaling down existing anti material rounds serve well. The issue is how do we make it at a low enough cost that it can be fielded by everyone.

    That said, it isn’t like you even need an AP round to stop an armored individual. LE has been dealing with that issue pretty well over the past few decades using little more than hollow points and a zip pattern of firing. Armor is a second chance, not invincibility. Like all forms of cover, sooner or later it will deteriorate or otherwise bypassed.

  • survivor50

    7.62 round, sabot in a 120mm shell, 6800 fps, machined solid depleted uranium… yeah, that’ll do…
    Or a 9mm 124 gr at 1400 fps to the face at 100 meters… take your pick….
    Since most of our shooters can hit the gong at 100 with a single six .22 revolver…you may be in deep doo doo, even with body armor…
    Shot placement Dude…

  • MrSottobanco

    Great! And I was going to buy level IV armor. Now what?!

    • JP

      If you think you need it, buy it, the article says the round would need to be produced and will take a year or two and then it still won’t be common and it’s highly doubtful they would trickle down the food chain for a while after. It will also more than likely be illegal for civilians except law enforcement due to the constraints on bullet material construction.

  • Richard Lutz

    Seems to me that a 7.62x51mm SLAP type round with a sub-calibre tungsten bullet would do the job at normal engagement ranges (within 200 yards).

    • JP

      Certainly should but the round would have to feed reliably in semi and FA. I don’t believe sabot rounds are known for that. Most of the old accelerators (308 3006 3030) were primarily used in bolt and lever actions.

  • jmk 0316

    Just issue the Scar17 and be done with it! I know… I know… It costs too much.

    • Logic

      5.56×45 M995 already goes trough… no need to waste money

  • Biker Bob

    M193 out of a 20 inch barrel will penetrate most body armor within 50 yards.