Headed for a Fall: Why Overmatch Is Bad for the Army, Bad for the Soldier

Original caption: "A U.S. Soldier assigned to Bravo Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is silhouetted at a security post during a presence patrol around Forward Operating Base Fenty in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2013. The purpose of the early morning patrol was to check the security of Fenty’s perimeter as well as engage the local population." Photo by: Sgt. Margaret Taylor, US Army National Guard. Public domain.

In January of 2001, the US Army introduced a new slogan to replace the classic “Be All You Can Be” which young men had recruited under for over two decades. The branch’s new slogan was “An Army of One”, signalling a brand new take on a force that wanted desperately to reinvent itself. Those behind the slogan sought to re-humanize the Army, atomize it, bring it down to its individual components, i.e., the people who filled its ranks. It would be, they hoped, the slogan of a new Army that through the strength of its individuals helped make the world a better place. Over the next 5 years, however, it became the slogan under which men and women all over the world would sign up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of what became known as the Global War on Terror.

The slogan communicated the complete antithesis of everything an army should be. Armies are not about individuals in isolation, but about teams of people working together towards a single aim. They are not about making people feel special, but about winning wars. An Army of One” branded the Army as a force, not of disciplined units working in concert, but of heroic individuals fighting alone. As a reflection of what the Army should be, “An Army of One” was a complete failure. It was quietly retired after just five years in 2006, replaced with the current “Army Strong”.

Since then, it seems that the mindset communicated by “An Army of One” – far from dying quietly – has instead proliferated into the community of officers, experts, and corporate partners who concern themselves with the future shape of the Army, and especially its materiel. Boardroom presentations communicate the supposed need for “the warfighter” to “overmatch” his enemy, reducing the sophisticated heterogeneous organization of the Army to just a single individual in the same manner as did that ill-conceived slogan. “The warfighter” is, of course, no one in particular, but it is supposed to represent anyone with a combat MOS. “Overmatch” is so loosely defined that it means almost nothing, but it is supposed to tell us what “the warfighter” needs to do their job.

The result is a concept that has no meaning beyond good feelings, but that is useful to those with an agenda. Since “the warfighter” can be anyone, and “overmatch” can be measured against anything convenient, it’s easy to communicate the sense of a crisis where there is none. If a lobbyist tells planners that “the warfighter” is “overmatched” by Russian-made 7.62mm machine guns, this creates the sense of a capability “gap” – even though the US Army has been procuring comparable machine guns for over half a century. The utility of this vague language to industry solicitors and their partners is obvious.

Saying this does not necessarily imply that all those who use this language do not have good intentions; we must also consider the effect the language has on the way we think and how we interpret reality. If all 26 US Army combat MOSes are distilled down to just “the warfighter” – represented of course by the grunt and his rifle – then any sense of supporting arms and their effect on the equation is lost. This, by extension, diminishes what should be a picture of combined arms into one where all combat responsibilities are borne on the backs of the rifleman alone. By this thinking, if the enemy has medium machine guns, then every rifleman must be equipped to counter them. This is the flawed fundamental logic of “overmatch”, and it does not reflect the way the Army or any other branch of the United States military actually fights and wins wars.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James C. Allen takes cover from small arms fire in Qara Khel, Paktika province, Afghanistan, July 30, 2011. This is what we picture when we think of “the warfighter”: a single, solitary soldier engaged in a fight for his life, armed only with a rifle. Not pictured, however, are the other members of his unit and their supporting arms. Photo by: Spc. Jacob Kohrs, US Army. Public domain.

 

The bent perspective behind “overmatch” has been years in the making. From 2001 on, soldiers embroiled in fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq came face-to-face with the limitations of their weapons. Rifles did not put down insurgent enemies in one hit, as expected, but sometimes required multiple rounds to end a threat. Infantrymen with both rifles and carbines were unable to affect targets out to the distances and to the degree that they had been led to expect by their technical manuals. On the corporate side, Colt’s stranglehold on M4 Carbine contracts prior to 2009 gave other rifle manufacturers great incentive to persuade the Army to hold competitions for its replacement. As long as Colt’s was the sole source for the M4, no other company could get a carbine contract. Further, if another company managed to get a sole-source contract for their own design, they would have exclusive rights to manufacture carbines for the foreseeable future. These and other factors together resulted in an extended and decentralized campaign to discredit the M4 Carbine and the 5.56mm round, a campaign which continues to this day.

In the past several years, however, this campaign has taken a turn. Prior complaints regarding close range lethality have shifted to a supposed need for infantry rifles and carbines to engage and defeat targets out to 800 meters and beyond. Enemy small arms like the SVD designated marksman’s rifle have been inflated in importance and effectiveness, in an effort to help sell the idea of a capability gap between NATO weapons and their Russian and Chinese counterparts. The Russian PKM machine gun in particular has been portrayed not as an equivalent to the US M60 and M240, but as a far superior and far longer-ranged weapon. Even the Chinese 5.8x42mm assault rifle caliber is routinely portrayed as overmatching the US 5.56mm, despite it having, at best, only a modest ballistic advantage.

A chart identifying areas of “overmatch” in the infantry fight. Exactly how the SVD and PKP, both of which fire a round virtually identical to the US 7.62x51mm ballistically, out-distance their NATO counterparts by hundreds of meters is unexplained. From the late Jim Schatz’s 2015 NDIA presentation Where to Now?

 

This shift in emphasis can be attributed to four primary factors: First, a number of engagements in Afghanistan from 2007 onward saw US troops fall under ambush from medium machine guns (usually PKMs) emplaced at extended ranges (800m or more). Second, beginning in 2010, the US Army began fielding a much more consistently effective and higher performance 5.56mm round, the M855A1, which has helped quiet complaints about the lethality of 5.56mm weapons. Third, criticism of the M4 Carbine and the AR-15 platform in general waned with the end of Colt’s exclusive contract for the weapon in 2009, giving Colt’s primary competitors the opportunity to cash in on the program. Fourth, massive increases in civilian ownership of higher quality (“mil-spec”) AR-15s beginning in 2010 considerably improved the reputation of that weapon and its direct impingement gas system in the eye of the concerned public.

With any major faults in the M4 platform no longer obvious in the public perception, and with the lethality of the 5.56mm round substantially augmented by new ammunition, critics of this weapon and its caliber needed a new anvil to strike. Growing concerns about US rifle and carbine lethality at extended ranges (>600m) provided the new change in tack, and the term “overmatch” was popularized as a result. Perhaps contributing to this popularity within the industry is the fact that, unlike with the AR-15, no industry standard exists for AR-type rifles with cartridge overall lengths (OAL) longer than 2.25 inches. This creates substantial incentive in the gunmaking industry to convince the Army to adopt a new weapon with a longer OAL. Any company whose proprietary design won a resulting competition would receive substantial contracts for at least the next decade, and probably beyond, netting them hundreds of millions of dollars or more.

Different proprietary specifications for the same round: The HK G28E CSASS (top) and Colt 901 CSASS (bottom). Any contract for a standard rifle firing a round with a longer overall length than the current 5.56mm would necessarily have to be sole-source, making the US Army dependent on a single manufacturer for all their future individual weapons. This would repeat the mistake made when the US Army allowed Colt to retain exclusive rights to the M4 Carbine.

 

Defining the word “overmatch” itself presents an issue, as it is used in a way that is essentially equivalent to the more familiar “out range”. Like “out range”, it is an ambiguous term that does not precisely correlate to any specific performance aspects or benchmarks. Although different rounds have different characteristics – one round may be superior in performance to a second round in one respect, while being inferior in another – “overmatch” does not identify in which of those characteristics lies the supposed gap in performance. Therefore, any attempt to optimize ammunition according to this principle is undercut from the beginning.

Whether this is deliberate or not is unclear; what is clear is that “overmatch” expresses the goal of massively exceeding the performance of enemy weapons. Doctrine, requirements, and optimization criteria have largely been abandoned by overmatch proponents in favor of an organic approach based on feeling and perception. If proponents of this principle are presented with a hypothetical round that meets notional criteria for overmatch but that appears too small or weak, they will reject it. In contrast to the vagueness of the word itself, proponents of overmatch have very specific ideas regarding what next generation ammunition must – quite literally – look like. In short, “overmatch” acts essentially as an identifier for those who feel the modern SCHV paradigm – including the US 5.56mm, Russian 5.45mm, and Chinese 5.8mm – is too small and weak for the modern soldier.

If overmatch is to be the rule by which next generation small arms systems are developed, then it raises the question of what, exactly, are these weapons intended to overmatch? If a rifle is intended to overmatch just the enemy’s own rifles, then it is already done – the M4 is already the equal or better of the AK-47, AK-74, and QBZ-95 rifles in use by our current and potential adversaries. If the rifle is intended to overmatch the enemy’s machine guns, then one might ask where our own machine guns and other weapons are intended to be if not countering the enemy’s, and why it must fall to our riflemen to do these jobs instead? Moreover, if the rifleman is expected to counter the 7.62mm tripod-mounted machine gun, why not the .50 caliber machine gun as well? Or the 14.5mm machine gun? Or the 60mm mortar, or any of the myriad of other light support weapons that dot the battlefield? This is to ask: Where does overmatch end?


This is the first of three articles on the subject of overmatch. In the following two installments, we will examine the deleterious effect that the overmatch principle has on requirements and optimization, as well as why abandoning lightweight small caliber ammunition in favor of heavier, higher-performing rounds “locks out” the infantry from using the force multipliers of the future.



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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  • Fruitbat44

    I recall being a little surprised when many years ago I found out that “Join the Army, meet interesting foreign people and kill them” was intended as a pacifist satire and not actually a recruiting slogan.

    • Paelorian

      I wasn’t surprised, I was disappointed.

      • Gary Kirk

        Shoulda joined the MARINES

        • Joshua

          I know. Marines got to fight dragons :/

        • Paelorian

          I appreciate the USMC’s cultural advantages over the Army, their espirit de corps and gung ho warrior spirit are widely recognized, but joining the Corps means giving up the opportunity to attend selection to potentially become a Ranger or Green Beret. If joining the US military with the aspiration of learning to wage war professionally, with enthusiasm and pride, I believe Army Special Operations is the place to be. I can too easily imagine myself standing around as a Marine grunt, frustrated, and fantasizing about what I might have been if I’d had the opportunity to try for a higher level. For myself, the only appeal signing a military contract ever had to me was the possibility of an 18-series MOS. SF. No other branch has units with a similar mission. I’m most passionate about that mission.

          • Evan

            Ever heard of Recon or MARSOC?

          • Joshua

            Marine Raiders are still very young. They were created within the last 5-7 years.

            Can’t remember the exact date, and I wouldn’t consider Recon anywhere close to the 75th.

          • Evan

            The Raider name is only a couple years old, but as MARSOC they were stood up in about 06-07. I was still in when I first heard of them. As for Rangers, they’re about on par with regular Marine infantry, although they do get cooler toys.

          • Joshua

            Lol no. Marine Infantry is not on par with Ranger Regiments.

          • Evan

            That’s not what I said. Ranger regiments are close to Marine infantry, and have better toys. They’re not quite our equals. I’ve known a few Rangers, and apart from jumping out of planes, which is pretty cool but serves virtually no realistic military purpose in the 21st century, they can do nothing Marines can’t do, and seem to spend the overwhelming majority of their time pulling security for SF. Any idiot can pull security. Marines actually fight.

          • Joshua

            Lol, Rangers don’t fight….What a joke.

          • Evan

            Pulling security for an SF team doing raids isn’t the same as actually fighting.

          • Rob

            You do know that Marines stand cordons for cool guy raids as well right? I should know, I have done it. Ranger Regiment may share some similarities with the Marine Corps infantry and the Corps definitely invites the comparison, but they are not on he same playing field. The Rangers fight and get a fairly large slice of the pie in that regard. Direct action is their entire reason to exist. They are the premier light infantry force on the planet. Full stop.

          • n0truscotsman

            “As for Rangers, they’re about on par with regular Marine infantry, although they do get cooler toys.”

            Not remotely true. That is espirit de corps delusion.

          • Joshua

            The fact that he things Rangers don’t do any fighting should show how delusional he is.

          • Evan

            Not at all. The Rangers are 90% hype at least. No Ranger I’ve ever known would really argue otherwise either. Rangers jump out of planes, and get nicer gear, and apart from that, their training level is certainly no higher than that of any Marine 0311, and their mission involves far less fighting, as their job mainly consists of pulling security for SF. Yeah, they have flashier methods of getting into combat than we do, but to say they’re our betters at combat once everyone is there is simply absurd.

          • n0truscotsman

            “their training level is certainly no higher than that of any Marine 0311”

            Utter bullshit

            “and their mission involves far less fighting”

            More bullshit

            “as their job mainly consists of pulling security for SF”

            More of the same.

            Since you have presented your points without any evidence or credible anecdotes whatsoever, Im going to immediately dismiss them as bullshit.

            I have a lot of respect for 0311s. But to say they are on par with Rangers in the Regiment or that Marine infantry are somehow involved in “more fighting” is a delusion.

          • Evan

            Again, you’re using hype rather than reality. I know a couple rangers, a friend from college and one of my closest friends since I was a teenager (though the latter ruined his knee in a jump and never deployed). Like I said before, they have a lot of cool ways of getting to a fight. But when they’re there, they mostly just pull security for SF. Marines pull security as well, but our mission goes far beyond that. I’m not saying that Rangers never fight, we all know about Mogadishu (which was a massive clusterfvck with poor decisions being made at every level of leadership), and I know they’ve seen some serious action in Afghanistan, but to say that they’re the equals of Marines is simply not true.

    • Mr. C

      Poe’s law in action, folks.

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    Excellent read! Looking forward to the next two
    I agree in most, if not in all, with the author

    flanker7

  • Hans

    Firearms, not ballistics.

    – 22WinMag

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      Tool.

    • AC97

      *inserts ignorant rant on how FBI standards for ballistic gel penetration only has to do with performance through auto glass or some such… somehow.

      • No one

        “LIBERTY AMMUNITION!”

        …..*firearms not terrible performing laughably overpriced gimmick load manufacturers.*

    • 22winmag

      Grow up kids.

      • No one

        *Says the dolt who trolls every topic with his usual dumb comments about……pretty much everything*

        If you don’t want to be treated like a joke, stop being one.

    • cwolf

      wwwDOTgunsamericaDOTcom/blog/5-56-magnum-supersize-ar-22-nosler-full-review/?

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    I’ve said it in these spaces before and I still think that when riflemen are being engaged by heavy weapons, the answer isn’t in a better rifle, but the radio. The overmatch comes falling out of the sky from mortars, artillery, or an aircraft.

    • RSG

      Of course that’s not always possible. Especially for recon teams caught in an ambush. Which is where I suspect the occasions of being “over matched” have occurred. Doesn’t happen often, but I suspect the majority of guys we’ve lost in gunfights (exempting ied attacks) in Afghanistan have happened under similar circumstances.

      • Matt

        Recon teams still have radios. There is no point in sending a team on a recon mission if they can’t report back to you in real time.

        • jonp

          Radios are great but they don’t return fire very well in the few minutes it takes to get killed

          • Matt

            Should a recon team carry enough equipment to overmatch every enemy on the battlefield? That is the only alternative is the radio.

        • Fast Forward

          ……..operation Red Wings?

          • Matt

            How is Operation Red Wings relevant to this conversation? Even if the SEALs had brought M240Bs and M82 sniper rifles they still would have been overrun.

          • Fast Forward

            Exactly Matt but; in your own words; “Recon teams still have radios. There is no point in sending a team on a
            recon mission if they can’t report back to you in real time.”
            Do you recall any aspects of the communications problems (‘radio’) that the SEAL team encountered.
            Like ET, they struggled to ‘phone home’ and it was, indeed, not helpful………

          • CommonSense23

            Red wings has no bearing what so ever on military matters other than don’t let idiots lead idiots. It was a failure well before the radios became a issue.

          • Fast Forward

            Appreciate that there were multiple failings during Red Wings. The availability of radio communications might have saved the day.

          • Joshua

            That op never should have gone down like it did.

            The Marines had a plan laid out and it was solid. But SEALs are special and know better than the guys who had spent months planning that and the special guys went in half cocked and payed the price.

            The fact that 7 goat herders took them out was a major hit, however the fact that they took laptops full of sensitive Intel that likely led to the deaths of even more soldiers was a bigger hit and a rookie mistake that shouldn’t have happened.

          • CommonSense23

            Or they could have listened to Damneck, who literally told them no to do the op. And if they were going to do the op. Every single thing to do which they ingored and then went wrong. This is what happened when officers get special considerations in training over enlisted.

          • CommonSense23

            Or the 90 other things they screwed up well before that.

          • RealitiCzech

            They were told to carry an extra type of radio, as the standard models were known to not work so well in that area. They didn’t see the need.

          • Kivaari

            The first thing to fail is communications. Always plan for the radio to not work. Have spares.

      • The Tin Star Kid

        Our brilliant leadership, such as it is, has a tendency to go on combat patrols without things like the M-249 or M-240B because we might offend the local population.

        • Ark

          It’s also really tough to hump that stuff up and down the mountains when you’re on recon. The other guys can shoot and scoot because they aren’t loaded down with a 72 hour combat load.

          • The Tin Star Kid

            Yep they are hard to hump. I never got the “pleasure” of humping the 240 just the 60 and then the 249.

        • Wow!

          Which kind of highlights the point that the best equipment, and training are pointless if we let PC dictate our tactics and set stupid stuff as priority over actual life saving goals.

          I’m not military or anything like that but I have had experience working in a kind of fireteam level group and it breaks my heart when politicians say things like “pull everyone out and leave SOF in, they can handle the rest”. Special forces are not superior forces. They need the backup of a superior force to assist them. Maybe people watch too many action movies but no matter how well trained or equipped they are, we are leaving them to die if we send them out alone. Politics should not be dictating our tactics, and sometimes IMO not even our strategies.

    • Major Tom

      That’s not always effective either. (Cost or otherwise) Are you going to level the equivalent of an entire county because you can’t engage a sniper?

      And like said, it’s not always possible either. The moment we go up against a real foe and not Timmy Taliban, air support becomes unreliable for as long as the skies remain contested and artillery becomes a matter of priority such as which is the more important call for fire, concentrating artillery fire to break up a mechanized column advancing on friendlies or using it to support an infantry unit that’s been “overmatched” by long range weapons such as a PKM?

      • Klaus Von Schmitto

        I see your point but I think in the unlikely event that light infantry would be called upon to stop a mechanized advance, that advance would most likely have to contend with TOW and Javelin gunners at least. It would be very unlikely for, say, a mechanized brigade to organize, get into road march, and advance without us knowing it in time to be able to position our own mechanized or armor in it’s path. And, as things stand today, I also don’t think it would take very long to achieve (at least localized) air superiority anywhere we’d like.

        • Major Tom

          Not so much we send light infantry to battle armor it’s simultaneous action in the area of operations. A light infantry unit engaged (“overmatched”) elsewhere while say a couple kilometers away a friendly armored unit or base is engaged by enemy armor themselves.

          Both are within the range of friendly artillery.

      • No one

        Yes because rifleman are the clear answer to snipers and mounted MMGs!

        Can you read the article for once?

        • Major Tom

          I did. I just happen to disagree.

      • Joshua

        A real foe won’t engage you from 800M + either.

        Why do you think WWI/II engagement ranges were 300M and below?

        Because long range sniper fights gets one side completely killed by Air or Arty.

        Even WWII Kraut MG teams would wait for soldiers to get within 300M before unloading on them

        The longer you draw out a fight the greater the chance your catching a missile on your head.

        Why do you think Johnny Jihad engages from 800M for at most 5 minutes then bugs out?

        Because they know staying longer than that means certain death.

        • Major Tom

          Real foes would engage us from further out. The Russians won’t let us get to M4 range in a mechanized offensive. They’ll be engaging from as far as they need to be be it 400 meters or 4000 meters with missiles and artillery.

          World Wars engagements were all over the map, some theatres had smaller ranges, others larger. In France in 1944 for example a 1000 yard sightline is a rare sight. But in the deserts of North Africa in 1942/1943, they are everywhere and then some. Likewise some positions of Japanese forces would engage at upwards of 1000+ meters with their heavy machine guns (when ammunition reserves were favorable) especially when they held dug in mountain positions.

          And of course in the First World War we had infamous situations of US Marines armed with 1903 Springfields outshooting their German counterparts at 800 yards or more.

          The 300 meter rule of thumb is a statistical aggregate, not a 100% truth.

          • crackedlenses

            “Real foes would engage us from further out. The Russians won’t let us get to M4 range in a mechanized offensive. They’ll be engaging from as far as they need to be be it 400 meters or 4000 meters with missiles and artillery.”

            In which case 300-500 m. range on our infantry rifles sounds pretty good.

          • Major Tom

            That’s more an argument in favor of full length rifles like an M16 not carbines like an M4.

          • Joshua

            M855A1 fragments out to 500M from the 14.5″ M4 barrel.

          • crackedlenses

            Issuing rifles that can reach out further when our troops can barely hit at 500 m. isn’t going to compensate for a peer enemy sitting back and pelting us with artillery or air support. Why not just make all infantrymen DMs and give them DMRs?

          • CZFan

            So you see bigger bullets as the solution to long range artillery and air support?

          • crackedlenses

            Not at all. I’m pointing out the absurdity of issuing everyone battle rifles by proposing the logical conclusion, which is even more absurd.

          • Dave

            Not to mention the tac-nukes?

          • RealitiCzech

            The Davy Crockett was a brilliant idea. A jeep-mounted recoilless rifle with a payload twice as powerful as a MOAB? That’s a highly mobile platform that punches way outside of its weight class.
            Plus it’s great for dealing with feral ghouls.

          • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

            You mean the weapon that had a blast radius effects greater than it’s firing range? 🙂

          • Blast radius effects for the Crockett were certainly not in excess of its effective range. Radiation effects were, but lethal radiation doses would probably only be experienced at about half its effective range.

            There’s a pretty good discussion about this on the Wiki Talk page for the weapon.

          • Marcus D.

            The one problem being that its kill radius exceeded its range….

          • RealitiCzech

            IIRC kill radius was a mere quarter mile.
            Range was rather short for the power level – only 1-2.5 miles. One would imagine future missile developments could improve that range, and put it on par with tanks.

          • Wow!

            I think it also depends on if you are setting up a far ambush, or if you are reacting to unexpected contact. Both sides of this argument kind of have merit. Whenever you know where the opposition is, you want to place yourself far away but still effective, but you may not always know where the enemy is.

          • RealitiCzech

            It is definitely a weapon for prepared ambush. My idea of it being brilliant is the Soviets having to deal with some of these as they try to rush through Germany. You can plan to deal with isolated military units in your rear, but how do you deal with a highly mobile, reasonably easy to hide vehicle firing warheads with twice the explosive power of MOABs, and the radiation makes the area impassible for hours? Just one of these behind the lines could be a huge threat to your logistics.
            As a react-to-contact weapon, it is definitely lacking, but it wasn’t made for blitzkrieging your way into the Warsaw Pact, but to tear them up when they tried to do the same to us.

          • Joshua

            Mechanized battles =/= infantry battles.

        • TDog

          “A real foe won’t engage you from 800+ meters either.”

          Spoken like someone who thinks the enemy should be stupid enough to oblige us our strengths while indulging in their own weaknesses…

          • Joshua

            Spoken like someone who knows what a war against a peer nation would look like.

            There’s a reason every war in history against peer nations infantry fights have a maximum engagement distance of 300M

          • TDog

            “There’s a reason every war in history against peer nations infantry fights have a maximum engagement distance of 300m.”

            Other than the fact that you’re rehashing old data courtesy of the Nazis that the US took as gospel for some inexplicable reason, the fact is that the reason firefights ON AVERAGE tend to take place at 300 meters has little to do with folks being a “real foe” and likelier has to do with the fact that in times of total war, training takes a back seat to getting folks to the frontlines as quickly as possible. Shooting beyond 300 yards is simply not in the cards for a lot of folks.

            There’s also the matter of fighting in terrain that allows you more than 300 yards line of sight. Even a rolling plain will have hills and dales that preclude seeing that far.

            That having been said, if folks can shoot at you from further away, they will. It has nothing to do with professionalism or being “real.” Adhering to that sort of mantra isn’t tactical expertise or insider knowledge – it’s hoping the other guy will be as dumb as you want them to be.

          • Joshua

            Lol so now it’s Nazi propaganda?

            The reason peer vs peer nations engagements have been sub 300M is because you have to end the fight fast.

            If you let a fight drag on to long you will receiver Mortar fire or CAS. You’ll get a big giant JDAM shoved so far up where the sun don’t shine you’ll be a giant red splatter on the surface of the earth.

            When 2 nations fight and both have equal capabilities to decimate at long ranges if a fight lasts any significant length of time one side will be utterly decimated.

            So yeah it’s not about professionalism…It’s about ending a fight before the other guy can pinpoint your location, get on the radio while everyone is laying down suppressing fire, the mortar guy is laying down accurate artillery fire, and the radio dude can tell his people where you are so they can fly in and blow you up.

            Fights have to be started and ended before that can happen.

            Why do you think a lot of the engagements we get into in Afghanistan are just harassing fire from 800M away that last maybe 3 minutes?

            They’re not hitting us, or killing anyone they’re just harassing us with some tripod mounted MMG’s and running away before we can locate them.

            If they engaged us at 300M we would slaughter them with superior tactics, if they engage us at 800M+ they’re not killing anyone, just making racket but if they stay to long we’ll slaughter them with artillery.

            That tactic won’t work in a peer to peer battle, so you have to dial in the engagement distances and wipe out the other guy before they can locate you, reorient, get their bearings, and suppress you and then call in artillery.

          • The Marshall Report is Nazi propaganda now?

      • ARCNA442

        From my reading of WWII, artillery and air were the preferred anti sniper weapons.

        While in a full scale war the infantry won’t have guaranteed constant uninterrupted access to supporting fires, planning on fighting without those fires is probably planning for failure. The simple fact is that air and artillery inflict casualties and infantry is mostly there to hold ground. If we don’t have enough of the former, then the money is probably better spent getting more rather than trying to enable an infantryman to out duel emplaced machine-guns.

      • Question: Where are your mortars, GPMGs, HMGs, RRs, etc. in this scenario?

        • Blackhorse

          This is true.
          The howitzer and Rocket artillery will handle the mechanized forces while mortars, grenade launchers, HMGs, GPMGs, DMs, and other longer reaching organic support platforms take care of business.
          This whole “overmatch” BS is just that. There are plenty of systems that can deal with these smaller issues as they were designed originally to do.
          This is just more hyperbolic hysteria over nothing new.

          • It is worth noting that many advocates of this principle consistently ignore any long ranged assets between the rifle and artillery or air support. I guess they don’t need any reason beyond the fact that it’s convenient for them to do so. I have, once or twice, heard mortars dismissed as valid assets because they aren’t compatible with modern ROEs… But if that’s true, that would suggest to me that the ROEs need to change.

          • Blackhorse

            Those are ROE for insurgency and counterterrorism operations.
            The lack of precision munitions for the mortar made them a hazard for populated areas and were too cumbersome for your typical patrols.
            In a peer to peer engagement those limited ROEs will not be in effect.
            Our present issue GPMGs can easily deal with this if properly deployed and operated. The concentration on insurgency operations has skewed the training and deployment of these systems to the detrimental effect machine gunners are just glorified bullet hosers with limited long range and disciplined fire control training. Most couldn’t engage past M4 ranges let alone handling suppressive fire or engagement at extended ranges.
            Our artillery and mortars have been neglected because of manpower issues and it was easier to let the fly boys do the “Precision” strikes while those support personnel did guard duty or minor patrols.

          • Tassiebush

            regarding ROE for counter insurgency I wonder if marker rounds could be used to walk in on a target and the HE ones used once they’ve got things on target? i know this would probably mean only one in three rounds carried would actually be HE but it might at least give a way to have the benefits of mortar.
            I have no expertise in this though and just have the understanding that the third round has often been the one that gets on target after two others give useful reference points.

          • Blackhorse

            To bring a 60mm mortar along requires a three man team.
            Mortar 47 lbs
            HE rounds about 4 lbs each
            The rest of the patrol would have to help carry spare rounds or would need more personnel to carry the ammunition.
            So it comes down to numbers, either you have fewer larger patrols or more smaller patrols.
            Pus the mortar now slows the patrol down because of its weight.
            This is the same reason they usually don’t carry other heavy crew served weapons on patrols.
            Now they could do it, but it’s lighter to carry a radio (which they will already be doing anyways) and call in air support if any heavy ordnance is needed.
            Just properly train the machine gunners with the GPMG and using them correctly would counter this problem easily. Then the patrol wouldn’t be saddled with the heavy mortar and it’s crew, while it could stay reasonably light and mobile.

          • majorrod

            SOP in Infantry companies was for each platoon to carry a number of rounds for the mortar. Mortars were rarely detached to the platoon level.

            Platoon level patrols might not be suitable for mortar employment but there are company sized operations.

            BTW, the 60mm mortar doesn’t need to be employed with the tripod or heavy base plate. The tube, smaller base plate and sight = 20 lbs and is spread across three soldiers.

          • Blackhorse

            So you technically said the same thing I did. They (usually) don’t employ them in smaller patrols and it requires a three man team and the rounds get distributed throughout the unit.
            Thus more weight (even in the lighter form) and more manpower to employ and sustain it in operations.
            Real good info though and thanks for the extra details.

          • majorrod

            I did, except that one might imply from your post that mortars are an unnecessary burden or uncommonly used. On a company op mortars are likely part of the load.

            Platoons commonly carry crew served weapons (the M240 and the 84mm Carl Gustav). The ammo for that weapon is also often cross loaded among platoon members.

          • Blackhorse

            The information I get is that for the majority of patrols the mortar was usually left behind anyways for whatever reasons.
            Not every patrol can carry a mortar because of load out limitations and mobility issues. Otherwise every platoon would already have one in their TO&E. For every mortar round carried would limit other items and munitions already needed for the basic load out.
            ROE also limits their use and the type of patrol that is being preformed.
            Personally I’ve never been in a unit that had mortars. Our fire support was usually Paladins and Apaches or other Abrams and Bradleys.

            Basically I’m not trying to say they aren’t useful (far from it) or needed. Just trying to explain some of the reasons they aren’t used on most patrols in simple terms to explain this “overmatch” BS that keeps being repeated.

          • majorrod

            Yes.

            All too often vets revert back to their experience as limited as they tend to be. We also shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking the next war will be fought like the last one.

          • Awory

            Our patrols didn’t carry a mortar, but they did have their 320s. The 320 was very well liked since it could be detached and carried as a separate weapon system. The grenadiers I spoke with referred to it as a mini mortar. It is only 400m, but still good.

            Most patrols also went out with a SMAWs or LAW, with the Carl Gustav (MAAWS) being handed out as well. The airburst of a MAAWS is a great round.

          • Tom Currie

            Allons!

        • RealitiCzech

          The weapons that have, from WW1 to present, killed vastly more than rifles, no matter how accurate?
          Those have no place in modern war.
          And honestly, repeating rifles just encourage troops to waste ammunition.
          Rifling is just a fad.
          The bayonet is your real weapon.

      • Dave

        “Are you going to level the equivalent of an entire county because you can’t engage a sniper?”
        Did it plenty in ‘Nam, no?

        Do you mean in a war that’s winnable? I don’t follow…

    • darrell_b8

      ARTILLERY….’The King of Battle’; putting the balls where the Queen want’s ’em since 1775…..Fire Support!!
      Artillery is not ‘best’ in cities, but in the open area of Afghanistan it is deadly….and ‘just a call away’……ask the ‘survivors’ in Viet Nam how effective it was…if you can find any..

      • Ark

        For about the last century, artillery has been the statistical greatest killer of soldiers.

        • Alan Anderson

          Three centuries, actually. And on the battlefield. Until the 20th century, disease was the #1 killer of soldiers.

    • Colonel K

      As a 30 year USAF veteran, I endorse this remark. Or to quote Roy Schneider’s police chief in the movie “JAWS”, “We need a bigger boat”.

    • Anon. E Maus

      Or, the f*****g guy with the GPMG or DMR who is there for that EXACT reason.

  • °

    Creating a physical overmatch actually is easy, the KEY is to use the right technology to keep weight and recoil to the minimum.

    Nothing is worse than using mediocre technology with the same performance but excessive recoil and weight. (=decades of totally wasted potential for millions over millions of dollars)

  • 7.62×39 with the same range as 5.56×45…? What a joke. Its trajectory, supersonic range and winddrift UTTERLY SUCKS compared to 5.56×45.

    • Blackhorse

      That’s for the M4 (the chart only has theM4) and not the M16A4. That shorter barrel is the reason.

      • Doesn’t matter. 5.56 still outranges 7.62×39 in every relevant respect.

        • Blackhorse

          True but that wasn’t my point.
          Now the newer AK-103, AK-104, & AK-15 all have a effective range of 500m-600m (AK-104 is only 500m but it has a 12.4″ barrel instead of the 16.3″ the others have).
          So the data is correct for a 14.5″ M4 500m compared to these AKs.
          I can’t vouch if they really are effective (really doubt the AK-104 with its 12.4″ barrel) at their claimed ranges.

          • KC can list 500-600m as the effective range of the AK-103 in their brochures as much as they want; that still doesn’t reflect their ballistics. I have trigger time in the thousands of rounds on both 5.56 and 7.62×39, and 5.56 smokes it for range. It’s just tough to hit anything at an unknown distance with the latter beyond about 300 meters.

          • Blackhorse

            That’s why I said, quote;
            “I can’t vouch if they really are effective (really doubt the AK-104 with its 12.4″ barrel) at their claimed ranges.”
            I too have shot multiple (own a few of each) and the closest I can get a 7.62X39 is with a mint SKS action on a custom stock (20″ barrel) and optics.
            I know nobody that has shot the new AKs to compare it with. Do you?
            I know 16″ barreled AR will out shoot a 16″ AK, even an Arsenal. Never compared the M4 to any AK (let alone newer models).
            I will just have to use the data available until proven otherwise.

          • You’re aware that the AK-103 is just a 7.62x39mm AK-74M, right?

            You can get semiauto versions of those from Arsenal. Exact same rifle. I own one in 5.45×39, model number SLR-104FR.

            Shot 7.62×39 out of a Yugo M70B1 for years before I sold it. I got 2 MOA out of that rifle with Yugoslavian 7.62×39 and just the iron sights, consistently. It was very accurate, but after 300 meters the trajectory became too steep to reliably compensate for unknown distances.

            In contrast, 600 meters is a breeze with my Colt 6920, and requires very little holdover.

          • Blackhorse

            Again….true.
            I haven’t owned an Arsenal (on my short list) but shot a few.
            I can hit 400m with my SKS repeatedly with a lot of work. Just don’t have the eyes for it anymore.
            500m for me with it is more miss than hit.
            By the way I NEVER said the 7.62X39 was as good or better. I was originally just pointing out the data on why it (M4) was limited on the 500m (which is correct).

          • Well, I think it’s justified to question why the graph lists the AKM as “equal” in range to the M4, anyway.

          • Blackhorse

            Oh I can agree to that.
            500m for a 7.62X39 rifle would be more a “area” effective range than “point” effective range.
            Considering most modern militaries use either the 5.56X45 or 5.45X39.
            I would bet it should of been AK 5.45X39 and not AK 7.62X39.
            Just saying lol

    • Audie Bakerson

      Plus ACOGs are pretty common on M4s now.

  • Fast Forward

    Predictable from: 5.56×45 butthurt.

    Campaign now for; ‘Undermatch!’

    • Samuel Millwright

      No that’s the morons campaigning to use 300 blackeye and 6.8 special kid…

      THOSE are UNDERMATCH!

      Even better than keeping current 5.56 is going to an improved 5.56 some of which you wouldn’t even need to rechamber the damn gun to use, but would radically increase effective range, moderately improve barrier and armor penetration, wouldn’t use tungsten in the base round, and be weight neutral or better to 855a1!

      Yup, sure sounds like undermatch to me….

      P.S: out of 16 inch barrels you’d have substantially MORE point target effective range than some stupif 7.62 NATO blaster… Unless you actually believe that every guy out there was blasting VC’s at 800+ with his thweet thweet M14!

      Thus, you’re an idiot if you think that HK G28’s will do that too.

      • Fast Forward

        See: NDIA Armament Systems Forum. LTC Mark Owens PROGRAM Manager Ammo, Weapons and VAS.

        ‘Thus’; Bring me ma Springfield Rifle Samuel and al show ya how Alvin York dun it.

        • Samuel Millwright

          If you gotta use a springfield to get it done then you probably shouldn’t be doing it on the modern battlefield….

          Kinda the entire point here

          • Fast Forward

            Aw shucks……forgot ma 1911!

          • Samuel Millwright

            Everyone knows Remington model 53 is way better…

            Damn squiddies dropping the ball like always lol

        • Unsooper

          I was not military so I can only go by friends that were. A friend who was a SAW man in the sandbox said that he was the guy that ended up slamming his bipod into the dirt and returning fire out to 1000+ yards. He claims it is the shooter and not the caliber that made a difference. Other guys have told me about not returning fire because their 5.56 would never have made it out into the hills.
          Seems to me that a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range is the real answer.

          • Fast Forward

            Sounds like a modern implementation of WW1 beaten zone area denial.
            It has been said that * “a single Vickers MG could fire 60,000 rounds in a day,” when the brown stuff hit the fan.
            Vickers similarities with SAW: belt fed MG, unlimited ammunition………cooling?

            *Author; Colin Jones: Blackpole Munitions Factory, Worcester. Longaston Press

          • Unsooper

            I believe you are right about that although to his credit he really is an excellent shot out around 600-700 as a civilian. I might add that he is only about 30 years old and has no knees left after just a few years of humping those multiple boxes of “light caliber” 200 rounds along with his other crap.

    • No one

      Actually it’s usually the detractors of 5.56mm and other SCHV rounds that loaded with butthurt that 7.62x51mm isn’t standard issue or some dumb boutique round isn’t being accepted by the armed forces because of “POLITICS!” (And not because said cartridge usually sucks horribly.)

  • James Wilson

    Make 6.5 Grendel standard issue. Replace 300 win mag and 308 rifles with 6.5 Creedmoor. Problem solved.

    • Chris

      Extremly slow, totally underperforming ballistic, bad trajectory, stupid recoil for its low performance, rather short supersonic range, low KE/mm², verry low steel penetration, stupid high weight for low performance.

      Also its stupidly fat which reduces mag capacity.
      + extremly shallow angled case = extrem problems and stuck cases in automatic weapons.

      = senceless and totally unacceptable for military use.

      • James Wilson

        Talking about 300 blackout, obviously.

        • Chris

          No about the stupid 6.5 Grendel garbage.

          • Porty1119

            Check out some data on the cartridge, it IS an actual improvement over 5.56. The capacity reduction is minimal as well.

          • James Kachman

            Higher recoil, higher weight, lower velocity inside actual engagements? No thanks, I’ll stick with the superior round.

          • It’s 70% heavier, with a shorter fragmentation range and poorer trajectory over combat distances.

          • .45

            OK, this is the first I’ve heard so much bad mouthing about the 6.5 Grendel. Everyone else on the internet says it is the bestest thing ever and if it is on the internet it must be true.

          • It’s a well-designed round, certainly. I just don’t think it’s a compelling replacement for 5.56mm. Virtually all discussions on this subject ignore the matter of weight, except when it comes to .308 Winchester. There’s not a lot of rigor to these conversations, most of the time.

          • .45

            I just find it very interesting because I am contemplating pulling the trigger so to speak on a 6.5 Grendel rifle, and I don’t want to buy something that won’t live up to the hype. It seems though that it would still be good for a civilian like me because I am not expected to carry 85 pounds of equipment and get in firefights at close range, but are more likely to want to shoot something big and four legged with said firearm and size counts in such endevours.

          • What do you want to do with it? Hunt? What kind of game?

          • .45

            I have no plans to hunt anything, but I like the idea of being able to if I decide to hunt later. Probably should just buy a cheap Savage in .223…

          • You looking at bolt guns or semiautos? Are you just target shooting? Any specific distance, discipline, etc?

          • .45

            At the moment my needs are actually well served by a .22 bolt action at close range, I’m just fantasizing about the future. I want the perfect round, even if I will never actually use it to its full potential, one that has low recoil, can reach out to ranges I’ve never even had the chance to shoot, can drop medium sized and even large game with decent shot placement, is very cheap, and is of course nice and accurate. It sounded to me that 6.5 Grendel fit some of those categories fairly well, but now you guys make me doubt that. That is good for the pocketbook, since I am being convinced not to do anything rash or stupid with my finances… ;D

          • 6.5mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer. 😉

          • Regardless, I don’t think the 6.5 Grendel is the round for you. What it does well is hold onto energy. It’s a medium velocity round, so it doesn’t have a great trajectory (worse than 5.56mm, better than 7.62×39). It’s kind of an oddball round, though less so now that Wolf is making it.

            5.56mm with 1/7 or .223 Wylde with a 1/8 twist is an awesome target shooting caliber out to 800m. You can take small to medium game with it, too.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The deal with 6.5 Grendel is that it fits in the AR-15, and retains energy very well for an intermediate cartridge (and it has a rather gentle recoil). This makes it good for hunting, but does not perform overwhelmingly in other areas, such as target shooting or combat. The cases related to the Grendel with 6mm bullets, like 6mm PPC or 6mm AR, are much better favored for precision paper punching. And while the 6.5 Grendel handily outperforms 7.62x39mm, it doesn’t compare as well against 5.56x45mm and 5.45x39mm as a combat cartridge. If you want a round that can perform well on medium-to-fairly large game with less recoil than a short action cartridge, and can be chambered in either a bolt action or AR-15, then the 6.5 Grendel is a very attractive option. As Grant pointed out, Howa makes a turnbolt that chambers the Grendel, and CZ makes an even better one.

          • .45

            In other words, I don’t have any concrete needs, just wants and wouldn’t-that-be-nice going on. I do appreciate the attempt to help me though. Thanks for that, and I mean that for everyone involved.

          • int19h

            For civilians, the one advantage that 6.5 Grendel has right now is cost, since you can get cheap steel-cased Wolf for under 25c/round now.

          • Grant

            If you want an improvement over 5.56 that you can fit in an AR15 magwell, I would look at some of the oddball rounds based on the 6.8 SPC case. 7.62×39 AR15 bolts which are used for 6.5 Grendel are pretty thin and easy to break. The 6mm Hagar is one such wildcat and has the advantage of Hornady brass being available. In looking at the Hagar brass on Creedmoor Sports site there was also an interesting review by a fellow using it in his .22 Nosler upper with a 6.8 SPC bolt, since he was getting crappy case life using Nosler brass.

            There are also wildcats based on the 6.5 Grendel like the 6mm Turbo 40, which is necked down with the shoulder blown out. So you get the advantage of higher BC bullets and more case capacity.

            You will probably need a barrel over 20″ long to get peak velocity out of any of these, but it is my understanding you need this for the 6.5 Grendel anyway.

            I have considered building one of these 6mm or 6.5mm AR15 rifles in the past. The problem you run into is that you end up spending a ton of money for something that still won’t perform as well as the 6.5mm cartridges based on the .308 case. The target rifle shooters like the reduced recoil and smaller chassis that is less fatiguing to wrestle with, especially offhand and during rapid fire stages. They also don’t mind single loading the longer heavier bullets at 600 yards that won’t fit in the magazine.

            Eventually I will probably just get something like a S&W M&P10 in 6.5 Creedmoor and call it a day. The rifle is around $1600 and cases and dies are easy to find and reasonably priced.

          • .45

            Well, I personally am looking for a balance between kick and performance for a bolt gun, preferably using cheap off the shelf ammo since I am too cheap to reload and 6.5 Grendel seems to fit this criteria. So, fitting in an AR mag is not very important to me, but something that won’t jerk my head around and threaten my more-likely-than-average-to-detach-retina is. My eye problems are my excuse. We won’t go into how much I flinch with my “new” 1903. ;D

          • .45

            *too LAZY to reload…

          • Grant

            Howa has a 6.5 Grendel bolt gun. The reviews I read said it was accurate, but it also had feed issues.

            If you just want to shoot paper out to 500-600 yards it is hard to beat .223 just on a cost basis. Almost no recoil and minimal muzzle blast doesn’t hurt either.

            I know Wolf makes steel cased 6.5 G, but it has bimetal jacketed bullets and I wouldn’t shoot them out of a barrel I cared about. The brass cased 6.5 G cost about the same as 6.5 Creedmoor, so that is what I would go with anyway. If you get a heavier target rifle with a brake it won’t kick much either.

            As for being too cheap to reload I’m not sure how much you’ve looked into it. You can usually load match ammo for about half what it cost to buy factory ammo if you buy powder, primers and bullets in bulk. If you get a C&R FFL you can get a dealer account at Graf & Sons. Or you can just order at Powder Valley. Since you usually have to pay a hazmat charge you want to max out the 48 lbs of powder & primers per order if you can. If not, buying a few 8 lb kegs and 5k primers will still save money over store prices.

          • .45

            Mistyped. Meant to say “lazy”.

      • Jack

        Form factor?

    • No one

      ….Did you even read the article AT ALL before posting such nonsense?

    • Grant

      6.5 Creedmoor would not be a bad idea for an AR10 type designated marksman rifle. For unarmored targets you can get similar wind drift and trajectory to the .300 WM with much less recoil in a lighter rifle.

      I can’t see replacing 5.56 or 7.62 as the general issue rounds though. It would be easier to issue SPR type uppers for the M16 with higher magnification optics and an 18-20″ barrel to extend effective range another few hundred yards. The same can be done for 7.62 rifles. Just issue a few more in areas like Afghanistan where extended range engagements are likely.

      One thing many people don’t consider when they advocate for small bore/high performance cartridges is the effect they have on barrel life.

      The .243 and other high velocity 6mm cartridges are currently the darlings of National Match competitors for a good reason. But they are not suitable as a replacement for 7.62×51. With a good stainless target barrel you may only get 1200 rounds of peak accuracy. A 6.5 Creedmoor will probably double that and you can count on maybe 5,000 rounds out of a .308 barrel. Tougher hammer forged chrome lined military barrels along with reduced accuracy requirements will give longer life, but you would still never want a belt fed .243.

      • Phil Elliott

        .243 with a hundred grain slug does about 3000, 5.56 with a 69 gr. does about 3000 with a suitable bbl. length. How is a. .243 gonna burn out it’s bbl. in 1200 rds?

        • Grant

          Because a .223 uses about 24-25 grains of powder and a .243 burns 41-47 grains in a bore not much larger. The throat gets burned out.

          I know people have won NM service rifle competitions with 10k rounds through their AR15 barrel, but it’s pretty rare & most people won’t use a barrel that long. You never know when they will quit shooting.

          You also have to realize that target shooters will pull a barrel once they think it won’t hold the X ring at 600 yards. If you are hunting deer you will get a much longer life out of your barrel.

      • int19h

        I’m curious – how about nitrided and chrome-lined barrel?

        And how much accuracy is needed for DMR role?

  • Keiichi

    Interesting.

  • PK

    The only way in which I agree with the recent push for overmatch is for replacement/supplementation of legacy systems such as GPMGs in 7.62x51mm with the .338NM GPMG. That would be, logistically, not too awful… and it comes with substantially greater range, ballistics, and at a lighter weight.

    The idea of replacing anything with a heavier system at this point, even for a ballistic advantage, just so individual soldiers are able to reach out further? We’re on the same page. Interesting tech, interesting ideas, but entirely the wrong path for a military force.

    • Joshua

      .338 is to heavy of a round for a replacement for .308 MMGs.

      However .338 offers improvements over .50 and would allow for a dismounted basically suped up .50 M2 that is easily man portable.

      But as a replacement for the .308 240….it is not.

      • Kinetics

        Supplement is probably a better term for the relationship between .338NM and .308, but .260 Remington that actually be a credible replacement for .308.

      • PK

        The .338 is not Lapua Magnum. It’s Norma Magnum, and the weight/size is much less than .50BMG (which it helps replace) while being not too much worse than .308, while the GPMG is lighter and more accurate. It’s a fair trade off.

        • James Kachman

          “not too much worse”
          It’s 13lbs for a belt of 100 vs 7lbs for a belt of 100. Where did you get the idea that it’s “not much worse”? Either doubling weight or halving round-count isn’t a fair trade off.

        • Weight of the ammo is 80% more than 7.62x51mm… “Not too much worse”? I dunno.

          It’s not a bad MMG caliber, though.

      • Raven

        Seems to me like the logical approach is this: keep the M2 (upgrade to M2A1, ideally), and split-replace the M240: mounted ones are swapped out for the LWMMG, while infantry 240s are replaced by a lightweight 7.62mm weapon like a Mk 48, Negev NG7, 7.62 cased telescoped or whatever.

      • Luke

        A .338 MMG works well as a replacement for MOUNTED 7.62 MMGs and DISMOUNTED .50 cal HMGs

    • Ark

      Well, the soldiers are going to need to be able to reach out further, to compensate for being unable to move due to blown out knees from all the weight.

      • gabriel brack

        I resemble that remark.

  • Keith

    This blog sometimes gets dinged (rightly) for bad grammar/editing, but I must say this is the best piece of writing I’ve seen here.

    • Thank you Keith. I appreciate the positive feedback.

  • Old Tofu

    “an army of one” sounds like a motto for suicide bomber recruitment

  • AC97

    I’m glad we won’t have a certain fanboy of Russian weapons be joining us, seeing as they got banned (again)…

    • Sermon 7.62

      No kid.
      By virtue of him being tired of fruitless arguments and hostile idiots.

      But yes, you can thank the ex-cop Zionist mason moderator Phil Weiss for banning me. He said that I tended to demean other cultures and nations, when I defended my own.

      Of course I can continue posting my comments here for as long as I want, but I really feel no desire to do that.

      So farewell.

      • FulMetlJakit

        As much as I almost never agreed with you,
        Seriously, chill out Phil.
        Hard job and thank you for doing it, but maybe tone down the facism.
        Have a toke, or a doughnut.

        • Klaus Von Schmitto

          “Thank you for doing it”? Screw that Bolshevik SOB. I hope his grandparents lived in Leningrad and were eaten by their neighbors.

      • Klaus Von Schmitto

        Bye Felicia!!!

  • Overmatch / “the PKM menace” is todays version of the “missile gap.”

  • TTTT

    Nice. You just mashed up the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis with the military industrial complex. This is why I read this site.

    • Hah! I didn’t even know what Sapir-Whorf was! What a terrible amateur linguist I am!

  • Joshua

    What a lot here don’t understand is this is what soldiers will face tomorrow.

    The Army is already gearing up for a new competition that will see the M4 and 5.56 being replaced by a .308 battle rifle.

    This is real and it is happening.

    The Army Chief of Staff is making it happen and he has the backing of Maneuver Center of Excellence.

    The next weapon won’t be a 5.56 416 like so many want, instead it will be a .308 Uber carbine that weighs as much as a Mk46.

    Because the Army is going to require an over built and over engineered gun to guarantee it doesn’t break parts short of 25,000 rounds and barrels last as long as a 240 barrel.

    It’s just the way it is. Soldiers will hate it, and we’ll have to make it work.

    TTPs will have to change and in an urban fight we may lose a lot of soldiers to this.

    The eventual goal is to then make a caliber swap to a intermediate wunderround that they haven’t decided by only needing a bolt/barrel/magazine swap.

    It’s just the reality of the current Army leadership.

    • James Kachman

      US Military procurement makes one an alcoholic.

      • Oh crap, that’s what caused it.

      • n0truscotsman

        A long colorful history too of idiocy and disappointment.

    • John

      >The Army is already gearing up for a new competition that will see the M4 and 5.56 being replaced by a .308 battle rifle.

      So, a semiautomatic AR-10.

      • Joshua

        They want one with a S-1-F FCG.

      • mcjagermech

        Yes preferably made by HK at 9k a pop

      • gabriel brack

        The POF revolution (?) would be a happy medium if it made it through testing. .308(or other similar length cartridges) out of an ar-15 size rifle.

    • Porty1119

      JOGLEE, GO HOME.

    • Kinetics

      Not too long ago you told people to chill and that certain, specific events (beyond an RFI) would happen in the future before people could/should start freaking out. Is this you telling people to start freaking out?

      • crackedlenses

        Looks like it.

      • James Kachman

        Watch the Primary and Secondary Modcast about 5.56 vs .308. Ash Hess, who writes most of US Small Arms doctrine and manuals, is convinced .308 is happening in one form or another.

        • I don’t think anything is certain yet, but my other sources agree that the 7.62mm rifle effort is serious. That was a big part of the reason I cranked out this article.

          • James Kachman

            I appreciate it. I’m worried we’re making an awful, awful mistake, just after perfecting perhaps the finest 5.56 round ever.

          • It’s the Army, so betting odds are good on that. At this point, the best hope is that the program is cancelled or restructured before it can do anything worse than waste taxpayer dollars.

          • Joshua

            That is my hope as well.

          • n0truscotsman

            I know M80A1 will undoubtedly be used, and will be awesome, although it still doesn’t eliminate the inherent drawbacks of 7.62 NATO in terms of ammunition weight, capacity, and recoil.

            So, IMO, a bad call. I don’t know what they’re thinking.

    • jonp

      I think people are forgetting the “chassis” currently in production for our infantryman that allows them to carry heavier loads.

      • Joshua

        I remain skeptical of the chassis. The few iterations I’ve seen are incredibly bulky and would inhibit movement to much.

        It’s one of those things they’ll have to prove it works and is loved before I ever buy into the viability of it.

        • jonp

          I agree. I was also skeptical of the rail gun and laser on ships but they are test them out right now.

        • jonp

          So were lasers and railguns. From SciFi to reality.

    • nadnerbus

      It’s good to relearn the same lessons of the last sixty years over and over again. Good for taxpayer funded arms contractors, that is.

    • n0truscotsman

      thats utterly depressing.

  • lucusloc

    How do you beat an army of one? You get an army of two. . .

    The new slogan was dumb from inception.

  • John

    Klingons are armed with handheld disruptors and Bat’leth swords.

    Until we bring our own capabilities to their standards, we will always be overmatched.

    Get to work on that, military-industrial complex.

    • .45

      Clearly the solutions is to arm our guys with phasers/disruptors/proton rifles without sights and strict orders to only fire once or twice a minute so the Klingons can get close and clumsily beat them to death with their awkward melee weapons, thus ensuring that they continue to be thought of as the greatest warriors in the galaxy, as anyone in the show will tell the audience every five minutes when the Klingons come up in dialogue…

      I’m still upset over Blood Oath. I watched that episode as a child and remembered it as being so cool, then later watched it as an adult who had martial arts training and about cried at how stupid the fight scenes were.

  • jonp

    I remember the “Army of One” schtick and I thought at the time it was silly in the extreme.
    This is an old joke but as true today as it was 75yrs ago:

    “If you encounter a unit you can’t identify, fire one round over their heads so it won’t hit anyone.

    “If the response is a fusillade of rapid, precise rifle fire, they’re British.

    “If the response is a s**tstorm of machine-gun fire, they’re German.

    “If they throw down their arms and surrender, they’re Italian.

    “And if nothing happens for five minutes and then your position is obliterated by support artillery or an airstrike, they’re American.”

    There is wisdom in that old joke for those that would listen and it is directly applicable to the well written article above

    • noob

      MOTHER COURAGE: He must be a very bad Commander.

      THE COOK: Just a gluttonous one. Why bad?

      MOTHER COURAGE: Because he needs *brave* soldiers, that’s why. If his plan of campaign was any good, why would he need *brave* soldiers, wouldn’t plain, ordinary soldiers do? Whenever there are great virtues, it’s a sure sign something’s wrong.

      THE COOK: You mean, it’s a sure sign something’s right.

      MOTHER COURAGE: I mean what I say. Why? When a general or a king is stupid and leads his soldiers into a trap, they need this virtue of courage. When he’s tightfisted and hasn’t enough soldiers, the few he does have need the heroism of Hercules–another virtue. And if he’s slovenly and doesn’t give a damn about anything, they have to be as wise as serpents or they’re finished. Loyalty’s another virtue and you need plenty of it if the king’ s always asking too much of you. All virtues which a well regulated country with a good king or a good general wouldn’t need. In a good country virtues wouldn’t be necessary. Everybody could be quite ordinary, middling, and, for all I care, cowards.

      THE COMMANDER: I bet your father was a soldier.

  • Thom S

    That Schatz pdf, is the guy seriously trying to say that the Russians give 2 7.62 GPMGs, 2 7.62 marksman rifles, and a suppressed rifle to a 10 (or so) man squad?

    • Joshua

      Schatz was an idiot….he’s dead now.

      He’s actually one of the driving forces IMO for all we are seeing now.

      Every NDIA he led a huge campaign against the M4 and 5.56 with his massive 60+ slide power points and using Congress critters who didnt know better to help undermine the M4.

      • mosinman

        now we’re just waiting of Gen. Scales

        • Joshua

          I hate to feel the way I do for these people…. But some people just won’t die fast enough.

          • No one

            Can we add Gary Roberts first on that list maybe Pierre Sprey after…. I mean, if we’re making a list of “people who need to just die already of natural causes”?

    • cwolf

      I read the briefing. In order to effectively address his points, I’d need access to all the DIA data.

      So…. it’s important to remember context. He wasn’t trying to fix the entire Army… or address the entire combined arms effects. He was (like most people) focusing deliberately on his area of expertise ….small arms direct fire weapons. I suppose a more rigorous person (rare) would have put a disclaimer in his first slide.

      He is basically making two major points:

      1. We have the capability to field significantly better small arms direct fire weapons SYSTEMS that are lighter, longer ranged, and more accurate very quickly.

      2. “We need not concern ourselves with providing this capability to all 900K armed personnel, just those 140K front line combatants.” Doing so makes fielding the new lighter, longer ranged, more accurate systems affordable.

      It is basically a think piece because the Big Army isn’t that agile. SOCOM is extremely agile (and some might argue they’re too agile). AND

      a. He ignores logistical supportability. Having 20% of the Army with one set of weapons & calibers and 80% of the Army with different ones doubles the logistical/support burdens. Or more.

      b. He ignores training (like most hardware guys). Until we move training past the 17th century, better calibers, bullets, and sights will only get you so far.

      c. He discounts other direct fire and indirect fire technologies. After all, direct fire weapons are only wonderful if you have a direct fire target.

      d. He assumes an Infantry unit is all Infantry. Other MOS are in Infantry units.

      3. I agree with him to the extent that we could prototype and field test concepts faster…… much like the USMC is doing. Buy some 6.5 Creedmore CT (pick your favorite caliber) next gen rifles (pick your favorite flavor) with a smart sight (pick one) and some 338NM Ultra Light Low Recoil MMG (whatever) and try them out in live fire exercises …. refine…. if reliable and good results….. field a Taskforce in Afghan (pick one), see how it works.

      4. I also agree with TFB. Moving to a 7.62 fleet will cost billions with little effect (for a variety of reasons). True, bigger bullets make bigger leaks…. if they hit.

      7.62 (as exists today)(not composite caseless telescoping) is heavier with more recoil.

      That equation can shift….maybe the recoil control technology in the 338NM will work in a 7.62? Lots of technologies around.

      Realizing this is at least a 2 case of beer discussion, maybe more.

  • cwolf

    The Army slogans are written by USAREC marketing to attract folks to join. Period. Otherwise, they are irrelevant to the Army folks already in the Army.

    The Army screens out 71-80% of the population today. That’s before the 12-20% losses in IET. Marketing’s job is to attract the recruiting age population to enlist.

    An Army unit has a wide variety of weapons in a unit (mortars, missiles, rifles, grenades, etc.). The Commander on the ground makes his unit’s load out decisions.

    The Combat Developer community is supposed to come up with ‘best’ solutions, not necessarily rifle solutions.

    Trying to solve the MG hasty ambush at high altitude in the mountains at 800-2,000m with a rifle is a tad optimistic.

    My opinion is that the search for solutions should be broader: Pike missile, M6 smart knee mortar, or 40mm smart grenade ground launcher.

    It may be they’re focusing on a sniper rifle as being the fastest solution (other choices will take far more time). In any case, the caliber is only one issue in the overall system solution. A smart ranging scope would be a force multiplier.

    Cheers.

    • Big Daddy

      Yours is the most logical and realistic comment here.

    • nadnerbus

      It is just marketing, but even a that it was terrible. It was like some old guys said, “what do kids like these days?”

      His suck-up replies, “Call of Duty, sir.”

      “Well then, make up a motto that appeals to those kids.”

      The Marines have always done better. They know what a young man trying to test himself, and find his sense of worth and measure of his manhood is looking for.

      Fighting dragons in Dress Blues may be corny, but it still presses the right buttons.

      • cwolf

        It might press your buttons, but the Army recruits more people than all the other services combined….for over 320+ MOS.

        The Army marketing campaign is designed and market tested to move 18 y/o folks to recruiters (not old fogies).

        The single most effective incentive is the college education fund (which kids contribute to). Paradoxically the execution rate is not high, likely because going to college costs more than just tuition. Therefore I always suggested an additional incentive for the hardest to recruit specialties might be a full ride (tuition, room, board, books, etc.) at a state college/university.

        Cheers.

      • RealitiCzech

        Marines recruit gung-ho gunslingers, because their service is more tooth than tail, with logistics outsourced to other branches.
        The Army needs to recruit thousands upon thousands of logistics people, who will only slay dragons in Skyrim. Thus their message will pretty much always be more bland, because you’re trying to balance recruiting Rangers and parachute packers.

    • Audie Bakerson

      Still worse for recruiting than dress blues with a sword vs. CGI demon.

    • gabriel brack

      Burris eliminator would be right up that alley.

  • USMC03Vet

    The Few, The Proud,…………….The Trandgendered.

    • mosinman

      YOU INTOLERANT BIGOT!!11!!!!!!!
      it’s time for you to attend a sensitivity training program

      • USMC03Vet

        I’ll take firing squad instead.

        • mosinman

          100 hours of powerpoints coming up!

  • Audie Bakerson

    Real question is how you’re getting the same range from a 7.62×39 AK (remind me: are we talking Russians or insurgents?) as a 5.56 M4 (that presumably has an ACOG given how standard they are now).

    • Joshua

      Ignoring optics 7.62×39 drops like a rock past 200M.

      I mean with a 25M zero you’re looking at close to 70″ of drop at 500M.

      With M855A1 from the M4A1 you’re looking at 30″ of drop at 500M.

      I mean if your an ace shot and can compete for an extra 40″ of bullet drop sure the AK is a 500M gun….otherwise your looking at a 300M gun before it just becomes to hard to compensate with the AKM.

  • Gary Kirk

    Just start arming drones with the GAU-8..

  • Excellent article Nathaniel and looking forward to the follow-up! You’re analysis of the failed Army of One motto is spot on and highlights the more dangerous shift in military mindset to the minutiae of every component the individual soldier fields. Instead of focusing on operational objectives and the reasonable tools soldiers need to accomplish those larger goals, Overmatch pushes the discussion into petty dick-measuring contests that completely ignore superior tactics and support weapons.

  • Tormund Giantsbane

    Will the army finally get it right and adopt the FN FAL in .280 British?

    • No one

      .270 and .280 British were never good rounds, sorry to tell you this.

      • .270 was OK.

      • n0truscotsman

        They were better than 7.62 NATO IMO.

        • SuperFunkmachine

          Softer and smaller.

      • Tormund Giantsbane

        So do you just not get historical humor or what?

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      I own and regularly shoot 2 FAL’s. I love them. They would be way down on the list of rifles I want to carry into combat. I’d carry a G3 before an FAL (and I have) in fact.

  • Ryfyle

    I guess it’s time to assemble me a 6.XX mm rifle to keep up.

  • idahoguy101

    NATO standard ammo isn’t going away for Big Army or the USMC. Get used too the 7.62 & the 5.56 being your two rifle and machine gun options. Most of this “overmatched” and “outranged” problem can be solved by a new version of the WW2 BREN gun issued down to the squad level. No need here to reinvent the wheel.

    • idahoguy101

      The US Army Ordinance Corps of the 1950’s was too myopic to adopt either an intermediate rifle cartridge of a European rifle.

  • mcjagermech

    I think the real question is, can they train grunts to get the most out of a .308 rifle? I would guess they won’t.

    • Grant

      I think this is the big question. I’ve never been in the military, but everything I’ve read points out that the US Army spends very little time on marksmanship training. It doesn’t do much good to switch over to .308 if troops are not trained to take advantage of its increased range.

      I don’t know much about the newest 5.56 ammo coming online, but I would think the easiest option would be to adopt a M16 based rifle with a collapsible stock and an 18″ medium weight barrel with a free float handguard. If you want a cheaper option just putting a collapsible stock and a free floating handguard and a Geissele trigger on existing M16A4 rifles would be workable. With a good optic you could be pretty dangerous out to 700 yards.

      • n0truscotsman

        Marksmanship and training available as improved since the Cold War, although its still not satisfactory enough IMO/IME.

        There was much discussion in the 90s about adding a collapsable stock to existing M16s and it wouldn’t have been a bad option then. Although with the adoption of newer cartridges beyond M855, the advantages of a longer barrel have been mostly nullified.

        There is a movement by SMEs/SAMGs that supports Geissele Triggers and free float rails. Not sure how far it will go with the newest SOPMOD (if its coming out), which im out of the loop on. It will probably be forgotten about.

    • RealitiCzech

      They could, but they won’t – they never do.

    • People advocating “Train harder, yo” and .30 rifles to allow our troops to “overmatch” out to 600m with line infantry grunt rifles, really need to read MacBride’s “A Rifleman Goes to War”

      Dude was a VERY proficient shot, with scads of experience field shooting at out to 1000 yards (successfully) at live targets before he resigned his US Army commission to go enlist as a Canadian private just so he could get into World War 1 early.

      As a *sniper*, with carefully selected lots of ammunition, a hand selected and accurized sniper rifle, equipped with a properly fitted telescopic sight, in a campaign where things were static enough he had range cards for his positions that listed INDIVIDUAL RATION CANS with accurate ranging, he stated that at 300 yards and farther, he honestly could never tell if he hit his targets.

      • Don’t worry, Rick, TrackingPoint scopes will totally eliminate that limitation! Trust me!

        😉

      • mcjagermech

        Yeah that’s what I was thinking so it makes the extra range of a .308 rifle moot since long range misses are still misses

  • ReanerF

    In 2017, seven Americans have been killed in action in Afghanistan. One was killed by indirect fire. Three were killed by an Afghan soldier at close range. Two were killed on a compound raid, almost certainly at close range and possibly by friendly fire. One was killed by what was just described as small arms fire which may have been caused by an “overmatching” PKM or may have been from an AK or another weapon, we don’t know.

    Therefore in the past six months, the dreaded PKM scourge has POSSIBLY killed a single American. This is the threat that justifies reequipping the entire US Army with 7.62 rifles, even though the data shows that close combat is the place where Americans are dying, where a 5.56 rifle is what you want. Maybe the 2016/2015/2014/etc. data shows different, but strangely in these discussions no one actually posts the numbers to pack their assertions up.

    And this is Afghanistan, one of the best suited places in the world for long range engagements. Do any of these guys with their nice powerpoint decks believe that Iraqis would have had a better time in Mosul going street to street, room to room if they traded their AKs and M16/M4s for 7.62 rifles? The US may have been able to pass off the heavy lifting in Mosul and Raqqa to local forces, but it wasn’t able to in 2004 and there’s no reason to believe it will be able to in the future in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, East Asia, Africa, or any of the places in the world that are both heavily urbanizing and potential hotspots the US may find itself fighting in over the next 20 years.

    • I checked data for 2008-2012, and it’s the same. Something like 13-16% of all hostile KIAs (i.e., not green-on-blue) are from all small arms, combined. Who knows how much of that was PKMs, but from what I can tell the predominant amount of small arms casualties occur at very close range (300m). So if we are generous and say HALF of those casualties were from PKMs more than 600m away, we’re talking 6-8% of all hostile KIAs. Might be a problem, but probably not something you want to change your entire infantry small arms configuration over.

      I will cover this more in detail in one of the next installments (this might go to four, depending on how much I can condense what I plan to cover). If you’ve got access to good KIA stats, please do email them to me, I would appreciate it.

      • James Kachman

        Unfortunately, while this data is true and valuable, it is arguing the wrong thing. The 7.62 NATO push is about armor penetration, not range. This is an excellent counterargument to the people who imply that we need to replace 5.56 due to overmatch of range, but that is not the driving motive of the (foolish) decision to adopt 7.62 NATO more widely.

        One also, to be entirely fair, must admit that the data is also meaningless when speaking towards peer or near-peer warfare, which is where the Army is looking towards now. Valuable lessons can be drawn from conventional peer warfare, most of which argue in favor of 5.56, but those wars are different animals than an insurgency such as Afghanistan, and must be considered as such.

        • Joshua

          M995 defeats NIJIV armor, and the supposed experimental XM1158 is supposed to be scaled down to 5.56.

          AP is not an excuse.

          • James Kachman

            Nor am I saying it is. But the given reason for this madness of pure-fleeting .308 is armor penetration, therefore it is this argument which must be addressed and debunked, not that of range.

          • “This is the first of three articles on the subject of overmatch.”

            http://i.imgur.com/vYCOMEq.gif

            (and it might end up being four, actually)

          • well

            Nathaniel, please implement the fact that body armor is almost only presented at absolut point blank range. At 300meter nobody stands perfectly with his body armor presented to whoever shoots him, but behind cover and foliage…

          • We’ll get there. 🙂

          • I’m hoping to test this soon at NIJ test distance (45′), but I’ve provided the author with information regarding NIJ Level IV plate defeating M995 @ 100M velocity figures in actual Ballistic Lab testing..

          • Joshua

            That’s the main reason they are developing the XM1158. Supposedly the goal of that ammunition is to defeat IV ceramics at 300-400M.

            Now can it be done? I’m not sure, but that’s the idea behind the ADVAP ammunition.

          • Hmm that will be interesting. Maybe in a 7.62x51mm caliber, but not sure about the 5.56

          • Joshua

            I believe, and I could be wrong here, but I believe the XM1156 ADVAP(the 5.56 variant) has a goal of 200M for IV ceramic defeat.

            Basically defeat NIJIV armor within the general distances of infantry combat, sub 300M.

            Could be wrong on the name though, but I believe it’s supposed to be called XM1156.

          • I am probably gonna publish those soon.

        • A discussion of armor will come in following posts. We’re not done here, yet. 🙂

          • James Kachman

            Fair enough, just making sure we’re fighting the right fight 🙂

        • majorrod

          Where is the armor discussion for an intermediate rifle and a different round? EVERYTHING I’ve read on the subject uses the overmatch discussion.

          Now I don’t deny that it should be part of the discussion. I am saying armor penetration doesn’t appear to be driving the interim rifle/new caliber train.

          • James Kachman

            Look up the Primary and Secondary modcasts (5.56 v .308) where Ash Hess is speaking, or the interviews given with General Milley. That makes the armor penetrative focus much more clear.

      • The_Champ

        A look into the reverse data would be equally interesting…. how many bad guys have we killed with small arms fire?

    • Kivaari

      Exactly.

  • DontTelltheArmy

    The argument to bring back 762 rifles has advanced beyond nonsense about the PK in the last year. They have been replaced by something new. The Russians have a new wunder plate, that can stop M993/M995. The US Army is in turn developing new wunder 556/762 AP rounds, however apparently the 556 round is not going to provide enough performance. The argument is then ten thousand or so 762 rifle areneeded to have in case we need to send troops into the Baltics or Poland and give them something that won’t just bounce off the Russians.

    • Joshua

      It’s amazing we ever lose any soldiers to small arms….I mean our wonder plates make us invincible!!!

      Or maybe they cover such a small area it’s still really easy to die depending on the angle you get shot at.

    • “The argument to bring back 762 rifles”

      That’s part of the problem. The conclusion seems to be forgone for this camp, and their search isn’t for answers, but justifications to do what they already wanted to do.

      I plan to address armor in the later installments.

      • Fast Forward

        It has been commented that AP rounds perform more optimally
        after 100m. Is this due to erratic tumbling on impact, caused by fleet yaw, or is this just a fiction?

        • This seems to be mentioned a few times on the web. Something about the bullet being somewhat “unstable” at close range, but after the 100m settles down. But then if that were true, I’d have to question why the NIJ tests rifle armor at 45′ and I believe the Military Armor protocols are at 25′.

          • Fleet yaw is certainly a thing. The exact degree to which it affects armor penetration at close range would need a study to determine. However, I think we can guess that it would.

          • Would need a lot of armor plates and AP rounds, high speed, and a very long range capable of setup to ensure we can make the shot angles we need 😀

        • cwolf

          wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/fleet-yaw

  • Ark

    Afghanistan is an aberration. It’s high altitude with clear enough air to see for 800 meters. The terrain allows you to set up shots at extreme long range. It’s remote, and heavy support is slow and difficult to get on target. Heavy-caliber weapons are heavy and hard to lug out to a place they can be put to use. We’re probably not going to fight another war anytime soon where all these conditions come together.

    Can you actually show me a regular Army grunt who can take an AR10 variant and hit a prone target behind a PKM at 600+ meters? You can qualify on the pop-up range without hitting anything past 200 yards. What’s the point of a .308 uber rifle if you can’t hit anything with it?

    Fire superiority wins infantry battles, not “overmatch”. We’re already losing the SAW capability, and now we’re moving to halve the round count that can be carried for a given weight. We are going to be deeply sorry if we find ourselves in another urban/jungle fight against people carrying light rifles with a lot of ammo in an intermediate caliber. I’m sure it sucks to get shot at by 7.64x54R guns that outrange you, but in the long term we’re better off telling our few troopers in Afghanistan “deal with it” until the war is over.

    • ReanerF

      “Afghanistan is an aberration.”

      If more American officers read history rather than powerpoints we’d never have been surprised by that. 30 years before we invaded, Afghans were harassing AK armed Soviets with .303 Enfields. 150 before they invaded, Afghans were harrassing Brown Bess armed Redcoats with handmade jezail rifles. The fact that Afghanistan is well suited to brief engagements of long range harassment fire and that Afghans like fighting in that style was open to anyone who could open a book.

    • cwolf

      Or buy enough under Rapid Fielding to meet the Afghan need, then, after Afghan is over, throw them away. Cheaper.

      • milesfortis

        You hit the nail on the head.
        I’ve said for more than a few years that for the fight in Afghanistan, the U.S. should field synthetic stocked, detachable magazine fed, medium weight ‘sporting rifles’ with 3-12X variable scopes chambered in M118LR 7.62 NATO or now even MK248 .300 WInMag and issue 3 per infantry squad.

        • cwolf

          Hmmm… we could call it a SCAR-H?

          I’m repeating myself, but given the rainbow nature of uphill, long distance shooting trajectories, a smart ranging scope becomes a force multiplier.

          Minor range guesstimate errors = misses.

          Might as well go whole hog…… 6.5 Creedmore. 🙂

          • milesfortis

            Scar H? Maybe, if they chambered it in .300 🙂

            I was basing all this on your point of being a relatively inexpensive “expendable” theater weapon. All the major manufacturers today have rifles that are MOA capable and are relatively light weight and much less expensive than a SCAR, M24 or M2010.
            When there is no further need, they could be sent to MWR or sold off through the CMP….

            Scopes are what they are these days. I agree. All sorts of new ‘smart’ scopes out there, field one that has a track record with all the long range shooters.
            My caliber choices were those already in the pipeline and signed off by JAG for combat use.

          • cwolf

            I was sort of kidding.

            However, SOCOM invested years of worldwide testing and lots of bucks in the SCAR. In any case, picking a rifle that has already gone through military testing lowers the risk factor.

            I’m always puzzled by other folks alluding to “too expensive.” We drop a $11M bomb which maybe kills 39 people. Cool. We fire $84M worth of missiles to slightly damage an airfield to make a statement. Awesome.

            Buy a military grade rifle that handles high volume fire and is accurate out to 1,000m? Eeek! The horror! “I bought my wonder gun for 1/3 that!”

            I am impressed with the USMC current fielding model. Buy some, try it. If it works, outfit a unit at 29 Palms. If it works there, outfit a unit going to war. If it works, buy more. Fast & effective.

            I admire the long-range shooters, but they are folks usually sitting at a nice bench on a manicured range with known distances with all their support gear.

            Versus an oxygen deprived Soldier sweating his butt off, sucking air hard at 14,000 m, who slept on a rock, humping 120 pounds of stuff, ate constipation inducing rations, likely dehydrated, who is running & jumping behind rocks while bullets are banging off those rocks.

            His ability to guess uphill range accurately is unlikely. Given bullet drop at 800-1,500m, misses are easy. His rifle will be resting on a uneven surface and his body will be twisted behind the biggest rock he can find.

            So, that’s why I distrust armchair analyses.

            I’d vote for fielding the DARPA computational optic. But there are several laser RF scopes with auto aim point. Dunno if they correct for uphill/downhill, but that’s easily doable.

            Caliber? JAG comments on bullet design if appropriate (like the Mk 262 OTM design). They could care less about caliber.

            The real issue behind any new caliber is the new equipment for the Lake City ammo plant. BIG bucks.

            But, for the purposes of this Rapid Fielding Afghan only test concept, you can easily buy a million rounds of 6.5 Creedmore (which is what you see being done in other recent buys… look at all the new calibers in the various sniper rifle buys). More importantly, you’d get real Soldier data and feedback. Yes, 7.62 is doable, but not best choice.

            Obviously, you’d take your SCAR Mk 20 or H& 417 or whatever out to Colorado or best matching terrain, and try out a squad/platoon livefire exercise or three BEFORE committing to Afghan.

            At the end of the day, this is all dialogue. We don’t have to write the checks the Soldiers have to cash.

            🙂

          • CommonSense23

            Why do people think the MK20 is a good rifle.

          • cwolf

            Pick one you like. It was just an illustrative example. Whatever passes the testing in whatever the new caliber is.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            Because for some reason people get all hard over a brown polymer mediocre 308 rifle, just because its not an AR and not in 5.56.

    • RealitiCzech

      We have a piece of equipment that should help tremendously with overmatch – the ACOG. A 4X optic, which for ages was relegated to sniper use. An optic alone reduces the difficulty in making hits. With magnification, you can see and hit much further than before.
      If we are being overmatched, it’s because training is dreadful.

      • int19h

        Isn’t ACOG standard issue for Marine riflemen for some time now?

        • RealitiCzech

          Pretty sure it is. From what I’ve heard, it’s more common than red dots in the Army as well. A magnified optic lets you identify who those human-shaped objects are, it lets you find them easier, it lets you hit them easier.
          I have suspicion that it hasn’t increased our hit ratio much overall, since I’ve seen no data on it. So either 1) the data isn’t being collected or 2) the data is collected, but it’s embarrassing, so it’s classified or 3) I’ve managed to miss it entirely somehow.

      • CommonSense23

        A 4x optic is pretty much limited to 300 yards real world.

        • RealitiCzech

          If a magnified optic isn’t good past 300, how far are irons good for?

          • CommonSense23

            Honestly not that far. The question is what you are trying to do. Engage a guy who is standing still, and clearly outlined. Or trying to trade shots, heart beat going 150, ducking in and out of cover, only exposing yourself for a couple seconds, against a guy doing the same. There is a reason why you see combat where its generally only when one side established clear fire superiority do casualties start racking up.

        • 4x was pretty much the “standard” sniper rifle scope power through WWII – with many actually having even less magnification.

    • SuperFunkmachine

      Why not just copy your opponents and carry 7.62mm machinegun of your own, we have them in the arsenals today.

  • nadnerbus

    Considering the Afghani fighter typically has an AK in 7.62 x 39, the US “warfighter” does have over match with a 5.56 M4. Longer range, more accurate, etc.

    If US troops are being over matched by PKMs and such, then what the heck do we have, a Cuisinart? Is that not what the M240 is for? Are we going to equip every soldier with a GPMG to ensure “over match?”

    If this goes back to Wanat and Kamdesh, then I am going to scream. Johnny Talib and his type were smart enough to take advantage of nearly 360 degree high ground around very isolated and undermanned US outposts with plunging machine gun fire. Giving every Joe a 7.62 battlr rifle would not have changed a thing, except the Joe’s going black on ammo sooner.

  • Kivaari

    Excellent point. It is as I have been saying the M4 is a perfectly suitable weapon for its intended purpose.

  • Michael Shannon

    The vast majority of troops don’t aim. They point and pull which is why an intermediate round is preferable- you can carry more. The M4 is fine for this. The AK is fine.

    An attempt to make every infantryman a sniper will likely fail- if you can’t get troops to use the M4 with an optic to even it’s theoretical maximum effective range giving them a 7.62 mm rifle with presumably fewer rounds to practice with is unlikely to work. You’ll probably have fewer hits and definitely fewer misses which will reduce suppression.

    • cwolf

      Generally speaking, the kill rate went up when we began issuing optics. Iron sights, after all, are not something the human eyeball can use well. Although LTC(R) Hartman agues dot sights still need a horizontal reference line.

      The larger issue is how we train shooting. In one test, highly qualified shooters hit zero moving targets.

      I sort of agree with you….. a generation of folks who have spent years spraying the enemy with the ultra low recoil M16/M4 might be surprised and unhappy when they move to 7.62.

      I also think we should use ballistically accurate targets (not plastic-fall-down-with-one-shot ones) that behave like a 150-250 pound Soldier. Some folks unconsciously believe that tiny bullets knock people off their feet, back 5 feet, and instantly dead. That’s how it works in the movies.

      Given the rainbow nature of uphill, long distance shooting trajectories, ranging scopes become a force multiplier.

      • “Some folks unconsciously believe that tiny bullets knock people off their feet, back 5 feet, and instantly dead. That’s how it works in the movies.”

        Note that BIG bullets don’t do that, either. In fact, “full power, full bore” rounds (like 7.62x51mm NATO and 7.62x54R Russian) often create *smaller* wound volumes in *human* targets, because shooting mid size, thin skinned primates with rounds designed to be effective on horses at 1000 yards or so (and if you look back, that type of performance figure underlies the original performance specs of *all* of the “full bore” military rifles in the 7mm-8mm range) don’t work so well at ranges typical of infantry combat in almost ALL theaters of war for over 100 years, because the rounds pass through BEFORE they destabilize and yaw enough to really chew things up.

        Sweden has an interesting approach to pop up targets. They use a “full size” plastic target face, but the part that actually records the hit and reacts is a much thinner strip of steel that runs up the centerline — hit the target anywhere but along the center few inches, and it probably won’t drop. Teaches soldiers to hit COM.

        • cwolf

          Almost all bullets are relatively tiny compared to a 150-250 pound Soldier.

          FMJ tend to ‘ice pick’ meat targets. Which is why NSWC went to OTM in the Mk 262. Same for the bullet design solution for fleet yaw. Far more folks are wounded than killed. Most killed bleed out. Bigger calibers make slightly bigger holes/leak points.

          My opinion is the human memory system collects memories without much evaluation…. so, after hundreds/thousands of hours of movies/TV, non-hunters start having a generalized belief that bullets knock people up in the air, back 5 feet, and instantly dead. Unless you’re the hero, then you only ever get a mild shoulder wound at worst. Mostly the hero never gets hit at all.

          https://wwwDOTslideshareDOTnet/James8981/targets-v3a

          The Swedish target sounds interesting.

          My opinion is we need ballistic weighted dummies as targets for some parts of training, maybe on a rocking base, with differential “tissues” that realistically react to bullets. Then shooters can see how the laws of physics work.

          At the risk of boring folks, Pat Rogers did a moving target test with M16 with iron sights with “expert” shooters. Nobody hit a single moving target. Zero hits.

          ARI did a study where shooters believed the target was going to shoot BBs at them until they killed it. Rate of fire went up, accuracy went down.

          They also did a study on Soldiers being able to zero their rifle. Almost nobody could accurately adjust sights. They ended up putting a job aid on the stock. My weird idea is we print the new zeroing target on the ration case.

          I may have poor vision, but I have a very difficult time seeing a enemy head at 800m (let alone 1,200-1,500m). The Israeli folks trained tank gunners to shoot at enemy tank muzzle flashes. Maybe we should do that for enemy long range MG fire.

          Lots of fun. Thanks.

          🙂

    • Some Guy

      The Germans are now testing a solution the Wirkmittel 90 (a Matador variant). This is an RPG mixed with the XM25(airburst rocketlauncher with a target computer) so it really sucks on the other end. Whp needs to aim directly at the enemy when you can send a 90mm airburst warhead up to 1200m.
      The Germans really like their Wunderwaffen.

  • John Gregory

    Remember when “warfighters” were universally called “soldiers”? Ah, the days before war became a marketing slogan. From “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”, “When the revolution comes, the marketing division of the Cyrius Cybernetics Corporation will be the first against the wall.” Now THAT’S a proper attitude about the schmucks who call soldiers “warfighters” as if it’s all glam dodging incoming rounds or trolling around in a HumVee hoping you’re not about to be the first in your squad to find an IED.

    • .45

      I thought Warfighters was a Battlefield game…

  • Scott Connors

    The German soldier during World War II overmatched his opponents in numerous ways (superior leadership, better weapons: Sturmgewehr, Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck, MG42, Panzer Mk V “Panther,” etc.), but they still lost.

    • int19h

      They lost because one thing they didn’t overmatched their opponents on was industrial capacity; and their blitzkrieg wasn’t blitz enough to take that out.

    • mosinman

      the only thing a panzerfaust could “overmatch” would be a grenade. also, they didn’t always have better leaders either

    • CommonSense23

      Yeah, they really didn’t though. Allied gear and equipment, and tactics were pretty much all around better.

    • Some Guy

      There where a lot of things overmatching the the Germans. The lack of resources like oil, iron or ruber made standard production hard. There were multiple fronts, the logistics were a mess and politics screwed with every decision. Overall the doktrins of Befehlstaktik, combined arms and maneuver warfare(now adapted by most nations) and the the reliance on the officers and NCOs(like most armies have today) made the Wehrmacht so effectiv from the start.

    • n0truscotsman

      We won because we overmatched them in air supority, industrial production/availability, and artillery.

      American artillery, its ammunition, and techniques obtained a well-earned reputation as literal divine intervention.

    • XT6Wagon

      Not really even on the technical front. Germany got where it was by surprise warfare on nations with the mistaken belief that the coming war was several years out. France is perhaps the best example of it with plenty of advanced weaponry developed, but production barely started. That coupled with the garbage general staff and poor communications doomed them. The german tanks were at that time were pretty bad. The few Pz3 and Pz4 weren’t really anything to write home about. The Pz3 had a barely enough armor and barely enough gun to fight obsolete tanks, and the Pz4 was made of wet paper and had a gun for popping MG bunkers, not tanks. Only 20 Matilda II did serious damage, and at a technical standpoint its design is pure interwar obsolete.

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    The most importand thing to be adressed in long range engagements is, IMHO, target detection and recognition, and accurate ranging. This is especially hard if the tafget is not coorporating, hiding, wearing camo, firing back, being supported by artillery, smoke, etc.
    How has this been solved in this guest for overmatch? I mean, does the army plan to field enhanced target detection equipment to every soldier that would justify the more capable rifle/round and do they plan to have some sort of fire control equipment that will neutralize shooter errors.
    I’ve used 7,62×51 for more than 20 years. You can’t fire longer than you can see and in tactical situations that’s not very far

    flanker7

  • Tom Currie

    The author seems to imply that the “campaign to discredit the M4 Carbine and the 5.56mm round” began around 2001. That campaign began the day the first US soldier fired the first 5.56mm round in combat in the jungles of Vietnam, which would place the start of that “campaign” closer to 1968. The faults of the combination of the M16 + then-issue 5.56mm ammo + then-current Army training + the in-country supply system have all either been corrected or have become moot due to being OBE, but the actual experiences of actual soldiers will never be completely eradicated despite assorted “tests” and “studies” conducted and published for the express purpose of assuring us that those problems never really existed.

    The chart suggesting that EITHER the M4 or the AK are effective at 500m is immediately complete fantasy long before it gets down to the heavier weapons. The AK in 7.62×39 is at best an area fire weapon at 500m due to the inherent (in)accuracy of the weapon and ammunition, meanwhile the M4 in the hands of our soldiers is likewise at best an area weapon due to the lack of effective rifle marksmanship training for regular soldiers in the US Army.

    Perhaps we have sometimes been overmatched in some areas, but trying to compare one weapon against another is not where the problem will be found. Any overmatch we face today is a direct result of training, doctrine, and organization, NOT any shortcoming of comparable weapons.

    No one in their right mind would claim the Mosin Nagant overmatches the M4 as a general battle rifle — but we have had patrols and small outposts that found themselves overmatched by a handful of Afghani fighters armed with such rifles taking advantage of high ground and an ability to score hits at longer range.

    • crackedlenses

      “but we have had patrols and small outposts that found themselves
      overmatched by a handful of Afghani fighters armed with such rifles
      taking advantage of high ground and an ability to score hits at longer
      range.”

      Aye, and issuing everyone 7.62 mm. rifles isn’t going to magically fix the problem.

      • Tom Currie

        Teaching our soldiers rifle marksmanship would help a lot more than any magic rifle, but ever since the beginning of the Cold War the US military thinking has been to rely on superior technology. Throughout the Cold War we insisted that Quality would overcome Quantity — despite history showing this is almost never true.

        The entire “overmatch” argument is being framed around hardware – but it omits two severe problems. [1] No major military force will ever be equipped with the best equipment available. By the time any system is procured and issued, something better is already available. [2] Every improvement in hardware requires changes in training and doctrine.

        We spend a lot of time, effort, and money debating the merits of various weapons and other equipment — but the military budget remains the limiting factor in the real world. Far too often, the money to buy fancy new equipment comes at the cost of trimming funds (and especially time) to support existing systems.

        In the face of an identified critical need we can field a major new item in about two years – but it will be another several years before doctrine, training, logistics, and maintenance can catch up — if they ever do.

    • CommonSense23

      I’ve yet to hear of any patrol that was overmatched by fighters with Mosin Nagants? Every time it comes down to PKM and Dshka set up by a hand ful of fighting engaging and then bouncing before air or arty could be brought on station.

    • Max Glazer

      Inherent inaccuracy of AKM? Rob Ski of AKOU has a video where he is hitting targets out to 500-600 yards with an 7.62 AK. One needs to simply practice with the weapon. Also Soviet tactic for AK since its inception was to fire a short-3-5 round burst at the target and letting the spread increase the lethal area. On top of that 7.62×39 retains more energy at 500 then 5.56 so that range is actually a preferred round.

      Afghanistan campaign has highlighted the importance of using BOTH M4 and M16, with soldiers choosing M4 for patrols in cities/villages and M16 for places where range gets long.

      • You certainly can make hits out to 500-600 yards with an AK, but it helps to know how far away your target is. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a crapshoot thanks to the trajectory of the round.

        Accuracy-wise, you can still make hits most of the time with a 3 MOA spread, which is pretty mediocre.

        Energy wise, the 5.56mm and 7.62x39mm are pretty comparable at 500m. 7.62x39mm can have up to 60 J more energy than 5.56mm at this distance when fired from a comparable barrel length, but this is only with boattailed bullets, most of which are poor terminal performers. With better-performing flat-based bullets, the two rounds are virtually the same with respect to energy. This is not enough to make a difference – certainly far less of one than the much superior trajectory of the 5.56mm.

        • Max Glazer

          100% agree on knowing the range. Being able to see the target out there helps too 😀

          Surely 7.62 would have more inertia to it. I guess it also depends on the bullet mass too. I know M43 bullet drops a lot more so you basically lob them in.

          After all is said and done using assault rifle any further then 400 yards is not really common. Vast majority of engagements are within 300. Which is where 5.56, 7.62 and 5.45 are at their best. Any further is more a DMR territory where you need an SVD, SR-25 or something similar.

      • Tom Currie

        What one individual can do with one fully tuned AK using high quality ammo has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the performance of a rack grade AK using military issue ammo. There is a reason why the Soviet Union trained their soldiers to fire short bursts on full auto so that one round of the 3-5 round burst had a decent chance of hitting the intended target IF the soldier was aiming properly.

        Inside 300 yards, the AK in 7.62×39 will hit a torso-size target if the shooter does their job. That’s all that the rifle was ever intended to do. Much beyond that, the probability of a hit drops off (although the round does remain effective if it happens to hit). By 500 meters, hits are more a matter of chance than skill.

        The weapon, its sights, and the ammo are the limiting factors determining the maximum effective range of the AK.

        Meanwhile the M16 & M4 are physically more accurate, have better sights (albeit intended for use inside 300 meters), and better ammo — but in the real world the effective range is no more than that of the AK, largely because we don’t train our soldiers to shoot.

        • Max Glazer

          The Molot Verp in 7.62×39 was fed Wolf 123 grain cheap ammo. Repeated hits on a steel target 500 yards away. Look up AKOU 500 yards AK. Nothing “tuned”. Just an optic sight that was zeroed correctly.
          Russians evaluated M4s captured in Georgia and found their AK74 to match those M4 in terms of accuracy, groupings in auto burst and single fire.
          Muzzle velocity of M4 and M16 is certainly higher and trajectory is flatter, bullet flies further out before its affected by wind so it’s easier to hit a target. But with adequate training that is appropriate for the AK, it’ll be just as effective in combat. But in VAST majority of cases such shooting requires conditions that combat doesn’t usually provide. Unless you want to make everyone as good as a designated marksman.

  • The_Champ

    No offense to the impressive efforts by the author to write interesting and ‘cut above’ articles for TFB, but I think I’m suffering AR/5.56mm discussion fatigue because I found the most interesting part of this article to be the bits on US Army recruiting slogans.

  • jono102

    “Over match” tends to be more of a word thrown about just like “Game Changer” and “Force Multiplier” and is rarely used in context or applied with any rational. You don’t get much from measuring a variety of services rifle in a military context without taking into account the doctrine they will be employed with and the training level of the soldiers who will use them. People tend to quickly loose sight of what has been the failure in a given situation, Was it the weapon or the situation or way it was employed?

    It is also common to develop a doctrinal enemy to train against who has greater capabilities than your own. For years our fictional conventional level enemy we trained against were armed with AK74’s, PKM’s and SVD’s among other things at squad level with an “apparent” effective ranges of 500m, 800m and 1000m. It required commanders to be more flexible and apply more thought to how to mitigate.

  • int19h

    Did US military ever adopt the DMR concept (as seen with SVD) on the scale similar to armies that utilize Soviet weaponry?

    If not, why not, and wouldn’t that go a long way towards fixing this problem?

    • Yes, but only recently, and the use of 7.62mm DMRs is as of yet only for special theaters (Afghanistan).

      • jono102

        Are the 7.62 DMR’s not part of US Infantry units (Army/Marines) standard TOE/ORBAT’s? It seems strange when the likes of UK, AUS and NZ among others have them as a standard fixture.

        • AFAIK they are not.

          • jono102

            It is interesting that the US was one of the large pushers for the modern DMR concept in the west, but one of the few not to adopt it. AUS and NZ have gone as far to also incl 7.62 LMG’s in their section Org’s as well as a 7.62 DMR.

          • They have adopted it, but the normal DMR outside of Afghanistan is an M16 FOW AFAIK.

          • jono102

            FOW?

          • Sorry, family of weapons.

            My understanding is they are usually an M4 or M16A4 plus ACOG, stateside.

        • n0truscotsman

          Not 7.62. 5.56. M4 w/ M150 ACOG. In OIF, it was M16A4 and M14s in some units, although not official, Army wide.

          Despite the grundle of good contenders available for the role, and domestic support, there has been a ton of feet dragging and institutional inertia/reluctance.

          Its unfortunate it took until the 21st century to finally give credibility to the DMR concept as a across the board application.

          • jono102

            We had the USPACOM Commander visit our Camp a couple years back. He saw our LMT DMW/DMR’s and said to his staff is was quite annoying to see how long they wasted and to still not have an in service equivalent especially when it is a US made rifle. The joys of a large military I guess

          • n0truscotsman

            It gets better.

            Before the LMT, there was the SR25, which dates back to the mid 90s.

            Its literally been two decades of trepidation and small buys by niche, specialized units, but no modernized, big army wide adoption.

            So we have had ample opportunity to have a real designated marksman/sniper rifle for infantry units. We just haven’t done it.

  • Cap’n Mike

    Excellent article as usual Nathaniel.
    It seems that Defeating modern body armor also seems to have been thrown on the pile of reasons we need overmatch and new larger calibers and new heavier rifles.

  • mosinman

    .308 isn’t that much better when we’re talking solid FMJ rounds either

  • Bierstadt54

    I like the idea of overmatch in that our soldiers are qualitatively superior to their soldiers – and any chance to do this with equipment is worth it, by and large, because training time is a more limited resource. But I agree that “overmatch = out range” is deeply flawed.

  • n0truscotsman

    How does the PKM have more range?

    A M240B with a lightweight tripod and MGO can hit man sized targets with reasonable round dispersion at 1500 meters. We did it when MGOs were first getting ranged.

  • IMO, everyone who expects a one shot stop all the time is going to be disappointed, regardless of the round they’re given.

    You hear about the guys who had to pump 15 rounds into a Taliban to put them out… Reminds me of the old 9mm vs. .38 problem PDs had when they were first switching. Issue a guy a shiny new 9mm auto, suddenly he needs 5, 10 rounds to put the bad guy down, instead of 1 or 2 with .38. This was a real head-scratcher, since the ballistics labs were all saying 9mm should be more lethal.

    Well, it turns out people take a little time in dying, and with the 9mm automatics you could pump out a lot more rounds before they did. Simple as that. .38 wasn’t more lethal, revolvers are just slower. The guy you shot with an automatic might still be dead from round 1 or 2, but it takes him long enough that you can pump out rounds 3-10 before you see it.

    I’m pretty sure that at least some of these accounts of people taking double digits of 5.56 rounds before they die are because of the same phenomenon. Not all, maybe, but certainly some.

    • FF

      Its rather that he speaks of M855 with fleet yaw (late tumbling or icepick).

      M855A1 EPR otherwise would have shredded these guys.

      There is data out of Somalia about M60’s (7.62×51) M80 and SLAP icepicks that needed TREE 10round bursts…!!

      • FF

        *Plus dozends of 5.56×45 instant drops

      • James Kachman

        SLAP round icepicking? You mean to tell me an armor piercing sabot will overpenetrate a soft squishy?

        You don’t say. 🙂

    • CommonSense23

      Honestly I believe it’s just the absolute failure of M855. I’ve personally witnessed 15 rounds of green tip put into a guys back who was running. The guy who was shooting him, realized he was using a range mag of 855. Switch to 318 and proceed to drop the guy with two shots and a additional two people with two shots each. Which talking to others, that wasn’t a uncommon experience with people who used 855 then switched to some different round.

      • Yeah, M855 was definitely part of the problem. But it’s not like larger caliber rounds haven’t had similar issues. People forget that when .30 caliber rounds were first introduced, they met with the exact same complaints. So I am unimpressed with the “.30 cal = 1 shot stop” perspective.

        • CommonSense23

          Definitely agree. I’ve watched a burst of M80 ball hit a guy who was able to get back on his feet. Round selection is far more important than caliber.

          • That sort of thing is so well documented with 7.62mm NATO, 7.62×39, .30-06, and 7.62x54mmR that I don’t think there’s any question at this point whether any caliber/round can guarantee you a 1-shot stop. They can’t.

            As you say, bullet design and shot placement is more important. That’s what the M855A1 team figured out, it’s what old grizzled hunters with walls of trophies already knew.

          • cwolf

            There are so many issues.

            1. Did the bullet hit the target? Army ammo varies +-5 mils lot-to-lot. If you don’t zero frequently, you miss a lot. Where is moving target training? Great KD fixed target shooters miss moving targets… a lot.

            2. What exactly do you expect a 65 gr or 70+ grain bullet to do instantly in a 150 pound person? FMJ bullets ice pick (which is why the NSWC developed the Mk262 OTM bullet). If you don’t hit the brain or spine (both of which are armored by bone), the target typically bleeds to death (IF you hit an artery or important organ)…. which takes some time.

            3. All you have to do is look at the casualty data. Far more folks are wounded than killed.

        • Kivaari

          The army’s experience in the PI using the .30 US showed that some men hit in the thigh or lung (w/o bone impact on entry) could be back in service in 2 weeks. All in the pre-antibiotic era.

      • Brett baker

        Agree completely.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      I don’t disagree at all. From what I’ve seen, other than a central nervous system shot you’re just poking holes in someone that fluids leak out of.

  • CommonSense23

    That’s a issue with round selection not caliber.

  • Michael Shannon

    I use the following to estimate effective ranges for hand held small arms in combat:

    1) Rifles: The distance a soldier can consistently score 100% on a man sized target on a conventional range from prone under ideal conditions divided by 2.
    2) Pistols shoot from standing and divide by 3.

    For most soldiers the effective range in combat (i.e. they hit pretty close to what they aim at) of their rifle is ~ 100 yards.

    Giving them a bigger rifle won’t change this but it will reduce the number of chances they have to get a lucky hit and it will increase their load- increasing injuries and fatigue.

    The “normal” rifleman should carry the lightest 5.56mm rifle he can. His main function in most longer range firefights should be to carry extra ammo for machines guns. mortars and grenade launchers. It’s the “area weapons” that cause the most casualties outside “nine iron” range.

    • Max Glazer

      The lighter rifle will usually have higher recoil, unless you run lower gas pressures in the system. Less mass to absorb recoil from actual shot or from bolt carrier hitting full back position and slamming forward into battery. Lower pressures lead to less ability to function in adverse conditions.

  • Joshua

    M80 ball is also documented to not stop threats.

    It comes down to bullet construction.

  • Dave

    Ain’t no new thing. Remember the made-up “missile gap?” of course not. Too young. Remember the size matters displays of just how much bigger the commie nukes were compared to our puny MRVs?

    There’s always an “emerging threat” or problem arising that required ample tax dollars to address… I mean, full spectrum dominance is great, but what if?!

    U.S. forces greatly “overmatched” enemy in Vietnam. Lost the war. Beat Grenada, but then, the NYPD probably could have. Beat Iraq v 1.0 in a massive live fire exercise by an enemy that obliged the U.S. strength. Overran Irag v 2.0 after two decades of sanctions had crippled the nation, and then skedaddled after a pointless occupation killed about 4-1/2k U.S. personnel (well, the ones in uniform anyway) or a bit over half of U.S. troops killed in a single battle in WWII like Iwo Jima (7k KIA). And the U.S. had the best of everything in that conflict too… At least once the bugs in the air-dropped torpedoes were worked out.

    Manufactured discrepencies and fears of being “overmatched” by largely theoretical adversaries sells… Who’s
    buying?

  • MIke H

    Pardon my ignorance, but if range is the issue, why not issue 16″ barrels for the M4, with 18″ and 20″ uppers with ACOGS and VCOGS available. Issue one or two M110’s a squad for theaters (like Afghanistan) where taking shots past 600m is going to need to be a thing? I mean, the Marines seem to be having a lot of success with the M27 as a quasi-designated marksman rifle… why reinvent the wheel? 5.56mm at 600m might not be as lethal as 200m, but wounding the RPK gunner still reduces his effectiveness until a kill shot can be made.

    Issuing everyone a brand new .308… and the weight problems that would go along with it… seems like it’s creating more problems than it’s fixes.

    • CommonSense23

      Cause the average grunt isn’t going to be able to effectively return fire at 600 meters. Even with a huge increase in training.

      • MIke H

        So how does giving everyone a 7.62mm fix that?

        • crackedlenses

          It doesn’t.

        • CommonSense23

          It doesn’t.

  • William Nelson

    Re: “Army of One,”
    As explained to me at one point meant, “Army of O(fficers) N(oncoms) E(nlisted)” but I’m not certain if that was official word or something made up by someone along the line.
    Of course, I laughed and said that the slogan should be turned around to read “Army of ENO,” owing to the general manpower layout but got a dirty look on that.

  • crackedlenses

    See below.

    • Anonymous

      5.56×45 ADVAP goes trough out to 200meter, and WHO the heck will stand beyond absolut point blank range nicely presented with theyr body armor to shot at???…. theyr like 98% in cover and foliage…

      And that with – no wasted millions for stupid heavy new Rifles, less cost per round. 1/3rd the recoil!!!! = extremly increased % hit propability (=more lethal), +10rounds per mag, longer barrel for the same overall lenght. Much lighter Rifle. HALF the ammo weight = EXTREMLY increased fire superority.

      And WAY more energy-recoil ratio efficiency. 7.62×51 is hilarious in that aspect.

  • NukeItFromOrbit

    An article I largely agree with but it makes no mention of the major improvements in body armor we have seen over the past 20 years or so. *That* may be a valid reason to switch to an intermediate caliber larger than 5.56mm especially if we are going to switch over to plastic cased telescoping ammunition anyway.

  • Brett baker

    “But granddaddy carried a battle rifle, one time he even had to use it! Remember the last war we won, we had full power cartridges!! Korea? Don’t be a smartass! A single mag of big bore’ll take out a MBT!” We’ve got generals who believe this crap.

  • Ward Souders

    Apparently no one remembers that the ONE in the slogan was supposed to mean:

    O – Officers
    N – Non-Commissioned Officers
    E – Enlisted

    They were trying to get cute and hope that everyone would realize that is what the letters in ONE stood for. Essentially saying that all of the Army no matter rank were working together as one cohesive fighting force. Not individuals working alone as this article seems to imply. While we do have a tendency to try to work alone. I think the intent was to show us that even in the word one we are all still acting together.

    • demophilus

      IIRC, it was also a reference to “E pluribus unum” — out of many, one. Dunno if it was a Roman military maxim, but I wouldn’t be surprised. As I recall, the slogan was supposed to attract people who wanted to be part of something bigger.

      IMHO, linking that to overmatch is a reach.

  • Anonymous

    Again because you double posted your bs – 5.56×45 ADVAP goes trough out to 200meter, and WHO the heck will stand beyond absolut point blank range nicely presented with theyr body armor to shot at???…. theyr like 98% in cover and foliage…

    And that with – no wasted millions for stupid heavy new Rifles, less cost per round. 1/3rd the recoil!!!! = extremly increased % hit propability (=more lethal), +10rounds per mag, longer barrel for the same overall lenght. Much lighter Rifle. HALF the ammo weight = EXTREMLY increased fire superority.

    And WAY more energy-recoil ratio efficiency. 7.62×51 is hilarious in that aspect.

  • CommonSense23

    You do realize 5.56 has AP rounds right?

  • XT6Wagon

    Pfft, High ground is so over-rated. Next you’re going to tell me that invading Afganistan hasn’t worked out well for anyone in the last 100 years.

  • You might, uh, check the author of that second link there buddy. 🙂

  • Weird that TFB hyperlink no longer works. Especially since it goes to an article that has my name on it:

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/05/28/army-chief-milley-says-army-developed-new-bullet-defeat-level-iv-body-armor/

  • Bill

    Air support-it’s what’s for dinner.

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    My grandmothers have lived in Wyoming for 150 years.

  • LilWolfy

    A lot of the PKM ambushes are within 300m too. If they can let loose a few bursts, then di-di on the reverse side of a spur along a route that is not observable by line-of-site from the Troops In Contact, it doesn’t matter what you have unless it’s a continuous loiter Terminator drone with advanced energy technology to maintain station status, which then provides terminal guidance for your iMortar with PGMs.

    Any group of combatants that knowingly sets up on you with an egress route or shooting position that is easily-observed will get smoked rather quickly, or at least suppressed.

    Regular armies use combined arms approaches like the Russians did in Ukraine, with layers of supporting arms for infantry taking ground. They did this with intermediate range and long range sniping, to the point that the infantry dismounts were pretty much guaranteed to take and hold the ground they wanted to, unless they got indirect dropped on them.

  • Richard Lutz

    “Defend America”

    Seems to me that the “An Army of One” slogan meant that they were working together as one united unit, not a collection of individuals, but struck me as a little ridiculous. The “Army Strong” slogan seems like something a bunch of Neanderthals would use. Would you say “Me Strong”? Someone suggested “We are Army, resistance is futile”, but resisting the US Army is anything but futile, as the North Vietnamese military can attest to. “Be All You Can Be” was little better, as it sounds like an advert for hair conditioner. I favour “Defend America”, but that would upset transnational socialists who think the nation state is a racist social construct that is not worth defending.

  • Max Glazer

    Why wasn’t my comment approved with a youtube vid where Molot Vepr hits targets repeatably out at 500 yards?

    • It’s there; it takes a while for comments with links to be approved. Not a process I have control over.

  • Awory

    Most of this is a distortion of the GWOT battlefield. What is on the Modified Table of Organization/Equipment (MTOE) is not what you go to Afghanistan/Iraq with. For example, a tank platoon is 16 personnel (4 per tank, 4 tanks) yet they only come equipped with 2 M4s and 2 M9s per tank. No SAW, no 240B. We actually had to submit a special request to the Army to justify getting 2 more M4s.

    As stated most of the GWOT engagements are ambushes, often initiated by an IED, followed by machine gun and small arms. The IED threat often forces patrols to adopt a column formation preventing them from massing fire and moving on a path not swept for IEDs. Depending on the region insurgents will engage from irrigation ditches, ‘grape huts’, or compounds. Those compound and grape hut walls are feet of mud and will eat up anything short of a .50 cal. You have to engage with either mortars, air strikes, or grenades to get any effect.

    If you’re mounted it is either MRAP or M-ATV this further cuts down on firepower, depending on configuration. A MRAP seats one driver, one TC, one gunner, and four dismounts and a M-ATV one driver, one TC, one gunner, and two dismounts. However, if you drop in a weapons station (CROWS) it cuts the MRAP to two dismounts and the M-ATV to one. You gain the support of the .50 cal, 240B, or Mk-19 but lose dismount power.

    A normal infantry platoon, however, is loaded to bear. Assuming a light infantry platoon, we are talking 40 members in squads ten. Each squad is two fire teams which is squad leader, SAW gunner, grenadier, and rifleman/designated marksman. Those typically make up three squads with a fourth bringing in the 240B. The platoon is built around the 240B: pin the enemy with rifle fire, then create a tactical dilemma by utilizing heavy automatic fire and plunging grenades. There is also, of course, company mortars.

    The GWOT is a totally different ball game than force on force. Thinking in sole terms of a lone warrior with his M4 will of course distort the battlefield. While a reliable rifle is desirable, the rifle makes up a small part of the weapon inventory; even a squad is combined fire (direct/indirect). A company is more so and can provide organic mortar fire. This isn’t even getting into the dynamics of combined arms battalions with 2 companies of tanks and two of mech infantry.

  • Ben Pottinger

    @nathaniel_f:disqus You bring up an excellent point about anyone building a bigger than standard AR would be “sole-source”. I wonder if we could convince someone like magpul to design and release an “open source” 308 sized AR design. Obviously it would be designed to fit their magazines (because they’re awesome) but even that part of the design should be open source (so other magazine makers could try and make a better magazine..).

    Then with a fully open source rifle design we could hopefully get everyone else on board and have the AR15 style component availability in a bigger rifle.

  • Bad Penguin

    You guys don’t seem to grasp the concept that weapons are supposed to reflect the capability needs of combat doctrine. The M-16 was a perfect fit for the close engagement ranges of Vietnam and many of the area’s we were tasked to defend in southern Germany, mount operations and a high mobility capable fighting force. However it pretty much suck at the extended ranges in deserts and area’s like Afghanistan. Calling for help is fine assuming the idiots are maintaining their radio’s and the ROEs in place will allow you to call in an air/mortars/artillery strike. And how many years were we in Afghanistan before the army was allowed to bring in artillery? 4-5 yrs wasn’t it. And the army has known for over 30 yrs the M855 round was ineffective in combat but they fielded it anyway. Nothing like shooting a flying icepick.