Gonna Compete in ICSR? The Army Will Help You Get Ammo

Manufacturers who are gearing up for the US Army’s Interim Combat Service Rifle competition better know where to get their ammo for testing, and the Army is ready to help. The US Army is facilitating the procurement of 7.62mm M80A1 ammunition to competitors for testing purposes, according to a new amendment to the ICSR solicitation. The amendment states that contractors can procure ammunition from either Orbital ATK (who operates Lake City Army Ammunition Plant), or Olin-Winchester. The process is described in the handy dandy flowchart below:

The M80A1 is the 7.62mm version of the 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR). The central feature of EPR rounds is their highly effective three-part bullet, which has an armor-piercing penetrator, barrier-blind slug, and fragmenting jacket. It’s this same bullet, though, that three times caused controversy for the new rounds. The first was the use of the then-new ammunition for the Army’s Improved Carbine competition, a move which was seen as unfair by many of the competitors, who had not designed their weapons to fire it. The second was the hard, exposed penetrator’s tendency to damage rifle feedways over time, wearing out certain components prematurely. The and the third was when the US Army was sued by Liberty Ammunition for allegedly infringing on their patent (a claim which was eventually thrown out of court).

H/T, Soldier Systems Daily.

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.


  • Twilight sparkle

    This program seems to me to have “bad idea” written all over it. Why not bring back something that makes sense like the m4a1+ program…

    • Major Tom

      I get the feeling there’s something we don’t know about the ICSR idea and they aren’t telling us. Like maybe 5.56mm does penetrate Level IV armor but like PDW ammo such as 5.7mm or 4.6×30 does, its terminal ballistics afterwards are nothing worth writing home about. In short, needle wounds.

      • CommonSense23

        So you think a round that is going to penetrate ceramics is going to make needle wounds after?

      • MNOR

        Look up the terms “temporary wound cavity”, “permament wound cavity”, “projectile jaw, tumbling and fragmentation”.

        These are all import and factors in wounding dynamics(ie. A rounds actual combat performance)

    • Uniform223

      Because that would make too much sense…

  • Jeremy

    Why stop at .308 when the current climate indicates we need to bring back the classic Nazi-killer, .30-06 M1 Garand?

    • pun&gun

      Now I wonder what percentage of kills in each theater came from each weapon fielded.

      • Jeremy

        In that case, just give infantry the cheapest and lightest weapons realistically possible and invest the money into artillery and supporting fires 🙂

    • MeaCulpa

      Well there’s a lot of wars in dusty places with the indigenous population acting all rebellious so obviously the cartridge the rifle should be chambered for is .577/450 Martini–Henry. Anything less than half an inch and your not even trying.

      • mazkact

        Just give me Snider MKIII .

    • int19h

      The classic Nazi-killer would be 7.62x54R, no? Seeing how it’s about 10 dead Nazis on the Eastern front for each dead Nazi on the Western front.

      • mazkact


      • Jeremy

        Nah, I prefer to have the better Kill/Death ratio of the Garand than the “OMG how did you not run out of Russians?!” of the Moisin Nagant.

        • int19h

          SVT, then.


    So they test these Rifle supposed to penetrate LVL4 plates – with ammo that does NOT penetrate.

    While 5.56×45 M955 DOES penetrate, for far less cost per round than M933, one THIRD the recoil, HALF the weight, and 10 rounds more capacity!!…. And that in much lighter and already in inventory Rilfles…

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    It would be best IMO if they looked for something along the 5,56 performance but in even lighter package.
    Putting more weight on the soldier for the slight case that IF the enemy is so far away, and IF the enemy is seen and IDed, and IF the enemy wears Level IV, and IF I actually hit him, and IF the hit is on the plate, then I might do some more damage I don’t think it justifies the trouble. Especially if you consider what you give up for those IFs….


    • Adam W

      They don’t make Level IV safety glasses yet. Always aim for the eyes. Problem solved 100% of the time (unless they are running backwards… but also a pretty unreasonable “IF”)

      • Armor

        Not even just the head. Arms, legs, neck, shoulders, hip, stomache too. The plate covers a SMALL portion of the torso.

        • GaryOlson

          Let’s just skip all the intermediate target areas and go straight to the best target solution — shoot their fingers. No fingers, no ability to shoot back. Plate carrier for fingers don’t exist and would require a decade of R&D to develop.

          Problem solved.

        • Adam W

          That is entirely too many target spots to consider under stress. My position on eyeball shooting stands. Hold tight while I find some science to back this up.

          • MeaCulpa

            Hold your fire until you can hit them in the white of their eyes seems like prudent advice!

  • Fast Forward

    This does seem to be, altogether, a more professional way to proceed.

  • Brett baker

    Just make sure your rifle fires when dropped on it’s butt.

  • Max Müller

    Why don’t we just equip everybody with a nice little .50bmg rifle? That stuff penetrates level 4 armor no problem everytime.

    • wicapiwakan

      Nah, .50BMG is for sniveling vegetarian wimps.

      True operators, such as myself, carry nothing less than a 40×364mmR. Not my fault that all the little weaklings today can’t carry a Bofors around, perhaps we should just teach them to be REAL MEN instead of sissifying our calibers for the PC police!

  • Congo Rick

    I’m gonna jump in here at the risk of sounding like an insane person:
    I think the bringing back the 7.62×51 is a great idea.
    I rub a lot of shoulders with a lot of military types from around the world and I think I have some anecdotes that are relevant.

    The Turks, having equipped their troops with 5.56’s in the past, reissued their G3’s back every time.
    In a mountain fighting scenario, which they do a lot of, you do a lot of long range fighting.
    As reported by combat troops, in a long range fighting scenario, you may only get one shot to hit an enemy target. And if you do hit him, you want him to stay down.
    Turkish Commando’s reported time and time again that the 5.56, was ill suited for ranged fighting but was more suitable for urban fighting, where volume of fire and matters more than stopping power and distance.
    When polled for a replacement rifle; the Turkish Commando’s responded ”we like the M16 but it should have more power”
    Hence, their current rifle. I forget what it’s called.

    The number one complaint I hear from US troops deployed in combat positions in Afghanistan is that the M4 can’t reach out that far and unless you get a torso shot, they guy can still be in the fight.
    One retired sergeant said; ”They had to pull the old M14’s out of storage. If it wasn’t for the civilian marksman program, I wouldn’t even know how to use one! But that ended up putting the led in my pencil. Some kid with a old .303 Enfield can put you down from a mile away if you’re not careful. They ended up putting some EBR stocks on them, which worked pretty well against the Enfields.” -Tim X, Retired US Army. 10yr. veteran.

    Firearms technology has come a long way since the 60’s. The point of the 5.56 was to offer controllable, accurate fire at intermediate distances and make for a lightweight rifle. Considering that we now know how to make lighter yet more accurate barrels, better machined receivers, have muzzle devices and buffers that can mitigate recoil, and potentially could have lighter-weight alloy brassed ammunition,
    I think personally think this move may not have been as insane as everyone assumes.

    Anybody ever shoot a SCAR17?
    It is very lightweight and very light recoiling for a full sized battle rifle.
    Is it really that far fetched that the technology exists to make a full sized battle rifle controllable and easy to carry?

    We wen’t to the moon fellas. I’m sure we can manage it.

  • Haulin’ Oats

    Like it or not, the Army doesn’t seem to give a damn what Nathan F thinks about the switch to a new caliber. It’s gonna be 308 or bust. And we all know how he feels about 556 vs 762.

  • Bulldogdriver

    Any idea why the brazilian BOPE chose the 7.62mm AR-10s for urban operations?

    As for the weight of 7.62mm rounds, the British Paras GPMG gunners carried 1200 rounds along with a couple weeks of food supply and walked hundred of miles during the Falkland conflict. Just saying….

    • MNOR

      Yes, they did.
      They did not however hump plates, individual comms, earpro, pouches for everything and your grandma, nvg’s, IRpointers and all the stuff a soldier in 2017 has to carry. Why is this facts som difficult to understand for the “zomgstoppingpowaH”-crowd?

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    Funny fact, or not so funny, about caliber effectiveness….
    These days herebin Cyprus it’s the anniversary of the 1974 turkish invasion and occupation.
    Last night there was a documentary about a battle at a check point.
    Of the 15 or so Greeks manning the check point 6 where killed, one captured and since MIA.
    Of the survivors all had gunshot wounds. The Turkish army then used G1 (FN FAL) and G3. All 7,62×51.
    So, the survivors where shot multible times by 7,62 and survived.
    One of them was shot 5 times. One in the face which took part of the lower jaw of and made a slice on the carotic artery, 2 leg wounds (no bone injurie), one arm and one to the loeer left chest area.
    He walked all the way to friendly lines.
    Dodn’t hear anyone say 7,62×51 wad or is innefectice…

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    I think more likely to the fact that the vast majority of the Turkish Army is still using the 7,62×51 in the form of the G3 rifle.

    Only Commando units and some infantry formations use the 5,56×45

    So keeping the main caliber in use is “sensible” if you consider the ammo stocks etc

  • mazkact

    If they are determined to do this why not just go with an AR-10 platform. Lets please have a free float hand guard and at least A2 sights on a removable “carry handle” . Lots less re-training. The side benefit would be hopefully a standardized AR-10, wouldn’t that be great?