The Home Team Advantage: Ammunition, Compatibility, and Why Change Is Bad

If we can make a round that is significantly better than the existing 5.56mm or 7.62mm ammunition, shouldn’t the military just bite the bullet and switch, to the benefit of the servicemen and women in harm’s way? What’s stopping the powers that be from making the incremental improvements that everyone knows are possible?

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The Vaunted PKM Machine Gun – A Closer Look, from Forgotten Weapons

The Russian PKM: Arguably the best general purpose machine gun in the world, it combines a robust reliability with best-in-class light weight. Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons recently released two video overviews of the weapon, giving us a good enough excuse as any to spend some time with the Soviet showstopper:

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Kalashnikov vs. Schmeisser: Myths, Legends, and Misconceptions [GUEST POST]

The following is an article that was originally written in Russian by TFB contributor Maxim Popenker, and Andrey Ulanov, and translated to English by Peter Samsonov. With their permission, I have replicated the text here, and edited it, for the enrichment of you, our readers!

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KALASHNIKOV MONUMENT BLUNDER: Nazi Sturmgewehr Included in Memorial to Russia's Top Gun Designer

It’s a blunder so bad it makes you look twice: On the new sculpture dedicated to Russia’s most famous small arms designer, there is an unintentional homage to a weapon of Russia’s hated adversaries during the Great Patriotic War. Behind the tasteful statue unveiled last Tuesday of Mikhail “Mikhtim” Kalashnikov cradling his invention like a fine instrument, there lies a sculpture panel dedicated to his inventions themselves – and, by accident, the Nazi Sturmgewehr of World War II. While the majority of the panel is filled with models of Kalashnikov’s inventions and derivatives, nestled in the backdrop of the representation of the AKS-74U compact assault rifle is a slab depicting an exploded view of the MKb42(H),, a World War II German assault rifle which helped serve as the inspiration for the program Kalashnikov’s rifle was designed to satisfy.

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Preference-Driven vs. Process-Driven Design in the Field of Small Arms Ammunition: Discussion

In yesterday’s article, we took a look at examples of two different methods of design, which I called “preference-driven” and “process-driven”. For these examples, I supposed two engineers from two different cultures – called “Romulan” and “Vulcan” after the aliens from the Star Trek universe.* In the “Romulan” example, we explored preference-driven design, where a final product is outlined by amalgamating preferred characteristics from previous works to create a desired whole. For the “Vulcan” example, we examined the more elaborate method of developing processes that can be fed data to procedurally generate characteristics as an example of process-driven design.

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Romulan, or Vulcan? Preference-Driven vs. Process-Driven Design in the Field of Small Arms Ammunition

If you were designing the next small arms round, how would you do it? What methods would you use to determine its physical characteristics and performance attributes? How would you know what was too large or too small, too powerful or too weak? Perhaps more critically, how do different methods for answering these questions compare to one another? Could some methods be better or worse than others?

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Why The Army's Next Round HAS to Be Light – In Just One Simple Example

We are at a crossroads in small arms development. Demands for improved weapon effectiveness have reached their apex. At the same time, the soldier’s burden has grown into a crisis so pressing even the Army Chief of Staff has acknowledged it in testimony to Congress. Soon the next ammunition configuration will be decided, as new technologies open the door for a rethinking of the infantry’s most basic weapons.

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MHS M17 ALREADY Fixed P320 Drop Failure Issue; "Voluntary Upgrade" Pistols Will Receive MHS Triggers

Those who take advantage of SIG’s recently announced “voluntary upgrade” may soon be taking home a little piece of the Modular Handgun System program: The company evidently plans to introduce a new trigger design developed for the MHS program as part of the upgrades, as relayed in a recent article published by Eric Graves over at Soldier Systems Daily:

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A Short Discussion on AR-15 and AK Safety Levers

The AR-15-style combined safety/selector thumb lever has become a hallmark of modern assault rifle and carbine design, proving to be an ergonomic and simple design for fire control management. However, it wasn’t always that way. The AR-15’s selector lever goes all the way back to the Johnson Light Machine Gun‘s selector, which was mounted on the right side of the gun, with “AUTO” at the rear, “SAFE” at the vertical, and “SEMI” in the forward positions. In the Johnson, the current setting is indicated by the checkered end of the selector itself, and in the very earliest AR-10 prototypes this design was retained, even though by this point the lever had been moved to the left side of the gun. By the production AR-10s, though, the selector markings were flipped to the opposite side, and indicated by a pointer on the selector, opposite the lever, which remains today. However, as Ian of Forgotten Weapons explains below, the actual positions of the selector were retained from the Johnson LMG all the way through the initial development of the AR-15:

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Modern Intermediate Calibers: Trade-Offs – Introduction

Looking at the 24 different calibers we’ve covered as part of the Modern Intermediate Calibers series, some patterns begin to emerge. We see that larger rounds with heavier bullets weigh more, and have more recoil, that more slender bullets shoot further for their weight than other comparable projectiles, and that higher velocity rounds shoot flatter. Each of these patterns corresponds to a trade-off, however, as in some way each “improvement” in performance sacrifices good characteristics elsewhere. Sometimes, these trade-offs are obvious, but sometimes they aren’t.

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Forgotten Weapons Plays With XM19 SPIW Magazine

Around the same time that Small Caliber High Velocity was starting to percolate through the US Military, so was another set of programs designed to increase the hit probability of the individual soldier. Considering that 5.56 was ultimately adopted as the standard loading does not take away from the ingenuity of the designers at the time, who developed many remarkable solutions.

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6 Reasons the AK-47 Is the Most Reliable Rifle in the World: A Guide to Kalashnikov's Magic for Aspiring Gun Designers, Part II

Yesterday, we took a close look at the AK’s operating group, to enumerate the details that make this pattern such a dependable design. Today, we’re going to be looking at some of the other elements of the AK that make it so reliable, but first I want to clear up some confusion that arose in the comments section of the previous article, regarding what the term “anti-preengagement” refers to. Hopefully the video below will help:

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6 Reasons the AK-47 Is the Most Reliable Rifle in the World: A Guide to Kalashnikov's Magic for Aspiring Gun Designers, Part I

Today we know the Kalashnikov family of rifles as one of the most successful and reliable weapon families ever designed. Even as the rifle’s legend has begun to be peeled back, the weapon’s reputation for reliability is still largely unquestioned, and many consider it to be the most reliable individual automatic weapon ever made.

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What Is a Caliber System, and How Does It Affect Ammunition Design?

In a previous post about the sometimes ambiguous meaning of the word “caliber”, we discussed how the word had mutated through the centuries, picking up different definitions and connotations along the way. In that article, I wrote:

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Future Firearms Ammunition Technology 003: Sabots - Performance-Enhancing Shoes for Your Bullets

One of the problems of small arms ammunition is that of swept volume. That is, the most ballistically efficient projectiles are the longest and thinnest ones, which cut through the air more easily than squatter, fatter projectiles. Yet, the best projectiles from a propulsion perspective are the widest ones, as they have the most area at their base for the expanding gases to push on, making them more efficient, especially from shorter barrels.

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