Cased Telescoping Ammunition Update

We have discussed small arms calibres, dismounted close combat and soldier burdens a couple of times and one of the issues that seems to be receiving a great deal of interest is, regardless of calibre, reducing the weight of ammunition. Everything from lightweight materials and modifying the design of the bullet have been tried but one that shows much promise is cased telescoping and plastic cased rounds.

Caseless ammunition has been subject to a lot of research but the fundamental role of the case in removing heat from the weapon never seems to have been properly resolved.

Will lightweight case designs and telescoped cases offer a meaningful weight reduction without impacting reliability and performance?

An interesting video update

Textron Systems’ Cased Telescoped Light Machine Gun Performs Well During U.S. Army Military Utility Assessment.

Weapon System’s Weight, Ergonomics and Handling Advantages Showcased during Three-Week Evaluation at Fort Benning.

HUNT VALLEY, Md. – October 10, 2011 -Textron Systems Advanced Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today that its U.S. Army Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program team has successfully completed a critical Military Utility Assessment (MUA) of its cased telescoped light machine gun (CT LMG).

The evaluation took place at the Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, Ga. during a three-week period in September. The MUA, employing soldiers from military police and infantry battalions and a Ranger regiment, fired 25,000 rounds using eight CT LMGs. Evaluators assessed the weapon’s performance in numerous categories-in a side by side comparison to the Army’s M249 Squad Automatic Weapon-to determine if the LSAT weapon system is suitable for the full spectrum of automatic rifleman tasks.

“Initial feedback from the MUA was extremely positive,” said Kori Phillips, the LSAT Project Officer from the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). “The cased telescoped ammunition and weapon together are 40 percent lighter than the M249 when carrying 1,000 linked rounds, which equates to more than 20 lbs. That makes a big difference to the warfighter-in terms of mobility, weapon ergonomics and logistics.”

LSAT is a technology based program managed through the Joint Service Small Arms Program Office (JSSAP), located at ARDEC at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. Textron Systems’ AAI Corporation is the prime contractor and systems integrator for a team of six additional companies who contribute to the LSAT program.

The cased telescoped light machine gun is a gas-operated, air-cooled, belt feed selectable semi-automatic and fully automatic weapon that fires from the open-bolt position. Its rate of fire is approximately 650 rounds per minute.

Soldiers at Fort Benning tested the CT LMG’s performance across a variety of automatic rifleman tasks and operational scenarios to assess whether it affects their ability to effectively engage targets. The weapon also was evaluated on its suitability in other areas including portability, safety, compatibility with soldier equipment, durability in challenging operational environments, ease of use, and its impact on soldier mobility.

“Our Cased Telescoped Light Machine Gun really proved itself in the variety of environments and live-fire situations during the MUA,” said Textron Systems Program Manager Paul Shipley. “Soldiers experienced firsthand the benefits of this weapon and the significant advances our project team has made in weight reduction, handling, controllability and other factors during the past seven years.”

Additional CT LMG tests are in the planning stage with U.S. Army Special Operations Command while the Army determines a written requirement for lightweight weapons.

 

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Gabriele
Gabriele
January 20, 2012 10:24 am

Times might be mature for this advancement, finally. It promises a lot, and the US trials will be something to keep under watch. It has a lot of potential.

reht
reht
January 20, 2012 11:09 am

I suspect some US SOCOM units will be deploying with some in the next couple of years.

Monty
January 20, 2012 11:58 am

A few points about the video:

1. It was a PR exercise designed to attract funding for the next stage of development. As things stand, further funding for LSAT has been withdrawn by the US DoD. The US Army has issued no requirement for a lightweight 5.56 mm machine gun. it has other priorities.

2. The video suggests that LSAT technology is now mature and ready for fielding. This is misleading. The caseless variety (CLA) of this ammunition type still doesn’t work – I believe that it has been agreed to stop development and to focus on the case-telescoped variety (CTA).

3. Compared to the Remington’s ACR, HK416 and the FN SCAR, the overall amount of ammunition fired through LSAT development prototypeS to date is insignificant and cannot possibly provide sufficient or meaningful data in terms of an adoption decision or date. The video reports that a total of 25,000 test rounds were fired in the late 2011 tests. A single HK M27 IAR had 75,000 rounds fired through it during a US Marines test. i believe the total amount of ammunition used to validate the M27 was more than 1 million rounds and that’s for a system based on the existing M4/ M16 design.

4. There are a number of technical issues that need to be ironed out. In particular, it isn’t clear how the LSAT mechanism will preserve the integrity of breech closure and sealing after repeated use. Effective breech obturation is fundamental to the viability of the LSAT concept. By adopting a rotating breech, the breech itself becomes a substitute for a metal case. Inevitable heat build-up and expansion is likely to affect reliability and longevity of the system.

5. In order to overcome technical issues, LSAT weapon design is more complex mechanically than the legacy systems it is intended to replace. Moreover, the extra weight of the Minimi M249 LMG versus LSAT has nothing to do with the ammunition type used, but is imply to ensure the longevity and reliability of the weapon itself.

Is case telescoped ammunition a good idea? Yes, of course it is. But it needs substantial investment by the US DoD to bring it to the stage where it is ready to field. A key question is are there other better future alternatives to LSAT?

An increasingly attractive option is plastic-cased conventional ammunition, which can also reduce cartridge weight by 30%. This is maturing very well and could be ready for fielding as early as 2014.

Part of the required investment to field LSAT will require a complete retooling of the US Government’s Lake City Arsenal (which currently manufactures brass cased ammunition). Indeed the required infrastructure change is so massive that an analysis of the benefits versus the costs and risks may well lead to LSAT’s demise. This is what has denied it further funding at this time.

One immensely important aspect of LSAT is that a new type of weapon requiring new manufacturing resources provides an ideal opportunity to revisit the choice of calibre. The increased re-adoption of 7.62 mm weapons (including a new lightweight 7.62 mm machine gun for the British Army chosen since we last discussed this topic) across NATO has set-up a future discussion.

When it comes to saving small arms ammunition weight, it is important to remember that a significant weight element is the bullet itself. A 5.56 mm round weighs 4 grams while a 7.62 mm one weights 10.5 grams. A 5.56 mm cartridge weighs 12 grams in total and a 7.62 mm cartridge weighs 24 grams. LSAT will reduce the weight to around 8 grams for 5.56 mm.

The real issue concerning small arms ammunition weight reduction, however, is not the weight of 5.56 mm ammunition but that of linked 7.62 mm ammunition. In essence then, LSAT solves the wrong problem, but if the technology is scalable, as claimed, then it could be used to develop a lightweight 7.62 mm round. You would still have the problem of excessive recoil and, in fact, total felt recoil would only increase in a lighter weapon.

When it comes to replacing SA80, the Royal Marines have said that they would like a new medium calibre round. Given that this seems to be an unlikely future option, they would prefer the wholesale re-adoption of 7.62 mm rather than to retain 5.56 mm.

In terms of future small arms, I believe that calibre selection insofar as it provides the required range and lethality still trumps weight reduction. This is also the US view. In summary then, LSAT is interesting but we need to get the calibre right first. Believe me when I say efforts to do just this are ongoing.

DominicJ
DominicJ
January 20, 2012 1:53 pm

Monty
Putting aside for a moment the wrong calibre, and the limited nature of the tests.

One assumes theres little reason a 7.62mm GMPG cant be built on the same basic principles, is there?

Monty
January 20, 2012 2:47 pm

@DominicJ

There is no question that 7.62 mm is a proven calibre, so your suggestion that it be used for LSAT is a good one. It would certainly save weight. The problem is that the 7.62 mm bullet design is very inefficient, which means it loses energy and velocity relatively quickly. So I think simply packaging 7.62 mm in a smaller cartridge is a bit pointless when you could so easily do more.

If you designed a slightly smaller round, (say 6.5-6.8 mm round weighing 7-8 grams) with a better ballistic coefficient (as the UK did in 1949 and again in the 1970s), you would have a smaller, lighter cartridge with a bullet that more than matched the performance, retained energy and terminal effectiveness of 7.62 mm at longer ranges.

A medium calibre LSAT round would probably weigh 12 grams versus a brass 7.62 mm round at 24 grams. An LSAT 7.62 mm round would weigh 18 grams. Why not go the whole hog and reduce weight by 50% instead of just 30%?

DominicJ
DominicJ
January 20, 2012 2:59 pm

Monty
“The problem is that the 7.62 mm bullet design is very inefficient”
Could you expand on this? Or suggest some extra reading? (preferably on the net, I was hit with £5k of unplanned expenditure just after new year so my book budget is gone)

Its quite possibly just my ignorance, but when I say 7.62mm, I’m talking a general barrel diameter rather than a specific bullet design.
If I’m as wrong in this as I’m starting to think, couldnt we just redesign the 7.62 bullet?
Or is there some reason a bullet that size has to be that design?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 20, 2012 3:14 pm
Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 20, 2012 3:29 pm
Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 20, 2012 3:30 pm
Monty
January 20, 2012 5:09 pm

DominicJ,

Read Tony William’s excellent book on Assault Rifles or alternatively check out his blog; it is full of interesting insights on this very topic. He also co-authored a piece on ‘The Case for an Intermediate Calibre’ which you can download for free from his website.

http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/miltech.htm

To answer your question as simply as I can, a basic rule of physics and ballistics is long thin bullets travel much further short fat ones. The ratio of a bullet’s length versus its diameter describes its ballistic coefficient and the higher the coefficient (> .400) the further it will go for a given amount of propellant behind it.

The 7.62 mm round I was referring to was the NATO M80 7.62 mm Ball. This is the standard round in that calibre, although obviously the Russians have their 7.62 mm x 39 mm (used in the AK47) and the 7.62 mm x 54R (used in the SVD and PKM).

If you made the 7.62 mm longer, to improve its efficiency, you would probably increase its weight and thus the recoil – which is already to severe. Firing controlled automatic bursts with 7.62 mm weapons that weigh less than 5 kg is difficult for this reason.

DominicJ
January 20, 2012 8:10 pm

monty
figured it was gonna be something like that.
I still owe james a donation for a logistics book, but it’ll be my next buy after that

Ace Rimmer
January 20, 2012 10:06 pm

The LSAT was given a 5.56 mm calibre so as to be a direct comparison to existing 5.56mm. I believe Tony Williams commented on a similar topic on this blog saying that once LSAT was deemed successful, an intermediate calibre would then be selected.

Fatman
Fatman
January 20, 2012 10:20 pm

The UK of course has aspirations to replace SA-80 around 2020. My understanding is that for the British the issue is one of balancing three factors:

1. Reduced weight – LSAT is the currently technology favoured by the UK.

2. Logistic compatibility with the USA (and by implication NATO).

3. A larger intermediate calibre giving greater range and terminal kinetics.

Unfortunately it is questionable whether all three are achievable unless the US moves away from its apparent determination to retain a small calibre like 5.56 mm in any future LSAT weapon. The UK will be seeking to make its own ammunition, but the weapon will almost certainly be an off the shelf purchase. If LSAT wins a future US-NATO standardisation competition, is it possible the US will seek to protect its intellectual property rights and its commercial advantage by refusing to let FN, H&K, SiG, Beretta etc manufacture weapons fitted with this proprietary ammunition? What happens if you can only get an LSAT ammunition licence by agreeing to purchase or licence build suitable US weapons? Does anyone have any views on the legal issues that may emerge?

Chris.B.
January 21, 2012 2:13 am

Time to crack open the small arms debate again?

It’s coincedental perhaps that I’m just diving into one of my Christmas books, Erwin Rommels old “Infantry Attacks”. Describing the early actions in France during WW1 he mentions a lot of the short range meeting engagements etc at less than 300 yards (and more commonly >150 yards) which came to characterise WW2, Vietnam and many other theatres.

I wonder what our ex-service contributors would feel about a more short ranged service weapon?

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
January 21, 2012 11:05 am

Chris.B.
I don’t think that they’d be too keen, being as the 5.56mm is the result of going down that route and they are currently fighting in conditions that mean that typical engagement ranges are higher than 300m, which has lead to a resurgence in 7.62mm weapons.

Phil
January 21, 2012 11:22 am

“I wonder what our ex-service contributors would feel about a more short ranged service weapon?”

More short ranged than now? Completely pointless in Afghan, the point man got a combat shot gun if we were moving through close terrain.

Our engagements, and I suspect most places except the open desert are the same, were at the whole spectrum, from 800 metres out to “too fucking close” and the patrols were equipped with a variety of weapon systems to deal with them which I think is the correct way to go. Combat shot gun and rifle on auto for close in work, rifle on semi for further out along with LMG and UGL and then further out Sharpshooter rifle and GPMG and then further out the snipers and mortars.

In a general war I think 5.56 is perfectly adequate supplemented by 7.62 GPMG or LMGs. Riflemen in a more conventional conflict will expend most of their ammo suppressing the enemy rather than shooting directly at him, and it takes a long time to worm your way toward an enemy position to winkle him out with bayonet and grenade, and so you need lots of ammunition.

Really in a general war the infantryman’s rifle is more of a personal protective measure and suppressing weapon with the GPMG doing the donkeys work – a very Wehrmacht notion I know.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
January 21, 2012 12:57 pm

A general purpose cartridge, as proposed elsewhere (everywhere where such things are discussed), for both rifle and MG would seem to me to be the best technical solution.

MGs go back to being General Purpose, filling sustained fire or light roles depending on the particular fit (bipods, tripods, barrels, sights, stocks, ammo feed) on a common receiver.
One rifle for everyone else, with variation allowable by switching barrels, sights and rail attachments.
Simple to use, flexible and adaptable to the operational environment.

Fatman
Fatman
January 21, 2012 1:26 pm

I suspect what is really needed here is a fundamental jump forward in the whole approach to small arms. Of course more can always be done to reduce weight, improve range and terminal effects, enhance reliability, etc, but what is really required is some way of allowing the infantryman to:

1. Acquire difficult-to-see targets, partially or even totally concealed, in both rural and urban environments.

2. Achieve a precise single shot kill capability against point targets, with the necessary range and kinetic impact, despite the fact that the firer may be shaking or panting. This suggest the need for some kind of compensation system to allow for inherent inaccuracies during the firing place, on the lines of having a sight that can even track moving point targets and give a very high hit probability.

3. Switch to an effective local area effect to destroy a group target. Killing the first individual, but just scattering the others is not enough. Some type of accurate horizontal cone is required – current weapons are often too random in their spread.

4. Switch again to a wider area suppressive effect, capable of allowing a single firer to pin down a significant number of enemy forces during an assault, or denying area access. This implies a much more random spread in fall of shot, perhaps with enhanced noise effects to increase enemy reluctance to return fire.

LSAT may be a move in the right direction, but I do wonder if a more imaginative re-engineering of the problem is really needed. Whether these objectives are achievable at the moment must remain questionable, but they might be reasonable aspirations for say the 2030s.

Phil
January 21, 2012 2:02 pm

Does your average infantryman need to do half of that stuff? His mission in the main will either be suppression or moving toward and assaulting the main enemy position.

An accurate assault rifle with decent optics and CQB sight seems to do what the infantryman needs to do. He is afterall not an individual but part of a team, a team which has supplementary weapons to engage longer ranged targets and provide either more saturation fire or more precision fire.

I don’t see why the average infantryman needs to be able to do everything.

Special Forces where there is more training investment and more scope to operate at an individual or much smaller team level is another matter but for your average Tom, Digger, Grunt he just needs a thing that can go bang a lot and if need be accurately.

This isn’t Starship Troopers (the book, not the awful yet fun film).

Phil
January 21, 2012 2:14 pm

In addition:

“1. Acquire difficult-to-see targets, partially or even totally concealed, in both rural and urban environments.”

For this he has his Mark 1 eyeball, cheap if difficult to repair. I’m not sure how one aquires a totally concealed target by definition, you can’t. And there are other platforms that can accomplish this that the PBI don’t have to lug around or bin half way through the operation because it’s broken. The target indication can then be done verbally, a reliable communications method, especially when done over a cheap radio.

“2. Achieve a precise single shot kill capability against point targets, with the necessary range and kinetic impact, despite the fact that the firer may be shaking or panting.”

The compensation system is the application of the Marksmanship principles – the firer can compensate for all those things by applying them without the need for technology. It becomes instinctive and will only fail when the firer fails (ie shot or blown up).

“3. Switch to an effective local area effect to destroy a group target”

Achieved by having a marksman with a weapon system optimised for that role. You are after all working as part of a team.

Ditto point 4.

None of your problems needs a technological solution in the slightest except problem one and there’s no reason why it has to be the infantryman’s job to acquire every target on his own when he will be operating in a complex combined arms environment with a multitude of other sensors.

KISS!!

Phil
January 21, 2012 2:17 pm

PPS!

When all the electro-gizmos become as reliable and robust as the machined metal the assault rifles of today are made of (or plastic) and weigh little or no more as they do now, and require no or little additional training and logistical support then this gadgetry will be useful, until then it burdens the soldier with additional loads and concerns that are more than compensated for by unsexy, extremely tried and tested methods.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 21, 2012 2:21 pm

Hi Phil,

V much agree with your punchline in this ” He is afterall not an individual but part of a team, a team which has supplementary weapons to engage longer ranged targets and provide either more saturation fire or more precision fire.

I don’t see why the average infantryman needs to be able to do everything.”

But as 8 take one away or add max 4 (not six, as in the USMC for special circumstances)seems to be the number that most militaries have settled for in having a “nucleus” unit in the heat of the battle that can still be coordinated and be mutually supporting – even when all comms have been lost – what is it exactly they have today in the way of supporting weapons to hit all the “missions” that Fatman put on the table?
– I don’t think that he meant an individual, at one point in time would try to do all of those things, just that there would be enough interchangeability in the weapon, sights, munitions so that once they go on patrol and are only “self-supplied” by what they have and carry, all of that could still be achieved, if and when necessary?

Apologies for a little bit of a theoretical formulation and long sentences, but the sights were set for 2030 when raising the question.

Phil
January 21, 2012 2:44 pm

“what is it exactly they have today in the way of supporting weapons to hit all the “missions” that Fatman put on the table?”

I’m talking British Army here, I know some countries are working on things like the K11 and XM25 (controversial in themselves).

1. UGL, ASM and indirect fires (mortars especially).

2. Infantrymen schooled in musketry with a very accurate assault rifle and good optics (SA80 with ACOG or the newer sight, even SUSAT).

3. DMR with optics.

4. LMG with optics and GPMG.

“I don’t think that he meant an individual, at one point in time would try to do all of those things, just that there would be enough interchangeability in the weapon, sights, munitions so that once they go on patrol and are only “self-supplied” by what they have and carry, all of that could still be achieved, if and when necessary?”

Is it REALLY necessary to have one weapon that could be tailored to each role given that it will likely never be particularly brilliant at any of the roles even if parts are interchangeable? Can the basic frame of an assault rifle do a GPMGs job without changing and making heavier nearly all the components giving you a system that only an armourer could probably change? Even things down to the firing pin and hammer and springs and cams need to be heavier and more robust on a GPMG and if you didn’t change those things you’d have an overly beefy assault rifle and if you didn’t have beefy components you’d have a weak and useless GPMG or even LMG.

Small arms are relatively cheap, they are classic engineering solutions, very simple indeed. They quickly stop becoming that when you try to get one thing to do everything. I do not know the figures but I’d take a bet that developing 5 small arms is cheaper and easier and less risky than developing one small arm to do 5 jobs. Even in 2030.

Something like SCAR – useful for SF. Not for the general purpose, joe bloggs, battlefield Tom, Digger or Grunt working as part of a fighting team in the dirt and the mud or hard, unforgiving concrete.

I don’t see why an infantry group would need to reconfigure on the scale you mention? We already have common mounting rails on our weapon systems so sights can be interchanged and so forth.

I think that assault rifles, LMGs, DMRs and GPMGs are all different weapons because they due different jobs and they are simpler to design and use seperately, even accounting for spare parts wallets on patrol etc, than trying to get one common platform to do all of them. People have been trying for a long time and about as close as they get is the GPMG, very effective but nowhere near as good as a Vickers water cooled MG in the defensive role and to heavy really for the LMG role.

Fatman
Fatman
January 21, 2012 3:35 pm

Phil I suggest you look at what the USMC is attempting to achieve with its new carbine and battalion changes – in an ideal world there will be just an individual weapon and a team weapon in the rifle company. If you like this amounts to an old SLR/GPMG mix, but brought up to date. As battalion manpower and fire teams continue to shrink in size then adding more and more support weapons is not the answer.

All you have suggested is that we carry on doing what we are doing now and just improve it a bit more. That I suggest is exactly the traditional conservative thinking that needs to be challenged. Technology is certainly helpful but not the entire answer. Different team organisation, seriously reduced weight (time to strip body armour to a minimum and rely more on mobility?), and new tactics all have their place. Ideally the LMG and assault rifle should be a single weapon and LSAT could help allow this. But we really need to think about this quite fundamentally. The political pressure will be to minimise the number of infantry on the battlefield (because Afghanistan has shown we can no longer do serious casualties). Consequently those deployed need to have maximum flexibility in firepower and this is something we can only currently achieve through a wide variety of different weapons. Are we just going to go through the motions of replacing what currently exists? That surely is not the answer.

DominicJ
January 21, 2012 3:53 pm

Fatman
The problem is, theres no right answer.
In my view, there should be no such as “infantry”, everyone, should be a dragoon.
Weight issues pretty much vanish.

But then you get to the real world….

Maybe we should just give up on commonality in infantry arms?

Phil
January 21, 2012 3:58 pm

“All you have suggested is that we carry on doing what we are doing now and just improve it a bit more.”

That is precisely what I advocate. If this were done a lot more we’d have far fewer failed projects and a lot less money wasted. Some of the most successful and solid weapon systems have been born from evolutions of pre-existing systems.

I am EXTREMELY suspicious of any sort of revolution in military affairs and I am totally suspicious of any thought in a step change at the level of the infantry platoon / section / rifleman. The basic organisation has been tried and tested for a hundred years in thousands of battles and conflicts and engagements. There are variations on a theme but the broad ideas stay the same. There is going to be no revolution at this level because the job will stay precisely the same, close in and destroy the enemy and this requires bags of ammo and bags of aggression. There’s no room for HALO type rubbish. Things are how they are at this level because it is a solid, useful, tested way of doing things.

Small arms are simple – any advance in them for the last 50 years has been in terms of metallurgy, plastics and sighting systems – the basic operation is almost completely unchanged. There is nowhere else to go – you can hang on immature electronic systems for fire control etc but they at the moment are more trouble than they are worth outside the lab. You can try caseless ammo but nobody can get it to work as well as cased ammunition despite trying for over thirty years.

Perhaps it will ALL work one day but my point is small arms design has matured and is in limbo at the moment as all the “transformational” electronics that will give an infantryman the whizz-bang are too immature: ie they are too big, too complex, too power hungry, too cumbersome, too sensitive and not robust enough to stand up to the same punishment as the rifle. Maybe in 2030 you can get a fire control sighting system the size and weight of an ACOG but you can’t right now.

“Are we just going to go through the motions of replacing what currently exists? That surely is not the answer”

Why isn’t it? Why isn’t simplicitly, evolutionary design and sticking to what works on some level not the answer? Innovation for the sake of it is no answer.

The paradigm has not shifted at the infantryman’s level. No “big bang” development is going to change anything and will probably just go wrong.

We are getting waaay ahead of ourselves with FIST etc. It’s fine as individual components, bolted on, evolved, used as necessary, but as a system it is incredibly immature and it will be for a long time yet, perhaps it is unobtainable without a massive advancement in power sources, materials and electronics.

As for stripping back body armour – where do you suggest it is stripped from? It can certainly be stripped back in a general conflict scenario, but in a scenario where you have to patrol out in the open and mingle it’s your best and only defence.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
January 21, 2012 4:18 pm

Phil,
In reference to your comment:
“I think that assault rifles, LMGs, DMRs and GPMGs are all different weapons because they due different jobs…”
I must disagree to an extent. You have listed four weapons there where with a sensibly designed intermediate calibre there need only be two. The only reason for there being four is because of two ill-advised calibres that we are stuck with.

A decent rifle will be accurate enough and long-ranged enough to do a DMR’s job. If you want an improvement then improved optics could be fitted with minimal problems. You might be able to obtain a further improvement in accuracy by having alternative, armourer-fitted barrels. Most rifles can accept different barrel lengths and profiles without any significant issues.

A GPMG, chambered in an intermediate round would cover both LMG and SF roles (what it was originally intended for – hence General Purpose) Again, armourer-fitted components can be used to make role-specific modifications. Different barrels could be issued for Light and Sustained Fire roles, different optics and different ammunition feed arrangements all have precedent on existing weapons.

Phil
January 21, 2012 4:32 pm

Mr Fred.

What I know about calibre’s and how they function you could write on a stamp. So I will defer to you on all such things as I can’t really argue.

But I would say that the infantryman needs to be able to carry a LOT of ammunition primarily for suppressing the enemy, allowing an assault to take place. If the calibre of the round is too heavy to enable lots of ammunition to be carried then that round is in my view pointless. Most of the 7.62mm fired in the Falklands for example will have been fired into peat and rock or overhead. I understand there are ways in the pipeline of making the bigger calibres lighter overall using plastic cases and so forth. If this can be achieved, if heavier calibres with more long range application can be as light as 5.56 then I’m all for it. You can get close to what you want to achieve, an assault rifle that can be used to reach out further and turned into a dedicated DMR by virtue of a few modifications such as clipping a bipod and a better scope on it. The trouble is this, as far as I know, that technology is considered nowhere near mature enough for countries to bet enormous stockpiles of 5.56 and 5.56 weapons on it yet. I suspect it will happen, but it won’t happen in this generation of small arms on any scale beyond SF.

Until that comes along then 5.56 is better than 7.62 and you will need a different weapon to complement the assault rifle to reach out further.

The GPMGs we have now do a decent enough job of LMG and SF, I can’t see why we’d forego enormous stocks of 7.62 link to get basically no real improvement over what we can do now with a GPMG.

I am very sure there are better calibres etc than 5.56 and 7.62 but there is no appetite that I can detect, to change to any other calibre right now. And until 7.62 is as light as 5.56 then we’re not going to get anywhere in my mind in integrating a rifle for an infantryman and a rifle for a marksman.

James
James
January 21, 2012 5:06 pm

The only requirement I ever had of my personal weapon was that if I shot at someone, I wanted him to be hit (accuracy) and to go down and stay down (lethality). Of the 4 personal weapons I was ever issued:

SLR: happy with that.
Browning 9mm: dubious on the accuracy, lethality probably OK at intended ranges.
SMG: never happy, particularly after a desert test of firing 9mm at a standard black jerrycan of water at 30 paces, and not penetrating it. It did however once bag me a cock pheasant on Bulford Ranges during my APWT.
SA80 A1: Aaaargh! Felt like a toy, not as accurate for me as SLR, and I never credited the “wound a target and take 2 other enemy off the battlefield as first aiders” mumbo-jumbo. No. Kill the f*cker and move on. It seems that our infantry are now moving back to reality. I abused my rank after one afternoon on the ranges to ensure that my Sqn armorer kept an SLR for me. Sqn Ldr’s perks.

(Disclosure: theory tested on lots of ranges, only once in combat, where the only damage I did was a stab wound to an Iraqi inflicted by bayonet when he started not wanting to surrender properly).

Phil
January 21, 2012 5:11 pm

Step away from the SLR nostalgia!

Phil
January 21, 2012 5:22 pm

Incidentally, I have seen a LOT of 7.62 gun shot wounds and they are terribly undramatic – to the point where we didn’t see someone had been shot in the face by one. They have very tiny entrance wounds and seldom much bigger exit wounds. I have seen a lot of blokes and girls hit by 7.62 where is passed right through and didn’t hit anything important and they were pretty well considering they had just been shot. I have also seen a lot of extremities take a 7.62 and no, they don’t blow off the arm – they pass right through leaving a small hole. I 6 year old girl took a 7.62 in the wrist for example and she was walking around, very sore, but otherwise alright considering.

Bullets kill by hitting something important, it doesn’t really matter what size that bullet it in terms of small arms, a .177 air rifle pellet goes through you aorta you’re just as dead as if it was 7.62. If people don’t go down when they are shot it is because you haven’t hit anything important to them or immediately important to them. Even a 7.62 to the head, right through, is not especially dramatic.

Shoot someone centre of mass with 5.56 and you are just as likely to kill them as if it was 7.62. Dissect a major blood vessel, disrupt the heart, disrupt oxygen exchange in the lungs, all of that kills you.

I know this is anecdotal evidence, and there are lots of snazzy videos of rounds tumbling through ballistic gelatine but if a round tumbles through you and misses anything important, you will still be able to crack on even with a big hole in your back for a bit if you were that aggressive or determined.

Its Physiology stupid! As doctors say.

Phil
January 21, 2012 5:23 pm

“Even a 7.62 to the head, right through, is not especially dramatic.”

I mean in terms of external trauma. Obviously it usually drops you dead. Usually.

James
James
January 21, 2012 5:31 pm

Damn it Phil don’t dismiss my now civvy recollections! It slammed the shoulder when fired (imparting confidence), and I have seen some photos from the Falklands of 7.62mm wounds which look pretty gruesome (both sides using FN variations). I’m sure you are correct and have more practical knowledge, but there’s something about physics that suggests that if a 7.62 and a 5.56 hit the human body at a given angle and the same range, then the effects will be different.

There’s also the range / accuracy equation, which 5.56 seems to lose on.

5.56 – pink handbag containing a stiletto. 7.62 – hammer. Maybe there’s a hammer / stiletto sweet spot at around 6.5, but until then I’ll stick with the hammer. At least with an SLR you could always reverse it and beat the sod to death with the blunt end.

x
x
January 21, 2012 5:45 pm

@ Phil

If you wanted to design a bullet to pass through a body and leave a small exit wound you would do no better than a boat tailed FMJ if you tried.

The USMC have their new open-tipped match-type round. But getting full kinetic energy to act on a body means fully expanding hollow point rounds which contrive Hague conventions. I do wonder how much an effect such a round would have on the overall “result” of the campaign. If as you say as our expert on such things a good number of these GSW are treatable with basic first aid.

Phil
January 21, 2012 5:45 pm

I’m sure there are some very dramatic 7.62 injuries but I daresay they are in the minority.

I remember treating one patient – shot 3x times with 7.62 (face, arm, chest) all passed straight through, the only damage being to soft tissue.

Hit a major blood vessel and you will die, pretty quickly.

I personally think that hitting the head and spine excepted, people tend to drop immediately when shot more from shock and instinct than immediate physiological effects on the body. It takes a couple of seconds to drift into unconsciousness and die.

Perhaps I am wrong, and there are studies debunking my view, but this is what I have seen with my own eyes and drawn my own conclusions from it, having given it a lot of thought.

And yes, totally agree, my rifle felt like a pea shooter and the DMR like a proper, comforting gun of iron and flame and power but it’s not rational!

James
James
January 21, 2012 5:49 pm

DMR? Not familiar with the acronym.

However, I have just done some casual Googling while having a mug of tea. There’s something called an FN SCAR available in both 5.56 and 7.62. Looks to me like my old SLR with a folding stock. I want (in 7.62).

Phil
January 21, 2012 5:52 pm

“If as you say as our expert on such things a good number of these GSW are treatable with basic first aid.”

Once you’re shot, you’re either dead or you’re not. Which sounds glib but what I mean you have either right there sustained an injury that will kill you or sustained an injury that will be treatable with first aid at least for a while. Hit an aorta and nobody can save you even if you were shot on the operating table, get hit in the chest and you can be kept alive for a while but will probably die with no help eventually, but get hit other places there’s a good chance you’ll be fine with basic first aid.

Obviously with hollow points the round effectively becomes much larger increasing the chance of it hitting something important, it also dumps its kinetic energy meaning that the trauma from that is more likely to rip a blood vessel or cause wrenching trauma to an organ or tear the pleural lining of your lungs or disrupt your heart. Plus I imagine there’s more of a physical sensation of being hit since the projectile has a large surface area.

Trouble with expanding hollow points as far as I know is they’re useless against body armour and have little penetration, hence their use by law enforcement quite often.

I doubt that different bullets would make a difference to any war.

Phil
January 21, 2012 5:54 pm

Designated Marksman Rifle, the L29A1

http://www.americanrifleman.org/Webcontent/images/2011-3/2011318142421-pic8_m.jpg

7.62 sharpshooter rifle we use now in Afghan. Has a lovely sight, lovely weapon, big bang lots of range.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
January 21, 2012 6:06 pm

Stocks of ammunition are a pretty bad reason to remain with a calibre, IMHO. If we were to change calibre, there would be a changeover period that would probably last longer than existing stocks. Even if we did have left over 7.62mm you could sell that to any other country still using 7.62mm, Civilian shooters or just retain it for legacy kit still using 7.62mm (armoured vehicles, helicopters and warships all mount their own 7.62mm weapons)

The usage of small arms ammunition is massive. Some figures from the Canadian armed forces for an eight month period*:
5.56mm – 1,670 k
7.62mm – 747 k
12.7mm – 29 k

The British Army bashes through a fair bit too. In a 3 year period**:
5.56mm – 5,800k
7.62mm – 5,000k
9mm – 310k
30mm – 150k
12ga – 16k

However, when you consider that Radway Green can produce 1000k rounds per day and 200,000k per year*** the need to keep a large stockpile depends on: the need to use it, how long it would take to rebuild production facilities if more is needed and how much money you can afford to have sunk into an ammunition stockpile.

In short, I don’t think that the size of an ammunition stockpile is a valid argument for retaining any particular calibre.

Arguments that you could put in favour would be cost of tooling, cost of proving the new calibre and commonality with allies.

7.62 is too heavy for the use to which it is put, 5.56mm is too light to have a larger engagement range than it does.

In the first instance, an intermediate cartridge based on a conventional action rather than an LSAT would make sense to replace the current cornucopia of weapons floating around the battlespace at the moment.

*http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2008/02/07/canadian-forces-ammunition-usage-afghanistan-2006-07/
**http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6000016/British-troops-fire-12m-bullets-in-three-years.html
***http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/MASS-for-Effect-The-UKs-Long-Term-Ammo-Contract-05047/

x
x
January 21, 2012 6:09 pm

@ Phil

The “reality” of shooting is a lot more complicated than the man in the street believes it to be. As you say there are the hard physiological facts and then there is the psychology of it too. I am glad that for me it is purely academic and not a reality with which I have to live.

x
x
January 21, 2012 6:11 pm

@ Mr fred

I was amazed to find out the other week that Radway Green is knocking out a 1,000,000 rounds per week.

Phil
January 21, 2012 6:12 pm

“I was amazed to find out the other week that Radway Green is knocking out a 1,000,000 rounds per week.”

They’ve been smashing them out for years now. There’s plenty of ammunition for all!! Hurrah!

x
x
January 21, 2012 6:13 pm

I meant per day. Damn you edit function.

x
x
January 21, 2012 6:15 pm

@ Phil

Radway keeps a lot of people around here in work. I do fear though if they have a fire and the factory goes up it will take out my front windows. And the back windows. And actually the bit in between which I call the house.

Phil
January 21, 2012 6:19 pm

“In short, I don’t think that the size of an ammunition stockpile is a valid argument for retaining any particular calibre.”

I never said that was the only argument, just that it is one of the considerations.

It seems to me, that despite plenty of furore on the internet, and amongst special interests groups, and amongst manufacturers and designers, and evidence that there might be better calibres, the broad consensus in the US and UK military is no change from 5.56 or 7.62.

I imagine stocks etc is part of the argument, and the other part is that when combined together they are perfectly adequate in the situations that they are used in and marginal de-contextualised gains in paper effectiveness don’t justify the enormous step-change needed to re-make tools, design new weapons, replenish stock piles and the myriad of other things needed to change calibres.

A safer bet is that 7.62 will get lighter and an IW will be fielded for that calibre.

Phil
January 21, 2012 6:21 pm

“I do fear though if they have a fire and the factory goes up it will take out my front windows. And the back windows. And actually the bit in between which I call the house.”

I’d love to see the risk assessment!

I read about RG a couple of years ago in one of the bizarre magazines that seem to litter TA centres and I was quite astonished at how many rounds they churn out. Presumably they could squeeze even more out of the factory went on some kind of equivalent to a war footing.

James
James
January 21, 2012 6:37 pm

This all reminds me of a rather testing staff course research / essay project (scenario – you are a staff officer responsible for selecting a new crew served weapon for the infantry to be mounted on a pre-WMIK land rover). I went into huge depth on weight, accuracy, volume of fire, ammunition weight, lethality, range of ammunition, upgradeability, reliability, through-life costs, etc: exactly what you’d hope that any procurement person in Abbey Wood would do. Wrote it all up, quite confident in my answer.

Unfortunately, the Browning M3M was only available in a helicopter variant, so I plumped for more bog standard M2s with some optics. The correct answer to the scenario was 40mm AGL according to the DS, and I had too narrowly interpreted the requirements.

x
x
January 21, 2012 6:41 pm

@ Phil

Half the factory is now a business park. I did a Windows NT course there an age. The building still had that curious MoD building/barrack smell of paint, lino, nylon carpet, and floor polish.

Fatman
Fatman
January 21, 2012 6:46 pm

Phil
Mr Fred is making the same point as me: that with properly specified weapons and the right ammunition we only require two small arms types, an assault rifle and a belt fed machine gun. The former would replace SA-80 and L129, the latter would be a replacement for Minimi and GPMG (the latter might still be needed in a SF role, but is a swine to carry in the light role).

As far as body armour is concerned I think we have gone in the wrong direction. We have now overloaded the infantry with so much protective kit that they resemble a mediaeval knight. The result is that they have lost mobility, cannot easily move across country, gravitate to ‘easy’ ground and then get killed by IEDs. We have lost sight of the real purpose of infantry and I would suggest that full armour should be relegated for use in static positions and vehicles. It has become a never ending quest to reduce casualties, in order to keep politicians happy, but has reached the point of diminishing returns. An alternative, of using a decent lightweight helmet and a chest piece only (as the Russians do) would go far to turn infantry from weightlifters into mobile forces. At the moment was have major problems with back and knee injuries, plus heat and physical exhaustion, without the commensurate benefits of being able to match the mobility of irregular opponents.

Ammunition. There are of course rounds that will literally knock people over, but unfortunately you are looking at projectiles like the .577″ Martini-Henry slug of soft lead, which is hardly practical. The US is quietly abandoning the Hague Convention stipulations on hollow point rounds, for example with the new range of 5.56 mm ammunition. In fact I have a feeling they never signed it, although they have abided by it for decades (I stand to be corrected). I would suggest part of the problem is that the UK is following an old legal agreement that was designed to apply only to conventional inter-state war (which is why the police have no compunction in using hollow so-called dum dum rounds). Given the changing nature of asymmetric war it is time that we abandoned adherence to these antiquated notions that are totally ignored by irregular forces and started designing rounds whose terminal effects go beyond simple penetration. It is ludicrous that the police can legally deploy more effective ammunition than the armed forces. Explosive rounds for the infantry anyone?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 21, 2012 6:57 pm

Speaking from a complete civvy perspective but I see two different “ideals”: a GP machine gun and assault rifle firing intermediate round (TARDEN, EM2 and 7mm combo from late 50’s pretty good) or GP machine gun and DMR firing 7.62×52 providing the sections long range firepower, rest of section armed with weapon designed for close fighting (300m and under) – perhaps something like the Russian 9×39 micro-assaulr rifle?

Phil
January 21, 2012 7:00 pm

“Mr Fred is making the same point as me: that with properly specified weapons and the right ammunition we only require two small arms types, an assault rifle and a belt fed machine gun.”

You’re probably right but as I have argued, there seems to be no official appetite to change from 5.56 or 7.62.

I also think I interpreted, possibly wrongly, that what was being proposed was one weapon system that could do everything from assault rifle to GPMG by changing some parts.

As for body armour.

It depends on the scenario. In a conventional conflict yes there is too much of it. A front plate would probably be fine on its own. But you NEED 2 plates in Afghanistan because it is the only defence you have – you MUST patrol out in the open, in plain line of sight, you must go certain places at a patrol pace and you must expose yourself. There is no choice. It therefore makes perfect sense to have plates front and back with the side plates being optional in most cases.

I saw no evidence of infantry gravitating to easy ground: everyone knows easy ground is dead man’s ground. You train properly on pre-deployment, you maintain that phys on tour and you just have to accept in Afghan that your joints will be in a very poor state on your return but you’ll be coming home and after some rest an rehabilitation you’ll be as alright as someone who completes a career in infantry can expect to be.

In any case, the body armour is not that much of an encumbrance, it is more the extra kit that is carried that adds real weight and problems.

Phil
January 21, 2012 7:02 pm

Oh and Fatman – we’ll never be able to match the mobility of the insurgent – he knows where he can and cannot run. We don’t.

IEDs are as much of a mobility restriction tactic as an attempt to cause physical casualties. Unfortunately that is the way it is, which is why we have camera systems and ISTAR that can track individuals legging it.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
January 21, 2012 7:14 pm

Phil,
I would suggest that ammo stocks shouldn’t even be a consideration. You’ll burn it off before you get the new calibre out to everyone.

No one country wants to jump and adopt a new calibre in small arms* so inertia dictates that we keep 5.56 and 7.62, which is a damn fool way of doing things, IMHO.

Rationalising on one calibre, whether it is a new intermediate or a current heavy or light one, would allow rationalisation of weapons into a rifle base and an MG base. Since the current crop of weapons will wear out and need replacing it would make sense to replace them with a matched pair of systems.
This could even be a L129 and a L7, with versions to suit roles.

*odd, because there’s plenty of small arms calibres and production facilities out there, unlike larger calibre cannon where everyone is falling over themselves to use or produce as many different variants as possible.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 21, 2012 7:21 pm

“Explosive rounds for the infantry anyone?” Only if if they’re 10mm explosive-tipped caseless, standard light-armor piercing rounds…

DominicJ
January 21, 2012 7:28 pm

gj
aliens?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 21, 2012 7:35 pm

@ DominicJ – of course! In fact, some good ideas about future warfare in that film; I heard somewhere that DARPA get a lot of requests for projects thanks to US top brass watching sci-fi films and going “I want one!”. Allegedly the SOF’s tried out the personal mini-gun from Predator; weight of the batteries and the huge amount of ammo made it impracticable unfortunately :(

Phil
January 21, 2012 7:43 pm

“No one country wants to jump and adopt a new calibre in small arms* so inertia dictates that we keep 5.56 and 7.62, which is a damn fool way of doing things, IMHO.”

I doubt its just inertia, it is probably the fact that the 7.62 and 5.56 do a perfectly adequate job as battlefield ammunition and that inertia, combined with the cost of the switch over, just do not justify the cost of the de-contextualised gains. There must be good reasons why there is no appetite for the change. Ammunition commonality might be one but at 1,000,000 rounds a day we won’t be short for very long.

“In fact, some good ideas about future warfare in that film”

Really? Like what? An MG42 on a steadicam mount? Or the Barelli shotgun taped to a Thompson?!

DominicJ
January 21, 2012 7:56 pm

gareth
the bloke carrying it needed to be tied to trees to stop him falling over when fireing blanks.

From aliens, i think the dude with the camera feeds in the apc makes a lot of sense. especialy if he has a uav :)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 21, 2012 8:02 pm

@ Phil – again I’m speaking as a complete civvy but I was thinking of stuff like the helmet mounted cameras, bio-signals, armour being transport by aircraft (ok, its a spaceship/dropship but you get the idea),caseless ammo, multi-shot grenade launcher, etc. And theres nothing wrong with the MG42 and Thompson… I think the Germans still use a modern version of the MG42 called the MG3 (could be wrong).

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 21, 2012 8:08 pm
Mr.fred
Mr.fred
January 21, 2012 8:30 pm

I would suggest that the very fact that we have both 5.56mm AND 7.62mm in an infantry section indicates a less than optimal solution.
Multiple independent studies into the optimum rifle calibre for the modern combination of metallurgy, chemistry and ballistics have been conducted since the early 20th Century and all but one that I know of recommend something in between the two calibres. Where a rifle has been produced in that calibre, the obstruction is usually related to institutional inertia.

Chris.B.
January 21, 2012 8:32 pm

@ Phil

Regarding the the human reactions to being shot, there are as many studies as there are theories, and predictably everyone seems to have come to different conclusions.

There is a basic consensus though among the more pure scientific studies (usually conducted by doctors who are more interested in the result than what caused it) that essentially calibre size is meaningless to “stopping power” until you reach the large, very high power rounds, and that for the kind of weapons we’re talking about here (pistols to medium machine guns) shot placement and the number of hits are the most important factors.

One thing as well about Hollow point pistol rounds. There is a chap from Tennessee who does a lot testing using commercially available pistol ammunition, with a commercial Ballistic gel matched to professional specifications, which he then uploads to YouTube, including cutting open the block and showing people close ups of the path.

The one consistent thing I’ve noticed about his tests of Hollow point ammunition is that after the initial expansion of the petals which rip a hefty permanent hole within the first few inches, most of the rounds then leave pretty thin tracks through the remainder of the block. In pretty much every case he finds to the round lying on its side.

Looking at the close ups of the bullets when he pulls them out, it seems that most hollow points expanded in a non-uniform manner, or in other words some petals fold back more than others. It would then appear from this that the uneven drag on the bullet makes it twist sideways, at which point it then streamlines out and continues through the block flat, probably doing less damage (thinner track) than a FMJ.

Just some food for thought.

Along with one reported incident where a man from I believe Washington (the state, not the city) fired his pistol at a home intruder who then dropped down cold with one shot (not dead, but out of it). This was remarkable for the simple reason that the gun – much to the owners later embarassment and shock – was loaded with blanks.

Human psychology is funny old thing.

And as for Rommel and his jaunt through France in WW1, his experiences would suggest that all the research money spent on developing rifles and machine guns etc would be better spent on developing trenching tools, baring in mind that this was during the early, fluid stages of the war before the whole trench fetish kicked in.

When he and his men weren’t being shelled, then for the most part they were using firepower to suppress as opposed to actually killing, only having the opportunity to deliver particularly effective aimed fire in the rare cases that they were able to set up an ambush.

Phil
January 21, 2012 8:54 pm

“Where a rifle has been produced in that calibre, the obstruction is usually related to institutional inertia.”

Which is why any discussion that does not involve 5.56 or 7.62 is, at this moment in time, very much conceptual.

Infantry need light rounds because their primary job with that weapon system is to suppress, which he can do out to 400m officially.

Any larger calibre must bring with it a weight penalty and thus make the infantryman less effective. Once bigger bullets can be made to weigh the same as a 5.56 then by all means.

Yes in Afghan there are longer engagement ranges but the thinking very much seems to be that it is better to adopt a small arm to cope with what is essentially an exception, than it is to adopt a cartridge that makes infantry less effective in one of their primary roles across most battlefield missions.

You need lots of bullets. You need to carry lots of bullets. You need a light bullet.

Phil
January 21, 2012 8:59 pm

“that essentially calibre size is meaningless to “stopping power” until you reach the large, very high power rounds, and that for the kind of weapons we’re talking about here (pistols to medium machine guns) shot placement and the number of hits are the most important factors.”

That’s very interesting as that has been the conclusion I have come to from my anecdotal evidence. Hit centre of mass and you are more likely to hit (a) the chest and (b) vascular organs like the spleen or liver that will see you bleed out.

If you shoot centre of mass and miss all these things then that person is probably going to be alright. And it doesn’t matter if it is a 5.56 size hole or a 7.26 that just cut through your aorta, nor smashed through your head. I am not convinced by these lack of stopping power arguments until, as you say, we get up to very big rounds that are simply going to physically impart enormous trauma to the soft tissues even if they do not hit anything, which is obviously far less likely with a bigger projectile.

A 7.62mm entry wound is about 20% of the size of your little finger nail. Tiny!

James
James
January 21, 2012 9:44 pm

@ Phil,

there’s other factors going on as well, some of them scientific, others “in the mind” and possibly not backed up by logic, but still a reality.

1. 5.56 rifles tend to be automatic, 7.62 tend to be semi-auto. Drives different behaviours. What’s the difference in between firing one aimed shot with 7.62 and a short burst of 3 with 5.56, 2 of which are aimed off due to barrel climb? A couple of ounces saved in carried weight is one way of looking at it, alternatively an enemy keeping his head down for a bit longer is another.

2. Noise at target end. You know when you are being shot at with 7.62, because it sounds like bejesus as it bangs off a rock or wall next to you. 5.56 is much quieter. Again, that drives behaviours or reactions.

3. Wind drift etc (i.e. basic ballistics). There’s a reason most sniping is done with heavier calibre’s.

4. Kinetic energy imparted per square millimetre of the circular profile of each round. Something like double with 7.62 over 5.56 with NATO rounds at battle ranges of 300m. That – as you observe – does not necessarily imply double the destruction – sometimes 7.62 just goes straight through, and 5.56 starts tumbling due to tissue resistance. Other times 7.62 starts to tumble and then you see some really nasty “lots of flesh blown out” exit wounds.

5. Physical shock (related to point 4 above).

All taken together, it’s an inexact calculation, and one also dependent on how the victim reacts. It can go either way. All in all, I would rather carry the standard (in my day) SLR load of 4 mags of 20 x 7.62, than the current 120 rounds of 5.56. Pretty much the same weight.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
January 21, 2012 9:44 pm

The benefit of an intermediate calibre, as conceptual as it might be, is that you can get a weapon that matches the range of the current 7.62mm in a package the size and only slightly more than the weight of a 5.56mm – the best of both worlds. It makes the standard IW ammunition a bit heavier, but the GPMG and DMR ammunition gets lighter.

The US attempts to go one further with new technologies, but such game changers have a poor track record for actually producing something worthwhile.

Now if we are going to say that all the riflemen do is provide suppression* then smaller, lighter cartridges are the way forward** and that we follow the Jim Storr route and all the idiots who can’t shoot straight just get given an FN P90 or a H&K MP7.
Although rumour has it that the heaviest weapon gets given to the least experienced in some units so that would knacker that one.

* thought that was the job of the LMG, but nevermind
** logical progression and all that

Phil
January 21, 2012 10:11 pm

“All taken together, it’s an inexact calculation, and one also dependent on how the victim reacts. It can go either way. All in all, I would rather carry the standard (in my day) SLR load of 4 mags of 20 x 7.62, than the current 120 rounds of 5.56. Pretty much the same weight.”

Having 120 rounds to suppress an enemy with is better than 80 rounds because at the other end, it doesn’t matter a damn if the bullet is slightly over a mm bigger.

And suppression is the primary purpose of the infantryman’s weapon – you win the fire fight, suppress the enemy and move in to get him with grenade and bayonet. British soldiers are not taught to fire at point targets in training scenario’s they are taught to win the fire fight. And that means bags and bags of ammo going crack over the enemies head while your muckers crawl forward to get him.

I’ve been shot at by 7.62 but only heard 5.56 in the butts and sorry, but I can’t agree, both make a very impressive crack and neither leaves you in any doubt as to something nasty coming very near you.

Fine agreed about the weights and the accuracy over range issue, that’s obvious but the infantryman is only expected to suppress out to around 400m, not drop an enemy. This is why we have the 7.62 DMR (optimal in the grand scheme of things or not).

I believe infantrymen are there to suppress the enemy. Even in COIN operations the aim is to win the fire-fight and give yourself more options. And this simply requires absolutely loads of ammunition.

Rapid fire is one round every 2 seconds, that’s two magazine a minute: so that’s 3 minutes at rapid with six magazines (if the rifle could do that without overheating and jamming), it can take that long just to work out what the hell is going on and start to issue QBOs. Ammo does not stretch very far at all and shooting fewer but bigger bullets into dirt isn’t going to make the infantryman anymore effective.

Jed
Jed
January 21, 2012 10:11 pm

Just to be contentious, based on my experience on the range and in the SAT, with SUSAT and iron sights, I subscribe to the theory that most infantrymen in combat won’t hit shit past 100m !

So, like I said, just to be contentious, after reading Tony Williams articles on “Personal Defence Weapons” (http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/PDWs.htm ) I would give the average squaddie a weapon using the 6.5mm CBJ round:

http://www.cbjtech.com/sida.asp?sida=2_6.5×25%20CBJ

I might suggest a version of the HK UMP with a 30mm barrel for the average squaddie, and Tony’s suggestion of the B&T MP9 for those who currently get pistols or cut down carbines (vehicle crew, helo crew etc).

Two men could have UGL’s as per now, but the MetalStorm 3GL – with 3 rounds, rather than 1 at the ready, allowing a greater rate of fire. Add on the DMR and the light weight 7.62mm version of the Minimi and were sorted.

Reduced weight of HK UMP in 6.5 and the reduced weight of the rounds means they can hump more 40mm grenades for the grenadiers, and more 7.62 belt for the MG and DMR :-) Plus of course ASM-L (66mm rocket) and other stuff as required.

If the combat environment required it (urban?) stick the MetalStorm MAUL under the barrel, with 5 x FRAG-12 (18mm / 12 gauge) grenades, allegedly accurate out to 200m.

Want to win the “long range” ridge line battle in Afghanistan, up your number DMR’s and 60mm mortars.

Jed
Jed
January 21, 2012 10:11 pm

Dammit, 30mm barrel above should be 300mm ! DOH…..

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 21, 2012 10:12 pm

If you want a manstopping rifle round, then look to civvy hunters & what they use on deer.
So .243 Winchester minimum, with not many feeling confident to reliably control more than .300 Win Mag. The balance between power & controlability is probably optimised at the .270 Win/7mm Rem Mag level. 7mm Rem Mag, repackaged without the belt, in a smaller case, would be my choice.
If you must have AR sized weapons then 6.8mm SPC is a good choice.
5.56 has always been wrong since the day the USAF chose it for airbase security. It was never designed for battlefield warfighting.
Related to that, will this gimmick for feeble PDWs never die? Would you really want to face a suicide bomber while armed with a squirrel shooting MP7 or P90?
Many in the US regret giving up the reliable 30-06 & even we had it in Browning tank guns to the mid 70s.

Jed
Jed
January 21, 2012 10:14 pm

By the way, I was reading some stuff the other day, said the Taliban are not easily suppressed by even 7.62mm or 12.7mm if it is spanging noisily of boulders, then tend to ignore the near hits.

They however do not like HE in any form, I guess it disturbs their equilibrium or something…….

So is the MG really for suppression, or more to gain hits on fleeting targets due to statistical probability of tagging something ? Is the 40mm UGL the weapon of suppression ?

Phil
January 21, 2012 10:15 pm

“thought that was the job of the LMG, but nevermind”

It’s the job of everyone. Winning the fire fight is every bugger firing for all their worth, not watching the LMG gunner giving it big licks whilst they take a hamlet moment. LMG obviously gives you more persistence because it can fire for longer without packing up on you and therefore drop more fire power overall.

I get what you are saying about there being probably a better calibre. And as you point out other weapons would have lighter ammo, it’s just at the moment, for better or for worse it’s not going to happen on a general scale.

Chris.B.
January 21, 2012 10:16 pm

@ Phil

There was a very famous shootout in Miami between members of the FBI and a pair of bank robbers. At one point one of the robbers was shot in the face – a crossing shot, not head on – with a .45 calibre handgun. It was not fatal because it hit nothing of consequence (discounting the mans cheek bones).

The evidence tends to lean towards fatal shots resulting predominantly from loss of blood pressure and the associated problems that it causes. So major arterial strikes, hits to major organs etc. Severing of the blood vessels is critical.

Then there is the seperate subject of hits on, or close to, the spinal coloumn casuing varying degree of nervous dysfunction. Shots into the pelvic region also have a relatively high incidence of “mobility kills”.

Generally it would seem that energy dump and hydrostatic shock are not consistently supported by analysis, and that other explanations provide better and more reliable results.

The underlying message for hand gun users from many of the more credible experts is to use FMJ instead of hollow points, in a reasonably high velocity, with the ultimate key factor as to what round to use being price, because cheap training ammo which encourages plentiful practice is more valuable then any super round, with the choice of gun being best based around what is comfortable for the user along with reliability.

Phil
January 21, 2012 10:17 pm

“5.56 has always been wrong since the day the USAF chose it for airbase security. It was never designed for battlefield warfighting.”

As opposed to battlefield…?

Anyway, why isn’t it? As I understand it was adopted because experience showed combat was usually at close range and required shed loads of ammunition and 5.56 fit the bill. No it’s not a HALO type round that reaches out and touches someone at great distances but it does its role very well. It’s a light bullet and it kills just as surely as a 7.62 if you do get to shoot someone with it rather than dirt and rocks and windows.

Phil
January 21, 2012 10:21 pm

“By the way, I was reading some stuff the other day, said the Taliban are not easily suppressed by even 7.62mm or 12.7mm if it is spanging noisily of boulders, then tend to ignore the near hits.”

They’re being brave, some blokes won’t get their heads down, which is why if your suppressing fire is accurate, it should eventually persuade them to get it down by blowing it off.

“So is the MG really for suppression, or more to gain hits on fleeting targets due to statistical probability of tagging something ?”

MG is not a good fleeting target weapon – it is heavy and takes a bit of heaving and then its a from the hip job which unless they are spitting distance accomplishes sod all. Getting a GPMG up into the shoulder is not a snap thing! An MG is an area suppression system or area effect system – in the SF role it’s there to create a beaten zone not directly fire into the enemy.

Phil
January 21, 2012 10:26 pm

Chris B

Without having read any study I agree with you. You die because your brain and vital organs are no longer being perfused with oxygenated blood.

A .22 rim-fire is easily enough to disrupt that process and so it makes no material difference in my mind what long arm calibre you use until you start to get to very big ones. It all depends on where you cop it.

Yes I’ve treated a casualty with a GSW to his face, a through and through cheek to cheek, same guy that I mentioned who had been shot twice more. All 7.62, no hydrostatic shock or energy dumping, just a very fast bit of metal going in, hitting sod all, and coming out the other side. Very sore and very dramatic as he was spitting out shed loads of blood as the cheek is vascular, but no exploding body parts or shoulders being ripped apart.

Phil
January 21, 2012 10:30 pm

“Rapid fire is one round every 2 seconds, that’s two magazine a minute: so that’s 3 minutes at rapid with six magazines”

Wow poor sums! 1 magazine every minute so six minutes! My point stands, six minutes isn’t long when you consider that in the Falklands a platoon attack was taking hours.

James
James
January 21, 2012 10:32 pm

@ Phil,

I remember winning the firefight (a British Army mantra imparted at the earliest stages of training) once in an Iraqi brigade HQ trench complex to the east of the Wadi Al-Batin. We all ran out of ammo, and that was with SMG with magazines of about 30 rounds. Left with a Browning in my holster and a bayonet. We were possibly too enthusiastic.

IMO, winning the firefight these days means having a couple of LMGs (probably 5.56, Minimi a good example) per section, probably also UGL, and mortars or arty on call. Not emptying a rifleman’s personal weapon. Riflemen to contribute, certainly, but more important is the combined situational awareness and shouted coordination you get from 6 riflemen looking lots not shooting lots.

Jed
Jed
January 21, 2012 10:37 pm

Phil

Ref: “MG is not a good fleeting target weapon – it is heavy and takes a bit of heaving and then its a from the hip job which unless they are spitting distance accomplishes sod all. Getting a GPMG up into the shoulder is not a snap thing”

Erm, yes I get that, I have occasionally had a go with one ! (although more rounds through GPMG on buffered mounts when in RN).

What I meant was that if your GPMG (light role) or LMG is in a fire position, and your sending it down range in the general direction of bad guys; if bad guy(s) decide to break cover in a quick movement, your more likely to catch them with a burst – I did not mean “heaving” the weapon onto a new bearing :-)

Chris.B.
January 21, 2012 10:38 pm

@ Phil

The recommended round for private pistol users appears to be the 9mm, because it has decent size, comes in high pressure loads, and the lower quality ammo for training can be purchased relatively cheaply.

Phil