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April 21, 2013 5:26 pm


the government has issued a request for a new Modular Assault Rifle System (MARS).
they must be in 5.56mm cal.

April 21, 2013 5:51 pm

L85A2 in brown ! Minimi in brown !! Aren’t we taking our cammo seriously…….

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 21, 2013 8:25 pm

NO not 5.56 under any circumstances. I would rather have a bullpup 7.62 with the Ultimax soft recoil system.

April 21, 2013 9:04 pm

John Hartley,

Is it possible to fit the Ultimax soft recoil system into a bullpup? Is it necessary in a rifle?

I would suggest any future infantry weapon system should involve the use of a general purpose cartridge somewhere between 6 and 7mm with a long, streamlined bullet as proposed in a number of places.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 21, 2013 9:21 pm

I am a big fan of 6 x47, 6.5 & 6.8 SPC, but UK forces seem to have an interest in 5.56 & 7.62 only. So of the 2, I prefer 7.62mm. Over the decades, I have shot everything from .17 rimfire to .375 H&H magnum, so 7.62 does not worry me, but those used to the weak 5.56 might fear the 7.62 unless given some sort of recoil reduction. Although the ultimax system was designed for LMGs, it is just a careful matching of springs & spring travel lengths, to avoid the unpleasant slap at the rear.

April 22, 2013 4:09 am

Constant recoil was done in a 0.5 cal HMG, so I don’t see why it cannot be used for a 7.62 or even Mr fred’s 6-7mm GP round, the only reason why it was not done is that there was no demand for it. Bullpupping it might be stretching the capabilities though and I’d recommend against it lest we overreach technically.

Mr fred is also right in that the “modular assault rifle” is a request for a rifle not a SAW, and it is here that a constant recoil system gives the least returns for a gain in weight and length.

Make no mistake, I love the U100, but you also need to understand the limits of the system to make the best use of it, and the best niche for this particular system is the SAW-HMG range. An AR would only benefit from it firing full auto and that is not “proper” AR usage.

I believe a 7.62 double gas barrel, constant recoil, non-bullpup, one man operated SAW is possible, though the weight gain will probably make it as heavy as a M-249, so you won’t be running and gunning with it like you would an Ultimax. Usage would probably be similar to the M-249. (And yes, the big US blokes run and gun with a -249 too, just don’t expect us smaller guys to do it.)

Look up the CIS 50 for the constant recoil HMG. Limited benefit as an infantry support weapon, the design theory was that the low recoil would make it mountable on lighter vehicles that would not support a heavy recoil absorbing mount or a heavy MG. Technical advances have made even the M2 mountable on a Light Strike Vehicle now so benefits are limited, other than the fact of local production and availability.

BTW, JH you used a U100 before? If yes, I really understand the allure. :)

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 22, 2013 9:17 am

No sadly not got my hands on an Ultimax yet. Nearly did, but the G4/Olympics debacle meant the nice troops/Royal Armouries, who were going to give me a go on it went elsewhere. I have been reading the patent & watching the video clips. Also the makers ST have a non bullpup 5.56 assault rifle prototype using the ultimax recoil system.

April 22, 2013 11:12 am

The SAR21A? That one doesn’t come with the recoil system, though with 5.56 single shot, you would hardly need it.

There was a rather badly butchered Ultimax Mk8 that was designed though. Damn the Marines and their IAR requirement, why is there a need for a SAW that can be used as a short burst auto-rifle to be crippled in flexibility? It’s like telling an ambidexterous guy: “Since you can use both hands, equally well, you don’t need your left hand, so lets wack it off!”. The flexibility was one of the biggest draws of the U100, forcing it into the “IAR only” fit is a step backwards, not forwards.

This youtube video shows the accuracy of the U100, though it needs a bit of observation. Ignore the fluff.

See the shot pattern of the M-4 at 0:38 and compare with the shot pattern of the U-100 at 0:48.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 22, 2013 5:42 pm

Yes the Mk8, a little portly, but so am I these days. You would only add a few mm to the length to go 7.62, or nought if we could talk the MoD into 6.8mm SPC.

April 22, 2013 9:19 pm

I don’t see the point in the 6.8 SPC for general use. It bleeds energy quickly over range as it has the wrong proportions for a good ballistic coefficient. The 6.5 Grendel approach makes far more sense. Long, streamlined bullets that retain energy at range. Possibly the Grendel case isn’t best suited to military rifles, but the principle is sound.

Jeremy M H
April 22, 2013 11:12 pm

I think anyone expecting a general caliber change for rifles is smoking some pretty strong stuff. In this budget environment it is just not going to happen. Honestly I think that the most of the bitching about rifle calibers is just pointless.

April 23, 2013 1:00 am

Jeremy, unfortunately true. Best case for a calibre change would be via civilian channels, that is, that the round becomes so common in civilian usage that it would be a trivial matter to switch over to military use, but chances of that happenning is rather low.

Or just go up one rung and do 7.62 NATO.

Jeremy M H
April 23, 2013 1:46 am


I honestly think an alternate chamber machine gun (that magnum that we looked at a while back) has a better chance than a new caliber for assault rifles and carbines. I think that round in a squad machine gun could really change the game enough to be worth the trouble plus I think the mechanics of replacing machine guns is a lot simpler than replacing the 5.56 all over NATO.

I find that on the subject of rifle lethality you have the opposite problem you do with aircraft and other highly complex programs. On those there are simply not enough people out there that really understand what is going on and can really add to a conversation. On rifles (particularly in the US) there are hundreds of thousands of people who can and will comment and in their own rights are quite knowledgeable. But the problem is none of their information is particularly relevant much of the time. Yes, your hand-loaded match quality rounds for your custom built semi-auto assault rifle are fantastic. But they also don’t usually conform with the laws of war, are expensive and in reality are only marginally better than what is out there.

Nothing I see anyone talk about is really leaps and bounds better than the 5.56. We are talking about improvements on the margin really. And marginal improvements won’t make the case for replacing a round that is in that widespread of service.

April 23, 2013 2:50 am

Other than the problems switching to the 5.56mm SS109. The old round had a fragible base that shattered on impact, which made it an acceptable incapacitating round.

The new SS109 is more focused on piercing body armour which came into widespread use, which meant a solid penetrator instead of fragmentation, and the currently oft reported straight through penetration instead of an incapacitating shot. How much of it is a real problem, I don’t know, but if reports are true, there might be cause for worry.

Which is one of the reasons why I would recommend a higher calibre, and the most convenient switch is to the 7.62 NATO. Battle rifles might just come back into fashion again, though it is going to be hard updating an M-14.

I’m not blind to the pros and cons of the switch.

More reliable 1st round takedown. You do not want the person to still be able to stand and fight back at close quaters even after being shot.
Greater range.
Maybe better troop morale with a larger gun?

Less ammo carried.
Urban terrain risk of overpenetration or ricochet much higher.
SAW ammo incompatibility unless you want to upround the SAW as well.
Smaller individual magazine, reloads more often.

April 23, 2013 6:25 am

I’m afraid that I don’t believe the case for retaining the current crop of rifle ammunition.
It is costly to make a change but nothing like as costly as, say, one fighter jet.

Lethality and terminal effectiveness is a difficult subject, compounded by the current laws which say that you cannot design to improve it. So the best approach is to just ignore it. Focus on parameters that you can measure, such as drop, time of flight, energy retained at range, recoil and round weight.

If you are providing a new rifle calibre then you might as well do a new machine gun as well (and vice versa)

Relying on the civilian market for consensus would be an exercise in futility akin to expecting cats to herd themselves. People have many different requirements, different understanding (or lack thereof) of the issues and objectively silly behaviours like brand loyalty.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 7:10 am

Mr Fred,

I’m not sure that anyone is asking for a new calibre. And even if they are, the sort of technical characteristics you are looking for are only likely to make a difference in every one in 10,000 rounds fired. Most assault rifle engagements take place at about 50 yards or less (and so the characteristics you define are moot), the vast majority of bullets miss their target or are suppressive fire, and of those that do hit the target, do their intended job.

There might well be an argument for making better or different bullets in existing calibres, but a whole new non-NATO standard, non-mass US market calibre? I don’t think it would make any sense, certainly not economically.

(My views on weapons are admittedly well out to the left field. I hated it when I lost my SLR, and I never got on with the toytown SA80. Even SMG was preferable to SA80, with the oddly satisfying noise of firing it. I just felt comfortable with the solid recoil of 7.62)

April 23, 2013 7:18 am

@Mr.fred: agreed. Changing ammunition types is hardly a new Eurofighter or CASD. I find it a bit nuts (although in retrospect entirely predictable) that thirty years after deciding to harmonise section ammo types, we’re even worse than we were then. Although the Grendel sounds good, I would like to see if the plastic CTA the US are trialling would work if possible


Monty’s comment a year ago said it all IMHO

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 7:26 am

….. one of these would do me.


Odd that the old Belgiques are so spectacularly useless at just about anything at all, yet make good proper battle rifles.

April 23, 2013 2:49 pm

Couldn’t let this thread pass without adding a few thoughts…


The UK MoD MARS tender has been put on hold.

Hartley / Mr. Fred

There’s been much renewed interest in the Remington 6.8 mm SPC since LWRC sold 30,000 guns to Saudi Arabia. ATK has developed a new 90 grain projectile which provides substantially enhanced lethality versus the 62 grain M855 5.56 mm NATO ammunition. But Mr. Fred is right, 6.8 mm ammo goes 300 metres then virtually drops out of the sky, making it unsuitable for general use. However, if Saudi Arabia starts selling 6.8 mm small arms to potential enemies, this will really put the cat among the pigeons. Such a situation would definitely raise the importance of calibre choice on procurement agendas.

The 6.5 mm Grendel is an ideal round in so many ways. While it is touted to match 7.62 mm performance, it only does so when firing match-grade OTM bullets from a 24-inch barrel. Once you produce a standard FMJ military ball round and fire it out of a weapon with a 16-inch barrel, you get a range and terminal effectiveness (lethality) that falls between 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm.

In the last 2 years, since the subject of intermediate calibres became a hot topic, the debate has moved on. If you adopt an intermediate calibre in between 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm, you will still need to retain 7.62 mm to reach out to longer ranges. In other words you will still have two calibres. On the other hand, If you can match or exceed the performance of 7.62 mm NATO in a smaller, lighter package with lower recoil, then you can replace this AND 5.56 mm NATO. The question is whether this is actually possible?

Britain did it in 1969 with the 6.25 mm Enfield. The US did it in 1971 with the 6 mm SAW. With further development, a cartridge based on the high BC bullet used in both the 6.5 mm Grendel and 6.5 x 47 mm Lapua would comfortably exceed the performance of 7.62 mm NATO at any range beyond 400 metres. So the answer is ‘yes’, absolutely. :-)

@Jeremy M H

A very interesting recent development is the US Congressionally-mandated “Study on Small Arms and Ammunition” which requires the US DoD report to Congress by Sept 2013 on the effectiveness of existing US small arms and small caliber ammunition. Moreover, the weight of criticism directed against maintaining two calibres in the logistics system when one would indisputably suffice is driving renewed high-level discussion of this topic.

You may be right about anyone who seriously thinks there will be a calibre change smoking illegal substances, but if China or Russia were to field an intermediate calibre weapon, NATO probably wouldn’t follow, but the US would. The last two NATO trials were not trials at all. The US chose a new calibre and then everyone else adopted it.

US Special Forces are already using three new non-NATO calibres:
– 4.6 mm in PDWs like the MP7
– 8.59 mm (.338 in sniper rifles) as well as .300 Winchester Magnum
– .300 Blackout (7.62 mm subsonic) to replace 9 mm SMGs for MOUT assaults

So never say never ;-)


The 5.56 mm SS109 round was designed to have increased range and penetration so that it could be used in squad-level machine guns. This was achieved by giving it a steel core and putting more energy behind it. While it does indeed penetrate armour better than the previous M193 5.56 mm round, the downside was that it needed greater stabilization which reduced its propensity to yaw (tumble) in soft tissue and thus its lethality. In comparison, 7.62 mm NATO also yaws very slowly, if at all, but makes such a big hole that this doesn’t matter.

The two factors that most impact calibre choice are: (a) hit probability (pH) and (b) probability of incapacitation (pI). 5.56 mm has better pH and 7.62 mm has better pI. The reason 5.56 mm was adopted was because a hit with a small calibre round is better than a miss with a large calibre one. If you can carry twice as much 5.56 mm ammo as you can 7.62 mm ammo, then you have a much better chance of hitting the bad guy whether or not you kill him.

The biggest issue with 5.56 mm NATO is its susceptibility to wind drift. The small bullet is easily blown off target on windy days. Shooting targets at 500 metres plus on a range on a still day is easy. Doing so in Afghanistan with a 15 knot mistral blowing across your front is another matter entirely.

We aren’t going back to 7.62 mm, we’ve gone back to it already. We’ve already bought the L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle (an accurised AR10 made by Lewis Machine Tool Co.) and now we’re starting to field the 7.62 mm Minimi MG. 5.56 mm looks like it will stick around until at least SA80 is replaced.

@Red trousers

No one is asking for a new calibre, but EVERYONE wants one.

The SCAR is a cheap copy of the German G36 and IMO it’s a piece of sh*t. The sharp recoil of the 7.62 mm version breaks sights and other accessories you fit to it. The reciprocating charging handle breaks fingers.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 3:30 pm

@ Monty,

blimey, the old Belgiques cocking it up again? I’d have expected more from FN. To be honest, it’s the nearest lookalike to a proper FN, and in 7.62, so I love it.

I’m not sure that breaking optics and accessories is the fault of 7.62 recoil, more probably the design of the optics and accessories being limited. Recoil being pretty constant, and indeed predictable. As for the fingers? Well, a slight adjustment in design, probably no more than that.

April 23, 2013 5:42 pm

Being as there are plenty of 7.62mm weapons out there with optics on, I find it hard to believe that it is a function of the calibre alone.

April 23, 2013 5:48 pm

Monty said: “……would comfortably exceed the performance of 7.62 mm NATO at any range beyond 400 metres” – and what stressed out, over burdened infantryman, in a combat situation, even with modern optics ever hits a target at 400m – OK, “regularly” hits a target at 400m ?

Based on my own non-combat experience of FN SLR, 9mm SMG, SA80 family, on the range, on exercises and carrying live ammo “in country” (but never as “infantry”) :

Lightweight 7.62mm MG’s, 7.62mm Designated marksmans rifles, multi-shot 40mm grenade launchers, 60mm mortars – the real death dealers of the infantry. Every one else gets a 6.5mm CBJ carbine / SMG for assaulting through and personal defence. The weight saving of a lighter gun and ammo allows average squaddie to carry more belted 7.62 / 40mm grenades / 60mm mortar rounds / rockets / etc…….

If your Armoured Infantry are only getting out of their Warrior (which is carrying a 40mm cannon and 7.62mm co-ax) to assault the target whey do they need a 7.62mm rifle ?

If you want to win the so called “infantry half mile / ridge-line” battle in Afghanistan, then see above, MG’s, DMR’s and HE throwers.

Yes, I am suggesting introducing a new caliber, but one that would replace both 5.56 and 9mm.


April 23, 2013 6:09 pm

RT hit the nail on the head a bit earlier. The current best analysis coming out of places like Afghanistan is that you’re looking at an average of something like 5,000 rounds fired per hit, at a minimum. That’s a 0.02% hit rate. This tallies with the mountains of evidence we have from previous wars/campaigns, that suggest that the side that will win the firefight is the side that can put down the most rounds in the shortest possible time. Hence why small calibres that permit high rates of automatic/quick fired semi-automatic fire, are so popular. Along with the weight issue and the lower cost for training.

The “lethality” of the rounds is almost inconsequential. Although it’s worth noting that most military grade 5.56 ammuntion will produce better “terminal effects” and “cavitation” etc, etc, insert chosen buzzword here, than most hollow point pistol rounds which are supposed to be the ultimate in terminal effects.

In essence, there is zero evidence to suggest that switching to a 7.62 or 6.8 rifle round, or any other larger calibre, would do anything to improve the effectiveness of infantry. There is plenty of evidence to suggest it would make them worse off.

April 23, 2013 6:43 pm

Haven’t they already, RE ” if China or Russia were to field an intermediate calibre weapon, NATO probably wouldn’t follow, but the US would.”?

April 23, 2013 6:55 pm

The thing is that a cartridge in the region of 6-7mm, firing a relatively long, streamlined bullet, is also good for replacing your 7.62mm machine gun and DMR, meaning those weapons and ammunition can be lighter and smaller.

In proposing a general purpose round I suggest avoiding the contentious subject of terminal ballistics beyond the amount of energy retained. Focussing on the other, measurable aspects of a round as previously described, you get lighter weight and recoil than a 7.62mm. You get shorter time of flight and consequently less drop at longer ranges, improving your Phit per round. If all your rifles are chambered for this round, you do not need a separate DMR – just pick the most consistent rifles from the qualification tests and apply better sights – as they used to do with the No.4 Lee Enfield.

If it were all about rounds put down then the logical extension would be .22lr or .17hmr because you can carry loads and fit heaps into a magazine. That doesn’t happen because it isn’t all about rounds put down.

Moving into the less measurable aspects, and at the risk of inciting scholarly wrath, I’ll cite Marshall’s “Men Against Fire”. If rifle-armed troops are willing to let the specialists carry the load, then what would be the outcome if you gave your ‘riflemen’ something even less effective? I would contend that it would make them even less likely to use their personal weapon, which would make each fireteam a machine gun team with a gunner and three ammo bearers. If they do not have confidence in their weapons, they will be less likely to move from cover.

For rifle fire at longer ranges, the proliferation of optical sights might suggest that a revival of musketry training would be a good idea.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 23, 2013 7:02 pm

5000 rounds per hit is much better than Vietnam where it was more like 50000 rounds per enemy hit. Sights have come on over the last few years. An old git like me struggles to hit with one in ten rounds at 400m with an open sighted .303, but now I know the holdover, I can put .270 Win rounds into man size target at 600m with only a 4x scope. Moving targets are of course harder. On the running deer range, I either shoot an inch ahead or overcompensate & hit it in the arse.
5.56 is great if your enemy is close & likely to call for a medic as soon as he is hit. Against a suicide bomber or at the ranges of Afghan fields & mountains, it lacks oomph. Hence the many complaints from troops at the sharp end.

April 23, 2013 7:10 pm

It doesn’t lack “oomph”. Hollywood has given unrealistic expectations about how quick people die from getting shot in all cases except where you hit something vital or they are not aggressive. You’re not going to stop an aggressive person unless you hit something vital (in which case a .22 will do fine) or physically blow chunks off him (then you start at .50 and work up).

The entire crux of combat is winning the firefight and at the small arms level that simply requires bags and bags of ammo that makes nice loud cracks over the enemies heads and which upset him. Hitting the bastards is secondary and even then in CQB a 5.56 is no more or less effective than a 7.62mm – you’re simply not going to drop someone who isn’t in the mood to die quietly unless you hit something like the spinal column or drill through the right part of the brain. Everything else is going to give him a number of seconds to minutes before he bleeds out or loses his ability to maintain their BP to perfuse the brain.

April 23, 2013 7:11 pm

looking at the list at the bottom of the page there are lots of options.
some more obvious then others.

April 23, 2013 7:12 pm

“suggest that a revival of musketry training would be a good idea.”

That’s what the USMC did for years and it is why their main weapon around OIF was the M16A4 and not a carbine. They had a marksmanship fetish for decades and it left them with small arms ill suited to modern warfare (or frankly WWII warfare).

You train the Battleshot – you do advanced application of fire from different firing positions against snap targets, moving targets and suppression targets from CQB ranges out to 400m with a personal weapon. Musketry would be completely the wrong direction to go. It’s not 1914.

April 23, 2013 7:15 pm

under the weight section there is a chart.
10kg of 7.62 gets you 280 rounds
10kg of 5.56 gets you 660 rounds

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 7:16 pm

Has anyone actually checked their pet theories with a proper infantryman, in proper combat?

GW1, Bosnia, Kosovo, GW2, have revealed multiple complaints about SA80 A1 (that became A2), but looking at the MoD published data, precisely none about 5.56 being the “wrong” calibre. There is one supported case for extended (ie back to proper 7.62mm) range, and we got an UOR for basically an SLR for the 2010s.

I’m an advocate of semi-auto single shot 7.62, but only for recce which is all I know. Chris B who has an AI background might feel some love for SA80, as it is short and you can carry lots of extra magazines for the same weight.

@ as

slightly meaningless data. 280 rounds of 7.62 is about 28 battlefield days for recce. 10 kg of 5.56mm is a slightly ferocious firefight before breakfast for AI, and then you need a replen before getting on with the real business of the day.

If you want to talk weight, let’s talk batteries.

April 23, 2013 7:21 pm

so most people want one of these the for battle rifles then?

Peter Elliott
April 23, 2013 7:29 pm


I usually stay out of discussions about small arms – not knowing much about the subject.

But couldn’t you make the case for switching to 7.62 stronger by reducing the weight of the round? I think ‘caseless ammunition’ is the expression. Which I vaguely think of as using plastic or cardboard instead of brass.

Is there a good reason why this hasn’t been done already? (If you did it for 5.56 the poor bloody infantry could carry even more rounds)

Does it not work reliably in all conditions or something?

April 23, 2013 7:31 pm

the weight is the reason that is always given for going for the smaller calibre so more ammunition can be carried by each infantry section.

April 23, 2013 7:34 pm
Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 7:43 pm

@ Peter Elliott,

probably, is the answer, but I’m not really the right person to ask. I was completely unorthodox when I was a recce troop leader – deliberately carrying an SLR when by establishment it should have been an SMG. I also didn’t do webbing, but had a grab bag of essential supplies. I only got away with it because I had a pip on my shoulder, and because my squadron leader thought it was curious and worth allowing, and because I hardly ever spent any time in the turret.

Who cares about the weight? You can ditch a kilo by cleaning the mud off your boots and chest. The weight is what it is, and if it’s what you need for the job, so be it.

April 23, 2013 7:46 pm

“In addition to body armour, a typical soldier on patrol in Afghanistan will carry: a weapon (10 to 20lbs); radio, batteries electronic equipment (40lbs); water (10lbs); ammunition (20lbs); Javelin missile (25lbs). Soldiers will also be required to wear eye, groin, ear and knee protection as well as gloves and a helmet.”
interesting artical
ammo weight I gess is the least of the worries

April 23, 2013 7:53 pm

I was a medic and weighed my kit on CFT scales outside the Joint Force Med Gp gym when I came back through for RnR. It came to 42 kilograms including rifle and 3 litres of water. Some of the infantry were patrolling with a lot more if they were carrying ECM or GPMG (and in one memorable case for the lad, both).

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 23, 2013 8:01 pm

Defense Review website 26 Sep 2011 had an article on polymer cased rifle/machinegun ammo. I think the firm is PCP Ammo. Its a special formula polymer that is supposed to get over the heat/melting problem. Much lighter than brass (30%?), perhaps cheaper. Works well on a range, but is it robust enough in the field? Polymer cases will probably come sometime, but if they are ready yet, is open to debate.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 23, 2013 8:04 pm
April 23, 2013 8:15 pm

Should armies use lead-free bullets?

April 23, 2013 8:43 pm

7mm NATO

Back to the future, 1947 i think, British Army set up a small calibre committee headed up by a certain Dr Beeching PhD, (famous or infamous for later work with British Rail) to learn the lessons from WW2. The army had been intending to replace the rimmed .303 but 2 world wars had disrupted planning for the replacement of this old stager dating from 1889. The final conclusion they came to was a short case (with the same head dia. as the rimless 30-06 American standard full powered round) with a 7mm dia. bullet that could be fired on fully auto, with control, but had an adequate bullet weight (130g)so as suitable for medium machine gun to a 1000 yds.

This was based on the German army experience on the eastern front where they were getting overwhelmed by Russian numbers, the Germans had sub machine guns that fired the 9mm pistol round which did not have the range or power and the bolt action Mauser dating from 1898 firing a full powered standard 8mm Mauser round, to slow.( It must be remembered that their main squad weapon was the machine guns which were very good firing the full powered 8mm round.)The answer they came up with was the first assault rifle firing full auto with control, the final version StG 44, 500,000 + manufactured. The round they used was the 8mm Kurz (short) a cut back in length 8mm Mauser with much less powder capacity and low bullet weight to give the low recoil necessary to allow full auto control. The Russians copied this with the famous post war Kalashnikov AK47 again using a Russian standard dia. 7.62 bullet with a short case low capacity round.

The British 7mm round was one step up from the German and Russian rounds in that it had better ballistics with its smaller dia. and heavier bullet but still allowed for the low recoil full auto and range. The assault rifle developed in parallel was the EM2 as was a medium machine gun. Full speed ahead until Churchill came to power 1951 and cancelled it in the name of a NATO standard to use the American 7.62mm with a 142/155g weight bullet.

The 7.62mm is a round developed by the simple expedient of slightly reducing the length of the 30-06 as a US general had noticed at a production plant they did not fill the case to capacity as that would have made it too powerful even for the semi auto MI Garand. Anyway trials were held in the US and with the US 7.62 and the Brit 7mm , the 7mm was the winner but the US generals insisted on nothing but a .30 dia. (7.62) full powered round would do. The drawback was it could not be fired in a rifle on auto due to the heavy recoil. Fast forward to Vietnam and the US were caught with their pants down the as semi auto M14 follow on to the MI Garand in 7.62mm was no match against the AK47 full auto. Panic stations the US grabbed the privately developed Armalite AR-15 using a .223 (5.56) round, a variation of the Remington .222 varmint and short range target cartridge,the US Army renamed it the M16 5.56mm

There have always been problems with the 5.56mm round due to the lack of killing power due to the low bullet weight, originally 55g, that is why the US special forces developed the 6.8SPC with heavier bullet, but was hamstrung due the short length of the M16 chamber so it didn’t catch on. So today we use the US 5.56mm and 7.62mm whereas if no kowtowing to the US in ’51 we might still be using a single round the 7mm NATO instead of two.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 8:55 pm

@ as


Or in more explanatory detail with context:

for F**k’s @$^&£&(%$ $£&& (&*£W^ ^%*@!^*()^&! But still, curiously lubricious.

(I don’t know why Edmund Blackadder crept in there. I’m still hyperventilating at the thought of pregnant Norwegian infantry women suing the government. It’s so wrong on so many levels)

April 23, 2013 9:04 pm
April 23, 2013 9:05 pm

Intermediate swing happening:
– in China Type 87 was more of a test bed (conforms with the idea of having the ARs and the section support weapon firing the same ammo)
– type 95 is in wide-spread use

Whereas it seems that Russia has pretty much copied the American approach. This happened/ prevailed due to the financial constraints that followed from the fall of the Soviet Union, and there is a good account of the failed/ stalled programme on world.guns.ru, just a small snippet here:
” “6mm unified” program commenced as an attempt to replace more than a century-old 7,62x54R rifle / machine gun cartridge with more modern round of ammunition, which would provide longer effective range, less weight and recoil, and simpler design of the guns, due to its rimless case design. After significant research, developers at TSNII TochMash produced a 6×49 ‘Unified’ cartridge”
– not far off from the 5.8 x 42 that China proceeded with

April 23, 2013 9:06 pm
April 23, 2013 9:11 pm

“Chris B who has an AI background…”
– Erm, sorry? I must have been perpetually drunk for several years and missed all that, which frankly, would explain a lot. Shame, sounds like it was a laugh.

“5000 rounds per hit is much better than Vietnam where it was more like 50000 rounds per enemy hit.”
— Perhaps I should have added a caveat along the lines of ‘beware, statistics’. You can easily end up with a situation where the soldiers at one FOB spend an entire week loosing tens of thousands of rounds at the enemy and hit nothing, then a patrol at the other end of the province gets ambushed at close quarters twice in the same week, and records multiple hits both times, thus skewing the numbers in the blink of an eye.

” Against a suicide bomber or at the ranges of Afghan fields & mountains, it lacks oomph. Hence the many complaints from troops at the sharp end.”
— To get into effective range a suicide bomber would have to close right up to practically pistol range. The problem as such becomes one of detection. If you spot him early enough then you’ll have ample time to plough hundreds of rounds of whatever your chosen calibre is into him. If you only detect the threat when he’s a few yards away then nothing short of an immediate 0.5 cal round or a lucky head shot is going to be enough to stop him pressing the trigger. There is plenty of documented accounts going back to the mid-1800’s where soldiers have complained about rounds such as .308″ fired from full length bolt action rifles at very short range, as being ineffective at stopping.

The main issue regarding stopping power seems to be that while doctors understand quite comprehensively why it is that bullets kill people (or not), nobody is interested in listening to them, because they don’t talk about things like hydrostatic shock and stretch cavities, or whatever pet theory it is that people are pushing that year.

If you want to “stop” someone you either have to a) cause some kind of psychological reaction that convinces the person they should stop (which has happened, even with blank rounds causing one burglar to believe that he had been shot in the face and who spent the next 5 years receiving psychiatric treatment to try and convince him that he was in fact in a mental hospital and not in heaven), or b) cause a destructive failure of the central nervous system, such as severing the spinal chord, putting a bloody great hole through the brain, or as Phil pointed out, causing a state of global cerebral ischemia (in other words, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the brain) due to reduced/zero cardiac output.

The chances of any of those things happening is greatly increased by increasing the number of projectiles that hit the target. Until you jump into the 12.5mm range, the width and power of the round has a limited affect on those things.

“If it were all about rounds put down then the logical extension would be .22lr or .17hmr because you can carry loads and fit heaps into a magazine”
— 5.56mm = just shy of .22 of an inch.

April 23, 2013 9:14 pm

the list for any one who is interested

we railly have not had much luck with nato standards, we always seem to lose out.

April 23, 2013 9:23 pm

I remember reading of a us police man shooting some guy at a traffic stop with 3 clips werth of 9mm bullets (so 45 times) and him still not being able to drop him. bullets can do some funny things.
its harder to stop a person perticuly if there high on drugs as this guy was.
so stopping a suicide bomber who is running towards you or your vehicle is very hard.

April 23, 2013 9:31 pm
April 23, 2013 9:41 pm

@ as,

It entirely depends. If I hit you in the heart then you have about 5-10 seconds (depending on your general level of fitness and health, etc) to do whatever it is you are planning to do before you pass out. If I hit you in the head then you can forget it, game over. If I hit you repeatedly in the hand then it’ll probably have little effect.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 9:43 pm

@ Chris B, re AI. Oh, effing OBBlocks. I thought you were from Monty’s the End of the Tank thread, and had spent some time as a close recce Pl Comd (which nearly makes you a brother in arms on the recce side, if still confused by distances and proper tactical bounds, and the need to hang shiny orange things on your CVR(T) antennae to indicate to the BG plebes which way the enemy are). Bastard confusing.

I am sure that you would have been wonderful at AI.


can we please have a “Military Credentials” entry on your site? Then I can really bang on about the need for CVFs and future Kevins, and everyone can note my capacity to make sense on those topics.

The only thing anyone can take me seriously upon is manned recce***, and sex. Everything else is merely conjecture, opinion, bias, and some form of -ism. And proud of it.

*** and aerostats. Really quite an lot emotionally, and even financially invested into new concepts with those. But probably a bit swivel-eyed, as no one else seems to take them seriously.

April 23, 2013 10:17 pm

Musketry is usually defined as the use of small arms, especially in battle. It is notably different from marksmanship. The USA armed forces in general, and the Marine Corps in particular, seem to have a bit of a thing for marksmanship, but that’s more about being a good shot rather than able to use small arms well in battle. The two are different.
This “battleshot” term that you seem to have made up, by the context, would be musketry.

Chris B.
A .22lr and 5.56mm NATO are vastly different beasts. Or would you happily issue Ruger 10/22s as standard combat arms?
Or this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaBpeTRL1QA

But you have a point that in order to incapacitate someone you have to hit them in the right place. If you can do it from further away (effective range), that’s an advantage. If you can do it more often (easier aiming due to flatter, faster shooting) that is also an advantage. If you get more goes (lighter round weight) then that is an advantage.

The 7.62mm rifle is back because it outranges the 5.56mm rifle. A properly designed round in the 6-7mm range outranges both and while it is not as light and as easier to fire (light recoil) as a 5.56mm it would be somewhat lighter (weight and recoil) than a 7.62mm.

April 23, 2013 10:30 pm

The move towards a 6-7 mm cartridge is all about replacing 2 cartridges with 1. That is the logistical benefit.

There seems to be some question about the 6.5 gr case shape being difficult for belt feed or something but otherwise it could do both Personal weapon and crew weapon.

As for lethality, the French established before WW1! that full calibre rounds were hugely wasteful. The Germans carried out some work before WW2, and discovered the laws of Physics (and Physiology), had not changed. The appearance of the STG and AK were ignored in the west until Vietnam when surprise surprise, the laws of Physics and physiology were still the same.

I have never been in combat and do not want to be. The scientific studies of it are available publicly, such ‘real’ combat footage as I have seen seems to back it up IMHO. (I accept RT, Phil etc have been there and have T shirts etc).

There are some facts that seem immutable.

1. Mark 1 human and his eyeball even in good conditions, can’t hit much man sized beyond 300 meters. Start throwing lead and fragments at him and that 300 meter range drops to not much over a hundred.

2. Target acquisition, particularly in ambush guerrilla/Coin warfare, is hugely difficult.

3. Under fire, ‘spray and pray’ behavior, becomes the norm. Well trained troops can forget the pray, and the spray is much better directed – once they can locate a target! But aimed shooing at a man target- ‘Musketry’ – is a rarity not the norm.

4. As an aside small unit cohesion is almost impossible under heavy fire with more than 5 people to a unit and under heavy fire bigger units tend to break down to about that size and de facto operate at that level. so an 8 man unit tends to start operating like 2 cooperating units of 4.

5. The 5.56 is/was a temporary ‘fix’ to the lack of a properly developed lightweight round, but the 9 mm parabellum was a temporary fix as well!

6. It is worth noting that the early 60’s American test showed conclusively that 8 men with M16’s routinely beat 12 men with M14s, in pretty much every battlefield test that could be thought up. And that the establishment was seriously anti the whole idea and went to great lengths to ‘fix’ tests that would favor 7.62. Most of them, apart from the ‘can we hit a 6ft square of white cloth at 1000yards’ test:- were wins for the 5.56. So if your going to war against 6ft square white cloths 7.62 is the gun for you!

7. Frankly a duel purpose round to do both jobs exists, (and several real practical rounds are available should the political will/ military requirement exist for it):- the jury really has gone out come back in and delivered the verdict on that.

I personally have always thought the ‘full caliber’ round makes more sense – but I am wrong!

April 23, 2013 10:42 pm

@ RT,
Not to worry and many thanks.

@ Mr. Fred,
I’m glad you pointed out the difference between a .22lr and a 5.56, otherwise I’d never have known… /sarcasm.

The point I was making is that most militaries do essentially use a .22 now, albeit one with a bit more whoosh behind it. The reason the top end range is not especially considered relevant is because a) infantry seldom find themselves under effective fire at ranges beyond about 400m and b) even if they did, most of them wouldn’t be able to hit anything at that range without a proper rifle (20+ inch barrel), rest and a high grade optic. The biggest challenge most soldiers seem to be having at the minute is quickly locating the enemies firing position on a reliable basis, let alone hitting anything over there.

Changing the round is not going to change the limitations of the human being behind it.

April 23, 2013 10:57 pm

so it becomes a question of wether they need better optics and a longer barrel

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 23, 2013 10:57 pm

Changing the angle a little, are we still content with the natures of the weapons issued to different sorts of units? (never mind the length, feel the calibre)

Household Cavalry: 1913 pattern 36 inch sabre.
Recce: “Scout” rifle, 7.62mm. Spend a bit on some decent optics. Single AI 7.62mm sniper rifle per wagon.
Armour: some form of personal defence weapon, eg FN P90, plus dismountable GPMG.
Infantry and RM: 5.56mm, plus “heavy” 7.62 version as seen in the FN SCAR family for squad marksmen (or equivalent, if the Belgiques have cocked up the fabrication), and 8 sniper pairs per Bn.
Gunners / Sappers / Truckies / Bleeps / REMFs: PDWs if vehicle mounted, 5.56 if foot borne.
Matelots: 5.56.
Kevins: something in soft sponge, with an feminist diversity coordinator and mandatory polyester-management sessions.

April 23, 2013 11:29 pm

the choice is ifinate as far as calibre is concerned
it is down to the right weapon for the right job.
one size does not fit all.

April 24, 2013 3:17 am

Slightly off topic for Red Trousers – I have recently extended my classical fencing repertoire to the Hutton Sabre – great fun, although I am not qualified to use from horse back, or from CVR(T) turret……. and probably too short range yo scare a Terry with a PKM……..

April 24, 2013 4:28 am

RT, the recce guy was me.

Personally though, I don’t see the point in a 7.62 recce rifle, your weapons are supposed to be used in self defence, you want to kill things, there are your slaves.. er.. attached artillery or air units. Your most likely contact range is either super long or super close. Super long, SOP is drop smoke and disappear. Super close is hose everything in sight and pray hard, so my opinion is a small calibre weapon with a high rate of fire would work better. i.e the SMG that you mentioned, though I ended up with a carbine and later an assault rifle instead.

I wonder if Project Salvo included the ammo usage for Mad Minutes?

And smoke is your best friend, along with rain and moonless nights.

I’m a convert to the idea of optics though, open sights with my M-4, at a 300m range, I can get hits on a Figure 11 target (standing human), but have no idea where am I hitting, with a 1.5x scope, I can actually pick which body part I want to hit. My spotter for the familiarization shoot was rather droll when he asked me “You were aiming for the head were you?” (Figure 15 target). I was. And was hitting too, 7/8. Of course, evading targets drive up the difficulty by magnitudes, so I don’t think I can replicate that while someone is moving, but once he stops…

Ammo usage, or wastage is also a matter of NCO/Junior Officer discipline and control. The natural reaction under fire is for people to blaze back, not many Sgts or Lts actually tell their men to hold their fire when being shot at. Especially since they themselves have the urge to throw huge amounts of ammo back as well.

My personal belief is that the best response to fire is often smoke.

April 24, 2013 5:49 am


Battleshot is not a term I’ve made up. Take the sarky tone when you have a clue mate.


As for definition of musketry. If you say so. I don’t get what the hell you think the army does now if it doesn’t train people how to use small arms.

April 24, 2013 6:23 am


I beg your pardon – that is absolutely the first time I have heard the term.
Regarding the teaching of musketry – most combat footage seems to involve ’empty magazine at enemy, repeat.’ I would expect that the military trains safe use and operation of the weapons, plus marksmanship.

April 24, 2013 7:01 am

“I don’t get what the hell you think the army does now if it doesn’t train people how to use small arms.”

Scream for help from the big arms? :P

But I agree, small arms training has always been a part of any army’s training. Small arms control on the other hand… Very few have the training or experience not to shoot back when shot at or wait for that one single shot that counts. Not criticising, think it is a universal problem for all countries, it takes really big brass ones to wait for that single shot when rounds are hitting all around your position. I don’t think mine are brassy enough or big enough to actually have the guts to hold fire when people are tossing rounds at me either, so I can’t really say anything bad about others who don’t.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 24, 2013 7:18 am


check out the “Scout rifle” concept developed by Col Jeff Cooper to see why I recommend 7.62 for recce. I agree with most of what you’ve written above (unsurprising as we both did the same job), but certainly in European or desert conditions (long sight lines), if you plan to take someone down, it is best done at some range.

April 24, 2013 7:32 am

I was a bit punchy there apologies I shouldn’t post before my morning cup of tea.

The skill at arms teaching is pretty comprehensive for infantry and for all arms nowadays. And getting the rounds down is good practice if you’re taking effective enemy fire and you know from what compass point it’s coming from. You don’t want the enemy to have his leisure shooting at you. Best to remove the fun element for him and remind him of his mortality with some good loud cracks about his position. Don’t underestimate the sheer noise of getting shot at and how menacing it sounds.

April 24, 2013 9:22 am

RT yeah but our 1st job is to hide, so even if you spot someone 2 kilometers away, you still go to ground in hope that he didn’t see you. Unless you got a vehicle with you, then you settle the problem with the GPMG or the 0.5 cal.

I love the idea of popping my enemies from a long way away, but.. that really isn’t our job. One death is a red flag that we are in the area, and a search would force us out of the area or kill us off if unlucky, meaning we are not going to get nuts all intel in that area any more.

April 24, 2013 10:19 am

RT said “Matelots: 5.56”

No. Sorry. I decided last year that the RN would adopt the 5.7x28mm and the FN P90. :)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 24, 2013 11:58 am

I find this thread slightly baffling (I’m an amateur historian, not a small-arms spotter)…but Boy (nine, almost ten) is delighted to find that his HALO Minifigures are already issued with most of the firearms so far discussed…on a rather small scale obviously, as the men are only about two inches tall…

April 24, 2013 5:13 pm
Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 24, 2013 5:50 pm


there may be some role differentiation in Singapore and in the UK. Formation recce is often used for flank guards, where killing is most definitely allowed and you want to have the option of doing it early. Similarly for exploitation, where you may be able to effect a situation at some distance. Rarden is actually quite good for that: reasonably good first round hit probability at 2000 metres. Hence my thinking of in a perfect world, Javelin with its’ range, and an AI sniper rifle dismountable, and personal weapons of 7.62 for when dismounted.

But, I’m not completely hard over on 7.62, it might be 5.56mm is equally good. Certainly don’t want piddly little SMGs, which really are only for self-defence at short ranges.

You can get fast-into-action 7.62 mm if you go down the Scout rifle road.

April 24, 2013 6:10 pm

A few comments…

Chris B. on this occasion, I can’t agree with your comments.

When 7.62 mm was the standard calibre of the British Army, there was a requirement for individual soldiers to be able to shoot accurately to 300 metres. For the section shooting collectively, there was a requirement to engage targets at 600 metres. For GPMGs / LMGs, the maximum range in the light role was 800 metres. (For the US Army, machine guns had to be able to shoot to 1,200 metres.) The SLR and GPMG could both shoot very effectively to these ranges.

We lost the ability to shoot beyond 300-400 metres when we adopted 5.56 mm in 1986. What is important about shooting to these distances is not so much killing but suppression. The truth about 5.56 mm is that it really doesn’t suppress past 400 metres. An MoD report in 2009 confirmed this.

Suppression is a fairly vital requirement. It isn’t about killing people, but about keeping the enemy’s head down so that your own troops don’t get killed as they manoeuvre into an assault position. The Taliban were engaging ISAF troops at 900 metres with Russian PKM MGs safe in the knowledge that we didn’t have the range to shoot back. All 5.56 mm weapons emptied in their general direction were background noise. Re-issuing ‘The General’ (GPMG) soon sorted that problem out, but more fundamentally, the notion that 90% combat engagements take place at ranges of less than 300 metres has been debunked.

Until the advent of the x4 ACOG, it was true that most soldiers couldn’t shoot past 300 metres. Today, a good shot with an L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle can hit an enemy target at 600 metres no problem, while a very good shot can do so at 800 metres. (Top snipers with .338 L115A rifles have shot insurgents at 2,000 metres). We have a situation where the sights fitted to our 5.56 mm weapons are more capable than the weapons themselves.

Whatever calibre is chosen for the next generation rifle, the requirement will remain the same: for individual soldiers to be able to shoot accurately to 300 metres. But we definitely need to to engage targets out to about 1,000 metres – this requirement was recognised in 2006/2007 and has already driven the re-adoption of 7.62 mm weapons in UK infantry sections. The penalty is more weight carried at section level not less. The real bu*gger of the weight burden isn’t rifle ammunition, but linked 7.62 mm for the GPMGs.

If you adopt a 6 mm, 6.5 mm, 6.86 mm or 7 mm assault rifle with good sights on it, everyone in the squad who is a good shot can be a sharpshooter. You’ll also reduce the weight burden by 25-30%. With 40 kg of kit carried, that’s a reduction of 10-11 kg.

I think it was Jed who said that he’d like to see a weapon that combined the best of 4.6 mm PDW and 9 mm SMG. It already exists: the .300 Blackout. Available in both supersonic and subsonic loadings, it’s pretty devastating at short-range. Like the 6.8 mm SPC, it falls out of the sky at longer distances. There’s also the old hunting round, the 9.3 x 62 mm Mauser, which has been around since 1905. It will drop a 200 kg wild board at 100 metres. The trouble with both rounds is they weigh a lot.

When everything’s said and done, the concept behind 5.56 mm is sound: you can carry more rounds of a smaller calibre for the same weight. More rounds carried = increased hit probability + more rounds available for suppression. The problem is that 5.56 mm is just too small, not just the calibre in terms of bullet diameter, but also bullet mass, retained energy and bullet design: the ability to transfer energy into a target reliably and consistently. Rifle effectiveness isn’t about just hit probability, it’s also about probability of incapacitation. While 7.62 mm has a reduced hit probability relative to 5.56 mm this is only below 500 m.

Personally, I don’t give a damn what we choose next time round, but neither of the two existing calibres is ideal. One is too big, the other is too small.

April 24, 2013 6:13 pm

A further thought occurs:
We’re quite happy speccing a whole new gun and ammunition for our AFVs – One that only we will use and will therefore be costly to procure and upgrade – but we would have problems with small arms?
Where’s the sense in that? Unless our logistics plan is to borrow all our small arms ammunition of the US?

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 24, 2013 6:52 pm

Picking up from Monty.
I think he is right about telescopic sights. With all the row over calibres, we have ignored the huge improvement in sights over the last decade. Some SF have thermal image ones. Bullet drop compensation is becoming more common, as are robust variable scopes. A good 2x to 7x, rugged, BDC scope would be on my future rifle wishlist whether it was 6mm,6.5mm, 6.8, 7mm or 7.62.

April 24, 2013 7:02 pm

Monty it entirely depends on the operational context. By default engagements in urban terrain will be very close and a 5.56 will be completely useful. In a country like Afghanistan on operations like we are doing there we do indeed need to reach out and touch someone – and to do that we have the GPMG and the DMR along with organic IDF. As you’ve pointed out there is no ideal answer until we develop a bullet that can get smaller or bigger on demand (perhaps by adding water). The fact is though an infantry platoon now has a suite of weapons that can engage at a variety of ranges out to 1,000m and in reality would not be operating on its own so would have other longer ranged assets available like snipers, SF GPMGs, mortars and artillery and air support – even in the Falklands with units hanging out of the end of a precarious supply line there was still mortar, SF GPMG, artillery and air-support. Furthermore all VHR units have organic mortars and artillery in their possession.

Better scopes are all well and good, but the drama is finding the bastards when they open up and nobody is going to be looking through the best scopes if they have been suppressed. Bags of ammo, a brave bastard or two to stick his head out or make a run for it, and a good CLAP fire control order are needed before better scopes come into play. Yes scopes can certainly give you better vision but we are at that level now with the old SUSAT, the newer ACOG, the newest whateveryacall it and the sights on the DMR.

April 24, 2013 7:07 pm

there are lots of different type again sorted to different jobs.
red spot for short range.
iron sights.
full blown telescopic for long range.
it is possible to fit all three to one weapon

April 24, 2013 7:13 pm

April 24, 2013 7:28 pm

Some line infantry have thermal imager rifle scopes.

And the British Army has had a 4x optical sight with trajectory compensation (granted it’s on a range drum rather than a fancy reticle) for quite some years. I would take it for granted that the next rifle would be fitted with a low magnification scope.
I would favour a 4x fixed power scope rather than a variable magnification job, just because it’s going to be simpler and more robust. Maybe something more capable for the DMR rifles, then a step (or two) further for snipers.

What we have now, will probably do for now. When we come to replace it, then it would be sensible to replace what we have with something that has had a bit of thought behind it and makes the most of the available resource. Retooling for a new calibre would be a pittance. It will likely cost less than a Navy captain running his ship aground or a Harrier pilot flying into the runway.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 24, 2013 7:33 pm

@ as,

there is COTS optical technology to have a zoom function. Clearly, some trade-offs, but it’s essentially the same for zoom vs prime lenses for SLR cameras. I’m not sure if the sight manufacturers have actually integrated zoom into something like ACOGs or ELCANs, but it is possible.

I have a Nikon telescope (about £500, so about ACOG cost) that has a zoom eye-piece. It’s really quite good.

I’d suggest that a candidate user might be a recce soldier, sometimes using his sight as a spotting / surveillance aid, sometimes as a proper rifle sight. You might go from 5 x mag down to 1.5 x mag with a twist. What Nikon missed was putting some form of stadiametric pattern / graticules, even an LRF into the eyepiece, but I am sure that it is “do-able”.

Even £5000 for such a sight, including zoom, ruggedisation against 7.62 firing shock, and graticules and LRF would not be too expensive for military use.

April 24, 2013 7:35 pm

Maybe it would – but there are no clear advantages, given the operational contexts, to switching calibres for the general infantry personal weapon. I think it would be a change for the sake of it and achieve nothing at best, and at worst degrade the infantry’s ability to win fire fights by dumping bags of ammo down range (albeit of course in the controlled manner in which it is supposed to be fired!).

April 24, 2013 9:03 pm

RT said “I have a Nikon telescope (about £500, so about ACOG cost) that has a zoom eye-piece. It’s really quite good.”

Dude if only……. ;)


April 24, 2013 9:16 pm

@ Monty,

As far as I’m aware, the standard infantry section in the British army is still exepected to produce (even without an LMG) suppression at ranges out to and beyond 600m. A military grade 5.56 is still lethal at 1000 yards, and in order to suppress a target at that range all you really have to do is to drop the rounds nearby. I doubt that the idea that a 5.56 can’t suppress beyond 400m would stand up to proper scrutiny. Who is going to realistically treat rounds landing around their head as being not a threat? Other than of course Afghan’s who (even after being trained by ISAF forces) seem to treat life and death as being a divine decision, and thus will routinely stand in the open and exchange even heavier calibre fire with the enemy.

The number of engagements starting at 900m and similar ranges still seems to be reportedly very low. Even in the more open, mountainous regions, there is little evidence to suggest that there has been a huge swing away from shorter range engagements, not least because the best the insurgents seem to be able to hope for at those ranges is a form of harrassing fire. Engagements from distance against an operating base will also have a skewing affect on figures.

You mentioned engaging at ranges with sharpshooting rifles and high power optics. That’s precisely what I said earlier. Without such weapons and scopes however, it doesn’t matter what round you’re firing, we have mountains and mountains of evidence to point that soldiers under fire will struggle to reliably hit targets at ranges beyond about 300-400m, presuming they can even locate the firing point, without saturating the target with fire.

As Phil has pointed out, our soldiers already have a variety of weapons for handling the rarer, longer range engagments. The US Marines seem to be very, very happy with their single man mortars (think it’s 60mm?) for this sort of task.

Fundamentally though it’s not even so much the cost issue of equipping each man with a larger barrel weapon and an expensive optic, or indeed the additional training that would be required to get the most out of it. It’s the knowledge that we would be going back on decades of combat experience and hampering our forces in the more common scenarios that they face, in order to alleviate the frustration felt by some when they get caught short in a very selective number of cases.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 24, 2013 9:27 pm


your link showed some ACOGs, but I assume you were thinking the pricing I indicated was well off-base? I don’t follow these things.

(I bought my Nikon Fieldscope from a well-known bird-watching centre in Norfolk. Not that I’m into bird watching, unless she’s gorgeous and getting her kit off. But mine was the cheapest of the line. The £1500 telescopes were dramatically good, at least in terms of light-gathering, but also long (40 centimetres?) and broad (10 centimetres?), and so unsuitable for a weapon sight, even before ruggedisation, etc. My little telescope is damn good for what it is, and imaginable as a rifle sight.)

I also note, now that I get out the manual after posting my earlier comment, that the eye-piece is the adjustable / zoomable thing, and the same eye-piece is specified for the el cheapo £500 telescopes and the £1500 bird-spotters’ version. Quite modular, as a system.

April 24, 2013 9:27 pm

Forgot, you also mentioned energy transfer.

Again, there is zero medical evidence to support any theories about energy transfer, energy dump, hydrostatic shock etc. However there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that if you hit a major blood vessel or some major organs, then the resulting blood loss will cause the desired effect. The best way to enhance your chances of doing that is to fire more rounds at the target.

April 24, 2013 10:09 pm

The point about a GP cartridge is that it is also for your machine guns. More rounds with better than 7.62mm range. Flatter and faster shooting so it has more chance of hitting at longer ranges.
Not that much heavier than 5.56mm.
Reduced logistics, perhaps.

April 24, 2013 10:19 pm

You don’t want an MG that fires too fast and you don’t want one that fires too flat (it is not meant to split arrows). I just can’t see the dramas – the only argument I can think of is ammo commonality and that doesn’t really work either as you’d still need link and bandoliers. Yes you can break down link but the Army doesn’t just buy link. You still have at least two ammo types to haul around.

April 24, 2013 10:59 pm

Faster as in retained velocity therefore less effect of ranging errors.
Also longer grazing zone, or whatever the right term is, at range.

Would a machine gun that comes with more bullets not be an advantage?

Logistics can be considered all the way back to the factory – if you don’t need to produce 40% 7.62 and 60% 5.56 and then find that your proportions are off there might be some savings there.
You might also decide to use non-disintegrating belts, PKM-style or magazine-fed SAWs, USMC-style and have all your ammunition delivered loose. At least all the rifles (standard and DMR) would be using the same ammunition. You would also avoid having two different types of link, which is what we have at the moment.

I don’t see the attraction of either 5.56mm or 7.62mm round. It’s a pretty easy job to make a round that does what either does, but better. They are both poorly optimised cartridges.
If the Army wants ammunition quantity at the expense of range, why reintroduce the 7.62mm at section level?

April 24, 2013 11:33 pm

Operational ammo comes in bandoliers of 150 rnds in stripper clips – loose ammo is a mad idea that one won’t wash.

I have no doubt that the reason there is no change is because of the logistics of it. NATO uses 5.56 and 7.62 and so there is that commonality. Add that to the fact that outside of Bisley or snipers or DMR ammo doesn’t have to be optimal because it won’t be used in the optimal fashion.

So by switching you gain a massive logistical ball ache, some costs and in return gain pretty much nothing in terms of effectiveness outside of skill at arms meets and Bisley. It’s just not worth it for general infantry considering 80% of their job inna contact is to lob rounds down range more than likely at a human they can’t really see or which is obscured.

April 24, 2013 11:38 pm

The 7.62 was reintroduced (well it was never taken away GPMGs could be put where the OC or PC fancied) is because there are longer ranged engagements in Afghan because lots of it is wide open especially in the winter. The blokes in Basra and Baghdad would have had proportionally far more CQB contacts because of the nature of urban environments. So there is simply no one answer – units have to be able to fight from 20-1,000 metres and they can and have been able to since SA80.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 25, 2013 12:51 am


I always thought that the GPMG was missing 2 things: a single shot selection on the safety catch, and a decent optic. The beaten zone, so useful for Cold War days and the expectation of massed Soviet infantry was obsolescent for Afghanistan and new tighter ROE. The old iron sights were also not useful for modern warfare.

In single shot mode, with a good optic, the GPMG can reliably put 7.62 onto target at 1,000 metres. It’s heavy and stabilised, compared to a 7.62 battle rifle.

Carlos Hankin showed what a heavy machine gun could do in single shot mode in Vietnam.

April 25, 2013 3:33 am


“a brave bastard or two to stick his head out”

That is so old fashioned. :P


Very limited issue only though, one per section, specific for infantry units. Not sure how well the stuff is going to handle being ill-treated or how effective it is going to be, but someone has to be the test guinea pig sooner or later. Poor bastard.

Just teasing about the old fashioned, even with all the toys, I know it’s still the guys with big brassy ones that carry the battle.

April 25, 2013 6:12 am

Why would switching produce such a logistical ball-ache?
Why, if putting round downrange is all that is required, are the infantry issued with £1,000+ sights?
Why are we not issuing .22lr which is cheap, readily available and you can carry about ten times more rounds for a given weight?

April 25, 2013 9:00 am

@RT – we bought the DMR for that. Which scores further points by looking ally. Also if you are that way inclined you can pretend you’re in the Nam with a Starscope.

Mr Fred:

1. It would produce a logistical ball ache as we’d loose commonality in NATO.

2. For target acquisition and to lay down accurate suppressive fire at longer distances than with an iron sight.

3. Because that is going too far the other way and besides as you know the .223 bullet is for all intents and purposes a .22 bullet.

April 25, 2013 8:07 pm

I wonder if that is such a hardship. It doesn’t seem to be a problem to the powers that be with AFV guns and sniper’s rifles. With the NATO standard ammunition we seem open to Pakistani 9mm that doesn’t escape SMG barrels, .50cal of dubious provenance that don’t cycle the action and Belgians who will not sell us 40mm grenades.

We want to shoot to longer distances than iron sights, what is the limit for iron sights in combat? The GPMG is rated for 800m, the Enfields were rated for at least half a mile. Target acquisition and ease of aim are other advantages.

How far is too far? (or not far enough) a .22lr is lethal to 400m or more, with the right shot placement. On top of that you can carry loads. You could fit hundreds in a 30 round magazine for 5.56mm. A 5.56mm bullet may be nearly .22 in calibre, but the bullets are very different things indeed, in much the same way that a 30 calibre carbine is very different to a .300 winchester magnum.

April 25, 2013 10:52 pm

@ Mr. Fred, re; 22.lr

– You’d have to rechamber every 5.56 weapon in the UK arsenal, along with all the magazines. You’d also need to replace the Minimi,
– It’s a rimfire cartridge, which is a bad thing,
– Even the “premium” 22.lr loads struggle to cycle in semi-auto firearms, and that’s ones that are designed from the start to use the 22.lr,
– The low power of the round means that aiming would be an utter ball ache for soldiers. By comparison, an AR-15 shooting military grade ammunition will see a relatively minimal deviation across a broad spectrum of ranges out to about 500 yards, presuming the correct zero is selected first.

The whole point of the assault rifle is to bridge the gap between the low powered, high rate of fire machine gun, and the high powered, uncontrollable-in-auto battle rifle.

April 26, 2013 8:19 am

I confess that I am being a little bit daft with the suggestion of .22lr, but only to make the point that there are sliding scales all over the place on the choice of small arms ammunition, so absolute statements can be tricky to reconcile with the path that has been chosen. If all we need do is put rounds down range, so the 5.56mm is better than a general purpose round, then why not use a sub machine gun because that will enable you to put more rounds down range? If you do need the range, then a general purpose cartridge will shoot further and more easily, cost you perhaps 30% of your rifleman’s load but reduce the weight of your machine gunners and sharpshooter’s ammunition by 30% as well.

If one were to suggest FN’s 5.7x28mm round, the weight advantage wouldn’t be so high but you would get many more rounds in the magazine and carried, you could sustain fire for longer because you are not putting rifle loads down the barrel and it would probably be cheaper too. You would also avoid the problems associated with rimmed cartridges. You could carry twice as many 5.7 rounds as 5.56mm

If one were to switch calibres, I would not suggest that it should be a 100% overnight change over – you phase out the old calibres, cannibalising the additional numbers to keep the smaller operational numbers running and replace, unit by unit, with the other calibre.

April 26, 2013 9:22 am

But the 5.7 round is literally an SMG round, doesn’t have the performance bracket or range of even the 5.56.

“replace, unit by unit, with the other calibre.”

For the rest of NATO as well? As we mentioned, ammo commonality among the Coalition is a key point. Not to mention budget. Why spend more for a need which has been mostly covered already?

And remember, some countries, *cough..like mine* have been stockpiling 5.56 for approximately 30-40 years! To retire and replace the deep war reserve stockpile would take decades, and the bill would be horrendous, though spread out over 20+ years. Know anyone interested in buying M193 rounds?

April 26, 2013 10:38 am

So why are we happy to accept the range limitations of 5.56mm? The 5.7 is good for a couple of hundred metres, so at least a half to two thirds the performance of the 5.56mm

I often wonder how true the need for ammunition commonality with NATO partners actually is.
It doesn’t seem to be a factor in other areas. It might be one of those little facts that get repeated and repeated beyond the point where there is any truth in them.

If one were to expand on “Why spend more for a need which has been mostly covered already?”:
Why does ST Kinetics develop and build SAR21s when there are M16s out there? Or Ultimax 100s when you could buy Minimis?

The stockpiling bit – I’m not entirely convinced. You have to keep buying ammunition to replace that expended each year in training and that which goes out of life. Since you wouldn’t instantaneously bin your 5.56mm weapons or be wholly reliant on your new calibre weapons, you could just stop replenishing your stockpile of 5.56mm and start buying the new calibre to replace it. The cost per year wouldn’t change as your 5.56mm usage would just come out of your increasingly obsolescent stockpile.
If you do end up with surplus 5.56mm at the end of it, you probably could sell that to people who didn’t change or civilian shooters. People still buy .303 British, .30.06 and 8mm Mauser

April 26, 2013 12:15 pm

Mr Fred, well done for making many excellent points, all of which I agree with.

When it comes to wounding mechanisms, the most reliable means of energy transfer is bullet yaw. All Spitzer bullets (pointed projectiles) will yaw after penetrating soft tissue since mass is concentrated towards the rear stubby end. The round simply spins forward to regain stability and then continues on its previous trajectory. As a bullet turns in this way it naturally creates a larger wound channel than if it passed straight through. This process is what transfers kinetic energy into a target. (Chris B. this has been a commonly accepted lethality mechanism since the 1900 and was the basis for the design of the British .303 Mk VII round. On the other hand, you’re absolutely right about Hydrostatic shock – there’s no empirical proof that it exists.)

The issue with 5.56 mm NATO is that it is so highly stabilised that it does not yaw reliably or quickly, so it can pass straight through a target without inflicting significant damage. The US Army has documented numerous instances of what it calls through-and-through hits, where Iraqi and Taliban insurgents struck by multiple 5.56 mm rounds have carried on regardless. So, when you shoot with 5.56 mm you ideally need to hit the Central Nervous System (CNS), which is the head, neck, or upper chest. CNS hit = immediate kill. This makes shot placement an important training priority, no question.

If you hit a human target in the leg, arm, chest, you want the bullet to make a sufficiently large hole so that it causes rapid loss of blood. This is by far the most common way in which people are killed by small arms. They bleed out. Sometimes 5.56 mm causes rapid loss of blood when a non-vital organ is it; sometimes it doesn’t. On the other hand, with 7.62 mm, a hit to the CNS = game over; a hit to a limb = bloody great hole = rapid blood loss = inability to go on fighting. Once a human body loses 40% of blood, approximately 2-litres in an average 60-70 kg person, unconsciousness results. Blood flow directly relates to the size of the wound; therefore wound size directly impacts speed on incapacitation.

Sorry for being graphic and technical.

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the bullet and the higher the velocity, the more chance it has of rapidly incapacitating an enemy target. In other words, a hit from a 7.62 mm round will kill more often than a hit from a 5.56 mm round. The issue with 5.56 mm NATO is that its overall ballistic parameters, i.e. not just calibre, but mass, retained energy and propensity to yaw, mean that it doesn’t deliver sufficiently reliable terminal effectiveness. If you compare the terminal ballistics of the 6.8 mm Remington SPC round to the 5.56 mm NATO, this becomes very obvious.

As I keep saying, the idea behind 5.56 mm is very sound: small bullet = more ammo carried for a given weight = more rounds to shoot = higher probability of hitting a target. At the end of the day, however, the round has to have sufficient mass and retained energy to incapacitate mammals that weigh anything up to 90 kg (i.e. enemy combatants) at all likely engagement ranges (not 300 metres but 1,200 metres).

5.56 mm has always been a great PDW calibre. Its inability to be a GP round has led to the re-adoption of 7.62 mm across NATO. I think that is a step backwards.


April 26, 2013 12:56 pm

And Monty I’ve seen with my own eyes 7.62 through and through including through the face and through one approx 6-10 year old Afghan girl’s wrist – no broken bones, no energy transfer, no hydrostatic shock just bullet wounds so small they were missed on the initial primary survey. All these theories of hydrostatic shock don’t seem to concede that such things are even possible. Yet I have seen them on numerous occasions.

It entirely depends on where you hit – even low density bone can deflect and yaw a bullet of any calibre at least up to .50 – hit a bone and you can indeed blow chunks off the bloke and cause serious drama but if he is aggressive enough he is simply not going to drop unless you hit something vital. It is complete and utter basic physiology – nobody dies until their BP can’t perfuse their brain, or there is no oxygen to perfuse with or they have no brain to be perfused.

People want to spend good money in a tight fiscal environment chasing dodgy theories of wounding and to throw ever so slightly bigger bullets at the enemy most of which end up in the dirt somewhere or in a wall.

“If you hit a human target in the leg, arm, chest, you want the bullet to make a sufficiently large hole so that it causes rapid loss of blood. This is by far the most common way in which people are killed by small arms. They bleed out.”

“Sometimes 5.56 mm causes rapid loss of blood when a non-vital organ is it; sometimes it doesn’t.”

Precisely the same for all traumatic penetrating injury mechanisms.

“On the other hand, with 7.62 mm, a hit to the CNS = game over”

Quite what do you mean by hit to the CNS? If someone has penetrating trauma to the neck there is a very high mortality rate it doesn’t matter how big the hole is.

“a hit to a limb = bloody great hole = rapid blood loss = inability to go on fighting”.

Rubbish. Simply not true. As explained by my 9 year old girl example. At most she had a fractured risk. If a 9 year old can still walk about after taking a 7.62 to the limb a mad insurgent can and does too.

“Blood flow directly relates to the size of the wound; therefore wound size directly impacts speed on incapacitation.”

No it does not.

You’re arguing without an understanding of penetrating trauma injury mechanisms or basic physiology.

April 26, 2013 1:25 pm

Agree with this one “The stockpiling bit – I’m not entirely convinced. You have to keep buying ammunition to replace that expended each year in training and that which goes out of life”

April 26, 2013 1:36 pm

And this would be why I try to avoid terminal ballistics in these discussions. Quite apart from the squick factor, it’s such a complex subject and designing bullets to worsen injury is contrary to the current rules of warfare*.

The General Purpose Cartridge concept is about militarising** good ballistic design into a cartridge that can be used for all standard infantry weapons. If you could give every soldier a rifle that equals or exceeds the sharpshooter, which is a UOR so will vanish after Afghanistan AFIAK, for range but is only slightly heavier than 5.56mm (133% rather than 200% for 7.62), isn’t that a worthwhile purchase?

This cartridge would also replace (incrementally) the 7.62mm machine guns that have crept back down to section level. The nice light ones are UORs as well. So your section MG shoots further and the ammo weighs less. Also worthwhile? With a lighter cartridge (less recoil energy to deal with) the gun can weigh less and we could end up with a GPMG that fulfils both section and sustained fire roles rather than a heterogeneous mix of allsorts that is the current mish-mash.

We will replace the current weapons at some point anyway. Let’s not pass up the opportunity to get a more effective weapon because of potential factoids.

April 26, 2013 2:32 pm

What I don’t get is why some people get wedded to a particular cartridge?

The 5.56 is widely acknowledged to have been pretty much the ony western game in town when coming up against the AK finally taught the ‘musketeers’ that it didn’t matter what they thought, assault rifles killed the enemy ‘better’ that 303 and 30-06 rifles.

the 7.62 wassimple production compromise of 30.06 bullet in a smaller cartridge. despite what ‘Cousin Billi-Bob says down on the swamp, the 7.62 is commonly loaded to a real world performance like the 30-06.

There is no magic in either of them. EXCEPT they are what we have. They were neither the result of scientific program to develop ‘the best’.

It is common ground that you can creat a round much lighter than 7.62 with the same or even better long range performance as a man killer by going dow to 7mm or even 6.5mm,

Most current assult rifles and their shooters could handle those rounds at ful auto, with some possible improvement in ‘stoping capability’ and a little weight penalty.

The logistical benefits not to mention cost savings of only having 1 rifle calibre are fairly obvious.

However they have to outweigh the costs of change. I’m Not qualified to say if they do, but but its worth arguing about.

BTW if the soviets are putting 60 round 4 column mags on their AK’s now, surely the magazine fed SAW has more validity???

April 26, 2013 2:48 pm

Hi TD, yes, but if it is only by air, 30 minutes can be an awfully long wait!

Hi IXION,” BTW if the soviets are putting 60 round 4 column mags on their AK’s now, surely the magazine fed SAW has more validity???”
– is this their 5.45?
– I think their section support weapons (a higher caliber) are closest to what RT was calling for:
— decent sights
–single shot capacity, as well as bursts. Not necessarily continuous fire

Still not quite sure what a Scout Rifle is; anyone found a link?

April 26, 2013 5:33 pm


CNS = Central nervous system = brain and cerebral cortex = head, neck and upper chest.

A very difficult target to hit, especially in your case.

It would help if you actually read my post.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 26, 2013 6:26 pm

Israeli hit teams used .22lr, but this was 22 rounds fired point blank by 2 marksmen using long barrelled target pistols.
I work on the basis of what do civillian hunters use on deer. Most will not go lower than the .243 Winchester for a clean kill. Some will use .223 on small Muntjac or Chinese water deer, while others will use .30-06 minimum on the big red deer.
If you want a long range precision bullpup, then what about the Walther WA-2000 which came in .300 Win Mag (also 7.62 Nato & 7.5 Swiss) . Cost DM 9855 back in 1984, but still cheaper than a Javelin missile at £60,000 a shot.

April 26, 2013 6:34 pm


A creation of the late great Jeff Cooper. Low power optic mounted forward of the receiver. Larger calibre. Big capacity mag; 10 or more for a bolt action. And short barrel.


April 26, 2013 6:40 pm

Some class, please?

John Hartley, RT
Keltec RFB?

I’m not sure that it was proponents of musketry that chose the 7.62 NATO. In fact I think that the closest followers of musketry was the British Army, and they were set to go for the .280 (7mm) round. The 7.62mm NATO came from the US Army, who I would suggest are (were?) the greatest proponents of marksmanship over musketry.


Just spotted that I forgot to expand on my asterisks above (again):
* As far as rules of war go, it’s a bit of a silly one as I don’t see how napalm or artillery fragments are more humane
** I don’t know if that is a real word, or if I’ve made a new verb by sticking ‘ise’ on the end. Hopefully you follow the intended meaning.

April 26, 2013 7:01 pm

Mr Fred

It is perhaps the wrong use of terms.

The British certainly were trying to adopt the light weight Assault Rifle option, The Spams were committed to the long range sniping and insisted on 7.62. Then decided within the decade they were perhaps wrong.

April 26, 2013 8:39 pm

ACC – why would HE only available for delivery by air ?

If squaddie is carrying smaller / lighter IW with lighter ammo, he can carry:

1. More medium velocity 40mm grenades – reach out to 600m from UBGL or multi-shot GL’s – modern rounds have much improved letahality
2. 60mm short barrelled hand held “Commando” mortar – even bigger bang out to 800m plus

A platoon sized unit or above could have light longer barrelled 60mm with bi-pod or if vehicle born the good old 81mm, so HE is not only laser guided and fast air delivered eh ?

April 26, 2013 11:10 pm

Jed, true, I was specifically thinking of the A-stan patrolling circumstances, sans vehicles & artillery.

But you are right, the 40 mm grenades have a v good effect to weight ratio (and a respectable reach).

In fact, in my old unit the squad commander (who has the least to carry) has been given a HK69, so that he can manoeuvre his two half-squads more aggressively with frag grenades for an extra form of suppressive fire. It is worth its weight penalty, whereas further loading everybody’s 42 kg rucksack with even more stuff (for use with the under-barrel version) might need a think:
Caliber: 40mm (40×46)
Overall length: 683 mm with stock extended; 463 mm with stock retracted
Weight: 2.76 kg unloaded
Effective range: up to 150 meters point target, up to 350 meters area targets

April 26, 2013 11:31 pm

Right, grab a coffee,

@ Monty,
“This process is what transfers kinetic energy into a target. (Chris B. this has been a commonly accepted lethality mechanism since the 1900.. ”
— Among people who have absolutely no clue what they’re talking about and are too lazy to even pick up a basic book on the human anatomy and have a read. On the other hand medical science has – through extensive research designed to better understand wounding characteristics so they can better treat such wounds – found precisely zero evidence to support any kind of theory related to energy transfer, energy dump, or any other such notions.

The reason why a bullet yawing is desirable is because it increases the cross-section of the wound channel significantly (at least through the period of rotation) and because certain bullets are designed to break apart under the tremendous force of the rotation, sending multiple splinters through the body which can increase the potential of a serious wound as well as being vastly more difficult to operate on.

“The US Army has documented numerous instances of what it calls through-and-through hits, where Iraqi and Taliban insurgents struck by multiple 5.56 mm rounds have carried on regardless. So, when you shoot with 5.56 mm you ideally need to hit the Central Nervous System (CNS), which is the head, neck, or upper chest. CNS hit = immediate kill”
— The Central Nervous System is the brain and the nerves contained in the spinal column, just for reference. A hit on the lower part of the CNS will not typically result in an immediate kill, though paralysis of the lower limbs would be expected, depending on the level of nerve damage.

As for the multiple hits and carrying on regardless, this is actually far more common than people think. In a shootout with police in North Hollywood, LA, a bank robber was hit over twenty times in the legs (he was wearing body armour over his torso) and kept going. He finally died from blood loss due to two serious wounds in the thigh, but not until about 30 minutes after the shootout first started, and after being handcuffed for at least 5 minutes.

Similarly, in 1986 there was a shootout in Miami between two armed robbers and a group of FBI agents & local traffic officers. Neither of the two men had taken any form of drugs, yet continued the fire fight for around five minutes, despite taking multiple penetrating hits to the chest and upper arms from a variety of shotgun and handgun rounds. The gunfight only ended when an officer shot a number of .357 magnum rounds into the men at point blank range; the first and second shots missed. The third hit one of the men in the face and fragmented into two pieces, neither of which did any serious damage (nor was there any “energy dump”, despite it being a .357 magnum shot from about 2-3 feet). The fourth hit the same guy in the cheek and deflected down through his neck and severed his spinal cord, the fifth doing almost the same. Then the officer had to physically lean into the car and fire a sixth shot into the other guys chest, which also hit his spinal column to finally end the fight.

One suspect had been hit six times, the other 12, with none of the rounds being less than 9mm in calibre and fired from no more than 20-30 feet. You can find hundreds, thousands even, of incidents like this throughout history (for the naval types, think about the size of the round that hit Nelson (.6-7″ caibre) and how long it took him to finally die).

“Blood flow directly relates to the size of the wound; therefore wound size directly impacts speed on incapacitation.”
— No it doesn’t. Blood loss is dependent on the perfusion level of the area hit, clotting etc. I could blow a hole in your foot with a .45 pistol round and you might take an hour or more to bleed out. You might even survive. On the other hand if I shoot you in the kidney with .22lr you’ll probably be dead in minutes.

“As a general rule of thumb, the larger the bullet and the higher the velocity, the more chance it has of rapidly incapacitating an enemy target.”
— That doesn’t even begin to become true until you start getting into the very heavy calibres, like 0.5″ and above. A better rule of thumb would be the more hits you record on the target, the better chance you have of rapidly incapacitating the enemy target.

“At the end of the day, however, the round has to have sufficient mass and retained energy to incapacitate mammals that weigh anything up to 90 kg (i.e. enemy combatants) at all likely engagement ranges (not 300 metres but 1,200 metres). ”
— A 5.56 hitting you in the head at 1,000 metres will more than adequately ‘incapacitate’ you. And without a very expensive scope, a bipod and a 24″ barrel you’re not going to be engaging anything with any degree of accuracy beyond about 600 metres.

@ Mr. Fred,
“We will replace the current weapons at some point anyway. Let’s not pass up the opportunity to get a more effective weapon because of potential factoids.”
— Factoids? As in facts? As in; the truth about what really works and is most useful and cost effective for our forces?

@ TD,
“Dos this debate come full circle, it is not small arms that kill the enemy but explosives and it is the job of small arms to suppress and fix until the HE arrives?!
— Something like 70-80% of the casualties on the battlefield of a general war are caused by explosives such as mortars, grenades and artillery. Crew served weapons comes next. Suppress and flatten, or suppress and assault. Take your pick (where’s that radio…?).

@ John H,
“I work on the basis of what do civillian hunters use on deer.”
— I see where you’re coming from, couple of points of caution though. 1) many states have minimum calibre (or caliber) requirements (which you probably already know). 2) They have to consider a wider array of ranges, because they have no mortars for support! 3) They can’t fling a swathe of automatic rounds down range into the deer, 4) many deer hunters have reporteded hitting targets in non-fatal parts of the body and then had to track the deer for hours before finishing it off, and 5) they also have to consider the biological make up of the target, thick hides at range etc.

But certainly they’ve settled on 7.62 type calibers as being sufficient for their particular needs. Good point about the Israelis as well. There’s also a number of WW2 vintage, sneaky beaky type .22 weapons still kicking about in various arsenals.

@ x,
“A creation of the late great Jeff Cooper. Low power optic mounted forward of the receiver. Larger calibre. Big capacity mag; 10 or more for a bolt action. And short barrel.”
— I think that’s the survival rifle that RT was on about the other day for Recce work. Obviously only RT can confirm/deny.

@ Jed,
The US Marines seem to swear by those little mortars they lug around with them. Pretty accurate and very quick into action.

April 27, 2013 2:27 am


Yep, if you look at the number and allocation of 120mm, 81mm and 60mm (medium length) mortars allocated to U.S. Army infantry battalions of all types, as well as USMC formations, we do seem very deficient in mortars !

At least after binning the 58mm platoon mortar for 40mm UBGL’s we had the good sense to UOR for some 60’s !

Bring on the SAL guided rounds for those annoying tight ROE situations :-)

I also think Tony Williams was absolutely spot on when he suggested the killer app for MetalStorm would be a double barrelled version of their 3GL UBGL in an over and under config – maybe even slightly increased in length for 4 rounds per barrel; especially with STK medium velocity air burst rounds and their laser ranger / sight / FC computer.

April 27, 2013 7:47 am

Chris B,
Factoids as in an unverified statement presented as fact and repeated often enough that it is widely accepted. It may be true but frequently isn’t. The point is that there is no evidence to back it up and is typically described as being something that “everyone knows”, even if nobody knows why.

April 27, 2013 1:27 pm

Sorry jed, Metal Storm folded.

mr fred

“Why does ST Kinetics develop and build SAR21s when there are M16s out there? Or Ultimax 100s when you could buy Minimis?”

Because we are wimps and nerds who get muscle pulls even when lifting a dictionary. :P


“The stockpiling bit – I’m not entirely convinced. You have to keep buying ammunition to replace that expended each year in training and that which goes out of life””

Yeah but you havn’t been collecting that stuff for 40 years, it adds up to quite a bit. Your planning is for a 80,000? man standing army, our accounting has to take into account the reserves as well in case of a total war, and we just hit the million man reserves mark. With each man having an initial combat load of 180 rounds (6 mag), that is about 180 million rounds just to start off, not counting SAWs and more than first day fighting.

And I just hate to haul out all the crap, change the ammo and reseal them all in grease again. Did it before, don’t ever want to do it again.

April 27, 2013 4:12 pm

Observer, you are doing well (for the population base) but I still only see half of the figure you quoted. See this from Wiki, let me also add a quote for each as for why you would seem to be the odd one out:
State Total per 1000 capita Active per 1000 capita
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 386.7 45
– sees itself in a state of war
South Ossetia 256.9 34.7; has been attacked by the much bigger neighbour
Russian Federation 155.2 7.3; wanted to go all pro, but could not afford it
Lebanon 139.4 17.4; existence of statehood under active threat
** Singapore 112.2 15.6; no active threat
Cuba 107.8 4.3; sees itself under threat from a much bigger neighbour
Republic of Korea 103.6 13.7; in a state of war with neighbour
Israel 94.4 22.2; sees the existence of statehood under active threat
Armenia 88.1 15.7; territorial integrity under active threat
Republic of China (Taiwan) 85.5 12.6; existence of statehood under active threat
** Finland 76.4 6.9; ??
Vietnam 62 5.1; has been attacked by a much bigger neighbour
Cyprus 56 9.3; has been attacked by a much bigger neighbour
Eritrea 52.9 33.1; a recent war with a much bigger neighbour (statehood under threat?)

You could further take Cuba, Finland and Vietnam off the list (only score high on mobilisation, call them citizen armies) and that leaves Singapore on high alert, without an obvious external threat

April 27, 2013 6:03 pm

@ Mr. Fred, re; factoids,

You mean like “energy dump” etc?

April 27, 2013 6:34 pm

Chris B.

I don’t know what you mean by “etc.”

If, by “energy dump” you mean the direct correlation of energy carried to lethality then perhaps that too is a factoid. Not one of mine though, albeit by a small distinction:
I’ve noted that the properly designed projectile carries more energy at range than a 7.62. That comment is there almost as an aside and I would caution about getting too hung up on it. Terminal ballistics with regards to living targets is a terribly complicated subject and very difficult to measure scientifically, which is one reason* why I do not really want to be drawn into it.

You can measure energy and there is some kind of relationship between energy and lethality if not a readily quantifiable one. There certainly is a quantifiable relationship between energy and penetration of intervening obstacles, be they battlefield cover or armour, vehicular, stationary or personal.

* A further reason, related to the first, is that it is a minefield of these factoids. To listen to some commentators one would gain the distinct impression that getting hit by a 5.56mm bullet is akin to being hit with a rolled-up newspaper.

April 27, 2013 7:23 pm

“To listen to some commentators one would gain the distinct impression that getting hit by a 5.56mm bullet is akin to being hit with a rolled-up newspaper.”

Indeed. I do think it just depends on where you are hit and your aggression levels. The flip side of the little girl getting a through and through to the wrist was the Para who got hit in upper arm with a 7.62, which saw his bone shatter and his arm basically retract like an elastic band as his muscles spasmed and there was no longer any bone structure to keep it looking like a normal arm. A 5.56 would almost certainly have achieved the same effect – it only wouldn’t if the bloke was Wolverine.

April 27, 2013 8:19 pm

@ Mr. Fred,

As in, energy dump and the various theories associated with it, including the correlation between energy and wounding.

That correlation doesn’t exist. As I said earlier, you can shoot someone in the foot with a .45 and it not be fatal, providing they get treatment in a reasonable amount of time. On the other hand you can pop someone in the heart with a .22 and it’s all over. Which round has more energy? It doesn’t matter a shit, because that’s not what kills people.

That’s my concern, is that people are using theories with no basis in reality to support arguments for various calibre changes. There are lots of things that are opinion based, where it’s just one persons opinion against another. But then there are things like wounding characteristics, where it’s not “factoids”, it’s facts. It’s stuff we know a lot about, because it’s been studied relentlessly for many, many years.

April 28, 2013 2:03 am


There is clearly some relationship between energy and wounding; if we were to take it to extremes and place a 120mm tank shot in comparison to a .177 air rifle that would be readily apparent. But you would be quite correct to state that it isn’t necessarily continuous or proportional so using it to compare similar small arms cartridges could lead you down a blind alley.

I’ll settle for faster over distance with less recoil and weight than 7.62, leading to less bullet drop and shorter time of flight increasing hit probability. That it carries more energy I can put towards penetrating intervening obstacles because that is a continuous relationship.

April 29, 2013 5:35 am

Morning Mr. Fred,

The relationship is more to do with the projectile. There is a very loose relationship to energy, but until you start getting into certain speed and size ranges, the relationship is almost irrelevant. The concern regarding 5.56 rounds and energy has always been about whether the round will tumble and thus break apart.

One thing to keep in mind about the 6.5-6.8 mm rounds is that a lot of the performance is derived from the bullet design itself, such as it’s length and weight distribution. You could quite conceivably design a 7.62 which would out perform any 6mm class round, if someone felt the need to do so. That the 7.62 is entirely adequate at what it’s used for means that nobody has really bothered in that regard.

Another thing worth noting is that you have to be careful which 7mm class round the 6’s are being compared to. A lot of the hype is over 6mm rounds as compared to the short case 7mm’s, like the one used in the AK series, as opposed to full length NATO 7mm’s.