A Mid Life Colt Canada C8 Upgrade

As I am sure everyone knows that the UK has a small number of Colt Canada (formerly Diemaco) C8’s, designated L119A1.

The MoD will be contracting for a Mid Life Upgrade at an estimated cost of £2.8 million

Soldier System Programmes, part of the UK Ministry of Defence, intends to place a Contract with Colt Canada Corporation for the Mid Life Improvement (MLI) of the in-service C8 rifle. The Contract will allow for an initial upgrade of C8 rifles with priced options for modification kits to upgrade the whole current fleet and priced options to purchase additional modification kits or the new version of the C8 rifle to address future increases in fleet size.

C8 SFW
C8 SFW

A shorter version called the C8 Close Quarter Battle (CQB) is also in service.

This is interesting timing, with the Royal Marines ‘supposedly’ kicking the calibre and SA80 replacement debate into life again

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/uk-royal-marines-call-for-rifle-improvements-216882531.html”]

 

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Phil
July 31, 2013 9:11 pm

So the Royal Marines claim the general issue weapon is not suitable for everyone?

Well no shit – its a general issue rifle.

But to state the whole of Royal are above the general issue weapon is bollocks of the first order.

Bob
Bob
July 31, 2013 9:18 pm

5.56 is going nowhere, SA-80 is going nowhere. This nonsense rears its head every few years and never goes anywhere; this time is no different.

All of this whining is amusing though. Over in the US, where guns laws are far more rational, there is a highly innovative firearms industry with literally thousands if not tens of thousands of variations and minor modifications for the AR-15 series as well as new gun designs such as the Robinson Arms XCR. Not just furniture but designs for every component as well as gas piston versions. Yet we make a big fuss over a Canadian clone and adding a rail system to the SA-80. Heck, we even tapped this market for the .308 DMR.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 31, 2013 9:40 pm

I fell into the timeslot where recce regiments never got the SA80. I was SLR at Sandbags, SMG or Browning 9mm at regimental duty. All changed now of course.

I never really got the SA80 5.56 fascination. Seems a bit in between to me.

Not going to happen, but if ever I moved (as a civvy) to the USA and to a gun-owning state, I’d buy a FN SCAR-H. I could operate that thing in my sleep – muscle memory is still activated. And, you’d know if you hit someone with it, they’d be going down and staying down. You can’t really say that of SA80.

(Of course, I have to note that all bodily violence is distinctly bad news, all should be sweetness and light, ‘elf ‘n safety, violets and petunias, etc. But best be safe than sorry)

http://www.fnherstal.com/index.php?id=184&productID=175&categorySelector=1&cHash=30b870d531

Radish 293
Radish 293
July 31, 2013 10:08 pm

Can’t help but think that agin we are spending money on one thing when there is another program under weight.

http://www.government-online.net/supply-of-modular-assault-rifle-system/

Don’t get whey we’re upgrading when we also looking for something new.
However does any one know who the contenders are for this . There is very little to be found on the web. My post on another site have failed to provide any info. The interesting thing with this procurement is it includes the Police. A very diffeerent requirement and getting 50 odd Cheif Constables to agree to it is going to be interesting.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 31, 2013 11:30 pm

RE: 5.56mm vs 7.62mm. I’m torn on this issue; I used to be for 7.62 NATO but have recently read some articles which praise the 5.56mm for doing what it is supposed to do – it appears it all comes down to if you want to kill or suppress:

According to this article the LSW is actually very good at suppression
http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Real_Role_of_Small_Arms_RDS_Summer_09.pdf

http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/owen_RDS_feb2010.pdf

Fedaykin
July 31, 2013 11:42 pm

This all sounds a bit familiar!

I vaguely remember a few years back the Royal Marines and Parachute regiment made a case that they should get the HK G36 due to their elite almost special forces status. I’m sure it came up in ARSSE and they made very similar arguments to the ones noted here. I believe they were told wind their necks in and get on with things rather then whine for a new rifle, the MOD wasn’t going to pay to equip those two groups with a different service rifle when so much had been sunk on the L85A2! As for now I have a personal hunch that the L85 replacement will be staggered across the military with the most deployable units like the Green Death and Paras getting the new toy first whilst other units wait for a while with the best of the L85. Academic as the Guards will want first dibs as they will want to work all the drill stuff first ;-) Then again they could carry on with the L85, HK are supplying new build receivers marked L85A3 (they are mechanically the same as the A2 before anybody gets the wrong idea). Personally I think the current French Army FAMAS replacement program could have an influence on any L85 replacement decisions. There are no factories left in the UK capable of servicing the L85 replacement program, I see a certain synergy adopting the same rifle as the French and taking the core rifle with our added bits like the ELCAN added off the same line. The favoured rifle with the French Army is apparently the HK416, a number of which the French procured through a UOR for Afghanistan. Not that I think the French government will support that idea preferring to give the production to Thales Nexter in a local factory. The rifle Thales Nexter is offering is the Australian developed F90 which is developed from the Steyr AUG. The FAMAS replacement program is quite a bit ahead of the L85 replacement due to ammunition related urgency. The FAMAS uses a steel cased M193 round that is no longer produced in France, with their Afghanistan deployment they have burned through their ammunition and the rifle can’t use copper cased rounds. The only place they can get steel cased ammunition is Russia which is hardly ideal. Buying the same rifle as the French has a number of advantages, it fits nicely with our recent defence pact with France, UK rifles will come off a fully up to speed production line and unit cost will be driven down due to two countries adopting the same service rifle.

As for replacing the 5.56mm round, won’t happen! RG and every other military ammunition plant is geared up to make 5.56mm, 7.62mm and 9mm small arms ammunition. There is no way that we would get agreement with the rest of NATO on what calibre to use so it would mean a unique (read more costly) UK only solution. Shades of the L30 120mm rifled tank gun all over again, it might be an amazing piece of kit but it is UK unique with all the costs that entails! Anyway we found a solution to the problem of extending reach for our troops….the 7.62mm DMR rifle and we found a solution to close quarter firepower….the 12G pump action shotgun.

x
x
August 1, 2013 6:32 am

Very interesting. The A2 version of SA80 is apparently astoundingly adequate. Should be for the cost of that HK upgrade.

Whether Royal deserves a different rifle than the Army I don’t know. Say 6000 examples at say £2000 a copy (just to make the maths easy) is only £12 million. Hardly chicken feed. But then in the grand scheme of not much. I suppose it all depends on how much you like pressed metal receivers over forged receivers. If the former was good enough for one Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov who I am to argue that it isn’t a good way to build a rifle?

All good stuff.

tweckyspat
August 1, 2013 6:42 am

For one, direct operational feedback is rarely sought by programme managers, while the Commandos themselves pride themselves on a culture of no complaints.

Now, the first I assertion I find depressingly familiar, the second barely credible…

Observer
Observer
August 1, 2013 10:13 am

I’m with ST on the 7.62/5.56 debate, I do understand that the last thing you want in close quarters is for your round to only injure your enemy, giving him the chance to return the favour, but the carry capacity of 5.56 is a fairly significant degree more, allowing you to fight longer and supress longer, so each side does have pros and cons. 7.62 ARs also tend to be heavier than their 5.56 counterparts, which make them less handy.

No correct answer on this question I’m afraid. 50/50.

Though curiosity really does make me want to see how a ST Kinetics 7.62 Ultimax might work out. Might be a fair replacement for the FN MAG/M-60 GPMG, if they manage to get it working.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 1, 2013 10:27 am

“the 7.62mm DMR rifle and we found a solution to close quarter firepower….the 12G pump action shotgun.”

I don’t understand this mix and match of ammo in a section. From what I have read of recent ops most blokes are carrying 5.56 weapons, but there is also a section GPMG so the fellows also have to carry belts of 7.62 and more recently there is the section marksman with a 7.62 rifle. Now you say that pump action shotguns can be in the mix too (presumably only if close quarter combat is expected). Then their are the rounds for the UGL, and with all this the size of the infantry section has been reduced from 10 men to, what is it now, 8 or is it 7?

No wonder our chaps are carrying so much weight. God knows how they’ll get on if they have to fight in close country, how you crawl through a hedgerow carrying that bloody big bergan God only knows. I suppose it all makes sense to somebody.

Observer
Observer
August 1, 2013 10:56 am

BTW RT, what is the ammo count for 1 contact rate for the UK? Singapore work on the assumption that 1 contact rate is 120 rounds for a rifleman, 180 for a SAW gunner.

Considering that a 3 contact rate is average for an infantryman (360 rounds),

Riflemen
5.56 ammo at 12g x 360 = 4.3 kg,
7.62 ammo at 25g x 360 = 9.0 kg
SAW
5.66 ammo at 12g x 540 = 6.48kg
7.62 ammo at 25g x 540 = 13.5kg.

At 20 rounds per mag for 7.62, that gives 6 mags on hand for 1 contact. Workable.
At 30 rounds per mag for 5.56, that makes 4 mags for 1 contact. Also workable.
Provided someone isn’t in the school of “spray and pray” gunnery. In that case, even a few thousand rounds isn’t enough.

x
x
August 1, 2013 11:22 am

@ tweckyspat

As a mechanism the A2 likes to be clean. I am always surprised with machinery how different machines like to be treated in that no 2 mechanisms seem to be the same but all obey the same rules. Too much oil. Not enough oil. Parts tights. Parts loose. I think problems with SA80 disappeared as soon as soldiers lives started depending on them; the move between an army at home to an army in the field. The SA80 as a package is very comfortable. Ergonomically good. Comfortable. The trigger defies the laws of mechanics by actually being quite sweet. And it is accurate. All I know about SA80 (beyond reading) comes from RM. Never heard them complain about it. But these are men who can field strip and rebuild it blind folded while holding a conversation. Part of the RM Code (as it were) is cleanliness is next to godliness and that extends to their rifles, so perhaps they have had less to drip about than some? But it isn’t perfect, what is? Would I get rid of SA80? Yes. I think the time to start looking is now. Do they rattle? I think if you didn’t know anything about guns and compared SA80 with an off shelf AR in terms of feel solidity (not ergonomics per se) I bet a good 80% more would pick the AR. Would I go with an AR variant? Yes. Why? Because I can’t see HMG signing off on TAVOR. In 5.56? IMHO yes because rounds count and shots at a distances greater than which 5.56 can cope adequately rare without considering marksmanship levels. The fault lies more with the bullet than calibre.

http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/The%20Next%20Generation.htm

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20100215/NEWS/2150312/Corps-use-more-lethal-ammo-Afghanistan

I just hope that when it is replaced they do a better job than last time. Even if it means buying from abroad. (Sorry Chris.)

wf
wf
August 1, 2013 11:23 am

@HurstLama: yeah, it’s getting ridiculous. We really cannot assume that the PBI can carry the bewildering variety of weapons currently considered necessary: L85, L86, Minimi, GPMG, DMR and now a shotgun. Plus UGL’s, AT4’s and God knows what else. The number of devices is multiplying too.

The only way of reducing weight in reality is to reduce the diversity of weapons and devices. Replacing the 5.56/7.62 mix with a single round would have the biggest impact: something like the Grendel 6.5 round effective to 800m for a rifle and an LMG. People worry about commonality, but in practice SAA is a small proportion of logistic load these days, and as long as we stay with JP8 for fuel and 155mm for artillery I think it’s entirely practical

x
x
August 1, 2013 11:54 am

Fedaykin said “Academic as the Guards will want first dibs as they will want to work all the drill stuff first…”

Some countries give their ceremonial units for drill their old service rifles to use over current issue; wood over plastic as it were!

What is needed is three battalions worth of No 4 chambered in 7.62 to keep the Guards happy. :)

http://tar-loisirs.t.a.pic.centerblog.net/o/81210d7b.jpg

a
a
August 1, 2013 12:09 pm

X: re: “The SA80 as a package is very comfortable. Ergonomically good. Comfortable. ”

I don’t agree, its bloody awful! And that’s after HMG spent a fortune.

Its way too heavy for the job it does and having carried one through P Company I’d rather have the SLR, which I had in basic training. SLR ergonomics was streets ahead despite its limitations, the safety catch was better, the magazine release catch was better and it didn’t need a dust cover because it had a sand trap and grooves machined into the breech block.

Its makes me wonder if the guys that designed it ever picked up an SLR, they may have learned a thing or two.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 1, 2013 12:25 pm

“Some countries give their ceremonial units for drill their old service rifles to use over current issue …”

I was coming out as the SA80 was coming in and nobody had a clue how to drill with the thing, or at least drill with a suitable degree of smartness. The idea of keeping the SLR for ceremonial, especially with the guards, was mooted. If memory serves the idea was rejected because:

1. The guards were not just ceremonial and having ceremonial weapons would add to the impression that they were.

2. There can only be one drill book. That are different paces for marching, different ways of carrying the rifle (both dependent on the regiment) and so different drill movements was conveniently forgotten.

I have to say that, looking at a recent parade, recent generations of Warrant Officers seem to have evolved drill with the SA to something close to aesthetically pleasing as with the old SLR. Mind you, I have never had to tote one of the things for a full parade, without the order-arms I should imagine it gets a bit heavy.

Fedaykin
August 1, 2013 12:51 pm

I am going to say it again! The UK IS NOT going to adopt something like the 6.5 Grendal! It would mean the UK uses a different main service round to the rest of NATO (as well as much of the world) and military small arms ammunition plants are geared up entirely to produced 5.56, 7.62, 9mm and .338 in Radway Greens case. It is just not a practical idea to go for a UK unique solution.

Next the diversity of weapons carried by British forces are a direct result of actual experience in Afghanistan and it should be noted all the extra weapons are UOR purchased for that operation only and not the entire Army or Royal Marines. The 7.62 DMR was procured as a UOR to extend the range of a squad with an in service round. The Benelli M4 were procured to give improved firepower when clearing mud huts and compounds. The Sig 226 were also procured to give better firepower to squad members when house clearing. When a unit pulls back to the UK those UOR procured weapons are swapped over to the new guys arriving. They are not part of core budget and as it stands when we pull out of Afghanistan they will be retired unless the treasury is paid the 70% value of their procurement cost. I believe there is a strong argument being made to retain the 7.62 DMR rifle and transfer it to core budget. The Benelli M4 will probable go and the Glock 17 Gen4 will become the new service pistol whilst the SIG are retired along with the Browning High Power.

It does appear that a squad is carrying a worrying array of different weapons but that is a direct response to combat experience.

Commonality of service rounds is important, ammunition plants are not geared up for the change and it would mean the UK operates a unique solution which is never a good idea.

@x

A colleague of mine at work is a Major in the TA but was an officer in the Tank regiment. Awesome guy to work with and he has all sorts of stories, funny ones like when he did a crew exchange with the Italian Army are particularly amusing. He took his gunner and loader with him but left his driver in the UK, had a nice time in Italy commanding a Leopard One with most of his crew and an Italian driver. He was a bit concerned for the driver he left behind who was apparently bombing around Salisbury Plain in his Scimitar with an Italian commander ;-) He was also on the trials team for the Challenger II. Anyhow I digress, he has some interesting choice words after a few pints over the Guards and the adoption of the L85. Apparently they grabbed the rifles off the trials teams as soon as possible so they could work out the parade drill….they were not happy by all accounts….

x
x
August 1, 2013 12:56 pm

@ a

I will grant the controls aren’t optimal. But shouldering and pointability are good. Tactile in a Fischer-Price style.

I didn’t think it was too weighty. But the longest I have had carried it for was 48 hours. And then only once. I was more scared of breaking it or losing it. Mostly it was something to be stripped and played with at stand easy in the wardroom. Don’t envy you guys who have to carry for it a living.

As for P Company where you when we discussing the Parachute Regiment the other week? Dude! :) ;)

@ Hurst Llama

Never said I was for or against. Just it was an option. And as always with me I bit of a light relief.

Compare……..

http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/c/images/2011/10/03/221709/original.jpg

with

http://www.royal.gov.uk/List%20Images/Homepage%20relaunch/changing%20the%20guard.jpg

http://lh5.ggpht.com/-dxsKB2_R018/SmYZsgpUcEI/AAAAAAAAACA/jyylaGXp7aU/j0400531.jpg

and you could argue you could leave everybody else with SA80 because sometimes it just doesn’t look right anyway……

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/04/17/article-2310304-19572E00000005DC-540_964x636.jpg

……but I think shiny wood and metal look nicer.

I think the modern Army, or should that be the modern Guardsman?, could cope with two drill systems. :)

x
x
August 1, 2013 12:59 pm

I posted this a few months back before the Great Re-organisation……….

http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/m16s-of-the-great-white-north/

wf
wf
August 1, 2013 1:37 pm

: why shouldn’t we use a new calibre? RG wan’t geared up to produce 338 either 5 years ago, and SA80 needs replacing shortly. Telling the Treasury we can replace both 5.56 and 7.62 with a single round is liable to go down quite well too. And, as I mentioned before, SAA is both a small component of logistic loads and not easily swappable between allies. Do you want to be standing in front of the “yuman rites” lawyer when he squeals that you were killing the Queen’s enemies with “inhumane” SOST rounds that you borrowed off a nearby Yank when you ran out of the approved stuff?

Brian Black
Brian Black
August 1, 2013 1:37 pm

” Its makes me wonder if the guys that designed it ever picked up an SLR, they may have learned a thing or two.”

I’d agree with that. It had the feel of machine designed by engineers who knew all the right theory but had never actually used a rifle.

Similarly, I did my basic with the SLR and switched later, and I’d fired both plenty of times before then as a cadet. SA80 was awkward and lumpy and felt unbalanced. I was always a better shot with the SLR

Brian Black
Brian Black
August 1, 2013 2:08 pm

I agree with Fedaykin to the extent that the UK will not adopt a new calibre on our own, but not that a new round is totally out of the question.

Probably the US is the only NATO country that could, on its own, introduce a new calibre. There must be a threshold at which other NATO countries could go ahead with confidence. Would a British-French agreement be enough to introduce a new round? The 40CTA is no previous standard but we’re pushing on regardless.

If we already have 7.62 machine guns and marksman rifles in squads, because 5.56 doesn’t have the range, and then troops complain that 5.56 doesn’t kill surely in close combat, then there is a problem that needs addressing.

Is it really an adequate solution to have to UOR a clutch of new personal weapons when the next war comes along? It will also become easier to introduce production of a new round once we are out of Afghanistan, when we don’t need hundreds of thousands of rounds operationally each year.

wf
wf
August 1, 2013 2:20 pm

@TD: to be truthful, I think the only difference between M855 ball old style and the RG stuff is a tungsten penetrator in the tip. Unlike the French steel cased stuff, it is interchangeable. The number of times when we have had to interchange however, is probably very low.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
August 1, 2013 2:20 pm

“I think the modern Army, or should that be the modern Guardsman?, could cope with two drill systems. :D

You have more optimism that me, the Guards take long enough preparing for the troop as it is, and they still can’t manage to advance in a straight line most of the time (look at videos of Trooping the Colour if you think I am being unfair). With different rifle drills they’s have weapons going all over the place.

Anyway, in a (sub) discussion on drill and smartness, I am not sure that posting a picture of matelots advances your case. Mr Red Trousers, of this parish, has referred to the RAF’s drill as “organised mincing” but they are like the Grenadiers compared the RN’s shuffling about the square. :P

a
a
August 1, 2013 2:40 pm

We really cannot assume that the PBI can carry the bewildering variety of weapons currently considered necessary: L85, L86, Minimi, GPMG, DMR and now a shotgun.

Why not? Infantry have always carried a wide variety of weapons – seventy years ago you could have had Sten guns, SMLE, revolver, Thompson gun, PIAT, Bren gun, 2-inch mortar, rifle grenade discharger and Verey pistol. That’s nine weapon systems and nine different rounds (counting the blank round for the RGD), all in the same platoon at the same time! As long as there’s adequate ammunition for each one, who cares? (Counting L85 and L86 as part of a “bewildering variety” is a bit of a cheat anyway.)

.

Observer
Observer
August 1, 2013 3:08 pm

Well, I can see the possibility of a calibre change if a large consortium of countries got together and set the new standard for it. And came up with a common design AR and/or SAW for use in your new round that all the countries involved can agree on. Good luck.

Hey it is possible… maybe…

When we swapped the old M-16s for bullpup SAR-21s, drill routines became a bit hillarious until the kinks were worked out. The new rifles lost about 8 inches compared to the M-16, which meant that they were … not quite long enough to reach the ground when you “down arms”. When people tried to both keep their grip on the barrel, yet stretch enough let the weapon butt rest on the ground, this caused a rather amusing right tilt to the formation. The problem wasn’t really solved, gripping the flash supressor with only your fingers added the few extra cm needed to let the rifle touch the ground, those that were extra tall cheat by resting the rifle against the side of their boot. Even so, expect to hear one or two dropped rifles whenever someone’s fingers slip.

Fedaykin
August 1, 2013 3:17 pm

I don’t know how many different ways that I can say a new service round will not be adopted as it would mean the UK fielded a unique solution. In respect of the .338 Lapua Magnum it was a niche solution to a niche problem with a relatively small procurement in comparison to replacing the service rifle of the military. It should also be noted that the .338 Lapua Magnum is now effectively NATO standard and was adding a capability rather then replacing one. RG could add .338 production to their facilities relatively easily, dropping 5.56 is another logistical problem all together.

In theory the L85 could fire the French steel case ammunition and it can certainly fire US ball ammunition, the issue is with the FAMAS to why they use steel cased. The French would of loved to use Brass cased rounds but the lever delayed blowback FAMAS was found to rip the bases off on extraction forcing the adoption of steel cased alternatives. This was not considered a problem at the time as France was not a member of NATO and not subject to standardisation considerations. France is now in the process of adopting a NATO standard 5.56mm rifle, one of the main reason being availability of ammunition.

The main logistic issue is at the production end, by adopting something different we end up with a unique UK solution and RG have to reconfigure a significant amount of production. If BAE Systems decide to get out of ammunition production all of a sudden we are screwed as happened ironically to the French.

x
x
August 1, 2013 3:46 pm

@ Fedaykin

I remember back when it was introduced pictures of Guardsmen with SA80 clenched between their knees affixing bayonets. Didn’t look too wonderful.

The bayonet was (is) actually very good. I wonder if it was by design or just coincidence that part of the weapon system that probably epitomizes British infantry is the part that they got right from the start?

@ Hurst Llama

I never know how to evaluate the standard of drill at Trooping the Colour. I am/was crap at drill so I will not criticize. As for wiggly lines I just think that is how it is whoever does the drill. It is just that we are seeing from it an odd angle, ie birdsview, and so its obvious. The wiggliness (I am sure that is real word drill…….) is soon taken care of when the body comes to a halt. You see I know all the correct gunnery terms……

As for,

Anyway, in a (sub) discussion on drill and smartness, I am not sure that posting a picture of matelots advances your case. Mr Red Trousers, of this parish, has referred to the RAF’s drill as “organised mincing” but they are like the Grenadiers compared the RN’s shuffling about the square.

I said,

you could argue you could leave everybody else with SA80 [drill] because sometimes it just doesn’t look right anyway…… :)

Phil
August 1, 2013 4:26 pm

The Platoon is a weapon system of sorts – the rifleman is a component of it. It therefore makes perfect sense that the Platoon has a variety of weapons since no one weapon is going to cover all the missions a Platoon will need to perform.

Also, the vast, vast majority of ammunition expended in contacts is expended in suppressing the enemy – a tiny proportion is aimed at a human being. It simply makes no sense to re-equip the infantry with weapons that do not conform to the reality of combat just because it makes them feel a bit better. In anycase, 5.56mm is as good a man stopper as any other small arm round. A 7.62 will do virtually no damage if it doesn’t hit a vital blood vessel or bone and neither will 5.56. 7.62 can does kill when it hits a vital blood vessel or the brain – as does 5.56. Unrealistic expectations of men just dropping dead are to blame. Not the tool.

Jed
Jed
August 1, 2013 4:42 pm

From the article: “The weight versus the rounds isn’t really an issue. A twenty round magazine weighs exactly the same as a thirty round magazine for the SA80, so that’s a trade-off they’re willing to make. Twenty rounds in that sharpshooter is not enough, especially at close-quarters. That’s a massive limitation of that weapon system,” said the source.

Who is the source ? It sounds like bollocks to me. I don’t know any Royal’s who are particularly dim, but stating they want a 30 round mag for the 7.62 for close quarters ? Personally I don’t believe it.

Hey I know, lets issue Marine’s with the Ultimax with the 100 round drum as personal weapon……. :-(

Jed
Jed
August 1, 2013 4:45 pm

No one has mentioned single weapon system multi-calibre capability e.g. Robinson Arms XCR family

XCR-L = 5.56mm in various barrel lengths and configurations
XCR M = 7.62mm in various barrel lengths and configurations

Same design, layout, controls, etc etc so at least someone normally issued with a short barrel 5.56mm has the muscle memory and understands the ergonomics and drills when they pick up a 7.62mm long barreled DMR.

Phil
August 1, 2013 4:57 pm

I think the two go hand in hand. A fixed enemy is far easier to destroy.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 1, 2013 6:34 pm

RE: HE and fixing. Jim Store did a series of articles about infantry weapons/ tactics which the one I posted above was one. In order they are:

http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Real_Role_of_Small_Arms_RDS_Summer_09.pdf

http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/storr_RDS_feb2010.pdf

http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/RDS_Oct2010_Storr.pdf

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 1, 2013 6:54 pm

Phil’s right, the expectation of “the one shot stop” is the problem, not the rounds. The whole point of having a rifle with an automatic mode and plentiful ammo is you can pump a target like that full of lead.

Jed
Jed
August 1, 2013 7:22 pm

Phil has told us all this before – so I guess it depends if your a regular reader, or if you choose to ignore, or perhaps just forgot his comments :-)

Observer
Observer
August 1, 2013 7:25 pm

Think the SOP for fights runs along the lines of

1) Shoot the enemy into cover.
2) Then blast him back out with the 40mm or a grenade if close enough.
or
2) Flank him for clean shots

This is at close range of course. In Afganistan, the problem was that the enemy did not want to get up close, settling for long range harassment, hence all the calls for DMRs and snipers.

ST, the first article missed one more important role for suppression fire. “Suppress him to degrade his accuracy!”

Phil
August 1, 2013 8:21 pm

or if you choose to ignore

That would be the smart option.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 1, 2013 8:49 pm

Oh no, are we doing this all again!
When NATO adopted the 5.56 with the heavier 62 grain bullet, they did say they would look at small arms calibres again around 2015. Well that’s getting close, but is it still the plan? Re Radway Green. I note Norma manages to make many different calibres & sell them round the World, so why is it so impossible for a British firm to do the same. Well its 9 years since I last shot a 5.56 M16 ( an M4 if you want to be pedantic). The one I had was a pig & I hated the piddly 5.56 rounds, but then I don’t like anything under .270 Winchester. I would like to see NATO adopt an inbetween calibre. I do not care if it is 6×47, 6mm Saws, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC or the 7mm necked down version of the Czech 7.62×45, as any of these is better than 5.56.

Fedaykin
August 1, 2013 9:10 pm

Any 2015 study will be a formality only, the US is nowhere near replacing the M4 and many NATO countries are already replacing their current service rifles (or already have) with a 5.56 variant.

The Queen is more likely to declare herself a republican and the US return to British rule then the 5.56 round be replaced.

x
x
August 1, 2013 9:31 pm

I bet it smarts…….

Radish
Radish
August 2, 2013 9:51 am

Having read through the MARS Modular Assault Rifle System Tender document again I can’t help but think that the Improvement program for the C8 might suggest that it’s been cancelled. The lack of information on the net and posts on other sites that have failed to identify who’s bidding appears to confirm this.
If the MARS is going ahead its for a 5.56 weapon. No mention of a different round. It’s also quite a generic requirement with nothing special or too high tech being looked for. A total of 2200 weapons over the next ten years to start from April 2014.
The most interesting part of this tender is that it includes all UK Police forces and other linked government agency’s.
That bit is quite interesting as previously each Chief constable has gone their own way and bought their own. Perhaps one of the drivers in this is THEIR need to look for a more suitable round. The H&K MP5 in 9mm has been the weapon of choice for about the last 20 years. But it is proving unsuitable in today’s climate with many forces adopting the 5.56 as the preferred round. The most popular choice being the H&K G36 but various other makes. Perhaps this tender aims to replace the MP5 in one go. Lets hope it happens soon as the Police like the military makes some odd decisions when it comes to procurement. I heard a story recently where on uninformed senior officer made the decision to update the units MP5 with a new sight at a greater cost that buying new G36 with the same system. They hoped to save the training costs but with a move to 5.56 at some date means that this change has got to be paid for somewhere. Sounds familiar.

Brian Black
Brian Black
August 2, 2013 11:18 am

The ‘elite’ units will always want the rifles seen in ‘cool’ films.

The Colt C8 (or M4 or similar) has far better movie representation than the SA80 series, which makes appearances in tv crap like Soldier Soldier or Ultimate Force.
SA80 does turn up with the British Army in movies occasionally -Dog Soldiers, Patriot Games- but until and unless the likes of Bruce Willis or Jason Statham are seen rampaging around with their L85A2 blazing death, the Marines and others will never be happy.

L85A1 can apparently be seen in a gun rack in the Aliens special extended edition, which might be the best movie it’s been in – but not for a moment considered as worthwhile for tackling aliens (Are we unprepared for an invasion of xenomorphs? Something else to think about when considering a new calibre).

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 11:24 am

The best defence against xenos is a line of tanks! Death to the xenos!!

Now I’m feeling very Imperial Guardish… :)

Fedaykin
August 2, 2013 1:56 pm

At least one Hollywood armoury company purchased some L85 in the late 80’s early 90’s, the rifle does crop up quite often in American Science Fiction series and films when a futuristic looking rifle was needed. Off the to of my head:

Firefly
Battlestar Galactica (New series)
Caprica
Resident Evil Extinction
Underworld
Kick-Ass

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 2, 2013 4:38 pm

Lets not forget that most of the criticism against the 5.56 comes from Americans. This is why US troops took it upon themselves to develop the 6,8 SPC. If America never changes calibre because of existing tooling, they should still be using the .45-70! McNamara used the M16 to spin a good news story to cover the expensive programmes being cut (such as the mach 3 Valkyrie bomber). I would not be surprised if some mega expensive defense project gets axed & a new cheap gun & calibre is offered as spin to cover the cuts. Even if the new rifle/calibre is just for SOCOM to start, with Big Army to follow slowly, later.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 2, 2013 4:59 pm

Hmmmm… Pulse Rifle… 10mm caseless AND pump action 30mm GL…

http://avp.wikia.com/wiki/M41A_Pulse_Rifle

@Observer – Of course the sword is even better than tanks for dealing with the enemies of the Eternal Emperor…

http://warhammer40kfanon.wikia.com/wiki/File:Drive_me_closer_i_want_to_hit_them_with_my_sword.png#Modal

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 2, 2013 5:06 pm

On a more serious note I believe every study in to infantry rifle calibres has come back with the same answer: intermediate round between 6 and 7mm. This is well known; but, as has been pointed out, the cost and effort of changing production, new weapons, etc, is the problem. Any change will have to be at the NATO level, which means USA. Whats the betting if they do change calibre they **** it up again?

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 7:53 pm

You trust the US military-industrial complex to do a project on that scale without screwing up or milking it for everything it is worth? I don’t.

Jed
Jed
August 2, 2013 8:48 pm

So, if we agree for cost and other reasons we are not going to go to a single intermediate caliber there are two things that we can do for both 5.56 and 7.62

1. Introduce more lethal rounds

2. Reduce weight by using Polymer cartridge cases:

http://www.pcpammo.com/ and

http://www.defensereview.com/pcp-ammuntion-polymer-cased-plastic-cased-ammo-goes-primetime-at-shot-show-2012-media-day-ultra-lightweight-riflemachine-gun-ammo-is-combat-ready-video/

Monty
August 2, 2013 8:59 pm

Every time there’s an article on small arms here, that old chestnut, the calibre debate, is brought out, dusted off and rehashed for the umpteenth time. So that we can quickly move on, here is all you need to know:

– The UK would never unilaterally adopt a new small arms calibre. Period. Whatever small arms system we buy next time round, it will not be a UK developed weapon but an off-the-shelf purchase. After the SA80 saga, we are unlikely to adopt another a bullpup. (BTW, I understand that the French don’t want another bullpup either. And the Thales F90 is nothing more than 40 year old AUG Steyr design with rails.)

-That said, the UK unilaterally decided to adopt the 40 mm CTA (case-telescoped ammunition) cannon for the Warrior Upgrade and FRES SV Scout vehicles, when everyone else uses 30 mm. We also adopted .338 Lapua as a sniper calibre to replaced our 7.62 mm sniper rifles. If an interesting off-the-shelf system was available, we might certainly look at it.

– The much more interesting question is would the USA ever unilaterally adopt a new calibre? Well, they’ve done it twice before.

– Despite criticisms, 5.56 mm ammunition has actually been an unqualified success. As originally conceived, it was intended to provide a carbine calibre that would replace the old .30 M1/ M2 Carbine. The original M193 specification for 5.56 mm was extremely effective to around 200 metres, because it yawed (tumbled) rapidly in soft tissue.

– When the US Army adopted 5.56 mm this prompted a second NATO calibre competition between 1977-1979. The idea was to increase the range of M193 5.56 mm so that it would be effective to 300 metres. and suitable for use in machine guns. (At the time, US Army believed that 90% of combat engagements took place at ranges below 300 metres.)

– The NATO standard that emerged was SS109 / M855. This was optimised for use in machine guns as well assault rifles, by giving the projectile increased mass, a steel tip and more power behind it. Tests showed that 5.56 mm could punch a hole in a NATO helmet at 500 metres. The problem was that increased penetration incurred a hidden penalty: the round yawed (tumbled) less predictably.

– The truth is that 5.56 mm NATO does everything asked of it within 300 metres. Over the years, it has ‘neutralised’ a significant number of bad guys. The US Army only experienced problems when it switched from the M-16A2 rifle to the M4 Carbine. Its 14.5″ barrel reduced muzzle velocity and thus terminal effectiveness. The problem is that if the small bullet doesn’t yaw, it may not inflict sufficient wounds to incapacitate a target. While this is potentially a serious shortcoming, it is the exception rather than the norm. Moreover, over the last 10 years, most NATO armies have now introduced revised 5.56 mm ammunition.

– Fast forward to operations in Iraq, Afghanistan. The reality has been that combat engagements are not limited to 300 metres. The British Army’s own data showed that 50% of firefights take place at ranges well beyond 300 metres. and up to 900 metres. There is certainly a requirement to engage targets above 500 metres and that is a big ask for 5.56 mm weapons.

– Worse still, insurgents were well aware of the range limitations of 5.56 mm, so deliberately chose to use full-power 7.62 x 54R Russian weapons (not the smaller 7.62 x 39 mm round used in the Kalashnikov AKM). This meant that ISAF forces were frequently overmatched by the Taliban.

– The above situation prompted the immediate re-issue of 7.62 mm machine guns and the adoption of 7.62 mm Sharpshooter rifles. So, we now have a dual caliber solution with 5.56 mm ammo used for short-range skirmishes and 7.62 mm used for longer range firefights and suppression.

– Is the dual caliber solution ideal? No, but it works.

– Could a new intermediate calibre replace both existing calibres? If you mean could a round with a performance in between that of 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm replace both, then the answer is categorically: NO. if you adopt a round with a performance inferior to 7.62 x 54R, you will be overmatched.

– However, a highly aerodynamic projectile such as a 6.5 mm or 6.86 mm round with exceptional ballistic efficiency could easily be made to out-perform all existing 7.62 mm ammunition.

– Non-military hunting rounds such as the 6.5 x 39 mm Grendel more than adequately demonstrate that this theory is valid. What’s more, there is the added bonus of a weight reduction versus 7.62 mm NATO. A Grendel cartridge weighs around 18 grams, which is a 25% reduction. That’s a worthwhile saving in my book.

– Make a military version of the Grendel and package it in a polymer cartridge and the weight could drop by as much as 40%. You could field a round with better range than 7.62 mm in a package that weighs only one or two grams more than 5.56 mm NATO. That’s an incredible step-up in capability.

– Is it worth going to the expense and effort of adopting a new calibre? Probably not, unless of course potential enemies decide to develop something along the above lines.

– The US has now cancelled LSAT (it doesn’t work and would have been expensive and risky to field). The Improved Individual Carbine Competition has also been cancelled. So, you have to wonder what they have up their sleeves instead. You can bet your bottom dollar that Uncle Sam has some nifty piece of kit under development. Since Afghanistan is winding down and we’re all broke, I don’t expect to see any radical new small arms development before 2020.

In the meantime, this brings us neatly to the topic of the Colt Canada C8. This weapon has provided sterling service to UK SF troops for at least as long as SA80 has been in service. It has suffered no reliability issues. So, if the fleet is getting a bit worn out, you can totally justify buying replacement / upgraded parts for it. One point to note, however, is that UK SF also use the 7.62 mm HK417 and I understand that this weapon is now the preferred tool. I guess having both 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm weapons allows the boys to pick the bit of kit that best suits individual mission requirements.

x
x
August 2, 2013 9:48 pm

The more interesting thing to note is C7/8 uses the gas impingement system while the 417 uses the gas piston system. All that gas, bigger cartridge, in a cleaner action must do wonders for reliability. In the US Adco produce a nice light gas piston design; doubt the UK would choose a gun from a second tier US manufacturer.

Observer
Observer
August 2, 2013 10:48 pm

” You can bet your bottom dollar that Uncle Sam has some nifty piece of kit under development”

Which will usually get cancelled later too. :) The US is in a bit of a rut with their projects at the moment, too few of them getting in under budget and on time.

Monty, think polymer ammo has a higher chance of a no feeding malfunction. Brass cases expand when heated by exploding propellent, creating a seal for the gases, enabling better cycling. Polymer does not. Depending on the polymer, the casing might also burn, leaving residue in the chamber.

BTW, if the Grendel shows much better aerodynamic performance, does that mean the chance of it overpenetrating and not yawing in the target becomes greater?

Either way, I also don’t see the 5.56 going out soon.

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 2, 2013 11:57 pm

@ Monty,
A few things to supplement your “here is all you need to know”;

“(At the time, US Army believed that 90% of combat engagements took place at ranges below 300 metres.)”
— They didn’t just believe it, they knew it. Obviously they couldn’t pin down the precise percentage, but they did a huge (and I do mean huge) amount of study into this. It was unequivocal.

“The truth is that 5.56 mm NATO does everything asked of it within 300 metres. Over the years, it has ‘neutralised’ a significant number of bad guys. The US Army only experienced problems when it switched from the M-16A2 rifle to the M4 Carbine…….. The problem is that if the small bullet doesn’t yaw, it may not inflict sufficient wounds to incapacitate a target.”
— The first bit is true, the second bit is very much up for debate. A 5.56 (without tumbling) will scramble your brains pretty well, will make a mess of your major vital organs, will seriously damage your spinal chord if hit, can make a mess of your pelvis etc, etc. The tumbling simply increases the chance it will nick a useful target like a blood vessel.

“Fast forward to operations in Iraq, Afghanistan. The reality has been that combat engagements are not limited to 300 metres. The British Army’s own data showed that 50% of firefights take place at ranges well beyond 300 metres. and up to 900 metres”
— There is no data, none, that supports this. What is well known is that engagements initiated over around 600-700 metres by the insurgents are done so using belt fed machine guns or sniper rifles. What follows pushes the boundaries of the term “firefight” and becomes more of a game of hide and seek. The number of sub-500m fights encountered by ISAF forces has been very high. The number of fatalities suffered in long range engagements is very low.

“Worse still, insurgents were well aware of the range limitations of 5.56 mm, so deliberately chose to use full-power 7.62 x 54R Russian weapons (not the smaller 7.62 x 39 mm round used in the Kalashnikov AKM). This meant that ISAF forces were frequently overmatched by the Taliban.”
— This entire paragraph is false and I have no idea where you got it from. Neither the insurgents in Iraq nor those in Afghanistan chose anything. They used what they had, and what people gave to them (which was more of what they already had…) The bulk of the weapons used by insurgents are AK-47’s, firing the 7.62×39. There have been plenty of PKMs and sniper rifles reported (and found) kicking about using the 7.62×54, but it is by no means the primary/most plentiful tool of the insurgents, and they don’t get much choice in the matter either. In firefights with ISAF the insurgents in both theatres have suffered appalling casualties and have never come close to “overmatching” ISAF.

“The above situation prompted the immediate re-issue of 7.62 mm machine guns and the adoption of 7.62 mm Sharpshooter rifles. So, we now have a dual caliber solution with 5.56 mm ammo used for short-range skirmishes and 7.62 mm used for longer range firefights and suppression.”
— Those 7.62 rifles didn’t even get ordered till 2009 and weren’t delivered till 2010. Even that has only been a selection of weapons, <500 for the whole army.

"if you adopt a round with a performance inferior to 7.62 x 54R, you will be overmatched."
— You're bigging this round up a little too much. It's really not a huge leap over the NATO standard 7.62 rounds, and there are plenty of things that can "overmatch" it in return. Not that it really matters, as if "overmatching" was the win button you're making out then everyone would be using them by now.

"Make a military version of the Grendel and package it in a polymer cartridge and the weight could drop by as much as 40%"
— And the cost would go through the roof.

"Is it worth going to the expense and effort of adopting a new calibre? Probably not, unless of course potential enemies decide to develop something along the above lines"
— Even if they do, it makes no difference. When it comes to assault rifles it's been shown repeatedly that one of the least important characteristics is the (perceived) 'stopping power' of the round.

huki
huki
August 3, 2013 3:32 am

Back on to topic.

Mid-life upgrade = quad rail.

Phil
August 3, 2013 10:28 am

Over-matched?

If the Army operated on a gladiatorial single combat basis you’d have some shred of an argument (even then a 5.56 with an optical sight, a laser sight and a holo CQB sight is going to be a hell of a lot better than an AK47 with iron sights) but the Army does not operate in a gladiatorial way. We’ve never been over-matched in terms of fire-power or perhaps I missed the Taliban air force CAS and their artillery brigades? Also one fighting patrol would carry more ammunition than your average Taliban group would see in a year.

As for contact ranges in Afghanistan. I think my experience from what I have heard is generalisable and it is boringly predictable – engagement ranges were a broad mix of everything from 900 metre PKM bursts to some brave bastard popping up in a window at 15 metres with an AK47. My company suffered two fatalities from GWSs on H13. One died in an ambush at less than 50 metres which took out 5 of the 8 man patrol (1 KIA, 4 WIA) – I believe one burst was fired. This was Gdsmn Chris Davis. The second perished from a burst of PKM that came from at least 600-800 metres away across a canal – this was L/Cpl Liam Tasker. I had one chap give me a good burst of PKM at 80 metres (I measured it on Google Earth when I got home!). Engagements in Afghan are varied – thus our patrols carry a varied number of weapons. The rifleman is not a lone warrior – he is part of a combined arms grouping. The individuals weapon system is irrelevent – it is the equipment of the Platoon or Patrol that matters as a whole.

And the vast majority of ammunition continues to be expended in long contacts to suppress.

Monty
August 3, 2013 10:31 am

@ChrisB,

The belief that 90% small arms engagements would take place at ranges of less than 300 metres, came from the Hall and Hitchman reports of the 1950s. What the USA now acknowledges is that both reports ignored the need to suppress enemies at longer ranges to allow infantry units to ‘fire and maneuver’. It was believed that the greater volume of ammunition that could carried by having a smaller caliber of ammunition would allow effective suppression.

Sorry to contradict your point of view, but there is plenty of UK and US data that explores engagement ranges. There is also French data and German data. The use of helmet mounted video cameras has allowed a wealth of information to be collected and analyzed. Not only have we been able to determine engagement ranges but also enemy tactics and the effectiveness of our weapons in returning fire.

You’re right 5.56 mm lethality is very much a moot point.

If any bullet, including a .22 Rimfire, hits the central nervous system or a vital organ, it will cause ‘rapid incapacitation‘ if not an immediate fatal effect. However, achieving a head shot at ranges over 25 metres is a big ask in most combat situations. In fact, most combatants who die from bullet wounds die from loss of blood. The faster the rate of loss of blood, the faster incapacitation will be. So you need a bullet that creates a large wound channel. 7.62 mm makes a large hole without tumbling. 5.56 mm does not.

If a 5.56 mm round doesn’t tumble (and UK L2A2 5.56 mm ammunition doesn’t yaw rapidly) it may pass straight through a target – like a syringe – causing only a limited wounding effect that allows an enemy to continue fighting. Admittedly, occurrences of this are rare, but it seems to have been a big enough issue for five major ammunition manufacturers to all be asked to develop more rapidly yawing 5.56 mm loadings.

The fact that the USA and several EU allies have all now fielded improved 5.56 mm loadings with projectiles that yaw sooner or that deliberately fragment, suggests that terminal effectiveness was an issue. The USMC’s Mk 318 SOST round or NAMMO’s 5.56 mm Ball NT 4 HP Mk 2 show that short-range terminal effectiveness issues with 5.56 mm have now largely been overcome.

I am just going to ignore your comments about Russian weapons. The Taliban are extremely savvy and it was a mistake to under-rate their tactical abilities. There have been a large number of situations where UK forces equipped with just 5.56 mm weapons were overmatched. I know this because i have studied the data as well as speaking to officers and soldiers who describe it in vivid detail.

As to our 7.62 mm weapons, we have acquired new 7.62 mm Minimis to supplement the 5.56 mm Minimi and bought a second and third tranche of L129A1 sharpshooter rifles. This latter weapon has also been adopted as the No. 2 weapon in a sniper team. We’ve bought around a thousand so far, but with plans to take it into the core equipment budget, numbers will increase. Ultimately, it is expected that UK Infantry battalions will have 2 or 3 7.62 mm weapons per section in a standard orbat.

x
x
August 3, 2013 12:34 pm

Observer said “Either way, I also don’t see the 5.56 going out soon.”

If we say the 5.56 birth year was 1960 and then compare it with 7.62x54R’s age then 5.56 will still be going strong in 2082. And probably 7.62x54R will be too! :)

I just can’t see replacing brass brings any advantages to be honest. H&K proved with G11 that caseless systems worked. And what stopped that advancing further was the end of Cold War. It will be cost of brass that will bring the next change not a military threat. Of the four components (the others being primer, charge, and bullet) the case is the only component which doesn’t contribute (much) to the essential task of pushing the bullet.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/G11Cartridge.jpg

We have to remember all firearms are is chucking rocks in a clever way. :)

wf
wf
August 3, 2013 12:37 pm

: I hope you got something back their way, even as “suppression” :-)

Phil
August 3, 2013 12:50 pm

I was prone behind a foot high bundline and he was behind a window in a compound. My “reaction to effective enemy fire” was not quite by the book!

I was simultaneously digging in with my eyebrows (really learnt the meaning of that saying!) and holding my rifle above the bundline with one hand and pulling the trigger until I had worked up the bottle to lift my head and get into a proper firing position!

SA80 balances very well when held with one hand over your head! The “flap unsupported position”.

wf
wf
August 3, 2013 2:28 pm

: good to hear about the flap-unsupported position! Perhaps this for the next tour?

http://fotodioxpro.com/index.php/aputure-gigtube-wireless-remote-handheld-lcd-display-camera-trigger-canon-rebel-and-consumer-cameras.html

I’m sure the Yanks will have this sort of stuff available to be mounted Picatinny style and available for 50 bucks shortly of course. Sorry to go all FIST on you :-)

Monty
August 3, 2013 5:35 pm

There have been incredible advantages made in polymer case technology over the last 10 years. A polymer version of a NATO 7.62 mm round, for example, has a polymer sleeve attached to a steel or brass base with the projectile seated in the same way as would be with a conventional brass case.

In order to have sufficient structural integrity, polymer cases tend to be quite a bit thicker than brass ones, so slightly reduced case volume. However, polymer cases are more than 50% lighter than brass. Overall, the weight reduction is around 30%-40% depending on the caliber and the loading. A 7.62 mm brass cased round weighs 24 grams, a polymer-cased one weighs 18 grams. That’s a huge saving.

The chemical composition of new polymers, together with the increased thickness of cartridge case walls, give polymer cases excellent heat resistant properties, i.e. heat is absorbed by the cartridge itself retarding heat-up in weapons more effectively than with a brass case which readily transmits heat to the chamber, even though it is a better heat sink than other metals. The major breakthrough that has been made with the latest polymer chemistry is that by the time a weapon reaches temperatures that would melt a polymer case, you would have to stop firing anyway to let the barrel cool.

Just for comparison, the H&K G36 has a polymer receiver. This has better heat retardation issues than steel. You can still hold a G36 after firing a volume of ammunition that would completely prevent you from doing the same with an equivalent weapon with a steel receiver. By the time the gun reached temperatures that would cause the polymer to melt, you wouldn’t be able to hold it.

Another advantage of polymer cases is vastly reduced raw material and production costs.

The ease with which polymer cases can be used in legacy weapons while providing a comparable weight-saving to LSAT cased-telescoped ammunition may well be a contributory factor to LSAT’s cancellation.

Let’s not forget that polymer cases have been used in shotguns for at least a generation. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a melting shotgun cartridge even after shooting 100 or so clay pigeons in rapid succession. So, expect to hear a lot about polymer ammunition technology in the near future. I believe it is close to US military acceptance in several calibres. I am sure the UK is looking at it too.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 3, 2013 6:30 pm

When the .338 Lapua came in as a sniper round, did 7,62 & .50 vanish? No, of course not. So if a 6.5 or 6.8 round is adopted in small numbers for elite units, does that mean 5.56 & 7.62 will vanish? No , they will be around for many years. When the UK adopted the 7.62, there were still many .303/7.92/.30-06 weapons in use for decades. As a 14 year old schoolboy, playing cricket in the park, I was there when the Army turned up with a Ferret & a Chieftain for a County Show the next day. A soldier let me carry the .30-06 Browning machine gun for him. No ammo of course, but imagine the hoo-ha now of a 14 year old wandering around a park with a machinegun in 2013!

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 3, 2013 7:08 pm

Phil,

what we used to call the “Beirut Unload”, named after the habit the boys observed while doing some UN peacekeeeping there in 82 of the warring factions holding their weapons above a wall and letting rip with a whole magazine in the general direction of their OPFOR while eyeing the brickwork from about 3 inches. Still, props for being out in AFG at all, and being in the position you found yourself in. The thought crossed my mind to volunteer for 6 months there on the RARO scheme, but Mrs RT was very firmly against it, so didn’t happen. :(

Phil
August 3, 2013 7:41 pm

Ah but it wasn’t a Beirut Unload as (a) rifle was set to semi-auto and (b) I didn’t fire a whole magazine.

I think it took about 5-10 rounds before I popped my head up – bearing in mind the shit was literally right in front of me with a PKM and knew exactly where I was since he had seen me as he had an early morning Hamlet moment leaning up against a tree without, until that moment, a care in the world.

We locked eyes at the same moment and as he wasn’t armed I didn’t think he was a bad man, you see lots of folk about smoking in the morning having just had their morning shit in the nearest irrigation ditch.

But I was disabused of this naive notion the instant both of his feet left the ground in cartoon style fright when he clapped his beady Taliban eyes on me and beat Usain Bolts sprinting record into his compound where he must have had his PKM. He gave me the traditional Taliban “I’ve been surprised by ISAF bastards whilst minding my own business having a quiet tab” greeting from a window cammed up as a firing point a couple of minutes later when he had worked up the bottle.

All character building stuff I guess. Just as frightening was the 40mm AGL 150 metres behind me who chipped in to help us out but the grenades were exploding above our heads as they hit the tree branches, the danger close 81mm HE proxy added to the gayity of the morning. I think we stood more chance of killing ourselves then that shocked Taliban chap did. We got him in the end though. The shit.

jed
jed
August 4, 2013 4:08 am

Phil BZ matey, the frakker missed you, that’s the main thing !!!

Monty – I think you might have meant ‘out ranged’ rather than over matched ?

So Phil, what is your opinion on suppressive fires ? I have had a “NAFFI Briefing” over a few pints at Chicksands that suggested Terry T isn’t often impressed or scared by 5.56 zinging past him, and often not by 7.62 either. It was suggested M2 .50 Cal was generally respected ! So do we also need to be mindfull of the suppressive capability of small arms fire, as TD asked higher up the thread, what is the role of HE, from UGL and other sources to suppress and fix ???

Phil
August 4, 2013 8:59 am

Methinks your briefing is sometimes right but not quite for the reasons one might think.

You often hear about the ANA being brave and loving a good scrap. Well a few are brave and love a scrap – most are fatalistic and / or plain stupid. I imagine coming from the same culture and social backgrounds the Taliban often meet the same criteria and what can seem disdain for small arms fire is simply fatalism / drugs or stupidity driven – Lord knows most of us were pretty green when we arrived and didn’t react as fast to enemy fire as we should have done or started to.

.50 cal is a very distinctive weapon with a distinctive sound and they’ll know without doubt it is a .50 cal firing at them because they know where they are mounted on vehicles and in FOB / PB and CP sangers. Those places tend to come with good optics and ISTAR and mortars so they’re always a bit more twitchy around them I find.

I honestly think the combination of things like PGSS and CORTEZ, combined with indirect precision fires was a revolution in the way things were done out there. They really locked down whole areas and made INS movement far harder to accomplish and would push activity well back where they thought they weren’t so easily seen. Even then we’d sometimes get them and it made them twitchy.

UGLs to be frank I think are more valuable in urban terrain against point FPs. We were UGL’d several times and unless you’re unlucky they just don’t do fuck all. We had one lad get some frag in his face, another bloke knocked on his arse but otherwise you have to be very close to them to get anything. Frightening things and very loud but you need volume,you need the AGLs.

One of the main things I took from my tour was how effective the 81mm mortar is when well controlled. We killed most of the our body count with the mortars – you can’t hear them coming unlike the 105 rounds which sound very distinctive going over. And they are useful because if the situation doesn’t call for HE you can drop plenty of smoke on the enemy and they hated that.

As ever the infantry are part of a system and must be used in that way. Sometimes we were used as the anvil to draw enemy fire from known firing points and the mortars were used as the hammer in HE ambushes. Terry would kick off, they’d do it from just where we knew they would and we’d have three or so X-Ray points in the rat runs behind the FPs and we’d smash them as they ran away.

x
x
August 4, 2013 11:54 am

@ Monty

Why go to the trouble of a polymer case when the same properties can be infused into the propellant’s chemical structure? Further I think heat retention is a more a problem for the chemist and material scientists than for the mechanical engineer. Most of thise has been solved by H&K.

Though I think cased ammunition will be with us a long time yet it something will have to break the cycle of investment in ammo production against investment in weapons families.

I wonder if plastic cases can be loaded on the same presses (using the same dies) as brass cases?

Jed
Jed
August 4, 2013 3:14 pm

Thanks Phil

Good point ref UGL’s – I always liked Anthony Williams idea of taking MetalStorm’s 3 round UGL, stretching it for a 4th round and then stacking over-and-under barrels for an 8 round grenade launcher that would weigh much less than the Milkor – if you can put 8 rounds down on the same area in short succession, then that seems to have promise in certain scenarios !

Monty
August 5, 2013 3:20 pm

@X

It would be great if caseless technology truly worked. It never did. H&K were unable to overcome a number of major issues with the G11 and its caseless ammunition:
– Breech sealing
– Throat erosion
– Heat build-up
– Failure to eradicate all cartridge residue from action after firing a round, creating a build-up of detritus after a certain number of rounds that would eventually and unavoidably cause a stoppage
– Toxicity of propellant
– Inability of propellant to effectively bind to itself, meaning that bits would easily break off causing misfires, a failure to feed and further stoppages
– Complexity of the mechanism
– Inability to clear a major stoppage quickly
– Weapon was immensely expensive to produce

If the G11 and its caseless ammo had worked, both Bundeswehr and the US Army would have adopted it. As it was, H&K’s failure to get the ammunition to function reliably eventually led to the company to go bankrupt. LSAT also evaluated caseless ammo technology. It didn’t work either.

When you use a case, polymer or brass, the material of the case acts as a heat sink that helps take heat out of the weapon. Also the case serves as a high pressure vessel that provides a perfect seal. This is essential for consistent release of energy from the propellant.

Overmatch is one of those dreadful words like war fighter. I used it because the BA now use it too. Perhaps, I should have been specific and said outranged.

Monty
August 5, 2013 3:22 pm

The description of your Afghan experiences is fascinating. Assuming that you are no longer serving, it would be great to hear your perspectives on small arms usage and resulting future requirements as you see them.

Phil
August 5, 2013 4:38 pm

Cheers Monty.

I was a medic who operated with an infantry unit in Afghanistan in a Ground Holding role. I’m no authority on small arms requirements and I am no infantryman either. So do take everything I say with a pinch of salt – I was but a keen observer and amateur and offer my input re: small arms and their usage in that spirit! I do think my experiences are generalisable though.

The way I see it is that the small arms debate is a microcosm of the far larger “you’re preparing for the last war / you’ve learned nothing from the last war” dichotomy. Afghanistan generated some particular requirements re: small arms – namely the longer ranges some engagements are conducted which means a DMR or 7.62 LMG is useful. But how useful would these weapon systems be in the hands of line infantry in a more conventional conflict? Do we need to pick off targets at that range? I’d argue we don’t. I see little role for a DMR or 7.62 LMG in a conventional fight. But they are definitely useful in pretty much all of the remainder of the spectrum of operations our troops will conduct where they need to shoot at people. Fire-arms are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things and are easy to support and train up on and easy to store and maintain. So personally for the future I think we should continue in the veign we are now – a simple 5.56 general assault weapon which has excellent optical and CQB sights and which is firmly based in known and reliable technology. The same for the LMG – a 5.56 weapon. The infantry platoon in all forms of warfare needs to be able to aquire the enemy (often one of the hardest things to do) and then suppress him. So you need good sights and bags of ammo. Which means 5.56. I’d rather see the money that might be spent on a calibre change spent on maintaining 7.62 LMGs and DMRs so that they can be drawn when needed and the infantry remain otherwise equipped for their core fighting role.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 5, 2013 6:22 pm

Interesting article by William Owen again; Platoon weapons, HE lobbers, non-weapon factors, weight, and the suggestion that the individual weapon go even smaller/short ranged…

http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Owen,_UK_Platoon_Weapons.pdf

Phil
August 5, 2013 7:37 pm

I think he goes way too far the other way.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 5, 2013 8:34 pm

The 5.56×45 is a 222 Remington Magnum with the case shortened by 2mm, so the performance of the 5.56 is 5% less than the 222 Rem Mag. The 222 Rem Mag was also opened up slightly to create the 6×47. This was a very accurate benchrest round that was less likely to suffer from wind deflection than the 5.56. Many matches were won with the 6×47. The 5.56 can chuck a 70 grain bullet at 2700 fps, while the 6×47 can propel an 80 grain bullet at 2850 fps.(Source, Speer reloading manual no 10). The 5.56 & 6×47 share the same case diameter, so you would get the same number in a magazine, although the magazine & well would need to be 2mm longer. The benchrest accuracy of the 6×47 should appeal to Police & SF use.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 5, 2013 9:16 pm

@ John Hartley, 5 Aug 8:34pm

honestly, how much of that stuff you dribbled on about is actually relevant when, as Phil has reported, you are digging in with your eyebrows and doing the one-handed return of fire?

The last two men I killed were with SMG fire on full auto at about 5 yards range, in a shitty little bunker complex in north western Kuwait How accurate was my fire? Not as good as it could have been from a bench rest, and my round to round variation was pretty enormous I suspect. Don’t know, didn’t stop to analyse it. How good was 9mm parabellum? Not as good as the latest wonder computery might have been able to design a 8.7768 round that was .2318 mm longer than 9mm (or whatever, in case you think I am being precise and try to work it out on your spreadsheet).

Sounds like your argument is one used by that spastic bunch of civilian target shooters who infest the British shooting scene. A total turn off when I took my young boy to shoot his first proper rifle at Bassingbourn a couple of years ago: total fucking idiots in polarised sunglasses and nasty little shooting jerkins. Here’s the thing: I would not have taken a single one of them to war with me, as they didn’t look like they actually wanted to kill OPFOR, whether by shooting, artillery, grenade or bayonet. The end effect is the point, not the means.

Battle is different from the range. Live with the fact.

Observer
Observer
August 5, 2013 9:19 pm

Well, it could work, provided that the squad fights in places with no overhead obstruction. His suggestion seems to be along the lines of pulling the gun zone of responsibility down to 100-150m and making up the pullback with 40mm.

Some problems I see are humans being humans, they won’t care if the target is >200m away, the driving desire is to throw rounds back at anyone shooting at you for morale’s sake. There is also less of a chance to get the 40mm shot off if the enemy suppresses you. Use of the 40mm goes something like your squad lays suppression fire for you while you expose yourself to aim and get the shot off. Without effective covering fire up to 200m, you might not have the time to get a sight picture on the quadrant sights. 40mm is also not a suppression system, the ROF is extremely low. It is more of a finisher for someone in cover. 40mm UGL to be specific. 40mm AGLs suppress just fine.

I can see some use of a 7.62 system, especially in open terrain with long sightlines, but as Phil said, there is nothing that says the next battle isn’t going to be in the jungle or the bocage.

BTW, Phil, your 40mm AGL tree clearing experience may not be unique, a friend of mine once fired a training powder round from a UGL and it hit a tree too. Fortunately for him, it was a powder round as the round bounced back and detonated, so it might seem that 40mm usage in trees might be problematic.

I’m solidly leaving the present and going retro when I wonder if it is possible to replace the LAW or UGL gunner’s load with rifle grenades. I know, historically, rifle grenades are short ranged bullet trap propelled door openers, just wondering if it could be a way to expand the range to deliver a grenade sized payload to 300-400m. Of course, if all else fails, you can always try an ASM at 500m :)

For the guy who was hit at 500-600m, all I can say is that I think he was unlucky, at that range, the firer was probably just pounding the area hoping for a chance hit.

wf
wf
August 5, 2013 10:28 pm

@Red Trousers: that does seem a little uncharitable of you. SInce we have had to introduce both the DMR and now a 7.62 Minimi, our current small arms set up has plainly not been entirely fit for purpose. As our current 5.56 weapons will shortly wear out, it’s entirely reasonable to discuss whether we wish to retain the calibre, and not being a ballistics person, I don’t mind constructive advice from anyone, including Hartley, even if he wears a strange jerkin at weekends or not. Since even Hitler could be said to have influenced UK small arms policy for the better, I’m not in favour of ruling anyone out :-)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 5, 2013 10:38 pm

No matter how much of a steely eyed killer you are, having the correct tools for the job make your survival more likely.
My great grandad killed multiple Germans with a Lee Enfield 303 and as tje citation on his MM reads, killed 2 in no mans land with a sharpened entrenching tool. Yet were he alive today I am sure he would have not suggested we stick with a 303 round.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 5, 2013 10:44 pm

RT I will be the first to admit that there is no perfect round. Any choice is a trade off, between range, power, controllability, size, weight, etc. All I am doing is pointing out options, so I do not understand your outburst. Perhaps a bad day? I have been doing a few design & innovation courses over the last few years & they teach that incremental improvements can still be useful, even if they don’t generate the excitement of a radical change. If we say the Martini Henry did well at Rorke’s Drift, should we have stayed with that?

Observer
Observer
August 5, 2013 10:59 pm

John, actually I do understand his outburst a bit, the things you mentioned are details so nitpicking that they don’t really matter in the scale of things.

There is a massive difference between technical readouts and the human capability to use them, and we are really at the point where the equipment actually exceeds human capability. You think 2mm off center of target from bench rest matters when weight on your left hand holding the rifle foregrip causes muscle twitches? Or parallax off the human eye not 100% centered with the sights?

Think of it as user input.

You really want a change? I recommend a light bipod with the SA80, that would change your accuracy more than any newfangled round. Takes out muscle twitches from the aiming. Not that it helps in any “Beirut unload”.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 5, 2013 11:23 pm

I’m not trying to be uncharitable, but merely to point out that there’s a bigger scheme of things.

There used to be in the British Army something Called the “Combat Fitness Test” (might still be, I’m out of date 10 years). Basically, a battle march of 8 miles over hilly terrain, carrying 18 kilos plus helmet and rifle and 65 rounds and water, followed by a shoot at simulated battle ranges and then some tests such as carrying a casualty for 100 metres in less than 30 seconds. It was ridiculously easy to pass.

But, put some battle realism into place during the overall 3 hour test, and it was really quite difficult. Put 4 little physical tasks to be performed on the march: move a car with two wheels only off a road by musclepower, cut down a tree to block a gap, climb a tree to make a range card from elevated observation, crawl 400 yards up a ditch. Then make the range test 2 ended, by having GPMG firing back on fixed lines 2 metres above your head, and several dozen thunder flashes lobbed at you while on the firing point, and make the casualty someone you had to wade into the middle of a lake to rescue and who fought back, and it all becomes a bit different to pass the test with the same times.

And then measure the scores: minutes marching, accuracy of fire, casualties rescued in X seconds. You’ll see that the shooting is all over the place once you place soldiers under some stress, no matter what they can do in perfect Bisley conditions.

All I’m saying is that combat realism should put the spastic little weight weenies and bench rest tossers into their place. Actually, most of the time I carried 30 or more kilos in fighting order, I couldn’t give a toss about whether my weapon was firing 5.56, 7.62, or 9mm, or whether I carried 2 or 4 or 6 grenades, or 3 spare batteries for the Clansman, or the NVGs. If I wanted to lose weight, I’d dump the whole CEFO and wriggle forward with what I had in my pockets.

Honestly, this total geek over-analysing of weights of cartridges and effective kill-distances is ridiculous. There’s so much else variable that arguing about 2mm here or there on the length of some sodding cartridge only reveals that person making that argument to be a complete civvy who wears ballpoint pens in his upper pocket. A total irrelevance.

If anyone else wants to disagree, how about starting with some metrics for optimum sleep and calorific nutrition in the vital hours leading up to your so-assumed important measurement?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 5, 2013 11:39 pm

@ John Hartley,

Situation: No one at all calling for a change in calibres. 5.56, 7.62, 9mm, etc all do what they say on the tin.

None are perfect. All are more than good enough when as I point out above there are so many other variables.

And so, there should be no suggested change of calibre to some in-betweeny nonsense that no other nation is ever going to even sniff at. There is possibly a debate to be had between existing calibres, but it’s not even much of a debate. Buy weapons that can be chambered for either 5.56 or 7.62 and no other handling drills need to change. Even simpler, budget in for every rifleman their own FN-SCAR H AND an L model (or equivalent, other manufacturers available), and the cost is still only about £1000 extra per combat rifleman, or in AFG terms, about £500,000 every six months. Easy decision, a no brainer.

Then you can deploy to the jungle (short range) or the desert (longer range) and not bat an eyelid. The boys don’t care if they’re humping and firing 5.56 or 7.62. Whatever works.

Observer
Observer
August 5, 2013 11:49 pm

“You’ll see that the shooting is all over the place once you place soldiers under some stress.”

…lol that is so true. One assault range when we were supposed to practice leaps and bounds with 3 fireteams, I ended so keyed up that instead of letting the other team cover us, I forgot and fired a triple tap from the shoulder on the move while charging to the next position. Not supposed to do that, especially for safety as there may be people forward of the line, but when you are so hyped, it is hard to remember. Live ammo. Which ironically made me even more stressed and keyed up. :)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 6, 2013 12:27 am

@RT

You have just said calibre does not matter in combat? I have spent time behind a land cruiser long after u became a civvy wishing my L85 Was 7.6mm

Observer
Observer
August 6, 2013 12:55 am

APATs, was it something that could not be handled by a 5.56? Or the section 40mm? Or the AT weapon? If the equipment can do the job, then it is not a problem with the equipment, it’s just a FUBAR situation. You can get pinned even with a 7.62 battle rifle.

jed
jed
August 6, 2013 1:44 am

Phil – wouldn’t the 7.62mm Minimi variant or lightened GPMG have a role even in rapid armour manoeuvre / urban scenarios – if that’s what your driving when you mean a conventional fight ? Not that a full length barrel 5.56 Minimi with SOST or M885 (?) Rounds wouldn’t do the job.

ST and Phil – I am not sure if Owen really does go too much the other way. If the makers of 6.5mm CBJ can be believed it remains lethal out to 400m from the right barrel length – allowing you to replace both 5.56 and 9mm while carrying a lot more 40mm grenades, 7.62 belt, rocket launchers etc

BUT before RT takes me to task for fantasy calibres…..

RT – agreed and already noted up in the thread above somewhere, stick with the arms locker approach, keeping a 7.62 DMR for when required, but I don’t think you would need to go to the extreme of buying every “Infanteer” both a 7.62 AND a 5.56. See the Robinson Arms XCR – based on a Kalashnikov style bolt assembly for robust maintainability it come in very short barrel (micro) for vehicle crews, short carbine and long barrel battle rifle, and it has a user changeable barrel – so it gives that flexibility you mention. You obviously need a different receiver for the 7.62 version, you can’t swap between the two calibers on the same gun, but otherwise the bigger gun is identical – so same drills and consolidated training.

Observer – 40mm for suppression – obviously not with single shot UGL, but with Milkor M32 or the old MetalStorm 3GL than maybe…….?

Observer
Observer
August 6, 2013 5:44 am

Oh yes, talk of Kuwait reminds me.

RT, operationally, has there been any problem identifying if an armoured vehicle is out of commission/destroyed?

If every vehicle with a penetrating hit blows up in smoke and fire, that is easy to tell, but with sabot and EFP rounds, I’m worried that the hole generated may be so unnoticable that a tank already “dead” may still draw unnecessary fire which could be more effective elsewhere, even though the crew may already be pureed.

Something to worry about? Or a non-issue?

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 6, 2013 8:00 am

RT Jordan has already gone to the 6.8 SPC, so this idea that no country is interested in an intermediate round, does not stand up. There are many choices between 6 & 7 mm. I do not care which one gets picked. I only mentioned the 6×47 as one previous comment wanted the same number of rounds in a magazine as the 5.56, while another wanted the UK police to adopt the same rifle/round as the military for a good UK production run. The accuracy may not be needed in a point blank firefight, but in a police hostage rescue it would be. I thought the whole point of a forum like this, was to float ideas, some of which will swim, while others sink.

x
x
August 6, 2013 9:33 am

Minimi? So last year……..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMI_Negev

x
x
August 6, 2013 10:06 am

@ Monty

Most of the G11 problems were solved or were well on the way to being solved. It was the Peace Dividend that put an end to efforts to get it right. Isn’t that why we are basically saying the 5.56 and 7.62 combo is good enough because there is no appetite or need to invest in alternatives? I think plastic cases while perfectly viable in terms of form and material quality may bring about other problems. Just as some weapons don’t cope with steel cases or have feed issues with lacquered cases. Plastic and metals have different properties and there is only so far chemistry can go to make the former act like the latter before the project brings little benefit. You can’t argue that materials engineering can solve one problem and then curtly dismiss it solving another set problems.

John Hartley said “I thought the whole point of a forum like this, was to float ideas, some of which will swim, while others sink.”

Dude. The subtext here is the MoD really gets it right the majority of the time despite what some silly civilians think and other militaries do. Same with that page Sir Humph produces. Or even that great intellectual bastion ARRSE.

Monty
August 6, 2013 10:08 am

I should have recognised your RAMC avatar! As a medic, you would have certainly had first hand experience of small arms effectiveness. It’s one thing to be a soldier armed with a weapon who can return fire when engaged, but quite something else to be a combat medic, patching up casualties while bullets are flying in your general direction. I salute your regiment and your courage.

In 2009, a US journalist embedded with UK forces, Michael Yon, reported various Taliban insurgents had shown-up at Camp Bastion with gunshot wounds to the stomach. Indeed, one such guy was carried in on a wheelbarrow. Claiming to be a victim of collateral damage, He had been shot by a UK soldier and the bullet had passed straight through his gut without causing significant injury. The Americans call it a through-and-through wound! He was patched-up and sent on his way. Michael Yon subsequently reported UK Army surgeons saying that UK 5.56 mm ammunition was much less effective than US 5.56 mm, because it didn’t fragment or yaw. As a result of this, Yon had his tour cut short. It isn’t clear whether this was because what he said was a downright lie or an inconvenient truth.

What is your judgement on the overall effectiveness of current 5.56 mm in terms of lethality and suppression?

What I do know is that while I was deployed in Belize in 1985, I found myself in a situation where it was necessary to fire a whole magazine of 5.56 mm ammo from an M16A1 at a dog with rabies,. It took more than 10 rounds to kill the thing. The starting range was 75 metres and it dropped about 5 metres from me. Admittedly, I was using the old lead-cored M193 5.56 mm ammunition type, not the newer NATO Standard M855 / SS109. At the time, I remember thinking how useless 5.56 mm was as a military calibre. A far cry from dealing with Taliban insurgents, but a totally unpredictable mongrel about the size of a Labrador, foaming at the mouth and charging towards me was a little unnerving. (When a second instance of a rabid dog occurred we used a shotgun with solid shot instead. One round, job done.)

Since then, I have always been an advocate of 7.62 mm.

To bring this discussion back on topic, the US SF community using Colt’s own version of the C8 have mostly exchanged their 5.56 mm uppers for .300 Blackout units. This calibre provides excellent lethality to 200 metres and is analogous to 7.62 x 39 mm (Kalashnikov AKM ammo). I wonder if UK Special Forces will be buying the same thing.

Brian Black
Brian Black
August 6, 2013 11:01 am

“the US SF community using Colt’s own version of the C8 have mostly exchanged their 5.56 mm uppers for .300 Blackout units”

When folks are firmly declaring that the US will never introduce a new calibre, they should remember that they are using squad weapons that facilitate changes to ammunition.

I don’t like getting into arguments (with people regurgitating forum conversations between American sport shooters) about the particular merits of one cartridge over another; but as an example, 6.5 MPC for the US military is essentially a change of barrel. Same squad weapons, same magazines, same link, same training. They have a flexibility, with much development coming from their healthy civilian market, that we don’t necessarily have. The US making changes does not inherently require a clean-sweep of a whole new system, and much candidate ammunition is already in production and its properties known.

We should also remember the law of history repeating itself. The current calibre were foisted onto us Europeans by the Americans, so it seems almost the natural order of things that once Britain has spent a few hundred million on illustrations of a new 5.56mm SA2020, the American army will unveil an incompatible six-point-something wonder bullet.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 6, 2013 11:02 am

@Observer

They might have if it hadn’t just been 3 of us in a ruddy civvy land cruiser :) That will teach me to go and do something so far from the oggin and my comfort zone. Luckily comms actually worked and we were saved by the professionals.

Monty
August 6, 2013 11:43 am

@RT

I don’t want to give too much away here, but having served as an infantry officer for the best part of a decade, I now work closely with defence industry clients across a range of business topics. We have a situation where the armies of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Sweden, and Holland all need to replace their current small arms fleets. Nearly all will buy off-the-the-shelf solutions. Most are working on a timescale of 2020-2025. That may seem like a long time away, but in terms of procurement planning, it is tomorrow. What is accelerating the need for change is that many countries existing small arms inventories are worn out. As we put Afghanistan behind us, and plan for the next conflict rather than the previous one, it is absolutely right that we review what we have in terms of overall effectiveness, efficiency and military value. We also need to see how our requirements have evolved. Maybe nothing has changed. Maybe the paradigm has shifted completely. We also need to look at recent developments. Having fired virtually every current military weapon and calibre, I have to say that a great many substantial advances have been made in recent years. So this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get it right.

As we look ahead to the next generation, one thing that worries me is the suggestion that small arms are no longer considered to be important in the overall scheme of things. William Owens’ article was written in response to a report Tony Williams wrote in 2009. Owens’ response was merely designed to deflect ongoing criticism of UK 5.56 mm and SA80. I believe it was politically motivated, not a genuinely held belief. However, I like to think that the work various people have done trying to flesh out issues with existing calibres and weapons influenced the decision to buy the 7.62 mm L129A1 and 7.62 mm Minimi and the wider re-adoption of 7.62 mm weapons. Of course, the powers that be don’t like their well oiled bureaucratic machine to upset by a non-linear interruption.

On the whole, I feel that the MoD is staffed by some incredibly capable people. The big impeding factor always is money or rather the lack of it. To lesser extent, however, i think our process is deeply flawed. We are not good at soliciting user feedback from troops on the ground and acting upon any sights that emerge.. We assign so much importance to cost that we ignore value. We end up buying the same piece of kit twice to get the quality we need. This has to change. If someone charges a premium for a product, it is usually because it offers something that competitors do not. I am also disheartened by the lack of technical knowledge of key people responsible for critical choices.

Tony Williams is a true expert. His great knowledge and communication skills have done much to explain why small arms remain incredibly relevant across the entire spectrum of potential future combat deployment scenarios. Anyone who thinks that a PDW weapon is all that is required because of the other heavier weapons we now have at our disposal, should study British Army post-WW2 deployments. The number of times Army units have had to fend for themselves because proper support wasn’t available are legion. The relied on the weapons they carried.

Today, the latest generation of weapons can do things that were unimaginable 30 years ago. I have had experience with the 6.8 mm Remington SPC, .300 Blackout, 6.5 x 39 mm Grendel and 6.5 x47 Lapua. These newer calibres are deeply impressive. If we adopted the 6.5 mm Grendel tomorrow, we would have a calibre that was infinitely more capable than 5.56 mm in the same weapon and with a battle effectiveness commensurate with 7.62 mm NATO. I am not saying we should adopt the Grendel, merely that we should compare our future choices to the benefits it offers. furthermore, new sighting systems technology, e.g. sights with in-built ballistic calculators or even just basic x4 ACOGs, now enable ordinary soldiers to achieve first round hits at incredible ranges. The humble rifle can now be as effective as any PGM but at a fraction of the cost.

When I served, what we had seemed perfectly acceptable. While I liked 7.62 mm as a calibre, I disliked the weight, length and recoil of the SLR. On a range, with a sandbag rest , you could reliably hit targets. After doing a CFT, it became a bitch to shoot well with. In contrast, the M16A1, which was my personal weapon for a year, was a perfect tool, except for its 5.56 mm ammunition, which felt ineffective beyond a limited range. All those years ago, I felt there had to be a better solution than these two weapons and calibres. That’s a grungy ex-infantryman talking, not a cavalryman or bench rest shooter.

The other big elephant in the room is how spectacularly wrong we got it last time we adopted a new small arms system. SA80 has been a fiasco that has taken 30 years to fix. Today, SA80 is reliable and effective, but it is a totally different weapon from the one originally manufactured in 1986, which in turn was totally different from the weapon designed in 1977. We call the present version the L85A2. In reality, it is the L85A600. Even now, SA80 is adequate, but not best-in-class. It’s too heavy, has poor ergonomics, easily ingests dirt and sand, and has a non-adjustable butt.

So I think John Hartley and others make very valid points. You are perfectly entitled to state an opinion, and you often make very worthwhile points, but I don’t think it’s necessary to be rude. We need to be a class act at Think Defence.

Observer
Observer
August 6, 2013 1:07 pm

Oh for the days of good ole hollow point :)

Hey, at least that will solve the lethality problem.

The problem with the 5.56 is that the round as it is currently is specialised against a type of opponent and via a concept we don’t currently favour, that being enemies with body armour and wounding to consume enemy resources in a large scale war.

Inversely, there isn’t a “standard” manufacturing template for 5.56, which results in different performances from ammo by different manufacturers. I think the UK 5.56 does have a hollow section for balance purposes, not for damage. A lot of this problems attributed might be alleviated by tweaks to the 5.56 ammo design itself, maybe a more energetic propellent, or a fragible core instead of the current steel penetrator. A precut core of lead with a copper sabot casing might help with the lethality issue or maybe a multi-penetrator approach?

Anyway, long story short, there are methods to address the problems of the 5.56 without needing to scrap the entire small arms system of most of the armies of the world, especially in a time of budget cuts and project uncertainty. If the problem can be solved by changing the ammo only, there is no need to change the ammo AND the ARs and SAWs as well. Do you really want an SA80 part 2? And since you need a new SAW as well, SA80 part 3 simultanously?

x
x
August 6, 2013 2:09 pm

@ Observer

Further up the page more effective 5.56 natures have already been mentioned.

I am always surprised how much thump the 30-30 has using LRN bullets; the 30-30 has similar ballistics to the 7.62×39. Velocity may carry the round, but if it is pushing something too aerodynamic all that will happen is the target will cleave cleanly. The LRN hits like a ball pein hammer dumping energy across its whole surface quickly.

While suppression is more important than marksmanship because that is what is most effective then rounds will count more than wound damage.

All good fun.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 6, 2013 2:39 pm

– Yes, I keep coming back to the CBJ round (and PDW). If, and that’s a big IF, it does all it says then you can have a weapon that performs the roles of sub machine gun, assault rifle and light machine gun which is only slightly bigger than a pistol. The size and weight of the ammo is a major selling point:

http://www.cbjtech.com/filer/Magazine-pouches.jpg

http://www.cbjtech.com/filer/6.5×25-CBJ-weight-chart.jpg

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 6, 2013 6:58 pm

@ Monty,

“If we adopted the 6.5 mm Grendel tomorrow, we would have a calibre that was infinitely more capable than 5.56 mm in the same weapon and with a battle effectiveness commensurate with 7.62 mm NATO”

— One question; how do you know this? How do you know that a round that is just under 1mm thicker than the one it replaces would suddenly become “infinitely more capable”? What do you mean by a “battle effectiveness commensurate with 7.62”? (presumably the inability to fire multiple rounds in quick succession at the same target?). Other than a bunch of range energy readings, what actual proof is there that the 6.5 will provide this leap and bound over the 5.56?

Phil
August 6, 2013 7:01 pm

@ Monty re: Yon
It isn’t clear whether this was because what he said was a downright lie or an inconvenient truth.

I doubt very much it was a lie. I liked Yons writing. But it’s not the whole story. My first tour saw me spend time in the ED in the Bastion Field Hospital (Role 2 Enhanced to the medic types!) and we had loads of through and through GSWs from 7.62 (Afghans fighting amongst themselves or collaterals). We had one chap shot three times with a 7.62, including right through his face and all he had was flesh wounds – we know it was 7.62 because the Taliban did a drive by on him. I also treated a 7-9 yr old girl who took a 7.62 to the wrist and it was sore, but she had a wrist it didn’t do any McNab style shoulder blowing off. I’ve seen a lot of 7.62 GSWs where the entry and exit wounds have been missed because they look like a flap of skin or a cut. The guy shot through the face – the GSW was missed for an hour or so!

Lethality depends on hitting something important in an aggressive enemy (rabid dog isn’t going to drop until you paralyse it, blow its brains out or bleed it out which will take at least a few seconds). Hit bone or spine or a major blood vessel and they will die, but it still might take a few seconds for their brain to stop being perfused and for them to nod off. Aggressive enemies are rarely stopped by anything less than hitting something important. In the ambush I mention a few posts ago the 4 WIA were kit by 7.62 – one of them had entry and exit wounds in places which left you in no doubt the bullet had done all over the shop inside him – but he’s still around (albeit fucked) and he could return fire when hit. The lad who died I believe the Coroners report showed the round hit his aorta – there was nothing to be done. If a 5.56 opens your aorta there is also nothing to be done.

If the enemy is aggressive you’ve GOT to hit something important as through and throughs won’t stop them and it’s surprising how many blokes get what I used to call Bruce Willis wounds – shot multiple times but actually still doing a good job of functioning!

So I really think lethality is largely down to the wrong expectations. People won’t just drop if they want to tear your throat out unless you hit something important. And the difference between 7.62 and 5.56 holes when you do hit something important I argue is no difference at all.

So I have no doubt Yon saw what he saw. But if he had stayed around long enough he’d have seen similar things with 7.62 from ISAF blokes and ANA and Afghan nationals.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 6, 2013 7:03 pm

Monty,

I’m not trying to be rude – although I certainly concede that I may appear so, and if that is the case, I do apologise. I am merely trying to get people to look at the big picture. I might not have been an infantryman, but I do have 20 years of service under my belt, and I have used in operational deployments SLR, Browning, SMG, FAMAS, SA80 L85A1 and shot with a couple of others (M16 and AK47).

The point is, the difference in qualities between calibres is greatly outweighed by a million other variables that are nothing to do with the weapon, at least when talking about normal engagement distances for that weapon. Clearly, an SLR will greatly overmatch a pistol at 600 yards, but I don’t think we’re trying to compare that.

And given these million other variables, I think talk of changing calibres is pretty much dancing on the head of a pin. That said, if a DSTL scientist did some exhaustive comparison and declared 6.XYZ to be ideal, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, especially if everyone else in NATO took the conclusions and we all moved together. They’re just bloody numbers, it’s the effect on OPFOR that matters.

Interesting that you had a poor experience of the SLR. I was never more accurate*** than with an SLR, and the length and heft were right for my arms. The recoil is only minor – I can’t see why that would be a problem for a grown man. I’d happily have toted one in the first Gulf, Bosnia, and Kosovo over the SMG, Browning and SA80 that I was issued with instead. Horses for courses, I suppose. But the SMG did me well enough in the first Gulf, being short enough to wield in a trench, and the Browning proved adequate in dissuading Mladic’s bodyguard when he got too close to the Force Commander, and the SA80 in Kosovo at least looked the part, even if I did not have to actually fire it.

*** Also subjective. There’s little point in drilling holes in the same one inch square in a 5 round semi-automatic burst if you are trying to achieve an effect of suppression.

Phil
August 6, 2013 7:08 pm

Phil – wouldn’t the 7.62mm Minimi variant or lightened GPMG have a role even in rapid armour manoeuvre / urban scenarios – if that’s what your driving when you mean a conventional fight ? Not that a full length barrel 5.56 Minimi with SOST or M885 (?) Rounds wouldn’t do the job.

Sorry I wasn’t clear – I meant in addition to the ordinary GPMGs and LMGs. If you can make the GPMG lighter then it certainly has a place in conventional fighting.

The thing is with the GPMG though is that it has to be a beast to some extent – it has to take the brunt of enormous forces and it needs to be able to get kicked about and knocked about and it needs to be able to endure jams being cleared through brute force. So I think it is more important for a GPMG to be solid and robust than light.

Monty
August 6, 2013 9:34 pm

,

Thank you for that. Very insightful. As someone who comes from a long line of soldiers and surgeons, I’ve studied small arms lethality for some time. In particular, I’ve read much of Martin Fackler’s research in this area. His gel tests do much to support what you say. While 5.56 mm through-and-through wounds are frequently cited as an issue with smaller calibres one forgets that 7.62 mm suffers from exactly the same problems – in fact, it is much less likely to tumble / yaw than 5.56 mm.

Obviously, the ideal result with any GSW is to rapid incapacitate a target, i.e. render an enemy combatant incapable of further offensive action. That happens with just about any calibre if you hit the central nervous system (head and upper spine), sever the aorta or pierce the heart directly.

More often than not, however, a bullet will strike a non-vital organ. When it does so, it will immediately cause loss of blood. The faster the rate of blood loss, the sooner a human target will be incapacitated through a lack of oxygen to the brain. To maximise rapid loss of blood, you need to make a large hole. Having spoken to a couple of trauma surgeons about the wounding effect of bullets, the general consensus is that the larger the projectile, the larger the wound. Of course, wound ballistics is an imperfect science. In some situations a 5.56 mm round will kill someone when a 7.62 mm round does not. But, to generalise, the larger the caliber and mass of a projectile, the greater the probability will be that it will inflict more damage. Basically: bigger = better.

There’s also a big difference between 7.62 x 51 mm NATO and 7.62 x 39 mm Russian (as used in Kalashnikov AKMs). The sheer amount of energy in a 7.62 mm bullet means that it tends to incapacitate more often and more effectively than 5.56 mm NATO.

According to my own understanding of small arms lethality, the real problem governing ammunition choice is not what a small projectile does when it penetrates a target, but its ability to actually hit a target at longer ranges. According to the MoD, the effective range of 5.56 mm is 300 metres. That said, it is possible to hit targets as far as 800 metres assuming no wind, no stress and an excellent shooting ability.

Afghanistan has produced an evolved requirement to hit targets at longer ranges. Sharpshooters with 7.62 mm L129A1 rifles showed that they could hit Terry T. at 600 m – no problem, with better shots doing so at 800 m. Fit an ACOG to a 7.62 mm GPMG and you can also deliver accurate fire to 800 m. The real advantage of accurate fire to 800 m is the ability to suppress (pin down) an enemy while you manoeuvre into an assault position on his flanks. You cannot do this with 5.56 mm NATO.

Monty
August 6, 2013 10:06 pm

B.

How do I know 6.5 mm Grendel would be better than 5.56 mm? How do I know that a round that is just under 1mm thicker than the one it replaces would suddenly become “infinitely more capable”? What do I mean by a “battle effectiveness commensurate with 7.62″? (presumably the inability to fire multiple rounds in quick succession at the same target?). Other than a bunch of range energy readings, what actual proof is there that the 6.5 will provide this leap and bound over the 5.56?

The weight of a 6.5 mm Grendel bullet is 8 grams versus 7.62 mm NATO which is 9.5 grams. Essentially, the two bullets are similar in overall size and mass. Where they differ is in aerodynamic efficiency. The more streamlined Grendel bullet loses velocity and energy much less quickly than 7.62 mm, so that it catches-up the larger calibre by about 400-500 metres. This means that it needs less energy to fly as far and as fast as 7.62 mm NATO.

However, calibre is merely one factor. Bullet design (length and shape), bullet construction (materials, centre of gravity), and bullet energy (mass and velocity) also influence performance. As a carefully designed combination of these elements, the sleek Grendel bullet has a flatter trajectory, less drop, a faster time of flight and is less prone to wind drift. This makes it more accurate and with less recoil, so that it easier to shoot well. Automatic fire is also easier to control. These are all great benefits.

With the Grendel, you effectively have an improved 7.62 mm round which can be packaged in a much lighter cartridge. Given that it will have comparable energy to 7.62 mm, it will have a similar lethal effect. The point is, if you can develop a Grendel-like round that weighs substantially less than 7.62 mm, it could also replace 5.56 mm.

All of these properties are not fiction, they have been well research by the UK MoD no less. The UK tried to adopt a 7 mm round in 1949 and then we tried again in 1971 with a 6.25 mm round. The first time, the US insisted that we adopt 7.62 mm. The second time they insisted we adopt 5.56 mm.

We won’t change calibres unless the US does so first. But the increased re-adoption of 7.62 mm weapons across NATO, is creating a dual calibre fleet of weapons. This is expensive in terms of weapons, training, and logistics.

I am not advocating that anyone adopts the Grendel. As is, its a civilian hunting round, not a military spec bullet. But it is a very good start point for an Army considering the next generation.

Nor am I advocating a single universal calibre. We still need other calibres for specialist roles, e.g. PDWs and Sniping. But infantry sections – the basic unit of military currency need small arms that offer maximum flexibility at long range and at short range across a variety of engagement types. We don’t have that at the moment.

If you really want proof of what I say, go and hunt Roe deer with 5.56 mm, 6.5 Grendel and 7.62 mm. I guarantee you’ll hit more deer with the 6.5 mm than either of the other tow calibres.

wf
wf
August 6, 2013 10:40 pm

.B : I think what Monty was referring to was the way 6.5mm Grendel maintains velocity at long range better than even 7.62 NATO. Not necessarily the be all, but a round still supersonic at 1000m has the potential to be effective and accurate at that range.

The point with moving to 6.5 is not that it’s vastly more effective than 5.56 at 5m, or 200m. But it’s going to be be far more effective at 600m, while weighing a lot less than 7.62.

It’s something to be considered if we’re about to buy a whole load of new small arms because the old lot have worn out anyway

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 6, 2013 11:14 pm

@ Monty,
“As a carefully designed combination of these elements, the sleek Grendel bullet has a flatter trajectory, less drop, a faster time of flight and is less prone to wind drift. This makes it more accurate and with less recoil, so that it easier to shoot well. Automatic fire is also easier to control. These are all great benefits”
— How much flatter, than both? How much faster than both? How much less prone to wind drift? Enough to really make it worthwhile over the most common distances? A Grendel may be easier to control than a 7.62, but is it easier to control than the current 5.56?

“Given that it will have comparable energy to 7.62 mm, it will have a similar lethal effect”,
— No, it won’t.

As Phil pointed out earlier, as the two of us have been banging on for months (years?) now, as medical experts have been trying to ram through the thick skulls of many people who get involved in calibre debates for the last twenty or more years, lethality of the round is primarily tied to what it hits. I could shoot you in the foot at point blank range with a 0.5 cal round out of an M2 and I’d rate your chances of survival (providing medical assisstance was on hand) to be very high. On the other hand, if I shoot you in the head from 30 feet with a .17HMR then I suspect there will be little that the medics can do for you.

You need to detach from this idea that energy = lethality. Thanks to the many, many unfortunate victims of gun shot wounds over the years, we know for a fact that terminal energy has little to do with the likelhood of causing a fatal wound.

“But infantry sections – the basic unit of military currency – need small arms that offer maximum flexibility at long range and at short range across a variety of engagement types. We don’t have that at the moment”
— Thanks to the sacrifice of literally millions and millions of men over the years, across almost all continents, from deserts and jungles to mountains and cities, we know that that’s not true. The Infantry primarily does most of its work at much shorter ranges, hence why the assault rifle has become the primary weapon of armies all across the world.

Infantry sections need certain tools to help them in specific scenarios, which is why they retain bayonets, grenades, the LMG, the odd shotgun, anti-tank weapon and DMR. But the bulk of their work, even today, is done at ranges below the effective range of the 5.56.

“If you really want proof of what I say, go and hunt Roe deer with 5.56 mm, 6.5 Grendel and 7.62 mm. I guarantee you’ll hit more deer with the 6.5 mm than either of the other tow calibres.”
— But the British army isn’t hunting roe deer, that’s the point. If you want to pick out a round and weapon combination for people like Snipers, go ahead. Knock yourself out. The Infantry section has a wider array of concerns, like suppression etc.

Observer
Observer
August 6, 2013 11:56 pm

Well, if you guys want a calibre change, you better get your consortium together fast, it takes time to redesign a whole family of replacement firearms, and if you started now, you might get it in service in 2030, assuming the budget for it.

Personally, I would try to keep the US out of it, not because of any project failure history, but to retain them as the market for all the surplus rounds :). Sure, you lose ammo commonality with them, but if you are so willing to go to a non-STANAG calibre, you are already heading in that direction anyhow.

Or we can just get 5.56 DMR ammo instead.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 7, 2013 12:50 am

On a slightly different tack, when was the last time we actually needed to swap ammunition about with NATO allies?

Not been in AFG, but both Gulfs, Kosovo, Bosnia, even N’orn Iron…..didn’t happen. So how much is this much vaunted NATO interoperability actually worth? Even beyond rifle calibres, to the heavy ordnance?

Or in other words, if Italy plumped for 5.123, and Germany for 6.321, and the UK for 8.987, the Norwegians for 7.654, is it the end of the world?

I am beginning to think that the real factor is that the Americans are driving the NATO bus, and their domestic civilian market is allowed to buy AR-style rifles at levels far in excess of what non-US NATO militaries do on an annual basis. And, God is a Republican and owns an AR which fires 5.56 (or.223 or whatever they still call it)

Jeremy M H
August 7, 2013 2:44 am

@RT

I don’t think there is anything very sinister about it. The fact of the matter is it likely was important back during the Cold War and might not be as much so now but most people are not going to change it. The side benefit for a lot of NATO powers is that they can, in a pinch, buy large amounts of ready stock ammunition from the US military who is going to have a lot on hand particularly if you scale what the US would have on hand against the needs of say Belgium.

There are a bunch more benefits that come from buying from the same ammunition and weapons pools. It gives you a lot of pricing leverage even if you buy ammunition made at home because you can always threaten to buy from the lowest bidder somewhere else. It increases the pool of weapons you can choose from that fire the same ammunition you already use giving you leverage there.

In the end, regardless of the benefits of whatever new wonder round people want to sell, they probably don’t make a compelling enough case to incur the changeover expense involved. Someone might change eventually but I would guess NATO would pretty much all switch to the same round for the most part just to retain the flexibility they have now.

Observer
Observer
August 7, 2013 3:29 am

“I don’t think there is anything very sinister about it. ”

But where’s the fun in that? :)

Anyway RT, you saw my question on the ease of identifying “dead” tanks?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 7, 2013 3:58 am

@ Jeremy MH,

come on, how often do we swap over our weapons? About once every 40 years, so price leverage has little to do with it. And the cost per round is nothing significant when we can afford to chuck away money on QEC and F-35*, and indeed an entire RAF Regiment.

@ Observer. Dead tanks? I’m not an expert. The ones I saw had catastrophic explosions, turrets flying into the air and so on. I might have been lax in my drills, but once you’ve seen a T-62 turret flying into the air and coming down to rest 50 metres away it’s a fairly safe assumption that the occupants are no longer in an aggressive mood. If indeed still breathing.

We did kill a Chinese type T-59 in Iraq with a pair of Scimitar, one being towed by the other and connected by a pair of Olly bones. Both turrets traversed off half right, and giving it welly-o with the Rardens. Seemed like a battleship engagement, particularly as the Squadron Leader was bellowing orders onto the Squadron net, like the Captain of something in the Andrew. Took about 60 rounds between them, but eventually the thing exploded (drilled through the side armour). Bet the Iraqi crew hadn’t thought of that as an outcome.

Observer
Observer
August 7, 2013 4:49 am

Thanks RT, I’ll take that as practical experience that IDing “dead” tanks will not be a problem. Unless you really need glasses that is.

“Is that a turret? Or a bird?” :)

wf
wf
August 7, 2013 7:16 am

@RT: we were begging the Belgians and Germans for 155mm artillery ammunition in GW1 if memory serves.

Monty
August 7, 2013 2:29 pm

B.

I don’t think you’re a troll, but I haven’t yet ruled out this possibility! Perhaps you could enlighten me as to your background so I can construct my arguments in a way that you will understand? I’ve tried to make a number of over-riding points which you seem to have ignored:

(1) Infantry engagements DO take place at ranges beyond 200 metres. There is a massive amount of empirical data produced by the MoD that substantiates this. But this is not only a British Army phenomenon; the US, France, Germany, New Zealand and Australia have all documented longer engagement ranges creating a consensus that 300 metres is no longer a practical limit as was previously thought. If we don’t agree about this, then there’s no point debating it further.

(2) While most of the killing with small arms is still done at shorter ranges, small arms are still required to perform the essential function of suppression, which usually takes place at much longer ranges. For suppression to be effective, fire must be accurate – and it must reach the enemy’s position. The real problem with 5.56 mm is not lethality, but the fact that its 4 gram bullet is prone to wind drift. The way in which the bullet responds to wind deflection as it loses energy is extremely hard to predict making accurate long range shooting so challenging. Net. net. We have a real problem hitting targets with 5.56 mm ammunition beyond 300 metres.

(3) We have enemies that are deliberately engaging our troops at longer ranges with large calibre weapons because they know our 5.56 mm weapons will not reach out beyond 300 metres. It’s why we have re-adopted 7.62 mm weapons at Section level., in case you hadn’t noticed. The learning beyond Afghanistan is that if you deploy troops equipped with only 5.56 mm weapons, they will be overmatched. Period.

(4) Re-adopting 7.62 mm weapons is all very well., but even though they deliver reliable long-range lethality, they impose an increased weight burden and have greater recoil – which is why 5.56 mm substituted this calibre. Any bullet of approximately the same mass, velocity an energy as a 7.62 mm NATO round, which is more aerodynamically efficient (by being slightly longer and slimmer) will need less initial momentum to reach out to the same range, get there sooner, be less affected by wind drift, and have less recoil. This is simply the laws of physics. Any online ballistics calculator will show you this. The 6.5 Grendel is merely an example of this.

(5) While lethality with 5.56 mm is reportedly inconsistent (leading to the US, UK and other nations to develop improved 5.56 mm loadings), I wholeheartedly agree that shot placement, i.e. where you hit the target, matters. Unfortunately, head shots beyond 25 metres are difficult to achieve when you’re stressed. If you look at UK small arms casualty figures form Afghanistan, many if not most fatalities were caused not by the initial hit, but by subsequent loss of blood. Rate of blood loss is directly proportional to the size of the wound. A bullet with more energy and that is more capable of transferring that energy into the target will be more likely to inflict lethal damage. That’s the law of physics too. So if the bullet doesn’t hit the CNS or other vital organ, the size of the wound is still a relevant factor. Remember also, that the size of GSW is not merely dictated by the diameter of the bullet, but by the larger cavity it creates as it passes through, irrespective of whether it yaws to regain stability.

Shooting Roe deer is clearly not analogous to shooting humans, but any caliber’s performance relative to another can be demonstrated by real world shooting. The 6.5 mm Grendel is a good round, but so also are the 6.5 x 47 mm Lapua, .260 Remington, 6.5 mm Creedmoor, and 6.86 mm Murray – all recent examples of cartridges that offer better performance than 7.62 mm NATO in a smaller, lighter package.

Finally, if you produce a 7.62 mm ammunition replacement that is 25-30% lighter, then you probably don’t need 5.56 mm any more, although you might wish to keep it for PDW applications.

Observer
Observer
August 7, 2013 4:14 pm

Actually, I think the biggest problem with ammo is not the weight, it is the space it occupies. A magazine for 7.62 only carries 20 rounds compared with a 30 round 5.56 magazine, and there is a practical limit into how many magazines you can drape across your body. Even assuming that the reduction in magazine space is only half of the 30% a 7.62 has, it is still 23 rounds for 30. At a 120 5.56 round per contact rate assumption, that is a reduction of 28 rounds. Literally one less magazine.

Monty, yawing causes a bigger cavity, which makes yawing very relevant to effects on target.

Unlike Phil, I have only seen one 5.56 GSW before and it was impressive, the round hit the right thigh and had a small puckered entry wound. The exit wound was palm sized and had an excavation depth of 1 cm at the deepest point sloping to skin level at the edges. It was post recovery, so the entire area was blackish, looked like a huge bruise if not for the fact that it was a crater into the leg. If anyone got hit in the chest with that, I won’t be surprised if he had organs leaking out his back with a hole that big.

Monty
August 7, 2013 4:45 pm

Observer,

I agree with everything you say. I didn’t discuss yawing in more detail because British 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm is not particularly good at it. It is not easy to get any calibre to yaw reliably and consistently; however, small calibres tend to rely more on yaw performance than large ones. A 5.56 mm round that yaws can inflict more severe injuries than a 7.62 mm round that doesn’t.

Phil
August 7, 2013 5:33 pm

More often than not, however, a bullet will strike a non-vital organ. When it does so, it will immediately cause loss of blood. The faster the rate of blood loss, the sooner a human target will be incapacitated through a lack of oxygen to the brain. To maximise rapid loss of blood, you need to make a large hole. Having spoken to a couple of trauma surgeons about the wounding effect of bullets, the general consensus is that the larger the projectile, the larger the wound

Well yes I agree the bigger the metal thing shot through your body the better from a killing perspective. But we’re talking about minute differences when it comes to small arms – truly minute. A .50 round is clearly far more likely to send you into the next kingdom than a .22 but anything between 5.56 and 7.62 is utterly trivial.

Basically: bigger = better.

It can’t be denied but as I said it has to be a whole LOT bigger. The range of calibres at small arms level is such a tiny range (I know there are many different flavours etc but the bullets themselves are almost identically sized) that the whole debate seems moot. Now, the catridge as a whole makes a bigger difference in terms of weight. So we have a bullet that barely differs from a 5.56 in all necessary respects on the battlefield but which weighs more and so has a negative effect on the ability of infantrymen to carry out a primary mission – suppress.

That said, it is possible to hit targets as far as 800 metres assuming no wind, no stress and an excellent shooting ability.

I would say the bullet is the least of the problems. Aquiring and hitting a target at those ranges is just not in the envelope of tasks your average infanteer should be expected to perform. It takes either a talented individual or more likely a more intensely trained individual with a better sight to regularly do that. In conventional combat such depth positions would usually be the attention of the GPMG or mortars or artillery but you can’t use those accurately in Afghanistan nor do the ROEs (or common sense) allow you to – so the envelope increases for the infantry – they need to reach out and touch someone at those ranges because their usual remedies are not workable or useful. Hence the DMR and 7.62 LMGs.

The real advantage of accurate fire to 800 m is the ability to suppress (pin down) an enemy while you manoeuvre into an assault position on his flanks. You cannot do this with 5.56 mm NATO.

You’re taking extreme missions and arguing for changes. In a conventional conflict such a depth position is going to be the subject of Bn+ weapon systems or be screened with smoke. Or you can use the GPMG which as you say is partly what it is for – suppressing depth positions whilst the infantry suppress the close quarters ones with its own personal weapons.

5.56 considering the real practical needs of the infantry seems a more than adequate round. I am sure that some efficiencies in some indicators could be had with a different calibre from an engineering stand point but for the blokes on the ground better sights and loads of ammunition is going to get the job done – even if we all would love to be issued the DMR and feel like a bastard.

Phil
August 7, 2013 5:37 pm

Rate of blood loss is directly proportional to the size of the wound

To be pedantic there is no definitive relationship at all. Wounds can tamponade, or very small wounds (small arms size) can clot rapidly.

I think we need to clarify that the debate is taking place within the context of the range of small arms calibres – basically .22 or 4.85 up to something like 7.92mm. Obviously if you get smashed in the grid with a 12.7mm bullet you’re far more likely to bleed more.

x
x
August 7, 2013 6:10 pm

Monty said “6.5 mm Creedmoor”

I haven’t given out many house points or gold stars this week but you can have one for mentioning that round.

Anyway I see your Creedmoor and raise you a 6.5×55 Swedish……..

………an oldy but a goody.

Phil
August 7, 2013 6:44 pm

You’re only going to reduce weight by having a smaller cartridge. Which restricts the effective range of the Platoon in many ways.

We all agree we need to reach out and touch someone (or at least something around and nearby) at ranges from 50-800 metres. So if you rationalise the ammunition natures you either (a) go lighter and reduce overall effectiveness or (b) go heavier and dramatically increase the weights and reduce mission effectiveness.

In environments like Afghanistan having a number of different types of ammo in a patrol has not in practise proved troublesome or unsustainable – especially since the more specialised natures like the DMR ammo is not consumed as fast.

In a conventional war it is likely to be more of a problem but then the mission for the DMR is going to change or be moved from the Platoon so you drop weight by rationalising the firearms.

I think we can’t get away from the fact that the Platoon needs three types of weapons: the individual weapon for engagements at 50-300 metres; the section level LMG/LSW solution for up to 600m and the platoon level weapon to suppress depth positions beyond 600 metres. These are all well established battlefield roles and I don’t think you can get one weapon to do all of them. So you’d need one calibre – which as I argue above is just as bad of a compromise.

If we need to save weight it must be done in the weapons themselves and in their ancillaries (the magpul magazines made a hell of a difference).

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 7, 2013 9:41 pm

Right, lets see what abuse I get this time.
Would it not be a good idea for NATO HQ to find a military base/range willing to host a small arms fact finding gathering? Invite NATO militaries, gun/ammo manufacturers, defence research bodies. Bring whatever they are working on. Might be improved versions of existing 5,56 & 7.62, or 6 to 7mm intermediate rounds. A look at old military calibres such as .30-06 & 7.92. Plus of course the rifles/LMGs/GPMGs & any thoughts on new materials. I do not expect a new wonder gun/cartridge to be chosen there, but it would help co-ordinate thoughts & common aims.
I am not going to claim I have tested every gun/cartridge under the sun, but as a starting point, I think it unlikely there will be “one cartridge to rule them all”, so we are probably looking at something similar to 5.56 & 7.62, but improved, so 6×47 & 7,92, would be where I would start looking at the moment. 6×47 has existed for over 40 years & 7.92 for over 100, so neither is fantasy vapourware.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 7, 2013 9:49 pm

As a raving civilian, I am expecting abuse for this as well, but when I lug heavy loads about, I try to use a sack truck. Looking at the troops on patrol walking up dirt tracks in Afghanistan, at high temperatures, with heavy backpacks, what about a light folding sack truck that could take the backpack & be pushed along by the soldier? Better the sack truck sets off an IED than some guy’s foot.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 7, 2013 10:08 pm

John,

not much concrete about where infantrymen go, and even an “off-road” sack truck isn’t really that good.

When I take a wheel-barrowload of garden cuttings to the compost heap, I tend to concentrate on looking down to make sure I don’t tip it over, but I have that luxury because I’m not actively being sniped at from a hedge line 600 metres away. In addition, if someone was to suddenly start shooting, my weapon would be in my hands, not slung about my neck while I pushed the trolley.

Google up Boston Dynamics Big Dog and look at the video. If not that, something along those lines is eventually where we’ll get to. Until then, there are other interim solutions, such as quads.

We used to have our bergens delivered by helicopter on 5 day patrols in Fermanagh, and patrol with only 2 water bottles, and magazines and biscuits shoved into pockets which was good enough for at least 24 hours. We’d receive the bergens normally tossed out of the back of a hovering Lynx just after dark with some fresh radio batteries, then patrol on another mile or so to lie up in a wood, then 8-12 hours later meet the Lynx again and shove them back in along with dead batteries, and push off for another 12-18 hours of patrolling. Of course, that works if you’ve got helicopters.

Chris.B
Chris.B
August 7, 2013 10:55 pm

@ Monty,

“I don’t think you’re a troll, but I haven’t yet ruled out this possibility!”
— I’m trying to help you out.

“I’ve tried to make a number of over-riding points which you seem to have ignored: “
— I’ve previously addressed each one in turn (as I’ll do here). The fact that you dislike the answers doesn’t change the fact that I’m trying to explain each point to you, using things like facts, evidence and medical reality.

“(1) Infantry engagements DO take place at ranges beyond 200 metres. There is a massive amount of empirical data produced by the MoD that substantiates this.”
— Nobody (at least that I’ve seen) rejects that engagements take place across a spectrum of ranges, from very close (5-10m) all the way out to a km or more. But even in Afghanistan the bulk (e.g. the majority) of the engagements encountered by infantry units from across ISAF are taking place at ranges of less than 300m. A significant number are taking place at ranges sub-100m, normally in the form of ambushes. This is in line with the experience of modern warfare stretching all the way back to the first world war.

The shorter range engagements tend (generally speaking) to be more dangerous than the longer range engagements, due to the greater accuracy of fire at shorter ranges. This, coupled with their greater frequency, is one of the prime reasons that world wide firearms have shifted away from large calibre, full power, full length rifles, towards shorter, lower powered weapons, while still retaining the means to engage targets at greater ranges (medium/heavy machine guns, mortars, sniper rifles).

“(2) While most of the killing with small arms is still done at shorter ranges, small arms are still required to perform the essential function of suppression, which usually takes place at much longer ranges”
— Which is why each four man team has a LMG. And why sections are trained (last time I checked) to suppress targets out to ranges in excess of 600m with their combined fire, which they should be able to perform more than adequately with weapons like the SA-80. Decent suppression is yet another reason why a round like 5.56 is seen as desirable, because they can be fired a little more liberally than larger rounds, and the drift of the aim point between shots is reduced with a lower recoil round.

“(3) We have enemies that are deliberately engaging our troops at longer ranges with large calibre weapons because they know our 5.56 mm weapons will not reach out beyond 300 metres.”
— Apology’s for the language, but this bit is complete bollocks. I even showed you why it was bollocks earlier, but I guess we’ll go through it again. Number one, you seem to have this bizarre idea that the insurgents have access to some kind of gun store where all the worlds arms manufacturers are lining up to offer them their wares and where the insurgents went and said “yes, we’ll have that one, because ISAF can’t respond to it”. They don’t. Their selection is limited to whatever they can get their hands on and get into the country.

Number two, 5.56 weapons will reach out to well beyond 300m. Number three, the bulk of the weapons carried by the insurgents still appear to be the AK-47 and variants. Number four, the bulk of the engagements are still taking place at ranges under 300m. Number five, ISAF has everything from shotguns to 2,000lb JDAMS, and almost all ISAF units have the ability to call this firepower in. I suspect the insurgents are under no real illusion that there is anywhere “safe” from which they can engage ISAF.

“The learning beyond Afghanistan is that if you deploy troops equipped with only 5.56 mm weapons, they will be overmatched”
— Here we are again, Overmatched? By whom? That’s just a bollocks phrase you’ve conjured out of your arse to wave away having to deal with the facts. How many times do British Forces get deployed without a variety of infantry support weapons, artillery support and air support? What they’ve learned is that having a small number of DMRs/snipers on hand, with a longer barrel and heavier round than the standard infantry weapon is useful for those engagements that fall into its category. The fact that the reverse hasn’t happened (the whole section switched back to the SLR, with a few men carrying SMGs) is a testament to both history and the reality of what’s being faced.

As for 4, nobody has disagreed with that, not that I’ve seen. You’re missing the point though. In order to chuck away all our 7.62 weapons, stored rounds, and the leverage achieved by having lots of manufacturers and users of that calbre, then you need to achieve a significant leap forward in performance. A 0.5 second difference to reach a target a 800m or whatever is not sufficient cause to throw out all the old stuff and sign up for the new vunder veapon.

“(5) While lethality with 5.56 mm is reportedly inconsistent (leading to the US, UK and other nations to develop improved 5.56 mm loadings),”
— It’s odd that you bring this up, because other than in the papers and a few online spots, “lethality” doesn’t seem to show up much. There was a confidential study done for example of the US army about weapons and equipment in Iraq. The soldiers rated the 5.56 as being perfectly adequate. But what makes this line of yours so annoying is that in the very next sentence you then went on to say that you agree that shot placement matters, seemingly without understanding the correlation between shot placement and “lethality”.

The major issues that have previously been identified globally with “stopping power” and “lethality” are 1) unrealistic expectations based on a lack of understanding of what actually stops/kills people (which Phil brought up earlier on), and 2) the unreliability of personnel testimony vs what actually happened.

Point one has been covered before. Suffice to say that people have wildly unrealistic opinions about what stopping power and lethality should be, that tend to ignore basic medical knowledge. If you’re interested, pick up a copy of Fairbairn and Sykes’s old book “Shooting to live”. They were responsible for organising and running the firearms and self defence training for the Shanghai Police during the 1920’s and 30’s (back when Shanghai made Al Capone’s Chicago look like a toy town by comparison).

They were quite methodical about their methods, including the requirement for detailed reports of every shooting incident. They treated the stopping power segment of their book almost with disdain, making the point that there is no bullet that they had seen that could be said to be “right”, and that other factors were far more important. They recount two stories, where police officers engaged targets with .45 calibre handguns at ranges of less than 10 feet, and were later found to have scored four and five hits respectively, yet the criminals in question still had to be wrestled to the ground. Conversely, the only (only) “one shot stop” they had on their books was from a Webley revolver that hit the target in the spine.

Their conclusion was essentially that if you’re searching for a round that will one stop everytime, then you’re going to spend the rest of your life disappointed. If you want to kill someone, you need to hit them as many times as you possibly can, in vital areas of the body. Something that has been shown to be true repeatedly, time after time, year after year, incident after incident, and which people like you still seem to refuse to accept, despite the absolute mountain of medical evidence that exists to support this.

On point 2 (“the unreliability of personnel testimony vs what actually happened”) you have to be very cautious about verbal evidence. Considering that the hole from a 5.56 round would – for all intents and purposes – be invisible to the naked eye beyond about 25 yards, it’s very difficult to tally peoples claims about how many times they hit a target with how many times they genuinely hit. A classic example, though not quite in the same sphere, is the claims made by pilots on all sides of world war 2, against enemy aircraft, tanks, vehicles etc. These are absolutely notorious for claims that proved to be wildly inaccurate, at times in excess of the material that the other side actually had available, let alone had been shot down.

When you’re standing behind a rifle, with the associated blast and muzzle flash, hand on heart how accurately do you think that person can judge how many times they hit the target? How accurately can they place the moment when, medically speaking, the person was “stopped” and thus discard additional rounds that hit the target after this point as being unneccessary?

“Unfortunately, head shots beyond 25 metres are difficult to achieve when you’re stressed. If you look at UK small arms casualty figures form Afghanistan, many if not most fatalities were caused not by the initial hit, but by subsequent loss of blood”
— Not just UK forces. This is a worldwide war and non-war trend. The percentage of people killed out right by a single hit would likely be so small that the number of 0’s would need a comment box all of its own. This is good. We’re on the right track.

“Rate of blood loss is directly proportional to the size of the wound. A bullet with more energy and that is more capable of transferring that energy into the target will be more likely to inflict lethal damage. That’s the law of physics too”.
— And there we go off the track. Again, the above quoted paragraph is bollocks on so many different levels.

The rate of blood loss is related to a number of factors, prime among which is the level of blood perfusion at the affected site. I could blow an equally sized hole in your foot and your kidney, but the kidney wound would be much more problematic than the one in your foot. This can also be seen in knife wounds. Slashes with a knife often look horrendous, with much surface layer blood and sometimes very long, serious looking wounds. But ultimately these tend to be non-fatal, because the actual rate of blood loss is low. Stab wounds are much more problematic, despite being smaller and looking far less traumatic from the outside, because of the likelyhood of penetration catching a major blood vessel or organ.

The bit about energy transfer being more likely to inflict lethal wounds is complete bollocks, physics has nothing to do with it, yet the theory still persists to this day despite their being absolutely zero evidence what so ever to support it, factual, evidence based medical opinion having been discarded in favour of manufacturers claims. To reiterate this point for clarity; “energy transfer” has bugger all to do with wounding characteristics/lethality.

“So if the bullet doesn’t hit the CNS or other vital organ, the size of the wound is still a relevant factor. Remember also, that the size of GSW is not merely dictated by the diameter of the bullet, but by the larger cavity it creates as it passes through, irrespective of whether it yaws to regain stability. “
— Barely. The difference you’re talking about is milimetres in width, which will have an almost negligble impact between a 5.56 and a 6.whatever. Yawing is incredibly unreliable outside of lab testing and cavitation in animals/humans (aside from the path cut by the bullet) tends to be non-permanent (stretch and then return) and significantly less than that seen in blocks of ballistic gel.

“Shooting Roe deer is clearly not analogous to shooting humans, but any caliber’s performance relative to another can be demonstrated by real world shooting.”
— That depends what you mean by “performance”. You can measure the rounds velocity. You can measure its drop etc. If you mean wounding characteristics then no, not unless you put each round through exactly (and I do mean exactly) the same path in each deer. Alternatively to you can go out there and shoot the deer in the arse with a 6.5 while I ping it in the head with a .17HMR and my round is far more likely to kill than yours. That proves nothing about the rounds however. It also completely misses the point that soldiers use their weapons much differently than a hunter does. The deer don’t shoot back for a start.

“Finally, if you produce a 7.62 mm ammunition replacement that is 25-30% lighter, then you probably don’t need 5.56 mm any more”
— Yes you would, because it will still be heavier and you’d have less of them than a 5.56. Each soldier would still be carrying on average one less magazine (that’s 180 rounds over the 6 riflemen of a section, equivalent to the loss of a modern section member) plus attendent losses in belt fed ammunition, or added weight. You’ll experience less control in automatic/rapid semi-auto fire in the closer range domain where the bulk of the fighting takes place. You’ve significantly impacted on your suppression ability. And you’ve just paid for the fact that your rifles are non-common, as is your ammunition, both in upfront capital and long term support/training costs.

All so that your riflemen can fire a slightly flatter trajectory out to 600m.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 7, 2013 11:39 pm

I am not really qualified to comment being professionally trained to deploy 4.5, harpoon, sea wolf and dart but thanks to my keen attitude and bad luck have found myself in places sandier than my normal stomping ground on a few occasions :)
The first time I optoured the RN 5.56mm course was 2 days, the last time it was 2 weeks culminating in the trained soldier shoot. The reason other than us making an arse of ourselves was that engagement ranges were increasing and we should now be able to engage a target at 300M.
I have also deployed with an AKMS as my long weapon and a Bulgarian 9 feg Browning copy as my short. Only in country sourced weapons allowed ( we later discovered a few extra dollars bought glocks) nobody wanted to swap out their AKMS.
My much rambled point is that having spent time on the range with both an L85A2 and AKMS I know which I would rather have.
If we could improve 5.56 any weight gain would surely be offset by reducing the ridiculous weight of the rifle.

Jeremy M H
August 7, 2013 11:54 pm

@APATS

I don’t think it is fair to paint the 5.56 with many faults of the L85. In general I am a big believer of if it looks right it will work right and the L85 is no looker.

@RT

I agree the cost issue is not huge. But for good reason I don’t think battle rifles are high priority weapons all the time. Is the 5.56 good enough? Yeah, for the most part. Success or failure in most wars won’t be determined by having a 5.56 NATO rifle or an AK style round really. I don’t see how anyone can justify spending much money on switching calibers.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 8, 2013 12:29 am

@JMH

Fired the M4 on the range a few times but short range made it difficult to appreciate other than obvious weight difference . One thing for sure is that I would not have swapped my Sig for an M9.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 8, 2013 8:09 am

RT Even I am not saying all the time. In hot dusty times of year, I understand the ground can be as hard as concrete, so give the option of a lightweight folding trolley then, but I agree it would be useless during rainy season when the mud is at WW1 trench levels.

Radish
Radish
August 8, 2013 11:40 am

Having followed this for a number of days it has descended into the expected debate on the calibre replacement issue.
With so many differing views here it’s not surprising the powers that be wouldn’t be able to reach a conclusion as to what calibre to selected either.
As has been said the UK and many other countries have worn out weapons and need to replace them.
The decision is with what.
Time scales are against us and as has been said 2020-2025 isn’t far in real terms.
This article was about the upgrade of a specialist weapon which appears to be a small quantity.
The procurement program announced last year, MARS (modular assault rifle system) was once again a special weapon for delivery from 2014 for ten years conveniently taking it up to the expected replacement date for the SA80.
If MARS has been cancelled does this upgrade take the C8 up to 2024 and then what are we going to replace main infantry weapon with.
The MARS requirement is for 6 weapons to be evaluated but only 1 from each manufacturer.
So who is tendering and what with ? Here’s my list.
Surely H&K are in the running but what with is it the G36 or 416.
Got to be FN with the SCAR L
LMT as we like their 7.62.
The Beretta ARX 160 has some clever ambidextrous configurations.
Colt Canada with the C8
IWI with the TAVOR if you like bullpups.