Are U.S. Soldiers Dying From Inadequate Weapons?

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Mon, May 12 - 9:00 am EST | 4 years ago by
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    Lines of Departure

    It works, so let’s ignore it and maybe it will go away.

    “I will ignore all ideas for new works on engines of war, the invention of which has reached its limits and for whose improvement I see no further hope.”
    – Sextus Julius Frontinus

    Last week we looked a little at some of the history behind why we still have the inadequate M16 as our basic infantry rifle, more than 50 years after it was forced down the Army’s throat by Robert Strange McNamara. In today’s column, I want to take a look into the future, even if it’s a future that may only come to pass in some parallel universe.

    Like the Infantry School at Fort Benning, I used to think that small arms had pretty much topped out, technologically. Then, for a book, I did a little digging. Here are some improvements that exist now.

    1. A rifle firing a bullet of 6.5 to 6.8 millimeter in caliber. The ballistic difference, especially for the 6.5 (6.5 Grendel, say), is enormous, at some ranges being superior to 7.62 NATO, while still saving considerable weight over the 7.62. It completely outclasses the 5.56.

    2. Rapid burst fire. One of the reasons for the combustible casing in the (now canceled) German Army G11 was that it allowed for very rapid cycling, on the order of 2000 rounds per minute, which made burst fire a practical way to increase hit probability. Why is a high rate of fire needed? It’s needed because, with recoil — even from soft recoiling weapons like the M16 — the aim is driven off the target before the subsequent rounds fire. Suppressive value it may have. Close quarters combat value it may have. But increasing the probability of a hit at range it does not have.

    Conversely, with the G11, the last round would have left the barrel before the firer felt the first recoil. The Russians, with their AN-94 — which looks a lot like an AK, but isn’t — have managed to make burst fire effective using normal, cased ammunition. In any case, our existing burst fire mode is not effective to increase hit probability at range, because the M16/M4 family does not have a sufficiently high rate of fire.

    3. Carbon fiber and other innovative materials and production techniques. A hefty chunk of a rifle’s heft is in the barrel. There is a company, maybe more than one by now, that makes rifle barrels of very thin rifled steel wrapped in carbon fiber. Lightweight. Better cooling. Alleged to be more accurate. It may be too fragile for troop issue, but there are at least five other technologies being explored for better, lighter barrels.

    4. Electronic firing. Trigger control is probably the hardest thing to get right. Electronic ignition eliminates the sear, that part of the trigger mechanism that holds the hammer or striker back until enough force is applied. This eliminates the sear’s break point, which makes trigger control easy, which improves accuracy.

    5. Plastic casings. Reduces weight. Enough said.

    6. Caseless ammunition. Reduces weight. Enough said.

    7. A piston operating rod rather than the direct impingement (blows the gas to force the bolt back, and thereafter right into the chamber) of the M16 family. It’s cleaner, hence inherently more reliable, hence makes a mockery of the presumption — implied by Fort Benning — that the M16 was that peak of technology rifles had allegedly reached.

    8. Or how about an optical sight? It would be wasted on a rifle firing a 5.56, but for something longer ranged it could be quite useful.

    In light of those already existing improvements, there was something on the horizon that looked very promising, the Lightweight Small Arms Technology Program (LSAT) renamed Lightweight Small Arms Systems (LSAS), which name was ignored by the LSAT folks, and now, revealingly, reduced to the Cased Telescoped program, for the name of the ammunition.

    As it evolved, LSAT was a twofer for a twofer. In other words, the program was developing caseless rounds (where the case was actually hardened and waterproofed propellant, so burned up when fired) and plastic cased (called “cased telescoped”) rounds, for both a rifle and a machine gun. Though there were suggestions of the program looking into both 6.5mm and 6.8mm, it seems to have been limited to 5.56mm in practice until recently. The weight savings for both rifle and light machine gun (for the weapons themselves and for their ammunition) were immense, on the order of 40 percent, for similar performance.

    LSAT Light Machine Gun
    Source: LSAT Light Machine Gun – Image by US Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Reliability seemed quite good, so far, with the light machine gun. They tested it on ranges, with tens of thousands of rounds. They tested it with troops under circumstances of fairly high physical stress. They tested it under adverse conditions. It worked. The rifle was of broadly similar design, and employed a rising chamber, which is to say it dropped to allow feeding of a cartridge, then arose to line up with the barrel.

    It’s worth mentioning that the rising (actually rotating) chamber was not remotely the same as the one on the German G11. With the LSAT rifle and light machine gun, firing cased telescoped, the chamber falls into position while containing the plastic casing for the previous, spent, round. That round is then pushed straight out by the next round to be fired, which is pushed into place by a rammer driven by the gas-operated piston. The chamber then rises to line up with the barrel, as another round is pulled into position to be fed.

    While they differ greatly in their mechanisms, philosophically there is a similarity between the LSAT rifle, the G11, and the AN-94, mentioned above. This is that the G11 allowed very high rates of fire by eliminating ejection as a distinct step in the rifle’s cycle of operation, thus making burst fire effective. The AN-94 allows a very high rate of fire by having ejection and feeding take place simultaneously, for at least two round bursts. So, quite likely, would the LSAT rifle — even though burst fire doesn’t seem to have been pushed in the design. You wouldn’t want this in the machine gun.

    Had they gone with a cased telescoped round of 6.5mm, of approximately the same performance as the 6.5 Grendel, or even with 6.8 Remington, both in flight and terminal (what it does to the body it hits) ballistics would have been superior to the M16, and far above the M4. Moreover, if the straight ejecting format cuts the cycling time down enough to achieve effective burst fire, that too would mean increased effective range. They’ve actually looked into 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 7.62mm, and — no joke — .50. Yes, you read that right, 50 caliber.

    I’ve spoken with JSSAP, the Joint Services Small Arms Program, and they’ve done what they were told to do. They have a light machine gun, firing cased telescoped ammunition, in 5.56, that saves about 40 percent weight of gun and ammunition over the current light machine gun, the M249. They have a rifle that works, at least to technology readiness level five, TRL 5, which is to say (per Department of Defense Technology Readiness Assessment Guidance):

    Fidelity of breadboard technology increases significantly. The basic technological components are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so they can be tested in a simulated environment. Examples include “high-fidelity” laboratory integration of components.

    Sadly, however, both rifle and machine gun are shelved, while the budget only allows for continued work on telescoped ammunition. Even the name of the program has changed to just cover ammunition development. Moreover, while still open to considering other calibers, JSSAP is concentrating on a 7.62mm round. That’s not disastrous, as it would still allow much better performance and, even in the larger caliber, considerable weight savings over conventional 5.56mm brass cased ammunition.

    I suppose the writing on the wall was there to be seen with the May 2012 briefing from JSSAP, entitled, “Lightweight Small Arms Technology: The Epilogue.” Maybe they should have said, “The Epitaph.”

    Thus, I confidently predict that the LSAT program will be killed. Thus, too, American soldiers will continue to be killed, by being forced to carry an inadequate rifle. And that’s not even counting our men who will die because some out of range enemy will be able to escape to fight again. Or because our overladen troops simply won’t be able to catch him, or to catch him unawares.

    Just a thought, but you might want to ask your senators and congressman about this. Really.

    Looking ahead: In some future columns I intend to talk about why getting the weight on the soldier’s back down is so critical, and why it’s so unlikely we’ll be able to do it.

    Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.

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      • Harry_the_Horrible

        This is something of a tradition in the US military.
        Troops were issued 45-70 Trap-door rather than repeaters to “keep them from wasting ammo.” Same sort of thing happened over and over again. The bean counters were more worried about money than about troops.

        • James

          Hell now its spray and pray and wait for the arty or air support if your anything but infantry or SF.

        • Tom Kratman

          Who says they get much in the way of fire support anymore? I’ve got it on pretty good authority that they don’t or, at least, can’t count on it.

        • James

          Oh sure they do there is probably just some damn 30 step list they have to use before its approved.

          State and politicians running wars…failures every time.

        • Tom Kratman

          Not sure of the number of steps, but the restrictions are unconscionable. There’s a meme floating around the armed forces to the effect that, “You can’t defeat an insurgency by killing people.” In the first place, it’s historically untrue; you sure as hell CAN defeat an insurgency by killing people; you just have to kill almost all of them. All right, we are not going to do that. But the statement is stil missing a word: “just.” I would counter that meme, in any case, with, “You can’t defeat an insurgency if you never kill people, either.”

        • akulkis

          When I was in Iraq, an AH-64 helicopter couldn’t fire unless receiving permission from whoever was in the BATTALION TOC… which would be monitering the helo’s FLIR sights on a big screen (multiple, large, computer monitors placed together in a 3×3 array). The pilots and weapons officers have been reduced to taxi drivers for the airframe and weapons pods.

        • Tom Kratman

          Now imagine how hard it’s going to be to a) train people away from that nonsense and b) eliminate from service the people who’ve prospered with this kind of rule.

        • Harry_the_Horrible

          Can’t afford the bad press of “collateral damage.”
          Besides, our current regime values the lives of enemy civilians over the lives of our troops.

        • Tom Kratman

          Some of them likely do. And some kinds of collateral damage are not worth the benefit. Still, others are. But ask yourself, “Why are field grade and flag officers putting up with it?”

        • Harry_the_Horrible

          Dunno ’bout field grade, but once once an officer gets to flag rank, he is not a soldier anymore, but a politician. The flag officers’ promotions were approved by politicians, and their future promotions and assignments are subject to their whims. So, naturally, they politics becomes their profession, while soldiering becomes more of a hobby. Nothing that hurts the flag officer’s chances of promotion or choice assignments will be tolerated.
          In my humble opinion.
          And, of course, there are occasional exceptions, but they don’t last long…

        • Tom Kratman

          I’d suggest to you he was _always_ a politician. Some, a very few, manage to be both. But even there, they almost always seem to have feet of clay. Think here: General Officer Loose Zipper Syndrome. Even without that, though…well…I’ve got people I considered friends and comrades wearing three and four stars. Why have none of them fallen on their swords over some of the egregiously stupid crap being done with OUR Army (and other folks Marine Corps)?

        • Harry_the_Horrible

          No offense to your friends, but could it be that it would jeopardize their post-military employment and/or retirement?

        • Tom Kratman

          If I undertood it, Harry, I’d have said so. I really don’t understand it.

        • Neil

          I’ve never personally known a flag-rank officer, but I’ve known some folks that made LTC and COL (or equivalents). Your statement here is something that any of them could have said. In my opinion, COL is the last grade at which one has the luxury of regarding leadership as one’s primary job. In order to make flag rank, you have to make the decision that the institution, not the mission or the men, is paramount.

          If you can’t or won’t make that shift in attitude, you stay a colonel.

          I could say roughly the same about the step from “director of” to C-level in the corporate world.

        • akulkis

          Yeah. I would say that’s definitely true.
          the old “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is just a cop-out used by the guilty parties and their apologists. Generally, it’s only the corrupt who seek great-to-absolute power in the first place.

          Look at Eisenhower — definitely a politician, but never sought absolute power (he certainly didn’t campaign for to be CINC-ETO), and when he was President, he actually worked to shrink the federal government (even including his successful advocacy for the interstate system).

        • akulkis

          Perhaps some of the field-grade officers are getting an ego-boost out of personally giving the “permission to fire” after watching the Big Screen in the BN TOC ????
          [Aircraft providing ground support can't deliver ordnance without first getting the initials of the officer at BN who is giving the go-ahead to pull the trigger].

          After all, outside of that, most S-3 and BN CDR types are completely out of the action.

      • Ed Henry

        I thin the claim of better cooling with a carbon fiber wrapped barrel has yet to be proved. The exterior of the barrel is cooler but the interior (where are concerned) is hotter. Not good.

        • Tom Kratman

          Got a cite, Ed? Not messing with you; seriously want to know.

        • akulkis

          It’s really up in the air without testing. Most carbon materials are poorer conducters of heat than metals (heat conductivity tends to be proportional to electrical conductivity). Some of the more esoteric carbon materials, however, seem to defy that general rule (electrical semiconductor, but good heat conductors). Carbon chains tend to have worse compressive strength then steel, but better tensile strength — I think that’s where the carbon-wrapped steel sleeve barrel idea comes from.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’ve mused that it might be the resin they use to bind the fibers.

      • Seans

        Okay lets discuss some of the points.
        1. You stated before that something twice the weight of 5.56 won’t due when discussing .300BLK, but what do you think the 6.5 weighs. As for outclassing the 7.62 at some ranges. That is due to being a modern bullet, you ask for somebody to devolop a custom 7.62 Nato round that outclasses the 6.5 in everything but weight and recoil, it can be done. A larger case gives you far more room to develop a better bullet.
        2. Rapid burst fire just has not been proven to be a intelligent idea. The Russians pretty much abandoned the AN-94 due to the many complications of the gun, reliability, and that hyper fire or whatever they want to call it. Trying to throw as much rounds in the air came from Project Salvo, which had a lot of flawed assumptions. And how does effective range increase with faster fire by the way?
        3. Carbon fiber barrels are not practical for any military use. They do not have better cooling, they ability for sustained shooting is greatly reduced, and the size of the barrel has to be much greater in diameter than a metal one to be as accurate for sustained fire. There advantage comes in for hunters who are shooting a low volume who are doing a large amount of walking, and there only have a percentage point or two increase in barrel life.
        4. Electronic firing has been done before, and while extremely accurate, its adding a point of failure into a system. Its accuracy gain is mainly been noticed in bench rest shooters.
        5&6. Both are excellent ideas, caseless is probably going to be the future. The sooner the better on plastic by the way.
        7. People love piston but often don’t understand the problems coming from it. Carrier tilt, more weight than DI, less accurate, more meticulous cleaning than simply wiping down the bolt and firing pin. It does have its advantages, but mainly for Suppressed, OTBs, and machines guns. Again it has pros and cons. If you want to say switch to piston cause our troops are typically to ignorant to maintain a DI system, thats a valid point, but to say that it is overall more reliable it is not.
        8. I have yet to see a rifle in the last 5 years oversees that didn’t have a optic of some kind on it. And to say that it is wasted on a 5.56 is just insane. Any fighting rifle needs to have a optic, even SMGs and Shotguns. And before long you will start to probably see them more and more on pistols.

        • Tom Kratman

          Contemplate paying more attention to what I said as opposed to what you think i said.

          1. What’s the weight of 6.5 telescoped cased? Does 6.5 Grendel weigh the same as .300 Blk? So what confusion are you seeing or do you think you’re seeing?.I’m not, as mentioned, in principle averse to 7.62.

          2. Is the point the AN-94, or the relative increase in hit probability from very fast burst fire? Where and how has it been proven to be unintelligent? I believe the idea is that the rounds, quality control being what it is, will disperse _somewhat_ at range. That means that if you’re almost on target, the odds of one of the three being on target improve.

          3. Opinions seem to differ on the cooling. I don’t know what’s hard about this part, though: “It may be too fragile for troop issue, but there are at least five other technologies being explored for better, lighter barrels.”

          4. I don’t think we disagree on the ammo. Electronic firing? What you’re missing is the central point; there is tech out there, on hand or developable, that makes Fort Benning’s claim horse manure.

          7. That’s another area where men of good conscience differ.

          8. When benning made the claim how many rifles had optics? WHat do you think the point of those eight improvments is? Reread and resubmit. That said, no, I wouldn’t bother with an SMG or a shotgun, except possibly for a laser, or a laser-goggles interface, especially if the latter is coded to cut confusion.

        • Seans

          1. You can make any caliber out of caseless or plastic cased, is it going to happen within 5 years and be combat ready, probably not. So if you switch over to 6.5 grendel you are going to have a round that is more than twice the weight of 5.56 currently. Caseless will not be ready for the big leagues anytime soon, and plastic cased still has a lot of bugs to work out with the higher power rounds.
          2. Its with burst fire in particular, other than close ranges, it still not effective, half the reasoning behind it was to defeat armor, and the whole belief that the more rounds you fire the better. The whole Project Salvo has a lot of flaws that does not stand up to modern weapons, optics, and shooting techniques.
          3. Okay Carbon Fiber barrels have a lot a problems for tactical weapons, one is heat transfer and cooling which causes large problems such as walking during sustained fire. And what other options are you referring to. Just would like to hear them.
          7. What is there to disagree. Are you arguing that DI is not lighter, more accurate, and quicker to clean than a gas piston. When gas pistons go down due to fouling, it typically takes a tool to clean, versus a rag for a DI. As for advantage, again it comes from suppressed shooting, OTBs, and machine guns and SBRs. People got on the Piston bandwagon due to the SMUs going to HK416s. The DI is just as a reliable system if you just take a little time to understand your gun.
          8. As for what Benning said, due you really believe that they meant no rifle will ever be better, or that rifle technology will no longer be increased in large burst like it was in the past? As for optics, every rifle should have a optic. Anybody who says that they can shoot faster with iron sights is either lying to themselves are just crazy. Go watch any competition. Try yourself. And optics don’t mean just scopes, can be reflex sites or magnified optics or a combo of both. I understand you say you wouldn’t bother with optics on SMGs or shotguns, but the people who have done the most combat shooting in the world, the SMUs do, they have optics on everything, miniguns, 50cals, SMGs, shotguns if they are carrying it as a primary.

        • akulkis

          7. In omnipresent dust conditions, anything that will reduce the need for oil in the upper receiver is a GOOD THING. In that respect, piston+rod operation is better for places like the Mideastern deserts, Afghanistan, North Africa, Mongolia/Gobi Desert, etc.

      • Cataline Sergius

        Minor point and one based on my personal experience.

        Optic sites are all but useless in engaged combat. It takes too long to acquire your target during a fire-team rush and you loose site picture every time you fire.

        Why yes! Yes I’m a former Marine. How did you know?

        • Tom Kratman

          I try to distinguish between things I don’t like and things that are innately bad. I don’t like scopes for anything but fairly long range. (I don’t collapsible stocks, either.) Scopes are one of those areas where some swear by them and others swear at them. But the point is that, for some purposes at least, and especially if they’re removeable, they’re an improvement, which is contrary to what Fort Benning said with the ACR and tacitly carried on with the OICW, M8, etc.

        • Neil

          Reflex “red dot” optics greatly increase hit percentages by under-trained shooters, because cheek weld is not so critical to achieving a consistent aiming point. Which goes to Mr. Kratman’s point about designing with the inevitable existential war in mind.

        • Jamie Robertson

          I’m curious as to the nature of this mass war he sees coming (not doubting, just wondering… seems most of our “wars” these days are sovereign power with conventional forces vs. guerilla fighters fighting asymmetrical warfare) and against whom, and will we have the balls to declare total war as opposed to pussy-footing around the issue like we have from Korea onwards.

        • Tom Kratman

          We were fighting Indians or killing Moros not really all that long before the Great War, Jamie. DId that mean the Great War never happened? Short version: Plan for the worst.

          This is my sense, though it’s not just mine: Civlization, the consensus for civilization and the willingness to do what it takes to defend civilization, seems to me to be breaking down all over the world. So mass wars? Wars of survival? Genocidal wars? They all seem perfectly plausible to me.

        • Parmenter

          Does Europe or America have the will to resist Tsar Vladimir I, let alone dare great things like space exploration?

        • Tom Kratman

          Column on Putin and his Aetherial Master coming up soon.

        • akulkis

          Right now, Vlad Putin is defending civilzation far better than the cabal in the White House.

        • Jamie Robertson

          No argument there. I was just wondering if you were thinking of something more specific beyond the “prepare for the worst” (which should be SOP for the military). I also agree about the breakdown of civilization and the willingness to defend it. Sadly. Wish I could disagree, but I’d just be lying to myself if I did.

        • akulkis

          What’s the Boy Scout motto?
          Oh yeah… “Be Prepared”

        • akulkis

          I would agree. Reflexive red dot sights VASTLY improve the qualification scores of new & marginally trained shooters.

        • Tom Kratman

          Hmm…that reminds me of something only tangetially on point. The Soviets had a hell of a time (read, failed completely) at making a decent sized tube for a starlight scope (or image intensifying scope, for the anally retentive). They were really good at making a virtue of their vices, though, because they fisheyed at least some of those scopes – I have one – giving a very broad field of somewhat distorted vision and a narrow, but large enough area of clear vision for proper aiming. I wonder if we couldn’t do something like that with a regular scope, thus addressing Cataline’s concern.

        • Neil

          Some of the adjustable 1-4 x 30-something tubes (with red dot) are really good these days. Seems to me that selectable optics might give the rifleman the best of both worlds, if it can be made rugged enough. 4X is a big improvement in sight picture over iron sights beyond 200 yards, and 1X doesn’t interfere with field of vision.

          If that’s not good enough, then you’ve got to look at HD video with a helmet-mounted eyepiece, and the engineer in me shudders at all the things that might break on that. But maybe it’s not such a stretch beyond our existing low-light vision equipment.

        • Tom Kratman

          Complexity and weight, both.

          I’m sure there are people who not only like optics more than I do, but understand them better, too. So I’ll leave that question to them what knows.

        • Seans

          The weight is more than worth it. And they are quite reliable. Again as I said before, optics at this point a requirement for a combat rifle. You will not find anybody suggesting that they shouldn’t be. From inexperienced shooters to the best, it greatly increases combat effectiveness.

        • Tom Kratman

          I think we were really referring to HD video and such as being heavy and of iffy reliability. But the, what? half a pound or so of scope? I may be uncomfortable with it at close range but I’m just me.

        • akulkis

          ACOG is amazing. Currently, only Infantry and other combat arms units are the only ones who get the ACOG. But they really should be the standard in every Army unit, regardless of whether CA, CS, or CSS.

        • akulkis

          I like optics AS AN OPTION. It should be removable if it breaks, allowing the use of iron sights.
          This is where automtive design is really screwed up. Computerized engine control means if the computer dies, the vehicle is immobile until a new computer board is installed. Computer ASSISTED engine controls would be ideal — but the auto industry doesn’t seem to like that idea (and yes, I’m a computer engineer.)

        • Thor

          If you want 1-4x I’d argue the eotech HHS I system is the best way to go with pop up iron sights. I like this, but with 25% of the Grendel M4s having 2.5-10x optics with 45 degree off set iron sights.

          Or replace the eotechs with the elcan 1-6x

        • Neil

          Personally, I find that 1.5X doesn’t interfere with my field of view at all, 2X is starting to be a pain. 10X is pretty much the limit of usefulness. I would really love to get my hands on that Elcan 1.5-6X sight.

        • akulkis

          The Eotech does have the advantage that if it dies, you don’t have to do a single thing to switch to iron sights, other than flip up the rear sight to put the aperture from lowered position. ACOG, too.

        • Geodkyt

          While they’ve come a LONG way, I do not think adjustable optics are grunt-ready.
          Fixed mag ACOGs have been bounced off hard surface roads from three stories up in Iraq, and still work and held zero. I shudder to think of trying that with an adjustable.

        • akulkis

          Modern aspherical lens design techniques would really be appropriate in such an item.

        • Geodkyt

          Well, the Marines made very good use of their magnified ACOG scopes in Fallujah — so good that the usual hand-wringing whiners claimed Marines were “executing prisoners” because of the high percentage of insurgents found with one bean through brain.
          Turns out that line Marines were making headshots at 300 meters with their M16A4′s . . .

        • akulkis

          In my time in Iraq, nobody in my infantry company seemed to have any complaints about the ACOG.

        • akulkis

          Have you shot with the ACOG? 4x, wide field of view, reflexive red-dot (so that the point of fire is accurately indicated no matter WHERE your eye is behind the sight). And the red dot is lit using ambient light, (via a fiber-optic light collecter)… so it’s not even reliant on batteries. It’s the only optic I would trust my life to if/when planning to close with and engage the enemy.

          But without an ACOG, most of the other optic systems have problems (primarily reliance on batteries), although the various 1x (i.e. no magnification) red-dot sights with are nice.

      • Guest

        Ignore this

        • James

          We’ll now i can’t.

        • Tom Kratman

          That was me. I was experimenting, trying to get the never-sufficiently-to-be-damned reply button to come back. Then, when that didn’t work, I tried to delete that entry. Maaannn…I hate the 21st century.

        • James

          LOL

      • Tom Kratman

        For reasons unknown, the reply button’s disappearsed for me, so this is directed to Seans.

        8. Yes, I believe they meant it. Otherwise they couldn’t have said the only possible improvement would be exploding bullets and then proceeded to try to produce something very mich like that.

        SMUs aren’t regular riflemen, are they?

        7. I was thinking about fouling after our last conversation. Last time I fired a LOT of 5.56 was in 09, with a PMC (that shall remain nameless). We had significant fouling after less than 1000 rounds…BUT, that was civilian ammunition. However, I go back to what I said before; for an existential mass war, and it’s coming, sooner or later, quality control will not be maintained. So, yes, I expect poor ammunition, I expect fouling, and would prefer something other than DI for that. That said, i hear you about greater accuracy with DI. I’d like to see a shoot off with the same rifle but I don’t know if you can have a shoot off with the same rifle.

        3. I’m going to have to hunt now for the site on the new materials they’re working on. Wait; I’ll find it. (And not having saved it where I can find it is pissing me off like you wouldn’t believe…at me.)

        2. No, burst fire isn’t about defeating armor at close range, though I would be unsurprised to discover someone is trying to sell it that way. It may even work. Even if, so, though, It’s really about improving chances of a hit at some range from a single pull of a trigger. That was the original spec driving the G11. Again, we’re talking existential war, en masse, with Joe, not you.

        1. Then let them work out the bugs. They made it work with 5.56. There’s not a lot of principled reason I can think of for it not working with 6.5. 7.62…maybe it’s overstraining the casing and losing obturation, dunno. I’m not enthused about caseless, in general. I am enthused about cased telescoped plastic.

        • Seans

          Can you find me the actual document which states that they believed that rifle technology was at its peak, and nothing would be better ever. Cause all I can find is the wikipedia entry. And yes the SMUs are not regular infantry. They are the best combat shooters in the world, if anybody could say they shoot better with iron sites it would be them. And they started transitioning decades ago. What do you feel is gained by iron sights? Find me a credible shooting source that says they are faster and more accurate than a optic cause I don’t think you will find one. As for the guns you where shooting, what were they? Where they off the line M4A1s, or where they clones from some random shooter. What was the level of lube you were putting in the gun. Cause overlubing a M4 will cause jamming from carbon fouling. I apply my CLP with a eyedropper.

        • Tom Kratman

          The study was Small Arms Systems 2000 or “SAS-2000.” You can find it referenced here: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a505426.pdf but as for the original…stupid look on my face is sincere. My google fu’s pretty strong but I can’t find it, to include looking at the Center for Military History, at Carlise.

      • Neil

        Regarding .50 caliber, I think it deserves a look, although I think something in the range of .357 to .40 would be more appropriate. Wasn’t it Jeff Cooper that said that given the normal range of infantry combat and the shooting ability of your average soldier, most troopers would be best equipped with a rifle chambered for .44 Magnum? If you look at the ballistics, he’s got a point. If you reduce the caliber a bit and lengthen the bullet to allow higher ballistic coefficient and a spitzer nose, that gets you decent ballistics out to 200 yards…

        That said, it seems possible to make a one-size-fits-all round in the 6.5 to 6.8mm range, which would certainly simplify logistics. Among other things, the civilian demand for something like that would help sustain a surge capability in ammo manufacturing.

        • Tom Kratman

          The problem you run into there, Neil, is that most of the loss in accuracy seems to come from fear. Equip the troops with something unlikely to hit past 150 meters or so, and the enemy at 200 no longer fears much, so _his_ fire gets a lot more accurate.

        • Neil

          I agree that if you go the big-slow route, you probably end up equipping your fire teams with two different calibers, a “DMR” round and another round for everyone else. Sort of like what we do now with 5.56 and 7.62, but with a much bigger short-range punch from the carbine round. If, in the end, we can’t get rid of 7.62×51, I think it makes sense to look at big-slow to replace the 5.56.

          If the 6.5mm round tests well at both long and short ranges, then it makes sense to go with that intermediate size. This is my favorite solution, at least on paper. If for no other reason than because your SAW is in theory now as good as a LMG. I had heard at one point that SOCOM was using the 6.8mm round operationally, but then it seems to have been quietly dropped. I wonder if the relatively poor ballistic coefficient caused problems….

          Whatever happens, I shall be very disappointed if Natick ends up re-inventing the 7.62 Soviet. This post is the first I’d heard of that idea. Not that it’s a horrible round, but you just can’t get the same ballistic properties that you can with 6.5mm.

        • Tom Kratman

          7.62×39 is okay for what it does. We’ve kind of lost sight of what an assault rifle was supposed to do and be, but it really was about firing in an assault, which is to say a pretty much stand up, on line, attack, at a walk or trot, firing from the hip or, if from the shoulder, without a lot of aiming.

          Hmmm…true story, in re the above:

          Circa 1986, we were doing battalion ARTEPs with the companies rotating as OPFOR. I actually spent a couple of days drilling my company in the then Soviet attack from a column of march, complete to shouting “Urrah!” just before the charge. It’s not a human wave attack. You’re in company column til about 1200 meters out. At that point you shift to platoon columns until you hit roughly small arms range. At that point you shift to three lines, tanks, APCs or IFVs, and infantry (which exit while the tracks are still moving). At about 60-70 meters is when you shout “urrah!” and charge, while firing from the hip.

          We hit the first platoon of C Company. They dropped their shit and ran (mostly afraid of being run over by the tracks, I think, since it was well known that we tended to push the safety envelop quite a bit and had zero problems with running over occupied fighting positions with armored vehicles). We formed up again and hit the second platoon. They dropped their shit and ran. I was up with their third platoon, watching them, (I let my platoon leaders command the company as a matter of a) professional development and b) being a sneay bastard since they would later defend the positions I had them attack.) 3rd Plt /C Co were about to drop their shit and run when the battalion commander, a ninny nicknamed “Tuffy” for no reason I or anyone else could see, declared a FASCAM minefield where none had been planned for or called. They clearly would have run too had the attack not been arbitrarily halted.

          I later, in Kuwait City, had opportunity to do a little experiment in how much fire a line of troops, firing short bursts from AKs, from the hip, could put out at short range and how accurate it would be. It is surprisingly accurate and intense enough to keep all but the very, very stout with their heads down.

          That, by the way, shocked the crap out of me to see.

        • Neil

          Heh. I must say that lack of motivation may have played a role in your success–I’d have to get a pretty stern talking-to before I’d be willing to have my position driven over by an AFV just for pretend.

          The 7.62×39 does make perfect sense in a pure “assault rifle” as you describe. In my opinion, 7.92 Kurz makes even more sense in that role. Like I said, if you’re going to carry two different rounds anyway you could do a lot worse than a hog-stomper in the 9mm to .40 cal range…

          I’m not sure it makes sense, though, within the U.S. Army’s tradition of converging columns and maneuver warfare. I think your analysis is on the right track–you want something that allows controllable bursts in the assault role, but lets you deliver supporting fire at a distance–ideally out to 600m. Being able to carry a reasonable amount of ammo with no increase in weight over the standard 5.56 loadout is important too. From everything that I have heard, a 6.5mm to 6.8mm projectile with high sectional density can do this, even if the Grendel case itself maybe turns out to be too short to do the job.

        • Tom Kratman

          That’s one of my two problems, or potential problems, with the Grendel. I suspect we might get a better round for not much more weight if it wasn’t bound to fit a mag that fits an AR lower. The other is I am not sure about fragmentation at range. Of course, if we’re willing to risk the war crimes trial….

        • Neil

          Well, that’s a whole other topic. Fancy bullet design changes the parameters of the problem. Diameter isn’t nearly so important for terminal ballistics anymore, it’s just a component of the Pressure*Area required to achieve the desired muzzle velocity within the desired barrel length. Sectional density becomes even more important than it already was. Energy delivered at range becomes the overriding parameter (which is why .357 Magnum has a reputation as good or better than .45 ACP as a stopper). This is why, in my opinion, Grendel has been more enthusiastically accepted by civilians than by DoD. A-frame bullets solve a lot of problems.

          One could make a pretty good case that the Geneva conventions are no longer useful–WW2 was the last time we fought an enemy that gave them even lip service (and the Japanese didn’t do even that). When the rules are only observed by one side of the fight, they’re not the rules anymore–in extremis one obeys them solely because they’re the “right thing to do”, not because they are reciprocal. I rather suspect that the next big fight will once again be against a culture that does not obey the rules, so perhaps it’s time to start thinking about which rules we really believe in.

        • Tom Kratman

          Korea, after PLA intervention. They don’t get much credit for it but the Chinese, unlike the NORKs, were (about as much as anyone can be said to be) pretty decent on the battlefield. The POW camps are something of a different issue.

          That said, yes, to buy into the tranzi fantasy of following the rules because they’re inherently right, no matter what your enemy does, is to completely misunderstand the law of war.

          I think it was on the last column that I mentioned that a case can be made for trick bullets even under the existing law of war. But that case hasn’t been made yet, and I am skeptical of the JAG opinion that might have tried to make it.

        • Neil

          My understanding is that we were up against Cantonese-speaking units for the most part, late-comers to the Revolution. Mao shoveled them into the maw of the U.S. Air Force, artillery, and Ma Deuce because he didn’t trust them and wanted them dead. The northern Mandarins were different.

          I do not think we will be more lucky next time.

          There’s that loophole for bullet features intended primarily to improve ballistic properties. That’s how SOCOM got hold of HPBT match rounds. A clever attorney could probably jump an elephant through that exception. The only question is whether we want to do it.

        • Tom Kratman

          And we may not. One of the reasons for the laws of war, as they’ve grown, is to reduce hate to better allow for restoration of peace. This may be moot, now, what with every lawyer and “activist” in the International Community of the Ever So Caring and Sensitive, wanting ultimately to try everyone who ever did their duty in war, never mind that this means keeping the war going would then be preferable to them. But until their wants become facts, we should try to limit the personal damamge, to limit the hate, to limit the duration, to limit the large scale damage.

        • Neil

          Good point. I think the correct perspective is to ask whether by implementing a particular technology are we actually opening the door for an opponent to use the same technology against us, and if so is that something we’re willing to see happen?

          I’m not sure this particular case involves that trade-off, but if so that decision is way above my pay grade.

        • guest

          Bullet design for enhanced lethality? That’s an easy one, even within the constraints imposed by the Hague Convention (not, as you note, that Hague has ever been much more than a legal cudgel with which to beat American troops and discourage the procurement of weapons that prove to be effective or efficient on the battlefield–”shotguns are inhumane,” “napalm is inhumane,” “the 5.56mm bullet is illegal because it fragments in soft tissue,” “land mines are illegal,” “cluster munitions are a war crime,” “depleted uranium is a war crime,” and on and on and on).

          Anyway. Back to bullet design. The British were using an enhanced-lethality bullet design over a century ago:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.303_British#Mark_VII

          Under the thin gilding-metal jacket, the bullet has a lightweight filler in the front third, which could have been sawdust, plastic, or aluminum. The rear core is lead. This pushes the bullet’s center of gravity far to the rear, and makes it very prone to yaw and tumble in soft tissue, sometimes even fragmenting. The result was that it consistently and predictably destroyed much more soft tissue than it otherwise would have. The downside is somewhat reduced penetration against hard barriers.

          Note also that the Russians have done something very similar with the 5.45x39mm 5N7 bullet, likewise designed to yaw, tumble, and zigzag violently in soft tissue, and theirs incorporates a partial steel core, not unlike M855 Ball, so that it gives somewhat better penetration vs. certain types of light cover than other bullet designs (the downside is that it does not deform significantly in soft tissue).

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.45%C3%9739mm

          It would be simplicity itself to adapt these designs to 6.5mm or 6.8mm. All the R&D has already been done for us.

          I would note also that the 6.8mm SPC issue ammunition uses an “open tip match” bullet of approximately 115gr in weight, which, though it appears to have been designed for punching paper, also yaws and fragments quite efficiently in soft tissue.

          http://www.frfrogspad.com/68spc.htm

          And I suppose that if you wanted something even nastier, in whatever caliber, it occurs to me that you could start with the thinnest jacket material practicable for the caliber in question, with a cannelure (crimping groove for the case mouth) cut as deeply as possible (given that it must be mass-produced) all the way around its circumference, to encourage fragmentation. Use the plastic or sawdust nose filler of the .303 British Mk. VIIz projectile. But instead of making the core from a length of lead wire, instead squeeze a stack of lead pellets into the jacket behind the nose filler, cramming the soft metal pellets in so that they deform to fill the balance of the space within the bullet jacket. I figure you could get twelve or thirteen lead BB shot into a 6.8mm bullet jacket, assuming we want to keep the bullet weight into the 115gr range. Or five or six lead #4 buckshot. The bullet will yaw rapidly and violently in soft tissue, rupture its jacket at the cannelure (and perhaps some internal grooves or notches can be cut into the interior of the jacket material during manufacture to help encourage this), then its now-exposed lead core will (ideally) separate into its constituent segments that will make divergent wound tracks, tearing the soft tissue so that the hydraulic shock wave following the passage of the fragments tears the tissue. This is what 5.56mm M193 does at close ranges from 20″ barrels, but better, with more fragmentation at greater ranges, and individual fragments retaining sufficient energy to penetrate the 12″+ of soft tissue that the FBI tells us is optimum for rapid incapacitation. All with a Hague-legal “full metal jacket” bullet with a closed, covered tip that does not expose the lead core.

          This would probably require a redesign of the bullet manufacturing equipment for mass production, but hobbyists have been doing this kind of thing at home with hand-cranked bullet swages since before the Second World War. And once the machinery is set up I see no obvious reason why it should cost more to produce than existing lead-core FMJ.

          The downside, again, is that bullets constructed in this manner are not going to penetrate auto bodies, masonry, and so on as well as they would had they a conventional homogeneous core and no nose filler. But for such situations we presume there is likely to be a black-tip, dense-metal-core AP round (like the M993 and M995 we already have in inventory for 5.56mm and 7.62mm) developed concurrently.

      • Jamie Robertson

        Unfortunately my senator will pay me no mind. He’s senator Juan McLame, RINO extrodinaire and libtard in all but name.

        • Tom Kratman

          Oh, he might, especially if he’s a libtard. After all, what’s better for a libtard than posturing about how much he cares?

        • Jamie Robertson

          Oh he postures a LOT and then does jack diddly squat except to quash the input with posturing, ass-kissing, and doing everything to make you think he’s doing something when all he’s doing is trying to make you go away so he can go back to whoring for Pelosi & friends.

          I almost voted for the liberal last senatorial election. At least the liberal democrat was an openly liberal democrat. I just voted for neither and did a write-in, I was so disgusted with McCain.

      • Thor

        Polymer cases: Before we discuss the the problems with this we must first understand the critical function of the brass case and some heat transfer science.

        Brass is an excellent heat conductor. This allows the brass case to act as a heat sink if you will. When the brass case is removed, it removes a significant amount of heat from the throat of the barrel. This isn’t critical for most civilian applications, but it is for sustained fire.

        Polymer is an excellent insulator, it leaves the heat in the throat leading to quicker throat erosion(read significantly shorter barrel life and problems under sustained fire).

        I love the concept of polymer cases. Cheaper and lighter. I fully support continued research to hopefully prove me wrong.

        That being said I don’t believe polymer cases will ever prove viable as long as are using any form of powder to propel our projectiles.

        Marine Veteran & Mechanical Engineer

        • Tom Kratman

          It _looks_ like the LSAT program handled that problem for the LMG. I can’t really copy and paste it but if you google for the LSAT brief from the May, 2008 JSSAP / NDIA symposium you will find something on that, at least. That, of course, doesn’t necessarily address either the rifle or the rifle firing hi rate burst.

        • James

          Seems like once every few years sense the early 2000′s I have heard about some new LMG or rifle the army has developed only to have it disappear a few months or years later.

        • Tom Kratman

          It’s been going on for a while, yes.

        • Thor

          I googled that brief (a power point presentation) and there was no sign of a solution or any verification of the feasibility of the concepts presented. It appeared to be more or a requirement identification exercise.

          Another serious problem with the LSAT proposal that’ll need to be addressed with the be the carbon build up in the throat with the case less ammunition. If you thought the original M16 was unreliable and jammed frequently, implement this technology immaturely.

          Can a powder be developed that’ll solve this problem, very possibly. However, I suspect optimum burn rates would be sacrificed. I seriously doubt case less will be feasible as long as powder is burned to launch the projectile. I still support research into this field to verify and learn, furthering the technology.

        • Tom Kratman

          The way I read that, in conjunction with the videos showing extended firing and reports of success with no particular problem with either heat or build up, is that they have it working well enough or better than that, but that just how is propietary.

          I’m skeptical of caseless myself, in the hands of the Soldier (or Marine) who can break an anvil with nothing but his bare hands.

        • Thor

          I didn’t see a video or any reports. How many rounds at what intervals did the extended firing consist of? Did they check accuracy with the barrel as new and then compare it to accuracy post 1000 rds, 2000rds, 3000 rds, 4000 rds, 5000 rds, …. with primarily extended firing? Were any run aways reported?

        • Tom Kratman

          You can find the videos – some of them, at least – on youtube. Any google search will bring up about 5 or 6 reports/briefings. Look for the RDECOM brief entitled Lightweight Small Arms Technology the epilogue. It doesn’t have the info in that detail but does have info.

          Or you can get the number from the May, 2010 brief and call Kori Phillips. I’d be interested myself.

        • akulkis

          And direct power-on-chamber burning could cause heat-related problems.

        • Geodkyt

          The LSAT program was an unqualified success technically. I’ve been closely following it for years.
          BOTH ammunition spirals were working (even the caseless, while less far along the development cycle, was right in the groove; the big issues with the caseless side were they were looking at dealing with production bugs during full production, at an acceptable cost). Again — the major issue with the caseless sprial was ramping up to full production at an acceptable cost. . . something that has never been _attempted_.
          Claims of ammo fragility are way overblown, and most such thought paths have their roots in the writings and presentations of a guy who hasn’t worked with the caseless ammo since the EARLY US Army trials of the G11. HK had improved the caseless ammo significantly by the end of the Cold War, only to see the G11 shelved for cost because it was ready for full production RIGHT as the Wall came down and Germany had to reintegrate the Osties. But even if the fragility issues were as serious as claimed by people who have never seen the current iteration of the caseless rounds (among other things, they eliminated the extremely stupid geometric stress points the Germans used), the fact is that POLYMER cased ammo is also more fragile. And, issuing ammo in pre-loaded packs and magazines is cost effective and protects the ammo from handling. (And, if you don’t try to be too damned clever and just make a sturdy but conventional and cheap polymer box or mag, still alows partial loads to be cross levelled — any mag sturdy enough to be used as a combat disposable can certainly stand to be reused once. Of course, teh problem is that disposable mags – like the AR15′s aluminum mags or teh South African polymer Galil mags, both of which were supposed to be one time use – tend to get magically transformed into “permanent” issue items once bean counters find out they don’t melt when empitied.)
          Heat buildup with teh polymer cased telescoping rounds wasn’t an issue. They were having fewer problems than the baseline weapon – the M249 SAW. Same for fouling.
          People often forget what the LSAT program was trying to establish. They were testing the technologies to see what cost, weight, and performance would be compared to a SPECIFIC platfrom — the M249, throwing M855 projos at the same velocity. That was the only way to get a true apples to apples comparison. NO INTENTION to keep SAW/M855 ballistics if they go production.

      • Thor

        M4/M16: The original M16 may and likely was everything bit the pos you claim it to be. However, much has been learned since then and quite a bit has changed. I’ll take my M4/AR15 any day of the week over the Soviet AK47 on reliability grounds alone not to mention accuracy.

        The ergonomics and modularity of the M4 are unsurpassed. Short of a radical advancement in ballistics the basic M4 design (see external ergonomics), replacing with a different design isn’t feasible. The training required to make troops half as proficient on a new platform will dwarf any minor improvements it will offer. The M4 is far from the perfect platform, but 1 it’s a damn fine one, 2 the perfect platform doesn’t exist.

        The bullpup is an interesting design, but as long as we’re not using caseless ammunition and we’re still using powder to propel projectiles, it’s not feasible for the battlefield. If you don’t believe me change a magazine in the prone with a tavor, without rolling over or exposing yourself to fire.

        • Tom Kratman

          If AK were the only option, so would I. For that matter, I would probably take it over most things, because I’m used to it. You may not have noticed the things I didn’t say, like early – especially Marine – experience in Vietnam (“most of our men were killed by our own rifle”) precisely because of what you say; significant improvements have been made. Or find the word “appalling.” Having trouble? That’s because it’s not in there. Or pos? Right, not there either.

          But the cruci of this piece and the previous one is that it’s not necessarily the only option out there, that the 5.56 is not as good a caliber as some others, that for reasons unknown and perhaps unknowable, the Army keeps murdering any improvement even as it wastes hundreds of millions on programs that go nowhere, and that we have something that’s showing a LOT of promise that’s been shelved when we should still be pushing it.

        • Bram

          I found the M16A2 to be a shitty jammomatic in the desert in ’91. I would gladly have traded mine for an M14 or a Saudi G3.

        • akulkis

          Even on the 25-meter zero range (3-rounds/magazine, untimed fire), the M4 causes noticably more alibis than M16′s. It’s known that the shorter the barrel length, the more the AR15/M16/M4 system will exhibit ammuniting feeding problems.

        • Thor

          The M4 runs a carbine length gas system that is much rougher on the weapon. This has been fixed in the civilian market with adjustable gas blocks and going to a medium length gas system where feasible.

      • Bram

        Bullpups designed rifles have proven themselves over the years. I’ve tried the Steyr AUG and loved the ergonomics, and it is a shorter rifle with a full-sized barrel. (And for some reason I’ve never understood, the Army loves short rifles)

        The medium-caliber debate is an old old story. MacArthur killed the .276 Pedersen Garand in 1932. After WWII the Army rejected the British .280 in favor of the .308. Then, almost by accident we were saddled with the 5.56. Maybe someday they’ll get it right.

        • Tom Kratman

          Just never liked them.

        • Jamie Robertson

          The bullpup design at first seems darn-right ideal. I mean, compact but retaining barrel length and with forward-ejecting (F2000) or downward-ejecting makes the rifle ambidexterous. Well, if it seems too good to be true….

          Assuming the slop in the trigger is ever fixed outside of an electronic one, one still has the problem of reloading. Assuming a downward-hanging box magazine… how does one rapidly change magazines in one? And worse, what about when prone? Of course the top-loading mag (P90) could answer that, but only with small cartridges.

          But fast mag changes and ability to change mags reasonably well without excess movement while prone? Yeah, bullpups as far as I’m aware, fall short on that front (and it’s a very important front). At least with an AK-style or AR-style, you can rapidly release the mag (index finger with AR, or a slap of the lever with the new mag with the AK-style) while maintaining one’s firing stance. WIth bullpup? As far as I’m aware, one still needs to rotate the gun around to allow access to the mag release with the off hand, let the mag drop, and insert new mag. It’s more complex than the traditional setup. Also with bullpups, what about a C-mag? You’ll have shoulder and cheek weld interference from one of those with a bullpup (disregarding for right now the proneness to jam that the c-mag has over standard mags).

          I suppose if those issues were addressed somehow, then the bullpup would be a better design by, maximizing space without overly compromising barrel length (a bullpup boltaction, for instance, wouldn’t be that bad, as rapid mag changes and such are not a priority with one, and would increase portability of the weapon for a recon/sniper team). However as an infantry weapon, it seems it still has downsides which don’t make it worth changing to from the current design.

        • Retired Soldier

          This would be why the French have stopped making the FAMAS and are looking for a replacement, currently projected to be an AR of some flavor?

          And why the Brits have stopped making the L85, have bought L119 ARs for their Special Forces, and are leaning towards an AR to replace the L85 in the near future?

          Soldiers love short rifles because long barrels are a pain in the ass when operating out of armored vehicles and helicopters. They’re a pain in the ass when fighting in buildings. They’re a pain in the ass everywhere but the rifle range.

      • Jarrad

        http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2010/04/07/7x46mm-uiac-universal-intermediate-assault-cartridge/ Was designed as the ideal assault rifle cartridge. That being said the brown tip 556 is working very well overseas as well as the mk318 SOST round . Being saddle with FMJ’s does prohibit the usefulness of 5.56.

      • Dave Spears

        Just a few things to consider. The M14 rifle was not the do all be all that the US Army claimed it would be : to replace the BAR, M3, Garand, Carbine and the 45 pistol. It was also the first Billion dollar cost over run boondoggle in small arms history. The Army needed something, and remember this is the same US Army that tested the AK47 and denounced it for not being accurate enough, so the AR15/M16 was there, the AF had them, SF had tested them in SEA and liked them, and then Big Army and DOD bean counters rushed it into mass production without a CL chamber n bore, ammo with the wrong propellant (fouling!), changed the twist rate to make it more accurate (also less deadly) hyped by some idiot NCOs that it didn’t need cleaning, cleaning kits were late to be issued and no one briefed anyone that the magazines were meant to be disposable. So they were were. , You almost have to be from that era and been there to really grasp it all. This was the same DOD still issuing mass quantities of S&W M10 .38s with 130gr FMJ low velocity ammo to Army, Navy and AF flight crewman ( The USAF actually at times issued Super Vel HP .38 ammo to some flight crews) and on it goes. Like the M60? Another piece of unfinished work from that era that we took to Nam without development.

        The M16 and M4 have four things going for them, lightweight ammo and a excellent selector switch, mag release and bolt release. Other than that its a pos. We should have just adopted the AK47 or even the MP44 and been done with it. Sometimes simpler is better. Today you see insurgents and foreign friendlies using AKs with optics, its here to stay for decades more. The last thing we need now are even more complex small arms and ammunition types that will invariably test well, but be a slow burning dog turd lesson in combat and in manufacturing.

      • Dave Spears

        Just a few things to consider. The M14 rifle was not the do all be all that the US Army claimed it would be : to replace the BAR, M3, Garand, Carbine and the 45 pistol. It was also the first Billion dollar cost over run boondoggle in small arms history. The Army needed something, and remember this is the same US Army that tested the AK47 and denounced it for not being accurate enough, so the AR15/M16 was there, the AF had them, SF had tested them in SEA and liked them, and then Big Army and DOD bean counters rushed it into mass production without a CL chamber n bore, ammo with the wrong propellant (fouling!), changed the twist rate to make it more accurate (also less deadly) hyped by some idiot NCOs that it didn’t need cleaning, cleaning kits were late to be issued and no one briefed anyone that the magazines were meant to be disposable. So they were were. , You almost have to be from that era and been there to really grasp it all. This was the same DOD still issuing mass quantities of S&W M10 .38s with 130gr FMJ low velocity ammo to Army, Navy and AF flight crewman ( The USAF actually at times issued Super Vel HP .38 ammo to some flight crews) and on it goes. Like the M60? Another piece of unfinished work from that era that we took to Nam without development.

        The M16 and M4 have four things going for them, lightweight ammo and a excellent selector switch, mag release and bolt release. Other than that its a pos. We should have just adopted the AK47 or even the MP44 and been done with it. Sometimes simpler is better. Today you see insurgents and foreign friendlies using AKs with optics, its here to stay for decades more. The last thing we need now are even more complex small arms and ammunition types that will invariably test well, but be a slow burning dog turd lesson in combat and in manufacturing.

      • Dave Spears

        Just a few things to consider. The M14 rifle was not the do all be all that the US Army claimed it would be : to replace the BAR, M3, Garand, Carbine and the 45 pistol. It was also the first Billion dollar cost over run boondoggle in small arms history. The Army needed something, and remember this is the same US Army that tested the AK47 and denounced it for not being accurate enough, so the AR15/M16 was there, the AF had them, SF had tested them in SEA and liked them, and then Big Army and DOD bean counters rushed it into mass production without a CL chamber n bore, ammo with the wrong propellant (fouling!), changed the twist rate to make it more accurate (also less deadly) hyped by some idiot NCOs that it didn’t need cleaning, cleaning kits were late to be issued and no one briefed anyone that the magazines were meant to be disposable. So they were were. , You almost have to be from that era and been there to really grasp it all. This was the same DOD still issuing mass quantities of S&W M10 .38s with 130gr FMJ low velocity ammo to Army, Navy and AF flight crewman ( The USAF actually at times issued Super Vel HP .38 ammo to some flight crews) and on it goes. Like the M60? Another piece of unfinished work from that era that we took to Nam without development.

        The M16 and M4 have four things going for them, lightweight ammo and a excellent selector switch, mag release and bolt release. Other than that its a pos. We should have just adopted the AK47 or even the MP44 and been done with it. Sometimes simpler is better. Today you see insurgents and foreign friendlies using AKs with optics, its here to stay for decades more. The last thing we need now are even more complex small arms and ammunition types that will invariably test well, but be a slow burning dog turd lesson in combat and in manufacturing.

      • Dave Spears

        Just a few things to consider. The M14 rifle was not the do all be all that the US Army claimed it would be : to replace the BAR, M3, Garand, Carbine and the 45 pistol. It was also the first Billion dollar cost over run boondoggle in small arms history. The Army needed something, and remember this is the same US Army that tested the AK47 and denounced it for not being accurate enough, so the AR15/M16 was there, the AF had them, SF had tested them in SEA and liked them, and then Big Army and DOD bean counters rushed it into mass production without a CL chamber n bore, ammo with the wrong propellant (fouling!), changed the twist rate to make it more accurate (also less deadly) hyped by some idiot NCOs that it didn’t need cleaning, cleaning kits were late to be issued and no one briefed anyone that the magazines were meant to be disposable. So they were were. , You almost have to be from that era and been there to really grasp it all. This was the same DOD still issuing mass quantities of S&W M10 .38s with 130gr FMJ low velocity ammo to Army, Navy and AF flight crewman ( The USAF actually at times issued Super Vel HP .38 ammo to some flight crews) and on it goes. Like the M60? Another piece of unfinished work from that era that we took to Nam without development.

        The M16 and M4 have four things going for them, lightweight ammo and a excellent selector switch, mag release and bolt release. Other than that its a pos. We should have just adopted the AK47 or even the MP44 and been done with it. Sometimes simpler is better. Today you see insurgents and foreign friendlies using AKs with optics, its here to stay for decades more. The last thing we need now are even more complex small arms and ammunition types that will invariably test well, but be a slow burning dog turd lesson in combat and in manufacturing.

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