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The Right Weapon for the Job
The AnarchAngel ^ | March 16, 2005 | Chris Byrne

Posted on 04/20/2008 2:17:59 PM PDT by a_chronic_whiner

Lots of folks hate the AR, or they THINK they hate the AR.

Of those people, probably half just don't care for the caliber, and we'll definitely address that. Another quarter just hate black plastic guns, or the design of the AR specifically (the gas system especially), which I disagree with, but I understand their aesthetic issue, and the gas system IS a pain to clean.

It's the rest of the AR haters I want to talk about. They don't like the AR/M16/M4 either because they don't like the entire concept of the assault rifle, or because the assault rifle was the wrong weapon for the job they were trying to do with it (by choice or otherwise).

So let's get into that; what does our military need in it's individual weapons, and why?

First, we need to limit our scope somewhat: When referring to military individual small arms, it is primary infantry weapons that we are most concerned about; which of course means the infantry rifle. Additionally, there are also secondary and tertiary weapons that we must consider, either for non-infantry missions, or for infantry missions not suited to stasdard long arms. Also important to note, special operations forces will always have needs that will not be met by standard general issue weapons.

One other important distinction: In terms of casualty creation, the primary small arm of the infantry is in fact the full machine gun (either LMG/SAW or MMG/GPMG), but machine guns are limited in number to perhaps as high as 20% of troops. Given this, and the fact that they are used in the fire support role, full machine guns are not properly seen as individual weapons, even if they are capable of, or designed for individual uses , such as our M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).

Part One - Primary Individual Infantry Weapons

Since world war two, there have been two dominant concepts of primary long arms for infantry operations; the assault rifle, and the battle rifle.

The battle rifle is the evolution of several hundred years of war fighting long rifles. It is designed to be effective out to 600-800 yards, both in caliber, and in the weapon itself. This means a longer barrel, a full and supportive stock, and a high powered cartridge, generally firing a fairly heavy bullet at fairly high velocities.

The battle rifle is highly accurate, and very powerful. It is the ideal tool for a single infantryman, engaging targets at long ranges, and moving in the open field or light cover. In other words, it is the ideal weapon for wars as they were fought up until WW1, and in some theaters of WW2.

The modern battle rifle; as exemplified by the M14, the G3, the AR10, the FAL, the CETME, and the Sig 540 and all their variants; is the best tool for the individual rifleman ever devised.

There are some disadvantages to the concept though: Battle rifles are heavy, long, and have very high recoil. They are not very controllable under rapid fire, and they are awkward to move through tight spaces. Also their ammunition is heavy, and bulky.

More important than these basic physical factors however, is that we don't fight as individual riflemen anymore, and we don't generally fight in the open field.

The way the infantry fights and maneuvers today is in small groups, moving from cover to cover, and rarely engaging in the open field. We cover open terrain by riding in light armor or fast soft vehicles. We often fight in dense cover or in urban environments. Our engagement ranges rarely exceed 300 yards, and when they do, we generally fight with artillery and air support. We also have a combined weapon squad structure that uses light machine guns as integral components. The LMG's are the primary base of fire weapons, making one of the fuctions of the semi and/or fully automatic battle rifle redundant.

This is not to say that battle rifles are obsolete, they certainly have a place on the battlefield, as they are excellent individual killing machines. But we need a primary arm that is appropriate to the majority of infantrymen, and another arm that is appropriate to those who fight in the rear, or who fight from a vehicle, where a full size rifle would hinder their mission.

The assault rifle is a very different beast from the battle rifle. An assault rifle is designed to be effective out to 300 meters. It will fire a medium power round, with low recoil, and if designed properly will be reasonably controllable under rapid fire, and even automatic fire. The ammunition itself will be light, and easily packable. Not only that, but the lower powered round and shorter range means the weapon can be lighter, shorter, and more easily packed and maneuvered.

There are a lot of people out there who really HATE the whole IDEA of an assault rifle. They want a full powered, individual weapon. They want the ability to reach out that 800 yards (whether they need it, or can use it; which most don't and can't). Often they don't like the entire tactical doctrine that the assault rifle is designed for.

Combine this dislike of the assault rifle concept, with decades of bullpoo about AR reliability (which was originally born of horrible experience, and yes, it does suffer in comparison to the AK), and the admitedly marginal 5.56 nato caliber, and you get some of the most amazing vitriol.

Here's the thing, the battle rifle concept requires a very highly trained individual of relatively high physical strength and reasonably large size for maximum effectiveness. Even assuming we can build and maintain such a force, it would require entirely different tactial doctrine and training.

And guess what, even then, the full power 7.62n STILL DOESN'T WORK ON TODAYS BATTLEFIELD; or, at least not as the general issue infantry arm.

The battle rifle was born out of the civil war (and in fact the earlier Napoleonic and Crimean wars), was mostly obsolete as a general issue infantry arm by the end of world war 1, and totally obsolete for that purpose by the end of World War 2. There is no place in modern warfare for mass formation of men engaging at more than 300 yards, and therefore, there is no need for a rifle designed to do just that to be in general issue, or for you to carry a weapon like that into combat at all, unless you are a DM, scout sniper, or spotter (which I believe there should be more of).

Let me explain.

The battle rifle is an instrument of individual fighters, engaging other individual fighters at long range, in relatively loose but coherent lines, and light but hard cover. If it helps you to visualize, think of each rifleman as a tank in an armored battle. As different as the medium are, the tactical concepts as relate to targeting and engaging the enemy with fire are similar. The thing is, tanks have armor, and people don't (or at least not very effective armor).

This type of infantry warfare was almost entirely over by WW2, and I don't see it ever coming back as the pirmary infantry warfare mission again.

Infantry warfare since WW2 (with the exception of some Korean War battles) has been almost entirely maneuver war with meeting engagements occuring at 80 yards or less. Soldiers as a group no longer engage at over 300 yards with rifles (though individual marksmen MAY); Tactics have moved on. If a modern soldier sees a 500 yard open space he doesn't cross it unless he can't avoid it. He goes around it, looks for cover, gets armor or artillery, or hops in a softie, puts his cheater plate under his balls, and dashes it.

Yes there are exception (some types of desert warfare for example), but you choose your primary weapons for the general case, not the exceptions. When the exceptions occur, you either adapt your primary arm, you issue alternate arms, or change you tactics to compensate.

There will always be a place for individual marksmen on the field, and there should be a minority element of long range marksmen in any formation, but the age of the majority of the army being long range riflemen is long over.

Unfortunately the era of romanticising individual rifle fire as a form of combat action is FAR from over. It is this unrealistic romance that motivates so many to hate the assault rifle concept (please note I am referring to assault rifles in general, not the M16, or the 5.56n chambering specifically both of which at least have some valid justification for ill will).

We now organize most units into mutually supporting pairs, further organized into fire and support elements containing medium and heavy weapons (LMG/SAW and grenade launchers; possibly recoilless rifles,MMG's, and/or light-medium vehicle mounted weapons). The largest infantry formations you will EVER see Americans in on a modern battlefield are company level, and even then they will be broken up into maneuver elements at the platoon or squad level. These elements generally WILL NOT engage at more than 300-500 yards if they can avoid it; they will maneuver for advantage, they will call in air, or arty, or armor.

Some say we use these tactics because our weapons demand it, and if every soldier had a 600yd gun, he would be more effecive, but this is entirely untrue. Even if you gave every soldier 600 yard capable rifles, they wouldn't use them, because this way WORKS BETTER. Mutually supporting pairs, grouped into 4-24 man fire and support maneuver elements engaging at under 300m works better. This is how we fight today, and this is what we need our general infantry arm to do. Guess what; that sounds to me like that's the very definition of an assault rifle.

Again, this is not to say there aren't situations where 500 and 600 yard shots arent called for, or can't be made, but with a properly structured balance of weapons and training, these situations can generally be handled by the designated maksmen role, not the basic infantry soldier.

Heading down from the abstract for a moment, in todays American military, the AR is our assault rifle. The AR isn't perfect, but it's design is fundamentally sound, and it is a decent compromise weapon for the purpose. The AR is the best example of the American conception of the assault rifle, and its danged good at just that (though it needs a better chambering).

The AR isn't a battle rifle, and it isn't an SMG, and if you try and use it for either, you'll be at best pissed off, and at worst, dead.

Part Two - The caliber question

The primary concerns in designing a cartridge for an infantry arm, specifically for an assault rifle are as follows, and in rough order

  1. Stopping power and range (out to 300 yards)
  2. Killing power and range (out to 300 yards)
  3. weight and packability
  4. Controllability under rapid fire
  5. Accuracy at range (out to 300 yards)
The primary advantages of the 5.56n are that it's easy for anyone to shoot, and you can carry almost twice as much as 7.62n for the same weight and about the same space. In a "typical" modern warfare scenario; if I'm a basic leg squaddie, I'd rather have 200 .223 than 100 .308 (actually in my case it'd be more like 400, vs 200; or even more likely I'd be the guy with the Para Minimi, and 4 pods, and I have been, but I'm a BIG guy).

Unfortunately, experience has shown that while the .223 is a good killer, it is not a good stopper. One properl placed shot from the .223 is just as likely to kill someone as any other major caliber rifle, but it will do so slower, and leave the subject more functional while they are dying. This is unnaceptable in an infantry weapon. Also the performance of the 5.56 against light cover is unpredictable at best and unacceptable at worst.

So what does that indicate? We need a much heavier bullet.

Honestly, I think 7.62n is a great battle rifle caliber, and given a choice in battle rifles it's what I'd carry (I own an M14, not an M1a, and I love it), but that same experience that indicates the 5.56n is a poor battle choice, has shown the 7.62n is far more than necessary for a man sized target at less than 300yds, and is not very controllable in rapid fire.

Really, the 7.62n, and the weapons chambered for it arent all that useful in CQB situations, and the main advantage they provide over lighter calibers is at ranges in excess of our target for assault rifles.

Combine these two lessons and what do you get?

For the mission facing our soldiers today, the primary infantry arm should be in a caliber with a much larger and heavier bullet than the .223, but with a lower powder charge and shorter case than the .308.

This makes the various .243, .250, .260, .270, 6.5, 6.8 etc... solutions look pretty good to me, but even some of them may be more than necessary.

Personally I'd prefer to see a short cased 7 or 8mm round be the primary infantry arm caliber.

Good quality 7.62x39, is to my mind the ideal assault rifle round around today, but I'd like to see it's performance maximized for modern metallurgy and powder technologies to give it some more speed and power. Not a lot more power, but another couple hundred FPS should give a useful power boost, and possibly an accuracy boost, wthout losing too much controlability. Maybe a 125gr pushed up to 2450 fps?

Even in stock form, I think it's a decent choice. Yes you give up accuracy and range to both the 5.56, and the 7.62n, but at 300yds or less, and especially at 50 yds or less I'd rather have the heavier bullet at lower velocity. When 7.62x39 is chambered in a good gun, and manufactured to US/NATO standards, it's just good a round as any of the other proposals, and it has the added advantage of allowing us to standardize on one single bore size for accessories like cleaning jags and brushes, across our entire line of individual weapons.

The thing is though? This is NEVER going to happen. The chances of the US adopting a soviet caliber are essentially nil. There may be a possibility of adopting a short cased version of the 7.62n, say 7.62x39 or 7.62x45, based on the 7.62x51 case and firing shorter OAL bullets, perhaps in the 140gr range; unfortunately as far as I know, no-one is developing this concept as a serious military cartridge (though there are a couple of hunting cartridges of a similar concept).

So what looks good out there right now? Well the 6.5 Grendel, and the 6.8 SPC are probably the best fit with the needs of todays infantry, and our current generation of infantry arms. This is borne out by the Armys repeated flirtation with the 6.8, and it's pilot use by various special operations groups. It's a decent compromise between weight, velocity, and recoil, and it chambers in existing weapons very easily. It's also a far better choice as an LMG round than the .223 (though some say the 6.5 is an even better one).

The priamry effect of these choices would be to increase the effective range and stopping power out from the current 100 or so yards at high percentage; and 300 yards at low percentage, to 300 yards high percentage, and 500 yards low percentage, neatly bridging the gap between the assault and battle rifle platforms.

(A funny aside, for years I've been thinking in meters, but the last few months I've been thinking in yards again as I spent a lot more time explaining gun stuff to non-military types on various online forums).

Part Three - Secondary Individual Weapons

There is another category of long arm entirely, and that is the intermediate arm, sometimes called a secondary weapon.

The intermediate arm is a very short, very light, and maneuverable shoulder arm, with a short range (100 yards or thereabouts), intermediate power, and preferably full auto capability. The intermediate arm is what you arm those non-infantry folks I talked about above with; the loggies, the techs, the tankers and the rest.

There are two common incarnations of the intermediate arm, the assault carbine, and the SMG.

The assault carbine is in essence a shortened assault rifle (like the M4). It will fire the same round as its larger brother, use the same acessories etc... it will just be shorter. This has it's advantages and disadvantages; the weapon will be easy to train on and supply for, since the main infantry long arm is essentially the same weapon; and in theory will retain much of the power and capability of it's parent weapon. Unfortunately, there are performance issues; mostly because the very short barrel of the assault carbine results in poor performance with intermediate rifle calibers.

The M1 carbine was the first American example of the assault carbine, and it was a very good concept, but the execution left a little something to be desired. It proved mostly unsuitable for full auto fire (the M2 variant), and the .3o carbine cartridge is marginal for an assault carbine, being more suited to an SMG. That being said, second line troops loved the thing, as did smaller stature troops, it was only when it was substituted as a primary infantry arm that it developed a poor reputation.

Moving to the case of our armed forces today, the M4 has a 14.5", very light profile barrel, and the 5.56n caliber has what could be charitably called suboptimal performance with barrels shorter than 16", and really with barrels shorter than 18-20" depending on the load used. Even worse, the M4 has become the general issue arm, so when soldiers are in situations requiring a rifle rather than a carbine, they are left short (literally). We started to make this same mistake with the M1 carbine, but caught ourselves before major disaster.

The real problem with the M4, is that it is a compromise gun. It isnt really useful at much over 100 yards, and it isn't as short or handy as an SMG. In the effort to be more versatile, the compromise has gone too far, and I cant think of a single situation where either an SMG, or a full rifle wouldnt do a better job in general issue. Under 100 yards, from a long barreled SMG a good high powered pistol cartridge will be almost as effective as a .223, and under 50 yards it will be more effective, with less recoil, muzzle blast, weight, cost, really everything all down the line. Over 100 yards you dont need the compactness offered by the M4, and the factors working against its accuracy and stopping power add up very rapidly (especially the short light profile barrrel)

Which brings us to the SMG, which is specifically designed to be used by support personnel, by those who move in restricted spaces, and by those who fight at short ranges. It will generally shoot a standard pistol round, but it will have a barrel long enough to take full advantage of the round, resulting in 40-50% higher velocities than from a pistol. Also being shoulder mounted, and heavier than a pistol, a well designed SMG can be easily controlled in full auto. Even with the longest useful barrel (10-14" depending on the chambering, or 8" for some suppressed models), an SMG will generally be shorter than an assault carbine. Additionally the ammunition for an SMG will be smaller, lighter, more packable, and often has the added advantage of being compatible with sidearms. Additionally, SMG's are more easily suppressed, for signature reduction and covert operations.

Really, the only disadvantage to an SMG, is it's reduced power and range due to chambering a pistol cartridge (thus the preference for the assault carbine in general issue). My contention is that for many troops, the SMG is precisely the weapon they need for their mission. which doesn't involve engaging the enemy on foot at over 100 yards.

Part Four - Tertiary Individual Weapons/Personal Weapons

The final weapon type I want to talk about here are personal and/or tertiary weapons; specifically, sidearms, and shotguns.

A sidearm is there for you to fight at the shortest ranges, to fight where you can't maneuver (enclosed spaces and the like), and to fight back to a situation where you can call in aditional supprt and/or bring your long gun in to play. If you are in a situation where you KNOW you are going to be in tight quarters, you should have an assault carbine, or preferably an SMG as your long gun; the pistol is only a weapon of last resort.

Shotguns are a specialty weapon in military terms. There is no more effective close quarters weapon than a short, light, and handy shotgun. They clear a room, and bust a lock better than anything short of explosives. Also, shotguns are often mountable as a secondary weapon under the barrel of a primary (as in the master key system), and are light and handy enough to be slingable or packable as a secondary weapon.

Though the military value of the shotgun in conventional battle is limited, in urban combat, and general CQB, the shotgun is a devestating weapon, and an advantage not to be taken (or discarded) lightly. I don't believe we put enough value on the shotguns use in combat in our forces today. It is primarily relegated to being a security detail weapon, and to entry gun duties. I believe it is the ideal weapon for those soldiers who have serve in areas with lots of short range open spaces, and it's the ideal support weapon for CQB.

Part Five - The Right Weapon for the Job

Ok, lots of exposition so far about the roles and funtions of various military weapons, let's translate this into practical terms. What is the right weapon for the job?

I've been coming to the opinion over the last few years that we need to revamp our small arms structure, training, and qualification in the armed forces.

I believe we need to have a hierarchy of arms something like this (some of this is already in place, or is being developed now):

There are in fact two companies who can provide the entire list of weapons above from their existing (or development) inventory, HK and FN (though FN doesn't offer a competitive .45, they do offer pistols in .40 which can be converted to .357SIG).

The Army apparently agrees with me in this, because HK is looking like the front runner for the new SAW contract, the new assault rifle contract, the new .40 and/or .45 pistol contract (depending on what sources you believe), the underslung shotgun and grenade launcher contracts, and they already supply the SMG's.

Part Six - Training and Qualification

In addition to the material changes we need to change our training and qualification systems. I believe we need to transition to a forces training doctrine that focuses far more on small arms; and on close quarters battle, and personal defense/force protection.

In this day and age of fluid combat, behind the lines engagement, and the constant need for vigilance, I think everyone should qualify with, and be issued a sidearm. Our standards for qualification and training should emphasize that the pistol is a 15-25 max yard weapon, and that it should only be used to fight your way back to an effective weapon, a radio, or in last ditch personal defense.

All personnel should recieve basic instruction in the pistol, SMG, shotgun, and assault rifle during induction/basic training. Once basic instruction is given, they should be required to qualify with the pistol and basic rifle

Those personnel who score in the top 25% (or perhaps as high as 35%), and have an infantry, or infantry related MOS should be offered designated marksmen training on the battle rifle, or if they are physically strong enough for the weight of the weapon and ammo load (which are considerable, believe me), SAW training.

Once they have recieved basic qualification and training, they should be requried to select (or be assigned based on MOS) the shotgun or SMG for an alternate weapon. All DM and SAW gunners should qualify with the SMG as their alternate weapon.

Very important, ALL personnel should be required to qualify, and maintain currency with the basic rifle, and sidearm, as well as their alternate weapon. This should apply to non-combatant personnel as well as combatants. In the case of DM and SAW gunners, they should be required to re-qualify with their individual weapon, the basic rifle, the SMG, and their pistol.

Essentially what I've described is treating the entire army as I would a special operations force. Each operator is expected to know at expert level, their primary and secondary operational specialties, their primary and secondary wepons, and their personal weapon/sidearm.

This method, and philosophy has proven itself to be extremely effective, no matter what the soldiers occupational area is; in that this much practice with all these types of small arms reinforces proper marksmanship and weapons handling, and just general combat alertness and readiness; more than any other single method we can use in training. Yes, this is about four times the current level of small arms training and qualification we do currently, and yes it will be extremely expensive and time consuming, but I believe it is what we need to have the most effective fighting force reasonably possible.

UPDATE: I discuss more specific choices on weapons in the next part of this series "Getting Down to Specifics"

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The 6.5 Grendel As a Unified Military Cartridge

John Hanka
February 22, 2005

Being a military buff, I’m always asking myself questions such as: What’s the best main battle tank? What’s the best jet fighter? What’s the best assault rifle? And then there came the day when I asked myself: What’s the best assault rifle cartridge? After studying the issue for a while and giving it quite a bit of thought, I typed into Google’s search engine: 6.5 PPC. The search results lead me to Arne Brennan’s early website describing his experiments with the 6.5 PPC which, in collaboration with Bill Alexander of Alexander Arms, was to become the 6.5 Grendel.

Subsequently, I created this website and began my online advocacy of the 6.5 Grendel as a general-purpose military cartridge for assault rifles, man-portable machine guns, and designated marksman rifles for ranges from zero to 1,000 yards and as a replacement for both the 5.56 NATO and 7.62 NATO. In response to a challenge on another forum, I had set down my thinking on the issue in a somewhat orderly fashion, and have reproduced those basic arguments here for your consideration.

First of all, what do I actually propose? I contend the 6.5 Grendel should replace both 5.56 and 7.62. I propose a three-cartridge small arms system: (1) A pistol cartridge for pistols and submachine guns. (2) The 6.5 Grendel for assault rifles, man-portable machine guns (includes what we now call LMGs and MMGs), and designated marksman rifles. (3) Vehicle mounted and heavy anti-material would be handled by .50 BMG. Dedicated snipers with very specific needs can use any cartridge/weapon combo they’re willing to lug into the field. Now, if this proposal seems radical, consider that that is how we fought World War II. We had the .45 ACP for pistols and SMGs, the .30-06 for rifles and machine guns, and the .50 BMG. Now, of course, we had the .30 Carbine, but that was intended to be a pistol replacement, and not a general-purpose rifle cartridge. I’m proposing the 6.5 Grendel as a new general-purpose rifle cartridge.

I base my advocacy of the 6.5 Grendel roughly on the military studies coming out of World War II that the .30-06 was too heavy and the ideal small-arms cartridge should be something like the British .280. My thinking is based on acceptance of the general consensus of the postwar studies by the major participants, including the thinking that gave the Russians their 7.62x39 M1943. I accept the assumption that 99% of infantry firefights take place within 500 meters, and probably 85% take place within 300 meters. I still want a realistic long-range capability, however, for DMRs and the machine guns. And I don’t think the need for true long-range capability is in dispute, even given the above assumptions, because, for whatever reasons, the current U.S. military requirement includes 800-meter effectiveness, or more.

My proposal rests on the assumption that the current two-cartridge system is more by accident than by any master plan. It may actually have turned out well, and we’re getting along nicely with it, but it’s not absolutely dictated by any combat requirements that a military must have a two-cartridge shoulder arms system! So I consider it up for reasonable debate.

My proposal assumes that a one-cartridge system will have big-picture pay-offs in the realms of logistics and budgets. No more designing two sets of every weapon: a SCAR-L and a SCAR-H, a Mk 11 and a Mk12, an M249 and an M240, etc. No more worrying about whether you brought enough 7.62; everybody uses one cartridge, and this is helpful in a pinch. At this point, you might argue that the Russians, even in the heyday of their 7.62x39, maintained their 7.62x54 for the medium machine gun. I will grant this is a good point. However, the 7.62x39 never had ballistics that could equal those of their full-power cartridge; the 6.5 Grendel changes all that, shooting as flat, or flatter, than both 7.62 NATO M80 ball and M118LR!

It rests on the assumption that if 5.56 terminal ballistics are “good enough,” then 6.5G terminals also are. Moreover, any increase in terminal effect of the 6.5G over 5.56 is, as they say, “gravy.” The 6.5G hits with roughly twice the lead mass of 5.56, so you have the potential for twice the mass of fragments and, if maximum fragmentation is coincident with maximum temporary cavity, you’re going to have very convincing terminal effects. And the short answer to concerns about overpenetration before yaw is that, firstly, there’s more than one theory of where, exactly, a bullet should begin yaw in gelatin and, secondly, a new bullet can be engineered to specific requirements, if a given off-the-shelf bullet doesn’t happen to be ideal. This is what Hornady did with their 6.8 115gr OTM, for example.

It assumes that we don’t call upon 7.62 NATO weapons to improve soft-target terminal ballistics, we call upon them for increased range and penetration of intermediate barriers or light armor. I’m assuming that if 5.56 terminal effects in soft targets are “good enough,” then 7.62 terminals would be “overkill.” Thus, for 6.5G to replace 7.62, it doesn’t need to equal the soft-target terminal effects of 7.62, it needs to equal (or exceed!) the range and penetration of 7.62. If we truly felt 7.62 terminal effects were absolutely NEEDED across the board, we wouldn’t allow line units to be equipped with only 5.56! Nobody says, “Hey! My 5.56 isn’t lethal enough, bring in the 7.62s!” They say, “Hey! My 5.56 doesn’t have enough range or penetration, bring in the 7.62s.” You don't need a 7.62 MMG just to “keep their heads down”; you’ve got M249s for that. So if 6.5G can equal the range and penetration of 7.62, it’s a valid replacement, even if I’m replacing a 147gr bullet with a 123gr.

I am intrigued by the fact that we could give every troop in the line the range and penetration of 7.62 M80 in a compact cartridge that fits in the size envelope of 5.56 M855! Such an increase in firepower would definitely teach the enemy the difference between cover and concealment. And where the amount of effective cover is reduced on the battlefield, enemy casualties must increase. And where the enemy has been chased from cover that formerly stopped 5.56 and has been “herded” into available cover that can stop 6.5 Grendel with it’s ability to penetrate like 7.62 M80, a well-placed smart munition should be cost-effective.

All of cartridge design is a study in compromise. Alas, though there’s an increase in capability with an intermediate cartridge, there’s also a corresponding increase in weight; a basic load of 210 rounds of 6.5 Grendel ammo brings a weight increase of about 2.4 pounds over 5.56. If you want to carry the same weight in 6.5G as you currently have in 5.56, you reduce the basic load from 210 rounds to 147. Please realize that there’s no “magical” number of rounds in the basic load, these things are up for debate. We won World War II, for example, with a basic load of 80 rounds of .30-06!

How to deal with the weight issue? One of my answers is that it’s already an unspoken doctrine that you “double-tap” with 5.56. If one round of M855 5.56 weighs 186 grains, and one of 6.5G 123gr weighs 265 grains, then using two 5.56s for one 6.5G actually uses 140% more ammo weight! So I would argue that the increase in effectiveness of the individual round offsets some of the weight increase. Having said that, experienced combat troops take as much ammo as they can carry, anyway, and a former Marine who fought in the early Hill Country battles in Vietnam swears to me that being able to carry a lot of rounds of 5.56 kept him and his buddies from being overrun. So a realistic basic load is a serious issue.

Having acknowledged that reduced ammo weight is a worthy goal, we must realize that this, too, is an arbitrary figure, open to debate. For example, if you carry an ammo weight-saving initiative to the extreme, we’d all be armed with .22 LR! Obviously, a compromise needs to be made between cartridge weight and projectile effectiveness. The debate between the weight of 5.56 and 6.5G simply rests in where you decide to draw the line. I find the “optimum compromise” in an intermediate position between 5.56 and 7.62, and I think the combination of post-WW2 studies and recent, real-world experience with 5.56 deficiencies supports this. So I suggest we find ways to shave 2.4 pounds in other gear to allow an intermediate-cartridge basic load that brings with it no weight penalty.

But where a shorter-range intermediate cartridge would simply add weight to the overall burden but only give limited additional capabilities, it’s different with the 6.5G. Because the longer-range 6.5G also replaces the range and penetration of 7.62 NATO M80, it allows you to offset some of the earlier weight increase by greatly decreasing the weight for an M240 machine gun team, as I’ve detailed elsewhere. For the same weight of 2,000 rounds of 7.62, you can carry 2,924 rounds of 6.5G, or you can have 2,000 of 6.5G and save 35 lbs on ammo alone (not including a lighter MG weight).

The two things that would make my arguments invalid would be if the 6.5 Grendel had worse terminal performance than 5.56 and worse range and penetration than 7.62. These things need to be rigorously and scientifically tested; some have already taken place, and more are to come.

What seems clear to me at this point is that there is no technical reason the 6.5 Grendel couldn’t serve our military as a general-purpose replacement for both 5.56 and 7.62; it’s a matter of political will. I would like to see some innovative soul study the logistical and financial efficiencies we’d gain from having only one set of general-purpose weapons and one cartridge, instead of our current system cobbled together that dictates a 5.56 version and also a 7.62 version of basically the same weapon.

1 posted on 04/20/2008 2:18:00 PM PDT by a_chronic_whiner
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To: a_chronic_whiner

H&K 91 A2 is tops IMHO.

2 posted on 04/20/2008 2:27:19 PM PDT by Westlander (Unleash the Neutron Bomb)
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To: a_chronic_whiner

[1] How could the author of the article failed to mention the Stg 44, the granddaddy of ALL assault rifles [7.9 cal, I believe] in the article? Nor does he mention the German Army’s study of infantry combat that led to it’s development.
[2] The Army’s Spec Ops guys have gotten Remington to develop a 6.8 round they’d like to see in use on an M4 platform. So you’re pretty close to getting what you’d like, caliberwise when it gets adopted

3 posted on 04/20/2008 2:31:32 PM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: PzLdr

Seems like a weapon that was very much ahead of it’s time. Good thing allied forces didn’t come across them in much greater numbers and earlier in the war.

4 posted on 04/20/2008 2:50:16 PM PDT by a_chronic_whiner (Captain: For Great Justice)
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To: a_chronic_whiner

They owe that one to Adolf. Since he used the Mauser 98, he figured it was good enough for the Landsers of WWII. The German Army actually developed it in secret, and referred to it in all the documents and communications as a machine pistol [a la the so-called “Schmeisser”].

First time Hitler became aware of it was when a general at a conference responded to a question from him about what he wanted for the troops. When he said he wanted more of the new rifles, the cat was out of the bag. But Adolf was mollified when he saw it, and gave it the name “Sturmgewehr”, or ‘assault weapon’.

Thus Hitler not only named that rifle, but the entire class of weapons descended from it; a designation used to this day.

5 posted on 04/20/2008 3:34:15 PM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: Westlander

I agree.Bought mine back in 1978 before prices went crazy.I have never had a failure to feed or eject.

6 posted on 04/20/2008 3:39:50 PM PDT by Farmer Dean (168 grains of instant conflict resolution)
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To: PzLdr
[1] How could the author of the article failed to mention the Stg 44, the granddaddy of ALL assault rifles [7.9 cal, I believe] in the article? Nor does he mention the German Army’s study of infantry combat that led to it’s development.

He also didn't mention the effect of volume fire by the "puny" Soviet PPSh41 on German thinking either.

7 posted on 04/20/2008 4:25:53 PM PDT by fso301
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To: a_chronic_whiner

The complaints allowed as valid here are the complaints I heard when I was in Vietnam. The other complaints the author cites I have not heard before. The answer was then the AK-47 which some troops traded for. It is not good when your weapon jams repeatedly because of the extremely dirty environment of the engagement. The M16 improved considerably over the course of that war but didn’t get better at stopping a charging enemy soldier. I agree on the unsuitability of the old Garand for jungle or city fighting but the solution has been apparent for a long time and that is the 7.62x39 round or something very like it. Better would be a version of that round that is not interoperable with the weapon most likely in the hands of enemy fighters. I know very little of the arcana of different ammo and different devices but those have been my observations. I have had both a 7.63x39 weapon and an AR. The .223 is just too easily deflected in foliage and that critter you shot can move too far before it knows it is dead.

8 posted on 04/20/2008 4:47:52 PM PDT by arthurus
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To: a_chronic_whiner

The 5.56 with the M4 platform is a great manstopper. It’s important however to use soft point projectiles. Here’s an example:

9 posted on 04/20/2008 4:52:10 PM PDT by Ajnin (Neca Eos Omnes. Deus Suos Agnoset.)
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To: a_chronic_whiner
Advantages of the AR15/M16/M4:
* Lightweight.
* Ammo is also lightweight, already discussed.
* “Straight down, straight up” and nearly fumble-proof magazine replacement. - Very important in the dark or with a numb or injured hand. {as opposed to the M14 or AK weapons where the fresh mag must be “rocked” into place, usually, precisely.}
* Individual parts are built to close tolerances, enabling good accuracy and cannibalizing of many parts in an emergency situation. - even the bolt.
* Big advantage - Thanks to the fellows in the Vietnam era, our guys are familiar with it's strengths and weaknesses. They have been trained how to use it and use it effectively.

* Many of the points already mentioned, power and reliability under extreme use.
* I think the darn thing could use an operating knob or handle on the bolt carrier. The net weight gain would be zero, since you could then eliminate the forward assist.
{Not my original idea, I saw one years ago with this custom modification. But honestly, it looked a little too delicate for rough use.}

10 posted on 04/20/2008 6:09:28 PM PDT by labette
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To: harpseal; TexasCowboy; nunya bidness; AAABEST; Travis McGee; Squantos; Shooter 2.5; wku man; SLB; ..
Monday fun thread.

Click the Gadsden flag for pro-gun resources!

11 posted on 04/21/2008 5:27:01 AM PDT by Joe Brower (Sheep have three speeds: "graze", "stampede" and "cower".)
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To: a_chronic_whiner; Joe Brower; Squantos

How many 6.5G’s fit into an M-16 magazine, compared to 25 6.8SPC’s?

12 posted on 04/21/2008 5:42:43 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--- ---)
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To: Ajnin; wardaddy; hiredhand; DuncanWaring; Eaker; Squantos; B4Ranch

Great video above! OUCH!

(That guy will never try to throw another rock point blank at a BP agent armed with an M-4)

You make a great point. For civilians who are not restricted to military hardball ammo, the entire discussion about the effectiveness of .223 compared to other calibers is moot. (Ditto for 9mm vs .45) Load those mags with HPs and they are both man stoppers.

13 posted on 04/21/2008 5:48:12 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--- ---)
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To: Ajnin

What happened to BPA Lorenzo after that incident? Good shoot?

(Looked great to me, compared to taking a grapefruit sized rock on the noggin.)

14 posted on 04/21/2008 5:51:00 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--- ---)
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To: a_chronic_whiner
Because the longer-range 6.5G also replaces the range and penetration of 7.62 NATO M80, it allows you to offset some of the earlier weight increase by greatly decreasing the weight for an M240 machine gun team, as I’ve detailed elsewhere

Tracer burnout distance for the 6.5? Oh, the tank crews are just going to LOVE this swell idea. the whole point of having a co-ax gun is that up close the gunner can burn off a short burst from the coax, and when he sees tracers bouncing every which way, knows he's on a hard-skinned target deserving of the main gun round up the spout. Any bets on for how much of a distance the 5.56/6.5mm trajectory and that of the 120mm coincide?

Some tank commanders use their .50 similarly, but usually have only a 200-round can of ammo available; more often it's fed straight out of a 105-round M2A1 .50 cal shipping can, with only 10 cans normally carried. the standard load of 12,400 rounds of linked 7.62mm for the co-ax and the loader's roof gun is a little better. And, BTW, we need to consider performance in Arctic conditions as well....

15 posted on 04/21/2008 5:55:58 AM PDT by archy (Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno. [from Virgil's *Aeneid*.])
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To: a_chronic_whiner

I’ll always prefer the M14 or the FAL any time, anywhere.

16 posted on 04/21/2008 6:10:53 AM PDT by GingisK
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To: a_chronic_whiner
The two things that would make my arguments invalid would be if the 6.5 Grendel had worse terminal performance than 5.56 and worse range and penetration than 7.62. These things need to be rigorously and scientifically tested; some have already taken place, and more are to come.

Some have indeed taken place: .256/.276 Enfield cartridge, circa 1910

Recognising that the .303 cartridge as well as the Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles were becoming obsolescent, during World War II the British Government set up the Ideal Cartridge Panel to decide on a new cartridge for the British Army, taking account of past experience and information coming in from the battlefield. The panel was headed by Richard Beeching, Deputy Chief Engineer of the Armament Design Establishment of the Ministry of Supply, the body concerned with the design and production of weapons and ammunition. The panel was composed of engineers, designers and soldiers, many of whom would play a role in the design and thinking behind the EM-2.

British 1945 "Ideal Cartridge Panel" conclusion and result:

Perhaps the most interesting and instructive series of experiments took place in the UK in the late 1960s, when thorough attempt was made to design an ideal military small-arms round. This started with calculations of the bullet energy required to inflict a disabling wound on soldiers with various levels of protection. The energy varied depending on the calibre, as a larger calibre required more energy to push it through armour. For example, it was calculated that while a 7.62mm bullet would need 700 joules to penetrate modern helmets and heavy body armour, a 7mm would require 650j, a 6.25mm 580j, a 5.5mm 500j and a 4.5mm 320j (this last figure looks wrong and should probably be 420j). This figures applied at the target; muzzle energies would clearly have to much higher, depending on the required range and the ballistic characteristics of the bullet.

A range of "optimum solutions" for ballistics at different calibres was produced. These resulted in muzzle energies ranging from 825 joules in 4.5mm to 2,470j in 7mm. More work led to a preferred solution; a 6.25mm calibre with a bullet of 6.48g at 817 m/s, for a muzzle energy of 2,160 joules. The old 7mm EM2 case was necked down to 6.25mm for live firing experiments, although had the calibre been adopted a new cartridge would probably have been designed. Tests revealed that the 6.25 cartridge matched the 7.62 NATO in penetration out to 600m and remained effective for a considerably longer distance, while producing recoil closer to the 5.56mm.

17 posted on 04/21/2008 6:12:33 AM PDT by archy (Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno. [from Virgil's *Aeneid*.])
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To: Travis McGee
For civilians who are not restricted to military hardball ammo, the entire discussion about the effectiveness of .223 compared to other calibers is moot. (Ditto for 9mm vs .45) Load those mags with HPs and they are both man stoppers.

It's a matter of two different ways of doing business: for the police or military, the answer to the problem is a full magazine dump or a full-auto burst to get the job done. In the civilian world, more effective ammunition [usually expanding, but not necessarily] and more careful shot placement is the order of the day, one reason why there are fewer *innocent bystanders* injured in civilian self-defense shootings than those by police.

18 posted on 04/21/2008 6:16:53 AM PDT by archy (Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno. [from Virgil's *Aeneid*.])
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To: GingisK
I’ll always prefer the M14 or the FAL any time, anywhere.

Ditto. They dug a lot of M14s out of mothballs for special forces and Marines serving in Iraq. They're more reliable in the sandy environment and a lot of the engagements that occur in the open desert are at 300 meters or more.

19 posted on 04/21/2008 6:25:58 AM PDT by mbynack (Retired USAF SMSgt)
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To: a_chronic_whiner

bump for later.

20 posted on 04/21/2008 7:13:08 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (Party ahead of principles; eventually you'll be selling out anything to anyone for the right price.)
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