We had problems with fte any time the weapon got hot and had a lot of problems during Desert Shield when we first arrived in the middle east. The weapons had been stored with a light coating of oil and the fine sand combined with the oil and made the rifle a single shot. Guys who weren't on the front lines didn't find out that their rifle was a paperweight until they got into a firefight.
The 5.56 uses a slow rate of rifling to keep the bullet barely stable during flight. The slow rotation allows the bullet to tumble when it strikes soft tissue and cause more damage. The slow rotation and ultra velocity combine to cause the bullets to fragment or tumble if they hit anything during travel.
The light bullet doesn't always do the job, especially at long ranges. The only real firefight that I was in during Desert Storm took place at around a quarter of a mile. We found blood after the battle indicating that we had scored hits, but all of the bad guys were able to continue fighting and leave under their own power. I think that a larger projectile would have improved our odds. During that battle, two of the seven weapons jammed and one couldn't be cleared until after the fighting was over. You really don't want to resort to a 9mm pistol when the enemy is a quarter mile away.
“The 5.56 uses a slow rate of rifling to keep the bullet barely stable during flight. The slow rotation allows the bullet to tumble when it strikes soft tissue and cause more damage. The slow rotation and ultra velocity combine to cause the bullets to fragment or tumble if they hit anything during travel.”
Current standards are 1x9 for the A2 and 1x7 for the M4. The slow twist/light bullet/tumble thing dates back to the early models. 77 grain Mk262 ammunition is supposed to be available for longer ranges.
A weapon isn't reliable unless it is clean. ;)
I wonder if part of the problem is due to the way the weapon is used. I know my AR-14 is a fine, well functioning rifle, but, OTOH, my rate of fire is no where NEAR the rate of fire the battefield version is subjected to.
I shoot one round, maybe two, in 30 seconds. It sounds as if problems develop when soldiers are shooting/returning fire in an automatic mode, high rates of fire, several hundreds of rounds at a time.
Each M-14 magazine contains what? 30 rounds? In a firefight, I would imagine a soldier could go through several magazines in a very short time.
I wonder what the venerable M1A's rate of fire was?
Did the soldiers of WWII fire such high rates of fire with the M1A Garand? Wasn't the M1 the "standard military issue" battle rifle of the WWII GI? How did we win the war (on both fronts, BTW) with such a heavy, cumbersome, slow-rate-of-fire weapon? Could it POSSIBLY be the operator or technique, and how the weapon was used, and NOT the weapon itself?
I have seen many old WWII teaching films, and they spent lots and lots of time on some basics of shooting stances, aiming, trigger control, etc. How much is taught now-a-days? It seems, from a civilian point of view, that these automatic weapons are used to throw a lot of lead down range in a major hurry, and I don't know of many weapons who could stand up to such high rates of fire, consistently, in ANY AO, much less over in the conditions they are in now.
I guess, in summary, what I am wondering is it the weapons' fault, or is there other areas we should be looking at before we blame the weapon.