Even if there was a significantly better system out there, regardless of caliber or even “reliability”, the cost alone would likely kill most other needed systems in the pipeline-yes the pipeline. The acquisition process is not just a guy writing a check-the bigger picture requires testing of commonalities, capabilities and interaction with all other related systems.
Say a new rifle is about the same cost, does it use the same magazines? We have about 20 million M16 mag in the inventory in the army alone), does it use the same optics platforms? Tools? Is it compatible with the load bearing equipment? Cleaning gear? Range limitations? Does our ammunition plant (LC AAP) have the ability to ramp up and produce scads of ammo rapidly? Is it patented and therefore royalty driven? (Ask the US Army about the 1903 Springfield-the US Army was found in violation of Paul Mauser's patents and only the First WW stopped the payments to FN/Mauser....)
All of you “quick change” specialists need to look past a one gun, several magazines and a case of ammo mentality to make any switch.
As a retired combat infantryman, I do agree that our troops need the best equipment-but the “best” is an elusive idea.
I want my son to carry a 100% percent effective, unlimited capacity, pinpoint accurate and near weightless system-but alas, the laws of physics and economy dictate otherwise. he too, will tote a 14+ pound small arm that requires lots of professional knowledge and training to employ. As it should be.
I do think that a partial upgrade to the 6.8 SPC is a viable idea-a simple barrel and bolt change out by unit armorers is reasonable. LC AAP can ramp up production and phase back 556 as the main round while units gradually upgrade.
Finally, let not anyone think the 6.8 SPC is the equivalent of the 762x51 NATO-it is not anywhere near the level of energy and range. (115 grn at 2600 vice 147 grn at 2800) Plus it will bump recoil up to about 150% of the 556.
Remember-NO FREE LUNCHES FOR THE DOGS OF WAR.
But, one thing: The current USGI aluminum M16 mag is a certified POS, and shitty mags have always been the singularly biggest weak link in the system.
Time to penny-up and get somethig that works, like the MagPul P-Mag. I have 20 and they work better than any of my 60+ USGI mags.