The .256″ British: A Lost Opportunity

Forwarded by a reader, this 1996 article begins:

The history of British military rifle cartridges in the twentieth century has not been a happy one.

Compares many of the available options, though the more recent 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel weren’t around yet. Definitely worth a look.


  1. One interesting cartridge they don’t mention is the 7.62×45 Czech round. I think that, necked down to 6.5mm, would be a very interesting round. Anyone willing to let me and a ‘smith play with their VZ-52 to test it out?

  2. Not much difference between these and the .276 Pederson round designed for the original M1 Garand. Douglas MacArthur rejected it in the 1932. We should fire our 5.56 pop-guns in the air to celebrate 75 years of procurement incompetence.

  3. It is true that the Pedersen round would have given us a good assault rifle powered round in the ’30s but the one glaring lesson that was drilled into the heads of Army officers was the total inadequacy of the .30 Krag in the Spanish American War and the Phillipine Insurection. Note that that round is about the power of the AK 47 so US army officers had drilled in their heads the inadequacy of an assault rifle round. Adopting a new round and the expensive rechamberings that implied in the middle of the depression was likely a non-starter anyway. Of course, not using the UK round in the ’40s was stupid. Even IF the round was considered inadequate for a battle rifle it should have been bought to replace the .30 carbine (just as the M-16 would be 15 years later). The EM2 or a non-bullpup US equivalent WOULD have been able to replace the carbines and submachineguns and when the rounds utility in the field became obvious we would have been ahead of the game. Alas, the milk, she is spilled… Regards the current round snafu, I think we’re not moving to the Grendel or 6.8 SPC for three reasons. 1: Rechambering in the middle of combat is most awkward. It could be done but the bennefits, while real aren’t great enough to warrant the logistical problems involved in the change. 2: The 5.56 round, while not ideal, is still killing jihadists quite efficiently. It also has the advantage of being short and light and therefore easier to carry. This is a big one and we armchair types often overlook it. Most of my tactical experience comes from first person shooters and I must admit consternation at discovering (on the few occasions I’ve been in full gear) that a decent ammo load of the pipsqueek round weighs as much as it does. 3: I think there are rather better things in the pipeline. I have no hard evidence of this, but the potential of caseless ammo or just case tellescoped polymer cased ammo is being looked at and recent advances in supercapacitors could make the Pulse rifles from Aliens looks wimpy either through a laser or (far more likely IMHO) a gauss weapon.

  4. I think the problems with the Krag had more to do with the rifle than the ammo. The Mausers the Spanish used were clearly better rifles. Krag ammo was weak because the rifle could not tolerate high pressures. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be working on a caseless weapon since the Germans dropped the G11. I would be willing to carry a slightly heavier weapon and ammo if it was more reliable, powerful, and accurate. If the Army is concerned about weight, they can cut down on all the other crap we are dragging around.

  5. If the idea is to give a little extra punch to the 5.56mm, why not something like a 6.2mm weighting about 90grains?

  6. Vitor – Our idea is to have a better, more powerful rifle. The Army’s idea is to keep issuing obsolete weapons and spend their money elsewhere.