‘I can’t tell you exactly what we’re going to do’

Chief of staff: Army reviewing complaints over bullets

M855 5.56mm Ammunition Drawing

The military is reviewing soldiers’ complaints that their standard ammunition isn’t powerful enough for the type of fighting required in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army’s highest-ranking officer said Thursday. But Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, said it was too soon to say whether the Pentagon will switch.

Murdoc can tell you what the result of this latest posturing review will be:

The M855 is the best round available.

Meanwhile, every time this comes up we get a smattering of “5.56 hollow point would be just fine against the jihadis.

This is followed by “Yeah, but the Hague Convention and all…We don’t want our enemies using hollow points against us, do we?

What if Murdoc says “The answer to that is not only yes, but Hell Yes! I invite any and all enemies of the US military to adopt hollow point expanding ammunition immediately.“?



  1. On an interesting side note, the Coast Guard uses HP ammo – but only when they’re doing Law Enforcement missions and not when they’re on ‘military’ missions. I’m sure that no hollowpoints ever slipped into the wrong mag of some coastie during a port security patrol in the gulf.

  2. Murdoc, O/T: When I was assigned Shore Patrol guard duty overseas, we had Remington 12 guahe’s with alternating oo buck and slug in the magazine tube. Back on topic: I just don’t understand why we cannot adopt the 7.62 again? I was issued an M-14 and loved it. I also was probably one of the last Navy guys to qualify with a BAR, but that’s another story. I like the M-4. It has it’s uses. However, in the fightds we are in overseas, it just seems to me that the <-14, or some derivitive, or even a 'GASP' foreign made 7.62 weapon system would be better. Then, of course, I am NOT overseas, so my concerns are probally worth less than diddly, but that's my 2-cent's worth. Respects,

  3. Speaking with reporters at a conference in Huntsville, Casey said leaders are constantly soliciting feedback from soldiers in the field and were aware of complaints about the M855 ammunition. ‘To effectively prepare them we have to adapt as the enemy adapts, and that is some of the feedback we have gotten,’ Casey said. ‘We’ll evaluate it quickly and then we’ll decide how we want to proceed.’

    In reality they’ve been the exact opposite of adaptive and have chosen to ignore 30 years of complaints. In fact, the more complaints, the more entrenched this POS has become. They’ve had plenty of good weapons that haven’t lasted half as long.

  4. The biggest problem with going back to the 7.62 NATO is the percieved ‘stored kills’ vs weight/bulk. ASSUMING (here we go) that you use two rounds of 5.56 for a hard kill and one of 7.62, it looks like the 7.62 comes out ahead…untill you factor in that a soldier carries about two to three times as much ammo(10 30 round magazines) with the lighter ammo against the 7.62. Then you take into account that aimed single shots can still take down an opponant (like the stories of the marines getting investigated because of all the headshots they were getting because of the new optical sights) and the 5.56 starts showing an advantage over the 7.62. Beef up the smaller cartridge (like with a high BC/SD 6mm to 6.8mm) giving you better range and hitting power with not much more significant weight per round and you start coming out ahead even further. The 7.62, as good as it was, has been surpassed by more recent cartridges (for instance, the energy retention by the lighter, lighter recoiling 6.5 grendel which gives you acceptable energy at close ranges, and holds on to more energy at 7.62 ranges because of its higher ballistic coefficiant)and developments in small arms. I’m not saying its obsolete, but there are things that do almost the same job, with better trajectories, lighter recoil, lighter ammo, and lighter weapons to chamber it.

  5. This may sound silly (I’m not military) but couldn’t we just give a 7.62 weapon to those who want them, and see what happens?

  6. That makes sense…let the warfighter taylor his loadout with current and developmental systems. Honestly I say field everything with the Marines. Sure, you will have some breakage, but once you reach an acceptable level of breakage with the Marines, field it with the Army and the sucker will probably never break. Weapons, Electronics, Uniforms, you name it. Obviously we can’t give everyone a SAW (that was one argument against giving the Stoner 63 to the Marines. They were afraid everyone would be reconfiging it as a light SAW) because of training, accuracy, and availability, but for the regular rifleman, let them choose between an AR-10 (7.62×51 NATO), and an AR-15 and see where it evens out. Offer other potential cartridges in the same platforms when you want to test effectiveness on the battlefield. it might take a couple of years, but I think it would shake out faster than current military procurement procedures.

  7. The 7.62, as good as it was, has been surpassed by more recent cartridges’ I agree, but the military already has a supply chain in place for 7.62 that would allow them to move quickly on it, and it is currently an approved round. That, saddly, means more to getting something fielded than performance. The fear of mixed magazines and frankenguns that scares some from moving to 6.5 or 6.8 also goes away since the current M16/M4 platform will not accept anything near the width nor length of 7.62.

  8. It’s sad that during WW2 we could design and make operational a whole new concept of bomber aircraft, the B-29, and today the idea of scaring up a new, more capable rifle for our troops is considered waaay to frightening. I guess all these computers, barcode readers, and RFID tags are really paying off, aren’t they? We were better off with paper and pencil and a little bit of common sense.

  9. Murdoc: If you think the conclusion will be ‘M855 is the best round available’, then you haven’t read the article I linked in my comment to your initial post on this issue. The statement ‘The M855 rounds is the best 5.56mm round currently commercially available for the Army’s requirements’ would be accurate, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more going on … Here’s the link again (see the lead article ‘Small Caliber Lethality’ in the WSTIAC Quarterly linked from the page): http://wstiac.alionscience.com/ RE: more 7.62 rifles … there are a lot of M14s reissued, mostly for ‘designated marksmen’ use, but they’ve gotten decidedly mixed reviews, and were only handed out because they were readily available. Most units have so heavily modified them for accceptable performance they can’t legitimately be called an M14 anymore. Next someone will be suggesting we reissue the M1s that are still in inventory. It won WWII so it’ll win this war, right?

  10. I have a friend who used an M1 in Vietnam. He says it is a hell of a weapon, and he didn’t mind the extra weight in exchange for the extra stopping power and range. It carries a bayonet well and the butt leaves quite an impression, if you know what I mean. If you’re in a war zone, you’re there to kill people and wreck things. I can think of a lot better places to save weight than on your gun. I’ll bet the guys carring the Barret .50 cal is not complaining. I’d rather be the guy carrying that than they guy whose M4 jams in a fire fight. I’d much rather live to complain about the weight of my .50 cal, marching 50 miles in the snow, up hill, both ways, but we were tough SOBs then, and we liked it. You damn kids these days have it too easy these days… But don’t get me started.

  11. By the way, people have changed very little since WW2. Some have gotten a little bigger. Our guys have gotten significantly bigger. Strange that our guns got smaller.

  12. The irony is that the M14 in Vietnam got equally mixed feedback from the troops (and frankly, having seen field surveys from both eras, I’d say the M14 feedback from VN was much worse than current M4/M16 feedback). Check out this study on M14 and .45 effectivness, which is based solely on field surveys: http://stinet.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=AD649517&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf Point being, everyone has an anecdote, but they are all just that: anecdotal. You need a lot more than just anecdotes to make an equipping decision for the entire force.

  13. Having more than guesses made by a laboratory that they have in now way correlated with field experience is nice too. Fact of the matter is, we’re in a war now. Why aren’t they using it as a lab to test new weapons or at least to figure out if their tests using ballistic gelatin are worth a damn? The answer is, they would be if they were interested in an answer. What they really want is controversy, because you can turn controversy the money it takes to support a bureaucracy. We need more Americans and fewer bureaucrats.

  14. You know, I still wonder why they don’t optimise the 5.56 if we are going to be saddled with it. We have learned quite a bit more in materials, ballistics (both terminal and in-flight), and propellent technologies over the past 20 years, if we are going to be stuck with something in the 5.56 envelope, why not optomise the damn thing? Case in point, using high BC bullets will improve the range characteristics (a 6.5 grendel with the same Ballistic Coefficient as the current 5.56 loads would have effective ranges around the same as the current 5.56 loads), the improved Sectional Density of those high BC would improve penetration, while the increased length/mass of the bullet would probably improve the chances of it tumbling and fragmenting in soft tissue. Of course there are limitations, but I keep wondering what it would take to overcome those INSIDE the existing envelope. Hell, look at the performance you can squeeze out of the .30-06 or the .308/7.62×51 compared to WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Sticking an improved projectile, with improved ballistics infront of improved powder and you get significantly improved performance using the exact same weapon, and you can still use the old ammo.

  15. Just read through that study on the M14 and .45. You know what I noticed? They wanted a light carbine for jungle fighting and an a full battle rifle for open territory…hmmm, sounds like what we are dealing with right now, except the ‘jungle’ is urban, and the open turf is mountains instead of rice paddys. At least they don’t have to worry as much about rust in Iraq or Afganistan. In all honesty, use the right gun/cartridge for the right job. SOmething that hits a little harder at close range (weather it be a new/reissued cartridge or an improved 5.56) for the guys in Iraq, and something with better legs for Afganistan. Thats why alot of guys like the 6.5 Grendel. It seems to be the best compromise between the two extremes, without sacrificing ammo capacity (too much)and compactness of the 5.56 based systems, or the range of the 7.62 based systems (again, too much).

  16. coolhand77: ‘You know, I still wonder why they don’t optimise the 5.56 if we are going to be saddled with it.’ Didn’t read the conclusion of the ‘Small Caliber Lethality’ article I provided the link for in my first post, did you? 😉 I’d agree, though, that there would appear to be a sweet spot somewhere between 5.56 and 7.62. I wouldn’t vouch for specific configurations, but theoretically you can get the usable (as opposed to maximum) range of 7.62, as well as the penetration performance of a 7.62 in a smaller package. Logistical benefit: you can do away with light/medium machine guns in different calibers and get back to a common caliber at platoon level. ‘Cause I submit it’s not logistically practical to have both a 5.56 weapon and a 7.62 weapon ready for every trooper. Though here’s a question for you … why do significantly fewer SAW shooters complain about the lethality of their ammo, compared to M4/M16 shooters? They’re shooting the same round! (Yep, there are veolcity differences with the M4’s shorter barrel … maybe that optimized 5.56 should be optimized for an M4 … but M16A2/A4 and SAW have similar barrel length and rifling pattern) [Data source: Center for Naval Analysis, ‘Soldier Perspectives on Small Arms in Combat’, 2006. Not sure how this got on a publish website as according to the second page it’s supposed to be a limited distribution document. Link: http://www.militec-1.com/pdf/cna_m4_study_d0015259_a2.pdf ]

  17. What’s the mystery, you put enough .22 bullets in anyone and they’re probably going to die. What I like is the recommendation that our guys shoot more accurately. Now there’s a great recommendation from the safety of a lab or the Pentagon. You dumbasses, why didn’t you hit him in the heart or brain if you wanted him to die? Pretty damn easy to say from some place where people aren’t shooting back. If all you have a shot at is the guy’s arm or that’s the only piece you got while 10 other people were shooting at you, then you put a damn bullet in his arm. You’d like that bullet to put more than a clean .22 cal hole through it.

  18. The SAW is made for supressive intense fire. So the light recoil, small size and weight of the 5.56mm are quite ideal for it. The M-16/M-4 is another different business, its an assault RIFLE. When I see the word rifle, I imagine a gun that is accurate and doesnt require you to waste a lot of ammo, even though its an assault (aka automatic) one.

  19. Vitor beat me to it – machine guns (with a few HK exceptions) are area weapond. When I fired SAW’s, I usually had to ask the guy next to me if I was on target. How the Hell would I know if the enemy is taking hits and not going down? If they are still moving, I’m just going to rip off another burst – probably will even if they aren’t moving. With a rifle, I could be pretty confident I was hitting my target with each shot. More with an M-14 but that’s a different arguement.

  20. I would go with the 243Win for the alrounder. Call it the 6mm NATO. It would give us the best of both worlds inbetwen the 5.56 and the 7.62. Load it with 95 – 105 grains

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