XM8 Assault Rifle

I’ve mentioned before that the biggest search engine draw to MO has been the XM8 assault rifle. Stryker searches bring in a lot, as well, but I’ve got an entire category devoted to the new combat vehicle and only one post about the new rifle.

Folks must be desperate for info on this baby. For a basic intro to the XM8, go to my previous post.

xm8c.jpg

The XM8 (M8 if it’s adopted) assault rifle is a proposed replacement for the current M16 rifle and M4 carbine, the standard infantry weapons in today’s US military. The XM8 action is based upon the Hechler & Koch G36, a tried and true infantry weapon with a reputation for toughness and reliability. The XM29 OICW, which combined both an assault rifle and a smart grenade launcher, turned out to be too heavy, fragile, and expensive. The rifle part of the XM29 was adapted to become the XM8. The smart grenade launcher part of the XM29 is being developed separately as the XM25.

xm8b.jpg The XM8 is a modular weapon that can be adapted to different roles fairly easily. It can use any of four barrel sizes: 9″, 12.5″, 20″, and heavy 20″.

The 9″ barrel makes the weapon a submachinegun-like personal defense weapon (called the Compact Carbine) that would be ideal for vehicle crews. Also, I imagine that Special Forces types would find it useful for urban raiding missions and the like. With the buttcap (as pictured on the right, second from the top) it is less than 21″ long overall.

The 12.5″ barrel is the standard set-up, and with the adjustable buttstock, makes the Baseline Carbine variant. With the stock fully extended, it is 33″ long, the same as an M4 (which has a 14.5″ barrel). It weighs in at about 6.4 lbs, with a goal of being reduced to 5.7 lbs. The M4 with comparable accessories weighs nearly 9 lbs. The pic at right shows an XM320 side-loading detachable grenade launcher mounted.

There are two versions of the 20″ barrel. There’s a standard weight match-grade unit for sharpshooter work and a heavy-duty machinegun unit with a folding bipod for use as a sustained fire automatic rifle.

The XM8 seems to be an aberration in the military procurement sector. It is a model that seems to improve upon its inspiration in terms of cost and weight, while sacrificing none of the qualities that made the original so good. An XM8 Baseline Carbine, with its integrated sight, will cost around $1800. An M4 equipped similarly costs over $2500. That translates into a savings of $2.4 million to equip a 3,500 man brigade.

Cost notwithstanding, the biggest advantage of the XM8 over the M4/M16 is almost certainly the new weapon’s durability and resistance to jamming. The manufacturer claims that the XM8 can fire over 15,000 rounds without lubrication or cleaning, even in harsh conditions. While I seriously doubt that those numbers would translate into the field, it is indicative of the weapon’s reliability. The BARREL LIFE of an M4 is rated at 8,000 rounds.

The XM8 achieves this phenomenal reliability in part due to a unique gas-operated pusher-rod operated bolt. This system does not send carbon gasses into the receiver with every round like standard weapons, and therefore reduces greatly the amount of propellant that could potentially foul the action or attract material that could. Additionally, the seal between the bolt and the ejection port is much tighter than in current weapons, which will limit the amount of crud that can get in that way. Also, the weapon can be fired even if the action is flooded with water. No draining required.

While I doubt any squad leader would ever allow anyone to go an extended period of time without cleaning their weapon, regardless of manufacturer’s ratings, there is a fair amount of time savings still to be found. First of all, the XM8 can be field cleaned in 4 minutes. This compares to more than 10 or 12 minutes for an M4, which translates into a an extra bit of rest, patrol, or other duties for the XM8-equipped soldier. Weapons are cleaned at least twice daily, if not more, so this 5-8 minute savings is not insignificant when multiplied by three thousand soldiers in a typical brigade. Also, the integrated sight is zeroed-in at the factory and does not require continual re-zeroing in the field by the troops.

Dirty and jammed weapons seem to have contributed to the defeat of the maintenance group that included Jessica Lynch during the invasion of Iraq. Part of the problem seems to be that the Army-supplied cleaning lubricant isn’t effective, especially against the fine Iraq sand. But non-combat units probably don’t devote enough time to cleaning and maintaining their weapons. The XM8 could help alleviate that by reducing the time required to complete the task, which will increase the odds that the task is attempted, and by being more forgiving if/when the task is forgotten or ignored.

Another nifty feature is the ability to be quickly adapted to fire AK-47 ammunition. This would be especially useful in Iraq, since there’s more AK-47 ammo in Iraq than there is sand.

For a comprehensive comparison of the XM8 Lightweight Modular Weapons System (LMWS) Baseline Carbine to the current M4, check out this .pdf. Keep in mind that it was published by the manufacturier of the XM8.

For an 18 second video of a full-auto firing of the XM8, check this out. HK-USA also has what amounts to a product brochure for the XM8 here. It includes drawings of many of the interchangable components of the XM8 system.

The XM8 has recently finished heavy testing. The next step is going to be to equip two full brgades with the weapons. I’ve been unable to learn which brigades get to be the lucky ones to try a new standard weapon out for the purposes of working out all the bugs. Maybe they haven’t been determined yet. I’d suggest that, in addition to the the big tests, some individuals or small units deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan get them. We must learn how these things really perform, and no amound of testing and simulation can teach as many lessons as a few minutes on a real live battlefield can.

For all the apparent good news surrounding the XM8, one basic issue remains the caliber of round our troops need to be firing at the bad guys. The XM8 will fire the NATO standard 5.56x45mm round, the same as the M4 and M16. There is a lot of grumbling among the troops that this round is insufficient, especially when fired from an M4’s shorter barrel. The standard XM8’s barrel is two inches shorter than the M4, so this issue will be even more pronounced.

This is a very controverisal subject, with feverent believers on both sides. Many who think that a larger round, like the 6.8mm or the good ol’ 7.62mm, is needed admit that the 5.56 might be sufficient if the type of ammunition was altered instead of the size. There have been many reports from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia that the current round just doesn’t cut it. I don’t know enough to have an opinion on the matter, but it certainly seems that something needs to be done.

Airborne Combat Engineer had a post back in November about the XM8 and the ammuntion debate. He notes that we’ve already got so much refinement and investment in the current M16 and M4 that it seems like a waste to start over with a new weapon. He asks why the current weapons can’t just be up-gunned with the new 6.8mm uppers that will soon be hitting the market. That’s a very good question, and one that I hope our military seriously considers.

Back in August I thought the same thing. But, if the XM8 performs in the field like it’s performed in the tests, we might be better off in the long run if we make the change. The cost, reliability, and adaptability of the new weapon may outweigh our experience with the current one.

UPDATE: A Sliding stock for XM8 compact carbine PDW has been added to the mix. Pictures and more.

Comments

  1. There are now repeated after-action reports coming out of both Afghanistan and Iraq of the failure of 5.56mm ammunition to stop enemy individuals at both long ranges AND ranges under 50 meters, up to pointblank encounters. Too many – far too many to dismiss or sweep under the rug. Men being shot 4-5 times in the torso w/5.56mm and continuing to fight are common, problems are exacerbated by use of the 62-gr. bullet and short barrelled carbines, but not entirely caused by same. The weight advantages of 5.56mm ammunition evaporate when multiple hits are required to down the enemy in enough instances that the round cannot be relied upon to stop an opponent. Many reports of poor penetration of 5.56mm ammuntion compared to 7.62mm x39mm rifles are also being reported. Even use of the special lots of 77-gr. bulleted 5.56mm ammunition are not correcting the problem. The early reports of 5.56mm ammo effectiveness in 1963 Vietnam with the original 1-14′ barreled M-16 by Army Rangers and special forces have now been established to be fraudulent, while poor penetration (failure to penetrate belt buckles, small trunked trees, cigarette lighters in pockets) and inadequate stopping power (multiple hits without visible effect) of the m193 ball cartridge are legendary. History repeats itself. Italy in 1935 found its 162-grain 6.5mm rifle bullet very ineffective against charging Muslims and attempted to change to a 7.35mm unstable (tumbling) bullet design after experimenting with illegal fragmentation designs. Britain tried small calibers at the turn of the last century and instead went to a 7.7mm 174-grain bullet with an unstable (tumbling) design with an aluminum filled-tip to increase stopping power. A farsighted military procurement program will equip its soldiers with rifles suited to the individual enviroment. Intermediate, lighter cartridges of sufficient caliber (7mm and above) may be well suited to jungle and urban fighting, less than adequate for mountain and desert warfare. Shooting distance engagements in Afghanistan have been at up to 400 meters. The terrorists use different infantry small arms optimized for use in different locales and types of operations (day, night, ambush) so should we – no matter the extra cost. A highly trained infantryman is worth more – much more.

  2. 1 airsoft guns are made the same weight and 2 i know i cant compare the sting off a bb to a bullet but im not about to go into a gang war to prove my self k anyway the 5.56 is a accurate bullet and the 7.62(in an AK) is not if we have to hit that man 5 times to kill him and he is spraying and not hitting shit who cares and yes i know the 5.56 is a weak round a .223 those little rifles u played with as kids were .22 and were basecly 3 thousands bigger so the only thing going for it is speed which it has its not like a brute slug like 7.62 but when u have larger ammuntion then u have to carry less so it better be an accurate gun if there switching to heavier ammo the m14 a great gun but we cant really make guns like that any more the army and everyone else want a gun as small and light as possible and also those bigger rounds need stronger guns to take the recoil if ever u watch a AK fire full auto in slow motion on tv the gun buckles now if we put a 7.62 round in a m16(i know u cant) it would probably rip the gun apart and switching to a new round the 6.8 has been a long going debate in this blog it would be so expensive to switch the size of a round like that esspecially wen there pumping out 5.56 rounds for NATO and like all of europe uses 5.56 and 7.62 so america going to the 6.8 round would be like america being the only country not using the metric system o wait we are cause americans are erragant 🙂 im american so nobody reply to that anyway i think we do need to get a more effective bullet in the standard infantry rifle but once again the pros and cons pop up the new rifle is probably gonna be a bullpup design and i think its gonna be that F2000 and also i dont know about those reports from nam lighters blocking bullets sounds like crap to me like the iraq’s when a apache crashed and they say they shot it down with an AK in vietnam the m16 had no real advantages cause we were being ambushed and there was all those trees an m16 cant penetrate a medium sized tree which is really bad this is where we are having problems is jungle warfare in the desert we out range them so we need to hit him 2 3 times and a guy being hit 5 times and still fighting sounds like crap cause 1 they dont really have medics and 5 hits in the stomch ur gonna bleed out pretty fast so check up on ur sources it was probably a cocky soldier who thinks he hit the guy 5 times i mean its not like a movie where rambo takes 3 rounds to the leg and has a slight limp m16 is still better than the AK in my eyes and the carbines should not be taken to a long range firefight only to urban or if u know close quaters is gonna happen

  3. Where you been Travis? Sounds like you need to read some more after-action reports from the real world. Or learn to use periods. Here’s one of a multitude: ‘On Sept. 12, 2003, after being hit by seven 77-grain 5.56mm bullets, an Iraqi insurgent killed both Master Sgt. Kevin N. Morehead and Sgt. 1st Class William M. Bennett with his 7.62mm Kalashnikov. Then, Staff Sgt. Robert E Springer threw aside his 5.56mm M-4 carbine and knocked the insurgent down dead with one .45 cal. pistol bullet.’

  4. ..also i dont know about those reports from nam lighters blocking bullets sounds like crap to me..’ Better go back to paintball guns, Travis. M193 ball was easily stopped by small metal objects, small trees etc. at all velocities and distances. On page 106 of Major Kearney’s book Jungle Snafus there is a photograph of an NVA officer’s cigareete lighter that stopped an M193 M16 bullet cold at close range (-50 meters) when it hit his upper shirt pocket. Penetrated one side and just stopped, with nothing more than a small ding on the far side of the case. Soviet 7.62×39 ball is not nearly so wimply. In Iraq troops are complaining their green-tip SAP 5.56 isn’t penetrating light walls like cinder block while 7.62mm AK rounds are blasting right thru…

  5. been busy with wrestling practice. and wow they should make bullet proof vest out of zippos then haha wow thats pretty bad. i didnt here about those reports ill try.to.use.more.periods. haha ya ill try to follow up with u guys k.

  6. Wilco, There are reports of insurgents continuing to fight after being hit with 7.62 NATO, 5.45, .45, and even .50 BMG! There are NUMEROUS, and I mean numerous reports and personal testamonies of U.S. soldiers being hit with multiple M1943 rounds and continuing to fight, and living to tell about it. There is a report of a wad of paper in a man’s pocket stopping the M1943! These reports don’t in any way mean that there is a problem with any of the rounds I’ve mentioned. These are anomolies. A lighter stopping a bullet doesn’t mean that the M193 round was too weak, it simply means that NVA officer was one lucky bastard! The same thing with the wad of paper, I wouldn’t expect that to happen twice. Sometimes the shooter just has the wrong angle, a gust of wind comes up unexpectedly, etc. ‘The early reports of 5.56mm ammo effectiveness in 1963 Vietnam with the original 1-14′ barreled M-16 by Army Rangers and special forces have now been established to be fraudulent, while poor penetration (failure to penetrate belt buckles, small trunked trees, cigarette lighters in pockets) and inadequate stopping power (multiple hits without visible effect) of the m193 ball cartridge are legendary.’ I know what reports you are referring to. Yes, they were exagerated greatly, but the round was nonetheless effective, just not as effective as originally claimed. I have personal testimony to back that up, as well as testimony from veterens of both Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The modern reports are, unlike the magazines claim, not at all numerous. They are, at best, isolated. Also, remember the after action report from the Marine Corps after the fall of Baghdad. When the 5.56 came into question, the Marines reported that ‘as long as shots were to the chest or head, the insurgent went down.’ Well, naturally! I can’t think a round, and I include the .50 BMG, that will instantly kill you with a shot in the arm! The 7.62×39 is inaccurate and does not penetrate rifle plates as well as the 5.56 M855. Plus, its terminal ballistics are not much better than that of the .30 M1 Carbine round. The 7.62×39 and the 5.56 M855 are actually very close in their penetration. The 6.8’s TB are not much better than that of the 5.56, both on paper and in the field. Despite what you may read, the troops still love the 5.56. And no matter what round is used, there will be multiple reports of it failing to stop an enemy. That’s just war.

  7. Good postings PaulCG, both on the bullpup (although I don’t entirely agree) and on the 5.56. I agree with you there. There were also ‘numerous reports’ from both the first and second world wars of soldiers receiving multiple hits from battle rifle rounds and continuing to fight. These actually were isolated incidents which, because they were so rare, were told and retold and became embelished along the way because most of us do not let the truth spoil a good story. These tales then turn into urban legends and soon we have ‘numerous reports’. ‘There are no free rides’, as the saying goes and switching from the 5.56 to a more powerful cartridge will bring certain trade-offs with it; increased ammunition weight and increased recoil being the most important, and there will without any doubt still be reports of people surviving multiple hits. The Operational Research Office of the US Army published a report in 1952 after examination of WW2 combat records and of data emerging from the Korean war. They reported that the average distance of hits from aimed rifle and machine gun fire was at ranges of between 75-100 yards! 80% of hits were achieved at less than 200 yards and 90% at less than 300 yards. At these ranges the 5.56, whether 55gr, 62gr or 75gr against individuals not wearing body armour, is adequate.

  8. that is true about people exagerating things alot, like soldiers boasting of things they didnt do. The great story of a soldier takeing a bunch of rounds and still going. But I support the 5.56 round since we started this argument it might not be the strongest bullet out there mut its accuracy and how light they are is very intising and we have something most of the countries we go to war with dont have BODY ARMOR. this adds alot to the effectiveness of our soldiers when we can take bullets and they cant ive seen reports where our guys take rounds to the helmet and u c that huge indent in the center does anyone have a idea as to what bullet would be best

  9. Despite what you may read, the troops still love the 5.56. That’s not what I ‘read’, that’s what my comrades in-arms are telling me. The M855 5.56 is crap, they can’t penetrate cheap single cinder block walls with it, while 7.62mmx39 semi-armor return fire rounds are blasting right through. And it’s not the single accounts of stopping failures, it’s a boatload of them. It’s just not dropping enough of the enemy fast enough to prevent needless casualties.

  10. Another vote for a decently sized caliber. The 5.56 is killing our men thru failure to adequately stop. Major Milavic tells it like it is: The Last ‘Big Lie’ of Vietnam Kills U. S. Soldiers in Iraq August 24th, 2004 At a Vietnam Special Forces base during 1964, I watched a U. S. soldier fire 15 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition into a tethered goat from an AR-15 rifle; moments after the last round hit, the goat fell over. Looking at the dead goat, I saw many little bullet entry-holes on one side; and when we turned him over, I saw many little bullet exit-holes on the other side. Over time, those observations were confirmed and reconfirmed, revealing that the stories we were told on the lethality of the .223 caliber cartridge were fabrications. Those false reports drove the adoption of the .223 caliber cartridge as the 5.56mm NATO cartridge and, ever since, Americans have been sent to war with a cartridge deficient in combat lethality; a deficiency that has recently caused the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. What is efficient combat lethality? The book Black Hawk Down quotes SFC Paul Howe’s description of SFC Randy Shughart, a soldier who elected to carry the 7.62mm M-14 into the urban battlefield of Somalia in 1993 rather than the 5.56mm CAR-15 (M-16-variant): ‘His rifle may have been heavier and comparatively awkward and delivered a mean recoil, but it damn sure knocked a man down with one bullet, and in combat, one shot was all you got. You shoot a guy, you want to see him go down; you don’t want to be guessing for the next five hours whether you hit him, or whether he’s still waiting for you in the weeds.’ [1] With the wisdom of a combat veteran, Howe describes the lethality necessary for a cartridge in combat–one-round knockdown power. How did we get from military cartridges with proven one-round knockdown power such as the 30-06 and 7.62mm to the 5.56mm? The journey starts with the term ‘tumbling.’ This term has been associated with the .223 cal./5.56mm cartridge, since early in its marketing as a potential military cartridge to this day. The very word, tumbling, prompts images of a bullet traveling end over end through the human body in 360-degree loops: in reality, it does not move this way at all. Dr. Martin L. Fackler, COL., USA (Ret.) served as a surgeon in Vietnam during 1968 and, subsequently, pursued the research of terminal ballistics by observing the effects of bullets fired into blocks of ballistic gelatin. In ‘Wounding patterns for military rifle bullets,’ he reports the observation that ‘all’ non-deforming pointed bullets–this included the 30-06 and 7.62mm military full-metal jacket bullets–‘yawed’ 180 degrees while passing through the gelatin to exit base-forward; i.e., heaviest end forward. The 5.56mm projectile acted in the same manner with a very precise exception: These rounds ‘yawed’ to 90-degrees, and then fragmented at their weakened serrated band (cannelure) into two or more pieces when fired into ballistic gelatin. However, the 5.56mm projectile does NOT always yaw or fragment. Under field conditions, the probability of these effects is reduced by the following factors: –The round strikes the target at less than 2700 feet per second. That velocity is reduced by: the farther the range to the target, the greater reduction in velocity; shortened weapon barrel length as is the case with the shorter M-4 carbine; and/or, manufacturing variances in the cartridge. –Variances in human body thickness and flesh density and consistency. In those cases, the bullet neither yaws nor fragments and causes only a pencil size hole through the body; i.e., small hole in, small hole out. Neither Dr. Fackler nor anyone else has provided any empirical data or estimate on the incidence of the 5.56mm yaw/fragmentation effect on enemy soldiers. Conversely, since first used by Americans in combat, there has been a consistent observation from the field–enemy soldiers continue to fire their weapons after being hit by multiple 5.56mm bullets; evidently, no yaw/fragmentation effect. As is usually the case, a judgment based on lies was to adversely affect those at the ‘pointy end of the spear.’ American warriors reported enemy soldiers continuing to close and fire their weapons after sustaining multiple hits by 5.56mm bullets. This happened as early as 9 December 1965 in the official ‘After Action Report of the Ia Drang Valley Operation . . ..’ popularized by the movie and book We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young. The commanding officer of the battalion engaged there, Col. Harold G. Moore, USA, writes of assaulting enemy soldiers being hit by 5.56mm rounds: ‘Even after being hit several times in the chest, many continued firing and moving for several more steps before dropping dead.’ [9.] Later in that war, a similar experience is voiced by Col. John Hayworth, USA (Ret.): ‘In one fire-fight, I saw my RTO place three rounds [of 5.56 mm] in the chest of a charging NVA regular at 50 yards. He kept firing his AK and never slowed down. At 30 yards, I hit him with a blast of double ought buck. It picked him up off his feet and he didn’t get up again.’ [10.] In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the DoD increased the weight of the 5.56mm 55-grain bullet (M193) to 62-grains, replaced some of its lead core with a tungsten steel core, painted the bullet tip green and designated the new cartridge M855. In 1991, the Pentagon sent its warriors to the Gulf War with this new green-tip cartridge. Maj. Howard Feldmeier, USMC (Ret.) was there: ‘ . . . several Marines commented that they had to shoot Iraqi soldiers 2-3 or more times with the 62-grain 5.56mm green tip ammo before they stopped firing back at them . . ..’ That report is exemplified by one of an Iraqi officer who was thrown from his vehicle and set afire by an explosion: ‘Somehow he managed to hold on to his AK-47. He also got up, still on fire, faced the firing line of Marines and charged forward firing his weapon from the hip. He didn’t hit anyone but two Marines each nailed him with a three round burst from their M-16A2s. One burst hit him immediately above his heart, the other in his belly button. [He] . . . kept right on charging and firing until his magazine was empty. When he got up to the Marines two of them tackled him and rolled him in the sand to put out the fire. . . . He was quickly carried back to the battalion aid station . . .. The surgeons told me he certainly died of burns, but not necessarily from the six 5.56mm wounds . . ..’ [11.] In spite of the above ‘lesson learned,’ the DoD dispatched its warriors to combat in Somalia in 1993 with the same flawed ‘green tip’ cartridge as testified in Mark Bowden’s book Black Hawk Down: ‘His weapon was the most sophisticated infantry rifle in the world, a customized CAR-15, and he was shooting the army’s new 5.56mm green tip round. . . . The bullet made a small, clean hole, and unless it happened to hit the heart or spine, it wasn’t enough to stop a man in his tracks. Howe felt he had to hit a guy five or six times just to get his attention.’ The Pentagon remained unmoved by that experience of its warriors and continued to send them to war underpowered. On 4 April 2002, I received an e-mail from a trooper in Afghanistan who appeals, in part: ‘The current-issue 62gr 5.56mm (223) round, especially when fired from the short-barreled, M-4 carbine, is proving itself (once again) to be woefully inadequate as [a] man stopper. Engagements at all ranges are requiring multiple, solid hits to permanently bring down enemy soldiers. Penetration is also sadly deficient. Even light barriers are not perforated by this rifle/cartridge combination.’ [12.] Additional observations of the impotence of the 5.56mm round soon appeared in official and professional publications. In their official briefing ‘Lessons Learned in Afghanistan’ dated April 2002, LTC C. Dean, USA and SFC S. Newland, USA of the U. S. Army Natick Soldier Center reported: ‘Soldiers asked for a weapon with a larger round. ‘So it will drop a man with one shot.” In the October 2002 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette magazine, Capt Philip Treglia, USMC reflected on his Afghanistan experience in December 2001 by reporting that, ‘the 5.56 mm round will not put a man to the ground with two shots to the chest.’ Capt Treglia’s men were trained to fire two bullets into an enemy’s chest and if that did not knock him down, they were to shift fire to the head. This is the corrective action implemented for these Marines and many others in the Armed Forces for the impotent 5.56mm cartridge rather than equipping them with a rifle that fired a bullet with one-round knockdown power. And, as Capt Treglia reported, multiple hits with the 5.56mm bullet didn’t work any better in Afghanistan than it did anytime in the past. In a 3 March 2003 written briefing, LCdr. Gary K. Roberts, USNR recommended to RAdm. Albert M. Calland, Commander, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command that he upgrades his command’s 5.56mm weapons to the 6.8mm cartridge. That briefing, entitled, ‘Enhancement of NSW Carbine & Rifle Capability,’ opens by observing: Recent combat operations have highlighted terminal performance problems, generally manifested as failures to rapidly incapacitate opponents, during combat operations when M855 62gr. ‘Green Tip’ FMJ is fired from 5.56mm rifles and carbines. Failure to rapidly incapacitate armed opponents increases the risk of U.S. forces being injured or killed and jeopardizes mission success. [13.] That statement was prophetic. On 12 September 2003, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq elements of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group engaged enemy forces in a firefight. An insurgent was struck in the torso by several rounds of 5.56mm ammunition from their M-4 carbines (this is the current shortened version of the M-16 Service Rifle). He continued to fire his AK-47 and mortally wounded MSgt Kevin N. Morehead, age 33, from Little Rock, Arkansas. The engagement continued with the same insurgent surprising SFC William M. Bennett, age 35, from Seymour, Tennessee from a hiding place and killing him instantly with a three-round burst to the head and neck. SSgt Robert E Springer, threw away his M-4 carbine, drew an obsolete WWI/WWII vintage .45 caliber pistol and killed the insurgent with one shot. A close inspection of the enemy’s corpse revealed that he had been hit by seven 5.56 mm rounds in his torso. Also, in this engagement, these soldiers were provided with a commercially produced 5.56mm round of 77-grain weight vice the 62-grain bullets in use by general-purpose forces. Obviously, the larger 5.56mm round was of little consequence. [14.] These reports are consistent with my own experience during three tours of duty in Vietnam from the goat incident in 1964 described above to service with the 3rd Marine Division in 1968-69; experience that repeatedly reminded me that this 5.56mm cartridge was nothing more than the full-metal jacket military version of the commercial .223 caliber Remington cartridge. The .223 caliber Remington was and is today commercially advertised and sold as a ‘varmint cartridge’ for hunting groundhogs, prairie dogs and woodchucks. The cartridge is offered with soft point, hollow point, fragmentation, or projectiles incorporating two or more of these attributes to enhance its lethality and assure a ‘clean kill’: one-round knockdown power on varmints. States such as the Commonwealth of Virginia do not permit it to be used for hunting deer or bear because its lethality–with or without those enhancements–does not assure a ‘clean kill’ on big game. [15] Yet, its full metal jacket military counterpart continues to be issued to American warriors in spite of almost 40 years of Lessons Learned that enemy soldiers continue to fire their weapons and have even killed our soldiers after sustaining multiple hits from 5.56mm bullets. The lethality of the 5.56mm cartridge, sold on lies, cannot be fixed in truth. It is time the Department of Defense recognizes this ‘Big Lie’ from the Vietnam War and in the names of MSgt Kevin N. Morehead and SFC William M. Bennett replaces this varmint cartridge with one that gives our warriors that critical capability described by SFC Paul Howe above–one-round knockdown power! The author’s 25-year Marine career included service as an infantryman and intelligence officer with highlights of three tours of duty in Vietnam and, ultimately, representing the Defense Intelligence Agency as a briefer to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and other Washington area decision makers. He currently manages MILINET an Internet forum on international political/military affairs. 1. Bowden, M, Black Hawk Down, Penguin Books, 2000, p. 208. 2. Fackler, ML,’Wounding patterns of military rifle bullets,’ International Defense Review, January 1989, pp. 59-64. 3. Ezell, EC & Stevens, RB, The Black Rifle, M16 Retrospective, Collector Grade Publications, Inc., 1994, p. 98. 4. Ibid. pp.99-100. 5. Ibid. pp.101-106. 6. Ibid. pp. 106-107. 7. Ibid. p. 116. 8. Hitler, A, Mein Kampf. James Murphy, translator. London, New York, Melbourne: Hurst and Blackett Ltd; April 1942; page 134. 9. Moore, Col. HG, ‘After Action Report, Ian Drang Valley Operation 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry 14-16 November 1965,’ dated, 9 December 1965, p. 8. 10. Hayworth, Col. J, E-Mail to author, 23 April 2002. 11. Feldmeier, Maj. H, E-Mail to author, 21 May 2002. 12. Anonymous, E-Mail to MILINET, 26 March 2002. 13. Roberts, USNR, LCdr. Gary K., Brief to RAdm Albert M. Calland, CMDR NAVSPECWARCOM, ‘Enhancement of NSW Carbine & Rifle Capability’ brief, 3 March 2003. 14. Jones, Bruce L., ‘MILINET: Case Studies in Combat Failures of 5.56mm Ammunition,’ 3 November 2003 15. http://www.dgif.state.va.us/hunting/regs/section6.html#legaluse Maj. Anthony F. Milavic, USMC (Ret.)

  11. First off, I’ve read that article. Maj. Milavic is a throw back…someone who thinks that we should still be using full powered weapons. That’s ok, there is a lot of good arguement to that. However, in this day and age, a low recoil, medium powered weapon like the 5.56 is very good for the constant change of environment. Also, I have only met one soldier who claimed that the 5.56 was crap…and he had never been in combat before. I have thirty accounts, including 2 Army SF vets from Vietnam and one from Panama, who say that they never had a problem with the 5.56 in either load. I asked if it failed to stop enemies with one shot, and they said yes, but it also succeeded in stopping many enemies with well placed, single shots. That’s just the nature of warfare. Read reports from WWII, there were occasions where Germans were hit with multiple 30.06 rounds from close range, and survived long enough to kill the American shooter. It just happens sometimes, sadly.

  12. Many of you are probably familiar with the books of Evan P. Marshall and Ed Sanow on handgun stopping power. The latest edition, to the best of my knowledge, is called: ‘Stopping Power’ and was published in 2001 (ISBN 1-58160-128-X). These books mainly deal with the terminal effects of handgun ammunition used against humans in the USA, i.e. in police and civilian shootings. These authors have approached this somewhat macabre field of interest in the most scientific way possible. They also report on commonly used rifle calibres such as the .223, .308 and .30 carbine. According to their statistics, the .223, 55gr FMJ produces an instantaneous stop in 91% of cases with a single torso hit. For the SS109 round it is 96%. For the .308 it is 98% for the 168gr match bullet. Having read Bill’s rather convincing posting, I wonder if it is possible to design a 7.62mm NATO calibre rifle that is usable in the full-auto mode? Maybe a straight line designs like the German FG42 with a long-recoil mechanism to soak up the recoil and reduce the cyclic rate of fire, and not too light; around 4.5kg. I have read that the Swiss Stgw 57 was quite managable on full auto. It fired the full power 7.5 x 55 round but the beast weighed more than 5.5 kilo’s (more than 12 pounds!).

  13. well 91% percent sounds much better than like 6 rounds to the torso. but wait wat is the engagement range of most police shoot outs do u think? probably something like 20m and at that range the speed would be much greater than that of it in the 100’s. i know its maximum effective range is 500 but anyway if u hit a man in the pelvis ur gonna drop him. and most cops dont just pull out there m4 for a traffic stop so there not being used as frequently as in the military and at 20m if u took out ur m4 u mean to kill. so ya hit him square in the head or chest and M4’s are probalby gonna be used by the swat with mp5’s of course but anyway if ur clearing a building hes gonna get a tasty amount of bullets and ya most cops have M16’s i just said M4

  14. Good article. If Maj. Milavic is to be so lightly dismissed as a ‘throwback’, then so must be the young soldiers, marines and officers reporting to him and reporting information for official investigations. We’ll have to include as ‘throwbacks’ complaints from Army rangers in Somalia, Marines in Desert Storm, and Capt. Treglia’s Marines in Afghanistan and marine, army, navy and SF troops in Iraq. The Naval Special Warfare Command must be chock full of ‘throwbacks’ since they have been frantically experimenting with all sorts of heavy-bullet 5.56mm loads and are now exploring larger calibers! It is disingenuous to compare stopping power case reports from a few police or civilian shootings to military combat. Criminals not politically or religiously motivated, do not usually wear heavy gear or obstructive clothing, and the few FMJ documented civilian police shootings are almost invariably carefully targeted shots to the head by police snipers, not shots fired in the stress of combat. I’ll take the multiple reports of soldiers in combat, thank you -‘SOLDIERS ASKED FOR A WEAPON WITH A LARGER ROUND..’ I think if one is dead set against a caliber change one will find any reason to dismiss all the bad news coming in. Older Vietnam soldiers are throwbacks. Younger enlisted soldiers are too ignorant to know what they really need. Special Warfare – I guess they are too small in number to count? I would think most people would at least agree that the time is come to seriously consider utilizing larger caliber small arms as substitute standard, where appropriate in a given combat environment. It certainly won’t won’t ball up logistics by issuing (as has already been DONE in small quantities in Afganistan and Iraq) 7.62mm rifles to the troops. Hell, the US Navy still prefers 7.62mm rifles for boarding small craft because of penetration issues with 5.56mm. After WWII got going good, the U.S. Army and Marines discovered something very important. It’s not smart in combat to MAKE a man carry a weapon he has no faith in, he’ll often abuse or lose it the first chance he gets to pick up something better. And there are already infantry soldiers disgusted with the M4 and M16 who have solved their problem with approval of their immediate commanders. I’ve seen regular soldiers serving in Afghanistan openly carrying AKs and M-14s. Some of the troops riding the Baghdad airport highway convoys (note: NOT special forces or contractors) are now carrying M-14s in preference to M249, M4 and M-16, and their commanders are saying nothing. So it’s going to happen anyway.

  15. Here are some interesting facts for reference sake, neither proving nor disproving anything. One 100 rounds of M855A1 5.56mm ammunition weigh 2.7 pounds, a 100 rounds of 6.8 SPC weigh around 4 pounds and a 100 rounds of 7.62 x 51 NATO weigh 5.7 pounds. If the relative recoil of the 5.56 cartridge is 10, that of the 6.8 SPC is 24 and that of the 7.62mm NATO is 47. That means that, in rifles of the same weight, the 6.8 SPC will produce felt recoil approximately two and a half times that of the 5.56mm and the 7.62 NATO rifle will produce felt recoil more than four and a half times that of the 5.56mm rifle. I am curious to know what Bill and Wilco would suggest to improve matters in Iraq and Afganistan. Stick another cartridge, like the 6.8, in between the 5.56 and the 7.62, replace the 5.56 with something like the 6.8 or keep a mix of the 5.56 and the 7.62 but issue more 7.62mm rifles to troops in the field?

  16. And no matter what round is used, there will be multiple reports of it failing to stop an enemy.’ I’m sorry but this is a BS smokescreen argument. We’re all quite aware that there are once-in-blue-moon failure to stop incidents with large caliber ammunition up to and including cannon rounds. But the evidence is that ever since Vietnam, individual complaints of stopping and penetration ineffectiveness drop off noticeably once caliber and round energy are increased above 5.56mm. And if a larger number of soldiers lives will be saved by changing to a larger caliber than by staying with 5.56mm ammunition, it should be changed, period. Now people who say 7.62mm NATO is usually too powerful when used in full-auto 8-10 lb. rifles are correct, of course. But the value of controllable full-auto fire of ANY caliber is exaggerated in handheld small arms, except for point response at pointblank range, for which even the 7.62mm NATO round has been shown to work fine, even for such small-statured soldiers as the Portuguese in Africa (FN FAL, G-3, AR-10). For rifle-armed soldiers in jungle, the 7.62mmx39mm is better anyway than 5.56mm NATO as it is less likely to be deflected by small trees, small obstructions and foliage. And forget the 5.56mm SAW! EVERY U.S. and U.K./Commonwealth jungle conflict since WWII has eventually resulted in the same damn conclusion – magazine-fed or belt-fed full-power 7.62 (.30) machine guns placed at point and rear works best in jungle patrol or ambush situations). Better firepower, better fire suppression, MUCH better penetration and killing effect. We seem to have to re-learn that same lesson every 25 years or so. 5.56mm for building entry and close-range urban combat? Maybe. But I think intermediate-power, larger-caliber cartridges are just as good if not better for that role than the 5.56mm. Now that accurate, versatile, and reliable rifles in 7.62x39mm are readily available from many countries, the argument for retaining 5.56mm starts to look a lot worse – unless of course we are willing to look at HIGHLY unstable rounds like the 5.45mm Russian. Good luck getting that one by Human Rights Watch. Open ground? The 5.56mm in rifle and SAW use has been getting a hell of a lot of criticism from serving troops for lack of range, penetration, and stopping power in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Same complaints arose in Desert Storm. True, the Soviets employed individual auto fire in massed assault with rifles over open ground, but casualties were tremendous and unacceptable for any force not able to use thousands of poorly-trained conscripts as cannon fodder. Belt-fed full-power machinegun fire is far more effective for that support fire role anyway. And I’ve also noted how the Taliban terrorists employ full-power 7.62mm machineguns and their heavy ammunition at any and all opportunities for ambush, despite having to portage them long distances. Would it be too much to ask that our procurement and tactical strategies be as versatile?

  17. In the sixties the US went to Vietnam armed with the M14. As soon as they came into contact with AK47 and AKM armed Viet Cong, they ditched the M14 and switched to the 5.56 M16. The Russians, after hearing first hand reports from Viet Nam on the performance of the AK’s and the M16’s, ditched their 7.62×39 AK’s and switched to the 5.45×39 AK 74, a round similar to the 5.56. In 1973 the Israeli’s with their FAL’s fought the Arabs armed with AK’s. The Israeli’s ditched the FAL’s and switched to 5.56 Galil’s and M16’s. In the late seventies, the South Africans, also armed with FAL’s, became involved in a number of brush-fire wars with freedom fighters/terrorists (depending on which side you were on)armed with AK’s. The South Africans dropped their R1/FAL’s and switched to R4/Galil’s in 5.56mm. The above seems to be a recurring pattern. Everybody seems to be highly enamored with the 5.56mm cartridge as a combat round. Have all these people been dead wrong all the time? Does anybody have any information how the Israeli’s, for instance, feel about the 5.56 round?

  18. Now that accurate, versatile, and reliable rifles in 7.62x39mm are readily available from many countries’ No matter what rifle it is fired from, the 7.62x39mm is an inaccurate round. It’s especially bad in an AK, but even in a bolt action, the accuracy is still horrible. This is due to a rainbow trajectory and a bad ballistic coefficency. ‘And no matter what round is used, there will be multiple reports of it failing to stop an enemy.’ ‘I’m sorry but this is a BS smokescreen argument” Tell that to Maj. Al Lock, 10 year veteran of the 101st Airborne and the 11th SFG. ‘The 5.56mm in rifle and SAW use has been getting a hell of a lot of criticism from serving troops for lack of range, penetration, and stopping power in both Afghanistan and Iraq.’ It’s not the round that’s being criticized loudly, it’s about link and casing problems. With that much lead being sprayed down range, one hit stopping power is not an issue anyway. ‘And I’ve also noted how the Taliban terrorists employ full-power 7.62mm machineguns and their heavy ammunition at any and all opportunities for ambush, despite having to portage them long distances. Would it be too much to ask that our procurement and tactical strategies be as versatile?’ And note how the Taliban is losing. Now, there is no doubt about it, the 7.62 NATO is a more powerful round, but it is a battle rifle, not an assault rifle round.

  19. No matter what rifle it is fired from, the 7.62x39mm is an inaccurate round’ ummm the m14 is a very accurate rifle and it fires the 7.62 the M24 fires the 7.62 the M1 fires 7.62 or .30 right and all of those guns are pretty accurate the AK was made to be a machine gun and the M16 was made for precision fire as a guy on the history channel said the ‘M16 is like a medical instrument and the AK is a blunt stick’ the 2 guns play off eachothers weakness’s M16vsAK

  20. The Russians, after hearing first hand reports from Viet Nam on the performance of the AK’s and the M16’s, ditched their 7.62×39 AK’s and switched to the 5.45×39 AK 74, a round similar to the 5.56′ Actually, we now know from declassified records they also received first-hand reports from NVA and their own advisors that the M193 5.56mm ammunition was erratic in its performance and often ineffective. They heavily modified the 5.45mm round to guarantee tumbling performance in tissue, then tested it in combat. This bullet design is 180-degrees opposite in design philosophy to that of the later m855 5.56mm ‘humane’ ammunition so often derided in today’s combat reports. However, the 5.45mm’s poor penetration has remained an issue for the Russian military in urban and forest terrain combat, causing them to retain quantities of 7.62mmx39mm and 7.62mmx54 weapons and to issue them as needed in rifle, DMR or LMG roles. ‘No matter what rifle it is fired from, the 7.62x39mm is an inaccurate round. It’s especially bad in an AK, but even in a bolt action, the accuracy is still horrible. This is due to a rainbow trajectory and a bad ballistic coefficency.’ Ballistic coefficient and trajectory have nothing whatsoever to do with inherent accuracy of a cartridge. And combat (practical) accuracy is far different than target accuracy. Even so, there are now 7.62x39mm combat rifles producing MOA accuracy with 10-shot groups at 100m and 200m with 7.62mm FMJ service loads. Since the 7.62mm AK round is not designed for use beyond intermediate ranges its trajectory at long range is unimportant, only its combat effectiveness at close range. Longer range environments are better handled by rifle with a cartridge suited for such ranges, such as 7.62MM NATO. The real mistake has been in attempting to use 5.56mm NATO as a ‘jack of all trades’ – it is truly a master of NONE. It’s true that the Soviet 7.62mmx39mm round was also DESIGNED not as a benchrest civilian round but a combat round. It has a sharply tapered case to greatly ease extraction issues (more reliable) and a very tough, thick rim that an extractor can really grip. The real strength of this cartridge is its capacity to blow a good .30 hole through a surprising amount of obstructions and to achieve respectable combat effectiveness in incapacitating soldiers, something the 5.56mm consistently fails to do. ‘It’s not the round [5.56mm] that’s being criticized loudly, it’s about link and casing problems. With that much lead being sprayed down range, one hit stopping power is not an issue anyway.’ It’s the round. A chorus of complaints on ineffective stopping ability and poor penetration have led to the 5.56mm SAW being withdrawn from service in certain units and replaced with 7.62mm MGs. The Soviets also recognized early the failure of using such intermediate cartridges in LMGs when they dropped the RPD and downgraded their intermediate cartridges to ‘automatic rifle’ status in the RPK. ‘And note how the Taliban is losing.’ Ugh. That’s the same logic would conclude that Soviet tactics were superior to that of the Finns in 1940 because the Soviets eventually ‘won’. Not much comfort to the guys having to overcome longrange plunging LMG fire and not being able to hit back immediately. They’d like more 7.62mm MGs, lighter rucks and radio comm gear. More shooty, less booty. I think Wilco’s idea of dropping the 5.56mm and issuing intermediate and long-range cartridge rifles and LMGs based on combat environment and, to a limited extent, soldier preference is a very good one.

  21. Israeli’s with their FAL’s fought the Arabs armed with AK’s. The Israeli’s ditched the FAL’s and switched to 5.56 Galil’s and M16’s. In the late seventies, the South Africans, also armed with FAL’s, became involved in a number of brush-fire wars with freedom fighters/terrorists (depending on which side you were on)armed with AK’s. The South Africans dropped their R1/FAL’s and switched to R4/Galil’s in 5.56mm.’ Forgot the rest of your points, Wessels, sorry! What I know about S.A., is that the R4 was only adopted at the very end of the conflict and there were a number of very close-range encounters with enemy in tall grass and bush at distances of a few feet where full-automatic fire with an intermediate cartridge might have made some difference. I have NEVER heard of retired S.A. military criticize the FAL rifle. Or the Portuguese paraquedistas or cadadores, for that matter, who used G-3, FN FAL and AR-10. I do know the Israelis dropped the FN FAL for two primary reasons: 1) The fixed-stock FN FAL rifle adopted was long and thus relatively poorly suited to the fast-moving mechanized armored infantry tactics comprising the the bulk of Israeli forces. 2) The Israeli FAL rifle had a tipping bolt and close tolerance fit not well suited to functioning with fine desert sand, also it had no ‘sand cuts’ on the bolt unlike the L1A1 British version to improve desert reliability. 3) 6-day war convinced the Israelis that the 7.62mm AK was a very reliable rifle with a good cartridge, hence they proceeded with Galil adaptation. However they had gone with NATO standardization and emergency airlifts by USA required during 1973 Yom Kippur convinced them it was necessary to stay with NATO cartridge standardization in event of war emergency. Also (very important) the Israelis receive massive subsidized imports of M16A2 and other incentives to retain M16 and 5.56mm weapons. The Galil also came in much heavier than originally envisioned. 4)Israelis are very closed-mouth on weapons use, but it is known that in elite units where 7.62x39mm and 5.56mm weapons are both known and employed, the 7.62mm weapons are generally preferred for combination of reliability and short-range target effect.

  22. ummm the m14 is a very accurate rifle and it fires the 7.62 the M24 fires the 7.62′ That’s the 7.62×51, not the 7.62×39. That round is very accurate, but the 39 is not. ‘Ballistic coefficient and trajectory have nothing whatsoever to do with inherent accuracy of a cartridge’ Actually, it has a lot to do with the accuracy and how the windage is set on the rifle sights. A flat trajectory is essential for accurate fire, even at close range. ‘Even so, there are now 7.62x39mm combat rifles producing MOA accuracy with 10-shot groups at 100m’ 3-5′ groups, as opposed to sub-1′ groups with the 5.56. That is very poor accuracy. Troy, many patrols in the U.S. military have at least one member armed with a longer ranged automatic weapon, such as the 7.62 M240, Mk48, or M60A3 and possibly even a marksman armed with an M14 or a Mk11 in case of long range encounters. But also remember that the 5.56 STILL has a range of 450-600 meters. Yes, the Taliban does arm itself with 7.62x54R chambered weapons, but the primary rifle is the AK-47. Anyone armed with that who hopes to hit an American soldier will be well within the range of a 5.56 weapon. Anything heavier than that is food for the 7.62 NATO. ‘It’s the round. A chorus of complaints on ineffective stopping ability and poor penetration have led to the 5.56mm SAW being withdrawn from service in certain units and replaced with 7.62mm MGs…’ Ready the military.com weaponry forums on this. they heavily modified the 5.45mm round to guarantee tumbling performance in tissue, then tested it in combat…’ They cannot ‘guarantee’ tumbling with the 5.45 any more than they can with the 5.56. Besides, the 5.45 does not fragment. ‘The real mistake has been in attempting to use 5.56mm NATO as a ‘jack of all trades’ – it is truly a master of NONE.’ It is a master of none, but it is a jack of all trades…more so than the 7.62×39. It has longer range, much, much better accuracy, and better terminal ballistics. I’ll say again, look at the military.com forums. You’ll have people who agree with you, but most soldiers are happy with the 5.56. I know, because I once would have agreed with you.

  23. Actually, it has a lot to do with the accuracy and how the windage is set on the rifle sights.’ yer still confusing practical accuracy with BC and flat trajectory. Modern 7.62x39mm rifles have excellent combat accuracy out to 300meters, the practical limit of all intermediate cartridges currently in service. Don’t forget the 5.56mm is failing to stop enemy infantry at point-blank range, let alone at 300 meters, where the 5.56mm round out of a rifle-length barrel is traveling slower than even the much maligned M-4 at the muzzle. ‘3-5′ groups, as opposed to sub-1′ groups with the 5.56. That is very poor accuracy.’ Fantasyland. How about 1.3′ at 100m for modern 7.62mm assault rifles with proper sights and tolerances. The Finnish Army reported consistent MOA accuracy with Armalite AR-10 7.62mmx39mm rifles back in 1960! As I’m sure you’re WELL aware, the reports of 7.62mm rifles as inaccurate comes from wornout Kalashnikovs. Even then – a well-worn HB AKM with stamped receiver I’ve shot at DWTC shoots 2.5′ at 100m, open sights and all. That is excellent practical combat accuracy with a round that has demonstrated far better penetration and terminal effect than 5.56mm ammunition. ‘Ready the military.com weaponry forums on this.’ I have. Unfortunately, all of these forums are full of civilian target-shooting and service members whose practical infantry experience and untraceable anecdotes are dedicated to supporting their current, privately-owned firearms of choice. I’d rather rely on current documented combat reports from troops in service. Reality check: SOCOM certainly wouldn’t be talking 6.8mm and larger modular cartridges for the SCAR if 5.56mm was doing the job, and you wouldn’t be seeing M14s and 7.62mmm AKs being carried in the open by service members, either. ‘also remember that the 5.56 STILL has a range of 450-600 meters.’ Quite a difference between ranges on windless days with calm marksmen and effective ranges in actual combat. Yes, hits on humans can be achieved, particularly on non-moving targets under ideal conditions. But again, the terminal effect of performance of the 5.56mm is miserable at close ranges, let alone extended ranges better left to LMG, sniper or DM. I think we’ve about reached the useful end of this argument. But I’m perfectly willing to leave it in the hands of troops and investigators committed to a comparison of larger-caliber rifle and SAW small arms in intermediate and full-power designs vis-a-vis 5.56 NATO, based on actual combat reports, not on simulated effects of terminal impact, measurements of recoil impulse, ballistic coefficients, or other theoretical nonsense. I’m confident that under such conditions the 5.56mm cartridge is doomed.

  24. What I know about S.A., is that the R4 was only adopted at the very end of the conflict and there were a number of very close-range encounters with enemy in tall grass and bush at distances of a few feet where full-automatic fire with an intermediate cartridge might have made some difference. I have NEVER heard of retired S.A. military criticize the FAL rifle. Or the Portuguese paraquedistas or cadadores, for that matter, who used G-3, FN FAL and AR-10.’ Troy, you are basically correct in your answer to may statement on various armies exchanging their battle tifles for 5.56mm assault rifles. I was living in South Africa during the seventies and eighties and had frequent contacts with military personel. The R4 was first issued around 1981. The most extensive and intense fighting took place after this, peaking in the period 1986 to 1988. There were indeed no complaints about the FAL. Some professional soldiers actually preferred it to the R4. Because of the terrain in which the conflict took place, the most often used cover was trees and they stated that in many cases enemy soldiers could be taken out by shooting through a tree, something the R4 could not do. The bulk of the army however consisted of conscripts, so-called national servicemen, who did 2 year stints in the army, frequently followed by further 3 month periods. To them, the R4 was ideal. I never heard of any lethality issues concerning the 5.56mm in South African service, but as you state, the situation in Angola, where they fought, could not be conpared to Iraq or Afganistan. South African 5.56mm ammunition was basically the same as the M193 round. It fired a 55gr bullet at just over 3100 feet per second from the 18 inch R4 barrel (1 in 12 inch rifling). The reasons why this rifle-cartridge combination worked so well was that combat ranges were generally short and nobody wore body armour, in fact the usualy mode of dress was light, summer type clothing or uniforms. Furthermore, the R4 weighed 4.3Kg, that is 9.5 pounds, about the same as a Garand! Staggering around with this thing in the African summer heat was usually accompanied by much taking of the Lord’s name in vain but it did produce an excellent ‘burp gun’. It was superbly controllable during full auto fire! The R4 also, not surprisingly, acquired a reputation of virtual indestructibility and almost total reliability.

  25. To the guy who bragged about pinhole groups with the M16 design on the range, I would like to have seen him shoot with our beatup issue A2s in A-han. Most had worn throats and all had the lousy trigger with about a 10-pound pull – yeah it’s a real target rifle. Getting splashed with dirt and rock chips from small arms and RPG fire didn’t help either. Rifles were zeroed to 250 meters and left there. The only guy I saw try a 400m shot with open sights could not get his rearsight down afterwards as grit had jammed the mechanism. We did see some A4 DMRs but those guys were snipers and every one of them said they wished they had a 7.62mm rifle.

  26. hay man better not be spamming here we dont need any advance K anyway if ur m16 was so dirty y didnt u clean it? clean the sights and a 10 pound pull how the hell could u hit anything

  27. SOCOM is looking at the 6.8 SPC and the US is contemplating a new infantry weapon (XM8, before it was cancelled). The bvious solution is to combine these requirements; a new rifle in a new calibre. Such a new round is unlikely to be the 6.8 SPC however as this cartridge is somewhat limited by having been designed to fit inside the M16 envelope. The cartridge case should probably be about 2mm longer and the overall cartridge length should certainly be longer to allow longer bullets with a sectional density of at least 2.30 to be used. Here’s an interesting thought. If you rebarrel a 7.62 NATO battle rifle, such as the FAL or M14, to the 250 Savage cartridge, you end up with a very competent assault rifle without having to change any of the working bits or the magazines. It will shoot a 120gr, .257 calibre bullet with a sectional density of around 2.5 at 2600 to 2700 ft/sec. from an 18 inch barrel. Recoil will be about half that of the parent 7.62 rifle. ‘But I’m perfectly willing to leave it in the hands of troops and investigators committed to a comparison of larger-caliber rifle and SAW small arms in intermediate and full-power designs vis-a-vis 5.56 NATO, based on actual combat reports, not on simulated effects of terminal impact, measurements of recoil impulse, ballistic coefficients, or other theoretical nonsense. I’m confident that under such conditions the 5.56mm cartridge is doomed.’ Troy, the above statement is not entirely fair. Anecdotal evidence such as you suggest cannot be a good basis for the development of a new weapon system. In the end, the configuration, calibre, performance, etc., will have to be validated by the ‘egg-heads’. A question: What is the current status of the XM8? Is it stone dead?

  28. Reality check: SOCOM certainly wouldn’t be talking 6.8mm and larger modular cartridges for the SCAR if 5.56mm was doing the job, and you wouldn’t be seeing M14s and 7.62mmm AKs being carried in the open by service members, either.’ The 6.8mm is dead, it is not going to be adopted. The SCAR-L is able to switch to the 6.8, but only because the 6.8mm was being experimented with by the 6th SFG ‘I have. Unfortunately, all of these forums are full of civilian target-shooting and service members whose practical infantry experience and untraceable anecdotes are dedicated to supporting their current, privately-owned firearms of choice. I’d rather rely on current documented combat reports from troops in service.’ Completely untrue. The mod there, who goes by the name Greenhat, is a Special Forces combat vet who swears by the 5.56. Anybody who makes a claim about a rifle or round in those forums without combat or LE experience or without sighting the source of their information is ordered to show his credentials and if he cannot, he is suspended.

  29. As I was saying the 6.8mm project was cancelled as well. The 6th SFG worked with it in Afghanistan, but that was it. SOCOM is sticking with the 5.56mm for the SCAR-L, and the reason it is modular for 7.62×39 and 5.45 is in case of long term missions due to the obvious ubiquitous nature of the AK-47 and, to a lesser extent, the AK-74 and the plentiful supply of their ammo, not increased stopping power of those rounds. Does the 6.8mm have more stopping power? Yes, but not much more, and definitely not enough to justify its change over. Does the 7.62×51 have more stopping power? It is an overall better round in terms of range, power, and accuracy, but it is better suited for the days of long range engagement. I’ll tell you, if I were a SDM, I would want an M14 over an M16. But in this day and age, it is not a CQB round. The 7.62x39mm? the accuracy from a bolt action, brand new rifle often requires a 2′ elevation change to shoot at targets outside 100m. TB? Only slightly better than that of the 7.92×33 Kurtz and the 7.62×32 Carbine.

  30. Gentlemen, allow me to ask a stupid question, if I may. Who initiated and was responsible for the now defunct XM8 project and who is responsible for the SCAR project? Why the 2 different but apparently similar projects? Is SCAR still a going concern?

  31. I think the DoD initiated the XM8 project, and SOCOM is running the SCAR program. The reason for the XM8? Mostly contracts and quest for a better rifle than the M16. But since the rifle was not any better, the contracts were thankfully cancelled. The SCAR project was started in the quest for a more versatile rifle than the M4, able to change barrel length and, if necessary, calibers. Unlike the XM8, the Spec ops guys are said to like the SCAR, which is basically an upgraded version of the FN FNC.

  32. the XM8 derived from the OICW when it was cancelled they still wanted the assualt rifle that was in it. so HK made the XM8. and then COLT showed a contract that the army signed stating that they had to go threw them or atleast an american firearms company for all there small arms purchases if at all possible but the army was just sticking COLT until law suit was possible and then they either killed the XM8 or are allowing COLT to make a gun comproably to the XM8

  33. ok well just dont breach houses with ur M14 ive seen many tapes where sniper just put there gun on there bak and pull out a .45 and go in the building so as long as u have carbines and sub machine guns with u then CQB should not be a problem

  34. i know its a bit random and a bit off the subject but why did the caseless amunition concept go dead in the late 80s and early 90s?. i meen from wot ive read there was nothing but good reports on the G11 weapon, but the germans cancelled it cos of funds and the fall of communist russia and all. but it seemed to be a very god idea, then the americans done several tests on the new amunition which came up with very possitive results. but it was never concidered as a proposed replacment weapon or taken serously?. maybe if they did then you wouldn’t have arguments about 5.56 and 7.62mm bullets?

  35. I think its just me but the G11 system looks really complicated and looks like it can be damaged really easy, i mean the internal components. But its a good idea though.

  36. I believe the caseless G11 was far developed at the time it was cancelled. It was, as you mentioned, cancelled because it would have been an expensive project and with the collapse of ‘the evil empire’ the threat of war was perceived to have diminished by the Germans. On top of that was the enormous cost of the reunification of East and West-Germany, something the German economy still has not recovered from. I guess the system still had some unresolved issues, otherwise surely H&K would have pushed it during the XM8 and SCAR projects?

  37. Can i just say something. What is the purpose of a caseless amunition ? im not trying to sound like a smart ass but i dont see a point of having a caseless amunition, well unless it is cheaper.

  38. its fire rate was insane i believe especially on burst, now it was very compilcated it spit out bullets faster on burst than in auto i think it was cause of the new expensive ammo and the rate of fire y it was scraped let me find out

  39. Why caseless ammunition? In the early 1950’s the Operational Research Office in the US did extensive research on the role of infantry weapons in the second world war and Korea. Amongst other things they did trials with full-powered battle rifled fired in full-auto 5-round bursts. Even at 50 yards, only the first round hit a man-sized target! This, by the way, was several years before the US adopted the M14 rifle chambered for just such a full-powered round (7.62mm NATO). Soon after the ORO findings became known, Project SALVO was launched in the US. Amongst other things, this project was intended to find ways in which accuracy at full-auto fire could be improved. They came to the conclusion that high velocity, small calibre cartridges, such as, for instance, the 5.56, markedly improved full-auto accuracy in conventional weapons but that hit propability could further be improved by either firing multiple projectiles simultaneously (shotgun) or by firng a series of projectiles at an extremely high cyclic rate. At such a high rate of fire (in excess of 2000 rounds per minute, i.e. at about 35 rounds per second), the last round of a 3-round burst would have left the barrel before the recoil had time to move the rifle significantly off target. In the sixties or early seventies, Heckler & Koch came to the same conclusions and decided to develop just such a rifle. In a conventional rifle the bolt moves forward and backward in order to extract and eject the empty case, pick up a new round from the magazine or belt, chamber it in the barrel and to lock up. This all takes time and in a conventional, single-barelled weapon, the maximum practical rate this can happen at is about 1800 rounds per minute. H&K therefore decided to develop their new rifle around a caseless round. If the rifle does not have to eject an empty case, the distances that the various parts have to move can be much shorter and everything goes quicker. Other advantages of caseless ammo is that the rounds are much ligher and smaller, and possibly cheaper. The rifle that resulted from all this was the G11. It could either fire 3-shot bursts at a rate in excess of 2000 rpm, or full-auto at a very low rate, around 450 rpm. At this low rate of fire the rifle was apparently highly controlable. The calibre was 4.6 or 4.7mm and the muzzle velocity around 3000 feet per second. The G11 with 510 rounds weighed the same as an M16A2 with 240 round or a G3 rifle with 100 rounds. The photo’s I’ve seen of the innards of the G11 showed a mechanmism of frightening complexity! Needless to say, the development of the caseless ammunition was probably even more difficult than that of the rifle. The body of the cartridge consisted of compressed propellant with the bullet completely enclosed except at the front. This thing had to be waterproof, shockproof and highly heat stable to prevent cook-off’s. I think that these problems had not been completely solved at the time the project was cancelled. Also see http://www.hkpro.com/g11.htm

  40. There have been several postings in this forum on the pro’s and cons of bullpup rifles. Here’s an interesting bit of information. The Saudi Arabian National Guard has reportedly recently ordered 55,000 FN F-2000 rifles from FN Herstal USA (in 5.56 NATO). The F-2000 is the futuristic looking bullpup from FN that ejects the empty cartridge cases through a tube near the muzzle of the gun. The weapon can therefore be fired equally well from the right or left shoulder without any adjustments. Several of you have mentioned that this ejection system might be prone to jamming. FN usually gets it right however. The FAL, the MAG and Minimi are all highly successful and reliable FN products. The last two are also in widespread service in the US armed forces. The new SCAR is also an FN product. I think one can arguably state that FN is currently the finest military small-arms development company in the Western world. (No, I am not Belgian!). I cannot help but think that the XM8, if it had gone through, would have been a disaster with its little 12 inch barrel. As has previously been stated by somebody in this forum, it would have been a 150 yard weapon, at best. I still maintain that the 5.56 NATO is a perfectly acceptable assault rifle cartridge but you have to stay with barrel lengths of at least 16 inches, preferably 18 inches. If you really need a compact weapon, the only way to go is bullpup, in my opinion, despite the purported disadvantages of such a system. It would not be a bad idea or a new weapon system, such as, for instance, the SCAR, to be so designed that the working bits can either be packaged as a conventional, folding stock rifle or be stuffed into a bullpup envelope.

  41. The XM8 maybe makes the trooper look like a child (the forms, the colour,…) the AR15 makes the trooper look like a janitor (the cleaning, the history,…). And if the SCAR makes the trooper look like a trooper (I’m a Belgian) the other choices aren’t bad either!!!

  42. The FN F2000 is 27′ overall length. The barrel is 15′ long. The performance would not be any better than a standard layout carbine. The SCAR looks like a good rifle. But the AR15 is and always will be a great rifle. And remember, Dominick, FN has made the M16A2 since 1988.

  43. ok looks dont matter cause i think that the SCAR looks stupid and the XM8 looks pretty tight its not the colours shown at the top of this page they have olive drab tan and black. tan and black look good but looks dont matter in performance but if a soldier doesnt like the look of his rifle wats going to make him want to clean it if its like an AK and doesnt need cleaning.the M16 wont fire if not cleaned properly and then ur dead but if u look at terrorist they probably never clean there weapons cause they dont give a shit and there accuracy suffers. but still wat ever gun they adopt will do the job yes we need to up the round size. the M16 is fine right now but we need to put some stoping power back in the hands of our soldiers go back to the 7.62X51 grain i think thats in the m14 to give them some accuracy with stoping power and dont give them auto cause then we could just give them composite M14

  44. When u look at the replacement of wepons you should look at the fact that the M16 has been arround since the 60’s in on form or another. This wepon seems like a fair replacement, however when the US looks to replace it they should way up all the options, in my reading I have seen that the M14 could have easly been the FN Fal that went to trials at the same time (However not being made in the spring field armory). The M14 had a short shelf lif as the main assult weapon before Colt got the manufactures rights to the Ar15. Making the M16 which by my standards was FUBAR, then came the M16a2 which is a fair wepon by my standards.What I’m tring to say is that the M16 has its advantages and disadvantages. Being a Aussie, try carring a SLR (Australian version of the Fn Fal) That sucker ways a tonne, mided you it will stop someone dead in their tracks. It is like the differences between the M9 and the M1911 pistols. If this Xm8 ways up then, by all means it should be the replacement.

  45. Two short comments on the above postings: Paul CG: The FN 2000 does indeed have a relatively short barrel. Lengthening it to 17 or 18 inches is a simple matter however and you will still have a weapon under 30 inches in length. Ed: This is not the forum to discuss this but there is practically no difference between the terminal effects of a .45ACP and (‘1911’) and 9mm parabellum (M9). The 9mm hardball is, if anything, slightly superior to 230gr .45ACP hardball in stopping power. The alleged superior stopping power of the .45ACP over virtually every other handgun cartridge was nothing more than speculation, supposition and, especially, wishfull thinking. (By the way, I own three .45ACP handguns and no 9mm’s, just to show I’m not biased!).

  46. M4 vs XM8. The xm8 sounds alot better than what we have to lug around right now. Thats all I can say till I actually get my hands on it and see what its like to fire and lug around. As to this whole crapfest about 6.8 vs 5.56..wtf? Who fights past 150 meters anymore? We sure as hell dont and we haven’t done it for the past 30+ years. Hell all of our fighting is going to close quarters since no one is crazy enough to get into an old fashioned open cow field shoot out. The biggest complaint I have about the 5.56 is penetration. The 7.62 has it, the 6.5/6.8 claim to sort of have it, and the 5.56 doesn’t have it. We had to tear cinderblocks to powder to break enemy cover but their rounds could make short work of ours. Try shooting through a metal door../shiver. That was my biggest issue. 5.56 killed them just fine…when they actually showed themselves which is rare most of the time. Not sure if I want to lug more weight but same ammo load or just lug more ammo. The 240 is a beast of a meat grinder but for all that hitting power its also a beast to lug (yeah screw you armchair generals that haven’t lugged it in 20years if at all, nothing like the present). M4 is a damn nice rifle but it gets dirty fast and gets jammed fast if you dont keep it cleaned (recommend you have wife or gf get some over the counter lube since the milspec stuff gums up grit as much as its supposed to lube). It’ll be hard to change to a new weapon. My dad had to give up his M14 for the M16 and he wasn’t happy. I’m wondering if I’ll be happy or sad or even still in when this happens (and it will eventually with one new system or another).