The Marine Corps Times reports that the Corps has stopped supplying troops with ye olde M855 rounds. Marines will now fire Federal Cartridge’s Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST) round. Weighing-in at 62 grains with a lead core and a solid copper shank, the bullet’s a variation of the Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw round [above]. The Claw is a big-game hunting bullet “touted for its ability to crush bone.” Which is just as well, really. Critics have long slated the old NATO-standard K318 MOD 0 enhanced 5.56mm bullet’s lack of stopping power and accuracy and muzzle flash. Back in 2002, the Naval Surface Warfare Center cited “shortcomings” in the M855’s performance. In January 25 (of this year), the Navy finally cleared SOST rounds for general use, proclaiming their improved ability to penetrate “intermediate barriers” such as windshields and car doors (handy for Marine checkpoints). Even so, the SOST bullet’s long-term future is uncertain and what’s this? More news about problems with PC lead-free ’rounds?

It is uncertain how long the Corps will field the SOST round. Marine officials said last summer that they took interest in it after the M855A1 lead-free slug in development by the Army experienced problems during testing, but Brogan said the service is still interested in the environmentally friendly round if it is effective. Marine officials also want to see if the price of the SOST round drops once in mass production. The price of an individual round was not available, but [commander of Marine Corps Systems Command Brig. Gen. Michael] Brogan said SOST ammo is more expensive than current M855 rounds.

Hang on. A quadrillion dollar federal deficit and the Marines are worried about the cost of bullets? Just so.

“We have to wait and see what happens with the Army’s 855LFS round,” [Brogan] said. “We also have to get very good cost estimates of where these [SOST] rounds end up in full-rate, or serial production. Because if it truly is going to remain more expensive, then we would not want to buy that round for all of our training applications.”

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