Buckle up, mall ninjas. It’s time to talk about the military’s choice of 6.8mm bullets for their rifles. I would say that I want this to be a detailed and well-mannered article, but I know that some of you just can’t handle a civil discussion so I’m going to put this out there in layman’s terms.
For you tl:dr readers who just want to you head to the comments and tell me just how wrong I am, here it is: I think that it would be a monumentally stupid idea to chamber any military rifle in 6.8mm and I don’t think it will ever happen in any broad capacity. It may be real for a brief time, but so were all the items on the Discovery Channel’s Future Weapons.
Every time we talk military rifles and cartridges I am stunned that there are so many of the industry’s brightest minds lurking in the comments section of my humble articles hidden behind generic online names. Like werewolves under a full moon, these prestigious experts wait for my critical thoughts to transform into 200+ IQ ballistic masterminds, top-secret military logisticians, and snipers with 500 kills each (that they can talk about).
Sadly, these saviors of Western civilization vacate after leaving their educated and irrefutable thoughts, never to return to the scene of their well-written victory over a blithering, uninformed millennial journalist.
If you’ve made it this far without commenting below, I’ll tell you again: the 6.8mm military rifle is a stupid idea and will likely never make it out of initial testing. The main reason I’m a critic of any 6.8mm rifle in service is that it’s an idea that looks good only on paper and has no real practical application over what is currently in service. Millions will be spent and wasted just to come to the realization that it will be cheaper and easier to upgrade existing weapon systems.
The first angle we’re going to look at is the financial and logistical drawbacks of the 6.8mm weapon family when it comes to general application. We’re going to have to assume that the full development of a dedicated 6.8mm rifle will not be a thing, which means that a private sector commercial option will be adopted for service, likely in the form of an upper receiver upgrade for the M4.
I can see a belt-fed system being scratch-built, but there are far fewer of them compared to carbines, which would make replacement of those somewhat feasible.
This mystery 6.8 cartridge desired by the military may be a type of caseless ammo, but those designs have rarely been successful for a variety of reasons. The caseless debate is one for another article, so I’ll save it for that time. If the rifle is going to be an M4 ‘upgrade’, it will be limited to the constraints of the standard AR magazine. The major problem with this is that there is only a limited amount of power that can be harnessed in that that set of dimensions.
For our example we will be considering the only successful (if you call it that) 6.8mm intermediate cartridge: the 6.8mm SPC. Despite the fact that it offers greater muzzle energy than the 5.56mm, it suffers tremendously in the weight category, coming close to 7.62x39mm in individual cartridge weight.
Having done a great deal with both 6.8 SPC and 5.56mm at ranges past 600 yards, I can say that the 5.56mm 77gr OTM military loads are superior to anything in 6.8 SPC at virtually all ranges. The reason for this is that the long, aerodynamic 5.56mm bullets can easily best the short, squat 6.8mm projectiles in flight much like they best the standard M43 7.62x39mm bullet. Weight savings is again critical here and 5.56mm will always beat 6.8mm in that regard by simple math.
There isn’t a known cartridge in 6.8mm that offers a significant advantage over either 5.56mm or 7.62mm NATO in the given size of their respective weapon platforms. If it’s replacing the 7.62mm in machine guns, I would think the military would go with something like 300 Norma Magnum to increase range/overmatch while staying in the same weight envelope as the M240. (More on ‘overmatch’ soon, so hold on.)
When it comes to replacing the 5.56mm, I don’t think that will happen as long as superior rounds like M855A1 exist. Polymer-cased ammo will likely be fielded before anything caseless is adopted.
If this seems disappointing, understand that the military has a long history of failing to deliver on even the most basic projects. Look at the trillion dollar laughingstocks like the Future Combat System, F-35, the B-1 Lancer, and Zumwalt-class destroyers.
On a more basic level, the ACU camo system, designed to work in any environment, was a total failure. But adding a brand-new cartridge and weapons systems to an already clogged, inefficient military procurement machine will work out just fine according to many ‘scholars’ I know.
For the people who believe changing the basic fighting instruments of the military is as easy as swapping guns in Call of Duty, just look at the multi-year Modular Handgun System (MHS) program and what a mess it was. I very much believe that the best gun won. SIG SAUER’s M17 is a better gun than what GLOCK entered and was actually modular, which was kind of the spirit behind the whole thing.
‘Experts’ say that SIG won because they underbid. Reality says they won because they delivered a superior gun that met the desired criteria set forth in the MHS competition, yet this simple, fact-based matter is hotly debated even today. It’s almost like facts don’t matter when five million fanboys masquerading as subject matter experts start crying like little children.
“Why doesn’t the Army love me, Papa?”
“Shhhhhh, little Gaston, they just can’t see that you identify as modular.”
The M17 contest is something of a mystery in that it’s the first time that the military as a whole has decided to equip their forces with a gun that can be readily adapted to the individual solder in terms of ergonomic features. It had always been a one-size-fits-all or a six-position stock, at best. If it took us this long to recognize that soldiers have hands that vary in size, it’s wishful thinking that they will be able to pull off a complete replacement of primary rifle systems.
While guns have been forced on the military in the past, that’s never been met with good results. What happened with the M16 in Vietnam is likely a foreshadowing of what will happen with this next-gen rifle and ammo. While AR platform rifles are good guns now, it has taken decades to get there.
The ballistic problem that this mystery 6.8mm round is supposed to solve is the head-scratcher called ‘overmatch’. It’s the loosely defined concept of the warfighter’s need to overmatch the enemy in firepower (among other things).
The military has become literally obsessed with this overmatch concept to the point that it has become a literal joke. And what, dare I ask, are we trying to overmatch? What weapons juggernaut are we pitted against that has made us call into question our fighting cartridges?
The answer is the 7.62x54R, a rimmed rifle round dating back to 1891, typically used in the PK general-purpose machine gun. While we tend to laugh at old, Soviet-era technology in the hands of un-educated peasants, the American military certainly seems to have a hard time addressing them with any confidence. A new suite of arms is essentially being designed to counter technology that has existed for well over a century.
But a new cartridge won’t solve these problems. It will likely only create more in yet-to-be-seen, unanticipated ways.
If this article seems too pessimistic, understand it comes from the standpoint of practicality. It seems ridiculous to me that the greatest military power in the world keeps running into problems like this and tries to solve them by throwing
millions billions into hypothetical solutions.
Projectile science is getting better and better every day. But it isn’t fashionable or sexy to simply upgrade existing systems when money and time can be readily wasted on new weapon system pipe dreams.
Best case scenario is that this works until the enemy gets the same technology. But the worst case is that it costs lives on our side while the enemy keeps chugging along with those 19th century cartridges. The latter is typically what happens and that’s the sad reality of the adoption of an end-all, advanced weapon system.
It’s a 6.8 CTA, not a 6.8 SPC! Get it through you’re Depleted Uranium Thick Skulls already…
CTA has been through a lot of testing the last 10-15 years and it’s the future of small arms.
New MGs, new carbines.
Probably ballistically similar to the British 7 mm MK1Z, but with modern ballistic improvements and powder.
A highly technical analysis weighing costs/benefits against performance requirements concluded that the 6.8mm was the optimal caliber choice.
Just accept it.
I keep hearing stuff like this but I don’t understand how it would get better results without increasing recoil. Plus they don’t do a good job of explaining how CT ammo works.
Also Gen. Milley makes my head hurt. XD
Waging a pre-emptive war against your readers? Did that seem like a good idea at the time?
It’ll get clicks, and he’s cool with that…
Can’t argue with that.
“Look at the trillion dollar laughingstocks like the Future Combat System, F-35, the B-1 Lancer,…”
The ‘Lancer’ is no laughingstock to the troops in the ‘sandbox’. It’s there day-in, day-out dropping a ‘world-o-hurt’ where it’s needed and at the drop of a hat.
Oh, and recently, the F-35 and some F-15s went toe-to-toe. The ‘Eagle’ drivers were unable to touch the F-35s…
Agreed, that one seemed out of place. The F-35 and F-22 programs have more than enough dumbassery to go around.
Agreed. The one thing I didn’t agree with in this article is this. The F35 suffered from many set backs, and seemed out of touch when it was finally unveiled, but with Cold War 2 heating up it seems like it’s going to be a worthwhile investment.
In 12/13 February 2017, two Israeli F-35I’s attacked Downtown Damascus and destroyed a Russian-made S-300 Missile Battery and a warehouse full of Pantsir-S-1 Missile without being detected by either Russian or Syrian Air Defenses…
( https://tacairnet.com/2017/03/07/claims-abound-that-israeli-f-35s-have-already-seen-combat-as-early-as-january-of-this-year/ )
“The Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) obtained a document showing how F-35 officials are recategorizing—rather than fixing—major design flaws” -https://www.pogo.org/investigation/2018/08/f-35-program-cutting-corners-to-complete-development/
As I recall, Israel is exempt from Lockheed-Martin program fixes, and do their on fixes independent of LM oversight…
Consider the F-35 as a technology development program, enabling retrofit of prior-gen platforms with extended capabilities; developmen of 80/20 follow-on platforms, 80% the capabilities for 20% the cost.
FWIW, in military contests, the notion of invulnerability is very attractive, and doesn’t last long: what the BG can’t take head-on they take from a side. You can’t beat them on the field, take their logistics. You can’t get past their armor, maneuver so it’s never a stand-up fight. Hey, you got that networked battlefield thing? “Say hello to my little E M P.” Once they can’t hear you, thermal, displacement, and E/M detection become things. Or go around the military technologies bans to get the machinery to make better propellers, n reduce detection grids coverage by half or more. (Happened late cold-war, before everybody went to “propulsers.”) Etc.
There seems to be some baseline of defensibility, essentially: “No easy kills with what they’ve got.” Then, beyond that, more attackers, more flexibility, better. (Very interesting breakdown from field research after the 6-day war informed development n use of M1 and afterward, next-gen Merkava, and others. The US is now only a few years out from dealing with an insurgency that was hell on even essentially tank-on-tank invulnerable M1s. RPG swarm attacks go around all that armor.) The Soviets experiences something similar with their helicoptor gunships in Afghanistan vs, again, RPGs.
The best things in an F-35 is the ejection seat.. you never know what they’re going to do.. according to most of the new pilots..
I agree with this article 100%. Government waste and inefficiency isn’t limited to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It exists in procurement as well. This’ll be another multi-million dollar (hopefully that small) experiment resulting in nothing, while reasonable upgrades to existing systems languish. So it was, so it always shall be.
Yup, I remember how the .45 ACP fanbois were certain the military was gonna dump the 9mm. People need to accept that the 5.56mm ain’t going nowhere anytime soon. I even have doubts that this 6.8 wunder round will ever be adopted for belt fed 7.62mm MGs.
One other point, no list of military blunders would be complete without the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
History tends to repeat itself. The 30-06 cartridge was used in United States Military service from about 1903 to 1959. This was about 56 years. The 5.56 x 45 round started being used from about the year 1964. It is almost 56 years since the 5.56 millimeter round started being used in the military. The 5.56 x 45 round has limitations and the new 6.8 millimeter military round will likely perform better on enemy combatants with body armor.
In my opinion you will see the 6.8 millimeter round slowly take the place of the 5.56 x 45 round as the primary cartridge. It will take a while though to replace all the military rifles with upgrades.
Wow, the first 2 paragraphs of whining turned me off.
If you can’t handle the comments then get rid of the comment section. Otherwise, stop being a baby.
If you can’t handle some tongue-in-cheek obvious jokes, don’t read the article or engage with it in the comments. Otherwise, stop being a baby.
I’m pretty sure he’s talking more about the people like you, who believe just because you CAN be a raging douchebag to other people and flame them in the comment sections of articles or videos that you HAVE to be a raging douchebag to other people and flame them in comment sections.
New idea: just no one be a dick to anyone else and express your ideas and opinions respectfully so that no one feels they have to be a raging bag of dicks and have a seizure over their keyboard.
We’ll I’d just like to go on record and say that my online name is anything but generic.
I simplified mine so it would fit on a Massachusetts license plate.
Hmm… I’m not from Massachusetts but if they can fit ‘Massachusetts’ on a license plate they surely could fit ‘Le Petomane’ on one.
In Massachusetts you’re only allowed up to Six Characters on a Licence Plate…
Well if they just shortened it to ‘Mass’ they’d have room for 9 more.
Sadly, my last name is Drczkwytski. It doesn’t fit on anything.
And it could use a few more vowels
and it’s pronounced “Luh-rov-ski”
Now that I’ve read the article, I don’t really care what the military chooses to do – I don’t have any skin in that game. But I do think it would be a neat idea to make a .243 caliber AR15 compatible round could launch a bullet in the 90-95gr range with a G1BC >.400 at ~2700fps from a 16″ AR. This would require a fatter case and would be heavier but replacing the 30 round standard mag with a 25 round mag for the new .243 round would leave it about the same length and loaded weight. Personally I think that would be a good trade off and make for a more versatile rifle, but then I’ve never stormed a beach so feel free to disregard my opinion if you have.
You mean like THIS: http://6mmar.com/6mmAR_Turbo_40_Improved.php ?
The regular normally aspirated 6mm AR would probably be just about right. Looking for ~1500ft/lbs at the muzzle of a 16″ barrel. Too much and it diminishes the ability for rapid semi-auto fire. But with a decent BC bullet that puts deer hunting out to 200+ yards in the picture. Somebody needs to make rifles and ammunition commercially available though.
So you mean a 6.5 Grendel? Or is 300yd +/- deer hunting out of an AR-15 not okay? 🙂
A 6.5 Grendel sounds like pretty much what you are describing.
A 90gr 6.5 Grendel gets kicked out at about 2900fps and IIRC you can load it to about 3000fps because of the extra powder space. The bolt isn’t exactly spacious, but I’d bet if you ensure that the bolt faces and lugs were of good quality tool steel you could also up the SAMMI pressures a few thousand and push it to more like 3100fps or so for a 90gr pill. Said 90gr pill should also have a BC of around .33 +/- a little. That is almost as good as a 68gr HPBT .224 round.
A lot of armor penetration is about velocity, but mass does play a role. A 90gr 6.5 bullet with identical design to a 62gr .224 bullet likely has similar armor penetration at 100-200fps lower velocity and with the higher BC, other than point blank range, means that a 90gr 6.5 bullet probably has better light armor penetration than the mythical M855A1 at 100yds at greater.
And it is easy enough to have a separate loading, say 123gr at 2500fps for DMR rifles.
You now have a cartridge that has more light armor performance at short to long range in a standard cartridge to be issued to everyone that only increases total weight by a bit (roughly same total weight if you ran 25rnd mags instead of 30) especially compared to 77gr OTM loadings (granted not as good BC as a 77gr .224, but better ballistic performance at short and medium range, because it would be getting pushed out at about 200fps faster).
For DMR you have an engagement range of 1000-1100yds, about the same as a .308, but you can have significantly more ammunition for the same weight and significantly less recoil for faster follow-up shots and easier to spot the fall of the bullet.
For squad automatic weapons with 90gr bullets, you extend out your effective range a couple of hundred yards compared to M855A1. I doubt you’d be carting around 123gr belts, but if you wanted to, you could extend that effective LMG range another 200yds.
And that is all with “off the shelf” 6.5 Grendel. For a military cart, I’d still bet that could get massaged another 100fps or so.
Touchy, touchy, Matt. Just because I suggested something other than 6.5 Grendel doesn’t mean that I have anything in particular against the round. However, since you brought it up, you’re listing velocities from a 24″ barrel and my criteria was based on a 16″ barrel, so you need to knock off about 250fps off those numbers. And you’re 90gr bullet has an SD of .188 whereas a .243 90gr bullet has an SD of .218, the 95gr is .230 and these can be had with BCs over .400. Sure you can put higher SD bullets in the 6.5 but then you’re compromising the goals of lighter weight and lower recoil. For deer hunting I wouldn’t recommend either unless you’re looking for a low recoil option and only if you can keep the range down. Same with the .300AAC. If you can handle a little more recoil I’d strongly suggest a little bigger 6.5 like the Swede, .260 or (ugh) the Creedmoor.
My grandfather when I was much younger than I am now used to have a 7mm Mauser surplus rifle that I shot several times when I could scrape up the money to buy the ammo. I remember thinking that it was the perfect round for the M-16 and IMHO would have been fully controllable on full auto. Of course the M-16 dimensions would have had to be enlarged somewhat.
I always thought there should be a niche for the .257 Roberts because it actually has a COL slightly shorter than the .308 and the same rim diameter so it would seem to be a natural in an AR10. Never seen one it though. Maybe just too small of a niche sandwiched between .243 and .260.
Ive been a long time fan of the quarter inch bore. I built a .223 necked up to .257 back in the 90s. Only in a bolt action, the AR market then wasnt at all like it is now. After testing it seemed to me not enough improvement to warrant trying to convert an AR, what with no pistons or other than standard gas systems available, etc. It was almost exactly today’s .25/45.
I still deer/pronghorn hunt with a .25-06. I used to for coyotes too, but now I use an AR/5.56.
I really like the .243, but you won’t be able to get the necked down .308 round in an AR-15/M-16 platform. It would work in an AR-10 platform.
Soooooo, yer sayin’ that yer not 1 o’ dem 200+ IQ fellers? 😜
Sadly stuck at 199.
The military wasting money on non-workable solutions to a hypothetical problem? Say it ain’t so!
What has been shall be again, there is nothing new under the sun.
This is a very accurate assessment. The biggest problem with the whole “overmatch” philosophy plaguing the military today is this constant reminder of Afghanistan, however, most wars, even most insurgencies are very different from Afghanistan. The next big war is likley going to be in Europe, Asia, and possibily here. The current military loadout was outright invented with conflicts in Europe and Asia in mind. We probably won’t be committing a large land force into Afghanistan again, so why are we preparing for the last war?
And even so, if you were to want do that, why not have a real dedicated mountain division again? One armed and equipped specifically for mountain warfare. (Having served in the 10th mtn, I can attest that other then extreme cold weather gear/training, the 10th has the same exact loadout and training as any other infantry division).
TL;DR: The original data that was used to develop 5.56, 7.62×51, and their weapons still holds true today. That the vast majority of firefights take place inside of 300m. Afghanistan was obviously an exception to that rule, but why change the entire military doctrine based on one nation.
Once the North Koreans open their Pyongyang Nukes-R-Us store and start selling to Iran, the Cartels, Saudi Arabia, the Mafia, and anyone will a billion dollars, the world will become a different place overnight.
The old ways of fighting will be useless for a while and we won’t even know who our attackers are. The world will return to the days of Viking raiders when coastal cities never knew when they might suddenly be wiped out.
Because we have no way of shooting down missiles in flight, that would be like hitting a bullet with a bullet!
(1980s TV commentator)
Well, if what you say is true, and nuclear proliferation sky rockets, then perhaps it’ll go back to a 50s concept of war where nuclear tipped weapons were considered primary weapons. Nuclear artillery, infantry portable nuclear guns etc… it’s not so implausible. For a time it was thought nuclear weapons would replace the majority of ground forces as it were.
“Once the North Koreans open their Pyongyang Nukes-R-Us store and start selling to Iran, the Cartels, Saudi Arabia,…”
House Sauud announced awhile back that they had bankrolled A.Q.Khan’s Pakistani nuke development program, and as a sign of gratitude, built a bomb for the Saudis, to be picked up whenever they want it.
The Kingdom has also inked a few nuclear power plant deals, and that means a ready supply of plutonium to be easily extracted from the waste, whenever they want it.
That genii is out of the bottle, folks. Get used to it…
It is always the case of the military to do something for soldiers from the last war. We shortened the M16A2 rifle from 20 in barrel down to a 14.5 in barrel on the M-4 and M-4A1 rifles. With 5.56x45mm M855 cartridge being shoot from the M-4 and M-4A1 shorter barrels created 2 problems, reduced range and lower velocity. The US Army first decided to make an improved bullet taking almost 6 years or more. The new cartridge became known as the M855A1 EPR that we is being used by the US Army for almost 10 years and USMC has recently adopted about 2 years ago now. The technology behind the M855A1 is being implemented for cartridges on the 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO all the way up to the venerable .50 cal cartridge. As of now, I have only seen the 5.56x45mm M855A1 EPR and 7.62x51mm M80A1 EPR being used by soldiers. The second was lengthen the barrels to 16 inches on the M-4 and M-4A1 rifles. The third major things the US Army could have done also was to implement the mid length gas system with the 16 in barrel, which could have been a quicker implement than the 6 or 7 years for the M855A1 EPR cartridge. Technological innovation takes time to develop within the military. The M855A1 EPR has made the M-4 and M-4A1 with its shorter barrels viable because the US Army did not want to go the route of a longer barreed weapon to achieve a better weapon system overall. The USMC has gone a different path and decided to go with the HK416 in the form of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) with its 16 in barrel that better range and velocities for every infantry combat Marine without making the sacrifices of the shorter barreled M-4 and M-4A1 rifles. The US Army just saw the problem differently.
Whooooa dude, the B-1 isn’t a failure. It’s a fantastic versatile bomber with high speed and a great payload, and proven utility in war. Thing’s gonna be in the inventory forever since the B-21 seems to be in development hell and the B-52 is ancient.
Now, to actually address 6.8…
This is gonna boil down to what gets submitted to the army. If something unexpected, good, and innovative comes in then we might see this take off. If 6.8 SPC gets put into an AR and submitted then it’s a different story.
I don’t have a crystal ball. Neither does Josh. He really needs to ease off the rails here, it’s not like the abstract concept of 6.8 killed his dog.
“Whooooa dude, the B-1 isn’t a failure. It’s a fantastic versatile bomber with high speed and a great payload, and proven utility in war. Thing’s gonna be in the inventory forever since the B-21 seems to be in development hell and the B-52 is ancient…”
The B-1 was such a “failure” that the USAF has been toying with a B-1R variant as an air-to-air interceptor “missile truck” with upgraded engines… pair it with two or three F-22’s or F-35’s. The fighters go in in full stealth (so no external weapons) against large groups of approaching fighters and/or bombers, designate targets without engaging so as not to give away their position. Their radars are networked into B-1R’s targeting computers while it’s safely 50 or 100 miles away. The B-1R unloads multiple missiles at once at the approaching aircraft, then bugs out while the fighters shift to combat and clean up the left overs.
It’s a neat concept if it works
That’s basically how the F-15X will be used. Missile trucks for F-22/35s.
I’ve spent a long time with a 6.8. Its really not all that. It under performs in most categories over 100yds. I’ve tried to love it but its turned out to be the untrainable mut you adopted from the mall puppy mill. I wish they’d do some research with the Valkyrie. I just got in that game and it’s pretty interesting. I spent about 10 years around the B-1. Its damn impressive in the air. For maintainers it’s a nightmare that has to be flying to be reliable. If they spend any time parked they break down just sitting there. The maintenance requirements actually drop by half if they go up every day, so in theatre they’re great but a money pit at home.
A problem with the 224V that would be a lot worse in a military rifle is barrel life. It is already quite a bit shorter than 5.56, which is perhaps 10,000 rounds in a military rifle before it gets burned out (.223 is longer, because it is generally lower pressures and velocity by about 200fps). Something like 90gr 224V IIRC is more like 4000-5000 rounds max. And I really doubt that the standard issue cartridge would be a 90gr pill. You’d probably be looking at more like a 64-75gr pill to achieve roughly the same velocities as the M855A1, but at a better ballistic coefficient to extend engagement ranges and light armor penetration at longer ranges.
But you’d also likely be reducing barrel life by another 20-30% because of the higher velocities involved.
One thing to note is that 224V is superior in bullet drop compared to something like 123gr 6.5 Grendel, but it has greater wind drift. And that is comparing hypothetical, but rare 100gr bullets to 123gr 6.5 Grendel. 90gr to 123gr and 224V is only slightly better in drop performance and a fair amount worse in wind drift. And you get way less barrel life. You also have less energy and wounding potential at typical under 300yd engagement ranges compared to 6.5 Grendel.
You mean we can use “on line names”?
Patton had some wise words to say about this “incessant change of means”:
“An incessant change of means to attain unalterable ends is always going on; we must take care not to let these sundry means undo eminence in the perspective of our minds; for, since the beginning, there has been an unending cycle of them, and for each its advocates have claimed adoption as the sole solution of successful war.”
Patton was also the guy that insisted the 75mm gun on the Sherman was good enough for the invasion of europe in 1944. He didn’t think the new 76mm gun was needed so 3rd army went to war against Tigers and Panthers with the 75.
I don’t care how history views them. As a former enlisted man I do not ever trust a general.
The 75 was chosen, because it could be used as a Armored Self Propelled 75mm Infantry Support Gun as well. Unfortunately it took the British to give the US Military a “Swift Kick In the Brain Pan” with the “Firefly 76” to make the US Army to see the Light…
The 75 was a variation of the French 1897 field gun. Adequate in the early years but getting outclassed by 1944.
It was the British 17 pounder (76.2mm) that restored the firepower balance, along with some creative engineering to get it to fit in the Sherman turret.
That creative engineering is largely why the Sherman didn’t have a 76 earlier on. Fireflies sure kicked some butt, but the ergos were just terrible in them. The gun was frankly too large for the turret. Which I’ll grant you, meant that the turret crew weren’t much worse off than some of the German tanks and still a step up from Russian WWII tank ergonomics. However, a tank isn’t just about “overmatch”, that is a large component. However, if your crew get exhausted operating it, can’t see the target, can’t reload quickly, etc. then the tank loses significant effectiveness.
As it stands, the 76mm wasn’t sufficient against Tiger frontal armor as it was. The 75 was sufficient against rear and depending on location flank armor on a Tiger. The 76 obviously much better overall, but the rate of fire was slower, ergos bad, stood out to enemy tanks because of how distinctive it was (I don’t believe whole units of fireflies were ever deployed, so often times an enemy tank(s) were trying to pick out the 1 or 2 fireflies in a tank platoon of 6 Shermans who were otherwise armed with 75s). Also the Sherman had a distinct advantage in thick woods, off road compared to most German tanks because of the shorter barrel length, where as the Fireflies could and did sometimes get hung up.
What it really comes down to is that the Pershing being introduced a year earlier would have made a massive difference in terms of balance of firepower.
But US had the numbers and US maintenance and resources were massively better. The Germans lose a tank to a maintenance casualty, especially in battle and the tank was combat lossed almost for sure. If the Germans tried to retrieve it they were generally down another tank to drag it back to a depot. The US could bring in field recovery vehicles to load the tank or haul it back without losing another tank to the recovery (and putting the strain on that tank and possibly it breaking down also) and they had the resources and often better repairable designs to then turn around a damaged tank and get it back in the field much faster.
So if the US lost 40 shermans out of 60 in an engagement and the germans lost 12 panthers and tigers out of 30, 3 days later the US might be back up to 40 shermans and the Germans would probably still be down 12 Panthers and Tigers, down at 18. Rinse and repeat a couple of times.
It did means a fairly high toll on US tankers, but if you look at comparative casualties, US tanker casualties weren’t much higher than German tanker casualties.
The US also had a fairly large anti-tank contingent and those were the guys who were supposed to be charged with destroying German tanks, not really the US tankers. They were the guys who got the hellcats, etc. with their 76mm and later 90mm guns, light armor and superior speed to really tear in to German tanks.
Also I forget the exact particulars of the engagement, but IIRC there was one incident where a US tank destroyer with its THIRTY SEVEN millimeter gun managed to get in behind a Panther that was stuck on a road and put something like 7 shots right up the backside of it before the 8th finally penetrated destroying/disabling the Panther. Absolutely like a 90lb weakling getting a lucky punch in to the windpipe of a 250lb body builder, but those were some cajones on those GIs sitting there and pounding shot after shot in to the back of that Panther hoping for a golden bb
Liked your analysis, and would add a bit about overall strategy.
Compared to Tigers and Panthers, Shermans could be considered to have been stamped at a very high rate, vs. custom builds. Shermans were lighter, and had an edge in soft ground vs. the larger gunned German armor. Also, larger/heavier tanks burned more fuel. The Abrhams is nifty, but the number of fuel trucks that must follow is amazing…and highly vulnerable to attack. One must conclude that Patton would have run out of fuel much sooner on his high speed drive forward if the heavy tanks had been the weapon of the day. That would have complicated the campaign severely as the retreating Germans would have had more time to recover.
But as to strategy, my reading explains that an 80% solution right now was much better than the 100% solution one or two years later; the enemy wasn’t standing around waiting (talking about the whole German army, not just tanks). The war wasn’t over when the Pershings began to arrive, but they did not appear in great numbers, nor were great numbers waiting in the US for transport.
Another factor was the US armor doctrine, which emphasized scout and disruption. Doctrine at the time (maybe left over from WW1) did not envision tanks as transport for very heavy artillery. Patton proved just how disruptive armor could be. (As did the Germans in the first two years of the war…light, swift armor).
Oddly, the German overall emphasis on master weapons is not completely dissimilar to the operating theory of the US military….fewer master weapons that can sweep the battle field, and dramatically reduce casualties. The Germans discovered that mass of equipment, supply and logistics could overcome all the master weapons. Swarming is a viable doctrine, one that few, master weapons cannot really overcome. Example: ABM system. The US spent an enormous amount of money developing missile interceptor technology (including the ground systems command and control). In the end, a weapons treaty restricted the US and the Sovs to two actual launch sites. The US built only one, and mucho dinero operating that single site. However, the entire thing was a chimera…the ABM site had only 100 interceptor missiles to defend the entire US land mass. This meant the Sovs needed only 101 missiles to defeat the system.
Another example is/was the weapons management system of the F-14 Tomcat. The intent was to have a system capable of tracking, and developing a firing solution for dozens of targets, simultaneously. So…how many targets could the Tomcat actually engage? A whole lot less than 100. Same goes for the magic F-35 that carries 130 rounds of gun ammunition to replace the effectiveness of an A-10.
Super weapons can be easily swarmed, and defeated. Even our vaunted navy cannot effectively deal with a determined attack of Iranian swift boats.
I concur with Mr. Wayner’s assessment.
I would also be very interested in what he might think of an idea I’ve been thinking about for some years now, but have never been able to get the funding to prototype.
The concept is: A replacement for the SAW/DMR(a base of fire to maneuver around) in the form of an electrically driven, multi barreled, .22RF chambered, variable speed firearm, fed by a powered hopper and a feed chute, powered by Li-ion or dry cell batteries driving standard cordless drill motors and gears for the feed and the barrel drive separately. The breech would not be locked and the headspace would be adjustable by simply shimming the distance between the rotating barrel faces and a disc shaped recoil shield, which would carry a flat firing pin wide enough to hit both sides of the cartridge at once, negating the rimfires occasional misfires due to improper priming compound distribution inside the rim.
Going by the weights of the individual components, and using the sleeved aluminum barrels from the AR7, I estimate a weight of 13-15 pounds loaded. 600 RPM on a 5 barreled system would equal a 3000 rounds per minute fire rate, or 50 rounds per second. At rates like that, it should matter very little that the round is so tiny. SAWs/DMRs aren’t really intended to carry the day anyway, the idea is to suppress the enemy while the rest of the squad moves up on their flanks and does the heavy lifting.
From that perspective a .22 should be just as effective as a 5.56 or a 7.62. I can’t see too many enemies wanting to stick their heads up into 50 RPS, even if each round is only 40 grains.
That high a feed rate also makes the rimfire a much longer range proposition, since the plan is not to hit any specific point target, but just to cover the area. Lack of point accuracy is actually an advantage for suppressive fire. And so would be the light weight and low cost of the ammo. Also no need for mags or belts. With powered feed, the gunner could just drop in bulk ammo whenever the hopper gets low. And being one man portable, his position could shift constantly, making him less vulnerable to enemy action. The multiple barrels, air circulation, and small cartridge would greatly mitigate heat buildup, and the recoil would be negligible, even at 3000RPM.
What think you TTAG? Hit me with your best shots.
I remember seeing a 22 LR machine gun in Soldier of fortune back in the early 80s.
I think they named it the Buzzsaw….lots of cooling fins (aluminum) and 3000 rpm fire rate.
The army didnt buy it …imagine that. But it did look like it would be fun to shoot.
I think regular 22 rimfore is too dirty and veriable to be used in a military weapon. You would have to go to a jacketed bullet like the 22WMR for consistency which would probably lessen the price advantage of the rimfore. Plus the feeble ballistics would mean you had to shoot more bullets for the same effect.
And once again, “the army should switch to the 22 rimfire” idea raises it head. Not much new under the sun.
Was that the American 180, submachine gun…
It sounds correct, but the AR180s firing rate, although high, was nowhere near 3000RPM. If memory serves it was about 1200-1500 or so. But I shot one of those back in the 1980s and the 188 round pan mag was a nightmare. It took about an hour to load, and could never make it through a drum without at least 3-10 failures.
But when it functioned, I could spray it like a hose and it would turn a cinderblock into grey dust in 50 rounds or so. It would do the same to another block at 300 yards(the longest available at that range then), but it would take a full pan to do so then. I never bothered to aim, it weighed like 12 pounds and didn’t move under recoil at all. I just put the stream on the target and watched it fall apart in seconds.
It was actually that experience that got me to thinking about using a rimfire for fire suppression. I thought that it needed: More reliability, easier reloads, an even higher feed rate, and more heat mitigation. I shot it a couple thousand rounds, and after 500 or so even all that mass got hot. Not dangerously so, but with only 3 mag pans available, after that it was time to load mags for an hour and the gun had plenty of time to cool down. But in the field without an hour break every few minutes, it would really become an issue.
Look what I found. It would appear they’ve improved on the drums in the last 30 years. Its bigger too. More layers of rounds. Also the drums I was shooting were all metal. Here they’re a transparent polymer.
No. It was belt fed. Looked like a Buck Roger’s blaster rifle.
I remember one like that in “American Survival Guide” back in the 1980’s! But I thought that was in .410 gauge…
Ian of Forgotten Weapons covered one of these. He also mentions the only time one was actually used against a human—a police shooting in 1974 where 40-some rounds were fired in about 1 second into a car, killing the driver and wounding the passenger.
That is exactly why I’ve never been able to secure funding for a prototype. Nobody will even discuss it. The second they hear the words twenty two, or rimfire, they go all glassy eyed and say some variety of “rimfire is known to be unsuitable for any military application”. I could mention: “What about for training? They use it for THAT purpose do they not?”, but that only leads to a conversation about training. They still just won’t even think about it.
Its a lot like talking to antis; “It’s all settled. Everybody knows guns cause crime. The end.” Prejudice is very difficult to overcome.
No offense but this is a retarded sounding weapon. There is a reason no one wants this. Suppression doesn’t work against people who have actually got combat experience unless you can kill them.
So experienced combat vets don’t keep their heads down when fired upon? I very much doubt that.
No offense meant, or taken. I want negative feedback. That helps to improve things. But it would help a lot more if you listed a reason(s).
So correct me if I’m wrong. I’m going to assume you have never carried a belt fed in combat. Experienced vets know the difference between things like harrassing fire and effective suppressive fire. Effective suppressive fire requires guns that are accurate. Contrary to the popular idea that wide dispersion is your friend(a myth that has persisted for a long time). You want a accurate gun. Especially at a distance.
Now let’s take a look at your gun. Your first assumption is high rates of fire are good. It’s not really the case. For weapons that are used on airframes. Yeah. It is. That’s what drove multibarrel gun designs. A extremely small engagement window. Not so much the case with infantry engagements.
And ammo consumption is going to be insane on a weapon that is firing 50 rounds a second. It’s going to be hard to keep that fed. Much less the mechanics of loading a hopper in battle.
This doesn’t even get into the issues of using a 22 in areas that require some form of barrier penetration.
First off, thx for the feedback. It really helps me, as I said.
Although I’ve fired many types of full autos, from belt fed, drums, pans, mags of all weirdnesses,etc., you are correct in that I’ve never had the opportunity to use a belt fed arm in combat. I only was actually in two deadly force engagements. As an engineer, my responsibilities mainly lie elsewhere.
That said, I know enough about combat to know that no one wants to be shot, not even in the hand with a .22. I also do not make the assumption that higher ROF are always better. What I did say was that, IMO, a high enough ROF could make up for the rimfire’s lack of power and accuracy.
As to barrier penetration, remember that this is intended as a fire suppression weapon. In that role an enemy under cover behind a barrier is effectively suppressed. Penetration is not needed, that will be the job of the rest of the squad as they move up with M4s, or reuppered 6.8s, rebarreled .300 BLKs or whatever.
I’m aware of the myth about auto fire being TOO accurate, all the way from the Lewis gun in WW1. That IS a myth, simply because even though perfect accuracy might not be desirable, just the movement of the gun in recoil would still provide effective dispersion. However, picture a rifle with no recoil and perfect accuracy. Every round into the same hole from any range at any ROF. Obviously that would not be a good thing. What good would the second, third, or 50th rounds do you? If the first missed, so would all the rest. Inaccuracy is no good, but neither is perfection. Better to understand this as “dispersion”, rather than “inaccurate”. OFC, dispersed over the entire county is no good either. This means that there is a “sweet spot” in the middle… somewhere. This is where the variable speed comes in. Just as a cordless drill, the ROF is variable within a range. It could be made even higher than 50 RPS, or as low as maybe 5. Variable at the gunner’s will. Since a rimfire round weighs about a quarter of what a 5.56 M855 does, an individual could carry 4 times as many rounds. Couple that with the lighter gun and batteries and the ammo load could be even greater. Add in the slower ROF that would be in use at least some of the time and it gets even better. Suddenly, instead of 20 seconds of trigger time like in the XM214, it becomes more like 160 seconds. Almost two solid minutes of firing. Entering the zone of being feasible. Another advantage of the variable speed would be the ability to slow down the ROF whenever ammo begins to get low.
And the power feed in the hopper is specifically so that it does not become a hassle in combat. On the contrary, with external power lining up and moving the rounds into position, all that would be needed to top up a half full hopper is to open the top and dump loose rounds in. Reloads don’t get any easier than that, and it grants the ability to top up the mag whenever there’s a lull for a second or so, without effecting the firearm at all. It could even fire while being reloaded, although that would increase the dispersion, probably very much so, depending upon the skill of the gunner and the firing position.
The 22 LR problems haven’t changed in a long, long time. It would be a specialized weapon and it is unlikely you could afford to develop it based on limited sales.
You really need a different bullet design with a true jacket. Rimfire primers are iffy when mass produced. The 22LR is pretty wimpy and doesn’t always penetrate light steel like a washing machine drum.
You have an uphill battle. Better to develop a centerfire 22 like the VeloDog (it was so popular). I think FN beat you to the punch with 5.7. There is a reason for preconceived notions.
But you can try. Knock yourself out.
Did you notice the part about the firing pin hitting both sides of the cartridge simultaneously? Two strikes per round in two different spots on the rim? That is to address this known problem in all rimfire rounds. In almost all cases one can get a dud to fire if one just puts it back into the chamber so the rim will be struck in a different spot. Two strikes in two different spots should give almost 100% ignition. The odds of the priming compound being missing from the exact same two spots that the pin hits would be astronomical. Plus, premium .22s today rarely suffer this problem any more anyway. Modern manufacturing has mitigated this problem quite well. Cheap bulk ammo, not so much. But with two strikes even the cheap stuff would go almost 100%. And even if there is a dud once in a while, the external power would ensure that the dud gets ejected and a fresh round gets fed anyway. At a ROF of 50 rounds/second the dud wouldn’t even be noticed unless one happened to see an unfired round on the ground.
The dirtyness of the 22 is indeed an issue. I’ve not come up with a true fix, but I don’t think it would become an issue for thousands of rounds. Things would gum up eventually, but since the action is powered externally, there is a great deal more energy available to force things through, compared to a breech powered only by the round’s recoil energy as is traditional. This is an issue that could only be quantified by the testing of a prototype. But no matter what the number of rounds to get to failures due to carbon buildup, it will be more than any other rimfires, just bc of the amount of power available. If the number is found to be unacceptable, there are probably measures that could be taken. Opening up clearances, adding more power, shielding of whatever part gets the dirtiest, etc. Or even issuing the arm with a can of gun scrubber or brake cleaner for a quick blowout when needed. The two bearings would be sealed so there’s no reason it couldn’t be run dry, even though lubed would be better.
You are certainly correct that it could never be done commercially. As a powered full auto it would not be possible to even sell them in the US, since the registry is legally sealed. It needs must be military sponsored to even prototype.
So let’s try and break this down. First how do you think that a weapon that has zero recoil or perfect accuracy is going to put every round into the same hole. Come on. Bullets don’t all fly the same. It’s why ammo is tested for it’s precision separately than a gun. That’s basic ballistic knowledge.
So before we even break down anything else. How do you think your Hopper design is going to work? On a paintball gun it makes sense. Cause the balls are round and don’t require any special orientation to feed. But with a bullet that’s a whole different story.
What happens when you super duper hopper which has to feed 50 rounds a second. Gets a round bent up in the feeding mechanism. What happens when I shoot at a high angle. What about when I load the rounds. How do I know that my gun is ready to fire and doesn’t need to spool up when I have it set to fire at a slow speed.
It sounds like you haven’t got a blue print much less a working model. And instead or actually assessing all the major failure points of your weapons. You just look at the supposed plus and wonder why no one has came up with such a idea
Seans: Are you being serious? I think you’re just jerking my chain.
How could the perfect accuracy I mentioned have been anything other than a thought experiment? What did you think “picture a perfect rifle” could have possibly meant except for ; “think about this?”
The idea I was attempting to convey was that no full auto would be worth anything IF (NOT “when”… not for real on planet blue marble!) it put every bullet in the same hole every time. OFC that isn’t possible. Duh!
The point was, if spraying bullets around the landscape willy nilly isn’t optimal(0% accuracy), AND perfect accuracy ALSO isn’t optimum(100% accuracy), then there must be a sweet spot somewhere between 0% and 100% that IS optimal.
I don’t believe you can’t understand that. That’s too basic to go over anyone’s head. You have to just be trolling me.
So it would be a workable man portable mini gun like in fallout. I’m in.
Sounds like the Empty Shells, LLC’s XM556 Microgun…
But without the 85 pounds of gun, batteries, and ammo, and without the recoil that only a 300 pounder can absorb. And the ability to carry enough ammo to make the project feasible. and only needing one man instead of a team.
There’s nothing new about the XM556 except a name change, despite the marketing hype. Its been around since the 1970s under the designation XM214.
The XM214 had 17.48 inch barrels and the XM556 has 10″ barrels…
I forgot to mention: also without the power of the 5.56 round. That is the disadvantage. I acknowledge that the .22 RF is a round that is hard to take seriously in a military application. But I need to point out that that is counterbalanced by many advantages as well. Ammo weight, cost, recoil, etc., all make it look pretty sweet if it has a high enough fire rate.
Like in the case of GE’s XM214, there is simply no way to make a 3000RPM fire rate feasible in a man portable unit. The weight of a sufficient quantity of ammo alone renders it impractical. It weighed 85 pounds with 1000 rounds. Enough ammo for a 20 second burst. Not very practical.
Kenneth , if you build it they will come !! Outstanding.
Or not! I remember back in the ’80’s, that someone posted a .410 gauge submachine gun in “The American Survival Guide Magazine”. And the only ones that expressed any interest in it were the Peoples Republic of China. Don’t recall, whether or not the Owner/Developer sold it to them or not…
That is what I think. If I could just get one built and working, the demo alone would overcome the prejudices and get people to start thinking about possibilities.
Barrett found the same thing. He did get his gun funded and built, but even then the military were not interested. He got the same stock answers; 7.62 NATO is the perfect sniping round, no need for semi auto since only one shot is needed, .50 is way big for the targets, etc. Simply pre-judged without thought.
How the Barrett came to be in service is quite a story. After a decade of trying, Barrett just gave up on military orders. But a marketer came to him with a proposition: Fund a demo film, and he would work for only a commission on sales he made. No sales, no pay. So Barrett agreed. All he did was take a jet fighter, park it on a runway, and put a full mag of API into it from a concealed position 1000+ meters away. The jet was destroyed, and his hook was; “You gentlemen have been looking at this the wrong way. This is not an anti-personnel weapon, it is an anti-vehicle weapon. A few dollars worth of ammunition just destroyed a multi-million dollar aircraft. How is that not a good capability to have?”
Then, after they bought a bunch, they discovered all kinds of other uses, like EOD. One just needs to figure out how to get people out of their pat answers and get them to think. Unfortunately, that is not a skill I have mastered. Like most engineers, I’m much better with things than with people.
You are talking about two entirely different applications.
Yes the Barrett 50 is a destructive device. The 22 is not…..unless you goal is to destroy Coke cans.
You could accomplish a portion of your goal by building a 10/22 Gatlin Gun and add a couple of 100 round drums on each side. Turning the crank would give 200 rounds of “duck” and would weight very little. You could also crank slow or fast to suit the engagement.
I’m aware that .22s are not .50BMGs. The Barrett story was only to illustrate the problem of prejudice in general, not specifically to the multi barrel 22 idea.
The market has had trigger cranks out for decades now. But they’re toys, like bump stocks. Unsuitable for actual combat. This would be a really cool range toy:
But again, woeful for actual combat. This idea is about a potentially useful and practical weapon, not a toy.
Thx for the input. It always helps, as I said earlier.
Not against the idea and I wish you well.
Prototyping any mechanical device is an education all in itself.
I have done it with sprayers and liquid applicators and you learn a lot. In a short amount of time and unfortunately a lot of money.
One other thing is the powder for 22s. Most is flaky and lots of it doesn’t burn, even in a rifle barrel. I suggest going with a British powder. It burns different and leaves soot not flakes. The Mexican Aquila ammo smells like it and burns pretty well. They may use a British powder.
I would also figure out a pointy bullet with a true jacket. Pure lead is going to negate the rifling pretty quick at high rates of fire.
Multi-billion dollar government technology projects are good for the national economy.
To begin, there ate essentially two kinds of welfare programs: one is compensation for doing nothing, the other is compensation for doing something (government contracts).
Welfare payments for doing nothing generally do not result in the recipient paying income taxes. Welfare payments to high salary technical workers, engineers, researchers, manufacturers have a much greater, positive effect on the economy, and part of the welfare checks (salaries) are recovered through income taxes.
Which would you rather effect the economy? Low welfare payments that cannot result in significant increase in economic activity, or welfare payments that can have much more positive effect (through velocity) on the economy?
BTW…it is common to hear outraged claims that government sucks vital cash from the economy through excessive taxes. I leave it to you to decide what amount of tax is “excessive”, but truth is that tax dollars do not evaporate in custody of government. Every tax dollar (and more) is spent…the vast majority inside the country. That means tax dollars do not disappear from the economy. Those dollars are likely to be inefficiently employed/deployed (as in obsolete processes), but tax dollars largely return to the economy (we must acknowledge that foreign aid may not return to our economy).
Is this an endorsement for wasteful spending? Not at all. But, if government is going to waste our tax dollars, is it not better those dollars are spread throughout the economy by people who are receiving welfare at a sufficiently high amount so as to generate more activity than subsistence welfare payments?
6.8 mm is .267 caliber.
A main battle rifle which doesn’t start with .30 is a waste.
Better to go backwards to a 1903 Springfield, or manufacture an AR in 30-06
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Army isn’t buying main battle rifles anymore, they are buying assault rifles.
30-06 is a cartridge much heavier in weight than intermediate rifle calibers. A bullet that is at least 100 grains in weight, 6.5 to 7 millimeters in caliber and traveling faster than 2,500 feet per second in muzzle would be effective against enemy combatants. I would take a 6.5 x 39 Grendel or other intermediate rifle round over 30-06 any day in normal Army duties because I could likely carry double the ammo.
Considering there are pictures of the 6.8 mm CT round that they are working on, and known facts about it, you’re being disingenuous. Its a CT (case telescoping) plastic case, the idea being the plastic saves weight. I dont know how well the plastic casings will perform under full auto fire on a closed-bolt assault rifle, but I’m willing to bet it will see some of the same problems encountered by the G11 and the Steyr ACR entry.
Is it just me of has the quality of posts really gone down since Robert F sold the blog?
I what way? “Cruder” or “Not As Crude”…
The Army has declared ‘Soldier Lethality’ to be one of its seven priorities and has deprioritized a lot of other programs to feed budget funding to these seven priorities. NGSW is at the top of the Soldier Lethality list, so it has a decent chance of occurring, even if military budgets get relaxed.
The Army is focusing on 6.8mm projectiles to get more projectile mass. Their studies find that a 6 to 7 gram (92 to 108 grain) projectile will be required to defeat currently envisioned body armor constructions. This mass is beyond the range feasible in a 5.56mm caliber, but works nicely in 6.5mm and 6.8mm. The cartridge they adopt will have chamber pressures in the 60 to 80 ksi range, well beyond the SAAMI specified MAP for 6.8mm SPC II.
I think they should go with 30 carbine for rifles and 32 acp for subguns and pistols.
The Sig should hold about 30 32 acp rounds in an extended mag.
Call of Duty would be quick to update the weapons and in about 10 years the army would catch up.
Of course you could go,with 25acp for all weapons and then each soldier could carry 5000 rounds on patrol. Maybe that’s the ticket.
The answer to the old Russian round is the old American round. .30-06 Springfield for the win.
10×25 makes some good points based on what I have seen elsewhere.
From what I’ve seen about this I come away with four questions, some of which I discussed with serge the other day.
Is if what the Army wants is truly possible? Maybe. That depends on your definitions of things like “light weight” and “low recoil”. It certainly is possible to accelerate a round to a speed that will allow the round to pass through modern and next generation plate armor with enough mass retention to kill the person wearing that armor. Heck, accelerate a candle to a high enough speed and it goes through plywood like butter and that’s been done I just don’t see the real-world battlefield application for a near-light speed candle rifle.
Has the Army really made this decision or are they still see-sawing back and forth between what capabilities they want? If this turns into another Bradley then it’s a huge waste of resources. Decide what you want to achieve before moving forward FFS.
Is this something that can be done for a rational cost? If the answer to 1 is yes, then the answer here is probably also yes. That is, if the procurement apparatus doesn’t screw the pooch. I would be hesitant to bet on that though.
Finally, in what numbers would this rifle be deployed? Is it to be yet another DMR or is it meant to essentially hand DMR capabilities to everyone as a basic service rifle?
I’m not sure that I’d say “overmatch” for 7.62x54R is the issue that this theoretical round is meant to address. I mean the energy from 7.62x54R 7N1, at the ranges the military seems to be talking about, is less than the muzzle energy from 7.62x39API at the muzzle by a few hundred ft.lbs for any variant of x39 that I know of. Yet the military wants to be able to slice through body armor and for 4lbs you can get ceramic plates that will stop multiple hits from x39API basically at point blank.
In other words, the numbers I run indicate that my own armor plates (rated for x39API) should stop x54R 7N1 at ranges out past ~300 yards yet the Army wants to add 200 yards to that and still punch through with lethal effect. That’s a hell of a lot of “overmatch”.
And without using tungsten or at least without expensive tungsten sounds like. I am still baffled about how they are going to accomplish that. I have given up thinking about it. I’ll just swallow both pills (blue and red) with liquor, thank you.
Newsrep had a discussion of this that was really kinda based off assumptions based on suggested operating pressures.
Essentially the idea seems to be to keep the projectile core basically the same as M855 but up the mass and the velocity to the point that a big chunk of the round makes it through the plate. That’s theoretically possible. The question is can it be done in a way that provides a “lightweight” package with “low recoil” for quick followups? That I don’t pretend to know.
Really, I don’t follow this enough to have a seriously good idea of what they’re up to. A couple years ago the scuttlebutt was that the new rifle procurement program was looking at a design for a basically electronic firing/ignition system designed by a guy named Martin Grier who, IIRC basically designed and built a working prototype in his garage. This idea seems to have died since. Still kinda cool.
No one was looking at that 4 barrel rifle that guy came up with. Not a single credible report of any organization ever even mentioned that rifle.
“No one was looking at that 4 barrel rifle that guy came up with. Not a single credible report of any organization ever even mentioned that rifle.”
Right, which is why the Army bought a prototype and tested it. Because they never considered the idea. Acquiring the prototype was an accident. They mismanaged things to the point that they ordered a rifle they’d never even heard of and then proceeded to test it because they just happened to have it.
Or, maybe the DoD and US Army conspired with like a dozen different news outlets to create the story that they acquired a prototype for testing and then decided they didn’t much like the rifle? It’s all a masterstroke of propaganda to make us think they considered this mechanism because that’s how they distracted the public so the Russians could hack the Hillary campaign and get DJT elected to subvert America because Putin is a puppet for the Lizard People from behind the ice wall surrounding flat Earth!!
Or maybe they saw it, thought it interesting, bought one and decided it didn’t show the promise that they had hoped for.
or maybe someone who works for the DoD once looked at a prototype for five seconds at a trade show and the guy decided that counted as it being evaluated by the DoD.
Please show me a single credible source that said the DOD aquired a prototype.
( https://taskandpurpose.com/army-rifle-ribbon-gun )
so, the original source was the Colorado Gazette/ Tribune Ent….
All that says is the inventor said he talked to the Army and that they will take a prototype if he gives them one for free. Zero evidence showing the Army actually talked to him and zero evidence showing he has delivered a gun.
“We’re going to have to assume that the full development of a dedicated 6.8mm rifle will not be a thing…” – because the following arguments depend on comparing to 6.8mmSPC?
Our DOD isn’t going to just trash billions of 5.56 ammo. Remember folks, it’s all about money. Who’s gonna make the most of it. My opinion is to increase projectile weight to 70-90gr in the 5.56 and stay away from the FMJ. A 75gr OTM or polymer tipped HP seems like a option around the Geneva Accord. Launched from a 16” M4 has outstanding performance on tough game like 300 lb+ hogs at distance. As far as armor piercing, have yet to see a tango wearing it in my years as a Marine Raider. Again, it’s all about who’s to gain the most money. Semper Fi.
How would you fit a 90gr projectile in a standard AR magazine?
I’m glad the Army is likely going away from 5.56 x 45. The Army should have never adopted the 5.56 millimeter round as a main rifle round. It’s too bad America did not go with the .280 British (7.2 x 44 millimeter) round back when the M-14 was being put in to service. They could have just used a lighter bullet than the 130–140 grain with the cartridge (around a 120 grain bullet) and had a great intermediate rifle round.
Likely all the 5.56 x 45 rifle ammo will used up in Armed Forces training if they decide to phase it out.
Here’s one I haven’t seen anyone comment on yet. While the Author of the article wasted a lot of breath on complaining about waste, imagine if the military NEVER tested new tech and told the soldiers to use what they have like in past wars. Imagine how many lives would have been saved if the American military had kept up with tech instead of stagnating in the 20s and 30s. How many new weapons and refined calibers have made it to the civilian market due to the testing the military has done looking for something new.
What if anything inadequate was there ever about the 7 x 57 mm, aka the 7mm Mauser cartridge?
One additional thought, read history. In 1898,The Spanish-American War it was called, Spanish troops in Cuba did significant damage to U.S. forces.The Spaniards were equipped with 7 x 57 mm bolt action rifles.
Compared to today’s cartridges, the 7×57 Mauser operates at a fairly low pressure (in the mid-40K PSI), which robs the round of potential.
If you made a 7×57 with modern brass with a thicker web, you could crank the pressures up to “magnum” levels (eg, 63 kPSI), you’d have a pretty slick round.
So… Josh is a hipster?
I was in the U.S. Army for 3 years. I still think the 5.56 round is a damned adequate prairie dog round. I was never in combat, so I have no experience base to speak from about whether or not it can work against himans. Just from using my AR on a few animals, I am underwhelmed on 5.56. I like the 6.5 Grendel for wild pigs and deer. I think the Army should look at the 6.5 Grendel for better lethality. Just my opinion.
The 6.5 Grendel was considered, along with the 6.5 Creedmoor. But the 6.5 CTA won out in the competition…
Fortunately people who actually shoot and kill people for a living realized that 5.56 is a good fighting round as long as you shoot a good bullet. There is a reason that Socom hasn’t left the 5.56.
I neither know nor pretend to even after 20+yrs in the army to understand what they are doing. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t. I was unaware that the author was in DARPA, the Senate Committee and a General from an operator unit and all the other cogs in the wheel that decide. Guess we all best listen to him though otherwise…
And he apparently wants to ignore all the data about engagement ranges and failures to stop from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Was going to read the comments, but saw they were all over. Key issue should be – what will provide the desired effect on the “bad guy”. A strong argument could be made for the new .350 Legend in CQB (under 200 meters) operations. Look at the .351 WSL popular with prison guards. Similar ballistics, but 100+ years older.
As to the 7.62×51, a BELTED round no longer is necessary.
Open to being educated here. If the military wants a more powerful machine gun round, why not take a look at bringing back the 30-06? It worked pretty well when we used it, and powders have advanced in the last 113 years.
The object is to be able to carry more ammunition into battle, not less. The 6.8 CTA is ~35% lighter than the 7.62×51 Nato round…
And still heavier than the 5.56.
Not intended to replace M4, but to replace M249 SAW…
So how long has the military been playing with a roughly 7mm round? A dang long time.
When the M14 project was under way, no less an authority on the design of the M14 rifle (which is cribbed from the Garand) than John Garand told the US Army & DOD that the .308 was going to be too much round to allow most people to control the M14 in full auto.
The US Army/DOD didn’t listen to Garand – because as far as Col. Rene Studler was concerned, American fighting men never fought with a rifle of less than .30 caliber. That was it, thanks for playing.
We can rewind the tape clear back to the Pedersen round and then some. M1 Garand was supposed to be 7mm and hold 10 rounds in the stripper clip magazine.
Then again, you have the 7mm Spanish Mauser.
“Millions will be spent and wasted just to come to the realization that it will be cheaper and easier to upgrade existing weapon systems…”
That sounds like a plan for the military to me
Author is uninformed. The 6.8 in question is NOT the 6.8 SPC as others have pointed out. It is a 6.8 that will outperform the 7.62×51 significantly in every category but weigh less.
Really, another 6.8. I know it’s not a 6.8 spc but why not a 7mm-08, it is a tested accurate cartridge with no real negatives. How about a .243. been around a while and is proven accurate. I just don’t understand reinventing the wheel mentality. just like most things, newer is not always better. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary depending if you life in the real world where laws of physics don’t change based on politics.
Cause there is zero reason to use said rounds. The new 6.8 which is being proposed is a lighter and shorter case cause it’s polymer based.
The entire length of the Cartridge including the Bullet for the CTA is ~51mm compared to that of the 7mm-08’s ~71mm…
If you read and study what the Swedes and other people have done with 6.5mm rounds you’ll see it not a bad idea. Recoil can very reasonable and ranges longer than at what 5.56 is effective is good and the killing power on animals up to moose size is excellent. A 6.8 won’t have a lot more recoil than the 6.5. ^.8 coming out of an upscaled 249 would be scary.
“Overmatch” isn’t the boogyman anymore, armor is. Afghanistan is a loss, we’re not adopting a new rifle and caliber to shoot back at PKMs and Mosins. The question is now whether we can defeat the latest and greatest armor when we mix it up with China and/or Russia. Dunno if 6.8 is the answer, but we are likely coming up on a future where even M855A1 is ineffective against armored targets.
I don’t understand how they’re going to get the results they want without significantly increased recoil and higher magnification optics, not to mention a lot more and better marksmanship training for the rank and file. If this is honestly what we need, then fine, but Milley’s constant chest thumping and grandoise claims get old, lol.
I just wish someone would be more honest and go into what exactly will be given up or compromised to achieve those goals compared to what we have now.
It actually predates “Milley” by about 11-years if not more. The 6.8 CTA, started off around 2008 with a Eugene Stoner designed .264 USA (6.5x47mm)…
I’m just more familiar with Milley, lol.
Or being back the PPsH!
The PDW could be a remake of the Broomhandle Mauser with a cool holster/stock.
And Sig xould,adapt the 320 and keep their contract.
I thought 6.5 Creedmoor was the answer to everything. Read it on this site. Comments most likely. Have I missed something ?
I like the 6.5 x 48 Creedmoor rifle round. However it burns out barrels in about 4,000 to 4,500 rounds. I doubt the armed forces will want to put up with that barrel life for a standard rifle round. 7.62 x 51 rifles from what I read may have up to about an 8,000 round barrel life.
The only way the 6.5CM is seeing anything like 4,000 rounds barrel life if it’s Chrome or Nitride Lined. With an Unlined Barrel, i’ll be lucky if it’s able to manage 2,000 round. “White Steel” may make a Great Knife Blade but sucks as a Rifle Barrel…
Shit sniffers and bed bug sentries , We will try anything to win this war
Crap on a cracker, this nonsense again?
I have an AR upper in 6.8 SPC. I was told it was the “next best thing to sex.”
I was lied to. These smiling children of the AR army lied – right to my face. The 6.8 is at best, a mediocre close-range round. In a .270-ish round, the only way you’re going to get decent Bc’s is a bullet up in the 140+ grain range of weight. 100 to 120 grains? Pffft. You’re right back where you started with a 62 grain .224 bullet. It makes the AR an OK – but only OK – deer rifle.
I’m an increasingly cranky old man who is getting well done and tired of public sector gun poseurs telling us taxpayers that “X round is the cat’s ass, and we really need this!” when these whelps have never really used a .30-06 other than to light off a couple of rounds from some older shooter’s rifle at the range. Want to “overmatch” a 7.62x54R? Then go back to the ’06. Want to really overmatch a 7.62x54R? Get a .300 WinMag and load it with 180’s. There’s “overmatch.”
OK, want to improve on the 5.56 NATO, but not break the bank? Expand the neck, and put in a 6mm (.243) pill of about 110 to 120 grains. Superior Bc’s, magazine compatibility, you keep the AR’s 5.56 bolt, and we taxpayers don’t scream as our wallets are picked yet again.
Want a wholly new cartridge that doesn’t completely suck? Then go no larger than 6.5mm. Take one of those 6.8 SPC cases, neck it down to 6.5mm (.264 or so), run the bullet weight up to 140 grains, get a decent Bc, and run with that.
The infuriating thing about these onanistic exercises of the US Army is that they never, ever make it out of the “Let’s spend a bunch of taxpayer money on the rifle of our damp dreams!” phase. This would be the fifth such exercise since the early 90’s that I can recall if it goes forward. It won’t go anywhere – for the same reasons that the Garand, which was originally planned to be chambered in .276 Pedersen, ended up being chambered in .30-06.
5.56 is what we’ve got big stockpiles of. It’s what the rifles of the next 10+ years will be using. Just start moving everyone to M262 ammo and call it a success.
Well said, DG. It sounds like they want a rail gun that doesn’t exist yet.
I don’t know quite what it is DG, but my .300WM only seems to like 200gr and up. Just about cloverleafed with some 220gr PMP, but any 150-180 I tried just opened up. Doesn’t make much sense to me with a 1:10.
The 6.8 x 43 Special Purpose Cartridge is a decent round out to a little beyond about 300 yards. At 250 yards the energy behind a 120 grain 6.8 millimeter bullet from a sixteen inch barrel is about 1,018 pounds of energy. I like the round more than the 5.56 x 45 cartridge.
@Dyspep, Keep in mind the 6.8 was designed to give AK 47 capability in an AR.
The 7.63×39 has more “punch” than 5.56 out to about 300 yds. Past that, it retains energy, the trajectory starts to drop quickly.
The SPC in 6.8spc, is Special Purpose Cartridge, for the Green Berets etc, for close in work.
You’re correct that passed 300 yds, the 6.8 looses to the 77 otm.
Why do the writers of these articles always say we wont change because of monetary reasons? When has the government ever been concerned about splooging away our taxpayer dollars?
Also query me this, how is it that we wont change when 30-06 and 308 both had shorter lives than 5.56 has already had and were better cartridges in every way besides weight savings? Weight savings is also dynamic when you only have to shoot the bad guy once with 30-06/308 vs multiple hits with 5.56 to accomplish the same end result. Less ammo used for the job means less ammo needed to carry. This also doesn’t take into account how much better our aiming systems are today and why the whole ‘need moar ammo’ thing is outdated.
From what I have read in military documentation, and really was not addressed here, the change to 6.8 is supposed to be to defeat better body army of soviet/china adversaries. Why leave out the most important aspect of the supposed change? Because 5.56 cannot stand up to this requirement and therefore shows that it is ineffective and outdated today.
When 5.56 was introduced people cried about the puny bullet. Now the fudds dont want to give it up for something better because, its the way……
If they are trying to match (or over match) pull the 30-06 back out, You will not match case volume in anything smaller
30-06 had a 50 year life span, the 308 is about 7 years older than the the 5.56, and its still a military round, problem is not lack of cartridges but implements utilizing them! then you got the weight restrictions, its ok too outfit a military person with a 60 lb full gear bag but a 2 lb rifle an 300 round of Ammo another with 100 lb plates etc, so the question arises how too get more power in a smaller cartridge wont happen until they develop a rail style automatic, personally I like the Idea of an air rifle with a 162 grain 7mm bullet LOL
If you want to increase lethality.. just make a bullet with a great “bone Tracing” or yawing effect.. Back in Vietnam they called the old Ball round the “meat axe”.. it created massive damage internally.. so much damage they tried to get the Hague to ban the bullet as “inhumane” ..they call the 5.45 russian bullet the “poison bullet”.. the mujahideen was scared to death of that bullet saying ” if it hits you, you die”.. Russians always look for more lethality ..The military bullets were made less-lethal here, by politicians and bureaucrats..
That first couple of paragraphs seem a little butthurt.
Mall Ninja hat on:
Can you even load a 77 gr. 5.56 in a standard magazine? I’m serious. The manual I have at hand says 75 gr. yes but 80 gr. no.
Why wouldn’t they have just adopted the 6.5 Grendel already if they’re likely to go with a commercial offering for the platform?
Mall Ninja hat off.
They haven’t adopted 6.5Grendel because it would be tremendously cost-effective to adopt a commercial off the shelf mature cartridge that is already proven to function well in the existing platform, and the goal of this exercise to waste money.
Sadly, you are right.
Leave it to the Army to design a weapon for the war we on track to EXIT. Also, now that we know that M855A1 isn’t any better against ceramic plates that Mk318 or Mk262, can switch back to one of those since they both function well in ALL the 5.56 weapons currently fielded, including the M27, which cannot be said for M855A1?
This wouldn’t even be a discussion if the army would have adopted the Garand in .276 Pedersen
How is the B-1 a laughing stock exactly?
6.8 x 51. Is not you 6.8 rem special
Idiotic article – about as logical and relevant as the National Inquirer. If the author understood what our infantry are up against, maybe he would understand. I guess our sons are not worth wasting the research $ on, in the authors mind?