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I’ve seen a number of articles on the web and in magazines recently that are concerned with the concept of a universal cartridge for military service. It’s interesting that there’s been so much attention paid to the idea recently in the press. The general idea behind a universal service cartridge is rooted in the desire to streamline supply and thus combat ability. That’s a good idea and has been more or less successfully accomplished at several points in the collective history of mankind.

From an American perspective, there have been several conflicts where ammunition and weaponry were nearly universal. Going back to the Civil War, both sides were armed with weapons that could take the same .58 caliber minie ball. Granted, the .577 Enfield bore was slightly different, but the paper cartridges and caps could be used in weapons of either side.

That was a unique circumstance in our history, as two distinct sides tooled up with essentially the same firearm and ammunition. Of course, there were various militias with a hodgepodge of firearms, but that’s the same in almost every war. The regular armies at the time were equally matched as far as equipment, but not in manpower.

This was, however, one of the first industrial wars that man had fought and as such, the standardized capabilities of the weapons and ammunition were set by the commanders at the time. The great advances of the era such as the Henry rifle were frowned upon by the brass, as they saw rapidly firing weapons as a waste of time. The real waste of time, though, were those very generals and secretaries. Untold numbers of soldiers died because of their ignorance.

That wasn’t the last use of a universal ammunition. In WWI, most armies or countries had a proprietary weapon and ammunition combination. Germany with the 7.92x57mm. Great Britain with the .303. The United States with the .30-06. The primary concern with these weapons and ammunition wasn’t weight savings or soldier loadout. That concept hadn’t really been addressed as the arms race was all about power at distance.

That wasn’t a bad idea at the time. The smallbore race led armies to what we consider full-power ammunition in the late 1880s. Bore size dropped from .45-50 caliber down to an average of .30, but as small as .264 and as large as .323. The weight savings was dramatic considering that soldiers had a rifle of similar weight to his muzzleloader or breachloader, but could carry many more rounds of powerful, flat-shooting ammo.

Josh Wayner
All of these cartridges saw contemporary use in the Second World War, with the Soviet 7.62x39mm M43 being being designed in the height of the conflict. Left to Right: 7.62x39mm, 6.5x55mm Swedish, .303 British, Russian 7.62x45R, German 7.92x57mm, and American .30-06 M2.

Remarkably, little changed from WWI through WWII. The armies that fought both world wars were armed with essentially the same rifles and small arms. Machine gun technology had improved to make the weapons lighter and easier to carry, but the prospect of a universal round wasn’t realized and some armies had different rounds for their rifles and machineguns, again confounding interchangeability.

What was realized by the war was a need for a mid-powered rifle round. That war gave us the 7.92x33mm and the 7.62x39mm. These were fantastic rounds for their intended use. In point of fact, there may not be a more significant and culturally important single cartridge than the 7.62x39mm. The combination of the AK-47 and the 7.62 round have shaped the world was we know it now more than any other weapon, including the nuclear bomb.

For all the merit it has, the 7.62x39mm is a joke to those looking for a universal military cartridge. It displays poor trajectory, limited long range ballistics, and is heavy by comparison to other modern options. And it wasn’t designed to be universal.

The primary problem with a universal service cartridge and why I believe that one will never, ever be successfully adopted is the issue of gaps and theory of use. People are intelligent and creative and it only takes us a short time to adapt to our circumstances. For every round out there, there’s always a new gap created that can then be filled by someone looking to do so.

The Soviet military complex designed a full suite of small arms to include the AKM, AK-74, PKM, RPK, SVD, RPG-7, and several other variants. They recognized the need for a multi-caliber system instead of designing a set of weapons around a single universal cartridge. And that’s the point; if your goal is a universal cartridge, you are thus forced to design all your weapons around the limits of that one cartridge.

Josh Wayner
Modern Russian cartridge family. The universally common 7.62x39mm (center) is flanked by the much larger 7.62x54R and the smaller 5.45x39mm. Each has a role in today’s world.

We’d all agree that the 1999 Honda CR-V was a great car and does 90% of the things we need a vehicle to do. But it isn’t a pickup truck or a motorcycle. Having all motor vehicles be CR-Vs would make sourcing parts and service easy, but not everyone will need, like or want a CR-V. That isn’t the way of the world. There is a lot that car can do, but there’s plenty it can’t. The same is true for cartridges.

Accepting the limits of a given system are hard for some people to do, which is why we keep innovating and moving to newer and better things. It is my educated opinion that there will never be a universal cartridge in service with any country. The merits of a single cartridge system are many, but completely unrealistic in application. There isn’t a cartridge that I feel would answer the call that has been made or ever will be made.

We are at a point in small arms development where there isn’t really anything new to be had. Sure, variations of a theme come and go, but we are today fighting with small arms technology that would’ve been understandable to anyone as far as hundred years ago. There isn’t too much of a difference when you really sit down and realize that they are all just different sides of the same die. The only things that change are the materials and execution of a given system.

The most common fighting cartridges of our era aren’t new at all. The 7.62x54R’s development dates to the 1880s and it is still an extremely relevant cartridge today. The 5.56x45mm and the 7.62x39mm go back to the end of WW2 and finally came face-to-face in the early 1960s right alongside the 7.62×51. We all know the stories about the inadequacies of both the M16 and M14 in Vietnam, but the call for another round or system wasn’t ever answered, nor should it have been. A multi-cartridge and weapon inventory is here to stay, period.
I think that there isn’t a time when the world won’t be fielding dozens of calibers in multiple weapons. As we go further into the future, I can only see an increasingly diverse number of cartridges and variations being fielded. The problems of our world can’t be answered with a single cartridge. As soon as one country settles on a given round, the next will seek to outperform it. It is the nature of mankind to compete and strive to find new ways to kill each other. It is unavoidable and a fact of our existence.

Look at your own guns. Sure, 9x19mm could do everything you want for target practice, competition, self-defense, and collecting. However, we all know that the 9mm isn’t great for deer hunting. Enter 10mm. Sure, you could move all the way to 10mm for carry and all-around-use, but then you encounter why you had the 9mm in the first place. So why not have both? Ah, and that is the crux of the argument. We need to stop looking at the cartridge discussion as selecting one tool for all jobs, but rather selecting the proper one for a given application. Sure, you’ll have a shed that looks like Home Depot threw up in it, but you’ll be glad you had both a tack hammer and a sledge hammer at the end of the day.

Josh Wayner
Current American military rifle cartridges include (left to right) the massive .338 Lapua Magnum, the equally impressive and slightly more cost effective .300 Winchester Magnum, the tried-and-true 7.62x51mm, and the ever-popular 5.56x45mm.

In closing, it is my prediction that the next cartridge to be adopted in an official, but perhaps limited capacity, will be the .300 Blackout. It will likely take the place of the MP5 and other suppressor-friendly applications if it hasn’t already. I don’t think it will be a primary cartridge for service, but rather an upgrade that may see use by select groups or individuals. And, as we go, the world goes, and soon there will be standardized variations and broad adoption. We will see proliferation of it and other cartridges in much the same way we do animals in an ecosystem, each filling their purpose, just as nature intended.

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  1. Single carriage for everything is so stupid, I have a hard time fathoming how anyone takes it seriously. At least until I remember the last time I was ask “why would you ever need more than 1 gun?” and am reminded that people who don’t understand the tools will always ask silly questions about the tools.

    • I agree. The concept of a single “universal military cartridge” is stupid. There is just no way to get the combination of (1) light weight ammo (2) low recoil – controllability (3) long range (4) high power in the same round.

      The 5.56 comes as close as anything, yet it is still underpowered especially at longer ranges.

      For general military rifle use (not talking super long range snipers or heavy machine guns) it makes sense to use two different cartridges.

      The U.S./NATO combo of 5.56 and .308 makes sense, as does the Russian combo of 5.45, or 7.62X39, and 7.62X54R.

      9X19 comes pretty close to a universal pistol round (for normal pistol use – which is defense against criminals). Still, I have handguns in .22/.380/9X18/9X19/.40/.45/.38/and.357. There is nothing wrong with a little variety.

      • 5.56 is not particularly universal, actually. And it is theoretically possible to unify the current use of 5.56 and 7.62 with a single cartridge somewhere in 6.5mm ballpark (like 6.5 Grendel). But, of course, there would still need to be a separate cartridge for sniper rifles and heavy MGs etc.

      • HAHAHA….you all are sooooooo smart cuz you sit in your mancaves and handjob yourself right?…er I mean, handle your own load…er…I mean hand reload your own cartridge jobs yourself right??
        See…..there’s a few fellas in a very, very uniquely qualified and yet, not highly publicized (yeah that’s sarcasm and facetious tones I’m laying thickly like nuts to your chins) SOF units we have in the USASOC community (unlike the fine NAVSPECWAR brethren I respect, w/out a doubt, for doing so much as of late in Somalia, UBL, Yemen, etc…even the “shhh….we’re in Pakistan” stuff no one thinks is open source-type of gigs. But for Green? They are utilizing a UNIVERSAL CARTRIDGE W/THE WISELY GIVEN LATITUDE ALL SMUs HAVE AT THE COMMAND AND IT’S THE GRENDEL….NOT THE 300BLK UNLESS IT’S THE “RIGHT TOO FOR THE RIGHT JOB….AND ONLY THEN.” Those are the words I hear repeated by INSTRUCTORS at Range 19!! Not some double digit hardcore Viking-run-of-the-mill “finest of Bragg’s CT personnel”-type Alphas….There are such lower SOF standards today that most of the SOF I speak w/nowadays are the old salts who just returned from places NOT int Mid East…Fighting a full spectrum low vis conflict that is GROWING EXPONENTIALLY and they don’t have time for the Creedmoor or the new 6.8mm Next Gen AR round….They have even resorted, from what I was told at Sig’s very nice course recently that the ONLY 6.5mm round they use regularly as it merely requires a few quick changes on the C-17 over (which is weekly if your on the Aztec Sqdn for the time being, which most old timers are, I hear)…and as an SME on Asymmetrical UW etc and on the expanding role for our newer CII (countering Iran-porgram, I believe) CJSOTFs being put together? The problem here is that, when dealing w/these “novorussiyan-nut-jobs” in most of Green’s current (unacknowledged but semi open source if you just use Google, let alone write Ebooks on the matter like I have since 2009 when we were hitting it in Baja and the world had no idea Venezuela was the problem it was for bringin’ both GRU-Alpha AS WELL AS the Hez and their Quds’ advisory teams to the DTOs ….i.e Los Zetas etc..) and I can say that a round like the Grendel? It does A LOT more than what all our “experts” keep saying…I’m obnoxious..I know, but it’s because I’m abrasive when I find out that our ONLY surviving legends in the USASOC’s SMU communities are saying that we NEED to focus RIGHT NOW on the aforementioned threat matrix and, hardware wise? The Dam Neck fellas are doing fine w/300BLK in their room broom LMT CSW (the ISRs that are just doing fine, fine work all over)…but, THEN AGAIN, you can thump a threat down to the deck JUST AS FAST AT ANY RANGE w/a hog hunter like the Grendel….especially if a Unit armorer put it together in a custom rig just for you!!! BELIEVE IT..and if not, ask around…ALWAYS ask the guy on the ground….don’t take my word for it and DO NOT believe this crap you read here…..I honestly DO NOT CARE if some RECOIL/TruthAboutGuns/etc author who’s a 3-Gun champ and fmr Force Recon vet of a dozen conflicts says otherwise. HEY! Of course, he has my respect and my thanks, but as a fmr IC for TITANGROUP who sat alongside longtime (and VERY capable and just plain gnarly) warfighters who, as ICs temporarily until called back to their Troop? They’d be complaining how “the MCX II? Oh…, we helped design that garbage!! WE TRIED to make a great universal AR, but like the POF Revolution? It’s not ready for hard, hard fights yet….Even our 416Ds aren’t cutting the mustard!” (this was as the URGI and new gen BCMs were coming out and they were quietly being custom fit for wildcats like the Grendel, the other hog killer, the Wilson Combat “Controlled Chaos” 130gr tackdriver round (the 300 HAM’R…not the 458 SOCOM/HAM’R….this was special for both tactical AND hog, as Bill Wilson, a 1911 master and AR genius/artist to us all, imho, had in mind) and the 130gr?? It’s seen combat!! I can’t really remember…uhhh…but let’s just say it’s been experimented outside of a controlled environment inside ARDEC/JFK SpecWar Center/what-have-you—and it’s not just what I think about Mr. Wilson’s 300 HAM’R (which shares almost just as much compatible aspects as the Grendel to any 5.56mm platform after two to three small one minute FLAT tweaks you need to change out) and THAT, to me and others, means he truly is not just a genius, but a guide on a few great dual purpose thumpers–w/great reach and terminal power/lethality-wise–on ALL anything that breathes at most ranges (i.e….hogs & a-holes w/level 5 IBA on alike)…and this is the shared opinion of more than one or two of the very few VERY respected cadre members/instructors at Bragg, too—all seem to agree on the 300BLK and Creedmoor being great at THE NICHE THREATS THEIR GREAT FOR, but being universal? Ask them…They’ll tell you either stick to the Mk 262 77gr Black Hills heavies they’ve been throwing at all ranges, OR try the Grendel instead of a subsonic, slower 300BLK system. The difference is OBVIOUS if you do the actual homework.

    • I liken all of this to the screwdrivers in my tool box. I have several different kinds and sizes because no one screwdriver can do every job.Sometimes I need a Phillips-head. Other times I just need a flat screwdriver. And there are jobs that require a short and a long handled screwdriver. The same principle applies to firearms and cartridges. Different tools for different jobs.

    • 6.5×55 has a overall length (OAL) of 80mm which is about the same as .30-06. The bullets are so long they are often nicknamed “torpedoes”.

      I’ve found that .223 Remington is a great target shooting cartridge but for hunting I need something with more punch. In that line 6.5×55, .308, .303 British, or 8mm Mauser are my preferred options.

      I’m yet to see the reason with the fascination for .300 Blackout. In a short-barreled suppressed firearm I can see the purpose but in a Remington 7600, I fail to see the point.

    • It’s a niche round that everyone buys, but not for that niche. If you want 7.62X39 ballistics out of an SBR AR platform, it’s the bees knees.

      • I thought the main advantage of the .300 blackout was that it worked well for suppressor use, being subsonic.

        If I wanted 7.62×39 ballistics out of an AR, then I’d just get a 7.62×39 AR. Actually, being the cheapskate that I am, I’d just use my AK or SKS for the 7.62×39 ballistics, and get 5.56 ballistics out of my AR.

        Sadly, I have no SBR’s, or suppressors yet (I guess that makes me an NFA virgin).

        • “I thought the main advantage of the .300 blackout was that it worked well for suppressor use, being subsonic.”
          It can be subsonic, but it is far more commonly supersonic. Supersonic, it is a mediocre 30 caliber rifle round. Subsonic, the 300blk is more like a mediocre pistol round.

        • Thanks JWT. I did know that it was available in both super and subsonic versions. I just thought that the supersonic version was basically a more expensive version of 7.62X39, and didn’t see a point in it. I guess it also makes some sense in the SBR, as rounds like that don’t lose as much energy with the shorter barrel (compared to 5.56 or something).

        • .300 BLK will be like dozens (hundreds) of niche/boutique cartridges before it – lots of press, popular with certain groups.

          Then the ‘next great thing!’ will come along, and it will be consigned to the island of misfit toys. Don’t worry, it isn’t the first, and it certainly won’t be the last.

        • It’s not “mediocre” as a round in close quarters, short barreled weapons, for personnel/organizations intimately familiar with running and/or maintaining ARs. “Everyone,” from SEALS to cops to gangstas, seem to want a handy, short barrel AR these days. Even disregarding suppressability, the .300 BLK suits that role as well as any round.

        • ‘Subsonic, the 300blk is more like a mediocre pistol round.’

          This is the problem with suppressed rif les, if you want ri fle energy from a subsonic rif le you need to send about 2 ounces of lead downrange. (By my calculations, a 2 ounce slug @ 1000fps gets you right around .30-30 territory.) Assuming you could stuff all that lead into an A R15 platform compatible cartridge you’d still have to lug around a bunch of 5 pound maga zines.

        • I have a PSA LOWER AND 2 PSA UPPERS IN 7.62X39 (7 inch) AND 5.56.(10.5) “pistols” with non-shoulder thingy, ring steel at 300 yds all day. Both run like scalded dogs. Milsurp,steel case,cheap stuff they eat it all. The AK/AR is a hoghammer using fusion ammo. (even with the 7 inch barrel!) Of course I have to be careful not to start a Forrest fire. Even using the “Pig brake”.

        • The .300 BLK is not a mediocre pistol round in subsonic mode. It’s a 220-240 grain bullet at 1000 FPS. What else has those ballistics? The .45 ACP +P.

          The BLK is a great pistol / SBR / subsonic round, and immediately switches to a supersonic mode that has more power than the 5.56 and can cut through soft body armor. That’s a pretty useful round.

          I’ve taken 3 deer (plus another from my son) with the 110 grain Barnes TTSX load. That round leaves my 16″ 416 R AR build at about 2380 FPS. Hornady “subsonic” 208 grain Amax goes about 1400 FPS. I hear the AE (pardon the pun) 220 grain SMK actually is subsonic.

          I like a 9″ stainless SBR suppressed Honey Badger 300 BLK AR concept. That’d be a great CQB – 400 yard gun.

          I think the BLK is here to stay.

        • I remember 40+ years of the latest thing. 99 of 100 disappear. 300 BLK has nothing going for it to make it any different.

          Don’t worry, someone will still feed that boutique rifle, but it won’t be cheap.

        • Sorry 81, but for those of us who shoot multi-chamber handguns the .45acp+p is a mediocre pistol caliber. If that’s what trips your trigger why not just put a suppressor on a 1911?

        • Ok, a lot of 300 BLK haters out here. And I guess the .45 ACP +P is now a mediocre pistol round. There’s a ton of market support for it, so there’s that. 5.56 brass and .308 bullets aren’t going to fade into obsolescence. So here I am predicting it won’t disappear.

          But if I’m wrong, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other choices. I predict the 6.5 Creedmoor is going to stay popular also. Time will be the tell.

        • I don’t really care either way. BLK may be the one in several hundred new rounds that survives more than 5-10 years. Maybe the marketing machine is revved up far enough, maybe there’s enough people invested in the AK-short chambering to give it some legs.

          None of that matters to me. I’m just observing that as a guy who’s 50, I’ve seen this movie before. Tomorrow some company with some foresight and marketing money could introduce a cartridge with even better ballistics and an even cooler name than “300 AAC Blackout” for all the operators operating operationally.

          Like all things, if it works for you, great. I’m just saying’….

        • Not a blackout hater, it has it’s niche. I’m just realistic about the versatility of subsonic ri fle rounds. You either have to lob a very heavy projectile or be content with pistol levels of energy. Either way it’s not an ideal self defense round because slow heavy bullets go through a lot of drywall before coming to a rest. You’re probably better off with a .45acp suppressed carbine. At least you’ve got a fatter stubbier bullet. It wouldn’t make for a very good hunting round because of it’s low energy and rainbow trajectory. I rarely have the range to myself, so it wouldn’t even really make a good plinking round. There’s just a lot of limitations to a subsonic round. And without subsonic the blackout’s just a 7.62×39 for AR15s.

        • The reason why you might prefer .300 BLK over 7.62×39 in an AR, even if supersonic, is because it’s a better fit for the operating system.

          Most importantly, it feeds from standard 5.56 magazines. 7.62×39 requires those funky magazines that have to be curved much more because of the extra taper, and are not particularly reliable.

          Then there’s the bolt. .300 BLK has the same case diameter as 5.56, and so uses the same bolt. 7.62×39 has a larger case, and so it has a different bolt, with thinner “walls” (not sure what the proper term for that is) around the case. So it’s more fragile.

          The other big advantage, as others have noted, is being optimized for short barrels. This is more a function of the powders typically used, rather than the cartridge itself, and you could do that to 7.62×39 as well… but in practice, unless you hand-load, it’s not something that you can just buy off the shelf for the latter.

    • I know, ar fanatics cant dump their investment. I think 6.5 grendel for rifle and .45 for pistol/suppressed sbr is as close to universal as possible right now.

    • The 300 Blackout will never be fielded, because it’s TOO much like the 5.56. The average grunt is sure to mix up magazines and load the wrong round in the rifle, with either impotent or disastrous results.

    • If you compare apples to apples (i.e. supersonic .300 to supersonic .30 Carbine), .300 has an extra 250 ft/s velocity for the same bullet weight, and about 40% more energy.

  2. Thank you. Your article is what I’ve been saying for years. I see far too many articles particularly on the firearm blog about how amazing and godlike all the different 6mm rounds are. They’re great rounds. But they’ll never replace 5.56 or .308. Period.

  3. Interesting article, I think you missed the 6mm Lee Navy in assessment of late 1800s military arms cartridges though. Although short lived it was smaller than .264.

    The quest for a universal cartridge is silly as long as one stays grounded in the notion that whatever ammunition they use should have a grounded application when fighting. That’s why odds of seeing say a 500 S&W or a Desert Eagle .50 on the battle field are pretty much nil in most cases.

  4. Necessary calibers; 9mm, 45acp, 5.56, .308, 7.62×39, and .50 cal.
    Nice additions; 6.8spc, 5.45×39, 5.7×28, .40 smith, .416 Barrett.

    Compromise is something that isn’t good at anything. Like an enduro it’s a crappy dirt bike and a lousy street bike. They are still fun though had an XT350 once.

  5. Well stated. I try to clean out and streamline my logistics at home on occasion, convincing myself I never use a 300blk AR pistol or 16ga shotgun or some other oddball. After I sell them off for less than I should have, including the ammo, I look back and remember “oh yeah, I bought them because they’re fun to shoot, and this is America.”

  6. A universal cartridge will only become possible when all engagements are at the same limited range and enemy combatants are wearing the same body armor (or lack thereof).

    Here are some possible ranges of engagement and corresponding universal cartridge:

    no body armor:
    zero to 20 yards — 9mm (sub-machine gun)
    20 to 100 yards — 300 AAC-Blackout (carbine with 8-inch barrel)
    100 to 200 yards — 5.56 x 45 NATO (carbine with 16-inch barrel)
    200 to 400 yards — 7.62 x 51 NATO (AR-10 with 20 inch barrel)
    400 to 800 yards — .300 Win Mag. (rifle with 22 inch barrel)
    800 to 1200 yards — .338 Lapua Magnum
    1200 to 2000 yards — .50 BMG

    body armor:
    zero to 200 yards — 5.56 x 45 NATO (carbine with 16 inch barrel)
    all other engagement distances same as above without body armor

    The trend is obvious: the longer the distance at which you will engage enemy combatants, the larger the caliber, bullet mass, and muzzle velocity you need, or else you will have insufficient bullet mass and velocity to overcome wind resistance at long range and your bullets will be travelling too slow to stop enemy combatants. If shorter engagements, then use lighter calibers which enable soldiers to carry more ammunition. Why the upper echelon in the military keep rehashing this is beyond me.

    • 5.56 works very well out to 400. Serviceably to 6-800 in Marine hands. And isn’t useless, just annoying and clumsy, as a subgun replacement. Similarly .308 is perfectly fine to 800. Limitation is the operator and specific weapon, not the caliber. Beyond .308 is the realm of specially trained snipers or crew served weapons. BLK will do 0-300 very well, 500 OK.

      Unless a .357Sig or something a bit more powerful and/or flatter shooting can replace 9mm in both sidearm and zero-to-200 pdw platforms, The 8 Inch BLK is probably about ideal for most non-rifleman, non specops users.

      For riflemen/Marines, 5.56 will continue to pick off AK wielding opponents with precision, out to where the AK is a volleyed fire platform. While simultaneously allowing for more controlled close quarters rapid fire than the AK in urban encounters, as well. It’s the one to beat for those who engage armed opponents across varied theaters for a living.

  7. Figure 2 “Russian 7.62x45R” typo.

    Standardization makes for good logistics and logistics win wars. That said, one round can’t do it all but the grunts should have a standard battle rifle round and we already have it, 5.56. I personally want .308 and don’t give me any lip on the weight, the majority of my unit sat around in the barracks all day rather than go to the gym. Enforce real physical standards that focus on strength and explosive speed, not some ridiculous three mile run in silks and the weight becomes a non-issue. I detest running and still pulled 7-7:15 pace while ass naked, add full gear and see who is dry heaving in the ditch (rabbits).

    Some applications need medium duty, 7.62, some applications need API, 50BMG ex, vehicle mounted M2s or some 40MM fun. I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of the M79 grenade launcher too. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous revolving grenade launcher that replaced it. Its overly complicated and a waste of weight compared to just as or more effective alternatives. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the subject of a backroom deal.

    In short, we already have standard rounds and weapons but one size does not fit all applications. That is why maginegunners rate a pistol.

  8. I do believe that the new LSAT developments (which outdo 28″ 6.5 Creedmoor from a 16″ barrel) will eventually replace US and most NATO GPMGs, LMGs, automatic rifles, and possibly infantry rifles (at least the countries still using “heavy” 18″ and 20″ non-modular 5.56s as main rifles), while .300 Blackout will be adopted more and more for CQB work. The Russians might move towards more .308 rifles since it’s simpler to build a bolt or semi/auto weapon around an unrimmed case, and the Serbs have now adopted the 6.5 Grendel as a DMR round. The Russians could also move towards 5.56 in the future as all their latest AK replacement contenders seem to have a 5.56 version or a 5.56 modular option. China is the only country that has adopted a universal round (5.8×42) for infantry rifles, sniper rifles, LMGs, and GPMGs, but they have 5.56 versions of almost all of their 5.8 weapons (except the QJY-88 GPMG), so they could possibly switch in the future if the political situation ever changed. Also, 9x19mm ain’t goin nowhere. Everyone uses it, and everyone probably will forever.

  9. Regardless of the impossibility of it, the DOD, Army, et al will spend 10’s of millions of dollars researching and prototyping the idea, until it dawns on everyone that there is no such thing.

    • All the better to line the pockets of the Military-Industrial Complex. That’s why there must be constant wars. Gotta use up all that excess weapons inventory so they can make more, and keep the profit train on the tracks…

  10. Submarines don’t all have universal armament. Universal aircraft cartridges have not even occurred. Diversity of enemy and battlefield determine everything.

  11. I agree that it’s unrealistic, but then so was the F-35B and they still decided to push that through.

    Who’s to say they wouldn’t make a poor decision about the $2 cartridge when they made one about a $100,000,000 airplane?

  12. I don’t wanna be an ass but can anyone tell me, what does a 300BLK super/subsonic combination do, that a 556 rifle / suppressed 9mm pistol combination does not?

    Putting cans on existing pistols seems like an equally good (maybe slightly inferior but *much* cheaper) solution for close range quiet “operations” given the pistol proficiency level of the real operators. Maybe there’s something I dunno cuz I’m just a mall ninja?

    • James in AZ,
      The advantage is you get the benefits of a rifle and quiet suppressed gun with the change of a magazine, rather than lugging around two separate weapons. Also, a BLK launches a 220 grain projectile at 1000fps. That is more energy than a .45ACP pistol, and it retains it better at distance. .300BLK is slightly inferior to 7.62×39 in supersonic loadings, and better than .45ACP in subsonic loads. The selling point is you get both options by switching ammo (and ONLY ammo).

    • It gives you very compact SBRs (think 8″ barrel) that can fire bullets with rifle energy at the muzzle and rifle ballistics (can still engage targets out to 300 yards), but without the huge fireball at the muzzle that you get from 5.56 SBRs.

  13. If you are talking about only one round and it doing everything then yeah. But there is nothing wrong (and a whole lot good) with streaming lining supply and logistics by only having a select few cartridges.

    Hopefully handheld energy weapons are not too far away and all of this will be (near) meaningless 🙂

  14. There’s no universal round, but the military has done pretty well. I like the Mk 262 and Mk 318 Mod 0 5.56. The humble M193 is actually a nasty close range round.

    The .308 is accurate and efficient, although the 6.5 Creedmoor is even more so, and has better long range performance.

    The .300 Win Mag is a beast, but rifles are still easy to carry.

    The .338 Lapua is a beast, and is harder to carry, but doesn’t need to be crew served.

    The .50 is an awesome crew served round, but can be carried and used as a heavy sniper and anti-material gun.

    9mm is light and efficient.

    There’s no way one rifle or pistol round could cover all that terrify and flexibility.

  15. i think the only way we could have a Universal Cartridge was if it is like on Mass Effect. Basically each gun has unlimited rounds of its type but you change out “heat coils” for cooling. so you are not really changing mags, just cooling resources. all guns run off the same cooling refill source, some just take more to shoot longer of course. but we are a ways from that.

  16. >>but the call for another round or system wasn’t ever answered

    Why, it was. Throughout the world. It is just that no one cared enough to fight upstream, against logisitics, politics (“scrap that .280, lads, case ‘Murica owns NATO”) and assumptions about infantry engagement ranges and tactics.

    Plus, New, Innovative, Markedly Improved Loading for that mainstream cartridge will no magically appear in every soldier’s mags. 47 vs 74 was ongoing controversy in Russian military throughout Chechen wars. The 5.45 is lighter, shoots flatter, makes AK somewhat controllable in burst fire (especially with grenade launcher attached), but tons of basic 7N6 were issued. It is OK loading against live target without armor or cover, but much less against even basic protection. There were anecdotal cases of mild steel parts (stripped from agricultural equipment) stopping it at modest range. Sure enough, newer designs, like 7N24, performed much better. But you don’t download upgrades to your ammo via 4G link by entering code given at armory. All in all, it contributes to whole “get us real, manly rounds back”.

  17. The artical says the US will adopt the 300 blk And the rest of the world will do sonething similar. I think we are following the Russians and their 9x39mm which is a rifle round that does what the 300 tried only better.

  18. Russian army doesn’t use 7.62×39, and hasn’t fielded it for decades now. Russian MVD (Ministry of Interior) units do, which is why you can occasionally see it in e.g. videos from Chechnya, but they aren’t military units.

    And, of course, the modern military cartridge family should include heavy MG rounds – .50 BMG for NATO, 12.7x108mm and 14.5x114mm for Russia.

  19. Am I just silly, or have I been reading the wrong articles? Most of the articles on this topic that make the most sense concern adopting an intermediate cartridge between 5.56 and 7.62×51 to replace rifle platforms chambered in those cartridges. Generally .264 caliber rounds are talked up the most, with the Army Marksmanship Unit’s .264 USA (and to a lesser extent the .277) getting a lot of mentions. I don’t think a truly universal cartridge is really feasible at all, but then I personally haven’t seen the articles suggesting such a thing (not saying they aren’t around, I just haven’t had a chance to glimpse ’em). I could get on board with a .264 chambering to replace 5.56 and 7.62 infantry platforms, and retaining 7.62 for LMG use, along with the other cartridges already in use.

  20. The answer to the question you presented here is very trivial.
    It will never be perfect cartridge but you could get very close.
    Show me one American cartridge that used heavy,high bc bullets
    for caliber?The answer is-none and most of foreign cartridges did
    the same but for different reasons.Both US and Russia looked
    at 6.5 mm bullets but neither dared to adopt one.US because old
    school generals were stuck on .30 cal and Russia did not do it
    for economical reasons.Lets see:30-06 always used by military
    with lighter bullets and whole bunch of powder but little bang for the
    buck.When I say this I mean natural ability to perform like 6.5 to 7mm
    bullets do then or now.Using right bullets for caliber gives you free
    bang for the buck otherwise you are compromising with powder
    and speed.7.62 NATO M80 ball has bc of about .370 and 55 grain
    5.56 lots of speed and powder and little killing power.
    How about BR class cartridge in 6.5 mm with 100 grain bullets for
    about 2900 fps and 144 grain bullets for machine gun and marksman
    rifle at 2500-2600 fps with lots of killing power not to mention high
    sectional density for penetration.BR case with little more case taper
    for feeding and extraction between 2.3-2.5″ long could have been that answer.
    I designed such cartridge I hope to soon enjoy it.


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