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H&K416


Papa6
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H&K seem to have gone back to the drawing board according to reports from militarynow.com . They have developed a prototype HK416, basically a m4 or m16 with an enhanced look and this seems to be the ticket they have been looking for. now can Grin get this sucker into game before shipping GRAW? lol just kidding, but this weapon system seems to be what is needed for an assault rifle

(Added afterthought:) this bears alot of similarity to the MP5 if you look at the handguard. kinda wierd..

New Weapon system

Edited by Dick Splash
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The HK416 is old news. It's their piston-upper HK M4 that Colt sued them over and had the name changed. Seems like HK enthusiast can't do anything more than rehash old news, just like HK rehashes their old products into new ones. :lol: HK needs to quit trying to stay afloat on their reputation and start making new, ground breaking weapons.

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according to military.com, the HK416 might very well be the replacement for the M4/M16 rather than the XM8. I heard the XM8 is having problems anyway. So it too might be axed like the OICW was.

But I feel HK has the definate skills to make a good weapon. What bores me is, everyone is still using M4/M16 receivers. I know someone can design a new receiver for the 5.56x45mm.

Old news? maybe, but apparently the US military could be interested in the HK416, besides, this website link above I posted hit my email inbox lastnight before I went to bed.

Edited by Papa6
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The 5.56mm NEEDS to be retired. The round is woefully underpowered, and even the upgrade to the 62grain from the 55grain did not make a difference.

One of the major problems with the M16 is that the bolt assembly is too light, so it is more prone to jam. The original AR10 does not suffer from these issues as the much heavier bolt assembly "grinds" right through any obstructions that may have made its way into the upper receiver.

The 468 uppers have a much heavier bolt like the AR10, so it does not suffer the same issues with jamming like the M16s. The HK416 does not address these issues, so what would be the point in going with the 416? The 468 would be a much better choice, as you can only make the bolt so heavy with the 5.56mm round.

I built an AR15 race gun and it had an aluminum bolt carrier, and a hollow buffer. The fouling of the receiver never caused a problem, but even the smallest paricle that made it into the upper receiver would jam it instantly. When firing under "dirty" conditions, I would go back to the heavier bolt carrier, and the heavier buffer, and although the rifle would cycle slower, it would not jam as readily.

The same principles apply to the M16. I have run my M16 with a custom machined lightweight bolt carrier, and a hollow buffer. The gun would cycle a 30 round mag in less than 2 sec! However, it would jam like crazy. It was fun, but so unreliable that I had to go back to the standard bolt and buffer.

HK says that the piston drive does not foul the upper receiver which makes their rfile design superior to the Colt, and that as a result it does not jam. They are full of it (I'm not saying that the piston drive is not better, just not as significant as HK claims it is). I was at HK and saw the 416 (in the grey room), opened it up and it does not show anything really ground breaking. I really think the US military will go with the 468, for many reasons that show it to be far superior to the 416.

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The 5.56mm NEEDS to be retired. The round is woefully underpowered, and even the upgrade to the 62grain from the 55grain did not make a difference.

i realy don't understand why the us folks just can use the 7.62 nato round.

if you need something with a punch in it.... :o=

besides, quite a few of their nato allies are still using it, and there are plenty of advantages with it.

:sheep:

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The US adpoted the 5.56x45mm to reduce the lethality of the rounds. like this; the 5.56mm round tumbles tremendously at longer ranges and thereby if one were to get hit in the foot, the bullet could very well come out the head. Also the 5.56mm bullet breaks apart, making it harder for surgeons to find the round.

But now with the M468 6.8mm round, the US is looking for a lethal round with more punch. why 6.8mm? beats the hell out of me guys...

Added- BTW when the 5.56mm round injures a soldier, it takes two more to carry a wounded comrade off the battlefield, so two more targets...and so on..you do the math.

Edited by Papa6
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The 5.56mm does not tumble as advertised. Look at all of the Washington area sniper victims. Head shots produced kills, and the body shots did not. The one child that was shot twice in the torso lived, and the lady that was shot in the back in front of the Michael's craft store also lived.

Look at all of the reports that came out of Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. Often 2-3 rounds in the torso are not killing the enemy.

Yes, I know that the round is heavier in the rear, and so if it enters a heavier medium it is supposed to tumble, but what works in theory does not always produce results in real life.

The 7.62mm produces an entry wound that is almost exactly twice that of the 5.56mm, and although it may go straight through, just like the AK round the larger and heavier round will "disturb" more of the tissuse in the body as it passes through. This is why even though an AK round will also over penetrate in CQB it is still more lethal than an M16 round. The 7.62X39mm round at 150grains traveling through the body will damage far more of the surrounding tissue than a 62grain 5.56mm round could ever hope to.

The .308 ammo we currently use is 168grains. Imagine what that could do.

Edited by jchung
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Sad to say but I ride the bus right past where the guy that was killed just outside NW DC by the sniper. His shot was about 100m or just a fraction more. no time for the round to tumble. it was one shot to the torso and people saw him take a few steps across the street and collapse.

all my info came from my training in the army. the 5.56mm round drops and then rises about 200m+.

but, this was using the first gen ammo not the second generation 5.56mmm ammo for saw's

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Wow, thats pretty scary you were that close to all of that. Glad your still around.

I know that the 5.56mm is SUPPOSED to tumble, but unfortunately pathologist reports more often than not contradict this. The 62grain rounds still require a bit of distance out of the barrel before they stabalize in flight, but overall the 62grains do not seem to be much better.

I often shoot at a private range, so I get to experiment with a lot of different targets like bulletproof glass, sheetmetal of varying thickness, soaked telephone books (great for testing hollow points), safes, wood furniture, bulletproof vests (that was fun), etc... Overall, I have to say that the 5.56mm has disappointed me and I think the 6.8mm will be a huge step forward.

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The 5.56mm does not tumble as advertised. Look at all of the Washington area sniper victims. Head shots produced kills, and the body shots did not. The one child that was shot twice in the torso lived, and the lady that was shot in the back in front of the Michael's craft store also lived.

Look at all of the reports that came out of Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. Often 2-3 rounds in the torso are not killing the enemy.

Yes, I know that the round is heavier in the rear, and so if it enters a heavier medium it is supposed to tumble, but what works in theory does not always produce results in real life.

The 7.62mm produces an entry wound that is almost exactly twice that of the 5.56mm, and although it may go straight through, just like the AK round the larger and heavier round will "disturb" more of the tissuse in the body as it passes through. This is why even though an AK round will also over penetrate in CQB it is still more lethal than an M16 round. The 7.62X39mm round at 150grains traveling through the body will damage far more of the surrounding tissue than a 62grain 5.56mm round could ever hope to.

The .308 ammo we currently use is 168grains. Imagine what that could do.

The reason that most armies use lighter calibers like 5.56 NATO or 5.45x39mm is so that they can have a normal infantry rifle fire full-auto. Have you ever seen a G3, FN FAL, or M14 fire full-auto? The first round is on target, the second round is over the target's head, and any subsequent rounds are anti-aircraft fire. Sure, there are situations where you want one or two carefully aimed shots, but in CQB, you need your autofire.

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Overall, I have to say that the 5.56mm has disappointed me and I think the 6.8mm will be a huge step forward.

Is the 6.8 x 43 cartridge a huge step forward or are we just learning from history?

In the late 1940s Belgians joined the Britain and selected a British .280 (7x43mm) intermediate cartridge for further development. In 1950 both Belgian FAL prototype and British EM-2 bullpup assault rifles were tested by U.S. Army. The FAL prototype greatly impressed the Americans, but the idea of the intermediate cartridge was at that moment incomprehensible for them, and U.S.A. insisted on adoption of their full-power T65 cartridge (7.62 x 51) as a N.A.T.O. standard in 1953-1954.

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Oh, the intermediate cartridge idea is way older than the '50s. The original cartridge planned for the Garand was the .276 Pederson firing in a smaller cartridge akin to the .308. But stockpiles of existing .30-06 ammo made them adopt the rifle to fire it. Sound familiar?

You guys are a bit out there with your 5.56 theories. The round was adopted to allow the soldier to carry more ammo, a big plus since suppression fire because a frequently used tactic. The ammo originally tumbled and caused some pretty impressive stopping power. This was a combination of early 1/12 rifling and the understabilized but fast M193 loading. The inaccuracies of the rifling was noticed in the jungles of Vietnam, but the unstable bullet would definately stop people once it contacted. Nowadays the bullets are more stable due to 1/9 and 1/7 rifling. The thing that causes good stops today is fragmentation of the ammo, not tumbling. It's actually a side effect of high velocity and the cannelure weakening the bullet's structure. If the bullet has sufficent velocity, it practically explodes after impact. Unfortunately this is range (velocity) limited and puts the frag threshold just under 200m with a 20" barrel and M193. With a 14" barrel it's down to around 100m. With an 11 or 10" barrel your below that. The slower heavier grain loading that is now more common has very unpredictable frag qualities and that is why more rounds are required to stop someone. The 77gr BTMs are supposed to be getting good results though due to, not surprisingly, instability on impact and tumbling.

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The propensity for the 5.56 to tumble (hit you in the finger and come out your foot) is ridiculously overstated. It is absurd the number of times we have drilled people at long and short ranges only to have rounds be nothing more than an over sized body piercing. Incapacitation lies almost solely on shot precision. This should not be the case as shot calibre should have at least a viable role in killing.

Operational design regarding system (gas, rcoil, etc.) has not been an issue for us. Jams, fouling etc. are just not a problem we have had. And most jams are usually the result of poor magazine care anyway.

To date, no operator I know of has seen a weapons platform on the table as well thought out as the SCAR. The M4 is a great weapon system and the 6.8 uppers on our M4s make a respectable killing tool. But other matters of functionality on the SCAR besides caliber show how dated the cosmetics are on the M4 series. Ever tried to put an M4 into action in a hurry while in a moving vehicle with other operators inside? Even with no on in the seat beside you in the back? Don't even think about having a supressor. The SCAR stock retracts AND ALSO folds sideways greatly reducing the size. With 90% common parts among the 3 calibers in the SCAR system across 3 systems composing the SCAR family, I personally find it with no other contender. There is a good reason FN was initially granted an IDIQ contract by USASOC.

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@Hatchetforce

That is an interesting assessment. Of course I have never shot or handled a SCAR, so I would not really be the "expert" on the subject. So are you saying that the SCAR with the 6.8mm caliber would DEFINITELY be your choice over the M468?

@The Warlock

I have shot an M14 and a G3 .308. At 40 feet I held the gun (G3 .308) on target shooting straight through the 20 round mag. My pattern was a wide 3 1/2 feet but nothing went overhead and I did not hit the carrier over the target.

Have you ever shot a .308 full auto? Don't believe everything you hear, nor a video of some noob you may have seen shooting one that fell over backwards. I have seen a video of a guy shooting a .454 and knocking himself out with it, but it does not mean that a .454 is an unmanigable gun. It just means that the shooter did not know what they were doing.

Edited by jchung
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@Hatchetforce

That is an interesting assessment. Of course I have never shot or handled a SCAR, so I would not really be the "expert" on the subject. So are you saying that the SCAR with the 6.8mm caliber would DEFINITELY be your choice over the M468?

@The Warlock

I have shot an M14 and a G3 .308. At 40 feet I held the gun (G3 .308) on target shooting straight through the 20 round mag. My pattern was a wide 3 1/2 feet but nothing went overhead and I did not hit the carrier over the target.

Have you ever shot a .308 full auto? Don't believe everything you hear, nor a video of some noob you may have seen shooting one that fell over backwards. I have seen a video of a guy shooting a .454 and knocking himself out with it, but it does not mean that a .454 is an unmanigable gun. It just means that the shooter did not know what they were doing.

Absolutely. The M4 is a great weapon...but Vietnam was over 30 years ago. Look, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. But the fact of the matter is the M4 is a CAR-15 with a few fixes. And there are better products on the market. The XM8 IS NOT one of them. But the SCAR is definitely a weapon of the future. We need every technological and operational edge we can gain. Some of those gains are large, some are small. The SCAR possess an incredible edge over the M4. We were the first to institute the 6.8 and even with that advantage I still choose the SCAR.

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@Hatchetforce

Even comparing the 5.56mm SCAR to the M468 you would still take the SCAR? Thats a pretty strong statement. I have to say that I'm a bit suprised to hear that. Care to divulge any other details as to why?

What is the trigger design of the SCAR like? Is it like the old Colt, or more like Knight Manufacturing's SR16 trigger? Maybe like the universal trigger design of an HK?

Unfortunately for me, I will probably not have the opportunity to shoot one. I have shot a G36, but it only had a two round burst trigger group. Lame.

I like the full autos but as time marches forward the guns that are available to me just keep getting older and older, and the chances I have of firing the news ones are slim to none.

I almost forgot to ask you this one. What do you think about Leupold's CQT and MK4 M2 scopes? Some seem to like them better than the Trjicons as they are adjustible and offer stronger magnification.

Edited by jchung
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  • 2 weeks later...

Militiaman got it right.

When the Brit's were developing the EM-2 and it's cartridge, battlefield experience from WW's 1 & 2 as well as engineering and scientific studies proved the .280 round was just about "perfect" (my quotes) for stopping human sized targets without waste and excess energy. The 7.62 Nato round (.308) is overpowered and has been proven to blow through humans without stopping them. (I've done so in the field.)

Yes, I have battlefield experience with both the M14 and M16a1.

I also hunt with both rounds.

If the 5.56 is so good why is it not legal to use hunting for anything larger than a coyote? Hunting deer, the Win .280 is good in my part of the States, .308 is better.

I use my 5.56 for woodchucks, kills without screwing up the meat.

Jay

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Militiaman got it right.

When the Brit's were developing the EM-2 and it's cartridge, battlefield experience from WW's 1 & 2 as well as engineering and scientific studies proved the .280 round was just about "perfect" (my quotes) for stopping human sized targets without waste and excess energy. The 7.62 Nato round (.308) is overpowered and has been proven to blow through humans without stopping them. (I've done so in the field.)

Yes, I have battlefield experience with both the M14 and M16a1.

I also hunt with both rounds.

If the 5.56 is so good why is it not legal to use hunting for anything larger than a coyote? Hunting deer, the Win .280 is good in my part of the States, .308 is better.

I use my 5.56 for woodchucks, kills without screwing up the meat.

Jay

Um, just a thought here, but a 5.56 is known in the 'states as .223 Remington Rimfire. It's a target round, and the reason it's good for varmint shooting is because it has a tendancy to fly straight and true with small, thin skinned animals without a lot of meat on them.

As for the reason for the tumbling attributed to the 5.56 X 45, it's important to remember where that tumbling was seen in tests. I've seen slow-motion video of a 5.56 hitting ballistic gellatin and doing what it's supposed to do....go through clean. Hit something denser, like clay, and you'll see that tumbling that everyone's hooked on.

Rember what Eugene Stoner did with the AR15 at a demonstration? He set up WATERMELONS at varying distances and hit them with the AR15. That is where the tumbling was first noticed. The round decelerated so fast that the only thing it could do was tumble. The reason he selected watermelons was because they are the closest thing to a human head that he could use in a test. The husk simulated a skull very well. The 7.62 round had enough mass and velocity to go right through, making two very neat holes. The 5.56 destroyed the melons completely.

As for why the U.S. made the switch from 7.62 to 5.56, any military history buff can answer that with one name: Curtiss Lemay. He liked the futuristic look and materials of the AR15, and the 5.56 round flew in the face of Army tradition, so he sponsored it. Back then, NO BODY argued with Lemay, so the AR15 idea was sent up to McNamara's "Wiz Kids", who looked at it (without ever having fired the damn thing or ever seeing combat) and made changes because they thought it would help the design. They were the reason for the switch from smokeless to traditional Western powder for the propellant, and a couple other modifications. And, since they were big on standardization (they were the reason all branches of the military use the same type of boot), the M16 became the standard issue rifle. End of story and debate.

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Um, just a thought here, but a 5.56 is known in the 'states as .223 Remington Rimfire. It's a target round, and the reason it's good for varmint shooting is because it has a tendancy to fly straight and true with small, thin skinned animals without a lot of meat on them.

The cartridge is known as the .223 Remington period, no rimfire because it's a centerfire cartridge. It's used on small game with expanding bullets because the thin skin offers little protection from it, the trajectory is fairly flat, and ammo is cheap.

They were the reason for the switch from smokeless to traditional Western powder for the propellant, and a couple other modifications. And, since they were big on standardization (they were the reason all branches of the military use the same type of boot), the M16 became the standard issue rifle. End of story and debate.

What is 'traditional western powder'? Nonsense. The true story on that is the gun was made with a specific powder in mind. All modern gun powders are smokeless but differ in whether they're single based (nitrocellulose) or double base (nitrocellulose w/ nitro glycerin coating) and their shape (flat, cylindrical, ball, etc). The AR-15 was meant to be used with a specific stick powder I believe, but the cartridges were loaded with ball powder which was probably a different burn rate and led to unburnt powder clogging the system.

As for standardization, they had a hell of a time getting the gun adopted at first. They got the foot in the door of Air Force for security duty with experimental models and then kept pushing for small lots to troops in combat during Vietnam until they got it adopted. Sounds similar to the XM8's life, eh?

One last comment: Stoner hated the AR-15 and 5.56. He thought going to the smaller round was idiotic and didn't want a hand in it. He designed the AR-10, other guys, under his supervision, reduced it to fire the 5.56. Same goes for every other firearm he designed that fired the 5.56 (expect maybe one of the last ones he ever made).

Edited by RooK
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They were the reason for the switch from smokeless to traditional Western powder for the propellant, and a couple other modifications. And, since they were big on standardization (they were the reason all branches of the military use the same type of boot), the M16 became the standard issue rifle. End of story and debate.

*

the gun powder the military uses for firearms and aircraft is called cordite cordite

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As for the reason for the tumbling attributed to the 5.56 X 45, it's important to remember where that tumbling was seen in tests. I've seen slow-motion video of a 5.56 hitting ballistic gellatin and doing what it's supposed to do....go through clean. Hit something denser, like clay, and you'll see that tumbling that everyone's hooked on.

Rember what Eugene Stoner did with the AR15 at a demonstration? He set up WATERMELONS at varying distances and hit them with the AR15. That is where the tumbling was first noticed. The round decelerated so fast that the only thing it could do was tumble. The reason he selected watermelons was because they are the closest thing to a human head that he could use in a test. The husk simulated a skull very well. The 7.62 round had enough mass and velocity to go right through, making two very neat holes. The 5.56 destroyed the melons completely.

I have seen a similar demo with a watermelon and the results were very different. The 5.56mm went straight through, a .308 broke the melon into a couple large pieces, and a .338WinMag practically vaporized the thing.

I believe that the demo with Stoner was "rigged" to some measure.

In all of the ballistic tests that I have seen the 5.56mm round was said to tumble because the round is actually heavier in the rear so that when it travels through the air it does so without any problems, but when it hits a heavier meadium it is SUPPOSED to tumble as the rear comes forward after the lighter tip makes contact.

Unlike some of the ballistic geletin tests (there are many that show the 5.56mm DOES NOT tumble), pathologist reports show something completely different. In combat the 5.56mm has not readily tumbled on contact as it is supposed to. Look at the Washington area sniper incident. A perfect example. Most of the fatal shootings were headshots, or a vital organ was hit. The two most glaring examples of failure were the lady that was shot straight in the back in front of the Michael's craft store, and the young boy that was shot twice in the torso. Both victims survived. The 5.56mm is hardly the lethal tumbling round that it is supposed to be.

The 5.56mm is overhyped garbage.

Here is one of MANY reports of the failure of this round.

The Last “Big Lie†of Vietnam Kills U. S. Soldiers in Iraq

August 24th, 2004

At a Vietnam Special Forces base during 1964, I watched a U. S. soldier fire 15 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition into a tethered goat from an AR-15 rifle; moments after the last round hit, the goat fell over. Looking at the dead goat, I saw many little bullet entry-holes on one side; and when we turned him over, I saw many little bullet exit-holes on the other side. Over time, those observations were confirmed and reconfirmed, revealing that the stories we were told on the lethality of the .223 caliber cartridge were fabrications. Those false reports drove the adoption of the .223 caliber cartridge as the 5.56mm NATO cartridge and, ever since, Americans have been sent to war with a cartridge deficient in combat lethality; a deficiency that has recently caused the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

What is efficient combat lethality? The book Black Hawk Down quotes SFC Paul Howe’s description of SFC Randy Shughart, a soldier who elected to carry the 7.62mm M-14 into the urban battlefield of Somalia in 1993 rather than the 5.56mm CAR-15 (M-16-variant):

“His rifle may have been heavier and comparatively awkward and delivered a mean recoil, but it damn sure knocked a man down with one bullet, and in combat, one shot was all you got. You shoot a guy, you want to see him go down; you don't want to be guessing for the next five hours whether you hit him, or whether he's still waiting for you in the weeds.†[1]

With the wisdom of a combat veteran, Howe describes the lethality necessary for a cartridge in combat—one-round knockdown power.

How did we get from military cartridges with proven one-round knockdown power such as the 30-06 and 7.62mm to the 5.56mm? The journey starts with the term “tumbling.†This term has been associated with the .223 cal./5.56mm cartridge, since early in its marketing as a potential military cartridge to this day. The very word, tumbling, prompts images of a bullet traveling end over end through the human body in 360-degree loops: in reality, it does not move this way at all.

Dr. Martin L. Fackler, COL., USA (Ret.) served as a surgeon in Vietnam during 1968 and, subsequently, pursued the research of terminal ballistics by observing the effects of bullets fired into blocks of ballistic gelatin. In “Wounding patterns for military rifle bullets,†he reports the observation that “all†non-deforming pointed bullets—this included the 30-06 and 7.62mm military full-metal jacket bullets-- “yawed†180 degrees while passing through the gelatin to exit base-forward; i.e., heaviest end forward. The 5.56mm projectile acted in the same manner with a very precise exception: These rounds “yawed†to 90-degrees, and then fragmented at their weakened serrated band (cannelure) into two or more pieces when fired into ballistic gelatin. However, the 5.56mm projectile does NOT always yaw or fragment. Under field conditions, the probability of these effects is reduced by the following factors:

--The round strikes the target at less than 2700 feet per second. That velocity is reduced by: the farther the range to the target, the greater reduction in velocity; shortened weapon barrel length as is the case with the shorter M-4 carbine; and/or, manufacturing variances in the cartridge.

--Variances in human body thickness and flesh density and consistency.

In those cases, the bullet neither yaws nor fragments and causes only a pencil size hole through the body; i.e., small hole in, small hole out. Neither Dr. Fackler nor anyone else has provided any empirical data or estimate on the incidence of the 5.56mm yaw/fragmentation effect on enemy soldiers. Conversely, since first used by Americans in combat, there has been a consistent observation from the field—enemy soldiers continue to fire their weapons after being hit by multiple 5.56mm bullets; evidently, no yaw/fragmentation effect. Nevertheless, the term “tumble†was apparently derived from idealized yaw action and, as suggested by the following, was chosen in lieu of the word yaw because it would “sell†better. [2]

The book, The Black Rifle, M16 Retrospective by Edward C. Ezell and R. Blake Stevens, “ . . . is, so far as [the authors] could make it so, the truth about the controversial 5.56mm caliber AR-15 (M16)—what it is, what it is not, where it came from, and why.â€

Edward C. Ezell, Ph.D., now deceased, was the Curator/Supervisor of the Division of Armed Forces History, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC and the editor of perhaps the world’s most famous gun book, Small Arms of the World. The Black Rifle contains one of the earliest characterizations that the .223 cal. bullet tumbled in a brochure produced by Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company, Inc. The caption written by the book’s authors reads, “From the first Colt AR-15 brochure, produced in a desperate attempt to interest somebody – anybody - in the merits of the AR-15’s ‘unmatched superiority.’†In one of the three internal brochure illustrations is text reading, in part, “On impact the tumbling action of the .223 caliber ammunition increases effectiveness.†[3]

In 1961, Colt’s did get somebody’s attention. The Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) of the Department of Defense (DoD) was enjoined by the Kennedy Administration to explore how the United States could support a foreign ally in a “limited†war. In the spring of 1961, ARPA’s Project AGILE was implemented to supply “research and engineering support for the military and paramilitary forces engaged in or threatened by conflict in remote areas of the world.†In October of 1961, ARPA provided ten Colt’s AR-15’s to Vietnamese Forces in Saigon to conduct a limited test. The Black Rifle remarks of this test, “The number of rifles might have been small, but the enthusiastic reaction of the Vietnamese and their American advisors alike who handled and fired the AR-15s was just as [Colt’s marketing agent] had predicted.†Armed with these positive results, ARPA succeeded in expanding the Project AGILE study by procuring 1,000 AR-15s for distribution among select Vietnamese units for field-testing. Ezell & Stevens write that this approval resulted in “ . . . saving Colt’s from almost sure financial disaster and also setting the stage for the most influential yet controversial document so far in the history of the already controversial AR-15.†[4]

The purpose of this test, as set forth in, ARPA, “Report of Task 13A, Test of ArmaLite Rifle, AR-15,†dated 31 July 1962, was “ . . . a comparison between the AR-15 and the M2 Carbine to determine which is a more suitable replacement for shoulder weapons in selected units of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF).†The Project AGILE results were summed up, in part, by ARPA as follows: “The suitability of the AR-15 as the basic shoulder weapon for the Vietnamese has been established. For the type of conflict now occurring in Vietnam, the weapon was also found by its users and by MAAG advisors to be superior in virtually all respects to the M1 Rifle, M1 and M2 Carbines, Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, and Browning Automatic Rifle.†NOTE: This study and its recommendations concerned the suitability of the AR-15 for Vietnamese soldiers, who were described by the testers to be of “small stature, body configuration and light weight,†NOT larger stature United States soldiers. [5]

In any case, the report was widely read and some of its components came under serious question, especially those purporting to describe the demonstrated lethality of the .223 caliber cartridge. The following are three such examples from the Project AGILE report:

Example 1. “On 160900 June, one platoon from the 340 Ranger company was on a ground operation . . . and contacted 3 armed VC in heavily forested jungle.. . . At a distance of approximately 15 meters, one Ranger fired an AR-15 full automatic hitting one VC with 3 rounds with the first burst. One round in the head took it completely off. Another in the right arm, took it completely off. One round hit him in the right side, causing a hole about 5 inches in diameter.. . . (Rangers)â€

Example 2. “On 9 June a Ranger Platoon from the 40th Infantry Regt. Was given the mission of ambushing an estimated VC Company.. . .

Number of VC killed: 5 [Descriptions of the one-round killing wounds follow.]

Back wound, which caused the thoracic cavity to explode.

Stomach wound, which caused the abdominal cavity to explode.

Buttock wound, which destroyed all tissue of both buttocks.

Chest wound from right to left; destroyed the thoracic cavity.

Heel wound; the projectile entered the bottom of the right foot causing the leg to split from the foot to the hip.

These deaths were inflicted by the AR-15 and all were instantaneous except the buttock wound. He lived approximately five minutes. (7th Infantry Division)â€

Example 3. “On 13 April, a Special Forces team made a raid on a small village. In the raid, seven VC were killed. Two were killed by AR-15 fire. Range was 50 meters. One man was hit in the head; it looked like it exploded. A second man was hit in the chest, his back was one big hole. (VN Special Forces)†[6.]

The above “field-reports†are incredulous on their face and some in DoD requested that these results be duplicated scientifically. The Army Wound Ballistics Laboratory at Edgewood Arsenal attempted to do just that. Using .223 caliber Remington ammunition provided by Colt’s representative, they conducted their “standard lethality trials that consisted of measuring the cavitational and other effects of firing at known distances into blocks of ballistic gelatin, and where necessary, anaesthetized goats.†They failed to duplicate the explosive effects reported by Project AGILE. In November 1962, the Army initiated “Worldwide†tactical and technical tests of the AR-15 using U. S. soldiers. Edgewood was tasked to perform further lethality tests using modified .223 caliber ammunition. Ezell and Stevens describe the modifications: “They had modified some 55-grain .223 caliber ball bullets of Remington manufacture by cutting approximately 1/4 inch off the nose and drilling a 3/32-inch-diameter hole about 1/4 inch deep into the lead core of each bullet.†The results? The authors continue, “As it turned out, even the hollow-points failed to duplicate anything like the spectacular effects recorded by the Vietnamese unit commanders and their American advisors, which had subsequently been taken as fact and much used as propaganda.†[7.]

The .223 caliber cartridge was morphed into the 5.56mm NATO cartridge and adopted for the United States Service Rifle M-16 (formerly, AR-15) replacing the 7.62mm M-14. How could such propaganda have convinced the Department of Defense to adopt the .223 caliber cartridge? “All this was inspired by the principle -- which is quite true in itself -- that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper stata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily, and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.â€

Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf [8.]

As is usually the case, a judgment based on lies was to adversely affect those at the “pointy end of the spear.†American warriors reported enemy soldiers continuing to close and fire their weapons after sustaining multiple hits by 5.56mm bullets. This happened as early as 9 December 1965 in the official “After Action Report of the Ia Drang Valley Operation . . ..†popularized by the movie and book We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young. The commanding officer of the battalion engaged there, Col. Harold G. Moore, USA, writes of assaulting enemy soldiers being hit by 5.56mm rounds: "Even after being hit several times in the chest, many continued firing and moving for several more steps before dropping dead." [9.]

Later in that war, a similar experience is voiced by Col. John Hayworth, USA (Ret.): “In one fire-fight, I saw my RTO place three rounds [of 5.56 mm] in the chest of a charging NVA regular at 50 yards. He kept firing his AK and never slowed down. At 30 yards, I hit him with a blast of double ought buck. It picked him up off his feet and he didn't get up again.†[10.]

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the DoD increased the weight of the 5.56mm 55-grain bullet (M193) to 62-grains, replaced some of its lead core with a tungsten steel core, painted the bullet tip green and designated the new cartridge M855. In 1991, the Pentagon sent its warriors to the Gulf War with this new green-tip cartridge. Maj. Howard Feldmeier, USMC (Ret.) was there: “ . . . several Marines commented that they had to shoot Iraqi soldiers 2-3 or more times with the 62-grain 5.56mm green tip ammo before they stopped firing back at them . . ..†That report is exemplified by one of an Iraqi officer who was thrown from his vehicle and set afire by an explosion: “Somehow he managed to hold on to his AK-47. He also got up, still on fire, faced the firing line of Marines and charged forward firing his weapon from the hip. He didn't hit anyone but two Marines each nailed him with a three round burst from their M-16A2s. One burst hit him immediately above his heart, the other in his belly button. [He] . . . kept right on charging and firing until his magazine was empty. When he got up to the Marines two of them tackled him and rolled him in the sand to put out the fire. . . . He was quickly carried back to the battalion aid station . . .. The surgeons told me he certainly died of burns, but not necessarily from the six 5.56mm wounds . . ..†[11.]

In spite of the above “lesson learned,†the DoD dispatched its warriors to combat in Somalia in 1993 with the same flawed “green tip†cartridge as testified in Mark Bowden’s book Black Hawk Down: “His weapon was the most sophisticated infantry rifle in the world, a customized CAR-15, and he was shooting the army's new 5.56mm green tip round. . . . The bullet made a small, clean hole, and unless it happened to hit the heart or spine, it wasn't enough to stop a man in his tracks. Howe felt he had to hit a guy five or six times just to get his attention.â€

The Pentagon remained unmoved by that experience of its warriors and continued to send them to war underpowered. On 4 April 2002, I received an e-mail from a trooper in Afghanistan who appeals, in part: “The current-issue 62gr 5.56mm (223) round, especially when fired from the short-barreled, M-4 carbine, is proving itself (once again) to be woefully inadequate as [a] man stopper. Engagements at all ranges are requiring multiple, solid hits to permanently bring down enemy soldiers. Penetration is also sadly deficient. Even light barriers are not perforated by this rifle/cartridge combination.†[12.]

Additional observations of the impotence of the 5.56mm round soon appeared in official and professional publications. In their official briefing “Lessons Learned in Afghanistan†dated April 2002, LTC C. Dean, USA and SFC S. Newland, USA of the U. S. Army Natick Soldier Center reported: “Soldiers asked for a weapon with a larger round. ‘So it will drop a man with one shot.’†In the October 2002 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette magazine, Capt Philip Treglia, USMC reflected on his Afghanistan experience in December 2001 by reporting that, “the 5.56 mm round will not put a man to the ground with two shots to the chest.†Capt Treglia’s men were trained to fire two bullets into an enemy’s chest and if that did not knock him down, they were to shift fire to the head. This is the corrective action implemented for these Marines and many others in the Armed Forces for the impotent 5.56mm cartridge rather than equipping them with a rifle that fired a bullet with one-round knockdown power. And, as Capt Treglia reported, multiple hits with the 5.56mm bullet didn’t work any better in Afghanistan than it did anytime in the past.

In a 3 March 2003 written briefing, LCdr. Gary K. Roberts, USNR recommended to RAdm. Albert M. Calland, Commander, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command that he upgrades his command’s 5.56mm weapons to the 6.8mm cartridge. That briefing, entitled, “Enhancement of NSW Carbine & Rifle Capability,†opens by observing:

Recent combat operations have highlighted terminal performance problems, generally manifested as failures to rapidly incapacitate opponents, during combat operations when M855 62gr. “Green Tip†FMJ is fired from 5.56mm rifles and carbines. Failure to rapidly incapacitate armed opponents increases the risk of U.S. forces being injured or killed and jeopardizes mission success. [13.]

That statement was prophetic.

On 12 September 2003, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq elements of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group engaged enemy forces in a firefight. An insurgent was struck in the torso by several rounds of 5.56mm ammunition from their M-4 carbines (this is the current shortened version of the M-16 Service Rifle). He continued to fire his AK-47 and mortally wounded MSgt Kevin N. Morehead, age 33, from Little Rock, Arkansas. The engagement continued with the same insurgent surprising SFC William M. Bennett, age 35, from Seymour, Tennessee from a hiding place and killing him instantly with a three-round burst to the head and neck. SSgt Robert E Springer, threw away his M-4 carbine, drew an obsolete WWI/WWII vintage .45 caliber pistol and killed the insurgent with one shot. A close inspection of the enemy's corpse revealed that he had been hit by seven 5.56 mm rounds in his torso. Also, in this engagement, these soldiers were provided with a commercially produced 5.56mm round of 77-grain weight vice the 62-grain bullets in use by general-purpose forces. Obviously, the larger 5.56mm round was of little consequence. [14.]

These reports are consistent with my own experience during three tours of duty in Vietnam from the goat incident in 1964 described above to service with the 3rd Marine Division in 1968-69; experience that repeatedly reminded me that this 5.56mm cartridge was nothing more than the full-metal jacket military version of the commercial .223 caliber Remington cartridge. The .223 caliber Remington was and is today commercially advertised and sold as a “varmint cartridge†for hunting groundhogs, prairie dogs and woodchucks. The cartridge is offered with soft point, hollow point, fragmentation, or projectiles incorporating two or more of these attributes to enhance its lethality and assure a “clean killâ€: one-round knockdown power on varmints. States such as the Commonwealth of Virginia do not permit it to be used for hunting deer or bear because its lethality—with or without those enhancements--does not assure a “clean kill†on big game. [15] Yet, its full metal jacket military counterpart continues to be issued to American warriors in spite of almost 40 years of Lessons Learned that enemy soldiers continue to fire their weapons and have even killed our soldiers after sustaining multiple hits from 5.56mm bullets.

The lethality of the 5.56mm cartridge, sold on lies, cannot be fixed in truth. It is time the Department of Defense recognizes this “Big Lie†from the Vietnam War and in the names of MSgt Kevin N. Morehead and SFC William M. Bennett replaces this varmint cartridge with one that gives our warriors that critical capability described by SFC Paul Howe above--one-round knockdown power!

The author's 25-year Marine career included service as an infantryman and intelligence officer with highlights of three tours of duty in Vietnam and, ultimately, representing the Defense Intelligence Agency as a briefer to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and other Washington area decision makers. He currently manages MILINET an Internet forum on international political/military affairs.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Bowden, M, Black Hawk Down, Penguin Books, 2000, p. 208.

2. Fackler, ML,"Wounding patterns of military rifle bullets," International Defense Review, January 1989, pp. 59-64.

3. Ezell, EC & Stevens, RB, The Black Rifle, M16 Retrospective, Collector Grade Publications, Inc., 1994, p. 98.

4. Ibid. pp.99-100.

5. Ibid. pp.101-106.

6. Ibid. pp. 106-107.

7. Ibid. p. 116.

8. Hitler, A, Mein Kampf. James Murphy, translator. London, New York, Melbourne: Hurst and Blackett Ltd; April 1942; page 134.

9. Moore, Col. HG, “After Action Report, Ian Drang Valley Operation 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry 14-16 November 1965,†dated, 9 December 1965, p. 8.

10. Hayworth, Col. J, E-Mail to author, 23 April 2002.

11. Feldmeier, Maj. H, E-Mail to author, 21 May 2002.

12. Anonymous, E-Mail to MILINET, 26 March 2002.

13. Roberts, USNR, LCdr. Gary K., Brief to RAdm Albert M. Calland, CMDR NAVSPECWARCOM, “Enhancement of NSW Carbine & Rifle Capability†brief, 3 March 2003.

14. Jones, Bruce L., “MILINET: Case Studies in Combat Failures of 5.56mm Ammunition,†3 November 2003

15. http://www.dgif.state.va.us/hunting/regs/s...6.html#legaluse

Maj. Anthony F. Milavic, USMC (Ret.)

Edited by jchung
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