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Subject: 5.56mm vs. 7.62mm, An old argument but still valid
WFG    6/8/2004 6:06:17 PM
Given all the evidence from Vietnam that the 5.56mm round of the M16 was not adequate to stop even a small framed individual pumped up on adrenaline or dope; it seems that we are revisiting these issues again now in Iraq. Many operators in theater in Afghanistan and Iraq have made similar comments about the inability of the 5.56mm to stop and drop the current foe. Several have mentioned that a weapon like the M4 carbine, for its size and compactness, chambered in 7.62mm would be a great improvement. The conventional wisdom is that 5.56mm provides the operator with the ability to carry more rounds and that volume of fire is the preferred method of engagement. If it takes multiple hits to stop and drop your foe with 5.56mm then what?s the advantage. Fewer, more well aimed, and well placed shots with a round that is proven to stop and drop like the 7.62x51mm I think is the better choice. What are some of your thoughts?
 
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joe6pack    RE:5.56mm vs. 7.62mm, An old argument but still valid   6/8/2004 6:56:42 PM
I'm ok with the 5.56 round. I'm somewhat dubious of some of the inadequacy claims attributed to it. Yes it's not a .45 round desinged to knock someone on their butt. But it is light, accurate and I think effective. I'm not saying I scoff at the idea of a 7.62 M-4 either.. That could be mighty usefull. However, with improvements in body armor it may be time to start looking for new rounds in general. I doubt we and our allies will have the market cornered on body armor for ever.
 
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Ehran    RE:5.56mm vs. 7.62mm, An old argument but still valid   6/8/2004 9:08:18 PM
one thing about good ol 308 is that it changes the definition of Hard Cover significantly in favour of the shooter. just for a giggle imagine the muzzle blast off an M4 in 308 plus i think you could kiss off the utility of auto fire with that rig.
 
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Horsesoldier    RE:5.56mm vs. 7.62mm, An old argument but still valid   6/8/2004 9:30:55 PM
The topic has been talked to death a time or two. As I've noted before, all rounds are trade offs. The 7.62mm side of the debate tends to pretend that .308 is some kind of death ray and skip over the possibility you'll have to double tap with .308 as well. And they tend to act like 5.56mm is guaranteed to fail without double tap. Both premises don't hold up reliably -- just statisitical tendencies. For an AR/carbine role, I'll take the 5.56mm round all day -- especially if I'm a notional operator who has the range time and training to use my M4 or other weapon to the fullest. As for an M4 in 7.62x51mm . . . too much recoil. Autofire is obviously bad, but even in semi it's going to kick like a beast, which means that I'd better not need to double tap (or better not miss) because it's going to take me longer to put the weapon back on target while the other guy is trying to kill me. The proposed 6.8mm round seems like a good idea to me -- it takes bullet weight towards .308 without fully sacrificing the idea of a handy and compact assault rifle to the full size bullet, but stays light enough to carry lots of ammo and recoil soft enough to make the a minimal issue in rapid fire.
 
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WFG    RE:5.56mm vs. 7.62mm, An old argument but still valid   6/8/2004 11:07:06 PM
I'm glad the 6.8mm and mention of alternate rounds has been brought up. I lean towards a 6x45mm cartridge that was tested and fielded on a limited scall some years ago. The 7.62mm is not a all powerfull deathray but is vastly superior to 5.56mm in stopping power. As far as full auto, that shouldn't even be a consideration. There are very few occasions that call for the use of full auto for a weapon in the roll of "battle rifle", i.e. the standard infantrymans rifle. If you need suppressive fire you use a SAW/ LMG type weapon or all the squad/ platoons rifles brought to bear on the target. Also, as far as the recoil and and muzzle flash, these can both be addressed through the combination of training and technology. I have used 5.56mm in the M16A2 for 15yrs professionally and in real world operations. I have used 7.62mm in the M14 in various forms as well for roughly the same amount of time. Though I have not used 7.62mm in a real world operations I would still prefer it, if I had a choice, over 5.56mm any say for any operation. These ate just my thoughts though.
 
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ChdNorm    RE:5.56mm vs. 7.62mm, An old argument but still valid   6/9/2004 12:16:52 AM
I always throw my two cents in on the side of the 7.62. I tend to think it's a better general purpose round that the 5.56. I think the 5.56 (M-4 specifically) is great in a roll similar to what the M-1 Carbine served as in W.W.II. I do yield to those more knowledgeable in the real world life of the poor ol' 11B who has to tote the things around, as opposed to being one of God's chosen few (the Cav) and having the benefit of getting to ride behind your ma deuce .. not drag her ass around. In my opinion though, a lot of the issues I find a little dubious. I see few scenarios where a rifleman will run thru his basic combat load in a single contact whether he carries the 7.62 or 5.56. A lot of what ifs and buts could be said ..... but the reality is there is always a wagon load of resupply not too far behind. I know loca fire suppresion and fire superiorit is always given to the 5.56, but I still believe the 7.62 has it there. As already mentiond, the 7.62 can do some scary things to light cover. While it may not carry the volume of fire ... it does make a difference between harassing and killing fire. One area that I'm not too sure on that interests me on this subject ... it seems that currently and in the near future fire support comes in the form of JDAMS falling 40,000 feet. What is the safety zone from the target area? I believe it's in the 500 meter range? From an infantry engagement standpoint, it makes sense to me to look at squad level weapons as something that keeps the enemy in contact while fixing them for the fire support. Don't jump on me yet ... that's the way I see it, not necessarily the way I think it ought to be done. If you cant effectively engage out to at least the minimum distance from the target, I think there is the very real possibly of the enemy closing into that gap between the effective range of small arms and the minimum distance that fire support will be dropped from our troops. Maybe its not as big deal as I think about it being. But in choosing what's best for our particular needs I sure as hell would take it into consideration.
 
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WFG    RE:5.56mm vs. 7.62mm, An old argument but still valid   6/9/2004 5:01:28 AM
ChdNorm: I concure. Fewer, more well placed and acurate shots on the target to fix and hold the enemy at range is the referred method. When situations are presented that provide you with a warm body at close range, the ability to leave a large gapping whole in the chest of your foe, given out current foe, could also serve to steal the desire of his comrades to close the distance as well. The key to all of this is in training though. The current command climate needs to place more attention to dedicated rifle marksmanship for all branches in a higher priority. Train to standard, not time.
 
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smokey       2/13/2008 8:37:45 PM
While I realize that there is no assuarance that an enemy soilder will drop on the 1st shot, I think that the 7.62 certainly greatly increases the chances of success. No doubt that it is an effective round in combat. As for the 5.56, we have to remember that this round and the original rifle made to fire it (M-16 or AR-15) was the brain child of one man, Eugene Stoner. The concept of a reduced powered round was not new of course but switching to a much smaller calibre with a much ligher bullet was a new concept. The idea was that the smaller round with more velocity hit as hard as the larger round with less velocity. Of course, the smaller lighter bullet did not produce the same knetic energy as the larger round. While the enemy soilder hit with it may eventually die, there was more of a chance that he would not drop immediately giving him those few seconds to get off a few more shots and or throw an explosive device. I do hear of reports such as this coming out of Iraq and that some squads have a shooter with an M-14 with scope to finish those that won't go down. I am pleased to hear that new rounds are being explored such as the 6.8 mm. This is not a new concept however. Shortly after WW II, the British developed a new rifle of bullpup design which fired a 7 x 43mm round (if I recall correctly). This round produced significantly less recoil that the 7.62 but it still fired a 140 grain bullet at over 2400 feet per second. It was selective fire and controllable in full automatic fire and was said to have a range of 600 yards. The round sparked the interests of several contries and only for the fact that the U.S insisted on a short version of the 30-06 (7.62), the round may well have been adopted. We may of well had an ideal round more than 50 years ago. From what I read, there was little doubt that at least Britan and Canada would have adopted the EM2 rifle but NATO standardization stopped this. To me, the 7 x43 mm round may have been the answer but the round and the EM2 rifle fell into history. I would appreciate feedback and comments.
 
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Horsesoldier       2/13/2008 11:52:54 PM

 

As for the 5.56, we have to remember that this round and the original rifle made to fire it (M-16 or AR-15) was the brain child of one man, Eugene Stoner.
 
Interest in small caliber-high velocity rounds predates Stoner's involvement in the picture.  Research on SCHV rounds started in 1950 or so, and had already included a number of rounds and different experimental platforms to launch thm (including modified T48/FALs) by the time Stoner was filing his first applications for patents relevant to the AR-10/15.
 
It's also worth noting that Stoner designed the AR-10.  Two other engineers at Fairchild/Armalite did the scaling and conversion of the AR-10 into a .22 cal weapon (originally .222 Remington) -- though Stoner was involved in promoting the weapon, etc.
 
I do hear of reports such as this coming out of Iraq and that some squads have a shooter with an M-14 with scope to finish those that won't go down. I am pleased to hear that new rounds are being explored such as the 6.8 mm. This is not a new concept however. Shortly after WW II, the British developed a new rifle of bullpup design which fired a 7 x 43mm round (if I recall correctly).
 
Yep.  6.8 Remington SPC is a pretty close match, in terms of muzzle energy, to .280 British/7x43, just throwing a lighter bullet faster due to the need to work within an AR's magazine well.
 
From what I read, there was little doubt that at least Britan and Canada would have adopted the EM2 rifle but NATO standardization stopped this. To me, the 7 x43 mm round may have been the answer but the round and the EM2 rifle fell into history. I would appreciate feedback and comments.
 
EM2 and the FAL were both set up for .280/7x43, originally.  Would have been a much better round for NATO standardization than 7.62x51.
 
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smokey       2/14/2008 7:20:50 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I was aware that there was FAL was also chambered in the .280 round as well. I was not aware that the small calibre high velocity concept went back as far as you mentioned. Did they experiment with 55 grain bullets and even ligher bullets? I fully agree with you comment that the .280 British would have been a much better overall round than the 7.62 as it seems to have a close to ideal balance of stopping power, velocity and not too much recoil.
 
 
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Horsesoldier       2/14/2008 11:24:00 PM
I think they tried bullet weights down to 40 grains, based of different cases (think they did some based on .30 Carbine in the same vein as 5.7 Spitfire, and were pushing a 55 grain 5.56mm round in a necked down .308 case for a while, besides more developed stuff like .222 Remington).
 
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