Military snipers use match grade, not hunting rounds. Why?


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SLCscottie
May 3, 2010, 05:23 AM
Okay I have read some books on military snipers. What I understand is that they use match grade bullets and not hunting bullets. Now when I read information from Sierra and Hornady, in so many words they say not to use match grade bullets for hunting game. So does anybody know why our snipers would be using something inadequate for deer and elk to defend our country?

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SLCscottie
May 3, 2010, 05:27 AM
*Match bullets are not recommended for hunting medium & large game

General Geoff
May 3, 2010, 05:27 AM
Match grade ammunition is more concerned with ballistic coefficient and consistency of components (to assure the most precision and accuracy). Ammunition tailored to hunting applications is concerned mostly with expansion and mass retention (to minimize shrapnel in taken game). That's not to say that hunting ammo is inadequate for most sniping scenarios, but match grade ammunition is just a tad better for pure precision.

THE DARK KNIGHT
May 3, 2010, 05:32 AM
So does anybody know why our snipers would be using something inadequate for deer and elk to defend our country?

Because a human is a little bit squishier than an elk?

coloradokevin
May 3, 2010, 05:34 AM
From my perspective, the hunter is looking to put a large and tough game animal down quickly and humanely, with minimal damage to the meat, often at ranges inside of 300 yards.

A military sniper is looking to eliminate a thinner-skinned enemy combatant, which even a wounding shot will probably do, often at distances that are well beyond the reach of most hunters.

buttrap
May 3, 2010, 05:36 AM
Plus a spiper does not care it the target takes a chest shot vs a head shot and runs 300 feet and bleeds out..most hunters do.

scythefwd
May 3, 2010, 05:55 AM
I believe that he Hague conventions specifically prohibit the use of fragmenting or expanding bullets by the Nations that signed them. We only use FMJ bullets in our anti personnel arms in the military. There are more effective stoppers out there, but we legislated ourselves into a corner on that one.

SLCscottie
May 3, 2010, 05:56 AM
Your replies have given me a different perspective now. I would imagine that a swat sniper in a hostage situation needs immediate incapacitation of the perp. I am now curious and will have to see what the TAP ammo's bullet is for 308

Powerglide
May 3, 2010, 05:56 AM
Match grade consistency is what you look for in a sniping round. Predictable duplicity is the name of the game.

SLCscottie
May 3, 2010, 05:58 AM
So the same reason we cannot use hollowpoints in our pistols.

General Geoff
May 3, 2010, 05:59 AM
I am now curious and will have to see what the TAP ammo's bullet is for 308

Hornady's TAP offerings in .308 are a rare combination of the best qualities of match grade AND hunting ammunition, and are suitable for both uses. They accomplish this with a polymer tip over a hollow lead cavity in a jacketed projectile.


As for the Hague Convention nonsense, the United States is not a signatory nation. We use FMJ because (1) it's cheaper to manufacture and (2) the point of combat is to incapacitate your enemy and remove him from the fight, not necessarily to kill him. While it could be argued that the advent of more frequent urban/close quarters warfare warrants the use of expanding ammunition, the idea simply hasn't been adopted yet (probably due to cost and reliability concerns).

SLCscottie
May 3, 2010, 06:10 AM
Hornady's TAP offerings in .308 are a rare combination of the best qualities of match grade AND hunting ammunition, and are suitable for both uses. They accomplish this with a polymer tip over a hollow lead cavity in a jacketed projectile.


As for the Hague Convention nonsense, the United States is not a signatory nation. We use FMJ because (1) it's cheaper to manufacture and (2) the point of combat is to incapacitate your enemy and remove him from the fight, not necessarily to kill him. While it could be argued that the advent of more frequent urban/close quarters warfare warrants the use of expanding ammunition, the idea simply hasn't been adopted yet (probably due to cost and reliability concerns).
I just got done reading the Law Enforcement site. It looks like they have a variety of bullets to select from for different types of situations. To prevent over penetration, to penetrate barriers, etc. Then they talk about the 600 yard accuracy and exacting tolerances. Very interesting. Basically a tool box of rounds for different police situations.

General Geoff
May 3, 2010, 06:11 AM
For what it's worth, I keep my M1A stoked with 155gr TAP rounds, for home defense purposes.

SLCscottie
May 3, 2010, 06:16 AM
For what it's worth, I keep my M1A stoked with 155gr TAP rounds, for home defense purposes.
For close combat in an urban setting I would want our military to have expansion unless they had to contend with enemy with body armor or a need to penetrate the walls.

C-grunt
May 3, 2010, 07:18 AM
I beleive FMJ is the way to go for military fighting. Combat is a lot different than civilian or police shootings.

Soldiers and Marines need penetration because most combatants dont just stand in the open. You want something that can penetrate through an object and still penetrate the bad guy.

waterhouse
May 3, 2010, 08:45 AM
As for the Hague Convention nonsense, the United States is not a signatory nation.

The United States signed for the 1899 convention on September 4th, 1900 and signed for the 1907 convention on January 26th, 1910, at least according to the PCA website:

http://www.pca-cpa.org/showpage.asp?pag_id=1038

We use FMJ because (1) it's cheaper to manufacture

While it may be cheaper to manufacture, do you have any cite stating that's why we use it? The gov't wastes a lot of money on a lot of stuff . . . I'm just curious if they ever announced that they were going with certain bullets for cost reasons.

You-Two
May 3, 2010, 09:11 AM
I don't know the exact wording of the international treaties governing small arms ammunition, but...

Every time I deploy we are briefed the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) by the JAG and we are informed that it is specifically against the law to use any type of ammunition other than fmj. You are threatened with a UCMJ violation for attempting to bring any personal ammunition with hollowpoints or designed to expand upon impact. This is in accordance with international law on armed conflict...so it really has nothing to do with it being cheaper or we just haven't gotten around to changing yet.

If you have any actual proof that we are allowed to use this...then post it up. The only exception I've heard of is some specs ops, but they don't really fall under the normal rules of armed conflict. As screwed up as the military bureaucracy is, we have well defined laws concerning the type of use for munitions...from simple bullets all the way up to the heavy aerial bombs.

Old Shooter
May 3, 2010, 09:18 AM
So does anybody know why our snipers would be using something inadequate for deer and elk to defend our country?

Because the deer and elk haven't been running around blowing things up?

Tirod
May 3, 2010, 09:20 AM
JAG examined the "hollow point" bullet and came to the view than bullets designed for superior aerodynamics did not fall under the conventions. With that clarification, the Army sourced and fielded hollow points in SW Asia last year.

Spec ops units are not specifically exempt. What is happening is that they are the ones who see the need and are trained enough to exploit the difference, same as snipers.

As for the conventions, I got those same annual briefings for 22 years, and stlll trained on the .50 at every scheduled range day to shoot human targets with it. Oops, I mean the field gear they were wearing.

Please keep in mind the point of the conventions was to reduce human suffering in a day and age when medical science was basically clueless. It's more about the ethics of the situations, not the technical applications, many of which were obsolete before it was signed.

USSR
May 3, 2010, 09:26 AM
There are several posts here that are close to having the answer. First, we are not a signatory to the Hague Convention, BUT, we follow it's rules none-the-less. Second, our sniper ammo for the last 12 years (M118LR) does not contain a FMJ bullet; it uses a Sierra MatchKing 175 grain HPBT bullet. Early on there was controversy about whether using a hollowpoint bullet was prohibited by the Hague Convention, however, when you read the rules, it basically states that "bullets DESIGNED to expand are prohibited". The Sierra MatchKing bullets are hollowpoints merely as a result of inserting the lead core from the front of the bullet jacket and then pointing it closed, and "are not designed to expand". In fact, they do not expand well enough that Sierra does not recommend them for hunting purposes. Hope that helps.

Don

Billy Shears
May 3, 2010, 09:39 AM
You know, I've always been mystified by the prohibition on fragmenting or expanding bullets, and to me, it just demonstrates human irrationality, and the emotionalism of human thinking. They were prohibited because a bunch of people collectively decided these things were too nasty and inhumane, and signed a treaty to forbid them. But then, a whole lot of weapons that provide the target with a much, much nastier way to exit this life are allowed, such as flamethrowers, napalm, poison gas, land mines, white phosphorous grenades, etc. I'd much rather get shot with a hollowpoint than hit with any of these things.

Tirod
May 3, 2010, 09:42 AM
Try http://www.blackfive.net/main/2006/01/army_jag_bans_e.html:

It was decided in the 80's. It was even a poorly informed JAG officer who prompted a controversy that reexamined the practice in Afghanistan.

Specific hollow points are legal to use in combat by US troops. The use by spec ops and snipers is largely because it take training and expertise to exploit the difference in improved effective range.

Troops shooting at targets less than 400m don't have as high a priority, and the supply system has more FMJ in the pipeline than HP anyway.

It's arguable that hollow points are a more humane way to stop an attacker, as the likelihood of them continuing an aggressive action is much reduced when shot. FMJ, not so much, repeated shots are necessary to stop some. Those same bullets often pass through and endanger others in the vicinity.

Get shot once, or shot 5-6 times? Let's not get snarky and ask for volunteers, the point is getting an attacker to stop endangering those around him, bystanders, cops, or soldiers. Hollow points are more effective, and actually more safe for the public as there are less collateral injuries.

Vern Humphrey
May 3, 2010, 09:46 AM
For close combat in an urban setting I would want our military to have expansion unless they had to contend with enemy with body armor or a need to penetrate the walls.
A key characteristic of "urban settings" is that there are a lot of walls.;)

Even in non-urban terrain, the enemy tends to hide behind things -- berms, logs, sandbags, and so on. Penetration is much more important in combat than expansion.

KSCCHTrainer
May 3, 2010, 09:52 AM
Another point to consider: If you severely wound an enemy, you tie up a bunch of people. The medic, the transport personnel to remove him to the field hospital, the hospital personnel to take care of him.

If you kill him, they just leave him lay and no one but the dead combatant has to leave the battlefield - matter of numbers. The more resources you tie up, the more it costs the enemy in time and money as well as personnel.

Only the Chinese appear to have more human resources than anyone else and they seem to have a callous disregard for them.

Tirod
May 3, 2010, 10:04 AM
I'm not sure the wounded insurgents of Afghanistan could look forward to much medical care.

While working as a guard in a specific medical holding area on a tropical island, it was noted by the medical staff that many of the wounds suffered by detainees prior to American care most resembled those of the Civil War.

It seems typical of third world nations to lack the frontline medical facilities we have, and a closer look at the ethics of the insurgent questions whether his chain of command is concerned at all.

earplug
May 3, 2010, 10:35 AM
A long heavy bullet such as used for long range shooting, will start to yaw/tumble when it hits flesh. That long sharp nose cuts allot of tissue while its spinning end for end.
The same effect as the M16's old M193 55 grain bullet, which would also break apart.
The reason why a target style high BC Spitser FMJ bullet is not recommended for hunting is the erratic performance on big game due to the tumbling issue.
A solid round nose will drill a neat straight hole. This is needed for punching holes in heavy bone like Elephant skulls or Cape Buffalo shoulders.

627PCFan
May 3, 2010, 10:59 AM
FMJ is there to make sure that the bullet can make it to the target, through doors, glass, ect. After that, getting hit by the bullet still traveling at that speed is going to do some kind of damage to the target regardless.

Art Eatman
May 3, 2010, 11:13 AM
For the OP: Our military follows the Hague convention, regardless of any signing or lack thereof. No expanding ammo to be used in combat. US government/Pentagon policy.

Police are not necessarily bound by this; it varies with state laws or department policy.

Hunters use expanding bullets for quicker, cleaner kills.

Enough.

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