223 Effectiveness in Combat


PDA






blackops
February 5, 2011, 03:02 AM
Iím hoping some guys with infantry experience will chime in here. I have mixed reports from different fellow marines about the effectiveness of the 223 in combat. Letís just say one guy says itís not enough and the others claim it be effective. Obviously different cartridges are going to be more effective in different fights. Ultimately though, is the 223 an effective majority cartridge for the military? Now isnít the most flourishing financial time for our country, so swapping all the parts out on M4ís and converting to a different cartridge isnít going to happen. Did we make a mistake with the 223? I try to take into account cost, recoil, velocity, energy, and all other factors, still though (in my mind) I think the 223 is a solid choice for a majority infantry cartridge. What say you?

If you enjoyed reading about "223 Effectiveness in Combat" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Gromky
February 5, 2011, 03:50 AM
I try to take into account cost, recoil, velocity, energy, and all other factors, still though (in my mind) I think the 223 is a solid choice for a majority infantry cartridge. What say you?

If it wasn't enough, I think they would change it. And notice specialized soldiers aren't using it. There has been a continuous trend in lowering the firepower of general infantry. .30-06 to .308 to .223. Full auto to select fire only. Making them faster and more responsive tends to be better than trying to make them all snipers.

Sure, there are times when it isn't enough..but it's lightweight, effective against a squishy human, and has virtually no recoil. Notice how infantry holds the rifle in photos or video, they virtually never shoulder it fully, because it's easier to move and clear that way. If they were firing a .30-06 or something more powerful it would be extremely painful.

Deus Machina
February 5, 2011, 04:56 AM
First: This is all speculation from a non-soldier.

IMO, .223 is not what we need right now. It would be just dandy against an organized, civilized, and lightly armored foe that goes to see a medic when they get shot. Not one that keeps shooting until they fall over, liquified organs or no.

The gel tests of .223 look great with the exception that the actual in and out holes are tiny. Our current enemies need larger ventilation. That's why I have no problem with 5.56/.223 for HD with proper JHP ammo.

That said, 5.56 does very well on the recoil side. Which means that--whether or not it actually works out in an actual firefight--a soldier can put a few extra holes into an enemy combatant. Since I've never seen the front lines, I can't say whether or not two or three rounds from an M1 will actually be any better than three or five from an M4. I can say that if something's worth shooting, it's worth shooting again.

Coal Dragger
February 5, 2011, 06:50 AM
My background:

USMC 0351, did one tour in Al Anbar province Iraq for OIF2, earned a CAR. Issue rifle was the M16A4 20" bbl, using issue M855 ball.

The rifle itself was made by FN, and was not as well finished as the older Colt contract M16A2. The trigger was horrible, literally heavier than the rifle kitted out with a PEQ-2, a scout light, sling, optics, and a full magazine. Yuck. Never had any malfunctions though, but I made it a point to keep it clean breaking down shotgun style and pulling the bolt for a scrub down whenever time permitted. Also kept the ejection port cover closed, and used the issued muzzle caps to keep dust out of the bore. Made sure to unload and clean magazines and ammo on a regular basis too.

As for cartridge effectiveness, out of a 20" bbl the M855 seemed to get the job done just fine at reasonable ranges on a point target (you can read into that what you will). Could it have been better if it were a larger, heavier projectile? Absolutely. Would it accomplish what I needed it to if I put the round where it needed to go? Yes. Could the M855 always get to where it needed to go? No, at least not compared to more powerful rounds that penetrate better.

Major shortcomings in my estimation are barrier penetration/effectiveness after penetrating a barrier (not real strong against mud brick), performance against vehicle mechanical/engine (piss poor to nonexistent).

I can't speak for performance out of a shorter 14.5" bbl M4, but losing 5.5" of barrel can't help at all where projectile performance is concerned. Plus the shorter gas system really jacks up bolt carrier velocities and tends to be really hard on bolts, and extractors.

Coal Dragger
February 5, 2011, 06:58 AM
Gromky,

Infantry troops not shouldering the rifle fully has little to do with it being easier to clear or being in too much of a hurry. It has everything to do with it being damn near impossible to get a good shoulder weld when you are wearing body armor with a SAPI plate. The butt stock slides off of the nylon shell material, the plate makes shouldering awkward, and even if you do manage to make the damn thing stay put your length of pull is all jacked up unless you have a neck like a giraffe.

Jed1124
February 5, 2011, 07:13 AM
I have always thought the effectiveness of .223 to be understated. The DC sniper vermin had 13 one shot kills with .223 with FMJ. We have to remember it is not the purpose of the said round to necessarily kill but maim. A dead man requires no assistance where as a wounded man takes others to help him. The Inuit in AK pride themselves in taking all sorts of animals from mountain sheep to caribou with .223 always taking neck shots. I think with the proper round it is perfectly effective for deer but that has been argued many times before. All that being said if the military was going to change I would like to see them go to .243 but that has also been argued before:)

blackops
February 5, 2011, 02:33 PM
First: This is all speculation from a non-soldier.

Yes, this is the boat I'm in. That's why I try to get opinions from guys who have been there and done it already.

Just tough for me to believe this guy saying the cartridge isn't good enough. I don't believe him for other personal reasons though. The other marines I talked to (lets just say seem to have more combat experience) never complain about the cartridge.

FIVETWOSEVEN
February 5, 2011, 02:40 PM
I have always thought the effectiveness of .223 to be understated. The DC sniper vermin had 13 one shot kills with .223 with FMJ. We have to remember it is not the purpose of the said round to necessarily kill but maim. A dead man requires no assistance where as a wounded man takes others to help him. The Inuit in AK pride themselves in taking all sorts of animals from mountain sheep to caribou with .223 always taking neck shots. I think with the proper round it is perfectly effective for deer but that has been argued many times before. All that being said if the military was going to change I would like to see them go to .243 but that has also been argued before

The original purpose was having better control when firing full auto to allow more rounds on target.

Skyshot
February 5, 2011, 03:39 PM
It would be easy to convert all the 5.56 rifles to a 6x47 which IMO would make better choice. That would give more energy with a slightly heavier bullet that should have better penitration. And still carry the same amounts of ammo and use the same mags. thats my 2 cents worth

Grynch31b
February 5, 2011, 03:42 PM
Yes, this is the boat I'm in. That's why I try to get opinions from guys who have been there and done it already.

Just tough for me to believe this guy saying the cartridge isn't good enough. I don't believe him for other personal reasons though. The other marines I talked to (lets just say seem to have more combat experience) never complain about the cartridge.
Efficiency with that round and the purposes behind its employment can be defined many ways.

The M249 is a prime example. It's not meant truly to score 99% of shots fired on any specific target, but, should rather be used as a tool for suppression. As for better control in full auto, when I deployed only the 249's were full auto. Too many soldiers in the past found it easier to empty the mag while only squeezing the trigger once, rather than making controlled bursts.

blackops
February 5, 2011, 04:30 PM
Efficiency with that round and the purposes behind its employment can be defined many ways.

The center of the debate between this guy and myself is, he claims basically that guys over there would get shot and they would just keep coming. I'm sure it's happened and does, but for majority of cases, I just don't believe it or maybe just him.

taliv
February 5, 2011, 04:53 PM
that guys over there would get shot and they would just keep coming.

don't let bad hollywood effects give you unrealistic expectations about reality.

Think about the % of deer that get shot in vital organs with 30-06 or 300winmags and still run 100 yrds before falling over dead.

HorseSoldier
February 5, 2011, 05:21 PM
+1. I've noted before that it was the Rhodesians, shooting bad guys with FALs, who are the first force I'm aware of who made controlled pairs their SOP for all engagements. There are no silver bullets when terminal ballistics are considered, but the bigger trick has always been getting the hit in the first place, hence the trend towards smaller rounds allowing a greater load of ammunition to be carried.

taliv
February 5, 2011, 05:28 PM
though I suppose public educations are as much to blame as hollywood. if kids took enough math and physics to calculate the energy required to knock a 200 lb man off his feet and 6' backwards... theatres would erupt in derisive laughter every time someone fired a handgun

trex1310
February 5, 2011, 05:37 PM
I don't know anything about 'modern' soldiering, but I have seen literally
hundreds of dead VC and NVA soldiers shot with the .223. Anyone that
believes that this round won't kill you is sadly mistaken. It may not be the
best round for the job, but it certainly isn't the worst.

wideym
February 5, 2011, 06:14 PM
From my (limited) combat in Baghdad, I found that shot placement was the key for 9mm, 5.56, and 7.62 (it doesn't really matter for .50BMG though). I've seen haji's run like a scalded dog after being shot with AKs and 240Bs, other times I've seen them drop dead like a sack of potatos after being hit in the arm or leg.

Sometimes they take off after a center of mass hit with an M4, but in every case they stopped fighting and tried to leave the battlefield.

USAF_Vet
February 5, 2011, 06:52 PM
I've got three tours in Iraq under my belt, and when I needed it, the 5.56 NATO round did it's job quite effectively. In all the time I was in the sandbox, I only ever had one direct fire engagement. All rounds were fired in less than 100 foot distances. The majority of those who took rounds died. In my case, it was that simple, I wasn't wishing for more firepower before during or after.

joed
February 5, 2011, 07:06 PM
I used the .223 while in the ARMY in Viet Nam. It worked for what it was designed to do. It could hit a man sized target at reasonable distances and incapacitate them. Didn't have to kill only incapacitate them.

Couldn't tell you how it's working in Iraq with buildings and vehicles.

I've always felt that it worked in jungle warfare OK.

But I am not a fan of the .223, I owned one for a short while and sold it. For varmint hunting it was only good to 300 yards and that was the outer limits. I know it's popular but I see no reason to own one.

blackops
February 5, 2011, 10:46 PM
don't let bad hollywood effects give you unrealistic expectations about reality.

Think about the % of deer that get shot in vital organs with 30-06 or 300winmags and still run 100 yrds before falling over dead.


Point taken.

I have a hard time with the comparison of wild animals to humans though. Comparing where we live, how we live, how we survive, and our physical attributes puts things into perspective. Yeah, I've seen deer shot with big rifles and run 100yds. You honestly believe that if a human takes a 300 win mag in the chest at 100yds he is even making it 40 yds? I guess I'm one of those guys that has to see it to believe it.

With the 223 I can certainly understand taking multiple shots in some few cases (gut shots/limb shots and even then that person is out of the fight), but for the most part, I would imagine two in the chest pretty much ends the person.

Again, not to argue and I have no battlefield experience. I respect all of your opinions.

JQP
February 5, 2011, 11:07 PM
Just my opinion, and they're as common as arseholes, so treat it accordingly, but the 5.56 is not a good general purpose infantry cartridge due to its failure to penetrate and its rapidly diminished ballistic 'goodness' at greater distances, such as those commonly involved in Afghanistan.

5.56 would be far better suited in a more specialized roles than an all-purpose, infantry one.

7.62x51mm NATO would be better all-purpose infantry cartridges, adopted force wide.

For people who think that cartridge is too punishing to fire, I just personally have to wonder about why this is. I don't even think it's too much for a 110 lbs woman who is trained properly.

It seems the military wanted to prioritize getting as much ammunition per person in the field, with as low of a recoil platform as possible, with minimally trained grunts, all set up to be an assembly line infantry-man logistics operation, when they went to the M16.

And I would argue that the rounds expended per enemy KIA speaks volumes about why that strategy has failed.

Our military would be wise to re-'groupthink' its priorities on what takes precedent in modern warfare in the climes we're engaged in, and focus on quality (of marksmanship) and cartridge capability over quantity.

mshootnit
February 5, 2011, 11:27 PM
7.62X51 is too heavy and has too much recoil for modern infantry in full auto. There is no reason going into the fight (expecially against an AK74) with just over half the ammo the enemy is carrying. The M14 was simply uncontrollable by the common soldier in full auto. There is a place for 7.62X51, 5.56, and 7.92X33 (or some such) in every squad. Any increase in diameter of the bullet would have to be minor. There were a pair of soldiers in WWII that cleared out a German barracks killing over 50 men with a Thompson. There is value in controllable full auto.

RockyMtnTactical
February 5, 2011, 11:32 PM
5.56 works just fine. It's not perfect, but no round is, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

It makes for a great all purpose infantry round. All that I keep hearing from guys heading over to the middle east is this, it's plenty good in Iraq, it's a little lacking in Afghanistan. In other words, good for closer ranges, which it was intended for, not as good for long ranges... DUH!

It's all about shot placement. People who get shot in the right place don't take many shots and usually don't get up for long, if at all...

Also, don't confuse hunting deer with shooting BG's. It's a totally different ball game, and a totally different animal, so trying to make the comparison is like apples and oranges.

THE DRILL INSTRUCTOR
February 5, 2011, 11:42 PM
2010 tour in Afghanistan with the Army, Parwan province, Kohi Safi district. 11B/11C. Awarded CIB.

We were in almost two dozen engagements, mostly at night, and all at over 300 meters. We never recovered a single body.

Night shooting is difficult; especially at range. Mostly our small arms functioned as supplementary suppressive weapons while we shifted over the 120mm or 60mm mortars.

In my situation, would a larger caliber have helped score some kills? probably not. Mortars were the king in our fight, but the baddies were usually out of RPGs and running before we could drop rounds on them. And pursuit at night, in the middle of injun-country, with no CAS, isn't happening.

I believe the 5.56 is fine for CQB, urban fighting, and other heavy infantry roles. If you're stuck on a 10000 sq. ft. patrol base like I was and not allowed to patrol beyond the range of the mortars, it's also fine because you're relying on much bigger guns when the baddies are more than 300 meters out.

That said, if you're recon, special forces, or anyone else who can't bring arty or have CAS on station 24/7, you have to have a caliber that can reach out and really touch someone; and on a very accurate platform. I think fielding a free-floated piston upper with a chrome bolt, 20" fluted barrel, and a 6.8 or 6.5 chamber would really help those guys who are on the truly pointy end with no backup.

JQP
February 5, 2011, 11:48 PM
7.62X51 is too heavy and has too much recoil for modern infantry in full auto. There is no reason going into the fight (expecially against an AK74) with just over half the ammo the enemy is carrying. The M14 was simply uncontrollable by the common soldier in full auto. There is a place for 7.62X51, 5.56, and 7.92X33 (or some such) in every squad. Any increase in diameter of the bullet would have to be minor. There were a pair of soldiers in WWII that cleared out a German barracks killing over 50 men with a Thompson. There is value in controllable full auto.

And the U.S. has gone away from full auto for grunts, as they've learned that even in light recoiling platforms, it's a wasteful and inefficient tactic. Hell, even three round burst strings are no longer warmly endorsed.

The M14 was a heavy and less ergonomic rifle than the M16/M4, but the cartridge is superior.

With proper marksmanship skills, complete and competent infantry tactics taught, and combined force methods employed, half the ammo that does a much better job, can be far more efficient than the twice the ammunition of a lesser round carried.

Leave the full auto for the designated SAW man.

crossrhodes
February 5, 2011, 11:56 PM
This is just a theory, an observation, if you will. During development stage of the M16 and the 5.56 our adversaries at the time didn't have body armor or conventional battle rattle of today. So the the 5.56, 55gr and a slow twist rate had a devastating effect on the human body, as a matter of fact the Vietcong called it the Black rifle of death. Now jump 20 years and now the Cold War is hot and heavy and our potential adversaries have conventional gear, like flak jackets and helmets. So we develop a round that is heavier, penetrator and a faster twist rate. Now jump another 20 years and and the bad guys don't have the conventional gear and the green tip is punching through them and not having the effect that the Vietnam error ammo had, hence the new round now being issued. I'm referring to the 20 inch barrel and don't want to get into the 14.5 M4 ballistics discussion...a whole different subject. Like I said, just a theory.

hso
February 6, 2011, 12:03 AM
Anecdotal reports here aren't going to provide any better than your face to face anecdotes loving or hating on the rifle/round.

The question of whether the system is effective depends upon the application and whether anyone is collecting objective data to analyze. I do know that the military small arms engineers are doing this, but whether a change takes place or not depends upon those additional financial factors you pointed out.

JASmith
February 6, 2011, 12:16 AM
I've been following the 5.56 NATO debate for a long time. When I served in Vietnam, I was too naive to intelligently question its effectiveness , but a lot of my buddies opted for the AK47 and other firearms when they could. How much of this was because "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" I'll never know.

I did, however, recently spend a bit of time researching the question of "What cartridge would make a sensible replacement for both the 5.56 mm NATO and the 7.62X51 NATO cartridges. The resulting story, complete with a fair bit of analysis is at http://shootersnotes.com/battle-rifle-cartridge/.

I hope the information there helps inform this discussion and would be pleased to hear comments and clarify any fuzzy points.

blackops
February 6, 2011, 12:31 AM
As for moving to the 7.62x51, simply put, no. Empty a 20 round clip of both 100 meters on target. How many hit the target and what rifle is emptied first should end that debate. Not to mention all the extra weight that would have to be carried from the ammo to the rifle.

Even if the government had the funds to change cartridges, what cartridge? I mean lets really think about this. You can't just change cartridges every year for 500,000 people. It has to be versatile, light, cost effective, high velocity, etc etc.

Double Naught Spy
February 6, 2011, 12:57 AM
We have to remember it is not the purpose of the said round to necessarily kill but maim.

Really? You are going to have to produce the cartridge design drawings that indicate this or the military contract stipulating that they wanted a cartridge for that purpose. Otherwise, the development seems to be based on having a small caliber high velocity cartridge that would effectively kill out to 300 yards as that was the distance stipulated based on Korean War engagment distances, an beng fired from a rifle weighing less than 7 lbs. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m16-history.htm

A dead man requires no assistance where as a wounded man takes others to help him.
While this is often claimed to be the case, the cartridge was not developed for that purpose. They main problem with the claim is that it is based on US soldier performance and perspective. Since Korea, a lot of our enemies don't seem to care too much about their battlefield wounded and aren't terribly apt to risk the lives of unharmed soldiers to retrieve wounded soldiers. This scheme seems to work for our opposition shooting our people much better than the other way around.

I don't know anything about 'modern' soldiering, but I have seen literally
hundreds of dead VC and NVA soldiers shot with the .223.

Lots of dead enemy doesn't necessarily mean that the round is effective. If it takes several rounds on target to do the job, then the round really may not be effective. I am not saying that it didn't do the job, just that the body count criterion isn't conclusive proof because we don't know how many times the dead opposition had to be hit to produce the kills.

Anyone that believes that this round won't kill you is sadly mistaken. It may not be the best round for the job, but it certainly isn't the worst.

I can't say that I have ever heard anyone claim that the round would not kill, so I don't think anyone is mistaken on that aspect. The concern is your following sentence. Just how good of a round is it to do the job effectively?

jmr40
February 6, 2011, 01:06 AM
No round is perfect for every application. There have been cases where the 223 round did not get the job done when a larger caliber and heavier bullet might have worked. Maybe not. Let's just issue 50 BMG rifles to everyone.

I still think we would have filled more body bags in the last 50 years if we had stayed with the 308. Folks who complain about the 223 effectivness don't seem to want to talk about all the German, Japanese, Italian, Chinese and North Korean soldiers who did not stop fighting after being hit with 30-06 or 308 rounds. Or the numerous American soldiers who continued to fight after being hit with much larger rounds.

There is something to be said for soldiers being to carry twice as much ammo and using it in a lighter, more shootable platform. Hitting what you are aiming for doesn't hurt either.

JAV8000
February 6, 2011, 01:44 AM
Our military rides on the doctrine that more rounds downrange is better. 5.56 NATO gives a soldier the ability to carry A LOT more ammunition than if he carried 7.62 NATO. We are trained to deliver fast, accurate controlled pairs (the politically correct way of saying double tap) to COM. Im personally content with the M4 as a the rifleman's standard issue weapon. I think the answer for the 7.62 NATO question is that we need to continue improving and enlarging the designated marksman program for reaching out past 300m. In my current platoon, every squad has a designated marksman.....though this is a brand new practice. We'll see how it goes if you know what I mean.

Tim the student
February 6, 2011, 02:02 AM
IME, in a nutshell, is that sometimes it works very well, sometimes it doesn't. A great COM controlled pair may kill someone immediately, and other times a great COM pair will need a couple more just to drop them. Usually it works ok, but certainly not always.

Some guys are just hard to kill, or were dead on their feet - but their bodies didn't realize it yet.

Maybe some are just lucky, and had all the variables fall their way. Who knows?

It isn't a magic man killer, but it isn't a .22 short either.

blackops
February 6, 2011, 02:51 AM
I should of made a dang poll out of this!!!

Shadow 7D
February 6, 2011, 03:20 AM
Oh, Tim, Please tell me you didn't just say...

Shot placement counts...

Personally, haven't shot alot of other 'military' semi's, I prefer a M-4 over a AK (ergo, I can hit what I aim at etc.) and the other 'battle' rifles I have shot, but then hell I was just a medic, and the only GSW I was involved with was a .50, Oh, and he lived.

laguna0seca
February 6, 2011, 03:35 AM
When I deployed to Afghanistan, we had so much weight on us we couldn't have handled another ounce, and you can carry a lot more 5.56 than you can 7.62. And as I have said before, in combat type scenarios, your ammo will disappear a lot quicker than you think it will. I want as much ammo as I can take, that doesn't mean I advocate switching the military to .22LR, but I think the advantages of 5.56 outweigh the advantages of heavier, albeit more powerful rounds.

Al Thompson
February 6, 2011, 08:31 AM
IME, one big issue is simply the use of FMJ ammo. The MK318 and other developments may be a game changer for the M4/M16 platforms.

JASmith
February 6, 2011, 09:22 AM
Our military rides on the doctrine that more rounds downrange is better...

Many active and veteran soldiers agree that the 5.56 is plenty adequate for its intended mission. More rounds downrange is part of the story.

Part of the reason for adopting and continuing to use a less than adequate round is the combined arms doctrine. In this model, most of the killing is done by aircraft and artillery fire. The rifle was, and still is, usually seen as a last-ditch defense weapon. In this mode, the 5.56 nicely satisfies that requirement.

Yes, my prejudice shows. I do believe the viewpoint is in line with many experiences from the current conflict. While many have felt well-served by the 5.56, their experience is mostly at close quarters. There is, however, a significant fraction of soldiers who have had to routinely engage at ranges of several hundred meters.

These longer range engagements have reinvigorated the debate.

There are several cartridges capable of functioning on the AR15 style platform, have comparable ammunition loads and that have good lethality out to 600 - 1000 meters. They already exist or are readily designed and develop. Not technology breakthrough is needed to field them -- just the political will.

Hangingrock
February 6, 2011, 09:30 AM
I was there for the transition between the M14 and M16. My job wasn’t a shooter. I was part of a FO/AO team. The M16 transition wasn’t with out its bumps in the road. There was a strong preference for the M14 by those that had experience with them. For those that only had experience with the M16 they couldn’t articulate the difference.

The majority of casualties inflicted on the NVA were from artillery that’s not to say small arms did not inflict casualties.

If there was a difference in combat effectiveness between the M14 and M16 I couldn’t say. I’ll say this no matter the rifle there are times and circumstances where infantry survival is determined by leadership and supporting arms more so than the issued rifle.

pacpiper
February 6, 2011, 09:37 AM
If you injure a soldier with a lighter caliber .223 then in theory you have the potential to take another soldier out of combat to assist with that injured soldier therefore taking 2 out of the picture.

JASmith
February 6, 2011, 10:01 AM
If you injure a soldier with a lighter caliber .223 then in theory you have the potential to take another soldier out of combat to assist with that injured soldier therefore taking 2 out of the picture.
True --

The problem is that the reason we shoot to hit the other guy is to stop him from what he is trying to do to you.

Merely wounding, even mortally, doesn't necessarily stop the bad guy quickly enough. Hence the interest in larger and more capable ammunition.

Tirod
February 6, 2011, 10:20 AM
Too many misconceptions are cluttering this discussion.

1) Major shortcomings in my estimation are barrier penetration/effectiveness after penetrating a barrier (not real strong against mud brick), performance against vehicle mechanical/engine (piss poor to nonexistent).
NO CURRENT ISSUE WEAPON short of the .50 BMG will do this. It's a major indicator someone doesn't understand ballistic capabilities of shoulder fired weapons. The expectation is completely unrealistic.

2) If you injure a soldier with a lighter caliber .223 then in theory you have the potential to take another soldier out of combat to assist with that injured soldier therefore taking 2 out of the picture. It's a theory, in reality, it's about incapacitation. A center of mass hit does that out to 500m whether it's 5.56 or 7.62. You do not have to anchor them dead right there, just take away their will or ability to keep fighting. Since so many SWAsia insurgents have narcotics freely available to them to use, don't confuse their lack of a response to gunfire, and don't expect them be much different if a larger caliber is used. That's a fact long proven over the last two World Wars, a myopic view of current events lacks historical perspective.

3) Just my opinion, and they're as common as arseholes, so treat it accordingly, but the 5.56 is not a good general purpose infantry cartridge due to its failure to penetrate and its rapidly diminished ballistic 'goodness' at greater distances, such as those commonly involved in Afghanistan. Penetration has been addressed, the "long range war" overseas doesn't really exist except in the minds of the few who take the exceptional incident out of context. In the big picture, IED's are still a significant major problem, engagements are ambushes long planned to take advantage of static situations, and the so called long range weapons are equally opposed by ours. It's another indicator someone doesn't have a clue about what the Army can bring to bear on a fight, 7.62 is in the field now, and crewed served weapons didn't get left at home.

Our 5.56 outranges their X39 by an effective 200m, it's no wonder they are standing off with larger calibers, or attempting to stack the deck with numerical superiority. Even then, the hit ratios are still dramatically in our favor.

What some are saying is a 5.56 platform with optic used by an armored soldier is somehow inferior at dropping a barefoot insurgent who has to get inside your effective range and still put rounds on target accurately. Really? Going to pick up your cell after you dropped it where? :rolleyes:

The initial premise is based on flawed assumptions, which ranks right there with TEOTWAWKI.

Redlg155
February 6, 2011, 10:28 AM
If you have ever seen the actual penetrator in a 5.56 round, you would be amazed at how hard the thing is. Being a former army guy armed with a gerber tool and too much time on an observation post, you get curious. It's a wonder that these do anything other than zip right through the enemy.

However, wounding an enemy can have a demoralizing effect as well as taxing the financial abilities of the enemy. Antibiotics, surgical supplies and dressings are extremely expensive.
Of course the enemy probably realizes that leaving a seriously wounded comrade on the battlefield is smarter since we will give them the best treatment on our dime. It won't be long before they learn to use our civil court system to sue the soldier who shot them, knowing that grevious injuries were a more likely outcome, therefore limiting the wage earning ability of the victim.

onebigelf
February 6, 2011, 11:34 AM
In My Opinion.

I thought I'd start that way along with the disclaimer that my observations are those of a squid and historian, not a combat operator.

I believe that the choice has a lot to do with a change in doctrine. Up through Korea, troops were riflemen who's purpose was to kill the enemy. I would contend that that has changed. Our doctrine is now built around maneuver and fire to fix the enemy in place so that we can hammer him with artillery and air support. Thus the use of weaponry that is designed around carrying large quantities of ammunition so that we can pin the enemy down with high volume fire. The problem with combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan is that the war portion of the combat has been declared over, so now we must be restrained in our use of overwhelming force. Our equipment and tactics aren't really designed for that.

John

JASmith
February 6, 2011, 11:49 AM
Onebigelf,

Very nicely stated!

You have also pointed out that our current conflict is different -- and can be characterized by Rupert Smith's "War Among the People." In this world, the combatant is more like a police officer, paramedic, repairman, construction specialist, etc. all rolled up into one.

Our adversaries know this and use their countrymen as shields, tempting us to use our superior firepower. When we do -- they win the propaganda skirmish!

Hence the need for proliferating longer range rifles capable of dealing with individuals and not simply suppressive fire that kills and wounds large numbers of people.

Not many have tumbled to that difference and I am relieved to see that you are saying it with different words than me -- it helps folks understand better!

AR27
February 6, 2011, 12:49 PM
None of you has mentioned the real problem in Afghanistan! The "enemy" is HIGH AS A GOD DAMN KITE! They are all mostly using enough heroin to kill a small horse, most of the time they dont go down because they dont even know there hit! Every time we searched some of the bodies after we smoke checked them they had empty seringes and dishka on them to, I have seen it take about ten rounds to drop some of those hajis. Others would go down after a single round, I assume they were the sober ones who dont act like the god damn terminator.


USMC Infantry Helmad Province

jaimeshawn3
February 6, 2011, 01:02 PM
I hate guys that make threads that go sideways,
but it seems to be true that you always become what you hate most.

On issues that are unknowable, like forecasts of the future...
(or optimal battle cartridge) you can use a technique called the
oracle of dephi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi_method
Basically, you poll, and repoll,
and the average answer is the best answer you are likely to get.
When I was much younger, I saw it used to good effect to answer a tough question.

OTOH the theives and idiots we have in DC are a pretty strong argument against
the 'average' opinion.

Polar Express
February 6, 2011, 02:13 PM
When I see threads of this nature, I usually spend the time to read through them, and usually I learn a few things. This one is no different, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts on the issue.

I'm not a soldier, and I never have been. I'm grateful to those who have served, and at 36 now, that is one thing in life I wish I had done differently, and that is served in our military. I still am blessed to be able to serve on a different level, here at home, in the Fire Department.

From what I have read here, and in other threads, and in other discussions I have had, is that there is not 'one' reason, for why one is better than others, or worse. All cartridges and platforms have their pros and cons. And, this discussion/argument/decision has many facets to it, and they all must be taken into account, and weighed in order to make a decision. (sometimes that decision may be to stick with the status quo)

Here are some of the 'considerations' that are present, (that I can see), and in no particular order. I'm sure there are others, and I'd like to read them if others feel like adding more suggestions:

1) $$ - our armed forces are HUGE, and the cost to change calibers/platforms across a major group would be enormous

2) public perception - as others have written more eloquently, the 'propaganda' portion of said 'conflict'

3) political agenda - what are the purpose(s) that the USA is present for? (this is a debate in itself, I understand)

4) military goal (macro) - from a 'big-picture' scheme, or strategy. what is the goal? This can be tied to the political agenda, but not necessarily. (example: control or pacify?)

5) military goal (micro) - on a small scale, what techniques are being employed to accomplish the 'big picture' goal? (example: wound or kill?)

6) opponent - who is the opponent? This also can be broken down to include their values, theological beliefs, lifestyle, equipment, (and nutritional and medical conditions), as well as cultural tendencies (do they use PEDs, or mind-altering substances?)

7) location/environment - what is the terrain, distance from supply lines for both parties involved, how well they know the terrain, how well we know the terrain, is there jungle, desert, water, mountains, climate, etc....

8) selfishness/corruption - does some politician's brother-in-law own a munitions plant and get awarded a new contract, if a platform is retained, updated, replaced, etc.?

9) historical statistics - some argue that more rounds down range statistically 'wins' an exchange. Others will argue that fewer rounds, placed more accurately with that make bigger holes will prevail. There are lots of 'studies' out there, depending on which one supports what your emotions want to believe.

10) training/development - The US armed forces is a large and diverse group, made up of people of all shapes and sizes, as well as varying experience levels. The ideal platform will be designed to make it easy for brand new shooters to become proficient easily, and quickly, and be adaptable for different people, skill levels, environments and goals.

11) commitment - how committed are we? How committed is our population, our leaders, our media, our military to a designated outcome? To what length are we willing to go to to accomplish said goal? How committed is our opponent?



Well, I'm sure there are more facets to the equation, but those are some of the big ones that I can come up with. Each issue is it's own debate/discussion, and there are lot of folks out there and on this forum who have more personal experience with each of the issues. This is a debate that will always be present, because there are just so many options out there. The concept "my mind, any gun" actually comes into the discussion. Given different scenarios, different platforms, techniques and cartridges will work better than others, but having multiple platforms to use has its own problems associated with it.

Just my thoughts,

PE

blackops
February 6, 2011, 02:26 PM
None of you has mentioned the real problem in Afghanistan! The "enemy" is HIGH AS A GOD DAMN KITE! They are all mostly using enough heroin to kill a small horse, most of the time they dont go down because they dont even know there hit! Every time we searched some of the bodies after we smoke checked them they had empty seringes and dishka on them to, I have seen it take about ten rounds to drop some of those hajis. Others would go down after a single round, I assume they were the sober ones who dont act like the god damn terminator.

Honestly, I didn't realize the hajis are shooting up!! I don't think the cartridge really is going to make a difference (unless you go to 50bmg, 416bar, 408chey, etc) if guys are going to shoot up, placement (head shots) will have more effect.

This is a heated debate that could go back and forth. I think some people need to take into account all the elements of the equation though. One round that has to rule majority for infantry. Has to cover all applications, ranges, carry capability, weight, velocity, energy, accuracy, recoil, the most amount of shots able to put on target down range, cost etc etc. Of course not one round is best for all the above mentioned, but one round HAS to be carried by majority, so which round covers all the best.

HorseSoldier
February 6, 2011, 04:36 PM
Yes, my prejudice shows. I do believe the viewpoint is in line with many experiences from the current conflict. While many have felt well-served by the 5.56, their experience is mostly at close quarters. There is, however, a significant fraction of soldiers who have had to routinely engage at ranges of several hundred meters.

These longer range engagements have reinvigorated the debate.


A huge part of the problem is that said debate is garbage-in/garbage-out for the most part. The odds of being able to do BDA, much less forensic reconstruction of who shot who (or at who) from what range and what happened, are so extremely low that the data set basically just does not exist. The number of times any given soldier or marine can positively ID and engage a bad guy with his/her long gun at ranges past, say 300 meters, and even personally observe what they think happened is also pretty low.

So the "debate" is just a lot of navel gazing spiced up with anecdotes where we honestly don't know if the guys quoted from over across the water ever even hit the target.

bubba in ca
February 6, 2011, 08:54 PM
As a general battle rifle caliber, the 556 has always been a little week on distance and penetration. Why did it take till Afghanistan to figure it out?

The m16 did not go into battle alone. For example, in Vietnam, if we went out in a patrol of 7 men, 5 had m16s, 1 had a blooper (grenade launcher) and one had an m60 which fires 7.62. One or more m16 troops were also carrying ammo for the m60. Put together, the 3 weapons tended to handle the immediate situation.

556 is great for jungle, on/inside vehicles, urban, on-base, etc. In the wide open spaces you need something a little beefier, although as others have pointed out, it is often mortars or other fragmentation weapons to cover the distance shots.

JDMorris
February 6, 2011, 09:04 PM
.223 is not the problem.. FMJ, however is..
I don't see why people feel we need to use FMJ to be humane, against people, who.
Attack from red cresent vehicles.
Plant roadside bombs.
And kill innocent people..
I think it would be more than fair to use an expanding 65 grain bullet..
Although, it is aloud in OTM or open tip match form, if I'm correct, maybe they should use those in the .223's.

Mags
February 6, 2011, 09:08 PM
Look at the SOST round, I don't know if the average grunt gets it or if it is for specops only but it is a good round. Also we mostly use M855 62 grain steel core in the USAF state side.

Float Pilot
February 6, 2011, 10:05 PM
A huge part of the problem is that said debate is garbage-in/garbage-out for the most part. The odds of being able to do BDA, much less forensic reconstruction of who shot who (or at who) from what range and what happened, are so extremely low that the data set basically just does not exist

Horse Solider was dead-on with that comment.

Most of the time you just do not know what happened to the target you are engaging, if the engagement is at any range. Even if you do find bodies, was it your shot or somebody-else's shot that created a certain wound?

Plus, it was not like we had various weapons in various calibers in order to have a comparison.

A study of police and civilian incident shootings is more informative, because those incidents are examined.
In a combat area most folks have other things to worry about. And the few of us old timers who had an interest in wounds and barrier penetration were looked upon as somewhat odd and morbid.

With proper shot placement the 5.56 works within it's intended range envelope.

crossrhodes
February 6, 2011, 10:33 PM
I agree with an earlier poster. I think the SOST round is going to be a game changer, either way it's an improvement. That said, I would stick with the 556 and carry more ammo. 308 effective but those magazines are heavy, 6.8 by ballistics tables pretty much drops off after 400 yards to that of the 556. But I'm just a retired old grunt and just used what they gave me. Just my 2 cents before taxes.

henschman
February 6, 2011, 11:57 PM
Every round that has ever been fielded has been a compromise.

In the 1920s, The U.S. Military was all set to replace the "outdated" .30-06, which was optimized for a long-action bolt rifle, with the .276 Pedersen. This was the round the new M-1 service rifle was originally designed for, by John Garand. The .276 outperformed the .30-06 in just about every way. If it had been adopted, the M-1 would have been a lighter, higher capacity, lower recoiling rifle with a longer max effective range and equal or better terminal ballistics at most ranges. But the Great Depression, and irrational bias toward a "thurty-cal" round by the military brass, ended that project, and the M-1 was re-designed for the larger, older round. It was (and is) one of the most effective battle rifles ever made, but it still could have been better.

The U.S. military (and all of NATO) was all set to go to a more advanced round along the lines of the .276 Pedersen after WWII for it's new service rifle... the British .280 was also being considered... but we ended up with the 7.62x51 mostly because it had the same trajectory as .30-06. It was decided that it would be too much trouble to have to train the troops for a different trajectory round for long range shooting. Also, the same irrational, phallic bias toward large calibers among the top brass prevailed. And as the U.S. went, so went all of NATO and we got the 7.62 NATO... a round that was only a marginal improvement over the .30-06, it's only advantage being that it fit in a slightly shorter action, and allowed for a lighter rifle. It had none of the advantages offered by a 6.5-7mm round, such as lower ballistic coefficient, flatter trajectory, lower recoil, lighter weight, and superior terminal ballistics at most ranges.

Then a new generation of knuckleheads emerged at the Pentagon, and they reached the conclusion that "more rounds in the air equals more casualties." Too bad Jeff Cooper wasn't there to tell them that firepower isn't how many rounds you put downrange in a given time -- firepower is how many rounds you put ON TARGET in a given time. But anyway, it was decided that spray and pray was going to be the winning infantry strategy for the Cold War, for infantry likely to be outnumbered and fighting a close range point defense and/or withdrawal action against the communist hordes in Europe.

The new service round needed to be optimized for low recoil fully automatic fire... enter the 5.56x45. Unfortunately, after our experience in the Vietnam Police Action, it was discovered that "spray and pray" actually WASN'T an effective combat strategy, even with a nearly recoilless .22 round, and that troops were expending extremely high amounts of ammo for each kill. So they took away the military's full auto trigger groups. Now, troops are not even trained to use their 3-round burst setting, and almost all shooting is done in semi automatic.

The 5.56 seems to be effective at close range... it relies on velocity for its lethality. It was designed to be low-recoil so it could be effective with full-auto firepower, but the low recoil also makes it good for close quarters. It really leaves something to be desired for shooting at distances past 300m, though... 5.56 ball ammo really gets carried away in the wind, and it is not particularly ballistically effective past that distance. The new longer, heavier .22 cal rounds like the SOST are better in these regards, but that long bullet still doesn't have a great ballistic coefficient, and is wind-sensitive compared to a heavier bullet.

I think the optimal battle rifle cartridge, to replace both the 5.56x45 and 7.62x51, is something like what we should have gone with in the first place... something like the .270 Pedersen or .280 British. Something in the 6.5-7mm range with a moderate powder charge behind it. A round like this could serve well for close quarters, since it could be put in a reasonably light package and would be lower recoil than a .30 cal battle rifle, but it would have a much longer max effective range than the 5.56. It would be more wind-resistant and flatter shooting than the 7.62x51, and it should have great penetration and terminal ballistics. It would be a great light machine gun round, because it would be a good combination of light recoil and long range.

Being that we don't know what type of conflicts our troops will be involved in in the future, it would make sense for the service round to be a good all-around cartridge that can perform well in a variety of situations. I think a round like this would be about the closest thing to a "do it all" round that we could hope for.

Double Naught Spy
February 7, 2011, 12:24 AM
If you injure a soldier with a lighter caliber .223 then in theory you have the potential to take another soldier out of combat to assist with that injured soldier therefore taking 2 out of the picture.

If the US military actually believed this to be true and effective, then they would have gone with a less powerful/destructive round.

Rocketmedic
February 7, 2011, 01:10 AM
Its enough. On the good side, its very controllable, very accurate, and light enough to carry a lot of.

On the other hand, it isn't impressive in terms of energy transfer. I shot an insurgent in the spine (OIF 2010, Hawijah District, Iraq), and mortally wounded him with immediate incapacitation. However, when our RTO shot a dog in the face at point-blank range, the thing lived (still alive now, as far as I know, despite large exit wound in the chest).

5.56 is an icepick. Shot placement is everything. A 6.5 would be nice, or even 7.62x51 or 39 or something.

dacavasi
February 7, 2011, 01:16 AM
I say 'NO'. We should have a 6.5 minimum and there is absolutely no reason not to adopt 7.62 NATO, except for "all the above"....

TexasPatriot.308
February 7, 2011, 01:34 AM
a 57 year old vet says M14, .308 all the way. in todays military, cant see why quick ammo resupply wont make ammo availability an issue. 5.56, claw hammer. .308, sledge hammer. I always liked the sledge hammer.

Tirod
February 7, 2011, 09:57 AM
Still more misconceptions.

The intermediate caliber rifle in full auto was developed specifically because there was good data to obtain, and it does exist. The point was that aimed fire actually didn't seem to give results equal to the cost in time, training, ammo, and sustainment at home station. If you want riflemen to get close to sniper quality, that means going from four times a year, at best, with the M4, to four times a week. Add in all the other familiarization, tactics training, four weeks vacation, it's not going to happen now, and didn't then.

Infantry Riflemen aren't snipers anyway. And they do have other weapons they use, M249's, grenades, grenade launchers, rockets, etc. What's again flawed is thinking all there is are M4's. Wrong.

Whether now or using '03 Springfields, the existing battlefield studies showed more bullets flying in the air meant they hit more enemy. DRT or wounded, it impacts their fighting ability right then and there. They cannot defend themselves or prevent the opposing force doing whatever the mission stated.

The perspective is wrong, they don't need to survive long enough to get their medical help, if it exists at all, they need to live long enough to get OURS. And we give it.

To fire more rounds means carrying more ammo, and since it doesn't need to kill them outright - and .303, .30-06, 8mm Mauser, 6.5, etc does NOT guarantee it, why not reduce the power enough to double the amount carried? It then gives a 50% improvement in hit probability per soldier. As long as it's powerful enough to control out to 500m, it's good to go.

8mm Kurz, 7.62X39, and the others developed in the '30's and '40's may have been compromised by manufacturing concerns - using the existing larger caliber meant no retooling costs. It also meant it didn't make too much difference, either, the results were still acceptable.

We showed up with our version of the high speed smaller caliber because we could afford it, it was well established in the existing studies, and a flatter shooting round made the soldier less inaccurate. He then needed even less training and had more confidence.

Ballistic selection isn't a dry choice of which looks better on paper, despite the numerous arguments online about which is (marginally) better (at some different task.) Battlefield studies and experienced soldiers examining conflict look at bigger issues than a few hundreds increase in bullet diameter, or what length case. They start at the OTHER end, what results do they need, and work backward. They don't focus solely on one weapon, they include ALL the weapons used in the company, NOT JUST A 2 MAN TEAM.

That's where the biggest misconception exists in these posts, most are looking from the wrong end of the scope, so to speak.

JASmith
February 7, 2011, 10:02 AM
Horse Solider was dead-on with that comment.
...With proper shot placement the 5.56 works within it's intended range envelope.

This is the core of the debate! Folks tend to forget that the 5.56 NATO was intended to be no more than a 300 meter weapon with a 20-inch barrel. Going to the M4 with its 14-inch barrel cut the effective range in about half when using the 62 grain green-tip bullet.

As much as I would like to see a new cartridge replacing perhaps both, folks would be very well served with a more capable mix at the squad-level. In addition to the currently assigned indirect fire weapons, each squad should be equipped with a 5.56 with scoped 20" barrel and using MK262 ammunition and a scoped 7.62X51. Let the semi-annual qualification shoots determine who gets what. The top shots get additional training and practice sessions.

JASmith
February 7, 2011, 10:16 AM
Still more misconceptions.
...They don't focus solely on one weapon, they include ALL the weapons used in the company, NOT JUST A 2 MAN TEAM.

That's where the biggest misconception exists in these posts, most are looking from the wrong end of the scope, so to speak.

Points are well taken. My middle son is currently in a Civil Affairs unit and spent a year in Iraq as part of a MiTT. Both of these missions meant operating somewhat outside the bubble of combined arms.

The Civil Affairs activities tend to be even more isolated because they need to work with the people, gain their trust, and ensure the folks get the assistance they need.

There are other examples of isolated squad-level units operating in a more or less independent role. What weapons mix makes the most sense for them?

Bottom line -- the 5.56, mixed with the other current squad weapons, works very well MOST of the time in the intended major combat mode. Once we had troops in Baghdad, however, the mode of operation changed. It became "war among the people" with a whole different set of ground rules. We forgot (or could not) change our equipment and training -- which set the conditions for this very lively debate!

Cheers!

HorseSoldier
February 7, 2011, 11:52 AM
This is the core of the debate! Folks tend to forget that the 5.56 NATO was intended to be no more than a 300 meter weapon with a 20-inch barrel. Going to the M4 with its 14-inch barrel cut the effective range in about half when using the 62 grain green-tip bullet.

I can't say that this has been my experience. On an M4 with an ACOG shooting steel chest plates at unknown distances I could routinely score hits out to 600 meters with good consistency (and I'm not saying I'm the best shot on the planet -- that was pretty standard performance for any reasonably competent shooter if you give them some time and ammo to get the hang of it). Doesn't mean I ever saw a bad guy in the real world at 600 meters and scored hits, but I know the weapon is entirely capable of it. (And I should note that I've some guys messing around with a ballistic program on a PDA, a mil-dot scope, Mk262 and a 10.5" upper make hits right out at about 1000 meters, just to see if it could be done.)

The bigger problem with shooting M4s at that range has nothing to do with the barrel length of the weapon involved, it's with shooting green tip. The round varies in terms of slop from lot to lot, but it can be as much as a 4 MOA round easily due to the complex manufacture of the round. With Mk262 hits out to 600 were boringly easy. With 855 you'd get a decent number of shots where you were pretty certain you'd done it all right and still get no indication of a hit or even splash showing the round hitting short.

We can debate the terminal ballistics on 5.56mm at 600 meters, and if we start the bullet-fragmentation crowd will be along presently with power point slides and all, but realistically I have no doubt that if I put a 5.56mm round into someone's thoracic cavity at 600 meters the end result is going to be penetrating trauma that will ultimately kill or incapacitate them, and will likely take them out of the fight by prompting them to sit down, wheeze for breath, and reflect on the life decisions that led them to be shot on some mountain side in Absurdistan or whatever.

JASmith
February 7, 2011, 12:12 PM
I can't say that this has been my experience. On an M4 with an ACOG shooting steel chest plates at unknown distances I could routinely score hits out to 600 meters with good consistency...The bigger problem with shooting M4s at that range has nothing to do with the barrel length of the weapon involved, it's with shooting green tip...
Yes, barrel length is not a particularly important factor in the ability to hit.

It is, however, an important factor in muzzle velocity -- especially as the barrel gets shortened significantly as in the M4. That reduction in muzzle velocity decreases the distance at which the green tip round tumbles and fragments the way it is intended.

As far as on-target effectiveness at 600 meters is concerned, the 62 gr bullet has slowed to about 1300 ft/sec. This gives it at best the effectiveness of a .22 Long Rifle round that doesn't expand. This partly explains some of the claims about Taliban shrugging off hits. They're likely gonna die, but they don't know it yet and it will take more time than we would be comfortable with...

Yes the MK262 makes a big difference!

Mags
February 7, 2011, 12:19 PM
As far as on-target effectiveness at 600 meters is concerned, the 62 gr bullet has slowed to about 1300 ft/sec. This gives it at best the effectiveness of a .22 Long Rifle round that doesn't expand 147 grain 7.62 is moving at 1796 at 500 yards, not much improvement also keep in mind the 147 M80 is a ball round also. The 62 grain is moving at 1636 f/s at 500 yards not much difference beside b/c.

Check out these ballistic charts : http://www.shootingtimes.com/ballistics/ballistic-tables/

And for all the 7.62 x 39 fans a 123 grain FMJ is only doing 1197 f/s at 500 yards.:barf:

Of course God forbid actual data be presented in the argument. BTW it could also be a scenario for what looks good on paper doesn't work in the field.

HorseSoldier
February 7, 2011, 01:52 PM
As far as on-target effectiveness at 600 meters is concerned, the 62 gr bullet has slowed to about 1300 ft/sec. This gives it at best the effectiveness of a .22 Long Rifle round that doesn't expand. This partly explains some of the claims about Taliban shrugging off hits. They're likely gonna die, but they don't know it yet and it will take more time than we would be comfortable with...


Like I noted previously, the difference between shooting someone at 600 meters and shooting at someone at 600 meters is pretty purely academic for a guy on the battlefield. He may shrug off the hit . . . because you just missed. You may think you killed him because he stops shooting at you -- because his buddy just reminded him it's time to be somewhere else before aviation arrives to definitively kill them, or because he just got paid to shoot a magazine at Americans and is heading home to buy a new goat or whatever. Or you could shoot him and he's dead right there, but his buddy jumps back on his machine gun and keeps putting rounds back towards you.

The only real constant is that the guy on the battlefield doing the shooting will almost never have any idea which of the above, or of any other million possibilities, occurred because you don't get to do that kind of follow up. So it just goes back to anecdotes where at 500+ meters anyone who is honest would have to say in 99%+ of cases "I shot at them and this is what I think happened" rather than "and this is what did happen."

As for fragmentation range of 5.56mm ammunition, that whole topic is so overblown on the internet it's ridiculous. Killing people with 5.56mm is about putting rounds on target, first of all, and putting them somewhere important, second of all. Fragmentation is a nice cherry on top of the rest of the sundae, but it's definitely a third place in that equation.

d2wing
February 7, 2011, 02:20 PM
Some points, Wounding isn't and hasn't been a US military doctrine, neither is it the purpose of most of our weapons. No body told me to shoot to wound. It may have been an enemy tactic, but I was trained to kill.
We like a kill ratio in excess of 5 to 1 or better. We generally do much better.
Actual aimed fire is rare in a firefight. I am not sure of the exact count but it takes in excess of 20,000 rifle shots in addition to missiles, artillery, machine gun fire, grenades and other muntitions in some cases to kill each enemy combatant.
As shown at the battle of the Little Big Horn, vs the battle at Wanate, rate of fire is huge. Since Stoner invented the M-16, there have been several attempts to improve it's performance, or replace it. None have been successful because it is able to deliever a high rate of accurate fire, when you take in account the issues of a light handheld, portable rifle and amount of ammo carried. People in and out of the military have been working on this issue for 50 years. You must measure the results, kill ratios, burden to foot soldier, rate of fire, accuracy, lethal range and lethality of package, tactical engagement theory, reaction time and more than I can think of.
I have no problem with trying to advance the art. Some rifles and ammos are superior in some situations. No question. My opinion that tinkering with the original design is not going to do it although it might help. It will take a radical leap in technology and design like the AR was, to do it.

d2wing
February 7, 2011, 02:27 PM
On the other hand, a good friend of mine, also a Nam vet hates the m-16 with good reason. They got the early defective tinkered with design. His only choice of a battle rifle is an M-14. It is without a doubt, more effective as a rifleman's rifle in aimed fire.

JASmith
February 7, 2011, 03:21 PM
...It will take a radical leap in technology and design like the AR was, to do it.

Concur on all the points, including the last one quoted above.

On that topic, caseless ammunition, electric guns, and the recently introduced 25mm grenade launcher come to mind.

Problem is, all of these things take time and money to implement. Ammunition for the super smart 25 mm system has to be horrifically expensive.

All of these issues leave room for those with the inventive spirit to look to alternatives. Some of the alternatives are simply existing rounds and weapons that aren't already a major part of the inventory. Others are more aggressive.

Adding to the richness of the debate is the fact that our engagements with adversaries is far more complex than the mass-on-mass envisioned for the Fulda Gap scenario of the Cold War. This vision continues to influence our thinking.

It needs to because we don't want to throw away the ability to fight the big war in favor of doing well in the small skirmish. Our ability to fight that big war keeps the skirmishes small. Some of us merely argue that room needs to be made for better training and equipping our forces that go into places where the small skirmishes are the norm.

In sum, however, the conversations, hype, and sometimes near-bullying behavior both inform and entertain!!

txhoghunter
February 7, 2011, 04:38 PM
.223 is not the problem.. FMJ, however is..
I don't see why people feel we need to use FMJ to be humane, against people, who.
Attack from red cresent vehicles.
Plant roadside bombs.
And kill innocent people..

But I don't completely agree with it

HorseSoldier
February 7, 2011, 10:23 PM
Technically the Hague Conventions only applies to people who conduct themselves as lawful combatants -- and there are rules in place for being a lawful guerrilla -- but it's ultimately more trouble than it is worth to have lawful combatant ammo and unlawful combatant ammo (+/- the super cool kids who might get some latitude depending on mission set). The bottleneck in the rifle lethality process has been target ID and scoring a hit more than terminal ballistics for the last 100 years or so, at least since guys on the Western Front learned to hunker down in the mud rather than walk towards enemy machineguns in open order.

Dr.Rob
February 7, 2011, 11:43 PM
WSJ is reporting yet again that the pentagon is looking to replace the M-16/M-4 and its ammo.

Doubt this is going to be a priority with a shooting war ongoing and an economy in the toilet.

If and when they switch it, you'll hear people lamenting the loss of the M-16.

HorseSoldier
February 8, 2011, 02:59 AM
The program requirements are such that they're looking for justifiable improvement over the M4/M16 before we spend money on a replacement. I don't think they've quantified how or what that improvement should be -- last time they tried this approach they wanted 100% improvement over the M16A2 and not HK or anyone else involved could deliver, even with HK's G11 caseless space gun.

Problem is, all of these things take time and money to implement. Ammunition for the super smart 25 mm system has to be horrifically expensive.

I think they are talking about production 25mm ammo being around $35/ea. At present each round is several hundred dollars each, though.

Art Eatman
February 8, 2011, 12:38 PM
How come few, if any, consider the tactical doctrine at the time the M16/.5.56 were first introduced?

First off, the expected enemy was the USSR. Next was the use of air and artillery as the primary weaponry.

For infantry, the primary weapon was the radio. The rifle was to enable control of the local environment to some 200 meters while calling for air and/or artillery.

Sure, that didn't always work as planned, but what does? Different times, different battlefields, different enemy.

As mentioned above, the cost of major changes in infantry weapons is high. The ongoing R&D has led to various modifications at much less cost.

Hard to find any "one size fits all" cartridge. We see that here on THR quite regularly, whether it's for Bambi or for long-range competition...

JASmith
February 8, 2011, 12:51 PM
How come few, if any, consider the tactical doctrine at the time the M16/.5.56 were first introduced?...
Your point is well taken.

The problem is that once Afghanistan was trounced the war changed from anything remotely resembling the intended environment.

Same for Iraq.

So, yes, air and arty are the principal killers in what is described as major combat. Once the action moves toward "War Among the People," however, things change.

My own view is that most of us, including me at times, overlook this distinction.

I believe that the mix of individual weapons must be different for this more isolated environment than that for which the combined arms doctrine was developed.

Combined Arms is an indiscriminate killing process. War among the people requires a much more personal approach with killing only when needed and one darned well better make sure than only obvious enemy combatants are the victims. This means small units are exposed to hostile environments with frequently no real-time air or artillery support. Those folks need something more than M4s and M249s.

This is what I believe fuels the debate even though most of us don't consciously think about it.

henschman
February 8, 2011, 01:06 PM
I will maintain that a 6.5 thru 7mm, around 120-130 grains, leaving at around 2500 fps would be about as close to a "do it all" cartridge as we could come up with. Tell me one thing it could NOT do well?

Put it in a modular type rifle, with separate upper and lower receivers like the AR, and possibly a quick-change barrel as well, so it could be set up in a variety of ways with different barrels, handguards, optics, and other accessories for any mission. Preferably with a gas piston operating system and an ambidextrous side charging handle that works in both directions. Also produce a dedicated SAW similar to the FN Minimi in that same caliber.

That's my $.02.

JASmith
February 8, 2011, 02:21 PM
I will maintain that a 6.5 thru 7mm, around 120-130 grains, leaving at around 2500 fps would be about as close to a "do it all" cartridge as we could come up with. Tell me one thing it could NOT do well?...

It would indeed, but a 90gr .224 or a 107 gr 6mm would do as well. Both can be implemented on AR15 class (i. e., 5.56 NATO cartridge length) with loadouts comparable to the AK47 for the .224 and the M14 in the case of the 6mm

For details see http://shootersnotes.com/battle-rifle-cartridge/

W.E.G.
February 8, 2011, 02:22 PM
I don't think the .223 is a very good sniper round.

But, if I got shot in the head with one, I might change my mind.

txhoghunter
February 8, 2011, 02:35 PM
I don't think the .223 is a very good sniper round.

But, if I got shot in the head with one, I might change my mind.

.....I don't have to get shot in the head to change my mind

I fear being on the receiving end of any bullet, much less one that is carried by multiple armed forces. Though it is not the heaviest bullet, it is a manstopper, and has been proving it for 50 years

HorseSoldier
February 8, 2011, 06:16 PM
How come few, if any, consider the tactical doctrine at the time the M16/.5.56 were first introduced?

First off, the expected enemy was the USSR. Next was the use of air and artillery as the primary weaponry.


I'd question that to an extent. The M14 came up short in small unit actions against insurgents in SE Asia, and its adoption was partly fueled by the extremely enthusiastic evaluations sent back by SF teams who were operating outside timely assistance from air and arty.

And fighting guerrillas in SE Asia was the main focus of M16 fielding -- there wasn't any particular rush to get the M14 to troops with a NATO mission, even those staring eyeball to eyeball at their Warsaw Pact counterparts on the German border.

Now, there is something to the idea that air power and artillery were conceived as the main killer in US doctrine, but that was because the rifle armed infantryman had time and again demonstrated himself to be an ineffective killer on the battlefield. Doctrine didn't drive the adoption of 5.56mm and the M16 so much as it correctly identified problems and sought solutions that were more adaptive for how combat had been documented to be occurring for the whole of the 20th century.

mugsie
February 8, 2011, 06:35 PM
Spent 68 & 69 in Nam. At the time, we were using 52 or 55 grain bullets (not sure which). There were a lot of dead VC / NVA who can attest to the damage this round did. The lighter bullets upset quicker, tumbled more and did a tremendous amount of damage. IMHO, going up to a heavier bullet didn't do us any favors, since they traveled through the target without as much collateral damage.

JASmith
February 8, 2011, 07:27 PM
I think there is a point to be made for the M16/M4 being just fine for our soldiers in the major combat role. The problem is that we haven't seen the large-scale combat for which this rifle and cartridge were designed since Baghdad was taken.

Combat engagements today, while intense and life-changing for the participants, do not have the same character. If they did, there would be precious little debate about the suitability of the 5.56 NATO round.

Enough of our troops have encountered bad guys at longer ranges than the M4 with green-tip ammunition can handle that our conversations have some validity.

Even though I advocate a new cartridge, the answer may be as simple as increasing the numbers of M14s and grenade launchers at the platoon and squad levels. In this model, the role of the M4 shooter is to protect the M14 and grenade launcher.

This could make a big difference for those units who have to operate semi-independently and cannot get timely air and arty support often enough to be useful.

SlamFire1
February 8, 2011, 07:41 PM
A shooting bud of mine, a Vietnam Veteran, I met his son at the range prior to his shipping over to Iraqi. They were getting some trigger time.

Junior became a battalion scout squad sniper. So I asked Dad about the performance of the weapons. Junior said "in city" engagements were never more than 200 yards. Junior said that the 308 was entirely satisfactory within that range, but over 100 yards, the .223 just “did not keep them down”.

As for shot placement under combat conditions, it would be lovely if all the opponents our guys faced were perfectly still and had great contrast from the background, like the targets we shoot, then you could pick your aiming point.

Apparently, live targets are moving, hiding, and generally not cooperative for picking your shot.

And then, if the guy is a belt bomber, or driving a car filled with explosives, are varmint rounds really the best choice against someone who is intent on dying, and taking you with him?

blackops
February 9, 2011, 12:23 AM
I see many guys point out that it really depends on what type of engagement your fighting in as to whether the 223 is effective and pointing out it's weaknesses in certain applications. Again, I'd like to point out that no one cartridge is "best," but for a majority carry and spread out to cover every application for our military, what cartridge would be more efficient?

mljdeckard
February 9, 2011, 12:29 AM
I have every confidence that it, with the AR platform of rifles, allows my petite female soldiers to get more good hits.

HorseSoldier
February 9, 2011, 02:52 AM
Enough of our troops have encountered bad guys at longer ranges than the M4 with green-tip ammunition can handle that our conversations have some validity.

Again, I have to ask where's the proof that at longer range the round is coming up short rather than weapons training coming up short? It's been my observation that as you focus more on guys with actual shooter type jobs (and the training to do it) complaints about the 5.56mm/M4 combo decrease. Infantry guys are less likely to complain about 5.56mm lethality than support guys whose combat experience is running convoys. SF guys don't complain about 5.56mm/M4 lethality -- and even in Afghanistan the team guys in my last unit were jumping through hoops to get even shorter barreled uppers on their guns than a standard M4.

This only tracks and makes sense if the problem is primarily about ability, not a technical issue. If it were a tech issue, the relationship would be completely inverse of what I've observed.

And it gels with what battlefield studies have been showing time and again for the last 100 years. The point where the breakdown occurs and where all that nice target shooting in peacetime fails to translate into dead bodies on the ground when it's for real is not about terminal ballistics. It's about target acquisition and positive ID and then about putting hits on the target. In the vast majority of cases the bullet does its job just fine once we get to terminal ballistics -- and in any number of documented cases it does not do so, regardless of whether we're talking about 62 grain 5.56mm, 147 grain 7.62x51, 150 grain 30-06 or whatever. Everybody wants to talk about how the Filipino insurgents ushered in the "man stopping" 45ACP and 1911, but what they fail to talk about is how failures to stop with .30 cal Krags and even NG guys armed with 45-70s were noted during that war as well.

I admire the sentiment that goes into a lot of this discussion about how we need to change service rifle caliber to the 6.8 SOF Silver Bullet or 6.5 Siegfried or whatever todays latest and greatest are . . . but it's missing the point. If we're going to spend a bunch of money on anything relating to service rifles we need to look at improving issue optics and basis of issue for them and we need to spend tons more money -- tons of it -- on additional weapons training for troops.

Of course that's a big problem for lots of people since producing skilled and competent shooters really does take money and it's a bit too abstract for easy quantifying. And, to be honest, it doesn't appear to our inherent American fascination for gadgets and technical fixes to training issues. Whole lot easier for a congress critter to get his constituents to buy he's working for the troops by being able to show him going after a tool, or fondling some fancy new replacement in a PR event dressed up as media than to try to explain that he wants the troops better trained. Same with the media -- agitate for better training and people think you're saying the troops aren't adequately trained . . . and then you're an al-Qaeda sympathizer or something.

So we get all worked up about the smoke rather than paying any attention to the fire that's getting fully engaged on the structure. Because fixating on the smoke is the easy part.

shootr
February 9, 2011, 03:11 AM
Yep.

Used to work gun shows for a friend who owned a small shop. Always recommended a case of cheap ammo over the latest whiz-bang accessory as the thing that would most improve performance.

Float Pilot
February 9, 2011, 03:38 AM
For many years the Brits argued that the 303 was just not nearly as good as the 450 Martini had been.

In Cuba the 6mm Lee Navy was suspect. Not because the bolt would occasionally fall out, (which it did) but because a high velocity .243 bullet was thought not to have enough whammy compared to the old 45-70 and the new fangled 30-40 Krag.

JASmith
February 9, 2011, 08:47 AM
FloatPilot has nicely captured the essence of progress!

Absent the complaints and inventiveness to improve things, we might still be ignoring rocks as potential tools and weapons!

JASmith
February 9, 2011, 10:38 AM
Again, I have to ask where's the proof that at longer range the round is coming up short rather than weapons training coming up short?...

...It's about target acquisition and positive ID and then about putting hits on the target...

...Of course that's a big problem for lots of people since producing skilled and competent shooters really does take money and it's a bit too abstract for easy quantifying...


...where's the proof that at longer range the round is coming up short...

In the world I've worked in, "proof" is an incredibly strong term, since it applies to physical and mathematical processes. It is true that wound ballistics is a physical process and that mathematics are involved, but the science is still dominated by subjective judgements.

The closest to an easily understood and definitive statement is slide #15 in a paper by Mark Minisi: www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/picatinny.pdf. In this paper he indicates that the M855 bullet needs to be going at least 2500 ft/sec to get the desired terminal performance in soft targets.

The chart also suggests that this 2500 ft/sec minimum velocity is reached at about 125 meters when using the 14" barrel.

The paper was written before the introduction of the M855 A1, so I don't know how the bottom line may have changed.

...It's about target acquisition and positive ID and then about putting hits on the target...

Absolutely, and hard to train for and incredibly difficult to actually do in an environment when the head that sticks up for a look-see can get blown off. Nonetheless, some folks can do it. We need to serve them better.

...Of course that's a big problem for lots of people since producing skilled and competent shooters really does take money and it's a bit too abstract for easy quantifying...

This takes us back to the combined arms doctrine where the mass-killers (air & arty) dominate the budget.

My point in all this discussion is that the current conflict no longer maps into engagements where the full-blown application combined arms is useful or appropriate. We need to make sure that the folks going into this arena are better trained and equipped. The problem is that we can't abandon the ability to fight the big wars because that's what helps us contain the conflicts to the levels they're at today---

chuckfw
February 9, 2011, 11:06 AM
The m16/ar15 is a lot better of a weapon if chambered in 7.62x39 upper. Increased stopping power at decent ranges. Why can't NATO admit that round is superior to the dinky varmit round we now have to use in combat.

d2wing
February 9, 2011, 03:12 PM
Changing the rifle, optics or round will make little difference in most engagements because you don't get time for aimed shots. You're lucky to see the shooters. Someone accused soldiers of pray and spray. I resent that attitude. I was too busy to pray. Most people have no clue if they think they could show up with a super deluxe whammo rifle and make a difference. The problem is not the rifle, training or tactics. It that the sneeky son a guns won't stand there and get shot or fight like we want them to. There's more to it than picking off the bad guys. No doubt the 7.62 Nato in a AR 10 would have better performance. Would it help many guys or affect the outcome of any battle? I say trade off. More no than yes. Any gain in another round or platform? Hard to say.
Better supporting fire needed? Yes.

SlamFire1
February 9, 2011, 04:47 PM
Of course that's a big problem for lots of people since producing skilled and competent shooters really does take money and it's a bit too abstract for easy quantifying. And, to be honest, it doesn't appear to our inherent American fascination for gadgets and technical fixes to training issues. Whole lot easier for a congress critter to get his constituents to buy he's working for the troops by being able to show him going after a tool, or fondling some fancy new replacement in a PR event dressed up as media than to try to explain that he wants the troops better trained. Same with the media -- agitate for better training and people think you're saying the troops aren't adequately trained . . . and then you're an al-Qaeda sympathizer or something.
The military hardly cuts back on big weapon acquisitions, between wars, but they sure do cut back on training budgets.

On Capital Hill, budget line items for expensive gadgets are protected by a lot more people than training budgets.

And that is due to the concentration of monies involved. Prime contractors on expensive weapons systems send big campaign contributions to Washington. Military Program Managers are advocates within the Pentagon for their contractor. No one is looking out for the Soldier, or the readiness of the force because the profits, promotions, and future employment are in expensive weapon procurements.

Small arms are in fact chump change compared to Ships, Planes, Missile Systems.

PandaBearBG
February 9, 2011, 07:53 PM
5.56 does the job and has done it well for decades. Yes 30 caliber rounds pack more puch and better penetration and definitly shoot farther, but for the most part most current wars are primarily medium/close range (less 300 m) and lately urban terrain. A smaller lighter weapon platform that has high capacity and allows high mobility. It kills just as fine as any other infantry round, as other posters have stated its about shot placement, contolled fire, and usually a healthy dose of luck. No matter how hard you train the average infantryman is not bang on first shot nerves of steel sniper. However combining grunts, arty, mortars, and heavy weapon support, along with snipers and some companies using designated marksman (somewhere between sniper and basic rifleman) gets the job done.

Troops now a days are getting better trained and more and more optics for their rifles which greatly increases accuracy and kill shots. Also the modern day soilder and marine carry more and more gear, armor, and equipment than the boys of WW2 and Vietnam, and bulky heavy 30 caliber weapon along with heavier fewer rounds just isn't in the books.

Bigger guns and bigger bullets are always prefered to an infantryman when in a firefight, but most of the time the idea of carrying that bulk letting it wear you down and slow you down is a BIG turn off.

henschman
February 9, 2011, 08:41 PM
I agree that the best thing that we could be doing to improve combat effectiveness is to properly teach the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship to all soldiers.

At the Infantry Symposium last year, the attendees were on the topic of the effectiveness of the SS109 round in combat. The Commander of GSG-9, Germany's elite force, said "The SS109 round was perfectly lethal up to 400 meters if the soldiers would hit what they were shooting at. I love the American soldier but they are not being taught marksmanship. The best rifle marksmanship training in America is from a private group called 'Johnny Appleseed' or some such thing." At this point a member of the American special forces community jumped up, corrected the name (he was referring to Project Appleseed) and said he had taken the course and qualified because he came with some basic knowledge, but that the weekend was a real "ball buster."

Appleseed marksmanship clinics do a great job of teaching all the fundamentals in a single weekend. I think Appleseed's way of teaching instills the fundamentals better... they are taught in a more clear, concise, logical, and refined way. I think that initial military marksmanship training ought to be something along those lines, to give soldiers a strong set of fundamentals to build on. Of course the military should take the training beyond what is taught at those weekend clinics, because they have a lot more time with the soldiers, and of course the soldiers need to be able to apply those fundamentals to shooting in all their gear, and from some different positions other than the traditional field positions taught at Appleseed, and need to learn close quarters shooting techniques as well. But fundamentals are what it is all about. If you don't build on a strong foundation, the entire house will be weak. And I think the military (with the possible exception of the Marines) generally does a poor job of teaching the fundamentals.

They need to teach the steps to firing the shot better -- BRASS leaves a lot out. They need to teach Natural Point of Aim, how to check it, how to place it on target, and actually drill the students on it so they understand it and are doing it. And no one can find their NPOA if they aren't in a solid position that you can relax into... the positions taught by the Army could use some tweaks. They also need to actually teach the conversions from Inches to Minutes to Clicks for sighting in a rifle, so the students actually understand the concepts involved, instead of just having them shoot a zeroing target and count the little squares. I also believe soldiers should be taught how to use a sling to stabilize the rifle. I realize this isn't always practical in the field, but there are times it would help out a lot for getting that extra stability for a small or distant target. The Marines still teach it, and it is in the Army's SDM curriculum... I don't see any reason why something so simple and versatile that has such a great effect on accuracy shouldn't be taught to everybody.

Appleseed has actually trained several Army units, with highly positive results. At the White Sands Missile Range, the instructors had the soldiers consistently getting hits out to 600 yards with M-4 carbines. Every unit that has been trained by Appleseed has shown vastly improved qualification scores and increased knowledge of the soldiers' max effective range and confidence that they can hit small or distant targets.

I firmly believe that when it comes to the fundamentals, Appleseed's way is a lot better than Uncle Sam's way. I think they could take a lot of cues from the program. And that would be a lot cheaper, more effective, and feasable than switching everybody over to a new service rifle.

Art Eatman
February 9, 2011, 10:23 PM
This is getting mostly repetitive, with little new being added. So, until sometime on upcoming page five...

Float Pilot
February 10, 2011, 03:28 AM
This is getting mostly repetitive, with little new being added. So, until sometime on upcoming page five...

You got that right. I am sure the zombie shooting crowd will soon chime in.

Back in the early and mid 1960s my dad was involved in weapons R&D. He was a hard stripe Chief Warrant who started in 1945 as a E-2 grunt in the Pacific.

Even back then, he and his work buddies would have these long heated discussions about the 5.56mm round that was being forced onto them by the yahoos in Washington. These guys were still upset about the 7.62 Nato round since it was not really a real 30 caliber as far as they were concerned.
This continued when he went into weapons R&D as a civilian.
They always had a beef with the non-military service poughs in the system who counted the beans and pulled the strings.
The same type of yahoos that I came to hate when I entered the service.

Now, 45-50 years later people are still complaining and supposing.....

When they goes to a light-pulse weapon, you guys will be talking about the good old days when you could actually poke a hole in somebody with a 5.56mm

Hangingrock
February 10, 2011, 08:57 AM
WW2 solidified Field Artillery of the United States Army as the primary killer on the battle field because of the abundance of field radios. German military accounts clearly stated that their military feared USA-FA more so than the mass firing of the Russians. Accurate and timely delivery of fire by USA-FA was the difference.The Korean and Vietnam experiences were more of the same. Yes air power is a very significant contributor also.

After Vietnam the USMC looked towards NATO and land warfare in Europe. A Marine Commandant of that era concluded the USMC could not survive with out the Multiple Launch Rocket System and made it a number one priority. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire priorities changed. I believe the Marine Corps has a truck mounted version designated to reserve units.

Between Vietnam and the current Iraqi/Afghanistan wars there has not been a period of such protracted land warfare where infantry tactics and weapons are scrutinized so thoroughly.

That said the 300 yard concept goes back to Hatchers studies of WW1 and apparently accepted as doctrine in WW2 and Korea. Hatcher basically said the average rifleman could not distinguish and hit a target on the battle field beyond 300yds.

In my time the NVA and VC main force units were very adaptive to battle field conditions. How effective was the M-14 in comparison to the M-16. I simply don’t know. I do know that Air-Cav units had the highest kill ratios of all units deployed. In my experience the NVA and VC main force did every thing they could to negate the firepower advantage of US forces. They would hug in close meaning really close to reduce their vulnerability to artillery fire.

We had Staff NCO’s relate their experiences in Korea when the lines became more or less static. Squad leaders or platoon sergeants would use tracers in their rifles to designate a beaten zone and all opened up to rid themselves of Chinese snipers.

How effective is the current service cartridge only as effective as circumstances/tactical situation allows which maybe said for what ever war you are in.

Tirod
February 10, 2011, 10:12 AM
It is without a doubt, more effective as a rifleman's rifle in aimed fire.

Well, you can wish that all you want; the truth to it is that the Army thought otherwise. The M14 was tossed in the dumpster because it's size and weight impeded the concept of putting a lot of bullets downrange at the enemy.

Don't blame beancounters, Congress, or whatever, it's reality. It started with the GERMANS, who saw the bolt action 8mm Mauser, one of the most highly respected firearms in the world, becoming obsolete on the battlefield. They studied the problem, and moved to self loading actions, and even designed a new weapon using an intermediate caliber. The point has been made elsewhere, take two squads of soldiers in the Ardennes, give one the Garand, the other the STG44, and stand back. Sorry, the reports are right there, Garands got their butt kicked by superior firepower. Extended range had nothing to do with it.

Fast forward to the 'Stan, we did need a bit more range, because we couldn't reach out to 800m. The answer was to refurbish the M14 - and there are only 5,000 going. Compared to over 100,000 M16's and M4's, the need was considered supplemental, not a massive changeover so every soldier could get one.

Every soldier doesn't NEED an 800m weapon, it's a known fact in tactical circles most soldiers can't target past 500m or shoot it. They don't need to, other weapons are available, and that's where the Main Battle Rifle drum pounders show a consistent lack of view.

It's not about a single shooter or two man team, it's about what a squad or platoon has given to it to control the area they command. Mortars, rockets, grenade launchers, machine guns, and even bigger resources exist.

You can always tell who hasn't served, they think it's all about them and their rifle, mano a mano, them vs. the entire opposing force. It's a false argument to think the individual soldier has to carry The One. No, he just gets one, and uses what he has, which works as well as he does.

I see inadequacy issues in the argument, not competent knowledge of firearms, or experience behind the trigger. It seems the ones who don't like the M4 are the least qualified to know. Somebody has to make a responsible decision and did, they didn't pick the 15% solution for 85% of the shooting, they issued what fit as the better tool.

Some folks are too used to being on a cruise boat in the Nile, and face reality in the field.

EdLaver
February 10, 2011, 10:55 AM
Here is my take on the .223/5.56...

The military is only allowed to use FMJs so the effectiveness is somewhat rendered. If there are any SWAT officers or LEOs that have had engagements I think their input would be better. Most likely they are using hollowpoints or VMAX rounds which are much more devastating than FMJs.

d2wing
February 10, 2011, 05:51 PM
I agree Tirod.

HorseSoldier
February 10, 2011, 06:01 PM
If there are any SWAT officers or LEOs that have had engagements I think their input would be better.

The problem you run into with that data set is that law enforcement shootings, even with long guns, take place at extremely short range compared to military stuff. Even SWAT sniper engagements are usually inside 100 meters, if I remember the numbers right.

Rifleman 173
February 10, 2011, 06:54 PM
The .223 caliber rounds suck. There it is. Right out in the open. This is from an old Viet Nam veteran, firearms instructor and experienced police officer.

When the military forces were first inflicted with this mess, it was because of GREED. Historically speaking, as a general rule, the desires of the combat infantryman are passed over to meet the greed of the politicians and gun makers. Money is, was and always will be the primary factor when it comes to the development of arms and ammunition for our military forces. When you look at it, just about every gun or ammo selection involved kickbacks to various people all up and down the selection process.

In Viet Nam, in one battle my unit was in, our guys were pumping 5, 6 or even as many as 18 bullets into enemy soldiers who just would not stop. Of the 3 recovered enemy dead, we found that all 3 had been repeatedly hit with small bore .223 caliber bullets. We also found out that all 3 were stoned out of their minds so that pretty much nothing would stop them. Now here's the kicker... When the .223 caliber M-16 rifles were designed they were not designed to be used by soldiers who would meet up with doped up enemy soldiers. Now the funny part is that in Asia, it is not unusual for combat personnel over there to take pain relieving drugs BEFORE combat. This is not the first time American troops have run into this situation in the Orient. Documentation going back to the days of the Filipino Insurrection, the Korean War and WW2 shows that our weapons SHOULD have been designed to be used against doped up or highly intoxicated enemy troops. That was why the .45 acp pistol was designed and we lost track of that "little fact." The M-16 should have been designed using a bigger diameter and heavier grain bullet.

In another combat operation I saw one fellow paratrooper dump a magazine into an enemy soldier who was walking towards him. The enemy soldier ran off leaving behind a blood trail in his wake.

In another combat operation I saw another paratrooper cut loose with a full magazine into the side of the head of an enemy soldier. The enemy soldier dropped to the ground but continued to breathe for another 5 minutes or so before he finally expired.

Three or 4 years ago Hamilton County Indiana Police served a search warrant for a drug dealer's house. The guy showed up just as the police were about to leave. The guy in his Chevy Suburban tried to run down the police officers rather than surrender. The tactical guys cut loose with their M-4 carbines in .223 caliber and the .40 Glock pistols. The .223 caliber rounds either were deflected by the Suburban's windshield or they stuck in the glass. The bullets that did punch through the glass were the .40 caliber pistol rounds!! The driver died at the scene but NOT from .223 caliber rifle fire.

To me, the .223 caliber round does not have enough weight nor is it a big enough diameter round to be truly effective. The only reason why so many people have opted to use the .223 caliber round is because the military had it forced down their throats and the ammo, via military surplus stocks, is cheaper to purchase than other calibers.

Both the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel are much more effective bullets which is what I push on my ranges. I do like the .223 for practice but not for my duty needs. I have learned, from personal experiences and experiences of other shooters, that I want something bigger, heavier and better to do the job. Too bad politics forced the .223 caliber rounds on our military because they deserve something much better.

HorseSoldier
February 10, 2011, 07:17 PM
When the military forces were first inflicted with this mess, it was because of GREED. Historically speaking, as a general rule, the desires of the combat infantryman are passed over to meet the greed of the politicians and gun makers.

Actually, this is completely incorrect.

I suppose you are trying to suggest that the AR-15 was some sort of corporate scam by Colt inflicted on the US military.

But, that has nothing to do with 5.56mm. The cartridge was developed based on US military analysis of battlefield realities, and the existing AR-10 was adapted to the new army cartridge because everyone with anything more than a tenth of a clue had figured out that by the 1960s the future was in getting away from the failed 7.62x51 service rifle cartridge as fast as their R&D budgets would carry them.

Of the 3 recovered enemy dead, we found that all 3 had been repeatedly hit with small bore .223 caliber bullets. We also found out that all 3 were stoned out of their minds so that pretty much nothing would stop them.

So if they were dead, how did anyone know if they were under the influence of something? Much less make an assessment as to their level of impairment? Was MAC-V running a medical examiner's office and doing autopsies? Haven't heard about that before if they were.

Documentation going back to the days of the Filipino Insurrection, the Korean War and WW2 shows that our weapons SHOULD have been designed to be used against doped up or highly intoxicated enemy troops. That was why the .45 acp pistol was designed and we lost track of that "little fact." The M-16 should have been designed using a bigger diameter and heavier grain bullet.

45 ACP was adopted because the US military adopted a service pistol firing a cartridge that was down below 380 ACP power levels. Mythology aside, it did not prove itself to be an especially effective man stopper, even if it was better than what post dated it.

Now as for intoxicated or doped up soldiers -- frankly if I had the choice I would always prefer to have any gunfight I was involved in have the other side half or more in the bag on booze, pot, or heroin. The solution, in those very rare occasions when it's an issue (because it isn't terribly common) is what LE figured out a long time ago, but the military has been very poor in prepping service people for -- keep going after them until they are dead.

In another combat operation I saw one fellow paratrooper dump a magazine into an enemy soldier who was walking towards him. The enemy soldier ran off leaving behind a blood trail in his wake.


And in another combat operation a guy I know had a face to face encounter with a bad guy (Afghan flavor thereof) and killed that guy with a single round of 5.56mm to the COM while that guy was trying to get his AK pointed back at him.

Anecdotes aren't statistics.

TexasPatriot.308
February 10, 2011, 07:22 PM
I served 39 years ago, the M16 was and is a political forced piece of crap...every chance we got we picked up an AK, would have given anythiing for an M14.

kwelz
February 10, 2011, 07:35 PM
Amazing how the only people I see really complain about the 5.56 fall into one of two categories..

1: Men who used the M16 in the early days of Vietnam and haven't touched once in combat since.
2: Armchair soldiers who read what group one say and think it is the word of god.

I shoot with a number of soldiers. None of them have had any complaints about the 5.56 inside 300 meters.

laguna0seca
February 10, 2011, 07:42 PM
While the m16 may have been a piece when it was introduced, the current models are reliable and accurate.

Yes, they don't have the power of a 7.62 out to long ranges, but they are still quite accurate. And frankly, at those ranges, the current enemy isn't going to be able to provide very accurate fire anyway. And depending on the engagement, you probably have some better firepower than a carbine. There wasn't a patrol we went on that we didn't have a m240. And if we had vehicles, you better believe we had at least a .50 or two, if not a mk19. And there is nothing more effective (in my experience) than a fully automatic weapon which fires 40mm grenades at 350rpm out to 2000 or so yards. I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to be on the receiving end of that.

However, when it comes to the infantry mainly holding an enemy in place and hitting them with arty and air. That hasn't been my experience. We were ambushed the first day in our AO and were denied on every request for indirect we made. That's including the mortars we had with us. It's complete BS that our troops are forced to fight with their hands tied behind their backs, because the brass is less concerned about their men than their careers and their image. And by brass, i mean, all the way up the chain.

JASmith
February 10, 2011, 07:46 PM
...I shoot with a number of soldiers. None of them have had any complaints about the 5.56 inside 300 meters.
You've put your finger on the issue! The 5.56 with appropriate ammunition (M855 A1 or MK262) is very effective within 200-300 meters. Some would claim an even greater range.

This distance is long enough that one can keep the bad guys far enough out that your grenade launchers, arty, and air can have a field day. Works fine as long as you have the support!

Lose the support and the need for longer-ranging personal weapons becomes acute. We get these situations frequently enough that the ongoing debates continue to have relevance.

Let's not forget that the combined arms doctrine works most of the time, but the exceptions drive some unrecognized needs---

Art Eatman
February 10, 2011, 07:52 PM
Okay...Enough of the same-old same-old...

If you enjoyed reading about "223 Effectiveness in Combat" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!