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Combat distance

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Scott Evans, Mar 24, 2003.

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  1. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans Moderator Emeritus

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    In some past discussions I’ve mentioned that combat distance for point (man size) targets is out to 500m and 800m for area targets. With this in mind I have felt that the current issue 5.56 lacked sufficient energy at those distances to be the chambering for our standard infantry rifle. I have heard arguments to the contrary stating that 300m is a realistic max and should be our focus.

    Fine for us arm chair generals to suppose how it might be … However; this weekend I was watching the footage of some 1st Marine Marines engaged with Iraqi forces. Enemy were all about and in a three story building. The building was targeted first by an AT-4 but that round fell short. Then they the hit it with one of two Javelin anti tank rounds. Interesting to me was the fact that AT-4s have an effective range of 400m. (At least they did 12 years ago when I was in the Marine Corps) The one they fired fell well short yet the entire unit was fully engaged with their M-16’s, M-249’ and G240’s. I was wondering what the response might be from those of you that hold to the 300m max school of thought. Certainly one must recognize that in areas with terrain such as our troops are finding in Iraq & Afghanistan the likely hood of engagements at distances of 500-800m is likely. As such we should equip our troops with weapons & training to meet such challenges. I was thinking it would have been great for the Marines if half of the M-16’s in the unit were replaced with M-14’s.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Dave P

    Dave P Member

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    I know if I was out there, I would want a 308 to give me much more penetration power thru all those walls!
     
  3. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    Scott,

    they must have taught you in the Corps how much hit probability decreases once you go past 200 yards. Yes, you can reach past 500 or so with the .308, but you'll need a lot of extra ammo to make up for the decreased hit probability, especially if your target doesn't cooperate and stand still like a military silhouette popper.

    If it's 500 yards and further, there are other tools in the squad toolbox. Get a 203, SAW, Mark 19, or M2 on the job, especially if it's behind cover. With a .308 battle rifle, you carry too few rounds on you to be able to afford popping a few magazines into a covered target at 600 yards.

    Just my $0.02 from another ex-grunt's POV.
     
  4. SodaPop

    SodaPop member

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    I'm sure the vast majority of the rounds being fired over there are the M855. From my experience at my local 500yd range, My M855 reloads are just as accurate as my Portugese or Hirtenburger 147FMJ rounds. My scoped FAL shoots 10inch groups at 500yds and my Mini 14 shoots 12inch groups at 500yds. Both rounds could miss paper if I shot into the wind, but both rounds are better than the M193 as far as range and penetration.

    Why not issue a bolt action for each squad?:neener:
     
  5. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    SodaPop,

    I wasn't referring to the inherent accuracy of the .308 at that range, but rather the decreased probability of the operator scoring a hit at that range.
     
  6. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans Moderator Emeritus

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    Hit probability at any distance is a matter of training. Damage caused at distance is a matter of energy. The amount a Marine can carry is a matter of conditioning (to a point I realize).

    The ability to Hit and damage targets at a distance beyond your enemy’s ability is a big plus and should not be ignored.

    I will not argue, however; against the notion that good use of combined arms is best at keeping the enemy at arms length.
     
  7. SodaPop

    SodaPop member

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    Your right and I agree. Unless they want to draft a bunch of Hi-power guys nobody is going to be able to shoot 2 MOA in a heated battle.


    More is better.
     
  8. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    Let's look realistically at 99 perdnt of infantry engagements worldwide, not the other 1 percent.

    In that case, it's less than 200 yards. So do we handicap our guys with a big bulky hard kicking unwieldy .308, that they can't carry much ammo for? Just in case of the 1 percent chance?

    Of course not!
     
  9. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    Instead of intermediate "compromise" cartridges, it'd make more sense to make *two* rifles general issue, and train troops on both. Then, depending on the country of deployment, you issue the rifle that fits the terrain: a 5.56 for forested, hilly, and urban areas, and a 7.62 for wide open spaces like Afghanistan and Iraq.

    I side with cheygriz, though...issue the rifle that's more useful in the most situations, not the one that might be better in maybe 10% of combat scenarios.
     
  10. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    My issue weapon is alot heavier and bulkier than any .308 service rifle that I know of. So is the weapon of every other SAW gunner out there, yet they get by. Yes, even in urban terrain.

    "Hard kicking"? Oh, come on. My 110lb female friend isn't bothered by the recoil from my FAL.

    "Unweildy"? I find nothing unweildy about a FAL or an M14, if they're balanced right. Shorten the barrels on them to 18", giving them the same OAL as an M16: 40". Or, the same OAL as a 20" bbl CQB shotgun, for that matter.

    Can't carry much ammo for? I know of a vest that allows you to carry either 8 or 12 20-round FAL/M14/G3 mags, depending on configuration. That's 160 or 240 rounds, respectively. Is it going to be heavier than an equal amount of 5.56mm? Yes, but it's hardly undoable. If I can handle that then I'm sure Rangers, Marines, and others much higher speed than I can.

    No need for exxagerations.

    In my opinion, a 6x45mm intermediate cartridge, supplemented by one or two guys per squad (designated marksman) with scoped (or not scoped, depending on environment), reasonably accurate battle rifles in .308, .30-06, or something similar, would be a better compromise. That way, the average rifleman can carry more ammo, and you have the designated marksmen for when targets are farther away.

    I also like Lendringser's idea. Why do we insist on only having one rifle? It's not like the US Military couldn't afford to have two kinds (or more) of rifles, but doing so would require more training, and in many ways the military seems to greatly dislike spending the money on weapons training. Hence soldiers with poor trigger finger discipline, etc.

    Also, I have a question. The saw is a 5.56mm weapon, and in fact has a slightly shorter barrel than an M16. Why does anyone consider its effective range to be any more than an M16? Sure, it can spray rounds faster, but that doesn't give them higher velocity or better penetration/energy retention. And the SAW, firing from an open bolt, with a very high cyclic rate, certainly isn't anymore accurate than an M16.

    You can walk rounds onto target at long range, with tracers and a spotter. But the SAW is issued as an individual weapon; you don't get an assistant gunner to be your spotter. 600+ meter targets are best dealt with by 7.62x51mm GPMGs, if they're available.
     
  11. natedog

    natedog Member

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    Does anyone remember why we decided to go to a lighter cartridge? Apperantly, in the Korean War, a study was taken that showed that most troops, despite being armed with a .30'06, would not fire at enemies at 500, 400, 300, or even 200 yards. Most waited until the enemy was within 150 yards. At that range, I would much rather have a 5.56mm than a .30'06, lighter recoil, faster firing, easier to accquire targets (lighter rifle). Also, when faced with human wave attacks, 8 rounds of .30'06 went pretty quick. This is how I understand it, and mere speculation. Yes, .30'06 and .308 are better for long range. But why equip troops with it if they don't take advantage of that advantage.
     
  12. Quartus

    Quartus Member

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    For any given Marine, at whatever level of conditioning, more 5.56 can be carried than 7.62. OR, to put it another way, will you have more ammo if you carry 30 pounds of 5.56 or 30 pounds of 7.62?

    Next?



    I'm with ledsringer on this. It does no good to give troops 1000 yard "battle rifles" if they can't hit anything past 300 meters. And all the Marine Corp bragging aside, the jarhead that can hit reliably past 300 meters is a rare bird. Oh, not as rare as an Army puke that can do it? Fine, whatever. Still a rare bird, and not a proper basis for formulating general policy.


    It ALSO makes sense to recognize and adjust your weaponry to fit the situation, i.e., jungle vs. urban vs. desert.

    A multi weapon approach is probably the most workable approach to this.


    BTW, if you can't effectively engage your enemy with what you have, you call in support. That's what they're there for.
     
  13. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    All of a sudden I am picturing a bunch of Marines slogging through the desert with rifle caddies toting the guns.

    "Yeah, that looks like a 600-yard shot, through light cover. Hand me the scoped M-14, Jeeves." :D
     
  14. BHP9

    BHP9 member

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    Good evening fellow arm chair commadoes. This thread is really great entertainment, I love it but Lets talk reality.

    Most grunts never saw a rifle before entering the military and it takes a good three years of intensive rifle training to get to the point where you can hit targets way out there under the best and most calmest of conditions. We are not talking combat when the fellow next to you suddendly spilled his brains all over your person.

    Its been proven over and over again that the average fire fight takes place at extremely close ranges and when the fight does break out at long range the heavy weapons are a far better choice. Heavy machine guns, mortors , artillary , tanks and air strikes. When the enemy is in a stone building or behind cover you do not wait around for him to show enough of himself so you can take pot shots at him. You blow the building down on top of him with the heavy stuff and then saturate him with napalm or flame throwers.

    The light recoiling, full auto , small caliber, carry lots of ammo weapon is the best weapon for the average grunt. This is why the current 3 shot burst mechanism on the M16 is basically a step back in the evolution of the assault weapon. Psychologically it does not work and firepower wise it also does not do the job like the full auto saturation fire that soldiers love to use in close combat. The Russian psychologists found out it was only the full auto weapons that soldiers would use when they were in an isolated position refusing even to fire semi-auto weapons unless they were under the eye of their comrades. Full auto was another story, they used them and loved them. They could not fire enough ammo out of them. The more ammo you gave them the more they fired. All that hot lead eventually found its mark and kept the ememy ducking even when it missed.

    Sniper rifles do have their place but when used by skilled and highly trained elite soldiers that because of expensive and long training are always very few in number. Not 90 day wonders that just got out of boot camp.

    You can put the most precision made rifle in the world in someones hands but alas and unfortunatley they will prove they are not all instant re-incarnations of Carlos Hathcock. I wish it were so but reality is reality.
     
  15. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    Full-auto fire in any rifle caliber gun lighter than a SAW is a pointless waste of ammo.
     
  16. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    ...and even in a SAW you had best leave it to short bursts. With a 1000rpm cyclic, it's hard to keep the sights on target. Muzzle climb isn't an issue with the 20lb weapon (loaded), but firing rattles your sight picture so much that anything more than a short burst and you're going to stray off target (not to mention the fact that you'll decrease the time between necessary barrel changes).

    And I have a food for thought question. For those that insist that low recoil, light weight, and high capacity are the best features of a modern military weapon, would then an FN P90 type weapon be even better than an M4 carbine? Every weight, size, and capacity advantage that the M4 has over, say, the FAL, the P90 has over the M4. It weighs like 4lbs loaded. 50 rounds per mag, without excess weight. It'll still defeat a flak jacket at 200m (if the FN reps are to be believed) and if all firefights take place at 100 meters and in, wouldn't it then be ideal? A soldier could easily carry 400 rounds, if he had a vest that held eight spare magazines. Supplement it with a few M4/M203 combos and SAWs per squad and you should be about good to go, right? After all, if the enemy is beyond your weapons' range, you call in artillery, right? Note that I'm using the P90 as an example; a similar weapon could be substituted in this scenario (use your imagination), as the P90 isn't perfect.

    I'm just playing devil's advocate, here. I'm familliar with the shortcomings of the 5.7x28mm FN SS190 round. But it does offer a few advantages, such as light weight and compact size, allowing quite a bit of ammo to be carried.
     
  17. J-Man

    J-Man Member

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    Yes, the 5.56 cartridge weighs something like 47% less than 7.62 so you can carry more. Plus it has less recoil for better full auto use (the military wanted a controlable machinegun for infantry). Unfortunately, under about 2700 fps the 5.56 round isn't traveling fast enough to yaw once it impacts so hits over approx. 200m aren't very effective. Granted there are many battles under that range, but there are many over to. The one thing I like about the 7.62 is not necessarily the increased energy at range but the excess energy on tap for PENETRATION through barriers. Everybody hides behind something. AP rounds do an even better job. The velocity of the the 7.62 is only about 10% less than the 5.56 but shoots a bullet with well over twice the weight. Something to think about... As for the number of rounds carried I don't think that in either a military or survival situation you need massive quantities. The military generally has excellent resupply and in a SHTF situation you aren't going to be going up against massive armies. Besides, if I have to use more than three or four rounds per hit I shouldn't be shooting at all!
    Both rounds have their place but the 7.62 shouldn't be discounted...
     
  18. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    BHP9, I don't have a clue whether you're judging other people by your own history as to learning to shoot a rifle. I suspect there are some folks at places like Gunsite who might disagree with you.

    My father never talked at length of his experiences in France and in Germany during WW II, but bits and pieces lead me to believe that more guys did use aimed fire at the enemy than is often stated. Further, it was not all short-range stuff. Like I say, bits and pieces--but believable.

    While I agree that in "normal" situations, targets out beyond a few hundred yards should be inflicted with Big Things, I rather doubt that any soldier would expect to always be under the wings of some Momma Hen Heavy Stuff.

    A buddy of mine and I were discussing some of this stuff, just today. His favorite weapon in Vietnam was a radio. He strongly supports the three-shot burst mechanism, as it gives better fire-discipline and reduces the possibility of an isolated unit running out of ammo. He wants some squad members to have full-auto capability, for suppresive capability if ambushed.

    One thing I see as being different from the old WW II and Korean War era is the amount of other "stuff" that GIs have to hump. SFAIK, those days had a hump-load around 75 to 90 pounds, including ammo. Today? The newspaper articles speak of 160 pounds--and this is in company with multitudes of vehicles.

    So I dunno. Hard to make absolutist statements. My own opinion is that I'd look to the battlefield probabilites before deciding on "the best" weapon. M1? M14? FAL? Seems to me that a bunch of ammo and then water, food and some bedding gear--and after that it all gets to be a grey area...The open country of Afghanistan and Iraq leads me to believe that the .223 weaponry isn't the best. But if that's what you have, your tactics must maximize its inherent effectiveness.

    Art
     
  19. amprecon

    amprecon Member

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    I just have to wonder how many of those surplus Garands or bolt-guns are being used against us.
    IMO, I've never been a fan of the M-16 series rifle, have not to this day even picked one up, and I spent 10 years in the military.
    I've been into guns since I can remember and the .223 is a varmint caliber.
    The caliber isn't even recommended on deer and they are "man-sized" targets. Most recommend at least a .243, and that's usually minimum.
    All those .223 loyalists can try to justify it to we "non-loyalists" all day long, but physics is still physics.
    We may classify our enemies as varmints from time to time, but, as we have come to know, can be much harder to kill and can shoot back.
     
  20. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Well said, Mr. Eatman.

    There is no one true sword, one weapon that's ideal for every circumstance. Everything is a trade-off or a compromise in one form or another. For military rifles, it basically boils down to this:

    Do you want more ammo or more powerful ammo?

    More powerful ammo, that is, ammo that propels a heavier bullet to higher velocities, requires a larger case, more powder, and of course the heavier bullet. This makes the ammo bulkier and makes it weigh more. It also increases recoil.

    On the other hand, a diminutive cartridge offers more compact size and lighter weight, but at the expensive of cartridge power. You'll notice there are no available .22LR loadings that offer up 400 ft-lbs of energy? Again, compromise.

    Basically, what we're arguing about is what the best compromise is. In my opinion, there is no one best compromise for every situation, which is why in an ideal world the military would have available (and would be amply trained on) a variety of weapons, dependent on the terrain, type of conflict, nature of the enemy, etc.

    In the real world, they have to pick one or two weapons systems and do their best (through tactics) to make them work in the widest variety of systems.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2003
  21. Quartus

    Quartus Member

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    WWTWD? What Woiuld Tiger Woods Do?


    :D




    Echoing Mr. Eatman, here. No one perfect weapon. Nice summary, Nightcrawler.


    But as for the 5.56 being ineffective past 200 meters...


    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!


    Tell you what - let's run a test. You get out there at 300 or 350 yards, and I'll see what I can do with a stock AR-15. :what:


    I dropped the long targets very regularly when I was in the Army, and I don't think you want to be on the receiving end. The 5.56 does just fine on humans at that range.


    But .243? Yeah, I think that might be a good choice.
     
  22. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    In hunting for Bambi, we are concerned about the ethics of a clean kill.

    In a war, we ain't. A guy with a relatively minor, .223 hole in him commonly becomes a non-combatant. At the least, his effectiveness is dramatically reduced, particularly if he's 300 to 500 yards away.

    As far as humping and toting, my hunting walking, here in my desert, has included a 9.5-pound rifle and somewhere between 12 and 15 miles in a day of eight to ten hours. That's up and down low mountains, covered with rolling rocks and cactus and other pleasantries. Below 50 degrees F, I don't need water or food. To 80F, a pint to a quart, maybe. I don't do that now; I sorta slowed down when I hit 60. So, if I knew I'd get re-supply around sundown, I'd travel fairly light if chasing Al Quaida types in the Afghan mountains. God bless Mr. Marconi.

    Training, acclimation, supplies...It's all variable, and there's no one size fitting all. But I'd like to be able to play Ma Bell.

    :), Art
     
  23. Destructo6

    Destructo6 Member

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    I don't think hit probablility is solely a function of training. The enemy is going to duck, dodge, and generally make it difficult to get a hit.

    Of course, if you might insist on making those valuable hits count more by using .308 rather than .223. I would have a hard time disagreeing with that.
     
  24. BHP9

    BHP9 member

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    For those of you that think the .223 is not effective past 100 yards I offer proof that it is.

    I have a buddy who used to regularly shoot big deer out of his back kitchen window at a measured range of 200 yards with of all things full metal jacketed bullets out of a real M16 set on semi-auto. In no case did any deer that I saw that were hit run much more than 20 yards before they keeled over.

    For those of you who missed it there was a very, very excellent article a few weeks ago in Shotgun news that discussed the .223 cartridge past and current lethality along with the current .220 Russian round.

    What was found was that the newer SS109 round is actually way less lethal than the prior 55 grain military round but even that was less lethal than the original .220 Russian round. It seems as though the current round does not yaw much when it strikes living flesh as compared to the Viet-Nam era round. The article when on to say the the .220 Russian round was very lethal when compared to our .223 round both in past and present form.
     
  25. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans Moderator Emeritus

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    Nice try Quartus but your test dose not reflect the notion of the argument that we have here. Try it this way:

    Open desert terrain, 800m between, 4 guys with m-16’s against 4 guys armed with 2 m-16’s and 2 M-14’s. The mission of each squad is to close with the other. Now which team gets your bet?



    Further: Our troops are currently and daily engaging Iraqis well past 200 & 300m. The 5.56 may be fine for the majority of engagements you might have in jungle areas or even urban scenarios. However; for present day threats and likely theaters (Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea) the current rifle squad needs to be augmented with a harder hitting round at real (like what’s going on now in Iraq) combat distances. If the 7.62 is too heavy then an intermediate round should be developed. In the mean time if even 1 in every 4 infantrymen were issued an M-14 the efficiency of the squads effective firepower at distance would be increased notably.
     
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