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Future Infantry small arms

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Tirod, Jul 16, 2010.

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  1. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    An interesting read: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/future small arms.htm

    One conclusion that could be made is the potential for a 6.5G bullpup as the future arm, to replace a short urban, long range, and even light SMG. The final comments are pretty accurate, tho. It is going to take a lot of effort to get the decision makers off the dime and actually create change.

    The military industry at present is fixated on one specific area that is actually showing the most resistance to change - the M16 magazine design. If anything, that is the biggest issue for any new caliber - it has to feed in the straight 20 round mag well.

    Guys, we can argue calibers until the cows come home (and we will,) but the more important problem to any adoption is the mag well, which is getting institutionalized as a requirement in NATO weapons. As a good example, Magpul makes the Emag, which is a euro compatible version of the Pmag for use by other platforms.

    Anyone who's seen a picture or handled a AR magazine for the 7.62x39 can immediately see the obvious problem - it looks like a bad joke, a curved AK mag with the best part cut off, attached to a 20 straight M16 with the best part cut off. It's a mystery that they work at all. That is not going pass anyones acceptance trial and will doom an otherwise good rifle.

    The problem is adopting a tapered case cartridge immediately obsoletes millions of magazines in service. That would likely also happen if the overall cartridge length is opened up, and if the case diameter changed, it still might require it. Regardless of cause, the issue is that every rifle would need ten magazines immediately, and units dozens more as backup. The obstacle of equipping, say, the entire deployed Afghanistan force with 130,000 rifles means also issuing at least 1.5 million magazines on the spot, with that many more needed.

    It makes no difference which caliber you prefer, the magazine replacement has a significant impact on fielding any one of them - and it also needs mag pouches to fit into. There's another major piece of kit to design and issue.

    Follow the money, a caliber change has a much bigger affect than we think.
     
  2. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

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    Tony William's heart is in the right place, but his depth (lack thereof) of experience is revealed in the article. The US military has a world wide mission. Almost by definition, we will never have a completely optimized weapons mix for a particular place at a particular time. What works best in the Philippines may not work well in Iran.

    I think we will always have a compromise weapons system, not an optimized one, at least in the near future.

    Agree completely about the magazine being much more key than previously known. Another important (IMHO) piece of the puzzle is systemic parts replacement as opposed to replacing parts only when the rifle fails to work. TTBOMK, we still have not adopted this as a standard practice. The company armorer should be TIing each weapon on an ongoing basis.

    One major thing Tony always overlooks is training. It's obvious that having a rifle that's good to 1000m issued to a soldier who lacks the skills to hit at 500m is a waste.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  3. unit91

    unit91 Member

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    Agreed. The tricky question is what features do we optimize -- accuracy, weight, reliability, cost, caliber, range, recoil management, commonality of parts/ammo, etc.?

    We can get several of those, but not all, and the ones we pick will always be second-guessed.
     
  4. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Tony Williams spoke at the 2010 NDIA conference and did his presentation there. There was also a rebuttal presentation from one of the Swedish guys who regularly lectures at NDIA.

    Frankly, I think we would probably be better off taking the money necessary to do a caliber change and putting it into training people how to better use the caliber they have.
     
  5. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

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    One of the things (IMHO) that is driving the 7.62 train is the restrictive ROE in Afghanistan. Playing "M240 v. PKM" games is not very effective - my choice would be a 60mm mortar in a direct fire application. PKM versus HE & WP rounds, if allowed by ROE would be a better match. For us. :)
     
  6. USSR

    USSR Member

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    +1. The problem with small arms development teams is, they are always looking to fight the last war.

    Don
     
  7. Hatterasguy

    Hatterasguy Member

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    The US Army has always fielded a mix of weapons, two rounds to supply really isn't that bad. During the Civil War and up to at least WW2 they were supplying the front line troops with more than that.


    The wars we are fighting now are really the last war in terms of arms development.


    Your not going to see anything change anytime soon in regards to caliber, NATO will have to switch and thats not happening.
     
  8. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    This is a good argument for returning the the WWII era use of multiple platforms in multiple chamberings. Forget trying to make everyone use one single weapon platform in one single cartridge. And leave the decision of what to take on a particular mission up to commanders on a much lower operational level. Why can't we do that?
     
  9. USSR

    USSR Member

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    Too many bean counters running things.:rolleyes:

    Don
     
  10. fireside44

    fireside44 Member

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    I would agree. And since the past 20 years have been spent in the desert, where range is useful, I would think a more powerful caliber rifle might be brought into service for the next 10 or 15, because realistically, with our gov't love of foreign wars that is where our armed forces will be spending the majority of their time.

    I myself wouldn't mind seeing a bit more affordable AR-10 civilian market.:)
     
  11. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    Ahh, right, let's equip our soldiers with a larger, heavier, longer rifle with less ammo and oops, that magazine thing again, along with mag pouches, back up parts, and double the ammo weight not only for the soldier but also for the entire logistics system from the factory to the battlefield.

    Not happening.

    And then we go into a situation - again - with a weapon from the last war, not the one we need. As usual.

    I tend to agree with one conclusion of the link, move to a better performing caliber. But it's not a single point change. Many other parts of suppy, kit, and training get changed along with it, and that resistance is why we have what we have right now. Make A Wish isn't going to get us where we need to go.

    If the Improved Carbine trials coming up perpetuate the M16 magazine with all it's faults, there's not going to be any real improvement. SOCOM has said as much about the SCAR regardless of whether they buy them or not. It's not better until we get rid of a restrictive mag well and cheap flimsy magazine. THEN reliability can improve and a caliber can be made to fit correctly. How the bolt is operated is icing on the cake.
     
  12. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

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    Maybe we can Kalashnikov to design the magazine since he seems to know how. :D
     
  13. Gelgoog

    Gelgoog Member

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    there is no need to replace the intermediate cartridge for all troops. If you are worried about long range encounters then just issue a few more .308 caliber rifles to some of the squads marksmen.

    I hate to say it but the ruskies had the idea right back in the 60s. they issued a few marksmen the dragonov to deal with all those long range encounters. These guys were not specialized snipers, just platoon marksmen.
     
  14. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    If the Kalashnikov has one thing that makes it reliable, it's the nearly indestructible magazine with machined steel feed lips. It's the exact opposite of what the M16 has, and much better by all accounts.

    Of course, using one means "cutting away" the front half of the mag well to accomodate the curve. Early Dutch production AR10's are showing up that have exactly that, no front wall and a slanted opening.
     
  15. fireside44

    fireside44 Member

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    By that line of thinking maybe our armed forces should switch to .22lr. Half the weight of .223/5.56.

    Hey, .22 lr has killed more people than any other cartridge, so whose to complain about it's knockdown power?
     
  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Actually that's not true. For example, in 1841-42 we adopted cap lock rifles and muskets. Previous wars had been fought with flintlocks.

    In the 1850s we developed the Harper's Ferry Bullet (often mistakenly called the Minnie Ball) and the Rifle-Musket -- a revolutionary concept for it's time.

    After the Civil War, we went to breech loaders. In 1892, just in time to get them into wide issue for Spanish-American War, we adopted a bolt action smokeless powder repeater. In 1903, we adopted a much-improved rifle, the M1903 Springfield.

    And of course we developed the famous -- and revolutionary -- M1 Garand just before WWII.

    The history of US arms development shows a forward-looking approach to firearms design and fielding.
     
  17. USSR

    USSR Member

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    Vern,

    I guess I should have stated "in our lifetime".:rolleyes:

    Don
     
  18. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    If there was as big a difference between 7.62x51 and 5.56x45 as there is between 5.56x45 and .22LR, you might have a point. Unfortunately, all you've done with this comparison is take a perfectly rational point and stretch it to absurdity.

    See if you can guess which of the below pics (from Brassfetcher if you want to cheat) are .308, .223, or .22LR:
     

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  19. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Economy of scale, additional costs for weapons of different caliber, additional training for different platforms, additional costs of magazines, additional costs of accessories, additional costs of logistics,...

    IOW, cost
     
  20. SalchaketJoe

    SalchaketJoe Member

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    Being a lefty, I am not a fan of bullpup rifles. I dont think the 5.56 is going anywhere. In the past 6 months they have started issuing 2 "new" rounds out there. Only took em 9 years to do it, but it shows that someone out there is working on improving the effectiveness of the 5.56. I think the future is in the propellents and the projectile.
     
  21. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    Al, I completely agree.


    I don't know his background well enough to comment, but it seems much more academic than practical. I notice that nearly every person without the practical experience or appreciation of an infantry unit providing an opinion on an infantry rifle generally has one thing in common - He focuses on optimizing the rifle as employed by an individual.

    Military units do not fight as individuals. The general-issue rifle need not be optimized for use by an individual, operating as an individual. Rather the make-up of the weaponry in a unit, and the capabilities of the unit in total, should be optimal to the mission.


    Practically speaking, every soldier in an infantry unit does not need to have a rifle capable of extreme long range accuracy. The unit needs to have the capability, each individual does not. I consider his criteria - 800 yards - an extremely long range. Notwithstanding the legend of the Marines at Belleau Wood, setting the goal of an 800 yard general-issue rifle, and the training needed to get the average soldier to use it at that range, is not possible.


    Mr Williams criteria from his article:

    It is impossible to achieve all these goals in the same rifle. A rifle capable of reliably producing terminal wounds at 800 meters will not be controllable in burst fire. A powerful rifle light and compact enough for urban fighting and useful when deployed from a vehicle cannot maintain a high rate of fire for several minutes without harmful effects. On and on . . .


    Compromise involves giving up specific advantages to gain general advantages. That's the reality with anything in life. I can't have a light truck that will give me good fuel mileage also be capable of safely hauling a heavy load.


    Today we're fighting an enemy who engages in small numbers, and who avoid direct engagement. Throughout the history of combat, from the first time two forces engage each other, they begin to learn how each other fight and they adapt their tactics. If we had general-issue rifles and men capable of using them out to 800 yards, the enemy would learn to stay outside that window and adapt with different tactics.

    Tomorrow we might need to fight large-scale units, the size of North Korea's or China's. Under those conditions the amount of ammunition a unit can carry and deploy with will matter quite a bit more than it does when the enemy generally doesn't mass greater than the size of a conventional platoon.


    We need to have forces capable of a world-wide mission. A mission that big necessitates compromise on the large scale, with smaller scale specialization. We might very well need a new general-issue infantry rifle. But I reject Mr. Williams' approach on what it should be, and what it must be able to do.
     
  22. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Right on.

    In fact, the key to modern small unit tactics is the fire team (which the British call a "group.") This is a sub-element of a squad, consisting of three or four men (it varies from army to army) which has several key controlling concepts.

    One of those concepts is that a fire team employs a mix of weapons -- typically a rifle, a squad automatic weapon and a grenade launcher. The result is a fighting unit where the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
     
  23. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    Mr. Williams doesn't appear to have really thought this through.

    o He claims attacks are now being launched from beyond 300 meters BUT
    ---doesn't mention whether those attacks are effective, AND
    ---makes an unwarranted assumption that the change in engagement range is due to Allied range limitations, instead of the more likely and logical reason that the superior marksmanship of US troops means engaging at closer ranges with less than completely overwhelming force is pure suicide.

    In addition, there is the obvious conclusion that Mr. Williams wants us to prepare to fight WWI again (when it comes to range).
     
  24. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    You are right in everything you say. But in his defense, let me point out that we should view such attacks as opportunities -- opportunities to kill the attackers.

    People who attack our troops should always be killed, pour encourager les autres.;)
     
  25. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think that you even have to have served in an infantry unit to understand that the first criteria is impossible to resolve with the second and third. There's no way to make a weapon controllable on burst fire that will also toss an effective projectile lethally to 800 meters with the accuracy he needs or to do it with a weapon that fits the confines of vehicles.

    If anyone is aware of any 800 meter effective weapon that is compact enough for guys in a Hummer to dismount with readily AND that line troops can control on burst fire just let me know? M14? Too long and not controllable for the average guy on burst fire. FAL? Same problems. AR10? 6.8 AR? Nope. Perhaps a theoretical 30 cal bullpup?
     
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