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Brits Getting into the 7.62 vs 5.56 debate

by christian on January 8, 2010

 

Military​.com sister site HM Forces has an interesting story today on the debate raging across the pond over effective calibers for long range engagements in Afghanistan.

It looks as if the UK MOD has issued what the US calls a “designated marksman” rifle for its forces there.

The Ministry of Defence has spent £1.6million on 440 semi-automatic rifles, which use 7.62mm ammunition.

The order from U.S based company Law Enforcement International followed concern that UK forces’ 5.56mm rounds were unsuitable for battle in Afghanistan.

Because the 5.56mm bullets – used in the standard-issue SA80A2 assault rifle – are smaller and lighter, they are less effective from 300 yards or further away. 

It means insurgents – who use 7.62mm ammunition for their AK47s – back off and shoot at British troops from greater distances. Half of all battles in Helmand are fought between 300 and 900 yards.

Now the MoD has splashed out on the gas-operated LM7 semi– automatic rifles – renamed the L129A1 – which can hit targets up to a mile away.

Of course, caliber doesn’t necessarily equate to range, but we get the point.

I did a little research and found some info on the LM7 from a random UK-based gamer forum. The LM7 looks a lot like a DM rifle in 7.62 with an adjustable stock. The tone of the AP report posted on HM Forces indicates the Brit military is wavering between the 5.56 SA80A2 and a higher-caliber rifle, but I seriously doubt that.

It is interesting to see the same debate cropping up in the UK over whether going back to 7.62 makes more sense:

But the purchase has raised concerns over whether the UK was wrong to give soldiers the SA80 assault rifle in 1986 rather than retaining 7.62mm firearms.

Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, a member of the Commons defence select committee, said: ‘This goes to the heart of the Nato decision back in the 1980s to go for a 5.56mm standard Army rifle. It made the SA80 rifle all the more controversial.

‘The realisation that the SA80A2 does not throw a heavy enough round for combat operations opens up the whole question of what is the right standard rifle for the British Armed Forces.’

I’ve never fired one, but it seems the SA80 is a pretty good rifle and I just don’t think it’s realistic to assume that NATO militaries are going to go back to the 7.62 as the standard issue. Anyone with more gouge from across the pond on this, please dive into the comments and tip lines to let us know more about what’s going on with this.

(Gouge: Thanks to hobsonross for the tip off)

– Christian

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{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

thealan January 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm

And….HERE COME THE GRENDEL FANBOYS!!!

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Brandon January 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm

LOL yeah

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JimboJones January 8, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I know one guy whos served out there, he said a taliban guy got cut in half with 7.62 rounds, I thought bullshit but he swore by it and he did claim it wasn't him shooting which adds to the believability as he wasn;t trying to gloat that he did it ,Anyway, the whole converstaion went on for all of 2 mins but he said 7.62 is better.

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Vitor January 8, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Poor Brits. They once tried to adopt a quite good intermediary cartridge, the .280 British as already cited. But the SA80 has a quite long barrel, that should make the 5.56mm good for 500 yards.

Actually since their rifle has a long barrel, a heavier 5.56mm (70 grains, 77 grains) should be able to give the extra punch necessary. We must remember that the current 62 grains round is far from be the best 5.56mm.

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Eddie January 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Current rounds are the heavier version and with the longer barrel are good to 600 meters, HOWEVER, the round tends to onlymake small holes in the person kind of like shooting them with an ice pick. The projectile has no mass and doesnt deform to cause tissue damage, The 5.56 was designed to shoot nothing larger than a fox.

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mat January 8, 2010 at 7:38 pm

This debate forgets that even tough 7.62 nato round packs more punch and at longer range the limit is the optics ,for beyond 400m you realy need a proper scope ,and that makes it more or less marksman rifle,and the other point is ammo weight and rifle,ammo starts getting low after couple minutes of a fire fight where everyone is shooting but don't realy see the target just have rough idea form where some one is shooting at them.So my opinion is that bigger caliber is for a marksman rifles but not for every grunt,and remember taliban have AKs with no optics so any hits at 400m are more or less lucky shots so its not like they outgun anyone

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Ryan March 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm

You don't need optics for 400M, The US used to train out to 500M. I have taken a 750M shot with a M16A2 and hit the target with out optics (I said hit the target, it was at a range not combat, I know the 5.56 is not effective at that distance). so why would they need optics? learn how to use the sights again, service men are getting too use to optics.

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Wanlace January 8, 2010 at 8:15 pm

AK fire is not necessarily that effective beyond 300 for accuracy, but the rounds may be retaining energy better. There are also 7.64×54 and .303 arms in wide use in Afghanistan that would have much better range than 5.56 also.

The SA80 was derided mainly for its durability and reliability in earlier years of adoption, but is generally deemed to be quite accurate for a service rifle.

However, the main assumption that the 5.56 adoption was based on is that riflemen would rarely engage individual targets beyond 300m, and anything else was for snipers, MGs, GLs, and heavier. Also, the idea was that riflemen needed a lighter recoiling rifle to help get draftees up to speed quickly, and that you couldn't rely on them to be precise marksmen at longer ranges (remember Quick Kill / instinctive shooting in the Vietnam era?).

Our recent experience has been that, in the mountains and/or desert and/or around civilians, you DO need riflemen to reach out AND to be precise. The 7.62 was always a better round for those priorities, and our most recent (professional) British and US infantry/specops are quite capable of the quality of marksmanship expected. They deserve a rifle that will match that skill level and operational need. Keep the 5.56 for the supply and transport types who only go to the range one or twice a year, or go the PDW route for them.

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Joe January 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I have trouble believing that an AK is effective at 300 – 900 meters. Though with a little coaching and kentucky windage, a hardcore (maggies drawers to those of you of a nautical bent) shooter such as myself, was able to hit 500 meters with an m-16 accurately.

As for the caliber debate, use 7.62mm. It is designed to kill people. Arguments about size, weight, etc what have you are immaterial. Fire discipline and target aquisition is not round dependent.

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leo January 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm

The idea behind a smaller round is that although it may not kill it will injure, a person screaming though pain affects those around them and to remove them from a battlefield can take 2 persons, so in theory for one person injuryed you are taking 3 out of the fight.

But i do agree about the fir discipline etc.

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ct man April 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

i have ar15 in 556 new from factory just ordered same in 762 x39 have shot this round in sks loved it but like ar platform better state law here no aks so hope to find out soon which 1 favorite

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Tommy January 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

The British perception is that the Afghan small arms threat comes from old time bolt action rifles (the .303 is still made in Pakistan and is formidable in the mountains), SVDs and PK machine guns, not AKs except in close country and urban areas. The UK 8 man section (squad) comprises 2 x 4 man fire teams and I suspect that one LM7 will be issued to each team, possibly as a replacement for the L86 5.56 mm Light Support Weapon. I

n retrospect the real error was phasing out the excellent 7.62 Bren LMGs, which were much lighter and handier than the GPMG and which could easily provide accurate fire to 800-1000m. There is still a feeling in the British Army that the 7 mm/.280 EM-2 (circa 1950) was the ideal weapon and should have been put into service despite US pressure to go for 7.62 (See EM-2 on YouTube). Let's face it, the 7.62 NATO round is over-powered for an ordinary infantryman, but under-powered as a medium machine gun round.

I can't help thinking that if the 5.56 mm round had been developed outside the US then it would have been rejected by the USA and USMC as inadequate. The UK is seeking to replace the SA-80 family around 2020 (cash permitting) and I suspect that since the next rifle will almost certainly be bought from H&K, FN or Colt there will be intense British pressure for NATO to go for a proper intermediate round such as the 6.5 or 6.8. If the US sticks with 5.56 I can see the UK breaking ranks on this question and if necessary seeking a partner (realistically France) to develop a new round. The current Anglo-French 40 mm CTA gun project suggests a precedent for this. However, surely the US will finally accept that 5.56 mm was a fad that has seen its day and it is time to move on to something better?

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Smokey December 15, 2012 at 5:59 am

I tend to agree with you. Based on the reading and research I have done, The .280 British round was close to ideal in terms of weight, hitting power and automatic fire. After WW II, that round was intended to replace the .303 British which is an effective long range round. The 280 round while not as powerful as the .303 at closer ranges actually out performs the old 303 past 500 yards in both the velocity and foot pounds energy. This is due to the fact that the .280 fired a 140 grain bullet which and was 7 mm meaning it cut the through the air better at distance and did not lose velocity. It was unfortunate at the time that the U.S. did not recognize how good the .280 really was. After all NATO countries adopted the 7.62, the U.S would later adopt the 5.56 which to me just seemed extreme given their insistence on the 7.62 years earlier. Everything seems to have come full circle now and the limitations of the 5.56 are being seen and we are seeing the 7.62 used again and new rounds similar to the .280 British (6.8 mm, 6.5 mm)

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Eric January 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm

That picture isn't the weapon you seek. It is a USMC M16A4 set up as a DM rifle.

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ArmChairGeneral January 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

I reckon you are wrong. See the picture at http://www.gunsandammomag.com/cs/Satellite/IMO_GA

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Rupert Fiennes January 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Christian

The L85 is (finally!) a reasonable rifle now that H&K fixed it's design, 16 years after it first entered service. However, post Falklands there was a lot of affection for the 7.62 round after special forces experience with the M16 in the same war was that 5.56 tended not to incapacitate (see Top Mal House).

I suspect 6.8 SPC's similarity to .280 British might have an impact. The UK had at one point adopted the latter as standard in the late 40's ….

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Wanlace January 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Yes, but the 7.62×39 AK round is a heavier (123gr) bullet over the 5.56 62gr ammo, so retained energy can be better even with a lower starting velocity. Some of the 77gr 5.56 match/sniper rounds make this problem a bit better, but still not a lot of punch at longer range.

7.62 NATO ball runs 150gr at 2750fps, or 173gr at 2550 for sniper/DM M118 ball, either of which have way more punch at extended ranges. Note that the 7.62×54 Russian and .303 British are similar, and the Afghans have plenty of rifles in those calibers also to harass/engage US/UK troops.

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PMI October 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Beyond 200 yards 5.56×45 retains more energy than 7.62×39 due to the superior ballistic coefficient.

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PMI October 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Damnit I should pay more attention to the age of some of these threads.

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tallcottondc January 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Do your home work children. The ak47 is a 7.62 short. A small powder charge = about 2000 feet per sec. Good to about 200 yards. The 5.62 at about 3000 feet per sec. is good to 500 yards. This is why the NATO round can reach out and touch you.

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daniel January 8, 2010 at 10:48 pm

You gentlemen realise that the 7.62 NATO and the 7.62×39 the ak fires are very different and that aks in 7.62×39 do NOT out range 5.56 weapons.

how many of you have even seen the two different rounds?

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Matt January 9, 2010 at 12:02 am

Well, but aren't most AQ bullets "misdirected" at least by professional soldier standards? If the AK round has better performance at range, and your troops can't aim anyway, why not stand off and engage in a long distance version of group musket fire?

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daniel January 9, 2010 at 12:28 am

because it doesn't, the posters or "posers" i should say saying thins most likely have only ever seen a firearm on call of duty.

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daniel January 9, 2010 at 12:30 am

Christian, look at the mag well, if that looks like a 7.62 NATO magwell to you. you need to find another job.

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RON STILLWELL January 9, 2010 at 2:47 am

TALK TO SOME RUSSIAN AND AMERICAN SNIPERS THE 7.62X54 AND THE 7.62 NATO CAN THUMP YOU AT 1000 YARDS . THERE ARE ALOT OF DEAD GERMANS THAT ARE DEAD NOW BECAUSE OF THAT RD. AND ALOT OF DEAD NVA TO. IF I WERE IN AFGANISTAN I'D WANT A M-14 WITH A 4 POWER SCOPE . THERE WOULD BE ALOT MORE TALIBAN DEAD . AMMO? WELL I CARRIED 500 TO 600 RD. ON ME WHEN I CARRIED AN M-60 IN VIET NAM . SOME TIMES I COULD CARRIE 700 RD. SO I THINK OUR GUYS COULD CARRIE AT LEAST 300RD. PLUS THERE IS THAT MACHINE GUNNER YOU COULD BUMB A FEW RD. OFF OF .THE 7.62'S ARE DEVASTATING AT LONG OR SHORT RANGE. YES THE M-14 IS HEAVY BUT SO IS THAT 303 BRITISH ENFIELD AND OTHERS WEAPONS THE TALIBAN USES. GIVE ME MY M-14. SHE NOT PRETTY BUT SHE'S DEADLY

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RON STILLWELL January 9, 2010 at 2:52 am

IT SHOULD BE CARRY NOT CARRIE .

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daniel January 9, 2010 at 3:06 am

i think you left your caps key with your ability to spell somewhere.

of course you know this but an ak fires 7.62×39 not 7.62x54r right?

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SMSgt Mac January 9, 2010 at 3:18 am

Gee, usually the .223 haters, M14 nostalgics and CAPS LOCK screamers get to these kind of threads first.

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RON STILLWELL January 9, 2010 at 3:23 am

I WAS NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT AK-47 IN 7.62X39. I WAS TALKING ABOUT 7.62X54RD IN RIFLES AND MACHINE GUNS. ALL NONE COMBAT PEOPLE PLEASE DON'T INSULT MY KNOWLEDGE OF COMBAT WEAPONS AND THIER USE AND CALIBERS.I'M 61 AND KNOW A THING OR TO ABOUT WEAPONS. THE CAN'T SPELLLLL GUYYYY!!!

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daniel January 11, 2010 at 6:21 pm

you do know then that the m16 you saw in "Nam" if you were even there was 55 grain shot out of a 1/12 twist barrel as opposed to today's 62 and 77 grain shot out of 1/7 twist barrels. the article suggested that 7.62×39 aks were out ranging 5.56 weapons CAPSLOCK GUY 7.62x54r was never mentioned. you've never seen the mountains of afghan or carried near the amount of weight anyone there does.

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SMSgt Mac January 9, 2010 at 3:30 am

Should also note:
1. Today's .223 ammo, like the weapon itself, is probably much more effective these days, so anecdotes from "back in 'Nam" shouldn't carry much weight.
2. Anecdotal examples are extremely biased toward the non-performance of a weapon design. After all, nobody b*****s about things when they go 'right' – like they seem to do generally. Otherwise we would have the horror story of the day.

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RON STILLWELL January 9, 2010 at 1:31 am

I HAVE 3 RIFLES IN 5.56 OR .223 . ONE IS A BOLT GUN[REM MODLE 700 CDL] THE OTHER TWO ARE A M-4 CARBINE. THE OTHER IS A RUGER SR-556.ALL 3 ARE GOOD RIFLES . AND ALL SHOOT GROUPS WITH IN AN INCH. AND I HAVE SHOOT VARMITS OUT TO 400 YARD GIVE OR TAKE 30 YARDS. MY POINT IS THAT THE 5.56 IS GOOD AT LONG RANGE WITH THE RIGHT BULLET WEIGHT LIKE THE 62GR. AND 68 GR.BULLETS. I LIKE THE 7.62 NATO OR .308 WIN WHICH ARE THE SAME ALSO.IF OUR TROOPS NEED A LARGER CAL. RIFLE TO ENGAGE THE ENEMY AT LONG THEN BY ALL MEANS THEY SHOULD HAVE IT. I LIVE IN COLORADO AND HUNT ELK AND DEER WHERE TAKING LONG SHOTS IS THE NORM. THE COUNTRY IN WESTERN CO. IS NOT MUCH DIFFERENT THAN AFGAN. HIGH DESERT AND RUGGED MOUNTAINS .I 'M TORN ABOUT WHAT RIFLE I'D WOULD USE THERE . I'M A BIG FAN OF THE .30 CAL.THOUGH. PS MY SON WAS A DM WITH HIS MARINE UNIT IN IRAQ.

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grave dancers union January 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

The rifle pictured above looks more like KAC’s SR25/M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System. I guess the Brits have ‘borrowed’ some until the LM7 can be deployed in theatre.

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marshall tall eagle January 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm

During WWII the US used the M-1 in a .30 cal round, it worked in the desert, it worked in the jungles of the south pacific and it beat the pants off the Germans. Whats wrong with going back to the bullet that proved it was a war bullet, because it won battles and killed the bad guys.

God Bless Our Troops

Marshall Tall Eagle

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Rifle308 January 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Christian, I saw this post about the British getting into the small arms caliber debate and decided to finally bring these articles to your attention.
The first is from the magazine Jane's Defense Weekly. I read this at the Casey Libary on Ft Hood TX. The issue date is 11 November 2009 and the article title is "Time to bite the bullet over under-fire ammo" The authors are Anthony G Williams and Nicolas Drummond. It refers to complaints about the 5.56 ammo from the British and the Germans in the first two paragraphs.
(Continued next comment.)

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Rifle308 January 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm

The second article is about a law enforcement shootout involving an AR15. The magazine is Outdoor Life. The article title is "Firing Line" by John Jefferson. The story contains an account of a shootout where the bad guy was hit,"…three times in fleshy parts of his body." The law enforcement officer (A Game Warden) who hit the bad guy was firing an AR15. Even after those hits the bad guy made a break for a tree line still carrying his SIG .357 pistol and AK47, along with extra magazines. He was brought down by an ankle hit from a .45 Glock. The Game Warden was hit by one AK47 round and died of his wounds. This incident occurred in Texas. The bad guy was a suspected poacher who led several law enforcement officers on a long car chase. The shootout was eight law enforcement officers verus one bad guy. They were all pinned down, the KIA Game Warden moved to flank the bad guy and so they exchanged fire that sadly killed the good guy.
(Continued next comment)

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Rifle308 January 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I bring the Outdoor Life article to your attention as it is an example of a major failure to stop by the 5.56 round fired from what would seem to be a standard AR15 with a full length barrel. Three hits and the bad guy was up, shooting and then running! Call it a freak mishape but reading that further sours me on the 5.56mm round.
(Finished)

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Rifle308 January 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Arrrrgh! Please forgive the typos in my previous posts. I shall sit and write "Spellcheck is your friend." a hundred times.
Rifle308

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BritTankie January 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

So much crap being spouted on here.

The British Military will NOT go back to 7.62. I've heard nothing, and I would have done by now. Lets leave it at that.

It is a weapon bought in to the British Section to give them yet one more option to engage a long range threat, along with GPMG, LSW, GMG, UGL or any mix of the above. And those are just at section level, let alone the WMIK Land Rovers.

PS For those US shooters interested, as someone who has fired both M16 and SA80, its more controllable, more accurate than your M16's but much heavier, and more awkward to use. Horses for courses, but in a war situation i'm actually fairly surprised to say i'd rather use an SA80 – british over american kit, thats a first for me… ;)

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Fred January 9, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Look at this recent photo of our troops firing the M4 pop guns in Afghanistan.
http://www.g2mil.com/crumbles.htm

Is the M4 really the standard "rifle" now?

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Russ January 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm

The 5.56mm NATO round is an improvement on the original round used in the AR15/M16 in Vietnam. However it was adopted on the basis of combat in a European Cold War era battlefield. Individual soldier's combat range of 200-300m, squad 400-500m.

For mountain warfare ranges are longer 600-800m. Now the 5.56mm can do that but 7.62mm does it better. Especial in CI where mass fire and its attendant collateral damage is counter productive, I'm surprised that more long range weapons have not be introduced earlier.

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Mark L. January 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

It's this the same issue the US had in the Philippines in the early 1900s? It was a matter of knocking down the enemy, not so much killing him… although that works too. NATO, like everyone else, wants one round (to rule them all) for logistical reasons. It also helps with training, but if you can make identical guns in different calibers, why wouldn't you? Fighting across mountain tops is not the intent of 5mm round, just like tanks are not designed for city fighting.

There is a time and a place for everything, like the new MATV and new camo patterns, a new (return) caliber bullet is fine by me.

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Lou January 10, 2010 at 12:39 am

This is 1965 revisited. I remember that about the time I was discharged from the US Army ,late 1965 the combat units going to Nam were issued the M-16 in .223 Rem/5.56 Nato as it's called now. I thought then as I do now that it was/is a good groundhog gun but not a serious combat caliber. The 762×51 Nato is a far better caliber. The fact that a soldier either UK or USA could carry more 5.56 ammo it a unimportant point is my opinion because the consumption in a battle with at least the M-16/M-4 and it variants that the US Military uses is greater because of the semi-automatic feature. I was trained with and carried an M-14 during my Army career. The M-14 had semi-automatic capability but it was not utilized any time that I remember. My opinion is go back to teaching the soldiers to aim be they American or British. Spraying lead at an unseen enemy is in my opinion a waste of ammunition. It all comes down to discipline and training.

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Rifle308 January 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

BritTankie, just how is my referencing an article in Jane'e Defense Weekly,"So much crap being spouted on here."? The article clearly says complaints about the 5.56mm round are being made by both British and German troops.
So what if you have heard nothing? Just who the heck are you? Anyway ,no one has said/written that a overall change in rifle caliber is imminent, just that concerns about the 5.56mm are being raised. Again.
Rifle308

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Lou January 10, 2010 at 1:30 am

This is 1965 revisited. I remember that about the time I was discharged from the US Army ,late 1965 the combat units going to Nam were issued the M-16 in .223 Rem/5.56 Nato as it's called now. I thought then as I do now that it was/is a good groundhog gun but not a serious combat caliber. The 762×51 Nato is a far better caliber. The fact that a soldier either UK or USA could carry more 5.56 ammo it a unimportant point is my opinion because the consumption in a battle with at least the M-16/M-4 and it variants that the US Military uses is greater because of the semi-automatic feature. I was trained with and carried an M-14 during my Army career. The M-14 had semi-automatic capability but it was not utilized any time that I remember. My opinion is go back to teaching the soldiers to aim be they American or British. Spraying lead at an unseen enemy is in my opinion a waste of ammunition. It all comes down to discipline and training.

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SMSgt Mac January 10, 2010 at 2:26 am

RE: Outdoor Life article. One question with a preface: the bad guy was hit three times – WHERE was he hit? Sounds like a case of "T'is only a flesh wound!"

OK. geniuses, this is getting old (again). A challenge for you: present your argument as to:
WHY the Army needs to arm EVERY soldier in the field with a bigger caliber 'long gun' than what they're getting at the moment.
Let's hear some reason and logic (vs. anecdotes). Credit for answers* will ONLY be given if they address:
1. Current combined arms and purple-suit doctrines
2. Appreciation of the total combat load shooters need to carry and the operating environment in which they are carrying their kit.
*Opinions unsupported by evidence presented must be prefaced with "In my Opinion" or equivalent.

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Pete January 10, 2010 at 9:33 am

One round went into his heart, two rounds went into his brain. Apparently he still was acting normally hours later after his arrest, and only new he had been hit when someone pointed out that they could see daylight coming out the back of his skull and his spine.

Further more, the Game warden was hit a glancing blow to his ankle by the AK-47 round at 800meters distant causing instant death.

These stories are so common. They come up all the time.

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SMSgt Mac January 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Proving once again: "it is better to be lucky than good. See also Bocat9's comment below.
In any case, the weapon I'd want in my hand would depend very much on what I was doing and where I was doing it.

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Jonathon January 10, 2010 at 3:45 am

What the heck is going on with the 6.8 mm SPC? I've read plenty of hoopla about it, but is anyone planning on adopting it?? OK, logistics might be a problem, but I would rather have enemy dropping dead with some supply problems than have all the ammo in the world and not be killing enemy. There have been plenty of grumblings about the effectiveness of the 5.56 mm NATO in US military circles as well, otherwise no one would have bothered to come up with the 6.8 mm SPC. BTW, this round was designed by an Army SF MSG in cooperation with a fellow from the Army Marksmanship Unit. See Cartidges of the World, 11th ed. – the whole story is in there and it's pretty interesting, especially their search for .30 Remington cases to use in experimentation.

5.56 mm NATO is not considered to be a legal round for deer hunting in the U.S. (no matter what bullet is used). An average whitetailed deer weighs around 150-200 pounds, about what your average adult male weighs. If it's not guaranteed to knock down a deer, why would it be guaranteed to knock down a human? 7.62 mm NATO or 6.8 mm SPC will do that job.

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SMSgt Mac January 10, 2010 at 4:30 am

Couple of problems.
It IS legal to hunt deer with a .223 AR in parts of the US. Shooter boards are solidly divided as to the wisdom of it, with the division generally following the confidence each shooter has in his/her ability to get a clean kill. I wouldn't do it, but I also don't bowhunt for the same reason. It is no different than choosing to pass on the shot because of range, or other shooting conditions.
I submit that your deer vs man analogy is flawed for a number of reasons. First, the physiology of deer is too dissimilar for comparison (and this is not including the body mass distribution aspect involved). Bone density, circulation system, target areas (don't want to ruin the meat on a hunt, but who cares about the Talibs?) – all are too dissimilar. A better analogy would be nominal man vs a (really big) goat with really big extremities to more closely emulate a human physique.

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SMSgt Mac January 10, 2010 at 4:37 am

and to clarify: by '.223 AR' I include 5.56 NATO ammo. thicker cases on 5.56 NATO offers reloaders an opportunity to punch up the load as well – (not advised though)

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Jonathon January 11, 2010 at 8:48 am

Thanks for the reply. So, I do admit that deer and humans are quite different animals – after all, deer are vegetarians whereas humans are omnivores that eat quite a bit of meat and no grass! How about a PIG? I think they are somewhat more similar to us physiologically. Given, however, that a deer might have more ability to withstand being shot than a human (I doubt a human could run 100 yards after taking a .30-30 slug in the chest), wouldn't we be sure that if it DID knock down a deer it would be GUARANTEED to knock down a human?

Just wondering…

Jonathon

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defensor fortissimo January 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm

pigs would probably be a better example. They are physiologically similar enough that they are the normal substitute for humans when examining the affects of bullets on the human body, see mythbusters. As for the initial question i agree with senior mac that part of the reason deer can theoretically withstand more is the initial placement of the bullet. On the debate at hand on the effectiveness of the 5.56 i'm with Bocat in that the 5.56 round is useful depending on the situation. As for Guinevere, do everyone a favor and shut up. We didn't come here to get proselytized to on insane political rhetoric so enough with the name calling and rants.

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SMSgt Mac January 12, 2010 at 9:38 am

continued…
this discussion reminded me of something I found doing research for a SNCOA paper on the myriad of reasons why women were less suitable for combat (pretty sure the paper was why I was a only a DG 'candidate' [eligible on merit] and not a DG [selected] but that is another story). My research took me to the DOD study on WWII fatalities. The absolute number one cause of death was shock, and the absolute number one cause of shock was loss of blood (women have less blood per pound of bodyweight than men, and their red blood cells cary about 20% less oxygen on average if I remember correctly) . Perhaps the goats' central nervous systems have something to do with their long standiing use in gunshot studies? I have no idea.

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SMSgt Mac January 10, 2010 at 12:30 am

Couple of problems.
It IS legal to hunt deer with a .223 AR in parts of the US. Shooter boards are solidly divided as to the wisdom of it, with the division generally following the confidence each shooter has in his/her ability to get a clean kill. I wouldn't do it, but I also don't bowhunt for the same reason. It is no different than choosing to pass on the shot because of range, or other shooting conditions.
I submit that your deer vs man analogy is flawed for a number of reasons. First, the physiology of deer is too dissimilar for comparison (and this is not including the body mass distribution aspect involved). Bone density, circulation system, target areas (don't want to ruin the meat on a hunt, but who cares about the Talibs?) – all are too dissimilar. A better analogy would be nominal man vs a (really big) goat with really big extremities to more closely emulate a human physique.

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Pete January 10, 2010 at 9:27 am

If the M-4 is a great weapon (and it appears it is having stood the rteat of time), and the AK-47 7.62×39 has the knockdown power, then how come the weapon is not issued with a new upper and magazine that companies like Bushmaster allready manufacture?.

You wouldn't have supply problems with the ammo like the 6.8mm wannabes, as the Taliban and insurgents will supply them as these countries are awash with them.

The truth is that all in all, with a little help from some 7.62mm weapons that the 5.56mm round teamed with an M-4./SA -80 is all in all a near perfect balance of accuracy, compactness, firepower and hitting power. Knock down power alone is not the answer, or everyone would be issued with a .50cal M-82 Barrett.

There is nothing stopping anyone on this site designing and building there own weapon system, I mean Mike Kalashnikov did it from a hospital bed in the Soviet Union. Do a good job boys, and ALL the armies in the world will beat a path to your door.

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SkysoldierRecon January 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm

a bigger round would be nice, but its not gonna happen. 6.8mm would do nicely, and Bushmaster sells 'em..there are plenty of 6mm and up weapons..7.62X39 is just wat 1 poster said, "7.62 short" great 4 up close and personal, but a 5.56 NATO outranges it. Really would like to see the whole small arms weapons sytems overhauled.

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BOCAT9 January 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I don't claim to be an expert, but here is my two cents. I used to get worked up over this stuff, but now I have come to accept one ugly fact: there are no "magic" bullets available to the infantryman on today's battlefield. Several years ago, I stood up in an auditorium at Fort Benning, Ga., and got into a pissing contest with some guy from the Small Arms Branch of The Soldier Requirements Division. I said that the 5.56 round from the M4 was ineffective against insurgents. He simply responded that the problem was with my marksmanship. I was livid! How dare he? Had this clown ever been in a real firefight? Sometime during my next tour in Iraq I had an epiphany: we were BOTH right.
I have seen people shot with 5.56, 7.62×39, 7.62 NATO and 7.62x54R who are still alive to talk about it. I've also seen folks dropped like a sack of s**t by each of these rounds. Rifle terminal ballistics on human targets are a funny thing. As it turns out, kinetic energy only matters insofar as it influences the depth of bullet penetration, and since the military configurations of each of these rounds will routinely pass cleanly through a human target (even at extended ranges), it seems to be a non-factor. .30 caliber slugs will make a slightly larger permanent wound cavity over .22 caliber in soft tissue, but it still isn't all that large. Using current FMJ ammunition (a reality that will not change anytime soon), none of these rounds will guarantee neutralization of an enemy unless a bullet disrupts the central nervous system or mechanically immobilizes them by breaking bones (in my experience a common fight stopper). I am talking about incapacitation rather than lethality since a determined enemy can still cause much grief before he finally expires.
That said, 7.62 NATO offers certain advantages to the grunt over the 5.56. One is much greater barrier penetration. Another is what MAJ John Plaster (RET) describes as "Ballistic Advantage": essentially, that the bullet's increased mass and momentum make it inherently more accurate at ranges beyond 400 yards.
In defense of the 5.56, it offers light weight, flexibility and low recoil in a compact weapon. Both have earned their place in the infantryman's inventory, and to exclude either is folly in my opinion.

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Jonathon January 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

How about impact energy? A 5.56 mm round has less than 2000 fp of muzzle energy, whereas a 7.62 NATO or &.62x54R is closer to 3000. Does shock value count here?

Jonathon

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Jed January 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

There is nothing really wrong with L85A2, except that its heavy, and has no regard for "south paws". When I joined the RN in the 80's I learned to shoot 7.62mm from the big unwieldy monster that was the SLR, when I joined the Army (reserves) after 9/11 I learnt to shoot again with the "SA80" – but I think the caliber debate is a red herring to some extent.

There is a set of papers (as PDF) on the Royal United Services Institute (RUIS.org) site that cite all the old studies about infantry not being able to hit shit past 200 yards in combat stress conditions. The various authors suggest that training needs to put an emphasis on how to lay down 'suppressive' fires, while using platoon level or indirect fires to kill the bad guys. One of the papers goes so far as to suggest the personal weapon should be a 5.7mm P90 or a 4.7mm HK, useful out to 200 yards, beyond which you rely on bigger stuff. Their argument also contends that because say a P90 with 2 x 50 round mags weighs so much less that the standard load-out with an L85A2, that everyone in the section so equipped could carry a 100 round 7.62mm belt, or a bunch of 40mm grenades. So a 7.62mm LMG and a 6 round 40mm grenade launcher for each section PLUS more 'designated marksmen' would deal with the 300 yard plus ranges, that and the non-kinetic kit being carried such as radios, Rover terminals and laser rangers for the direction of indirect fires.

So, perhaps the convesation needs to head in a different direction than the usual old 5.5.6 v 7.62 bust up ???

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Wanlace January 11, 2010 at 5:20 am

BOCAT9's remarks I think are quite on point – there is no 'magic bullet'. However, the ballistic advantage issue is a real one in more open terrain environments. The prior poster who mentioned having alternate rifles presents a nice option (note: one that SOCOM seems to favor with the SCAR variants in 5.56 and 7.62 being issued) but that is probably not a great option for general issue due to the expense and logistics involved.

I would still argue that the 7.62 NATO is a more capable and appropriate round for highly competent infantry and special forces. Yes, something like the 6.8 SPC or the old .280 Enfield might be more ideal when encompassing CQB ranges, but it is unlikely that a whole new round could be adopted in the current wartime supply environment (and there are the existing stockpiles to consider – same issue that kept .303 and 30-06 around for WW1 and WW2 when other rounds were considered).

7.62 NATO will perform well in accuracy, retained energy, and penetration across the whole range envelope for infantry combat. It has never been replaced by any military for failure to perform, only for standardization and for reduced weight/increased count of ammunition. When our rifle fire is increasingly precise (better trained soldiers overall, better sights) and we are less inclined to use scads of full auto blasts from individual rifles, it makes much less sense to emphasize round count over ballistic performance.

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Wes January 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm

The 6.8 SPC is weak sauce.

"B-but it was designed by a SPECIAL FORCES master sergeanZOMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!111"

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Riceball January 11, 2010 at 5:48 pm

As far as the lethality of the 5.56NATO round is concerned I think that has to do with 2 factors; one is the twist of the rifling in the barrels of M16s and probably other 5.56 service rifles as well, and the construction of the round itself. From what I've read, the early M16s had a much looser twist in the rifle which reduced range and accuracy but would cause the round to tumble in flight or upon impact (don't remember which it is) which would create a larger wound channel and presumably be more lethal. However, over time the twist in the rifling grew tighter so that the round wouldn't tumble which made the rifle more accurate and gave it better range. Add to that the standard issue round had a hardened tip and/or a hard core in order to allow it to better penetrate body armor, however, this meant that the round tended to zip right on through an unarmored person leaving nice little 5.56mm diameter holes in a person but would otherwise leave them relatively intact and able to continue to fight unless a major organ was hit. This was an issue in Mogadishu during the Battle of the Black Sea where the opposition was unarmored and there were reports of the enemy being to continue to move and fight despite being hit multiple times, of course many of them were high on khat as well so they didn't feel much pain either.

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PRFTW January 12, 2010 at 2:31 am

PR FTW

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Chaz January 12, 2010 at 3:06 am

The SA80 is great on a range but in RL? This is why no-one has bought them except for HM forces.

The AUG however has been accepted by many armed forces and is battle proven. The ADF have used it for many years.

Sorry i just can't see AK's being used to lay down accurate fire at the ranges mentioned. In the end it is designed to lay down supressive fire at relatively short ranges 50-100 m. However I've seen many reports saying that Talban have improved their sniping capabilites as welll as long range MG skills which could be what the MOD are referring to.

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A.C January 12, 2010 at 11:08 am

The "random gamer forum" is the site of Project Reality, a modding team who work on the game Battlefield 2. The original intention of PR was to include the British Armed Forces – the mod's moved much further on than just that, but it's why the site tends to end up with up-to-date info and pics of new hardware; a large following of British service personnel.

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Wanlace January 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Yes, you can hit targets with a 5.56 at 500m or even more – US highpower rifle competitors go out to 600+yards with great results, assuming 75-80gr projectiles are used. The issue is how effective the rounds are on target when they get there (there is also some wind-resisting advantage for a larger/higher BC 7.62 round for better accuracy).

One venue (maybe the only one) in which 5.56 can be better is for law enforcement SWAT/patrol and general urban CQB. If you specifically DO NOT WANT a lot of range or penetration to limit harm to noncombatants and friendly personnel, and/or you want a very compact rifle for moving through doors, halls, and alleys (and/or you generally don't see/engage targets more that 150-200m away), then the 5.56 can be very good. However, as a general issue service rifle you have to assume it will be used at times in environments well beyond that range envelope. Again, 7.62 WILL get the job done at closer ranges (yes, bigger rifle, more weight, but still effective) and also is more effective at longer ranges. Penetration of barriers, vehicle bodies and armor is also going to be better across ranges.

One approach increasingly in play that may allow more caliber flexibility is to use alternate upper receivers, or use and train with different variants of the same rifle. The M4/M110 pairing allows for this, if we expand the M110 numbers and configure them more for general issue. The SCAR M/L combo allows for this. The Israeli Galil rifle was made in 7.62 NATO and 5.56 variants, so there are ways to do this.

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Matt January 12, 2010 at 7:39 pm

From what I have read (and I am hardly an expert here) the 6.8mm SPC round is superior to 5.56 in accuracy, terminal velocity, and energy, though inferior in point blank muzzle velocity. More to the point, converting existing weapons to 6.8–I think–requires just a bolt and barrel change, which makes it a lot more feasible than overhauling the entire arsenal and/or reissuing M14s to everyone.

I respect the history of the 7.62x54mm round, but it was dropped for perfectly valid reasons of weight and controllability. The P-51 and the Jeep were likewise legendary in their era, but no one seriously considers bringing them back for front line use.

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 13, 2010 at 6:53 am

Also, as I understand it (having worked with small arms for a couple of years), most standard NATO 5,56x45mm magazines will not feed the 6,8mm SPC reliably. So we're talking new barrel, new bolt, new magazines.

Personally, I'd prefer something like the 6,5mm MPC (5,56x45mm necked out to 6,5mm) or one of the "small" Whisper series in a supersonic loading. Then you "only" need a barrel change.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Rifle308 January 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Sir, I am a 7.62mmX51mm fan, but I'd cheer any change that would take the US military standard small arms caliber up to around 6.5mm! Enjoy your posts.
Rifle308

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 13, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Incidentally, at the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando, I asked a rep. from Remington LE & Military if they had considered tactical applications for the then-brand-spanking-new .30 Remington AR. A .30 caliber bullet, with (supposedly) 80% of the ballistics of the 7,62x51mm, all in a .223-size package……what's not to like?

As I understand it, though, it won't be practicable to convert existing .223 weapons to .30 Remington AR, since the differences are simply too great – but if you are going to buy a new weapon anyway? Something like an XM8 in .30 Remington AR? I'd want one.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Matt January 14, 2010 at 1:41 am

From what I've read, govt-issued magazines don't even feed 5.56 all that well, and recently they've had to switch to more expensive mags with anti-tilt followers and dust seals anyway.

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blacksmith January 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm

We need to develop an intermediate round between 5.56 and 7.62 like the chinese have done for the infantry and keep the 7.62 for snipers. A 250-3000 Savage (.25 caliber) type round with less body taper perhaps. The original loading used an 87 grain bullet at 3000 fps.

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 13, 2010 at 7:02 am

1. No need to develop anything. There's the 6,8mm SPC, the 6,5mm Grendel, the "small" Whisper series, the 6,5mm MPC, the 6,8mm UCC, the 6,5mm/7mm PPC's, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Pay your money and take your pick.

2. "….like the chinese have done"? If you are referring to the 5.8x42mm, the present service cartridge of the PLA, then every source I've seen has this ammunition being AT BEST no more effective than the 5,56x45mm. E.g. http://world.guns.ru/ammo/am_assault-e.htm states that the "standard" loading of the 5,8x42mm is about equal to the 5,56x45mm M885 (both featuring a 4,15 g bullet at approx. 930 m/s). There's a "high pressure" 5,8x42mm loading as well, with a 5 g bullet at a slightly lower velocity, for increased performance at range.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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LanguageGuru January 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm

The 7.62 (which is the SH*T if you asked me…) was used as a longer range cartridge, and was replaced by the 5.56 for BS reasoning. I think the 7.62 is great for the Afghan terrain, and especially what with the way some of these guys are built. The 5.56 is really a small game / varmint cartridge, not a drop-a-mofo-in-his-tracks-with-one-shot deer / large game cartridge

PS – Fak the M4, I wisht I had been issued a M14 instead!!

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bobby January 14, 2010 at 7:05 pm

forget that…. use the 6.8

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rerun January 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm

As I finished basic in the last class trained on the M14 – FLW, Mo. 07-68, When I got to RVN-01-70 & was trained? (12 min), the initial conclusion was that it failed in the final qualification for an infantry weapon – it made a miserably poor club!!! As one who practiced marksmanship since my preteens, in qualification firing, if the sling was used, it sprayed hits around like a blunderbuss. Without, expert qual was barely possible, compared to a slam dunk with the M14. Later , it was determined that the thin barrel on the -A-1 model could be distorted by the sling pressure when hot.
Realizing the drastically varied situations the services may face, prehaps the 6.5×55 Swedish/Mau? Well over 100M

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rerun January 17, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Error in my text: after trained? on the M16 (12min) is correct

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rerun January 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Not my day I guess, effective range for the Swede is plus 1500 M.

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anthony January 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I carried the m-60 also and it is a good weapon never had problems withit !!

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Matt January 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm

You must be a defensive lineman. Doesn't that gun weigh close to 30 pounds loaded? Mere mortals would have problems lugging that thing around the mountains.

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Doubleodoug February 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm

"It means insurgents – who use 7.62mm ammunition for their AK47s – back off and shoot at British troops from greater distances." The insurgents use 7.62×39 rounds, not the 7.62×51 NATO rounds. These two rounds share a diameter, but they are NOT the same. 7.62×39 ammunition actually has a lower effective range than 5.56×45 NATO because it is so much slower.

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chihene February 10, 2010 at 12:41 am

If I had a choice, I would prefer the 7.62….you have more choices for bullet components….heavy for shorter ranges as in jungles or lighter for flatter trajectories for longer distances as in open terrain…and the 7.62 packs more energy …but if someone is shooting at me. I will slay him with the m16…..or anything else I can get my grubby hands on including a beat up AK…nothing beats a well trained soldier….hitting the target is number one…

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death April 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Everyone hates the 5.56x45mm but what about the, 7.62×39 Does ANYONE know why NOBODY complns about it? BECAUSE THERE ALL DEAD!

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jay May 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm

The person that wrote the article is a bit confused I think.
QUOTE: "It means insurgents – who use 7.62mm ammunition for their AK47s – back off and shoot at British troops from greater distances."

The 7.62×39(ak round)is not going out distance the 5.56 and be used as some kind of standoff sniper rifle. The AK has many strengths and is certainly well known for is reliability and durability but it has never been been an accurate flat shooting sniper like rifle.
The 7.62×51(.308) like the L1A1, M14, or G3 will out distance the 5.56(especially with a 20" barrel), but the 7.62×39(ak round) is not the same as the 7.62×51

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mark July 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm

GRENDEL!
Sorry. the SA 80 is anecdotally effective at circa 500, 550 metres. The most accurate basic service rifle going, i belive.
Thoughts this side of the pond include something like 7mm with extra power charge, maybe even 6.5mm with extra charge.
Who knows. Most british procurement involves looking long, lovingly and hard at what works: then choosing the **** option.

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Samuel Dighan March 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

The 5.56 is to rifles and carbines what the 9mm is to handguns. Most LE have concluded 40 S&W to be superior to 9mm. The handgun debate is now on 45 ACP (stopping power) versus 40 S&W (capacity + power).

Regarding rifle rounds, I’d choose the 7.62×51 (.308) or x39 any day over 5.56 (.223) for a LE or home defence situation. If I had to worry about providing suppressing fire, weapon control while full-auto, AND humping around a full load for an entire day, 5.56 MIGHT win.

Army support logistics would need completely re-evaluated for squads w/ 7.62. Right now might not be a good time for that. However providing 7.62 (distance) and 12 gauge shotgun (house-to-house) to our troops would be optimal. The right tool for the right job every time is what they deserve, but improvise/adapt/overcome is the reality.

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Tvaroh October 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm

L129A1 a good idea, why?
7.62 mm vs. 5.56 mm = 7.62 winner !!!!!!!!!!!!!
DMG + range + accuracy + look cool.
: D
bullpup design (SA80) is unreliable, difficult, ugly, weak, and they range! + DMG is the shit!
: D
L129A1 is a great idea! In battle is better!!

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Glenn Southerland February 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The 7.62 NATO round is larger than the AK-47's 7.62X39mm round though. it just means it is a bigger round. its not really the size of the round that matters its how much power its carrying behind it. Up the grain in 5.56mm and put a hollow-point tip on it this round will have just as much power as the 7.62. The 5.56mm carries much more speed than the 7.62mm which leads to greater risk of over penetration. When the round goes through the body its not doing as much damage as it would have if it were to lodge itself in the person, this is why the 7.62 is a great choice becuase with the 7.62mm even if the round penetrates the target and goes through and through the round will leave a much larver exit wound meaning much more tissue and nerve damage than the 5.56mm round would do. The 5.56 has its benefits but in terrain such as Afghanistan the 7.62 NATO round would reighn superior. As for the 7.62X39mm being shot out of the AK it is not the best round. If the round were placed in another weapon such as a PTR-91KF series this round would do much better making it a superior choice over the AK. Its not always the round, sometimes its the gun shooting it.

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tatsumi August 21, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I think the prototype of the SA80/L85 was indeed designed, for a ,280/ 6.8mm round initially, look it up !.

Found …. http://futurewarstories.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/fw

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Yeah, Im that guy January 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Cant hit a CAR at 300 meters???!!!! Hilarious! Sorry, but while the AK platform is by no means useful at extended ranges, it is certainly capable of hitting a TORSO at 300 meters. Even my shitty,$300, built from rejected parts, Romanian wasr10(with a canted front sight base!) can do that! Have you ever fired an AK?

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