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Should the 5.56 be replaced?

This is a discussion on Should the 5.56 be replaced? within the Army & Security Forces forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; The problems with shooting the G3 entirely stem from having learned to shoot with a low-recoil weapon (M16/G36) only, quite ...


View Poll Results: Should the 5.56 be replaced?
No the 5.56 is good enough. 43 28.29%
Replace it with 6.5mm or 6.8mm. 76 50.00%
Just go back to the 7.62mm. 27 17.76%
Unsure. 7 4.61%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 152. You may not vote on this poll

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Old September 2nd, 2008   #61
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The problems with shooting the G3 entirely stem from having learned to shoot with a low-recoil weapon (M16/G36) only, quite simply.

As someone who was trained on the G3 entirely, the G36 is a plastic toy gun to me - albeit one that is better for suppressive fire, and targeted snap-up burst fire.

This could actually compared to one guy in my company - who regularly shot his Kar 98k, and found the recoil of the G3 laughable in comparison to 7.92x57 Mauser.
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Old September 2nd, 2008   #62
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This could actually compared to one guy in my company - who regularly shot his Kar 98k
Wait a moment- you lernend on G 3 and G 36 and a guy in your company shot the K 98? Who was it? Seargent Methusalem? (you donīt have to answer...)


When I learned shooting the G 3 I also got a black eye, but one gets used to it. Nevertheless I prefere the "toy". Remember, most gunfights are closer than hunded meters - close enough for the small bullets.

Last edited by Onkel; September 2nd, 2008 at 01:22 PM.
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Old September 2nd, 2008   #63
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Wait a moment- you lernend on G 3 and G 36 and a guy in your company shot the K 98?
Was his private K98, not an issue weapon. Interestingly, we also had one guy who had a few months experience on the AKM previously, and who did have some problems with the recoil as well.

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Remember, most gunfights are closer than hunded meters - close enough for the small bullets.
Depends on where you choose your fighting grounds. In the hills in central Europe, covered with fields and sparse forrests? You need range there.
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Old September 3rd, 2008   #64
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Depends on where you choose your fighting grounds. In the hills in central Europe, covered with fields and sparse forrests? You need range there.
Right, but in this area you donīt need an armor piercing monster of a bullet. An with a good rifle like our new toy you can more easily hit the unprotected limbs or the face over a greater range.

But donīl let us set an everlasting discussion about it- I know, there are a lot of of arguments against the smaller caliber but itīs the old question if itīs the size ore the technique.

One more point for the smaller caliber is the weight of the system (rifle plus some 60 ore 100 bullets). Not an important argument if you go by tank to battle, but for an infantry patrol carrying as well one ore to maschine guns, ammunition, a tank killer, may be a sniper rifle, communication tools, helmets wests, clothes, sanitary stuff, maybe a small uav,..., saving weight can be very important.

Last edited by Onkel; September 3rd, 2008 at 03:43 AM.
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Old September 3rd, 2008   #65
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Just something I thought of.

Hey here is a crazy idea.

What if you take a M82/M107 .50 cal sniper rifle and take off the scope and use only the iron sights for an infantry assault rifle? Does that sound practical not to replace the M16/M4 or anything but to use it as a complementary battle rifle. What do you think?
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Old September 3rd, 2008   #66
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You are right it is a crazy idea!

Use a .50cal weapon as a battle rifle?
Just have a look at the weight of the weapon and at the weight of the ammo and than think about what an infantry rifle is for
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Old September 3rd, 2008   #67
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Hey here is a crazy idea.

What if you take a M82/M107 .50 cal sniper rifle and take off the scope and use only the iron sights for an infantry assault rifle? Does that sound practical not to replace the M16/M4 or anything but to use it as a complementary battle rifle. What do you think?
I think you hit the nail on the head with your opening sentence. As best I can find M82's weigh 14kg's compared to under 4kg's for a modern ICW, 10 rounds in the mag compared to 20 or 30 round magazines, no facility for full auto should it be needed. Also what does each round weigh? you surely couldn't carry more than 50 or so rounds due to their size and weight. The exceptional range of the weapon is only useful with telescopic sights, yet you want to ditch them? Nup, all yours spider. I've done fire and movement with a Mag 58 - a bit over 10kg's and was buggered after a fairly short period of fire and movt - not fun.

The best use of this weapon would be to provide fire support from longer ranges (with its scope) in conjunction with longer range automatic weapons - say Afghanistan where the only cover for fire support may be a long distance from the enemy position. If you need the increased firepower or penetration afforded by the M82, the basic infantryman has plenty of other options at assault distances, from bullet trap grenades, M40's to M72 LAW's.

The M82 is very good at what it was designed for, but that doesn't make it the all round panacea.
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Old September 4th, 2008   #68
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You are right it is a crazy idea!

Use a .50cal weapon as a battle rifle?
Just have a look at the weight of the weapon and at the weight of the ammo and than think about what an infantry rifle is for
Well you would not have to worry about stopping power that's for sure. But at 30 lbs it would be so heavy and hard to carry around.

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I think you hit the nail on the head with your opening sentence. As best I can find M82's weigh 14kg's compared to under 4kg's for a modern ICW, 10 rounds in the mag compared to 20 or 30 round magazines, no facility for full auto should it be needed. Also what does each round weigh? you surely couldn't carry more than 50 or so rounds due to their size and weight. The exceptional range of the weapon is only useful with telescopic sights, yet you want to ditch them? Nup, all yours spider. I've done fire and movement with a Mag 58 - a bit over 10kg's and was buggered after a fairly short period of fire and movt - not fun.

The best use of this weapon would be to provide fire support from longer ranges (with its scope) in conjunction with longer range automatic weapons - say Afghanistan where the only cover for fire support may be a long distance from the enemy position. If you need the increased firepower or penetration afforded by the M82, the basic infantryman has plenty of other options at assault distances, from bullet trap grenades, M40's to M72 LAW's.

The M82 is very good at what it was designed for, but that doesn't make it the all round panacea.
But it would just look so cool if they did though, if you ever play Call of Duty 4 you would know what I mean.
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Old September 5th, 2008   #69
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This is just my two cents.

First off, I have no experience with any of the calibres or weapons (damn Australian gun laws), but I've done quite a bit of research over the last year or so in order to find more about things like this, so I'm not just someone who has watched a few movies/videos and thinks that they instantly know everything about guns. I'm not really for or against a calibre, so I'll just post the pros and cons of the 5.56 mm and the two most viable calibres for its replacement, the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel.

5.56 mm

Pros:
  • It's lightweight, so you can carry more rounds.
  • Certain loadings/bullets work extremely well, even from a carbine.
  • As evidenced from its widespread use, the 5.56 is good enough for modern combat ranges. So what if it doesn't have the same penetration as a 6.5, 6.8 or 7.62 mm? It was never designed as an armoured piercing round.

Cons:
  • The 5.56 was initially intended for not much more than deer, so it is not as effective against human targets as the .303, the .30-06 or the 7.62 mm, all of which were designed for use against human targets.
  • When fired from a carbine, such as the M4, the 5.56 quickly loses the energy and velocity needed to fragment. Admittedly, this is not such a big deal seeing as the M4 was made from CQC, but with the Marines beginning to from the M4 over the M16, problems could potentially arise.
  • The 5.56 mm lacks penetrating power. It might be an effective anti-personnel round, but with body armour on the rise and with the occasional armoured vehicle (even if it is improvised) attacking you, I think that most soldiers would like something capable of going through that kind of armour.

6.5 Grendel

Pros:
  • The 6.5 Grendel, while it will never replace the 7.62 as a sniper cartridge, is a very good all-rounder. Even from a carbine barrel, the 6.5 has a better range than the 5.56 and more energy. This would then make a carbine an excellent weapon in CQC and also pretty good at ranges out to five or six hundred metres.
  • Because of the tapered case, the Grendel (when combined with a less complex/picky extractor) would allow a weapon to be more reliable, even in desert or jungle conditions.

Cons:
  • While I'm not sure about comparative weight, magazines with the Grendel will only have 26 rounds in them if they're the same length as current magazines. So, if a soldier normally carried 11 magazines of 5.56, let's say with 26 rounds to ease the wear and tear on the springs, he would have 286 rounds, or 330 with full magazines. A soldier using the 6.5 Grendel would have a maximum of 286 rounds, or a more rounded figure of 242 rounds if the magazines had only 22 rounds in them.

    Of course, this is without comparing the weights of the respective magazines.
  • The recoil is going to be somewhere between the 5.56 and the 7.62x39. Okay, so not much of a difference compared to to what is currently in use, but it would take some extra training to work all of the kinks out.
  • While the tapered case increases reliability, it also decreases accuracy. This might not be noticed with match ammo or a 1 MOA match rifle, but it would probably be noticed with a 3 or 4 MOA assault rifle and standard ammo.

More info on the Grendel is here.

6.8 SPC

Pros:
  • The 6.8 SPC, like the 6.5 Grendel will do greater damage than the 5.56 at close range, the only difference is that the 6.8 does more damage than the 6.5 inside modern combat ranges (300 metres or so)
  • A magazine loaded with the 6.8 SPC will have 28 rounds in it, or 24 if you take some out to ease the magazine spring. As such, you can carry an extra 22 rounds, pretty much another magazine of 6.5 Grendel.

Cons:
  • The 6.8 quickly loses energy, velocity and thus range outside of 500 metres, losing even to the 5.56. Okay, so you can compensate for this drop and you're probably not going to be shooting out past this range anyway, but it would be good to have a cartridge that could do it a bit easier, just in case.
  • At even 200-250 metres, the 6.8 drifts more than the lighter 5.56 and by 500 metres this is very noticeable.

So, that's what I've dug up. I know that I've probably mucked something up here or forgotten something there, so just tell me and i'll be more than happy to change it.

But what would I recommend?

As a general purpose cartridge, I would tentatively go for the 6.5 Grendel, acknowledging that this is only armchair experience. From what I have seen, it would make a good all-round cartridge, with the ability to penetrate what a 5.56 cannot but would not also over-penetrate too much, like the 7.62. You can carry a fair amount of ammo, and I'm sure that you could always make a 30 round mag and soldiers would gradually get used to the weight. I, personally, wouldn't mind the weight if I knew that I had a rifle that could hit the enemy before the enemy hit me.

Then again, that might possibly change if I ever went on an long exercise with 30 kg of equipment.
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Old September 5th, 2008   #70
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Wow you maid a pretty good review of all the major bullets types. Just a few things though. Even in 6.8 or 6.5 you can still have 30 round mags just like the AK-47 in 7.62 has 30 round mags. There are deeper penetration 5.56 rounds out there I think there called SS109 but I'm not sure correct me if I'm wrong that is better for armor penetration. Also according to most sites I've read the M4 has an effective range of 400-600m which based over the past 100 years of warfare most combat never takes place at those ranges, mostly at 300yd or less and if the combat takes place at longer ranges than that's what snipers are used for.
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Old September 5th, 2008   #71
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Yeah, I know, but if you're after fragmentation in the ammo, the M4 isn't so good outside of a hundred metres or so. I've even heard that it has problems fragmenting outside of 25 metres, but I'm taking that with a pinch of salt. Besides this, soldiers will occasionally come into contact with an enemy outside of these ranges (hence the need for M14s in Afghanistan) and apparently soldiers with the M4 have had trouble hitting isurgents at that distance, although it has been suggested that the reason for this is that their red dot scope actually obscures the enemy at that distance.

With the 30 round mag thing, i know that, but I'm just giving the details for the current sized magazines for the respective rounds. They could very well become 30 round mags if the military adopted them, but the 26 and 28 round magazines might also allow the military to keep the current load-out weight, but that's just a guess and not even an informed one at that. I would ahve to know the weight of a fully loaded 5.56 mag and the weights of a fully loaded 6.5 and 6.8.

As for the better penetration rounds, I've heard of them but I haven't heard all that much. If they improve the performance of the 5.56 enough that it is a good all-rounder, then who am I to argue? Maybe they should even produce an overpressure round for soldiers armed with the M4 on patrol in non-urban areas or copy the best features from the Russian's 5.45 mm round (the hollow tip, which also leads to better accuracy at long ranges)?

Just a couple of thoughts.
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Old September 5th, 2008   #72
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5.56 is a great round for bullpup setups, small accurate and enough punch to drop a target even with body armor. I think the US forces in Iraq and such should work on their accuracy, having trouble with dropping a target at close range with an M4/M16 is not the bullet's fault.
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Old September 6th, 2008   #73
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5.56 is a great round for bullpup setups, small accurate and enough punch to drop a target even with body armor. I think the US forces in Iraq and such should work on their accuracy, having trouble with dropping a target at close range with an M4/M16 is not the bullet's fault.
What the actual problem is the level of maintenance required to keep both of these weapons functioning in adverse dust/sand/heat conditions and dot sights that block targets. Marksmanship should still be worked on.
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Old September 6th, 2008   #74
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I think people make the 5.56 look a lot worse than what it really is, they blow the whole thing way out of proportion, making the 5.56 appear weaker then what it really is. If someone gets shot in the head or chest/torso with a 5.56 it will kill them, its lights out for them. I know the M4 has trouble maintaining the fragmentation at range but I thought thats not until 300 yd or so and not only after 150 yd or 25 yd as someone said. To solve any performance issues maybe use some more potent gun powder and a heaver 5.56 round?
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Old September 7th, 2008   #75
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5.56 is a great round for bullpup setups, small accurate and enough punch to drop a target even with body armor. I think the US forces in Iraq and such should work on their accuracy, having trouble with dropping a target at close range with an M4/M16 is not the bullet's fault.
The 5.56 won't penetrate Level III armour and, while the 6.5 won't either, the 6.5 will at least transfer more energy into the target than the 5.56 will. Additionally, the 6.5 has more or less the same overall length as the 5.56, which would allow it to be great for bullpups as well.

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What the actual problem is the level of maintenance required to keep both of these weapons functioning in adverse dust/sand/heat conditions and dot sights that block targets. Marksmanship should still be worked on.
As I pointed out in my previous post, my concern with the 5.56 is not its close range capabilities. I even pointed out the thing with the red dot scope. My point is that, when fired from the barrel of an M4, the 5.56 is good for CQC but not so much for shooting past 300 metres or so. While most combat does take place inside this range, I think that you should have a cartridge that can deal good damage outside of this range, even when fired from a carbine barrel.

Now, if you could fire a 90 grain 5.56 bullet with a ballistics co-efficient of 0.510 at the same velocity as a 62 grain bullet, then there would be no point in changing to another calibre. Even a 62 grain bullet with a BC of 0.510, while it does not beat the 6.5 in terms of energy, would be more accurate a longer, and closer ranges, than a 6.5. When the army issues soldiers with a bullet like that, I will agree that the 5.56 does not need to be replaced. Until then, I will maintain my position that over-engineering a weapon by using the 6.5 round would be very beneficial to the army.

(All of my calculations were done using this ballistics calculator.)

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I think people make the 5.56 look a lot worse than what it really is, they blow the whole thing way out of proportion, making the 5.56 appear weaker then what it really is. If someone gets shot in the head or chest/torso with a 5.56 it will kill them, its lights out for them. I know the M4 has trouble maintaining the fragmentation at range but I thought thats not until 300 yd or so and not only after 150 yd or 25 yd as someone said. To solve any performance issues maybe use some more potent gun powder and a heaver 5.56 round?
I agree. The 5.56 is a round that does the job well enough that it is still in use. The armies of the world might be slow in making changes that could improve their soldier's performance and survival chances, but they're not that slow. The reason that I would go for the 6.5 Grendel is that I believe in ovver-engineering, just as long as doing so doesn't create more problems than it solves. In my opinion, the 6.5 would salve more problems than it would create, thus making it a good piece of over-engineering.
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