Should the 5.56 be replaced?

Should the 5.56 be replaced?


  • Total voters
    163

buffy9

Active Member
Post moved from Made in Singapore Equipment to this relevant thread.

A follow-up question.

I recently watched this video on the US trials for a 6.8mm rifle and round (and another on the trials for a .338 MG) from Task & Purpose.

If, in 10 years, the US moves to a brand new 6.8mm cartridge, would Singapore follow suit?

I'll leave this here, as it is related and pretty informative (aside from the menial meming here and there).

The US Army has stated previously it will only replace the current service rifle if technology has offered an improved enough product. The use of polymer/composite based ammunition is certainly a weight saver, though as stated Sig Sauer is betting on not upending the ammunition industry in the US - can't comment, might depend on how important the industry is to certain politicians.

At the end of the day though the initial purchase of the weapon is not a replacement, it only seeks an initial (albeit large batch) to insure the weapon meets requirements before committing. Until a supply chain can be set up for the new weapons and their ammunitions, the 5.56 will continue to be employed in large numbers by the US. To any US ally, it would be logical to continue employing 5.56 in order to maintain interoperability and to tap into that supply chain.

It depends how interoperable Singapore wants to remain with the US and how willing it is to invest in what is arguably a modest gain. As noted by others there are other factors. Barrel length is one, depending on circumstances though likely to be shorter for SAF, due to their emphasis on urban warfare and less on stand-off firefights. As also noted by sgtgunn, rounds within 100m become less of an issue.

I think it is interesting and worth considering down the track, but until a supply chain and suitably equipped force has been created it is unlikely. The US appears to be doing this with an initial order, though there is room to not commit.

5.56mm works for the job that needs done. It is lethal and comparatively light (putting aside polymers/composites), whilst at the same time being compatible with a wide array of weapon systems. I'd argue the weapon design, the training of the operator and enhanced tactics are more pertinent to the success of a battle.

On a side note, the situation may be different if we are going back to Afghanistan. Long range firefights and weight reduction in ammunition are more favourable there, evidenced by some Aus SOTG guys going out with AK and PKM systems when it mattered. Still most of the firefighting and the vast majority of missions occurred in urban environments.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
If, in 10 years, the US moves to a brand new 6.8mm cartridge, would Singapore follow suit?
1. @CheeZe, changing to a new cartridge is much more than just changing the barrel of Singapore’s assault rifle. ST Kinetics has said that the 5.56mm BR-18 has an effective range of 460m and 800m when fired with M193 (earlier gen US round, with a 55 grain projectile) and SS109 ammunition (NATO standard round), respectively. The BR-18 has a muzzle velocity of 860 m/s when employing the NATO standard SS109 rounds out of its 14.5" barrel. To make effective use of the 6.8mm cartridge, which has even more range, you will need to:

(i) change all 300m ranges to 600m ranges and all 100m ranges to 200m ranges. Beyond a change in the ACTP and DCTP manuals and training methods, the SAF will need to double or triple the time spent at the range — which means building triple the amount of ranges; plus the heightening the requirements for the marksmanship badge;​
(ii) change the optics on all assault rifles and section automatic weapons to 1-6x variable scope to cope with the increased range afforded by the BR-18;​
(iii) change all assault rifles and section automatic weapons;​
(iv) conduct load trials on the new 6.8mm ammo weight and weapons to see the injury rate of our conscripts for the new combat load;​
(v) upgrade all section sharpshooters’ training to the standards of company marksman and to have them trained to reliably shoot out to 800m, given that the 5.56mm BR18 Sharpshooter Rifle with a 20" barrel (stabilized by the 1:12 twist with same length as the M16S1) is effective at way beyond 800m; and​
(vi) modify our doctrine manuals on urban and jungle warfare and so on to take advantage of the new cartridge,​

therefore, I see no need to be an early adopter, given the terrain the SAF is expected to operate in.

2. The SAF is so cost conscious that Singapore has not even adopted the M885A1 round used by the US Army or the older Mk318 Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST) round preferred by the US Marines (or such other improved 5.56mm bullet to suit the SAR-21’s 1:12 barrel twist on a 20 inch barrel or the new BR-18 barrel twist). Therefore, I am not optimistic of any change by the SAF from the 5.56mm cartridge for the next 15 years.
3. In Jan 2019, the Marine Corps selected a Vista Outdoor company to build a barrier penetrating 5.56mm round that’s especially useful for potential urban combat. The contract with Federal Cartridge Company, a Vista subsidiary, puts more than US$41 million behind the effort, which is expected to run into 2023.

4. Thales Australia is building a M855A1 clone in their F9 round to be used with Australia’s F90MBR with a 1:7 barrel twist. The F90MBR, using the F9 round enables an Australian soldier to reach up to 600m accurately and with ease. The NZDF is also using the Australian made F9 heavier round (which I believe is also a 62 grain projectile).

5. In 2013, the SAF invested in the Multi-Mission Range Complex (MMRC) which is a 100m range, a dual level range (for urban shoot-up and shoot-down) and 50m shoot scenario range. When a decision was made to go ahead in building the MMRC prior to 2013, the SAF must intend to use it till 2033 without upgrades (or needing to build a co-adjacent complex for longer shoot ranges).

6. Ironically, in an urban battle, the 6.8mm will absolutely out perform the 5.56mm, and at a minimally increased amount of recoil. The 6.8 SPC delivers 44% more energy than the 5.56mm NATO (M4 configuration) at 100–300 metres. Plus manufacturing technology for polymer / composite based ammunition bullets to give weight savings will continue to improve and change for the better in the next 15 years — it might be something for DSTA to review in 2035 and possibly plan for change in the late 2040s; when the SAF is more certain of the direction that US, NATO, and/or other FPDA powers will take.
 
Last edited:

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I'm old school and not afraid to admit it. I used the FN L1A1 SLR 7.62 mm battle rifle. I also had some use of the Steyr AUG 5.56 mm bullpup rifle. The SLR was IMHO, by far the better weapon because it could reach out and touch an enemy at a good range, and when you shot them, they stayed shot. They didn't get back up in any great hurry because you needed only one, maybe two rounds to do the job depending upon how good you were.

With the 5.56 mm round, my belief is that it's to small and doesn't have the reach when needed. It can take more than one round in the torso to put an enemy down, necessitating multiple rounds on the target. When the Steyr entered service we were told that the new strategy was that it takes 10 bods to remove one wounded enemy from the battlefield to the hospital. But that's still one enemy who can return to the fight later and those 10 bods are only removed from the battlefield temporarily.

I was taught never to leave a live enemy behind me by an uncle who fought the Japanese in the bush in the Pacific Islands. When I joined the RNZAF we were taught to shoot to kill and we had the perfect weapon for that in the SLR. The Warrant Officer who taught us, had fought the VC and NVA in Vietnam. He had used the M-16 5.56 in 'Nam and when I was speaking to him a few years later said that the round was to small and useless compared to the 7.62 mm round.

The 7.62 mm is heavy, but has the stopping power and range. The 5.56 mm round is light but doesn't have the range and lethality that is really required. That's why I like the new 6.8 mm round with polymer casing, because you get the best of both the legacy rounds, plus the weapon doesn't jump all over the place on fully auto, like a 7.62 mm weapon does.
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
I'm old school and not afraid to admit it. I used the FN L1A1 SLR 7.62 mm battle rifle. I also had some use of the Steyr AUG 5.56 mm bullpup rifle. The SLR was IMHO, by far the better weapon because it could reach out and touch an enemy at a good range, and when you shot them, they stayed shot. They didn't get back up in any great hurry because you needed only one, maybe two rounds to do the job depending upon how good you were.
I thought this comparison was rather interesting. 5.56mm (M855A1) vs .308 (similar to 7.62mm?) against Russian GOST IV body armour:



For those too lazy to watch ( :p ), only the armour-piercing .308 M61 round managed to penetrate. Can't remember what the exact range was but IIRC they were inside 50m.
 
Last edited:

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
I thought this comparison was rather interesting. 5.56mm (M855A1) vs .308 (similar to 7.62mm?) against Russian GOST IV body armour:

For those too lazy to watch ( :p ), only the armour-piercing .308 M61 round managed to penetrate. Can't remember what the exact range was but IIRC they were inside 50m.
The US civilian equivalent to the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round is the .223 Remington, though it should be noted that the military/NATO rounds can exhibit higher chamber pressures so that the two rounds are not entirely interchangable despite having the same exterior dimensions, and prolonged firing of the milspec rounds through a .223 Remington chamber can cause excessive wear & tear and potentially be hazardous.

In a similar manner, yet somewhat reversed, the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO is the military/milspec version while the .308 Winchester is the civilian version for a round of the same dimension. However, in this case the civilian round is typically loaded to higher pressures than the milspec rounds which could potentially lead to excessive wear & tear if a milspec chamber is firing the civilian rounds.

As a side note, there has been some movement on the part of the US special operator and specialty law enforcement communities to replace some of their designated marksmen/sniper rifles chambered in 7.62 x 51 mm with the 6.5 mm Creedmor due to superior ballistic performance while fitting into the same sized magazines and chambers due to similar overall dimensions of the round. As I understand it, just the barrel needs to be changed in order for the switch in rounds to be done.
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
The US civilian equivalent to the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO round is the .223 Remington, though it should be noted that the military/NATO rounds can exhibit higher chamber pressures so that the two rounds are not entirely interchangable despite having the same exterior dimensions, and prolonged firing of the milspec rounds through a .223 Remington chamber can cause excessive wear & tear and potentially be hazardous.

In a similar manner, yet somewhat reversed, the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO is the military/milspec version while the .308 Winchester is the civilian version for a round of the same dimension. However, in this case the civilian round is typically loaded to higher pressures than the milspec rounds which could potentially lead to excessive wear & tear if a milspec chamber is firing the civilian rounds.

As a side note, there has been some movement on the part of the US special operator and specialty law enforcement communities to replace some of their designated marksmen/sniper rifles chambered in 7.62 x 51 mm with the 6.5 mm Creedmor due to superior ballistic performance while fitting into the same sized magazines and chambers due to similar overall dimensions of the round. As I understand it, just the barrel needs to be changed in order for the switch in rounds to be done.
Interesting, thanks for the info. In following NGSAR in the US I have to say I've found the Sig offerings to be the most compelling.


Perhaps not the most technologically ambitious of the candidates but they strike me as more likely to have the ruggedness and reliability to actually perform in a no BS war zone. Only one way to know for sure I guess...
 

CheeZe

Active Member
Thanks to whoever moved the post. I wasn't aware of this thread at all.

Thanks also to all the responses and clarity. So, @OPSSG , what I'm hearing is that you think it's a great idea for the long-term, but SG will let others lead the charge on that sort of munitions development for cost reasons.
 

Terran

Active Member
Looks like a happy little thread... think I will move in.

I noticed above mention of the 6.8spc (6.8x42) which was a round designed for the AR15 receiver set to offer close quarters battle improved ballistics vs the 5.56mm round. In other words from 0 to 400 meters from a short barrel rifle. theoretically better vs unarmored targets than stock M4 in 5.56 but the round was optimized for that and beyond about 500 rounds starts dropping. Basically it was a round meant to take an M4 emulate an AKM. I like to think of it as the Iraq round. A round for urban fighting.

6.5 Grendel (6.5x39) got attention as it is a thousand meter tac driver again designed to fit in the AR15 receiver. It was originally a hunting round and those advantaged got attention as if you gave it to soldier and took the time to train them up to sharp shooter you would be sniping targets from general issue weapons. The Afghanistan round a round for long range dominion vs unarmored targets.

Both were flirted with neither adopted in any large military orders. 6.8 SPC was supposedly used by part of the Jordanian army 6.5 Grendel by Serbia. How far those went is I dont know.

More recently the 6mm are back.
The Big arm is working on the NGSW program as we all know aiming for a heavy 6.8mm round that when in a conventional case dimensions to 6.8x51mm.
Sig has its two the MG68 LMG and the MCX Spear rifle with a bimetallic case. It’s the most conventional of the offerings. Also partners nicely with there 8.6mm MG
Textron,HK, Winchester has its LMG and rifle based off work they had done on cased telescopic the most ambitious of the offerings.
GDLS,Beretta has its RM277 in long barrel and rifle configurations... it’s the most cringe worthy. Using a conventional polymer case.
What we know of this 6.8mm isn’t much most are betting its meant to offer both range and AP.

Alongside these SOCOM is doing its own thing.
Recently they moved to shift some of their 7.62x51mm weapons to 6.5mm Creedmoor Including M110A1 and Mk48 To offer increased range, reduction in wind shift and lighter weight. Along side this Barrett maker of the big M107 rifle and Hornady ammo makers have apparently gotten green light to make Rec 7 rifles in 6mm ARC for SOCOM. This 6mm round is basically the son of Grendel Different case but similar build and performance. Based on what has been seen of the weapon it’s a long barrel DI gun with suppressor and nightforce scope seems to be a DMR rifle.
 
Top