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The Case Against A General-Purpose Cartridge


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#81 BabyOlifant

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0557 AM

http://www.hsj.gr/vo.../issue4/445.pdf

Wound Ballistics: Analysis of Blunt and Penetrating Trauma Mechanisms
Christina–Athanasia Alexandropoulou1, Elias Panagiotopoulos2

In the first 12 cm of a soft tissue wound path (the average thickness of an adult human thigh), there often is little or no difference between the wounding effect of low- and high- velocity bullets if the high- velocity bullet is of the military full-metal- jacket type14. This is particularly true of the relatively heavier military rifle bullets such as those fired by the AK-47 and NATO 7.62 mm rifles. A wound of an extremity caused by an AK-47 bullet, which does not hit bone, is often similar to a handgun bullet wound15. If a high-velocity, heavy bullet does not deform, fragment or hit a bone it may exit an extremity with much of its wounding potential unspent. These same bullets are often lethal in chest or abdominal wounds, because the trunk is thicker than an extremity and allows the bullet a sufficiently long path through tissue to yaw10, 13. Maximal temporary cavitation induced by the full- metal-jacket AK-47 bullet usually occurs at a tissue depth around 28 cm, much greater than the diameter of a human extremity. In fact, this depth is even greater than the diameter of the human torso from most projections. This is why most torso wounds made by the AK-47, when firing the common nondeforming military bullet, resemble wounds made by much lower-velocity handgun bullets. Civilian soft-point or hollow-point rifle bullets deform soon after entering tissue and usually produce a much more severe extremity wound than do low- velocity handgun bullets15.

Also note this video. Pay particular attention to 5:30-6:30




Dr. Grabinsky talks about rifle wounding mechanisms and effects. Incidence through torsos, especially longitudinally are usually very lethal. The reason being a longitudinal injury has more tissue for the bullet to begin yawing. If there is no yaw, then the major wounding effect (aside from striking bone) is going to be the wound cavity, permanent and temporary.

So, a larger bullet means larger wound cavity, temporary and permanent aka crush injury and stretch injury.

 

Once again, this does not answer my queries. No one is debating that through-and-through injuries from rifle rounds are of low effectiveness.

Smaller caliber projectiles yaw more quickly in tissue. If anything, they have the advantage in this respect, as they will tumble more readily than large caliber projectiles.


Edited by BabyOlifant, 01 December 2013 - 0558 AM.


#82 EchoFiveMike

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0557 AM

Honest question, why do you think .50 caliber doesn't bring much to the table, Echo?

 

Because it's simply a scaled up 30-06.  It doesn't have high explosive, has no greater ECR than 7.62, the targets it defeats that 7.62 doesn't are trivial or better serviced with other weapons.  It's been OBE.  IMO, the primary reasons we keep it around is nostaglia and organizational inertia.  In the same size envelope, you can have either a proper autocannon or an AGL.

 

 

Hey, E5M, when you guys went out sniping did you prefer 7.62mm or 5.56 for your sniping? Why?

 

7.62 is the only practical choice for sniping, but with the caveat that we had no, even marginally suitable, 5.56 weapons.  The unit we relieved, 2Bn/2Mar, had a few SAM-R's in their platoon and they reportedly got good use during the April 04 Fallujah and Najaf uprisings.  Talking to those guys, it was much better for multiple targets, with the caveat that several savages had to be shot multiple times.  They only had M855 for ammunition, IIRC.  I was able to get 1000rds of Mk 262 5.56, which we used from our ACOG equipped M16A4's.  AFAIK, we were not able to get any feedback on it's use, as all we used the M16A4's for were standard infantry firefights.  Which all went decidely our way, which probably had little/nothing to do with the ammunition used.

 

A buddy in SF has used the Mk12 rifle w/Mk262 on a couple tours in Astan and he said it's fine but runs out of juice past 700yds or so.  IME, that sort of distance is well past what you can reasonably expect from any practical rifle caliber.  My personal experience with 5.56 in competition is that it absolutely beats up 7.62 over the NM course(600yds max distance) because of ease of shooting, only when you get into Palma (800,900 and 1000yd) and 1000yd stuff does the 7.62 surpass the 5.56.       

 

IMO, the unreasonable range demands we're placing on a service rifle is a function of the dysfunctionality of our military and political systems.  The entire point of using IDF is so that the grunt doesn't have to hump the weight.  If you don't allow him to use it, or create the perception it's not going to support him come nutcutting time, you force him to carry all sorts of extra shit IOT cope.    

 

This routine betrayal by the REMF's is the reason for my personal doctrine "if it's not organic to the unit, if you don't have it with you, it doesn't exist."  It's not simply me.  Two of our most recent MoH awardees are the direct result of the failure of IDF to support due to political bullshit.  S/F.....Ken M



#83 BabyOlifant

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0610 AM

 

Honest question, why do you think .50 caliber doesn't bring much to the table, Echo?

 

Because it's simply a scaled up 30-06.  It doesn't have high explosive, has no greater ECR than 7.62, the targets it defeats that 7.62 doesn't are trivial or better serviced with other weapons.  It's been OBE.  IMO, the primary reasons we keep it around is nostaglia and organizational inertia.  In the same size envelope, you can have either a proper autocannon or an AGL.

 

"Because it's not an autocannon". I seem to hear that a lot.  :D



#84 BabyOlifant

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0611 AM

Here's a video of 5.56 doing just fine at 800m:

 



#85 Tony Williams

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0627 AM

yep a heavy boat tailed bullet would be it for belted MG ammunition. The German DM11 is a cheap flat ended bullet, too. And not really fun for long range shooting with the coax. I mean what's full stabilisation and a laser range finder for if you cannot make effective use of it? The neglected shooting from tripod would benefit as well. Turning the MG3 into a little artillery piece to reach out and touch someone indirectly. Especially in Afghanistan that would be an edge over the opposition me thinks. I doubt that the enemy has the time and opportunity to train in the art of finely applied machine gun fire. Too bad mostly all WW1 machine gunners are dead already.

 

In that class of cartridge you couldn't do better than to wind the clock back to the German Army in WW2 and its 7.9x57 sS loading - a 198 grain bullet of superb aerodynamic shape with a form factor of around .900 (better than anything used now), fired at 2,650 fps.



#86 EchoFiveMike

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0639 AM

Here's a video of 5.56 doing just fine at 800m:

 

 

I can post video of shooting prairie dogs also, it's about the same thing. 

 

As I said, the guys we relieved were there at Najaf, and sometimes they had good luck with their 5.56.  As I've mentioned, at these distances, any torso shot is pretty effective, as it generally takes the target out of the fight. 

 

If we were going to have infantry assaulting through in the next five minutes, it would be a different story.  S/F....Ken M



#87 BabyOlifant

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0715 AM

Echo, great posts, thank you very much.



#88 Tony Williams

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0752 AM

The information I have gleaned about the relative performance of 5.56mm and 7.62mm weapons in combat comes largely from briefings by military officers at various conferences and other meetings I have attended. Typically (the NDIA excepted) these presentations are not placed in the public domain, and even if they are, the speakers say a lot more than the bullet points on the PowerPoint slides which is all that can normally be accessed.

 

To pick out a couple of examples of which I have typed up notes I took at the time:

 

NDIA Small Arms conference 2010: 

 

 

The PM Soldier Weapons Assessment Team

Carried out interviews with soldiers in theatre to discover issues.

OIF and OF markedly different; extended ranges mainly an issue in OEF. Great variations in terrain and climatic conditions.

The need for additional range for their carbines was one of the key requests from troops (want >500m). The 7.62 M14EBR (Enhanced Battle Rifle) DMR is proving so popular that the troops want it as an organic part of squad equipment (i.e. permanently allocated). And while the 7.62 MK48 LMG was originally allocated as a temporary replacement for the M240 until the lightweight M240L was ready, the troops have kept the M240: the MK48 is being carried instead of the 5.56 M249: "lethality trumps weight reduction when extended ranges are required"

 

Defence IQ conference on Infantry Weapons, 2013, of which I produced a summary for a JIDR article to be published shortly:

 

 

 

Some interesting themes can be detected in the varied national plans summarised above. One of them is the enthusiasm for lightweight 7.62 mm belt-fed MGs that in some armies are replacing 5.56 mm equivalents at section level despite the doubling of the ammunition weight. A quote from a French presentation indicates why: "The 5.56 LMG which equips our platoons does not provide sufficient fire power." For the same reason, 7.62 mm rifles have proved highly successful in several armies and been reintroduced into the section.

 

At several briefings by the British Army at conferences which I have attended, the statement has been made that the 5.56mm weapons have effective ranges of no more than 300-400m (and their L85 assault rifle has a 20.4" barrel - 25.4" for the L86 LSW -  providing a significant ballistic advantage over the M4, for instance). When faced with the extended ranges common in Afghanistan they were at first forced to fire Javelin ATGW at enemy personnel, since they had nothing else which could reach out to where the PKM gunners were. They then rushed bolt-action 7.62mm sniper rifles into sections, and issued the 7.62mm GMPG (M240) into the dismounted section instead of holding it back at platoon or company level, despite the weight of the gun and ammo. They have since acquired the L129A1 7.62mm Sharpshooter rifle, a new capability (there didn't used to be anything between infantry with 5.56mm rifles and snipers who now have .338 rifles).

 

In addition to this, the great majority of the soldiers with whom I have discussed this subject regard the effective range of the 5.56mm as inadequate and, even within its range, they need to shoot their targets more often than with 7.62mm to make them go down. The ineffectiveness of the 5.56mm in suppressive fire is also noted: another quote from a British Army spokesman about this: "The Taliban ignore 5.56mm, respect 7.62mm and fear .50 cal." 

 

So the real answer to the question "given the on-paper ballistic performance of the 5.56mm, why do dismounted troops want to carry 7.62mm?" is effectively: "because .50 cal is too heavy to carry".



#89 Sebastian Balos

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0835 AM

This topic turned into a 5.56 vs 7.62(x51). In Yugoslav civil war, some combatants used both Ultimax and PKM/M84. Before combat, all wanted Ultimax (due to low weight), later, in combat, all wanted PKM/M84.

 

The question is, can and should 6.5-7 mm GPC replace 7.62x51...

 

To replace 7.62x51, .338 Norma might do the trick - there's even an interesting weapon LWMMG:

 

http://en.wikipedia....ium_Machine_Gun

 

At 10.8 kg it is fairly light, but there's the problematic issue of introducing an all new ammo type. A heavier projectile in 7.62x51 might do the trick as well, although not as well as .338 Norma. However, if you introduce a new, more powerful cartridge or a more potent projectile, the enemy would most probably answer in the same manner. So, why the US does not consider rifle grenades? HESH or HEAT might profe pretty effective against e.g. adobe.


Edited by Sebastian Balos, 01 December 2013 - 0844 AM.


#90 Tony Evans

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 0937 AM

 

1. My point is that if you're wanting to eliminate a caliber in the infantry small arms,

 

2, you'd be better off consolidating the machine guns in the Euro model and eliminating 50cal, which really doesn't bring much to the table anymore.  Unless you believe in the voodoo of "more noise is better" like some 3rd world primitive. 

 

3. We've already done the 7.62 rifle thing and found it lacking,

 

4. a 7.62mm SAW doesn't do it either, we tried that with the M60. 

 

5. I would prefer a larger caliber than 7.62 to cover more of the 50cal spectrum for machine guns, but a heavy bullet 7.62 load, a proper MG loading, is a good enough solution for the near term.  S/F....Ken M

 

1. I don't want to do that, and I really don't see any point in thinking that one should.

 

2. Sez you. And we've long since established that you have a highly prejudiced and idiosyncratic worldview about such things. Remember, I know the kind of misfits and renegades that wind up in STA platoon. In any case, there aren't so many .50 caliber guns in the battalion that they represent some kind of special burden.

 

3. Not lacking -- just not suited to what we wanted to do with the service rifle, post 1960. It was perfectly fine up until then, and soldiers on still in a lot of places, mostly in the form of the FAL and G3.

 

4. I was an M60 gunner, team leader, and squad leader over the period of several years. We never used it as a SAW.

 

5. That's the problem with snipers -- they think in terms only of the kill. Machine guns can be killers, but that's not their real purpose. Their purpose is suppression and area denial. If they do it by wounding or morale effects rather than sheer lethality, that's okay too.



#91 rmgill

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1246 PM

rmgill, you seem intent on missing the point of my original question. I will quote it here for your benefit:
 

 
These claims have not been proven to my satisfaction:
1. That 5.56 has insufficient terminal effectiveness past a certain range or velocity threshold.
 
2. That a larger caliber projectile with the same energy and bullet construction would greatly improve on its terminal effectiveness, especially when both bullets fail to dump their energy through tumbling, fragmentation, or expansion.
 
I was clearly and specifically responding to your point that said, "There is no proof that performance is related to caliber or projectile weight specifically."


Never did I say that .223 would be better at making wounds at longer ranges than a heavier bullet.

The fragmentation of the bullet is due to velocity.
The ability to hit is due to stability of the bullet at range.
 
Fackler is the first real source you've cited. It is satisfactory as a medical document, but it does not answer the questions I posed, as he does not examine either circumstance. A wound may knock someone out cold, but require no more treatment than bed rest. A wound may prove eventually lethal, but leave the target standing and fighting for minutes on end. Fackler's research is important, but it does not address the relevant characteristics of terminal effectiveness. It is best viewed as a source most relevant to emergency medical care, NOT to how good a weapon is at stopping a target.

Neither do your diversions of asking E5M if he preferred 7.62 to 5.56 address my query. Do 5.56 and 7.62 have the same energy? No. Do M855 and M80 have the same bullet construction? No.

You brought up handgun cartridges.

And hunting ammo choices to illustrate the differences in wounding ability of various bullet profiles on various targets.


It is entirely possible that if neither caliber performs as intended, both will create comparable wounds.[/b] This possibility has, of yet, not been eliminated, but the "when all else fails, bigger caliber is better" mantra remains a cornerstone of the GPC argument.

Can we agree that greater energy is going to impart greater wounds? All other things being equal?

#92 rmgill

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1254 PM

If we were going to have infantry assaulting through in the next five minutes, it would be a different story.  S/F....Ken M


Please expand on this..

#93 Tony Evans

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1337 PM

 

If we were going to have infantry assaulting through in the next five minutes, it would be a different story.  S/F....Ken M


Please expand on this..

 

 

Yeah...

 

Even as a former Marine infantryman I find this statement as cryptic as all hell.



#94 R011

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1341 PM

Seemed clear enough to me.  A wounded man who is a few hundred meters away is more likely to stop fighting and get maedical attention than one close by.  He's also more likely to be totally incapacitated by wounds by the time assaulting forces are close enough for him to resist.  E5M may have sometihg different in mind, though, and could probably expound further.



#95 Tony Evans

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1435 PM

Seemed clear enough to me.  A wounded man who is a few hundred meters away is more likely to stop fighting and get maedical attention than one close by.  He's also more likely to be totally incapacitated by wounds by the time assaulting forces are close enough for him to resist.  E5M may have sometihg different in mind, though, and could probably expound further.

 

If so that's figuring things at way too granular a level.



#96 BabyOlifant

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1506 PM

Re: rmgill, I think the evidence is inconclusive, but does point to an "energy uber alles" theory. The problem here is that one cannot simply look at the energy a cartridge provides at range and conclude that it will be more effective. What is important is the rate of energy transfer into the target, and whether the cartridge provides the best deposition of energy for the thickness and biology of the target.

Given that Fackler notes that against human targets a projectile should yaw as early as possible, and that smaller caliber projectiles yaw earlier than larger caliber ones, it is entirely possible that by going to the GPC you would be trading a cartridge that performs as designed more often for one that performs as designed less often, with no real benefit to terminal effectiveness for through-and-through shots.

 

In this way, the GPC may actually be less effective than 5.56.


Edited by BabyOlifant, 01 December 2013 - 1507 PM.


#97 EchoFiveMike

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1538 PM

Very simple, when you have friendlies moving through, you want the enemy disabled rather than simply distracted by having icepicks punched through them.  At close range, 5.56 tends to work just fine, particularly with the newer ammunitions we've started using.  But at longer ranges, it's still a smaller bullet that doesn't break up.  Compared to a larger bullet that doesn't break up either.  Typically, that's not going to matter too much, as perforated guy is probably going to be focusing on other things.  But if you're supporting infantry, you want the enemy physically disabled rather than suddenly figuring on being a hero as the grunts cover the last 50m.   

 

The 6.8 and 7mm varients of the SPC have extremely short yaw necks with their typical bullets. 

 

 

 

1. I don't want to do that, and I really don't see any point in thinking that one should.

 

2. Sez you. And we've long since established that you have a highly prejudiced and idiosyncratic worldview about such things. Remember, I know the kind of misfits and renegades that wind up in STA platoon. In any case, there aren't so many .50 caliber guns in the battalion that they represent some kind of special burden.

 

3. Not lacking -- just not suited to what we wanted to do with the service rifle, post 1960. It was perfectly fine up until then, and soldiers on still in a lot of places, mostly in the form of the FAL and G3.

 

4. I was an M60 gunner, team leader, and squad leader over the period of several years. We never used it as a SAW.

 

5. That's the problem with snipers -- they think in terms only of the kill. Machine guns can be killers, but that's not their real purpose. Their purpose is suppression and area denial. If they do it by wounding or morale effects rather than sheer lethality, that's okay too.

 

 

2.  Do you actually think any units are still at TOE these days?  With augments, a battalion will have well over a dozen.   

 

3.  We're discussing what we want to do, not 3rd world discards, if it doesn't do what we want it to do, by definition, it's lacking. 

 

4. You may not have, back in the day of the white T-shirt, Cold War cannon fodder 80's but it was the only game in town for Vietnam, both USMC and US Army.  You know, the last time we did significant infantry combat prior to the current slog. 

 

5.  Killing is the best outcome, true, but I was speaking in terms of casualty generation in total, so wounding is fine also, depending on the scenario.  In OIF, you want them killed, or permanently disabled or else you'll just be dealing with them again.  And yes, we did pick up repeat offenders.  In OEF, medical care is less available, so wounding may have a good outcome, just over a longer timeframe.  S/F....Ken M



#98 BabyOlifant

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1818 PM

I am not saying that all larger caliber bullets yaw later than all smaller caliber bullets. However, if you take a smaller caliber bullet and scale it up, it will yaw later.

 

It's possible the GPC's bullet will have good yaw characteristics, but that remains to be seen. I think if you wanted a good yaw track, the best bullet shape to use would be similar to the .300 Blackout FMJs. Those are supposed to be exceptional in that regard.


Edited by BabyOlifant, 01 December 2013 - 1819 PM.


#99 rmgill

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 1932 PM

Is the wounding ability of 5.56 due to yawing or fragmentation? If the latter, then the propensity to yaw at range but not fragment is a failure mode. What difference does a larger 77gr bullet have in terms of terminal effects as compared to the 62 or 55 gr bullets? The longer, heavier bullet is more accurate no? Better long range performance no? Why?

#100 Chris Werb

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 2033 PM

Tony is the L129A1 being added to "core", restricted to entry forces and otherwise stored (like the 60mm mortars), or leaving the inventory? I still think it's odd that we went for a 16" barrel.






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