Comments: All That's Old is New Again

The 5.56 round is very effective, when properly constructed, and used within its design limits. For a good read, and authoritative information as to why this is so, check out

I will be the first to admit that there are many missions that fall outside those parameters. Perhaps the 6.8 SPC will address that. Personally, though, I think that's why the M14 should be readily available. Maybe there should be one in every squad, just as there is a SAW.

Posted by Brerarnold at June 1, 2005 06:08 AM

Actually, the Army could have had a round with performance very similar to the new 6.8 rounds way back in the 1950s, in the form of the British 7x43mm. Army brass didn't quite get the assault rifle concept, however, and went with what became the 7.62NATO and the M-14. Didn't help that the Brits packaged their round with an oddball bullpup design, either.

Oh, and each infantry squad has 2 SAWs, one in each fire team. Infantry squads sometimes (depending on the exact unit type) have a Squad Designated Marksman who may have an M-14 or may have just a scoped M4/M16.

Posted by Heartless Libertarian at June 1, 2005 01:46 PM

A couple of points:

(1) Special Ops guys can use what they want. The switch back to .45 calibre from 9mm shows that they don't have to use a cartridge that they feel doesn't do the job. They seem to use 5.56mm a fair amount, which suggests it's not totally useless.

(2) The 5.56mm was adopted for a conscript army. We now have a professional army. A combat load of fewer but more powerful cartridges might make sense, if you rely more on aimed fire and less on spray-and-pray. Even if the 5.56mm isn't toally useless.

Posted by Bob Hawkins at June 1, 2005 04:43 PM

Publicola has had nothing good to say about the M-16 in my conversations with him. i can just imagine what he'd think about the 5.45 mm.

Posted by annika at June 2, 2005 01:28 AM

A nice fast summary of the history. Although it is a bit partisan, I'd add that the m16 has superior handling features (magazine release, safety, and bolt hold open) over the AK.

I'd also be wary of reading too much into the Venezuelan decision. They have a bunch of worn out FAL's at the moment, manufactured locally, and they make their own 7.62x51mm for them. (Its nasty, nasty stuff with soft brass). Sticking with a 7.62 caliber helps simplify the logistics of their ammo industry (they only have to switch a 3 thousands on their bullet diameter, and knowing the quality of their ammo, they probably won't even bother). This is sort of a page straight out of the russian and german play books with the 7.92x57 to 7.92x33 and 7.62x54R to 7.62x39 switches. Going to 7.62x39 makes a lot of sense in their political circles, as its sort of a sign of NOT being an american client state, combined with the ability to supply weapons and ammo to the FARC and similar organizations.

Finally I think there's always a role for a bit of spray and pray...noone wants to do MOUT planning entirely on aimed 7.62 shots out of battle rifles. Then again, I think we should just issue more than one caliber as situations dictate, though I have to say, I think the AR-10 or AR-16 would make much , much more sense than producing more m14's at this point.

Posted by Bob Golding at June 2, 2005 11:56 AM

Also interesting to note that the Chinese have developed their own assault rifle round, after using the Soviet 7.62x39mm for years. Their new round is 5.8mm. Not sure of the weight or casing length.

Posted by Heartless Libertarian at June 3, 2005 08:10 AM
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