View Full Version : US Military Small Arms Ammunition Failures and Solutions

That Guy v2.0
06-07-2008, 21:33
Interesting powerpoint by Dr. Roberts (DocGKR) presented on 21May08 at NDIA. Covers current performance info on different types of 5.56mm, 7.62mm and 6.8mm.


06-07-2008, 22:49
No mention of LeMas ammo? I'm shocked. That 6.8 sure kills the hell out of gelatin, though. :rolleyes:

06-08-2008, 07:41
I love how he first touts his employment by a Level 1 trauma center before admitting that he is a dentist. What exactly do Navy reservists who are dentists know about shooting human beings with military small arms?

I also wonder about the claim that he provides "wound ballistic technical assistance to numerous US and allied SOF units" - whatever that means. Perhaps the RFP goes something like, "Hey, doc, go stand down there and hold this!" Or perhaps he only means that his posts, written for airsoft fanboys on other boards, were scanned by SOF members performing Google searches for legitimate information.

At least I feel better about myself now that I know how easy it is to be cool by association. :rolleyes:

The Reaper
06-08-2008, 10:11
That Guy v2.0:

This topic has been flogged to death here before. You might want to use the Search function before starting new threads here, especially contentious ones of this nature. GKR is a member of PS.com, though he chooses to let others do his posting for him.

The presentation appears to be an interesting mix of history and opinion, spun to support one of GKR's pet projects, the 6.8 SPC. The 6.8 appears to be quite effective against gelatin targets. Before stampeding to get on the bandwagon, I suspect that a series of actual live tissue tests might prove to be more revealing. GKR's ballistic expertise largely revolves around ballistic gelatin as a tissue simulant. It may be an adjunct medium, but IMHO, live tissue testing is the standard that we should be testing in.

IMHO, if the services were looking for a new combat round today, the 6.8 as well as the 6.5 Grendel might be among the alternatives considered. At the same time, the M855 has a seriously flawed projectile. Who knows how much better performance might be extracted from the 5.56, yet the military is unwilling to make that relatively simple change, much less adopting an entirely new round, magazine, and weapons components changes?

As it is, I have not seen any serious moves by the DoD or Mother Army to eliminate the 5.56x45 and move to a new round. There will always be plenty of studies, position papers, etc. as people try to get their personal favorites adopted to stroke their own ego, promote products that they have a personal interest in, to benefit financially from, or occasionally, to meet a real need. I will state that it is refreshing to see GKR looking at ways to improve the performance of the rounds we currently have fielded, rather than solely to promote his personal favorite, the 6.8 SPC.

An Army at war cannot afford to introduce a third rifle round into a combat zone. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, if you add up the total cost of reworking the existing M-4s and SAWs, replacing all of the magazines, and replenishing all of our ammunition stocks with a new round, it is pretty pricy. Do you have any idea of how many rounds of 5.56 Ball, AP, Blank, Tracer, Linked, etc. we currently have in inventory? How many "personal" and issued M4 mags are out there? Do you think that we can get everyone to bring nothing but the few new 6.8 mags they would be issued, especially given the propensity today to carry or to have available a dozen or more mags per shooter? One of my worst nightmares is running out of ammo. If this were to be done, it would best be attempted in conjunction with the fielding of a new rifle. Given the budget for new rifles and ammunition, I do not see this happening in the near term.

Second, we have ramrodded our allies into following our lead on calibers repeatedly in the past, and they may be less than eager to do that again. NATO adopted our 7.62x51, to be followed by us again when we abandoned the 7.62 shortly after NATO acceptance to move to the 5.56x45, which they reluctantly followed us on again, and now we want to ask them (in a time of decreasing military spending by our allies) to take our new and unproven selection for a third time. I would not bet the farm on this, particularly given the low desire for many of our allies to actually engage in combat today.

Anyone who has studied military history has seen what happens when a new weapon or type of ammo is introduced onto the battlefield. The right ammo never seems to be in good supply with the units armed with the different weapons. This has happened throughout the centuries, from before the Civil War, through our own abysmal experience fielding the M-16 in a theater of war with other troops carrying M-14s. We have repeatedly encountered small arms ammunition shortages in the GWOT with 9mm, 5.56, and 7.62. There was a time during the invasion of Iraq when we were virtually out of 5.56 Ball in country. The current military ammunition production lines are set up to run the current rounds and calibers. What happens when we need 100,000,000 6.8 SPC projectiles and cases, quickly? As it is now, if a US unit is low on a particular caliber, in an emergency, we can borrow it from another service or allied unit in the area. This will not be the case for many years, if ever, with the 6.8.

The interim solution of fielding a different caliber to special units leads to its own problems. If I were a bad guy scouting around a battlefield, and I started finding 6.8 cases, I could pretty well establish that someone special was operating in my area. Then, I would start mobilizing some people and setting the stage to track down these high priority targets.

Finally, the 6.8 has not been without its own reliability, accuracy and performance issues. More testing and more data would be required to work all of the bugs out, and a fair competition would have to include the alternatives, like the other intermediate calibers.

To conclude, while the 5.56 and 7.62 have warts, I suspect that they are going to continue to be our primary service rounds for many years to come, GKR's objections notwithstanding. I applaud his efforts to develop more effective ammunition in the calibers we are currently armed with. If they were tested in something closer to the targets we are engaging on the battlefields today, like live tissue, and examined by competent experts in forensic pathology, for example, we might have some data and information of more practical use.


That Guy v2.0
06-08-2008, 10:22
Understood Sir.