Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Arguing about the .223/5.56x45 cartridge,

James has a straightforward point of view: Our troops keep winning, and we inflict greater casualties on the enemy than they inflict on us. It seems that the attitude of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" isn't an opinion that most people share.

I'm going to have to disagree on this: I think the history shows that this cartridge has real problems as a combat round. Problem is, between money and political BS, I have no idea when/if any of the workable replacements(and there are several) will/might be changed over to.

James includes a link to this piece, which includes this:To sum it up, those who get hit by the 5.56mm and keep coming, aren't going to keep coming for long, and are easily taken down by the next round. One thing that the military is teaching now is that you don't just double tap, you keep firing until he goes down.
Regardless, the old question is, does a soldier really want to sacrifice the superior range and accuracy of the 5.56mm for the high caliber and low velocity AK-47 round, or the smaller quantity of heavier US 7.62mm rounds? For many, the answer is no. And further, being deeply engaged in a war is not the greatest of times to change weapon systems (especially in a modern age).

On the other side, there's this from Kim, which includes this note:The army study did not address complaints about long range shots (over 100 meters), or the need for ammo that is better a blasting through doors and walls.

Couple of thoughts here:
The choice isn't only between the 5.56, the 7.62x39 or the 7.62x51(.308 to me): it's between the 5.56 and the alternatives that have been developed, more powerful than 5.56, smaller and less powerful than 7.62x51. And those alternatives generally seem to have at least equal accuracy and far more effective range- as well as power- than the 5.56.

The thought to having to regularly 'keep firing until he goes down' with a battle rifle makes me nervous, as this is supposed to be a weapon that puts somebody down now, not 'in a short time'. Be it said that nothing can always put an attacker down with one round, but something that does so more reliably than the 5.56 would seem a very good idea. Not being able to carry as much ammo for the same weight doesn't seem a real problem if you need less of said ammo to stop the enemy.

We've got the best-trained and generally best-equipped troops in the world, which is the biggest factor in 'we keep winning'. That doesn't mean that a more effective cartridge would not be a good idea.

And as to 'this isn't a good time', does anyone really believe there will EVER be a good time for a change? We're looking at a situation that will see our troops in or facing combat in a number of places for years to come; I wonder if the question might be 'will there ever be a better time?'

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