Dueling Rifle Rounds: It’s All About the Wound Channel

The Times (the British one) has a story about the continuing debate over the 7.62mm round versus the 5.56mm as employed in the long range firefights in Afghanistan. The story asserts that the 5.56mm round used in the M4 rifle “lacks sufficient velocity and killing power in long-range firefights.” As Defense Tech readers know, we’ve covered this issue before.

As for the stopping power of the 5.56mm round, that very topic came up at a roundtable discussion I attended with the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier last month at Aberdeen Test Center, Md. It led to an interesting discussion about wound dynamics, the “wound channel” and the “bleed out effect.”

Responding to claims that high-velocity 5.56mm rounds pass straight through the body without killing, Brig. Gen. Pete Fuller, the commander of PEO Soldier, said a new 5.56mm round that will be shipped to troops beginning in June, the M855A1 lead free slug, will get rid of what he called “yaw dependency.”

“The current M855 (5.56mm) ball round is yaw dependent. The closer you are to something you’re shooting at, the less yaw it has and it’s going to go right straight through,” said Fuller. Also, the M4 carbine has a 14 ½ inch barrel compared to the 20-inch barrel on the standard M16. “That shorter barrel cut out 5 ½ inches for that round to get to full muzzle velocity,” he said.

Col. Doug Tamilio, project manager for Soldier weapons with the PEO Soldier, discounted the reports of multiple 5.56mm rifle rounds penetrating straight through enemy bodies, “If you look at the bone mass of the human body, there is a lot of bone, if you hit a bone, [the bullet] is not going through the body, its putting an individual down.”

Knockdown is actually a misnomer, said Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, program manager for individual Soldier weapons at PEO-Soldier. “You generally don’t knock anyone down, unless you have a very, very large round and you hit bone.” What typically brings down a human being when hit with a bullet is the “bleed-out effect”: massive blood loss that causes the body to shut down, the person staggers and then collapses.

When the 5.56mm high-velocity round enters the body it creates a “wound channel,” Tamilio said, “that wound channel as it expands and contracts it causes the bleed out effect.” A high-velocity 5.56mm round creates a sizable wound channel, he said, big enough to do the job.

More important than the size of the rifle round is the individual’s marksmanship, said Lehner. The critical area on the human body is only about six inches wide extending from the top of the head to the lower abdomen where vital internal organs and nerves are clustered. “You hit there, the guy’s going to bleed out a lot quicker.”

Lehner explained the importance of training like this: Take two soldiers. One of whom is fresh out of basic training and equipped with an M-4 rifle with all the high speed sites. The other is a special operations soldier carrying only a 9mm pistol. Who would you choose to go through the door first?

More often than not, “you’d have the special forces guy go through first, because he knows where to place that bullet very quickly and he’s shot thousand of rounds so he’s got that training and confidence to go in there with a weapon that some soldiers might think is only a paper weight.”

— Greg Grant

52 Comments on "Dueling Rifle Rounds: It’s All About the Wound Channel"

  1. I think far more important is penetration of barriers. The times when u have a straight line to your target without anything in between a pretty rare.

    7,62x51mm will punch right through that tree or brick wall and kill that guy behind it. 5,56x45mm will probably NOT do that for you.

    If you are an able shot you will be more effective and spend less ammunition with the larger bullet.

    Also there is nothing to discuss about long range and lethality, 7,62x51mm will beat 5,56x45mm hands down if both use similar types of bullets.

  2. Why can't we replace SAWs with .50 cal sniper rifles?
    As I understand it, the point of a SAW is not to kill, but to keep the enemy's head down. So, instead of trying to keep an enemy pinned behind a rock, it seems a far smarter idea to use something like the .50 cal to just go through the rock. This would eliminate a lot of the controversy about 5.56 vs 7.62. After all there would be little need or point to engage a target with an M-4 or M-16 at 300 yards if the .50 cal sniper is picking them off even behind cover. The carbines would obviously still be needed for close range fights, but isn't the caliber debate rather irrelevant in CQC?

  3. 6,5x39mm Grendel would be the way to go then, i guess, because it has superior long range performance and should have better penetration characteristics than 6,8 SPC, due to slightly higher energy of the round. 0,3 mm more won´t make the 6,8 much more lethal i guarantee.

    Still, they should retain the 7,62x51mm for MArksman because of its great penetration characteristics. Goes through oak-trees, walls ´n stuff. Totally demoralizing for any enemy to see they cannot hide from your rifle bullets.

  4. Rupert Fiennes | May 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Reply

    60+ years on, .280 British looks better and better….

  5. Cannon Fodder | May 25, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Reply

    Ah, come on guys, at least they are making a new round for the M-4. They are getting a clue, it just takes them some time. Look, many of the new AR type designs are now including a state of the art gas piston system. Of course the AK-47 had one from the beginning.

    I just can't wait till I get a forward assist on my AK-47, oh, wait a minute, it doesn't need one…

  6. No one is switching to a new general purpose bullet caliber in war time, so 6.8mm SPC is out. That leaves the only 7.62, and the FN SCAR. Everyone should get one. That is for Afghanistan only since longer ranges are the norm. CQB in Iraq can keep the 5.56.

    Or we could just ignore the 1899 Hague Convention declaration 3, and issue the nasty 5.56 rounds.

    Forget the 7.62mm, how about something really cool, and have a M4 like rifle chambered in .338 Lapua, with 3 round burst and 20 round mag. Anyone remember the Alexander Arms .500 Beowulf?

  7. How about the Army brings back the M14 or switches to the 6.5-6.8 round. But more importantly give the troops more time on the range. Make them go through thousands of rounds of ammo until shooting accurately is instinctive. It'd be cheaper than most other Army projects. Just invest time and more bullets. "Train like you fight"

  8. It is an utter fabrication that the M855a1 is better. It's just a "green round". Pure politics. The Marines and SOCOM just started limited use of the barrier blind 5.56 Mk318 MOD 0 SOST and 7.62 Mk319 MOD 0 SOST. These rounds are far superior. With the current economic environment we're just not going to see a caliber change. We might see more use of the 7.62 with modern rifles and ammo though.

  9. Discussing the concept of wound damage and bullet penetration solves nothing. Yak, yak, yak. Enough.The military needs a heavier round similar to the 7.62x39mm to effect killing power. And as for lead free bullets…bahhahahahahahahahahahaha! I guess the all mighty military is finally tired of killing the bad guys…how pathetic.

  10. The 7.62 x 39 round isn't all that great, either. I spent several days at a battalion aid station where we treated about 300 iraqis who had been shot , center-mass by AK-47s. More often-than-not, the round would enter the body, follow the curvature of the ribcage, missing vital organs, and would exit out the shoulder, taking about a half-pound of meat with it. What ultimately killed these guys was the secondary infection, not the wound. The standard NATO round is my favorite, but I like the 7-mm too because of its flatter trajectory.

  11. Just food for thought:

    LSAT is a great opportunity to introduce a bullet with superior ballistics, since LSAT requires all new caseless or polymer-cased telescoped rounds. They're using 5.56mm as a Control caliber for benchmarking performance, but they can literally start with a clean sheet and design the "ideal" bullet before it his production.

  12. i have an AR-10 with 16" barrel that is 7.8 lbs that uses 7.62 Nato rounds. This is just like an m-4 on steroids. Why re-invent the wheel?

  13. Maybe pair 7.62mm NATO weapons (maybe reduce the amount of propellant in each to reduce recoil?) with the SAW. If we need sustained fire, then it doesn't have to have great stopping power. But slower aimed shots, 7.62mm. Or increase the mix of 7.62mm rifles in a squad. AR-10s might be a decent idea but procurement may take a long time. Issuing M-14's would be an alright stopgap.

  14. Get yourself a side of beef. Take it out and try the M4 vs AK. 100 yards, 200, 300. I wasn’t convinced either until we did. Hands down 7.62 x .39.

    I get the whole not wanting errant rounds to go through the wall and kill some bedouin kid thing, but seriously.

    We need to upgrade to the 6.5 Grendal round and dump the current stuff into the civilian market at wholesale prices.

  15. Tortoise 1956 | May 26, 2010 at 4:55 am | Reply

    I'm not a firearms guru, but one of my friends is a serious collector of WWII weapons. He likes the 7MM round for all-around versatility. Me, I'd rather sit and plink from as far away as possible…

  16. Thomas L. Nielsen | May 26, 2010 at 2:37 am | Reply

    One point that I feel is often overlooked when talking about transitioning to a new calibre is logistics.

    I'm no great fan of the 5,56x45mm NATO, but it does have two major advantages: Everybody makes it, and everybody uses it.

    If I need to resupply troops with the 5,56x45mm, there's an abundance of manufacturers to turn to. And if our troops in Afghanistan suddenly and desperately find themselves short of ammunition, they can borrow some from one of the other nations there, since chances are high that they are using the 5,56x45mm as well.

    Switching to another calibre NEEDS to consider logistics as well as ballistics. You can issue a rifle chambered fort the best cartridge in the world, with a 1000 yard effective range, barrier penetration comparable to a tank round and stopping power like the Wrath of Allah, but if you can't keep your troops resupplied with the ammunition………

    Regards & all,

    Thomas L. Nielsen

  17. We can debate 5.56 vs whatever as much as we want but, if the rounds aren't hitting in the right areas, the target is not going down.

  18. In gamer lingo, what Lehner said is summed up as "L2P" – learn to play, that is, learn to shoot. Fine advice in a videogame, not so much so in real life. The time and money for better training may simply not be there – a problem that the Soviets also had with their peasant conscript army. They solved it by introducing the AK.

    Come to think of it, that's how the M16 fouling problem was "solved" by the US military too – train the grunts to be obsessive about rifle maintenance, issue everyone with a "condom" and a cleaning kit. I bet there were VC that went through the entire Vietnam war without ever even seeing an AK cleaning kit.

    The logistics argument is laughable also. The Taliban seem to manage to not run out of bullets. The US military should have no problem either.

  19. So many knee-jerk reactions. Does people not realise that its the conditions that people are fighting in that are the problems? The 5.56×45 is an intermediate round, not suitable for long-range combat. When NATO decided to adopt the 5.56×45 as the standard, they realised that this round would fulfill the most roles at the most effective cost, as a result neither excelling in any. This is similar to the US Army ditching multiple terrain camouflage patterns for the UCP; works in most instances, excelling in none.

    Ultimately, if the commanders know that they’ll be engaging targets at sub-500m range, they’ll need weapons chambered in more effective ammunition. Or perhaps the Marine Corps has it right – the carbine is not a miniaturised rifle, but an extended pistol not intended for rifle use.

  20. Issue half M14s half M4/M16 and SAWs to each squad. Problem solved.

  21. LeeRet Army | May 26, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Reply

    What we realy need is better marksmanship training you can't kill what you can't hit. I never agreed with the our (Army) qualification just counting hits. Shot placement is very important one solid hit center mass is much more effective than a three round burts into the air. If we do want a heavier caliber we don't need to develope a new weapon we can still use our old standby the M14 just put a new stock on it to lighten it up a bit and you have a weapon that out performs both the M4 and the AK47. Also the parts are in the inventory as well as ammo. We need to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and spending Army dollars on projects that are not required.

  22. The 6.5 grendel has better penetration than the 7.62 is superior in long range ballistics and only adds a few pound to the soldiers ammo carry weight.
    It is easily adapted to the m4 frame.
    The reason for the above is its ballistic coefficient,its superior aerodynamics.
    It stays supersonic at rangers greater than 1000 yards.It should be the roung of the future.But don't count on it.
    By the way it is superior to the 6.8 in any situation,

  23. John Malseed | May 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Reply

    Overlooked in all the comments is the result of the basic force equation. A 7.62 round imparts approximately three times the energy to a body as a 5.56 round.

    If you hit anywhere in the triangle formed by the belly button and the two nipples it is a killing wound! If you hit someone in the arm and it strikes bone the arm is gone.

    Bill Clinton ordered the destruction of over 300, 000 M-14 rifles. A sad commentary on a Draft Dodger elected President.

    We need to deploy as many M-14s to Afghanistan as possible. One change is to replace the wooden stock with a synthetic. Another is to add a Low 2-4 power scope to allow consistent kills at 500 yards with standard ball ammo by personnel trained only to the marksman level, not sharpshooter or expert.

    We also need to acquire M-110 rifles for our sharpshooters and experts.

  24. Forget about the Grendel or 6.5 replacing the 5.56; it's never going to happen. Its stupid to introduce a totally new cartridge into the supply system. We'd be the only country with it and have rifles incompatible with standard stocks of ammunition manufactured and available almost anywhere in the world (5.56 and 7.62). Are you going to find the Grendel in Israel, Britain, Korea, Germany, etc. No and never!!! As for the "green" 5.56, the Army is dropping it.

  25. DU for 5.56. I wonder what the higher density and pyrophoric nature would do in the stopping power department.

  26. 6.5 Grendel. Why are all of you talking of this round. It is antiquated, never took off as well as expected and statistically/logistically is not going to happen. 6.8 SPC. Yes, that is going to happen, The logistics are there for this round, ( AR platforms + magazines). Same barrels can be rechambered and bored to accomodate the SPC round. YOU CAN'T DO THAT WITH THE GRENDEL-COST IN LOGISTICS! There are SOG groups uging SPC cal. weapons.

  27. Just to note, black guns are my specialty in custom builting, in varied calibers.

  28. Theodore Roosevelt said of the 7mm Mauser round, that soldiers hit in head, spine or heart died quickly. Soldiers hit anywhere else lived, and recovered amazingly quickly. Bleed out is a slow death. Hitting central nervous system is rare with any smallish bullet.

    Part of the problem is the 5.56 round depends on high velocity, and shooting it from a short barrel reduces its effect. A bullpup would permit a short rifle with a long enough barrel. Heavier bullets pick up weight in the basic ammunition load, and recoil faster than they increase effect on the target. Powder is lighter than lead. My infantry time was "carry a lot shoot a little".

  29. In the sporting communities, the .308 "light" or reduced recoil round is huge favorite and it's performance would still be considerably superior to the 5.56. Besides, my 12 year old shoots standard .308 ammo all the time, are you seriously telling me that the recoil issue that big of a deal? I've used both and I'll take the .308 round hands down.

  30. What we’re arguing about is less about rounds, but more about the total weapon-platform itself. I’ve shot many different weapons comparing them one on one up to 500 yards for accuracy, and for me personally this is what I’ve found (No scopes, only iron sights):
    An M4 vs M16 – M16, more accurate at all ranges because of higher round velocity;
    M4 vs AK47, surprised me – but the AK47 at ALL ranges; M16 vs AK47, M16 at all ranges;
    M14 vs M16 – M14 at all ranges;
    M14 vs AK47 – M14 at all ranges;
    M1903A3 vs M14 – About the same out to 200 yards, but at longer ranges the M1903 is better.

    A carbine is a better urban warfare weapon because of its more compact size, you can get rounds on target just tenths of seconds quicker, which can be the difference between life and death.

    A rifle is better in more open, longer range situations. All other things being equal, the rifle will shoot the same round at a higher velocity and as a result be more accurate at range.

    Perhaps the better compromise might be a ‘Bullpup’ type platform. It’s similar in overall length to a carbine, but because of its design it has a three to four inch longer barrel. So it has the more compact size of the carbine (better in shorter distance firefights) combined with the longer barrel of the rifle (better in longer distance firefights).

  31. I'm of the opinion that we are not approaching this issue from every angle. We focus a lot on ammo and this vs that, but the basic issue is recoil. Anyone would take 7.62 NATO if you could fire it controlably in full auto and burst. Right now we are stuck in a situation where we must compromise bullet performance with the need for controllability.

  32. cont'd: A different approach to solving this problem would be to expand the envolope of what rounds could be fired controllably by designing firearms that recoil less. An excellent example is the KRISS .45, which utilizes the Super-V action system to divert recoil energy downward to counteract barrel climb and recoil. This weapon allows the .45 ACP round to be fired at very high rpm on full auto with very little barrel climb. Check it out for yourself on Youtube, just search KRISS .45. Future Weapons, as cheesy as it can be sometimes, has a good video on it that shows the weapon firing from side view in comparison to an MP-5. The KRISS fires the much heavier .45 round on full auto with less barrel climb than the MP-5 fires 9mm ammo.

  33. cont'd: I've heard rumors that KRISS is developing a rifle based on the SUPER-V action. I hope so, because it would be an excellent offering in the market. Such a weapon would allow you to fire rounds like the 7.62 NATO ,or some other desirable cartridge, that would have all the sought after performance characteristics but would not be impeded by their high recoil because of the design of the firearm. In the 7.62 NATO's case, it would also not be a burden logistically because it is a common round. Ideally, KRISS would also allow the weapon to be customizable similar to the Bushmaster ACR so that other calibers could be used flexibly, if soldiers desired a different round for more CQB type work. This could be the 5.56, or even something heavier like the .45, .50 Beowulf, or some other heavy shoter range round. Just a thought, would love feedback on what you guys think.

  34. Imagine this: a rifle squad equipped with KRISS rifles firing 7.62, supported by the MK-48 7.62 SAW or a lighter more advanced model, and possibly a grenedier firing the new XM-25 counter defilade grenade launcher, or even better, some adaptation of the AA12 auto shotgun that could fire both shotgun shells and a longer range grenade similar to the one fired by the XM-25. That would be beastly. Support at the platoon level of M-32 MGLs and SMAWs and at the company level with Javelien, XM-307/312, 60mm mortars and snipers. Just dreamin :)

  35. One thing I will say has already been stated by many here, marksmanship is seriously lacking in the Army. The Marine Corps actually trains recruits to place shots on target, and if they can't they get recycled. The Army tells you to shoot the pop-up video game style and pencil whips it if you can't. When I was a young soldier I had the typical soldier's contempt for the Corp, but as I grow older, wiser, and learn more about them, I see that the Army is the one with the problem.

  36. About the only thing the Army has done right in their plight with longer ranges is pulling M14s out of mothballs (thank God Clinton didn't torch all of them!) and sending them out for use. How about picking up some of the millions of FALs or G3s that are out there too and issuing them to soldiers for use as well.
    As to weapons cleaning, any weapon that must be cleaned as religiously (even when not in use due to dust and sand concerns!) as the M16 family is NOT a soldier proof weapon. Take all the time and money you want to soldier proof every damn thing else, but hand out a weapon that doesn't react well to poor ammo and dirt and you're asking to get troops killed…continuing problem with this line of weaponry…40 years on and the only solution is more cleaning.

  37. I am a gun-nut. I can speak to the effectiveness of cartridges when used on tissue, etc. I own weapons in .223 (5.56 Nato), 7.62×39, and .308 (7.62×51) and have actually killed whitetail deer with each, at least two with each. I don't get chances for extreme long range shooting, 200-300 meters is about it, and I am not going to shoot any farther out for the sake of a humane kill. I can tell you that I have NEVER seen a .223 kill instantly. Two deer shot clean through the heart still weren't dead. They were mortally wounded, but not dead by a long shot.

  38. I have shot the most deer with 7.62×39 and this thing is a killer. One morning I took a buck through the neck at 235 yards, the doe he was sniffing ran off and stopped to jump a fence, so I whistled and she hesitated. At over 260 yards she was hit just behind the rib cage quartering away…the bullet ricocheted around her chest cavity exiting her neck clearing the clavicle. Her heart and lungs were shredded, she was dead before she hit the ground. I have a little Ruger bolt gun in this cartridge as well as several semi-autos, and will always have a place in my heart and safe for the 7.62×39.
    If you're a reloader, it's an easy round to load for too!

  39. The .308 does the same, albeit with considerably more recoil and of course, much flatter shooting. I have also used the .303 British successfully (it picked the buck up and tossed him down when he got hit) and the 7.5×55 Swiss (another hard hitting .30 caliber, as it should be since it is very similar to the ,308 balistically.) My favorites for balistics, recoil, "knock down" and accuracy have to be the 7×57 Mauser and the 6.5×55 Swede. These are remarkable cartridges that do things as well today as they did 100 years ago.

  40. It is a joke to be arguing about a new round or platform when we're not even consistently training our shooters out to the maximum engagement range of their existing firearm.

  41. Not for nothing, but way back in the day, platoon leaders were taught that the purpose of the M16A1/5.56mm system was to protect the heavy weapons squad(s) [M60/7.62mm, mortar, TOW/Dragon, etc.), and the radio.

    I can see the GWOT, SASO, LIC and whatnot making individual rifle marksmanship more important than it used to be, but the point remains. There's more than one tool in the toolbox, even in small unit engagements. 5.56mm can't do everything; it was never meant to.

    If M855 doesn't cut it out of the M4, work up another round, the way we replaced the old M193, and go back to the longer barrel. If that doesn't cut it, maybe the SAW, 40mm, SMAW, AT4, LAW, etc. M249 need a workout. There are also still some M14s left, and if we run out of those, then it shouldn't be too hard to procure a 7.62mm AR10 based system like the M110. The manual of arms is the same, and there's even some parts commonality. There are even AR10 clones with gas piston systems.

    Trying to reengineer the M16/M4 series for another caliber should be just about the last choice. You don't want to take on that kind of logistical challenge in the middle of 2 wars.

    No, if you've got more than one tool in the toolbox, then use the right tool for the job.

  42. Did I forget to mention that 5.56 is such a small caliber that it's legal for varmint hunting? You know, the aforementioned squirrels, prairie dogs, that sort of thing….

    Some varmint hunters even recommend the civilian equivalent of the m-16. With a heavier barrel, of course. Seriously, we seriously try to fight wars with highly recommended varmint rifles? At least squirrels don't shoot back while you are cleaning your .22, sorry I meant .223. Of course, it's your fault it's dirty, your just a bad varmint hunter and should take better care of your rifle. It's certainly nothing to do with the very advanced operating system.

  43. So, basically, everybody hates 5,56. Cons: It will make you die slowly even when struck in a vital area, making it an inhumane weap0on. It loses effectiveness quickly beyond 200 yards, because it won´t fragment anymore. It won´t penetrate any barriers commonly found in normal combat environment. It´s unstable in flight when there is any wind or grass in between. Pros: Many rounds in magazine due to its small size, pretty accurate and low recoil, pretty lethal at shorter ranges depending on barrel size.

    Pretty much on the con-side…… Too much for my taste.

  44. Seems the Taliban found a solution to the 5.56…. Stay out of it's range! http://kitup.military.com/2010/04/taliban-snipers
    It's the same warfare game that's being played since the first rock was thrown; Hit them further away than they can hit you. Once the solution to that is found, get too close for them to use their long range weapons. Use more armor; Use more explosives to defeat the armor. et al. The solution is to remain flexible and well trained when we fight. No, we can't have fifty thousand weapon systems, but we can use similar weapon systems so training crosses over.

  45. “It is a joke to be arguing about a new round or platform when we’re not even consistently training our shooters out to the maximum engagement range of their existing firearm.”

    This may hold true for the Army, but not the Marines. They still have to qualify yearly shooting up to 500 yards. (Unless qualification has changed in the last 10 years!)

    It would be interesting to have a side by side comparison of Army rifle quals versus Marine Corps rifle quals. Personally, I think pop-ups can be good for training, but not for rifle qualification; but then, I’m a former Marine too so I have my prejudices.

  46. I shot the G3 in german military and found it pretty easy to handle, no problem with recoil whatsoever, but I also saw recruits who injured themselves because of recoil. Basically, if you cannot handle 7,62x51mm recoil, ask yourself: “is a combat unit an appropriate workplace for me?”

  47. It would seem to me to implement mixed battalions and fire teams with some members using the SCAR-H along with M-4's and their variants. This would just mean implementing a tested and somewhat proven weapon system into the field that has an abundance of 7.62mm rounds. I don't know how costly pushing the SCAR-H out to squads in Afghanistan, but it would most certainly be cheaper than developing an intermediate cartridge and weapon system for Afghanistan.

  48. In the short term go back to the M16 with the 20 inch barrel for work in Afghanistan.

    In the long term it is time to "bite the bullet" and develop a new cartridge. Somewhere in the 6mm range. Take the 7mm British or 6.8mm SPC as a starting point and work on a design optimized to maintain energy over a greater range.

  49. The 5.56mm can create a bigger wound channel than even the 7.62NATO round can provided that it is in the magic range of 100-250M because the round will fragment when it yaws, if you remove the lead from the projectile it will not fragment when it yaws and therefore loose any positive affect it had. The Army would be better off getting rid of the M855 and go back to the M193 55gr rounds for QCB or just go with the 6.8 SPC

  50. Issueing out improved M4A1s, along with the new FN Scar (in both 5.56mm AND 7.62mm versions) and upgraded Modernized M14s to ALL US Army Infantry troops as well as ALL Infantry US Marines (and NOT just only for Special Ops people) is the only REAL answer FOR NOW. Improved new 5.56mm ammo now being sent to the field also helps (would have been nice to have had those 20 years ago). There must be flexibility adn variety of ammo and weapons in order to be able to survive and win anywhere anytime against anyone…….

  51. All this caliber thumping is a moot point because even if we were able to develop a new cartridge (without causing the inevitable nightmare) to shoot out of the most advanced rifle (if the military would ever hold a performance-based competition); the troops are not receiving the necessary training and practice to make them lethal marksmen.

    As the old saying goes, "It's the Indian, not the bow or arrow that wins the fight." When troops only get to shoot 58 rounds a year to qualify (less if you are able to zero your weapon quickly); what are the chances of this same Soldier being able to make a round in the proper location of the bad guy while under fire?

    Unless the Improved Carbine that they eventually settle on guarantees proper shot placement through the use of computers, magic or a laser projectile; this is all academic.

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