New Team Name
Yesterday, my new team NCOIC walked over to my desk and said, "Sir, I think we should change our team call sign to 'Gunslinger.'"
"Everyone on the team has a concealed pistol license."
Commie Junk My A$$
The target below was shot at 50 yards, using a 'shooter grade' Yugoslav M59/66 SKS procured from AIM Surplus for $79, and off-brand Golden Tiger 7.62x39mm ammo, bought for $79/1000 rounds, back in the good old days of cheap ammo.
The row of three across the bottom, along with the very top one, were my first four shots. The cluster is actually four rounds.
Commie junk my butt.
We recently got a new LT in my unit, a much more recent grad from my alma mater, UC Davis. He brought me some sad information: that the indoor range used by the ROTC program's rifle and pistol teams had been shut down. He wasn't able to tell me why, just that it was not longer used and the rifle and pistol teams had gone away as well.
Having competed (not nearly as well as I'd have liked) for four years on the rifle team while in college, I was greatly saddened by this news.
Watch this space. I've made contact with the Professor of Military Science (the ROTC commander) to get more details and see what, if anything, can be done to bring back the range and the teams. I may ask for help fromthe gunblog community.
Alternatives to the 5.56 NATO
If you read internet gun boards, or dead tree gun magazines, you know that vast numbers of electrons and large amounts of ink have been expended on the debate about whether the 5.56 NATO round is adequate to the demands being made of it in the Contemporary Operating Environment (COE), and, if not, what would be the best replacement for it. Aside from SOCOM's development of the 6.8 SPC round, there hasn't been much discussion of this issue that I've seen coming from Big Army or Big Marine channels.
That may be changing. I recently came across an article by Stanley C. Crist in Infantry magazine, the house publication of the U.S. Army Infantry branch, titled "High Performance Alternatives to the 5.56 NATO Round." (You need to have a Dept. of the Army account to read Infantry online, but the Armorer has most graciously offered to host the .pdf for all of us.)
The thing that really got my attention in the article is something that I've been looking for for a while: hard comparison data for the various currently existing potential replacement, and for both 20" and 14.5" barrels. I have yet to see an article in a gun magazine comparing the 6.8 SPC to the 6.5 Grendel, for example. And I had never heard of the 6x45mm and 6.5x42mm rounds. The only round I'd be interested in knowing more about that isn't on the table is the new 5.8x42mm Chinese round, which Mr. Crist states "by any objective standards, must be considered the best assault rifle cartridge currently in service." He urges the Army to take "similarly bold action" to what China has done and "adopt a new, more capable rifle cartridge" to better equip our troops for the challenges of the COE.
The article discusses three potential approaches: put a heavier bullet in the existing 5.56 casing-the 77 gr Mk272 round; neck up the existing casing, the 6mm and 6.5mm MPC cartridges; or go with a whole new cartridge, albeit ones that are compatible with the magwell of the M16/M4 family-the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel rounds. The first option is the cheapest and easiest to implement, but offers the least improvement in performance; the last option is the most expensive and complex to implement, but offers the greatest improvement. The middle option is just that-a middle option, both in cost and potential performance.
One thing Crist doesn't delve deeply into is bullet design and terminal ballistics, dealing only with bullet energy at various ranges (0, 100, 300, 500, 800, and 1000 meters). He does acknowledge that once a decision on which path or paths to pursue for further development, bullets can be develop to optimize effects against soft or hard targets.
While he doesn't explicitly say so, Crist's use of language saying "bold action" and "new, more capable cartridge" leaves me with the impression that he would favor adoption of the 6.5 Grendel (referred to as the 6.5x38mm on the table), since that round offers by far the greatest improvement in performance over the current M855 5.56 round, especially at longer ranges. (The superior performance of the 6.5 Grendel, made by Alexander Arms, compared to the 6.8 SPC, developed by Remington, may be one reason that most gun magazines have largely ignored the Grendel. Remington is a big company in the gun world, and they buy a lot more ads than Alexander. Showing up the round that Remington is trying to pimp to the Tactical Tommy crowd might be bad for the bottom line.) He doesn't state whether he would favor adopting a new suite of weapons(carbine/rifle/SAW) to go with the new cartridge.
Or course, if you're going to adopt a new suite of weapons and a new cartridge, why remain wedded to the cartridge OAL and external magazine dimensions of the current round? Why not design both from the ground up, and maybe get an even more capable cartridge? My starting point in that case might be the 7.62x45mm round the Czechs were forced to abandon back in the mid 1950s, necked down to take the ballistically slick 6.5mm bullets, maybe in weights up to the 130gr bullets used in the 6.5x55 Swedish round.
Unfortunately, given current budget constraints-the Army and Marines will soon have to pay the piper for equipment that has been destroyed and/or worn out in Iraq and Afghanistan-and the historic resistance to change of the ground services when it comes to weapons and ammunition-remember the .276 Pederson and the .280 Brit? -(The adoption of the M16 and 5.56 were the notable exception)-we're unlikely to see such bold action. The Army and Marines have issued calls for a new carbine and new LMG/SAW respecitvely, and both call for weapons in 5.56 NATO.
Hopefully the higher ups will take a longer, fresh look at what our troops need and fight to get the best available.