AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 7 Comments

There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s.  So why am I writing one?  Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong.  Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject.  It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information.  Or you may not benefit at…… [read more]

Army Considers 6.5mm For Its Future Battle Rifle

BY Herschel Smith
13 hours, 6 minutes ago

Kitup at

The U.S. Army’s chief of staff recently made a bold promise that future soldiers will be armed with weapons capable of delivering far greater lethality than any existing small arms.

[ … ]

As Milley was speaking, Textron Systems officials were showing off their new Intermediate Case-Telescoped Carbine, chambered for 6.5mm on the AUSA exhibition floor.

Textron’s cased-telescoped ammunition relies on a plastic case rather than a brass one to hold the propellant and the projectile, like a conventional shotgun shell.

The ICTC is a closed bolt, forward feed, gas piston operated weapon, weighing 8.3 pounds. The 6.5mm case-telescoped ammunition weighs 35 percent less and offers 30 percent more lethality than 7.62mm x 51mm brass ammunition, Textron officials maintain.

“I think the most important thing is what we have been able to do with the intermediate caliber, the 6.5mm in this case,” Wayne Prender, vice president of Textron’s Control & Surface Systems Unmanned Systems told “We are able to not only provide a weight reduction … and all the things that come with it – we are also able to provide increased lethality because of the ability to use a more appropriate round.”

Textron officials maintain they are using a low-drag “representative” 6.5mm bullet while U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, is developing the actual projectile.

“We actually used three different bullet shapes and we scaled it,” said Paul Shipley, program manager for of Unmanned Systems. “We scaled 5.56mm up, we scaled 7.62mm down and took a low-drag shape and ran that between the two” to create the 125 grain 6.5mm bullet that’s slightly longer than the Army’s new 130 grain M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round.

Textron officials maintain that the new round retains more energy at 1,200 meters than the M80A1. At that distance, the 6.5mm has an impact-energy of 300 foot pounds compared to the M80A1 which comes in at about 230 foot pounds of energy, Textron officials maintain.

“The increased lethality we are referring to has to do with the energy down range,” Shipley said. “You can take whatever kind of bullet you want, compare them and it’s going to have increased energy down range.”

Okay, so let me get this straight.  The Army doesn’t know how to shoot as it is, and while focusing on racial diversity, gender issues, gays in the military, women in combat arms, and declining physical standards, are going to teach young boys and girls in the “Big Army” how to shoot 1200 meters with a battle rifle that will have a larger punch (to the shooter), be more physically demanding to shoot, and have no civilian analogue?

Consider.  Most of the real advancements to weapons design are made in the civilian market.  PMags came from the civilian market.  The 6.5mm Creedmoor came from the civilian market.  Less weighty rails and barrel shrouds came from the civilian market.  I could go on, but you get the point.  The military is the beneficiary of what happens in the civilian world, no vice versa (this is one reason I think that the limitation on civilian ownership of machine guns will eventually weaken the military, because no one is designing an open bolt system that gets vetted by the civilian market).

If you’re in the military, you use what you’re given.  If you are not, you get to spend your money however you want, and you do the research necessary to find the best product that meets your needs.   Innovation is driven in the market, not by the military.  If a company designs a poor product for the civilian market, it gets called crap ten thousand times over the forums and people don’t buy it.  The company goes out of business.

I see much pain if big army goes down this road.  They will have recoil issues, parts breakage, no one to whom they can turn for counsel who has actually shot this thing before, ammunition problems, accuracy problems, and on and on it goes.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.  If the military wanted this to work, they would have to vet it in the civilian market first.

But it all looks like a solution in search of a problem to me.

Did The Owner Of LaRue Tactical Call For Gun Control?

BY Herschel Smith
13 hours, 24 minutes ago

Here is a broad ranging discussion thread where the commenters throw down with each other, referencing an AR-15 discussion thread where Mark LaRue apparently hinted at the willingness to accept gun control.  Some commenters at reddit think not, but here is what he apparently said.

“Like I said, if I come up with a way to use a waterhose to shoot up all your ammo faster, does that mean waterhoses are protected by the second amendment?”

He also apparently said this in support of the NRA.  Now, I have to admit that the comment makes no sense and seems to me to be nonsensical.  It could have been clear and made sense if it just included a typographical error, and should have read … “does that mean waterhoses aren’t protected by the second amendment?”  It would make sense because it would be using a superlative to make a point, or arguing a fortiori, from the lesser to the greater [why stop with bump stocks, ban waterhoses too], or even reduction ad absurdum.

But what he may be doing is lampooning gun owners’ reflexive tendency, as he sees it, to defend anything under the rubric of the second amendment.  In fact, I think this is close to the truth.  Mark LaRue goes on to release a statement correcting himself, but it may be too little, too late.  He also uses obscenity against a member of the AR-15 forum later on in the discussion thread.

What is the matter with these guys?  Seriously, what’s wrong with their thinking?  Why not say nothing at all, and do your best to serve the gun community with high quality products for as cheaply as you can sell them?

Well, I may be in the market for a high end AR-15 first quarter of next year.  I think LaRue Tactical is off my short list.

Gun Control Through Ammunition Control

BY Herschel Smith
13 hours, 35 minutes ago


There are approximately 300 million guns presently in the United States — probably much more if you count the illegal weapons. Even if the most stringent laws regarding gun control were passed, we would never see our country unarmed.

There is a simple solution that is largely ignored: Guns do not kill people — bullets do. Bullets are not good forever — guns are. The average life of a cartridge is 10 years; after that the primer is no longer dependable. Why can’t we limit the ownership of ammunition to a reasonable amount and strictly regulate the sale of bullets? Since the right to bear arms in the Constitution doesn’t state “and ammunition,” it would probably also hold up to challenge by the NRA.

Right now we strictly regulate the sale of narcotics and give hypodermic needles away to addicts. Hypodermic needles are the guns and narcotics are the bullets.

How do you like being compared to a drug addict?  Still, there is wisdom is listening very carefully to your enemies.  I think Sun Tzu said something along those lines.

As gun control goes, if the collectivists want to get the biggest bang for their buck, ammunition is the way to do it.  Plan and act accordingly.

2017 Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot

BY Herschel Smith
1 day, 12 hours ago

Men and women enjoying their God-given RKBA.

Surveying The Comments

BY Herschel Smith
1 day, 12 hours ago

The comments on TCJ are far more interesting than the commentary by the owner, and it’s appropriate to survey a few, as well as survey as few from other sources.


“Live and let live” is an iffy proposition with a big cat. I lived at the end of a dirt road 16 miles outside Sedona back in the 80’s. There were no phone lines out that far. My nearest neighbors were an old couple in their 90’s (about 2 miles down the road), so yelling for help if I were in trouble was out of the question. Not long after I moved there, a healthy female started nosing around, but kept her distance – about 200 – 300 yards. Not long after that, I also noticed a smaller cub following her. At first all I saw was their tails between bushes in the distance, but soon I got the “feeling” (hairs literally stood up on the back of my neck) when they were around and I saw more and more of their bodies as they jumped from one part of their trail to another, eventually catching a full view of each of them. But they didn’t come any closer for a long time – months passing by with only their voices occasionally breaking the silence.

I made an almost fatal mistake one time about 6 months after I moved there, when I went for a long hike up a nearby canyon, late in Summer. Coming back down around sunset, I lost the trail and went too far along the creek that formed the small canyon. Doubling back to a familiar place kept me out until well past dark, and the late phase of the moon and cloud cover made it pitch back, so I opted to climb down into the creek bed where I could pick up the trail back to the cabin. Before I could climb back out, I got “the feeling”, and within seconds I heard the lion’s short, sharp call (I described it as a mix between a growl and scream – not at all like the calls dubbed into TV travelogues of the 50’s – 60’s). She was above me up on the creek bank, probably not more than 20 feet from where I stood frozen. I was totally defenseless, armed with only a folding pocket knife, which I pulled out in the hopes it wouldn’t be my last use of it. She called a few more times and all I could think to do was sound more menacing and dangerous than some tasty tidbit – so I yelled and screamed as loud as I could back at her. Apparently she decided I was more trouble than it was worth, and decided to let me live that night, stalking off along the path, her occasional call telling me that she’d finally gone away. It was a long time before I got the courage to climb up and out of there to very cautiously make my way back home.

Later that year, before the snows got too thick, a wildlife videographer came to the ranch and stopped by asking if I minded him passing through with his pack horses and dogs, as he was tracking the lion to film her for a TV show. He promised to stop back by and loan me any videotape he shot for viewing, which I appreciated. The film was well worth watching, as the best footage of my big cat neighbor showed her gracefully jumping from one rock jutting out from the escarpment they were on to another, attempting to get away from the bothersome dogs. They followed her up to a point where the distance between them was about as far as she could reach with her front paw – which she did after tiring of the incessantly barking hound who’d dared to get too close. Smack! went one lightning quick swipe at the poor dog’s nose and he turned and ran yelping back down the rock path, leaving the rest to continue their taunting. Then she turned and leapt about 20 feet from one ledge to another as if it were no effort at all – a distance far too much for the dogs to continue their chase.

I’d acquired a .22 that year, just in case I had to use it, and was glad, as a friend and her young son had moved up there with me by then. About a year later the cat began gradually coming closer and closer to the cabin where we lived. My thought was that if she decided a smaller version of the two-leggeds might be an easy catch, she’d probably try it. Over a period of weeks I heard (and saw) her coming closer and closer, to the point where she was within a few dozen yards of our makeshift outhouse, where we might visit at night if necessary. I was torn between my Cherokee grandmother’s blood in me and respect for all animals and basic survival instincts, but decided this beautiful, majestic lady was coming a little too close. One day I took careful aim and put just one shot at the rock wall directly over her head, sending shards scattering all around her. That was all the warning she needed and we never saw her anywhere near the cabin again, though we would still hear her calling once in a while – way off in the distance.

While I’d never kill one unless absolutely necessary, I agree with the actions of the man in the story above – that cat was getting just a little too close for comfort, and could’ve just as easily taken down a slow-moving elder as one of the house cats it had killed (probably seeing them as a territorial threat to its meager hunting ground). As far out in the wilderness as Westfir is, I’d carry any time I went outside. There are many more wild things than just big cats out there. I still live in Northern Arizona and although I’ve never seen or heard any of the lighter-colored cats around here, I did catch a black one in my headlights as it leaped across a two-lane road in one bound back in 2001, beautiful but disconcerting at the same time.

Paul P:

Sorry , I will not cache my guns . I will speak to my reps , I will explain what OUR rights are , I will act according to the rights bestowed upon me by my creator . Not a keyboard warrior by any means , but I am not going to go quietly into the night so that those in power can gain even more than they have .

If the time comes that I need to hide my guns , then it is the time that our own gov has become that which our founders fought to keep from controlling them as well as future citizens . We then become the resistance to the very people that would enslave us .

My simple answer to all of it is , NO! I will not comply .

At Brushbeater there is an extremely good post on rifles and calibers.  This is a must read.  He argues for the 5.56mm and concludes in the end that if you could only take a single battle rifle with you, it would be an AR-15.  And he speaks with authority on the subject.  There are also some other interesting comments at his place.


Mark me down as another Afghanistan vet who would start with the 5.56. I have witnessed this round do damage to enemy fighters (and one unfortunate friendly soldier) on numerous occasions and it does not disappoint. The velocity is the key with this one. I also now work on a trauma floor at a hospital in a mid-sized city. Currently have a patient who was recently shot four times with 7.62×39. I firmly believe (and the trauma surgeon agreed) that the patient may not be alive (or in nearly as good a shape) if they had been hit with 5.56 instead. They took two projectiles out of this patient. That was it. But 5.56? They’d have had to call in the vascular surgeon to assist in picking fragments of multiple projectiles out of this patient, many of which would be found nowhere near the entrance or exit wounds. We’d have been caring for horrendous temporary cavitation injuries even aside from the actual wound channels themselves.

All of the trauma surgeons and vascular surgeons I work with have said the same thing to me, because I asked the question. They hate dealing with 5.56 wounds more than the others, because the damage is bad and it’s hard to repair and clean up.

This is a really interesting comment and it certainly comports with what we already know about the ballistics and lethality of the 5.56mm.  However, I wonder whether the trauma doctors and vascular surgeons he works with have seen wounds inflicted by the 5.56mm.  I doubt that AR-15s are used that much in crimes in America.  Or perhaps some of the trauma doctors and vascular surgeons worked in the military before working at whatever hospital he works at.  I also don’t know the commenter or the context of his statement.  I would like to hear more detail on his experiences.


There is wisdom in your article….as usual.


I grew up with the Garand, shifted to NM M1A, but thought I would like an AR platform in 308. Bought one of good quality and good reputation. It beat the piss out of me. Not fun to shoot. Went back to the M1A. Pleasure to shoot.
Still wanted an AR platform but bumped to the lower caliber 556. Pleasure to shoot.

Still like my one holer .308 bolt guns the best.

I’ve heard that before as well.  For those who have a large bore weapon, it simply “beats the piss” out of them.  I know when I shoot my .270 rifle, it isn’t fun any more after 60-80 rounds – not that I would want to shoot more than that anyway, since the ammunition is so expensive.  Any practice with a rifle must consider the cost of the ammunition, as well as its weight in battle.

Gun Laws The Founding Fathers Loved

BY Herschel Smith
1 day, 13 hours ago

Or so the author wants you to believe.

#1: Registration

Today American gun rights advocates typically oppose any form of registration – even though such schemes are common in every other industrial democracy – and typically argue that registration violates the Second Amendment. This claim is also hard to square with the history of the nation’s founding. All of the colonies – apart from Quaker-dominated Pennsylvania, the one colony in which religious pacifists blocked the creation of a militia – enrolled local citizens, white men between the ages of 16-60 in state-regulated militias. The colonies and then the newly independent states kept track of these privately owned weapons required for militia service. Men could be fined if they reported to a muster without a well-maintained weapon in working condition.

#2: Public carry

The modern gun rights movement has aggressively pursued the goal of expanding the right to carry firearms in public.

The American colonies inherited a variety of restrictions that evolved under English Common Law. In 18th-century England, armed travel was limited to a few well-defined occasions such as assisting justices of the peace and constables. Members of the upper classes also had a limited exception to travel with arms. Concealable weapons such as handguns were subject to even more stringent restrictions. The city of London banned public carry of these weapons entirely.

The American Revolution did not sweep away English common law. In fact, most colonies adopted common law as it had been interpreted in the colonies prior to independence, including the ban on traveling armed in populated areas. Thus, there was no general right of armed travel when the Second Amendment was adopted, and certainly no right to travel with concealed weapons. Such a right first emerged in the United States in the slave South decades after the Second Amendment was adopted. The market revolution of the early 19th century made cheap and reliable hand guns readily available. Southern murder rates soared as a result.

And so on his missive goes.  But equating the requirement to be an active member of the militia and registering your firearms with the central authority are most certainly not the same thing, he’s only pretending they are.  In fact, they have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.  He also includes the evidence he wants and excludes other evidence, like Adam Winkler who claims that the West had virtually ubiquitous gun control laws prohibiting men from carrying within the city limits, when in reality he can cite only a couple of examples of such control, one of which led to a shoot-out.  As for owning and carrying weapons, we all know how the colonists saw that.

In the colonies, availability of hunting and need for defense led to armament statues comparable to those of the early Saxon times. In 1623, Virginia forbade its colonists to travel unless they were “well armed”; in 1631 it required colonists to engage in target practice on Sunday and to “bring their peeces to church.” In 1658 it required every householder to have a functioning firearm within his house and in 1673 its laws provided that a citizen who claimed he was too poor to purchase a firearm would have one purchased for him by the government, which would then require him to pay a reasonable price when able to do so. In Massachusetts, the first session of the legislature ordered that not only freemen, but also indentured servants own firearms and in 1644 it imposed a stern 6 shilling fine upon any citizen who was not armed.

Seeing life in the Colonies any other way is simply make-believe.  Similarly, one particular Reddit/r/Firearms entry several days ago argued that the second amendment was basically all about the requirement to have formal, government-approved militias in order to put down potential challenges to the power of the government.  His self serving and pedantic title is “What was going on in America that caused the founding fathers to create the second amendment?”

The answer to this can be given in short order: the revolution.  The second amendment was written by men who risked their livelihoods, their wealth, their fortunes, their lives, and the lives of their families to overthrow the government under which they lived.  They used cannon when they had them, and would have been quite happy to have used semi- or fully-automatic weapons.  To argue differently is idiotic, with the founders who wrote the very amendment under debate having seen the bloodshed, lose of life, loss of limb, and pain they had witnessed during the war of independence.

These are all attacks on our rights, taking for form of scholarship.  But scholarship it isn’t, and the weakest thing about all of it is that they are only hastening the very apocalypse they fear.  For our rights don’t come from the constitution, but from the Almighty.  Their attack on the constitution is an attach on the agreement which binds us, not the source of our rights.  By attacking the agreement, they are saying they no longer intend to honor the agreement.  The constitution is a covenant, with blessings and curses as corollaries.  Obedience and honoring of said covenant brings peace, violation of it brings violence, destruction and death.

Men don’t get to decide to dishonor our rights with impunity.  God has a say in this matter, and when He speaks, it is done.

Representative Thomas Massie: The Only Politician In American With Guts

BY Herschel Smith
2 days, 12 hours ago

But since the Las Vegas shooting, Massie has taken his Second Amendment support to a new level, setting himself apart from his Republican colleagues and even the NRA.

The Kentucky congressman, who holds a concealed carry permit and says he is generally armed when he’s his home state, has questioned whether bump stocks truly made last week’s shooting in Las Vegas more deadly.

“Needs to be discussed: Murderer probably could have fired more rounds conventionally instead of dealing with misfires caused by #bumpstocks,” Massie tweeted on Oct. 7.

He has castigated his GOP colleagues for suggesting they would be willing to consider a ban on such equipment.

“Obamacare repeal and tax reform can’t happen in 9 months, but now some GOP signaling they’re ready to immediately work on gun control?” he blasted in another Twitter message.

[ … ]

“There are at least a dozen ways to make a semi-automatic firearm more quickly,” Massie told the Examiner. “There is no way to ban bump fire.”

Not surprisingly, gun-control advocates vehemently disagree.

We’ve regulated machine guns in this country quite carefully for the last 80 years,” said Avery W. Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Why should an accessory that turns a gun into the functional equivalent of a machine gun not be regulated in the same way?”

Because it’s not a machine gun, and machine guns shouldn’t be regulated anyway.

As for representative Massie, he shows the way to do it.  All you have to have is a soul, a little bit of guts, and a moral compass.  Unfortunately that’s lacking in most politicians today.

Congratulations to representative Massie.  We’re in your corner.  Stay the course, and keep up the good fight.  If the demons, gargoyles and pit vipers in Washington don’t listen to you, at least someone is listening, and He will judge them all one awful day.

Jerry Miculek Versus A Bump Fire Stock

BY Herschel Smith
3 days, 1 hour ago

Via reader Pat Hines.

Banning “Rate Increasing Devices”

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 13 hours ago

These are must see videos.  If you don’t do anything else today, watch these. Act accordingly.

MGM Issues Correction: Shots Were Fired At Festival At The Same Time Or Within Forty Seconds Jesus Campos Reported Being Shot

BY Herschel Smith
4 days, 13 hours ago

Via reader B Bauch, this.

Mandalay Bay hotel officials said Thursday the Las Vegas gunman wounded a security guard in a hotel hallway within 40 seconds of firing into the crowd at a music festival, disputing a police timeline that put six minutes from the time the guard was shot and when Stephen Paddock committed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

In the most recent chronology given by investigators on Monday, police said Paddock sprayed 200 rounds into the hallway on the 32nd floor Oct. 1, wounding an unarmed security guard in the leg, six minutes before he unleashed his barrage of bullets on the festival crowd. He killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 before taking his own life.

In the industry in which I work, we have conducted forensic analysis, failure modes and effects analysis and event investigations many thousands of times.  I’ve done them too, many times.  I’ve also been through Management Oversight and Risk Tree training with EG&G.  One thing is clear from all of that.  Before anything else gets done, a team of experts creates a time line and sequence of events that is verified, forensically defensible and absolutely correct, with enough fidelity to perform your analysis.  Until you have that, you have nothing.  Nothing.

For this particular event based on published and verified reports, Jesus Campos was shot before, during and after the shooting of the crowd.

The FBI is either stupid (I hate voluntarily stupid people) or corrupt (I hate corrupt people).

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