Archive for the 'AR-15s' Category



David Petzal Gets An AR-15

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 4 weeks ago

Field & Stream writes this about the recent SHOT show.

Range Day is the Monday prior to the Show’s opening when manufacturers demonstrate their wares. People like me are bussed out to handle the goodies. This year, Range Day sounded like the Battle of Dak To, or perhaps Fallujah, with the distinctive pop-pop-pop of full-auto fire, which was extremely popular amongst all the SEAL wannabes. Indeed, this was symbolic of the whole show, which has now become so heavily militarized that you have to look fairly hard for something designed to kill animals instead of people.

It’s David Petzal.  Is anyone really surprised?  Just a few days later, David writes to tell us why he finally got an AR-15.

I also liked that the DMR is a 7.62 and not a 5.56—as the former easily outranges the latter—and that it is a gas-piston rifle, and not a direct-­impingement rifle. This keeps all the dirt and heat up front in the gas system rather than letting it pour back into the action in order to cycle the bolt.

The 18-inch medium barrel is chrome lined, which means you’ll probably never wear it out, and the match-grade trigger is a two-stage Geissele that breaks at 61⁄2 pounds. The buttstock is a Magpul PRS, and the grip is a MIAD. There is no carrying handle, just an endless Picatinny rail (four of them, actually) and excellent quick-detachable iron sights. Twenty-round Magpul PMag magazines are standard.

The weight…ah, the weight: My rifle, with a scope in high Leupold Mark 4 rings, a flash suppressor (highly recommended), and a vertical fore-end grip, weighs 131⁄2 pounds. This means I will not take it hunting, but then it is not a hunting rifle. It does mean that the DMR has hardly any kick, holds steady, and can put down aimed, controlled fire at the range very rapidly.

Finally, it is not compliant with California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or New York restrictions. I take considerable satisfaction in that.

[ … ]

The 716 DMR is not a cheap gun at $2,970. But I’ve found that long after you’ve forgotten how much you spent, you can delight in the performance of what your money bought. I waited a long time to join the 21st century, but I went about it the right way.

Uh huh.  So you did it right, did you?  Well, you know what David?  Your rifle cost you a lot of money.  And it can shoot too, with sub-MOA accuracy.  That’s great.

But 1 – 1.5 MOA guns can shoot to, and can take down animals and tyrants.  And I take great pleasure in knowing that most of my guns would be illegal in California too.

But I don’t begrudge anyone their $400 Ruger rifle that will shoot 1.5 MOA, or their $3000 Weatherby that will shoot .75 MOA.  Honestly, for many people, there isn’t much difference between them.  And I advocate enjoying shooting for hunting, for target, for so-called “plinking,” and if need be for killing tyrants.

But I do have a confession to make.  If I never shoot anything, never hit an animal, never hit the target, never succeed at any contests, I still love to shoot.  I love it for the pure engineering behind it.  I love the explosion.  I love the idea of a projectile, and I love thinking about Newton’s laws.  I love the moving parts, I love disassembling them.  I just love the mechanics behind guns.  I love the machine.  God help me!  I do love it so!

There.  I’ve said it, and I feel better now.  And see David, I’m not an AR-15 snob.  In fact, I advocate that everyone enjoy shooting.  I usually have a smile on my face when I’m shooting, and I get jazzed when I go shooting with friends and family.  With Daniel it was a little different, sort of like a hard job when you have to shoot >> 1000 rounds a day for two years under duress.  But that’s a little different.  Daniel still likes shooting too.

For heaven’s sake, David, you don’t need to be so puckered.  Smile a little.  Be an advocate for others to enjoy the same passion you’ve been able to have your whole life.  Don’t be jealous and petty and selfish.  And don’t … I repeat … don’t, be an AR-15 snob.

California Sheriff Loses AR-15, Placing It On Top Of Car And Driving Off

BY Herschel Smith
7 months ago

Via Uncle, Twitter.  An Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy loses his patrol rifle.  “The Deputy set the rifle, inside its case, on the trunk of his vehicle and inadvertently drove away.”

I guess inadvertently driving off is sort of like inadvertent discharges.  It’s all okay because its inadvertent.  Gosh, I hate it when that happens to me.  I do it all the time.  I remember the last time I did that.  The gun shop replaced it for free, and we all laughed and laughed and laughed.

One interesting question over Twitter is “Why is it called a patrol rifle when law enforcement has one, and an assault rifle if a civilian has one?”

Because shut up, says law enforcement.

Field Stripping And Cleaning An AR-15

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 2 weeks ago

Josh Horwitz On Pistol Grips

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 1 week ago

Boston Globe:

One of the features described in the legal bans as “military,” and by the gun industry as “cosmetic,” is a pistol grip on rifles — a handle beneath the trigger. This makes it easier to hold the rifle steady while firing repeatedly, a desired feature to shooting enthusiasts.

But Horwitz, of the gun-control coalition, sees the feature differently.

“Traditional hunting rifles are very accurate on the first shot,” he said, which is usually all one gets when hunting game. “The pistol grip allows the same accuracy on rounds two to 100, a very helpful addition when the shooter is aiming at people.”

You never knew that Howwitz was a tactical expert, did you?  Well, to be precise, the design of the AR-15/M-16/M-4 (or in other words, the Stoner family of arms) places the recoil along the axis of the firearm, as opposed to there being a couple about the firing hand because of the off-axis recoil and the buttstock being lower than the axis of recoil.

The pistol grip is a function of the rifle design, not vice versa or for some unrelated reason.  In other words, one couldn’t hold and shoot the firearm without it because the hand would be turned 90 degrees.  Round 1 versus rounds 2 to 100 is irrelevant, and Josh doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

As for forend grip, if that’s what he’s referring to, some folks would dispute the notion that holding a forend grip (as opposed to using it as a point of reference and a spring loaded bipod) assists the shooter at all.  Specifically, the thumb-over-bore grip or otherwise termed the C-clamp grip has become popular among some shooters.  It started in the gaming community, was adopted by some special operations guys, and is now commonly seen at ranges, and certainly in training videos by folks like Chris Costa and Travis Haley.

Costa_C_Clamp_Grip

In this picture, Chris Costa is using a reflex sight and a flip-to-side magnifier like I do, although not the reflex sight I use (EOTech), along with (what looks like) a Surefire M600 tactical light system.  My forend grip isn’t as high as his.

Some operators don’t even run a forend grip if the mission exclusively involves rapid target acquisition.  As for the main pistol grip, aside from the idea that it is necessary given the weapon design, there is no evidence that use of a pistol grip ipso facto ensures better accuracy or precision on any particular sequences of rounds (on the other hand, the recoil being directed along an axis is intended to aid in rapid target re-acquisition, but Josh didn’t say that).  So again, Josh Horwitz doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  But you knew that already.

Practice, test, be an engineer and mechanic.  Use whatever weapon design and particular set of additions to your weapon that works best for you.  They’ll never get our ARs.  The modularity of the AR-15 is one of its best features.  Josh Horwitz can trust the police to protect him.  As for you, trust God, and use your guns.

Officer Accidentally Fires Rifle Into 121st Precinct Ceiling

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 1 week ago

silive.com:

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – An NYPD officer accidentally fired an AR-15 rifle inside the 121st Precinct stationhouse after a weapons bust last week, the Advance has learned.

The officer was vouchering the weapon into evidence Tuesday night, a law enforcement source said, when it discharged, firing a shot into the ceiling of the Graniteville stationhouse.

The blast sent a spray of concrete into the officer’s face, resulting in a trip to the hospital for evaluation, the source said.

Any NYPD spokesman confirmed the incident took place but declined comment further, citing an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation.

The weapon came from a stash confiscated from the New Springville home of Anthony Romano, 34, the source said.

Or in other words, with a round chambered, he chose to pull the trigger with the rifle pointed in an unsafe direction.  Gosh I hate it when that happens to me.  I remember the last time I accidentally shot up a police precinct.  We all laughed and laughed and laughed.  I’m glad they were all cool and didn’t cause me a hassle about it.

Note To EOTech

BY Herschel Smith
11 months ago

Soldier Systems:

Over the past few weeks, three separate issues have come to our attention regarding EOTech’s line of Holographic Weapon Sights (HWS). While we initially thought they weren’t related as they came up one by one, we realized they were all connected once we had looked into all three. Consequently, we believe they should be presented together, along with the source documentation.

Although it’s the last one we uncovered, we’ll begin with the most glaring piece of information. On 14 September, the SOF Weapons Program Management Office at NSWC Crane released a Safety of Use Message regarding issues with EOTech’s Enhanced Combat Optical Sights (ECOS), which is how they refer to HWS. This certainly caught our attention as the PMO is responsible for USSOCOM weapons. That message ultimately serves as the linchpin, tying together the other two issues we’ll soon address.

This critical bit of information would have been a stand-alone article, but it added credence to the others and offered coherence to some otherwise inexplicable issues. It also allowed us to concentrate on the facts presented in the various documentation. We will introduce the other issues after you get a chance to read the SOUM, which was obtained by Soldier Systems Daily. The Message has no date-time-group but was transmitted via official email traffic to SOF units on 14 September, 2015 and there are no markings limiting distribution.

Click to view PDF

While there is a great deal of information in the SOUM, two glaring issues stick out. The first is the reliability of the HWS in extreme temperatures, referred to as “Thermal Drift”. The PMO has noted a +/- 4 MOA shift at -40 Deg F and 122 Deg F. Second, is the concern over the claim by EOTech that their HWS are parallax free which was the subject of a previous Safety of Use Message from the same office issued 16 March, 2015. In this case they noted between 4 and 6 MOA parallax error depending on temperature conditions. Despite the PMO working with EOTech to rectify the issues, they still have not been resolved.

Listen to me, EOTech.  Just like we have noted with Remington and the Walker Fire Control System, it would have been better, cheaper and easier for Remington had they noted the problems up front, fixed them, recalled the parts, or refunded the clients.  Instead, the lawyers and corporate executives got involved and things went down hill.  Now, Remington is a shell of what it once was.  And for good reason.  I’ll be surprised if they survive except for government contracts.

Fix the problem.  Come clean about it, explain it, recall it, refund the parts, or do whatever you have to do.  Otherwise, you will lose market share, and permanently so.  You’ve been warned.

AR-15s,Guns Tags:

Marine Corps Rifles, M1A Torture Test, And AR-15s

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

Military.com:

The U.S. Marine Corps is sticking with its Vietnam-era, M40 sniper rifle series, despite complaints from scout snipers who say they need the modern, longer-range weapons used by special-ops snipers.

Marine scout snipers are considered to be among the best snipers in the world, but many are frustrated at the limitations of the current M40A5 sniper rifle. The A5 is based on the Remington M700 short-action design that’s chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO, like the original M40 Marines used in Vietnam.

Seasoned scout snipers are deadly accurate with the A5 out to 1,000 meters.

Elite special operations units use sniper rifles chambered in more potent calibers such as .338 Lapua Magnum, a round that allows snipers to reach out to 1,600 meters.

U.S. Special Operations Command is currently in the final stage of selecting its new Precision Sniper Rifle for all of its sniper teams. USSOCOM awarded contracts to Remington Defense and another company in 2013 to make two different versions of the PSR – a multi-caliber sniper rifle that allows operators to choose .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum and 7.62mm NATO by simply changing barrels assemblies.

The U.S. Army has watched the PSR program, but for now, it is sticking with its Remington M2010 sniper rifle chambered for .300 Win. Mag., a round that allows snipers to engage enemy targets out to 1,200 meters.

Currently, only the most elite Army and Navy special operations units use the MK21 Precision Sniper Rifle chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum.

Bob Owens is all over this issue, especially in his latest article on it.

The Corps will be upgrading the fifty-year-old M40 to the A6 version, which appears to be little more than a stock upgrade. Don’t get me wrong; the M40A6 will be a fine platform for inside 1,000 meters, against unarmored targets.

But we simply don’t live in a world where that is is “enough gun” for either anti-material or  anti-personnel use, now that so many of our opponents are issuing body armor that can stop the 7.62 NATO round at point-blank range, much less at preferred sniping distances.

Why are the Marines being stuck with using the same short-action cartridge in a military sniping landscape now dominated by magnum-class cartridges?

Money.

Factory match-grade ammunition for the 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester family is cheap to manufacture, and the military already has tons of it contracted. Upgrading the M40A6 to even another short-action cartridge with better range and down performance such as the 6.5 Creedmoor would cost more than the meager Corps budget allows. Upgrading to a .338 Lapua Magnum, where both the gun and the ammunition cost more?

[ … ]

But snipers only destroy enemy soldiers and equipment, wreck their morale, cripple their battlefield leadership, and take out key infrastructure while providing a protective overwatch for our Marines on the ground and vital real-time intelligence for our commanders. They don’t create post-retirement jobs for generals, nor line the pocket of defense contractors, or contribute to the reelections of politicians.

The Marines on the ground will be forced make do, as they always have, with outdated equipment.

Thanks, Congress.

And of course, that’s just how the Marine Corps wants you to think about the issue.  Thanks Congress!  The problem is that this isn’t the whole story.  When the U.S. Marine Corps deployed the 25th MEU to the Persian Gulf in 2008, they deployed several Scout Snipers, one of whom I know.  He deployed with a .50 “Sasser.”  The Marine Corps armory is full of a broad array of weapons, including not only the .308 rifle for DMs, but the .50 Barrett as well.  If a Scout Sniper is qualified to the .50 and chooses to, he can carry it on deployments.  Be warned.  It has to be taken apart and carried on your back, but you can carry it.

As for the venerable .308, Carlos Hathcock made many of his kills with a .30-06 Winchester Model 70 (albeit not a .308). and only used a .50 (modified M2 for his longest kills).  Considering the traditional tactics of stalking, shooting and egress, Hathcock is still the most prolific sniper in U.S. history.  The ballistics data shows that there isn’t much difference between the .308 and .30-06, and if I was going to chose a new round to shoot as a Scout Sniper (and it wasn’t going to be the .50), I would probably choose the .300 Win Mag.  Of course, none of these compare to the effect of the .50 in range, power or capability against armor.  Suffice it to say that if the Marine Scout snipers cannot accomplish kills with their .308 rifles, they can with the .50, and they certainly have access to the large caliber rifle if they want it and are qualified to it.  They aren’t left wanting when it comes to firepower.

As for the Marine Corps’s decision to train exclusively with the M4 rather than the M16A2 or M16A4 (via Mike Vanderboegh), it must be remembered that the difference between them in muzzle velocity is negligible.  In fact, I cannot imagine having deployed my son to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007, with anything but his SAW or M4 (he was a SAW gunner who sometimes used an M4 if the specific mission called for it).  Again, I cannot imagine him having to swing an M1A or M14 through a doorway clearing rooms.  It would have been a reprehensible thing to issue something like M1As or AR-10s for CQB (the .308 being much slower to recover sight picture).

The Marine Corps always makes the decisions they need to make to support the mission.  When I deployed my son in 2007, his entire Battalion went with M4s, SAWs, M4s with M203 mounted, or Scout Sniper rifles of some sort.  The M16s were nowhere to be found.  So what’s all this stuff about the Marine Corps leaving the M16 for M4s?

It’s propaganda.  The Marine Corps want everyone to think that they are the poorest of the poor, when in reality they threw billions away on the ridiculous EFV (Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle), pretending that we are actually going to perform a land invasion from the sea with full armor capabilities like we did in the South Pacific.  They Marine Corps has wasted enough money (every MEU is a waste of money) that you shouldn’t feel too sorry for them when it comes to sniper rifles, Owens and his views notwithstanding.

When it comes to the M1A, you should spend some time watching these M1A torture tests.

Recall that we have showed you a sand torture test of an AR-15, we’ve made it clear that you can’t blame the gun for the battle loses at Wanat, and explained the simple things you must do to ensure reliable operation of your AR-15.

Finally, you’ve seen about AR-15s in sand, mud and operating bone dry.  For the final twist, see them operate with Twinkies installed inside the moving parts.  Yes, Twinkies.

Army Seeks Gun Industry Help On M4 Carbine

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

The U.S. Marine Corps led the way.  At the time I said this:

Recall that I told you “that Rock River Arms, Knights Armament, LaRue Tactical and Daniel Defense isn’t the Colt produced under milspec for the Army and Marine Corps (these are all superior to the Colt M-16 and M-4)?”  And recall that John Jay and I have both discussed Milspec and what it does (and doesn’t) mean?

It should also be pointed out that there are many things that can be tweaked on the Stoner platform (Milspec design) that can make it much more reliable than the Colt.

Fouling in the M4 is not the problem. The problem is weak springs (buffer and extractor), as well as light buffer weights (H vs. H2 or H3). With the abovementioned drop-in parts, the M4 is as reliable as any weapon I have ever fired, and I have fired probably every military-issue assault rifle fielded worldwide in the last 60 years as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant (18B). An additional benefit of the heavier spring/weight combo is that it transmits the energy impulse of the firing cycle to the shoulder over a longer duration, lowering the amount of foot pounds per second and dramatically reducing the perceived recoil. Follow-on shots are easier to make effectively, and much faster, especially at 50 meters and beyond.

I reliably fired 2400 rounds (80 magazines) on a bone dry gun, and I would bet that is a lot more than any soldier or other armed professional will ever come close to firing without any lubrication whatsoever. So, disregard the fouling myth and install a better buffer spring, H2 buffer, enhanced extractor spring and a Crane O-ring (all end user drop-in parts). With normal (read “not excessive”) lubrication and maintenance, properly-built AR-15/M4 type rifles with carbine gas systems will astound you with their reliability and shootability.

The high quality AR-15 manufacturers know all of this and generally make their parts better than Milspec.  But now the Army wants in on the game.

The Army is asking the gun industry to build new components for its soldiers’ primary weapon — the M4 carbine — a move that experts say is a tacit admission that the service has been supplying a flawed rifle that lacks the precision of commercially available guns.

At a recent Capitol Hill hearing, an Army general acknowledged that the M4’s magazine has been responsible for the gun jamming during firefights.

On the federal government’s FedBizOpps.gov website, the Army announced a “market survey” for gunmakers to produce a set of enhancements to essentially create a new model — the “M4A1+.” It would include a modular trigger, a new type of rail fitted around a “free floating” barrel and other parts. The upgrade is supposed to improve the rifle’s accuracy and reliability.

The Army last year took the significant step of beginning to convert the basic M4 into the special operations version, the M4A1, with a heavier barrel designed to better withstand the heat of rapid fire.

The Washington Times reported in 2014 on confidential prewar tests that showed the barrel was prone to overheating. The Times also quoted active-duty soldiers who said the M4 is inferior based on their experience in battle. A Green Beret said he takes the extraordinary step of rebuilding his M4A1 on the battlefield by using components from other gunmakers — technically a violation of Army regulations.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, an artillery officer and decorated Vietnam combatant, is one of the M4’s most vocal critics. He also believes the 5.56 mm M855A1 ammunition — an environmentally sensitive, or “green,” round — is wrong for the gun.

Gen. Scales said the Army’s new solicitation is further proof of the carbine’s shortfalls.

“It’s another attempt by the Army to make the M4 look good,” he said. “If the Army wants to improve the M4, fine. But it’s not a weapon suitable for high-intensity, close combat in extremes against an enemy who is basically matching us in weapons performance in a close fight. Everybody knows the weapon has flaws.”

Mr. Scales said the M4’s basic shortfall is that it uses gas, or direct, impingement to extract and expel its shells as opposed to a piston system. A piston firing mechanism is in the prolific AK-47, which runs cleaner and cooler but is considered slightly less accurate.

This article is a complete mess.  It goes from things that we’ve discussed before that should be obvious (such as a floated barrel to avoid interference with [natural frequency] barrel harmonics by fixed points), to old battle philosophy (such as the notion that Solders and Marines today shoot Carbines fully automatic as if they are some sort of area suppression weapon like a SAW – seriously, this is thirty or forty year old battle tactics, the stuff of Vietnam rather than the professionally trained fighters of the twenty first century).

It ends (for me, simply because I couldn’t bring myself to read any more) when that loud mouth, washed up old coot General Scales started begging for the piston system again.  Good grief.  He weighs in against the Eugene Stoner platform for CQB, which is ironically the situation in which it is the best weapon on earth by far.  My message is clear.  Just stop.  The main stream media needs to stop being a day late to the story.  We’ve already worked this one over until it’s bloody.  General Scales needs to go home and stop advocating for whatever armament company he’s working for today.  The Marine Corps and Army need to stop telling the world what they are going to do about non-existent problems with their weapons.  They have diarrhea of the mouth.  Wanat and Kamdesh were not caused by weapons problems.  They were caused by the idiot general who deployed Platoon-size U.S. forces to ensconce themselves in valleys to fight off Battalion-size Taliban forces who had the high ground.

But what does need to happen is with the Marine Corps and Army.  The procedures need to change to allow the armorers the freedom and latitude to arm the men with the weapons they need.  If they want Magpul magazines (with the no-tilt follower), then they should get them instead of the ridiculous Milspec magazines with the follower that binds and sticks (yea, it’s happened to me too).  If a free floated barrel is better (and it is), then change the Military specifications to allow a free floated barrel and replace them all.  If stronger buffer springs are better, then replace them all.  Just go do it.  Adapt, improvise and overcome.  Don’t be bureaucratic pointy-heads.

And something needs to happen with Patriots too.  We should all learn from the intransigence of the Army and Marine Corps.  If there is a better part, buy it.  Test it.  Work your weapons systems.  Learn them.  Practice with them.  Procedures are good insofar as they help you.  If they become a hindrance, defenestrate them.  You control them – they do not control you.

And by the way, around these parts we speak the name of Eugene Stoner with hushed reverence.  Do otherwise at your peril.

Prior:

Army And Marine Corps On M855 Ammunition

Marines To Get Rifle Makeovers

Blaming The Gun For The Battle Losses

The Reliability Of The Eugene Stoner Design

AR-15s In The News

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

The Washington Post:

“Daesh has M16s and M4s, and we only have Kalashnikovs,” said another police officer, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. He said he had fled his home in Ramadi’s Soufiyah neighborhood with his wife and 1-year-old child. “I don’t think I will ever see my house again.”

In the eyes of the Iraqi Police, the Stoner platform wins.  In my eyes too.

The Hill:

Police in Washington, D.C., have been referred materials for a possible investigation into two Republican congressmen who posed for a picture with an assault rifle in a House office building.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) last week tweeted a picture of himself and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the leader of the House’s Benghazi investigation, holding an AR-15.

Having the AR-15 in the District could be a violation of the city’s strict gun laws, and the city attorney general’s office has referred the matter to police, a spokesman told The Hill.

“The matter has been referred to the Metropolitan Police Department for further investigation,” he said.

Buck said in the tweet the assault rifle is his and the picture was taken after Gowdy “stopped by.”

Buck told The Hill the rifle is “inoperable” and that he received approval from U.S. Capitol Police to bring it to his office, where it is on display in a locked case.

“I have a very patriotic AR-15 hanging in my office. It hangs directly above my Second Amendment flag,” Buck said.

“While safety protocols call for all guns to be treated as if they are loaded, this one isn’t. Further, a close inspection of the only public photo of the rifle will show that the bolt carrier assembly is not in the rifle; it is in fact in Colorado.”

“It is a beautiful, patriotic paper weight,” he added.

If it’s a paperweight, it’s useless.  Get one that works.  And both Congressmen should have told the D.C. attorney general to blow it out his ass.

Army And Marine Corps On M855 Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Military.com:

But the Marine Corps and the Army’s decision to use two separate types of 5.56mm ammo is not a simple oversight.

The Army adopted the M855A1 in 2010 after years of struggling to find a lead-free replacement for the Cold-War era M855.

In recent years, troops also criticized the M855, saying it often delivered ineffective results on enemy behind battlefield barriers such as car windshields.

The M855A1 features a steel penetrator on top of a solid copper slug, making it is more dependable than the current M855, Army officials have maintained. It delivers consistent performance at all distances and performed better than the current-issue 7.62mm round against hardened steel targets in testing. It penetrated 3/8s-inch-thick steel at ranges approaching 400 meters, tripling the performance of the M855, Army officials said.

The Corps had planned to field the Army’s M855A1 until the program suffered a major setback in August 2009, when testing revealed that some of the bullets did not follow their trajectory or intended flight path.

The earlier design of the M855A1 featured a bismuth-tin slug which proved to be sensitive to heat, prompting Marine officials to stick with the M855 and also the Special Operations Science and Technology round developed by U.S. Special Operations Command instead.

Commonly known as SOST ammo, the bullet isn’t environmentally friendly, but it offered the Corps a more effective bullet, Marine officials have said.

I confess that until this article I didn’t know that the Army and Marine Corps were using two different types of ammunition.  If I’m not mistaken, the SOST is an open tip bullet with a lead core and copper shank.  It expands much like a hollow point should.

Saying that the better penetrating capability of the M855A1 through car windshields was the reason for transition from M855 to the M855A1 (with copper slug instead of lead) is like a recapitulation of the reasons for transitioning from the FMJ lead ball to the M855 in the first place.  It’s more likely that environmental concerns caused the Army to transition to the M855A1.  I cannot think of a worse excuse.

I will also remark that when I learned of the copper slug in place of the lead ball for M855A1 my thoughts immediately went to barrel wear and loss of rifling.  It appears that this is in fact a legitimate concern.

So in summary, the SOST is much like the .223 pointed soft point for game hunting, except that it has a copper shank.  If a reader would like to weigh in on the effects of the copper shank, please do so (in an educated fashion – and do not allow this to become yet another worthless argument over 7.62 v. 5.56).

Finally, don’t forget the main reason for the lethality of the 5.56 mm round, which is the fact that it is frangible and immediately fractures into pieces leaving multiple tracks through ballistics gelatin.  See the excellent paper Small Caliber Lethality: 5.56 mm Performance In Close Quarters Battle.  It appears that the Army has forgotten the simple things.


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