Marines Looking To Replace 5.56mm Cartridge

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

A senior Marine Corps official confirmed today that the service is lockstep with the Army’s effort to search for a rifle round more potent than the current 5.56mm round.

For months, senior Army officials have been telling Congress that the current 5.56mm Enhanced Performance Round is not potent enough to penetrate enemy body armor plates similar to U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

As a solution, the Army is experimenting with a plan to replace its M249 squad automatic weapon and M4 carbine with futuristic weapons that fire a 6.5mm case-telescoped round or something that falls between a 5.56mm and a 7.62mm round.

The Marine Corps, which recently decided to buy more M27 5.56mm Infantry Automatic Rifles, has not publically echoed the Army’s concern with 5.56mm until now.

“We are working the Army; we have looked at the 6.5mm Creedmoor with the Army and [Special Operations Command],” Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, told at the annual Sea-Air-Space exposition Wednesday.

“We are lockstep with them looking at a new round.”

Shrader, however, said he did not know if the effort would mean a new infantry weapon for the Marine Corps.

I doubt it will happen given that the U.S. is bankrupt and is having to spend your children’s children’s children’s future inheritance just to pay for entitlements today.

I also wonder if they’ve sufficiently taught them all to aim for heads and hips.  Heads and hips, boys.  Furthermore, this isn’t a new issue and what we have seems to suffice well enough today (although I understand that most of the combat hasn’t been against a so-called near peer actor).

Still, it makes sense to listen to what’s going on.  You do have plans to procure an AR-10 or at least have a bolt action rifle sitting in the gun safe capable of shooting something bigger than a 5.56mm, right?  That’s what I thought.

But remember the first rule of gun club.  Never talk about gun club, and when in doubt, refer back to the first rule.

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  1. On April 17, 2018 at 6:18 am, ragman said:

    No loose lips, bumper stickers, gun related t-shirts, &TC. Also not a bad idea to build a couple of plastic pistols before they are outlawed. They’re not pretty but they do work. And most importantly they can be built completely under the radar. At least for now.

  2. On April 17, 2018 at 7:47 am, bob sykes said:

    6.5 Creedmore? Are the Army and Marines thinking to give up on assault rifles? The whole point of an assault rifle is low recoil automatic fire.

  3. On April 17, 2018 at 7:49 am, Name (required) said:

    I think, somewhere, I have a .223. I have several .308s and 30-06s, and some larger calibers. I have parts kits for most of them, and not enough ammunition. There is no such thing as enough ammunition.

  4. On April 17, 2018 at 8:41 am, Aesop said:

    I doubt it will happen given that the U.S. is bankrupt and is having to spend your children’s children’s children’s future inheritance just to pay for entitlements today.

    That, plus.

    The severe limitations from procurement sources for current ammunition were much of the reason for the recent Great Ammo Shortage (the other two being consumer panic over Obozo’s wishes for gun grabbing, and China glomming up raw materials like brass, copper, and lead to the point of ongoing scarcity), because the major makers were running three shifts a day and barely able to produce enough 7.62 and 5.56 just to keep up with daily requirements in two pocket wars in Iraq and A-Stan when things were hot and heavy.

    There is only one military ammo plant anymore AFAIK, since the late ’90s BRAC and downsizing, so generous estimates have it taking close to twenty years to get weapons and ammunition up to deployability levels from adoption date, even if they picked new weapons and a new round tomorrow, and even given the roughly half-sized Army and Marine Corps we have now, versus what we had through 1991.

    Short answer is the US military will have phased-plasma rifles in the 40-watt range before we switch from the 5.56 to anything else, which is the same answer we came to in 2005, and the US .Gov was $19Trillion less indebted, and wasn’t saddled with old airplanes with no spare parts, new airplanes that can’t fly, combat ships that can’t fight, carriers that can’t launch aircraft, and forces that couldn’t use any of them properly even if they worked.

    That doesn’t mean the .Mil won’t do something stupid that hamstrings our forces and destroys the budget just because it makes no sense; their history at doing exactly that is long and distinguished. It just makes it far less likely.

    But it’s always a good day to stock up on ammo for yourself.

  5. On April 17, 2018 at 8:50 am, DWEEZIL THE WEASEL said:

    Keep in mind .mil may be making noise, but they have been making noise about the 5.56 round ever since I was in Army green(1969-1971). This is nothing new. Garand’s original design was chambered in .276 caliber, I believe. Dugout Doug overruled the choice as Army Chief of Staff, because of all of the left-over .30-06 from WWI.
    One other thing to consider is battlefield pick-up. Just about every arm of the Leviathan’s badge-wearing Orcs and Orcettes have M-4s or other AR variants in their patrol cars and arsenals. When the sewage hits the impeller(h/t to Col. Cooper), we will all be shooting at one another with the same rounds and the same platforms. Plan and train accordingly.

  6. On April 17, 2018 at 10:20 am, Bill Robbins said:

    Seems to be a lot 6.5 Creedmore fanboyism out there. My understanding is that the rising popularity of the round has to do with longer-distance, precision shooting. How does this square with military doctrine moving away from Afghanistan-style counterinsurgency (out in the middle of nowhere) to urban combat in densely populated littoral areas? Is the average GI supposed to become a ballistic-calculating, thousand-yard sniper?

  7. On April 17, 2018 at 10:41 am, RedinOleVirginny said:

    Seems like a good reason to keep an AK47 or three in the back of the safe. Plus spare parts and ammo.

  8. On April 17, 2018 at 11:16 am, G said:

    The round is useless, until the training curriculum is changed to reflect the benefit in increased range and ballistics.

  9. On April 17, 2018 at 12:01 pm, Pat Hines said:

    The AR in 5.56 is the de facto standard rifle in the US, everyone should have at least one, several is better. The Zombie muscle will be your parts and ammo suppliers. You know, “used little, dropped once”.

    There is a sort of growing fan base for the 6.5 Creedmoor, that’s because it does many things well, including functioning from 7.62×51 magazines, using the same bolt face too.

    Then there’s the 6.5mm 121 grain solid, that is more needle than bullet. Great for those that load their own for bolt rifles.

  10. On April 17, 2018 at 12:03 pm, SemperFi, 0321 said:

    To Aesop,
    very true on not enough ammo available.
    Yrs ago I was given a huge box of fired 5.56 brass for reloading, along with US Lake City, there was also Canadian and Israeli brass. I was told we can’t produce enough ammo for .mil, so they had to buy foreign ammo to supply our military.
    And we want to go start more wars when we can’t even make enough small arms ammo to supply our current needs??? Look how many headstamps there were in WW2, those days are long gone, now when it’s going to be illegal to produce ‘evil black rifle ammo’, even for gov’t consumption.

    Funny how everyone is still trying to dress the 6.5 Swede in different clothes. But that’s the American way; new and improved beats selling someone a worthless piece of antique junk. And I shouldn’t even mention the 6mm Lee Navy. Both well over 100 yrs old and still great performers.
    6.5 w/100-120 gr bullets is hard to beat.

  11. On April 17, 2018 at 12:56 pm, JTwig said:

    Isn’t this the way it’s always been? While what we have currently works fine (I’d personally say great), isn’t this the way to maintain military superiority. If we were to say “this is good enough”, how long before other catch-up and surpass us? I love the 5.56mm, it is one of my favorite rifle rounds to fire, but it was only a matter of time before body armor was developed to defeat it and we had to start looking for something new. It’s been that way since the dawn of time.

    I don’t know much about the 6.5 creedmoor. I’m personally in the process of switching over the .300 blackout (a process I’ll most likely never finish). It uses the same magazines and lower receivers, which might be a more finically conservative way for our military to go. But like I said I don’t know a whole lot about the 6.5 creedmoor, so it might vastly outperform the .300 (blackout at least when it comes to penetrating body armor).

  12. On April 17, 2018 at 2:54 pm, DAN III said:


    I believe the 5.56mm x 45mm round in Mark 262, 77 grain configuration, is the most effective, accurate, lightweight, standard issue cartridge available today. With one exception, the devastatingly effective Soviet clone, the 5.45 x 39mm, 53 grain cartridge.

    Most combat engagement are inside 200-225 meters. That is where 5.45 & 5.56 rounds shine. There are some exceptions where engagements are going to be 400+ meters. That is where DMR and SPR rifllemen come into play. However, the fact of the matter is simply this: that regardless of cartridge used, if one cannot see to put aimed, accurate rounds on target, cartridge choice is irrelevant. Red dot sights and fixed 4x sights both without ocular focus capability, have compromised accurate target engagements for 25+ years. You cannot hit what you cannot see. Time is now to couple the 5.56mm cartridge with a lightweight, 1-8x scope. The good thing is it appears there are some doctrinal changes afoot. Supposedly there is a DA solicitation for a 1-8x optic. Said optic to be issued infantry troops only. The recently released Nightforce Optics NX8, front focal plane, 1-8x variable appears to specifically meet solicitation requirements.

    The second factor that USMC & DA need to address is the lack of marksmanship training. 40 rounds on a square range does not a rifleman make. Infantrymen should spend the bulk of their training days behind their rifles, machineguns and mortars, firing live rounds. Not having to attend social justice programs like SHARP training.

    Army nor USMC need a new rifle cartridge. They need an end to the Suzie Rottencrotch and Tommy Transvestite social justice programs. Then a change in training doctine to make combat troops Warriors. Bring back bayonet training and institute monthly, small arms, live-fire training with emphasis on accuracy. Not spray and pray. Get RID of full auto individual weapons and build the infantry platoon of riflemen around a base of platoon-level light machineguns.

    Lastly, get RID of females from combat arms ! In fact, get rid of them totally….except perhaps as camp followers.


  13. On April 17, 2018 at 3:57 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:


    Re: “I don’t know much about the 6.5 creedmoor. I’m personally in the process of switching over the .300 blackout (a process I’ll most likely never finish). It uses the same magazines and lower receivers, which might be a more finically conservative way for our military to go. But like I said I don’t know a whole lot about the 6.5 creedmoor, so it might vastly outperform the .300 (blackout at least when it comes to penetrating body armor).”

    300 AAC Blackout/Whisper generally duplicates the exterior ballistics of the old Soviet 7.62×39 intermediate cartridge when firing bullets in the same weight class at supersonic muzzle velocities, of if you prefer an example closer to home, the venerable 30-30 lever gun round.

    My understanding of the development of 300 Blackout is that it arose from a very specific need within the special operations community for a round with greater punch than .224-caliber loads when firing suppressed – but able to use AR15/M4 lowers and magazines. The cartridge does this in spades when firing subsonic projectiles of up to 220-grains. 300 BO has also found a home in the hunting/sporting community as a round ideal for hog hunting. In this instance, using supersonic hunting loads. Simply swap out the upper on your AR for one chambered in 300 BO (.308) and you are ready to roll.

    Vis-à-vis using 300 BO as the new general-issue service rifle cartridge, while it would offer enhanced performance over .224-caliber projectiles for some missions, it is a case of “back to the future,” since when firing supersonic loads in 120-125-grain range, 300 BO offers performance which has already been available for many years in the AKM/AK47. Hardly a quantum leap in performance.

    I don’t foresee 6.5 Creedmoor being adopted as the general-purpose rifle/carbine round of the U.S. military, but it may have a bright future in specialized roles, such as use by designated marksmen, snipers and within the special ops community. 6.5mm (.264-caliber) projectiles have much to offer in terms of high ballistic coefficients, high sectional densities, and high muzzle velocities with flat trajectories – all in a package with less felt recoil than a weapon chambered in 7.62×51 NATO (.308).

    Using a high B.C. 6.5mm projectile in the 140-150-grain weight class, fired at a muzzle velocity of ~ 2650 fps, the 6.5 CM remains supersonic out to ranges of 1500 yards or more (depending on local conditions, of course) – which is firmly in 300 Win-Mag territory. About the only penalty versus the 300WM is that bullet weight tops out around 150-grains for .264-caliber, whereas 300 WM is capable of handling projectiles as heavy as 230 grains. For some military/tactical applications, the additional throw weight of the projectile and higher on-target energy are called for – giving the advantage to the 300WM.

    The real question is whether or not weapons chambered for 6.5mm (.264-caliber) projectiles offer enough advantages in comparison to the venerable .308 to be worth switching over to. Given the costs associated with such a transition, the hunch here is that “Big Green” sticks with .308 as its light sniper/DM round, a round now into its sixth decade as the U.S. & NATO standard.

    There are many other things the U.S. Army, the Marine Corps and other services can do to improve combat effectiveness without switching weapons platforms or calibers.

    I would like to second the remarks by Dan III – tip of the hat to you, sir, for building such a common sense and logical case. Our armed services have needed just such a dose of hard-nosed wisdom for a long time.

  14. On April 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm, jean said:

    they drive me nuts with these constant changes, buy the SAW, get a short barrel SAW, get a SAW without a butt stock, kill truck loads of Talebs/AQs, then ditch the SAW for an Auto M-4, which we had in the 80’s with extra magazines and a bi pod. that was the dedicated Automatic Rifleman. The plus side of the SAW is the light weight ammo, everyone can carry extra rounds. Probably a couple of retired GOs on the board of this new company that wants sell us another weapon.

  15. On April 17, 2018 at 6:12 pm, bob sykes said:

    My comment about recoil did not get a rise. The recoil of the 6.5 Creedmore is similar to that of the 7.62 NATO, and an automatic shoulder weapon in that caliber is impossible. Otherwise, our Army and Marines would be carrying AR 10’s, or the hapless M 14.

    Snipers and other specialized shooters can make good use of the Creedmore, but general infantry need a lighter round in an auotmatic rifle. If the 5.56 isn’t good enough, why not a 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, or 300 BO, or, G-d forbid, 7.62×39?

  16. On April 17, 2018 at 10:37 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    Re: “My comment about recoil did not get a rise. The recoil of the 6.5 Creedmoor is similar to that of the 7.62 NATO, and an automatic shoulder weapon in that caliber is impossible. Otherwise, our Army and Marines would be carrying AR 10’s, or the hapless M 14.”

    Depending on the loading, 6.5 CM can have less felt-recoil than M80 Ball, the current standard 7.62×51 NATO round. It is theoretically possible to design a shoulder-fired automatic weapon chambered in 6.5 CM, one which would be controllable, light and accurate out to ranges in excess of the current 5.56×45 SAW M249 platform. It won’t happen, though, so why go there?

    I disagree that the M-14 – or for that matter, the AR10 – is/are hapless, but we probably agree that neither is going to be resurrected as the standard service rifle of the U.S. Army or Marine Corps. Been there, done that – and there are too many folks at the Pentagon/DOD who would profit handsomely from a new service rifle project to do something as cost-effective as bringing a legacy weapon out of mothballs.

    “Snipers and other specialized shooters can make good use of the Creedmore, but general infantry need a lighter round in an auotmatic rifle. If the 5.56 isn’t good enough, why not a 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, or 300 BO, or, G-d forbid, 7.62×39?”

    Rumor has it that certain troops within the Special Ops community – Army Special Forces, if memory serves – want the U.S. to adopt the RPK light machine gun in 7.62×39, in identical form to that used by Com-Bloc forces and others for many years all over the world. Firing standard 123-grain FMJ, the LMG has an effective range out to 600 meters or so, roughly the same as the AKM/AK47. Beyond that range, the 123-grain projectile dumps velocity quickly and goes subsonic, a point at which its trajectory is apparently steep-enough to be of use for firing upon reverse slopes. At any rate, whatever the specifics, the Green Berets are apparently impressed with this weapon and want some for Special Forces armories. Probably not a bad idea given how many 7.62×39 weapons (and ammunition for them) are found in their current theaters of operation.

    Apart from Special Forces use, good luck convincing anyone in the U.S. military to use a Soviet-era cartridge – it just ain’t happening. Not just because it is Russian, but because doing that would not fill enough rice bowls down at the Five-Sided Puzzle Palace. Besides which, 7.62×39 doesn’t offer a clear upgrade over 5.56×45 NATO anyway.

    Call me cynical, but I doubt anything substantial will be done. Our GIs will continue to truck along with 5.56 NATO and 7.62 NATO, just as they have been doing for years.

    One other aspect of the problem mitigates against real change – the presence of substantial numbers of female personnel in the military. Although there are a few exceptions, most female personnel can’t hack it with a weapon chambered in 7.62×51 NATO, whereas there are very few people – male or female – who have difficulty with an M-16 or M-4 in 5.56×45 NATO. Keeping the current platform allows the SJWs to continue to lie to themselves and others that women in the combat arms actually makes sense and works.

    On the other hand, when the Marines say they are going to do something, they generally follow through – so let’s sit tight and see what happens.

  17. On April 18, 2018 at 11:04 am, JTwig said:

    Thanks for the info on the 6.5 vs .300 Georgiaboy61.

    The reason I switch(ing) to the .300 BO was its better velocity out of a shorter barrel vs. 5.56mm.

    This entire thread has been excellent for information on caliber, and caused me to spend several hours last night Googling for info.

  18. On April 18, 2018 at 12:22 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    Re:”The reason I switch(ing) to the .300 BO was its better velocity out of a shorter barrel vs. 5.56mm.”

    Good choice – that’s one of the reasons 300BO was created in the first place. No question, it is nice round to shoot.

    Thank you and everyone else for the informative comments…

  19. On April 18, 2018 at 12:41 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @JTwig @ Georgiaboy,

    I think the velocity delta is close to negligible. I haven’t chosen to purchase a .330 (edit: .300) BO gun because I don’t like the velocity at distance.

    For my CQB gun I have chosen a slower, fatter round for reasons that have to do with safety in homes and around people.

    For distance, I don’t like the drop in velocity (muzzle and distance) of the 77-gr. (Edit: for 5.56mm) I give up too much.

    I have recently purchased some Hornady Black, 62-gr. rounds (Edit: 5.56mm) that are loaded hot and have a MV of 3060 FPS. It gives me the highest weight I can get while maintaining the highest MV I can get with it. Downside: It’s expensive compared to bulk 5.56mm.

    As for a larger bore gun like 6.5mm Creedmoor, I’m still pondering whether that makes sense in bolt or semi.

    We all make these tradeoffs and choices.

  20. On April 18, 2018 at 12:59 pm, JoeFour said:

    Slightly off-topic but germane to the general topic of appropriate military cartridge selection … here’s an interesting discussion of typical rifle combat distances and range of fire:

  21. On April 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm, Longbow said:

    OK, theyu want something new… right?

    Here is a very simple answer. Re-barrel all your rifles. Adopt the 22 Nosler, only neck it up to .243/6mm diameter. Launch an 85 to 90 grain bullet. You have more case capacity but the round will fit in standard magazines (might need minor feed lip modification). Use the same platform, same mags, no interruption in training and tactics, except, engagement at longer ranges.

  22. On April 19, 2018 at 12:35 am, Georgiaboy61 said:


    Interesting article, thank you for the link. If the information presented by Sensing is historically-correct and accurate, then it would tend to support the movement in the years since the Second World War away from battle rifles and toward battle carbines (assault rifles), at least insofar as assault rifles are designed to function well within the 0-300 yard/meter range envelope.


    For what it is worth, your choice of the CMMG PSB 45 ACP is an intriguing one. The .45 Auto cartridge has long been renowned as a “man-stopper” – which is jargon/shorthand for a round which is effective in depositing much of its KE into the target.

    Re: “For distance, I don’t like the drop in velocity (muzzle and distance) of the 77-gr. (Edit: for 5.56mm) I give up too much.”

    If my understanding of the reasoning behind it is correct, the reason many of our elite special forces personnel prefer the Navy’s MK 262 Mod 1 77-grain round manufactured by Black Hills and based upon Sierra’s well-known 77-grain BTHP match bullet – is that it extends the effective range of the M16/M4 platform from 500 meters to around 800 meters, allowing DMs and other precision marksmen the additional range. These are match-grade loads – Black Hills makes some of the best mass-produced ammunition to be found anywhere – so the accuracy is going to be there as well.

    However, just as important as the range increase is the fact that the heavier OTM style bullet fragments and is reliably lethal over a much-wider wide range of muzzle velocities than the 55-grain M193 FMJ and 62-grain FMJ M855. The terminal effects of the older M193 and M855 were directly proportional to high muzzle velocity, typically ~ 2700-2800 fps or greater, required to cause bullet shattering and fragmentation.

    Much of the lethality of the old 55-grain FMJ M193 round came from its propensity to yaw and then fragment into a high-velocity cone of fragments inside the target (enemy soldier). If either M193 or M855 struck a target below that velocity threshold, lethality was much reduced and terminal effects upon the target thereby lessened.

    Because of the prevalence of short-barreled rifles and other compact weapons in 5.56×45 NATO caliber within our armed forces, the special ops community in particular has long-sought a round whose terminal ballistic effects will be predictably lethal over a wide range of muzzle velocities. In the Black Hills 77-grain BTHP load, they found what they had sought. This load is identical to the Black Hills now sells to civilians, except that the MK 262 Mod 1 has a cannelure (crimping groove) for enhanced reliability in SLRs.

    Hornady Black probably makes sense; they make a fine product and a 62-grain load ought to work well across a pretty wide variety of AR barrel twists. I’m a big fan of their 68-grain BTHP loads in .224-caliber, and I also like their 75-grain BTHP, since it can be loaded to magazine length for an AR magazine.

    Regarding the appeal of 6.5 Creedmoor, some people seem to find the cartridge intriguing, whereas others do not. It’s won a pretty large following in the completion community, but I don’t whether that matters to you or not. And it is a very efficient round as well.

    “We all make these tradeoffs and choices.” Roger that – we certainly do.

  23. On April 19, 2018 at 1:04 am, DAN III said:

    I have long been a fan of the 77 grain bullet as loaded, into the 5.56mm cartridge.
    Velocity for me has been secondary to kinectic energy. Thus my choosing 77 grain bullets.

    As I stated earlier, average combat weapon distances = 200-225 meters. Few if any situations will arise, as a citizen, where target engagement is 300 meters, let alone 500m to 600m and beyond. Even a SHTF scenario will not encompass such distances. Although, if it did the Mark 262 would outperform the 55 or 62 grain cartridges so prevalent at box stores like Wal-Mart.

    Georgiaboy61 provides very good information on the Black Hills Mark 262 round. He explains the benefits of the heavier bullet well. Certainly, one’s choice of rifle/carbine cartridge is a personal choice. To each their own.

    Just remember, no one likes a hole in them, 55 grain, 115 grain, 230 grain or 77 grain. Just get out there and practice your shooting skills, both rifle AND pistol.

  24. On April 19, 2018 at 11:00 am, Pat Hines said:

    There is a positive in considering the 6.5 Creedmoor as a direct replacement for the 7.62NATO. It would function in any weapons chambered in the 7.62NATO because it uses the same bolt face, magazines, and so forth. It would only require new barrels, which are replaced from time to time from automatic fire wear. The disintegrating belt links would likely require changes, I’m not sure about that. The overall loaded length of the 6.5 Creedmoor is the same as the 7.62/.308 round, with significantly better ballistics. Typical bullet weights are 130-140 grains, at 2800-2900 fps.

    Regarding the .300 Blackout, I’ve looked at it extensively and can’t see any reason to have a weapon in that caliber except for the subsonic loads to use with a suppressor. There’s absolutely no ballistic rationale to go to it.

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