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Posted: 9/22/2004 5:13:28 AM EST
Issue Date: September 27, 2004

Corps shouldn’t jump gun with weapons

By Gregory R. Topp

When it comes to the Army’s XM8 rifle, Marine Corps Systems Command’s wait-and-see attitude is wise for several reasons.

History is replete with instances of the Marine Corps jumping the gun (pardon the pun) and going with an untried weapon system. Perhaps the most stinging was the 1967 adoption of the M16.

The M14, which the Marines had at the time, proved to be a valuable asset to the Marine rifleman because of the rifle’s durability, functionality and power. Then the Corps decided to forgo the tried-and-true Garand action for the new “lighter-weight” M16. The results of choosing this untested, black plastic “Mattel” rifle were disastrous. Many Marines died at the hands of this rifle, due to the lack of a forward assist. If the weapon jammed, it had to be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated, often under fire.

It also should be known that the M14 was deemed “too heavy” for the average infantryman. An unloaded M14 weighs about 9 pounds. The original M16 was in the neighborhood of 7 pounds. By contrast, today’s M16A4 weighs 8 pounds (without any accessories, mind you). You do the math. And today’s pack as fielded by the individual Marine is the heaviest ever — more than 100 pounds.

Fast-forward to Afghanistan in 2001. Many Special Forces troops chose the venerable M14 over the M16A2/A3, due to the 7.62mm round’s ability to reliably kill targets at longer ranges than the 5.56mm M16A2/A3. Additionally, the M14’s ability to shrug off dust storms and keep running engendered operator confidence.

With the M14-versus-M16 debate in mind, SysCom’s reticence in adopting the XM8, an as-yet untried weapon, is very shrewd.

One reason to wait is the need for a replacement round for the 5.56mm. Among the possibilities is the 6.8mm SPC round, which has generated much interest in the firearms community as a successor to the 5.56mm service round. It offers 7.62mm punch in a smaller package.

Another possible successor is the 6mm/.223 round. The 6mm/.223 loading is merely a 5.56mm (.223 Rem) case necked up to a 6mm. It uses a 100-grain bullet at approximately 2,600-2,700 feet per second and has a ballistic coefficient similar to a 7.62mm round. The 6mm is the right round for 7.62mm punch in a 5.56mm package.

What would happen if the Defense Department mandated that we go to a new round after delivery of the first Corps-purchased 5.56mm XM8s? We would have to eat the cost of the production run, while the Army got the 6mm weapons. The Marine Corps would effectively be left out in the cold with the 5.56mm round.

Let’s face it, the 5.56mm, especially in the M855 (green tip) loading, is lackluster against targets past 100 and 150 meters for the M4 and M16, respectively. There are many instances of infantrymen engaging targets three and four times with the shorter-barreled M4s, whereas the M16 has a slightly lower incidence of follow-up hits to stop attackers.

The Corps should campaign for the XM8 in either a 6.8mm SPC or a 6mm/.223 chambering. A bonus to the 6mm/.223 is that the existing M16 family of weapons would require only a barrel change. The bolt and magazines remain compatible. As for the M249 squad automatic weapon, the links and bolt may be retained, again necessitating only a barrel change.

The Corps is right to wait for the XM8, but only in a 6mm loading that would solve many of the stopping power deficiencies of the 5.56mm round. Let the Army, with all of its financial and research laboratory resources, find out what makes the XM8 tick first.

The Corps cannot afford to field an untried weapon on the mean streets of Fallujah.

The writer, a former Metro Denver police officer, is a sergeant and an aviation supply specialist assigned to Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific in San Diego.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 5:41:44 AM EST
6mm/223 need help on this.....isnt 6mm and 223 different?
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 5:43:26 AM EST

Originally Posted By howster:
6mm/223 need help on this.....isnt 6mm and 223 different?



From the article above:

Another possible successor is the 6mm/.223 round. The 6mm/.223 loading is merely a 5.56mm (.223 Rem) case necked up to a 6mm. It uses a 100-grain bullet at approximately 2,600-2,700 feet per second and has a ballistic coefficient similar to a 7.62mm round. The 6mm is the right round for 7.62mm punch in a 5.56mm package.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 5:43:27 AM EST
I can't believe that this guy actually complains about the M16 being plastic. It is symptomatic of his reactionary thinking generally.

It would be funny if the Marines went back to a 6mm round after 100 years.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 5:43:55 AM EST

The Corps should campaign for the XM8 in either a 6.8mm SPC or a 6mm/.223 chambering. A bonus to the 6mm/.223 is that the existing M16 family of weapons would require only a barrel change. The bolt and magazines remain compatible. As for the M249 squad automatic weapon, the links and bolt may be retained, again necessitating only a barrel change.




Surlpus barrels!

My two cents: A new weapon in 5.56 makes no sense and merely changing barrels on the M4 m16 platform to a new caliber does.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 6:47:34 AM EST
6mmX45 or 6mm-.223 is a piss ant, moderate velocity round that was created for sale in countries that ban military use calibers and for early attempts to extend the AR-15's range in match shooting before the current flock of heavy, high for caliber b.c bullets were available.

It's the right round for someone that needs a novelty cartridge for hunting or plinking.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 3:35:16 PM EST
This Topp guy is full of shit from the time he says Marines died due to a lack of a forward assist.

I vote 6.8mm, personally.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 3:45:48 PM EST
He wants to goo back to the M14!
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 3:53:32 PM EST
Can't say about the Marines dying due to a lack of forward assist, don't know that much about the M16.

But having read Black Hawk Down, the author reported complaints about the lack of stopping power in the 5.56mm round in the green tip. The efficiency of the 7.62 M14 was brought up. It makes sense to me that a larger round may do more damage.

The only thing that really recommends the XM8, IMHO, is making the SAW, rifle and carbine all completely compatible for moving parts. This reduces the need for multiple part types in the arms room. But that really seems to be the only real advantage. The standard optics are available on the M16 and are also easily replaced (IIRC, the optics are integral to the standard XM8 furniture). It does not really appear to be a significant step forward.

If there was a serious improvement involved then I would say it was worth it. But from what I have seen so far . . . we do need an improvement in medum-long range engagement for the average weapon, but I have not seen anything which tells me that the service version of the XM8 will provide it.

Just my .02.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 6:05:45 PM EST
Every thing is the same untill we get laser guns or caseless amo. A bullet is still a bullet.
Link Posted: 9/22/2004 6:18:44 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/22/2004 6:19:49 PM EST by Stryfe]

Originally Posted By Jame_Retief:
But having read Black Hawk Down, the author reported complaints about the lack of stopping power in the 5.56mm round in the green tip. The efficiency of the 7.62 M14 was brought up. It makes sense to me that a larger round may do more damage.
Just my .02.


cussed and discussed ad nauseum in the ammo forum. Short bbl + new (at the time) green tip ammo + distant target = no fragmentation. Check out the ammo oracle tacked at the top of the forum. IIRC there is a lengthy discussion there.
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