2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pick the "Battle Rifle Round" of the last part of the 20th Century

I recently "upgraded" my launching platform for .308 ammo and took a second to pull a couple of other rounds out of the ammo locker to look at side-by-side..

From left to right they are the NATO 5.56x45, Russian 7.62x39 and the NATO 7.62x51 (.308).

All three of these rounds share a common developmental origin of being developed after WW2 based on the experiences that the parent countries had experienced.  There was a study done after WW2 by the US that showed that most soldiers only engaged targets that they though they would be able to hit, usually under 300 yards or so.  I believe this is the same study that also showed a vast number of soldiers never fired their weapon in combat that LTC Dave Grossman quotes in his book On Killing too.  I am also sure that the Russian's experience in viscous urban combat also compelled their thought process on developing a new round.

Basically, all of the worlds major military powers started to "downsize" their ammo.  In the case of the US, really, really downsize it eventually with the 5.56mm cartridge.  The Russians eventually followed suit as well and even went a bit smaller with the 5.45 round for the AK-74, but for most the 7.62x39 is still synonymous with the AK.  In reality, the .308 (which I will use interchangeably from this point on with 7.62x51 - 3 fewer characters to type) development started after WWI as the US sought out a cartridge much more easily suited for a semi automatic rifle than the .30-06 currently in use.   However, the insistence of US brass to keep the .30-06 in use (because we had millions of rounds stockpiled) and the genius of one John C. Garand kept the .308 off the scene for a few decades.   In the case of the .308 and 7.62x39, what you have is basically a chopped down full size .30 rifle round.  The 5.56 came out of left field and was a round the Air Force was interested in using for base security but eventually found its way onto the front lines of combat for both the Army and Marine Corps.  The close in lethality of the round has been proven but its known as being a bit "wimpy" at extended ranges.  Basically, the majority of major conflicts in the last half of the 20th century were fought by these 3 rounds.

So when it comes down to it, which one is your favorite?  Vote in this months poll, open until Halloween.


eiaftinfo said...

Nice history there - thanks. For my own defensive long gun, I prefer the .308 and have a Panther Arms in that caliber. If I am ever called to use it in my family's defense - the farther out I can engage the better. I just believe it will do a better job at the 200-300m range that a lighter caliber.

All in my humble opinion, of course.

Huey said...

Thanks, that was the super condensed version of what could of been a couple of pages on each rounds development. I think within the 200 - 300 range within the parameters of "normal" combat accuracy and effectiveness either the 5.56 or .308 will do (and have been proven) against soft targets. Where the .308 will spank the crap out of the 5.56 is at extended range power and defeating barricades.. Our elite forces can often decide when and where they will fight and tailor their weaponry to that instance (eg. - no reason for SEALS to carry large caliber rifles if they are boarding a cargo ship less than 300 meters at its longest point to begin with), but for the normal "grunt" on the line they have to make do with what they have. We are nuts deep invested in the 5.56 round in terms of weaponry and ammo so I don't think everyone crying to adopt a 6.5 or other such round will get what they want, but some of the heavier 5.56 rounds being used overseas (I don't know if they are being used in special carbines with tighter barrel twists or not) seem to be getting the job done from those few "inside" sources I still have contact with.

One thing is for sure, for most instances the 7.62 can do what the 5.56 can do shot for shot, but not always the other way around.

Love your blog btw.


eiaftinfo said...

Certainly agree on your thoughts for close-in fighting. I guess for me, honestly I'm not much of a gear geek (unless you're talking radio/computer/cameras/astronomy - then all bets are off :) ). I've assembled a fairly tight set of weapons that I to cover my needs - the Panter Arms .308, a clouple of G17s, a Springfield 1911 and then some training weapons for my training company. But, weapon selection is one of those great topics for a campfire, a few adult beverages and lots of gentle rib jabbing! :)

Thanks much for your comment on my blog - I appreciate it.

Ret Redhat said...

Battle being the key word, would go with 7.62 x51 but those three are a good start.

Ret Redhat said...

7.62 NATO 1st choice, SS109 62 grn 5.56 2nd 7.62x39 Third. Any of which would say is a good start.