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US Military Looking For a Better Rifle to Arm the Troops
The M16/M4 platform has been around for a long time, and the round itself works well enough when you consider the widespread usage of the round, but it’s history is riddled with jokes and stories that make it seem less like a weapon of war, and more like a Mattel toy that happens to fire bullets.
Compared to the 30 cal ammo that Grandpa used to use, the .223 is a light-duty caliber. It becomes more ineffective at longer ranges, and despite the popularity, some would even go so far as to call it a plinker, opting for a heavier round for self-defense and militaristic purposes.
Of course, if the recent DoD testing of hand guards for the M4 is any indication, the platform itself isn’t going anywhere for a little while at least, but the military is definitely looking into giving it an upgrade as a minimum, and possibly adopting a new rifle platform that’s more reliable.
With all the bombs being dropped, you would think that ammunition capacity wouldn’t be a huge concern, but it is. Ground firefights last for hours, and thousands of bullets are expended. Such conflicts don’t happen all the time, but when they do, the old adage is correct, bring enough gun, and in addition, bring enough ammo.
The recent takedown of ISIS leaders in Afghanistan involved a three-hour firefight. What would have happened if our Army Rangers ran out of bullets? Scary to think about, right? The biggest down-side of resurrecting the .308 for short range combat (or the venerable 30-06 M1) is that those bullets are heavy. Stick a 5.56 side-by-side with a 7.62, and the complication is obvious. Why do CCW shooters love the 9mm so much? Because they can carry more ammo.
The Russian 30 cal might be the next round to look into, but a 120-150 grain bullet in such a compact cartridge is going to suffer a lot of drop and lower velocities, no matter how well you dress it up.
The military is looking into designing a new round (as if there aren’t enough to pick from), but they are also considering some lighter, flat-trajectory rounds like the 65 Creedmore, the .260 Remington, and the .264 USA. The new round would give our troops a boost in firepower without any significant increase in carry weight or magazine capacity.
The only looming problem is one that’s actually been around for a long time. What are they going to do with all that leftover .223 ammo? They could send it to me; I’ll take it :) I’ll take the surplus M4s, too. The real problem isn’t getting rid of the old arms, but restocking the new ones, and it’s a money problem.
The popularity of the NATO cartridges has lead to quite a stockpile, and that’s a lot of taxpayer dollars tied up in those caches. There’s also retooling to consider. This is a debate that will likely continue for a while, and we’ll keep you posted as it develops.