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7.62 being replaced by 5.56?

3071 Views 52 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  In service to His Majesty
I recently bought a book titled "20th Century Guns." I've noticed that 5.56mm has become far more common than 7.62mm, and not just in assault rifles but light machine guns as well. Is 7.62mm (.308) being phased out by the military? Will it eventually become more of a hunting round, like .30-06?
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Our current combination of M16A2 and SS109 round is a pretty good compromise, considering who we have to qualify. And yes, there are wimps out there. Fortunately not many, but we still have to qualify EVERYONE. Including the people who literally fall forward because they flinch so hard. If you can't accurately fire the rifle they give you, get out of the military! This isn't just a college program or an office job!

Back to the ammo. Let's face it, the weight that grunts saved by switching from the M14 to the M16 has already been taken up by other things. The load is always going to hurt after twenty miles. So if I have to carry anything that far, it might as well be the best rifle possible (yeah, I'm insinuating that the M16 is not the best rifle possible).

The close-range effectiveness of the 5.56mm ball round is due to the tumbling, which causes the bullet to break at the cannelure, and the fragments basically destroy the tissue that has already been damaged by the "temporary stretch cavity." That's all Fackler, by the way. The wound profiles illustrate this well.

Unfortunately, these nasty things only happen at close to muzzle velocity, which is to say less than 100-150 meters. Around 200 or more meters, the stretch cavity is smaller and there are no fragments to destroy extra tissue. Then all you get is a .224 caliber hole.

Add to this easier deflection by brush and wind, less penetration of cover, and very low energy beyond 300 meters and you get a great CQB cartridge, not much more. If you know your engagement will be under 100 meters and there is little cover, 5.56mm is great. However, for an all-around battlefield cartridge 7.62x51mm is more versatile.

Oh yeah, I've heard that rumor that wounding the enemy is better than killing them. Suuuuuure. Did the Somalis really give a damn about their wounded? A wounded soldier can still fight back, and the people we fight nowadays usually don't try as hard as we do to help casualties. I don't know whether or not the designers of the 5.56 really intended it for wounding, but it's a bad way to go about combat.
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