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7.62 being replaced by 5.56?

3069 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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Originally posted by GI-45:
...I've noticed that 5.56mm has become far more common than 7.62mm....
Yes it has. And not for the good. Let me respond to a whole bunch of posts instead of one-by-one replies.

The 5.56 is an anemic round. It's adoption has far more to do with what DSK wrote of than any kind of ballistic superiority.

I am in a military reserve component. I also work security for the feds full time. Any armed person, for the most part, cannot shoot as well today as in generations past because of the disapperance of the firearm as a staple in American life. For the last twenty years or so, kids have been at the helm of a video game control box instead of shooting birds, squirrels, rabbits, etc.... This has had a horrible impact on the shooting abilities of those who are introduced to firearms in their adult lives. I started shooting at about age 8. Two days ago I went to qualify with my trusty old S&W model 10. I shot a 290 out of 300. A year ago I shot a 285 out of 300 with the Beretta M9 at my Guard unit. Many men and women (civilian and Guard) cannot meet the minimum passing score of 180. In the military, they are offered many attempts. After many unsuccessful attempts, their records are forged to show a passing score (same with Physical Fitness tests, by the way). I've seen it many times. In my security job, those folks who cannot qualify are now starting to be fired. In the very recent past, their records were forged, too. So, as DSK wrote, the common thinking is to "pray and spray." I do not agree with this.

It is not too different from what happened at the FBI around 1990 or so. They wisely chose the 10mm as their primary duty cartridge. The S&W 1006 was going to be their duty weapon. Too many men, and especially women, could not handle the full power of the 10mm. They downloaded it. Somebody at Smith got the brilliant idea of shortening the case to accomodate the lighter charge. Voila! The .40 S&W. Shortening the case and reducing the energy also meant the size of the gun could be recuded from a .45-sized frame to a 9mm-sized frame. Have you noticed the FBI HRT and many Armed Forces special ops are slowly returning to the .45?

As for penetration, the 7.62 is superior to the 5.56. Somebody here was comparing 5.56 armor piercing to 7.62 ball. Pulllleeeeeeasse. Let's compare apples to apples.

Ballistic coefficient has little to do with penetration. BC measures aerodynamic efficiency. That's about it. If two bullets of different weights leave two barrels, with the same muzzle velocity, at the same time, both with the same BC, it does not mean they will impact their targets at the same time. This is where the weight comes in. A heavier bullet will impact first because of momentum. A heavier bullet retains more energy. It does not become evident until you get out to 600 or 700 yds and beyond. This is where light bullets "crap out" and heavy bullets keep on hummin' along.

In my opinion only, the 5.56 has been adopted to accomodate a new generation of video-gaming, mall-skateboarding soldiers who are inexperienced with arms. Give them a lot of bullets and a gun that recoils lightly, and hope like hell they hit something, of course not getting some hot brass tossed back and caught in their nose rings.


[This message has been edited by In service to His Majesty (edited 10-27-2001).]
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Originally posted by RikWriter:
Of course that theory falls completely apart when you look at the fact that the 223 was adapted in the 1960s, before video games or skateboards (or malls really) even existed.
True. But even if the Army wanted to go back to the 7.62, it couldn't. Today's PDA wearin', wireless internet gadget man would cry like a baby if a 7.62 recoiled against his shoulder. And can you imagine the women? They would want to take a six-month hiatus under the Family Medical Leave Act. "The ferocity of the rifle causes me recurring nightmares and anguish. I need to get away and deal with the violent trauma to which I have been subjected."

God, help us all.

Please don't forget another factor, tangential as it may be, that supports my theory in the Army's lack of confidence in its infantry.

What precedent was set in the Gulf War and continues today in Afghanistan? The air war. Sure, in days past Navy battleships would open up 16" guns near the shoreline to prep the beaches for the infantry. Airplanes, too, were used to destroy positions in advance of infantry assaults. But it is completely different now. The air bombardment is complete before a soldier sets foot on the ground. Every tank, anti-aircraft gun, radar position, troop carrier, crew-served weapon emplacement, etc..., is wiped out in advance of the infantry assault. The spirit is completely different. The Army disproportionately places the lion's share of the burden on the Ranger, airborne, and SF units to get any ground action done. Over the years, the number of infantry divisions has been slashed. The more traditional foot and mechanized infantry have been relegated to peacekeeping operations, maintaining ethnic cleansing-free zones and handing out food. The Army has no faith in its non-airborne infantry to fight a war.

So it is really a lineage of things: 7.62 to 5.56; .45 to 9mm; the disappearance of the infantry supplanted by a new air war.

It doesn't take much to see the recent evolution of the Army. The Pentagon has had decreasing faith in its men with every generation since the WWII/Korea era. It increasingly turns to smart or user-friendly technology to fight its wars.

The 7.62 issue is just a tiny subset in a much broader, sweeping plan.

And one last point...the Pentagon has decided to stop dropping yellow food packets on Afghanistan. Too many Afghans supposedly were refusing to pick them up, thinking they were unexploded ordnance. Okay, I can see that. The Pentagon announced it would drop future packets in blue color. The Pentagon has reversed itself. It seems the color blue carries offensive connotations in Afghan culture. So literally saving them from starvation is not good enough, we have to save them and not offend them.

Do you remember the commercial, "this is not your father's Oldsmobile?" Well, this is not my father's Army, nor is it mine.


[This message has been edited by In service to His Majesty (edited 11-04-2001).]
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