Some thoughts on the rifle the Army needs.

 

Iím not sure it needs to be 10MM or anything that extreme, however US ground forces do need something bigger and better than the 5.56MM.  The trend we are seeing is that new cartridges are going smaller in caliber and faster in velocity.  And hey, that is fine and dandy when it comes to assaulting a Prairie Dog Town.  Those little doggies would never know what hit them!  The problem is that larger targets never knew they even got hit.  Complaints abound regarding the 5.56MMís terminal performance.  (Can we really call it TERMINAL?)

The Army needs a real battle rifle cartridge.  7.62MM has a strong history.  Our .308 is a classic among sportsmen, enthusiasts, Spec Ops, and front line troops from the majority of military services.  While the US and NATO went to the 5.56 most other countries retained the mighty FAL or G3 platform and its true battle rifle ammunition. (90 countries continue to use the FAL type rifle) I have no idea why NATO followed the US in that move to the .223, but it just goes to show you that they really are not always that bright.

Letís look at future threats on the modern field of conflict.  Troopers are generally smarter and faster now.  We wear better armor than has ever been available, and more of it.  Ranges are seemingly shrinking as accuracy and target acquisition increases.  The first one to see the enemy generally wins when it comes to the grunts on the ground.  (I know, I was one.  Light Infantry out of Ft. Benning.)  Everything is happening faster now.  All this boils down to one thing, the need to take down that target with a first shot kill.   Marksmanship is more critical now than ever.  Spray and Pray vs. a well aimed shot is what separates the Victors from the Corpses. You can't miss enough to win.  It's not who shoots first that counts, it's who hits who first.  So if you shoot first and that first shot is a hit... you are in the winner's circle and the other guy is six feet under.

The round your taking that one shot with is now more important than ever. 

The M-16 was never a battle rifle.  From the start, the M-16 was a target rifle for Air Force security guards.  The A2 variant gives it a heavier barrel so the troops can pretend itís a battle rifle, but the fact of the matter is that the A2 is just an Air Force target rifle with a weight problem.  No offense to the Zoomies, but those guys donít know what a battle rifle is.

There are so many good calibers with fantastic potential for military service, but letís not try to fit it in with the M-16 platform.  The AR-15 has some fundamental issues that one day I may write a book about.  Letís just say that you shouldnít be dealing with anything that defecates where it eats. (Iím talking about its gas system here)  Leave it up to the Zoomies to give us a rifle that only works okay if itís spotless and sterile.

The best thing thatís happened to the AR is JD Jonesí contribution called the .300 Whisper.  An A2 chambered for the .300 Whisper is a good start.  The problem is that the Whisper doesnít have the extended ďreach out and smash some oneĒ ability of the .308, but at least your now making a nice big hole.  JD has done some hunting of big game with that round and has very good results with it.  The trade off with the lack of the long range hitting power is the fact that itís quiet. Thatís a good thing in the Infantry for those keeping track. We want quiet.  Quiet is good.  But we still need that long range... Let's leave the Whisper to the spooky guys.  The Grunts need still more horse power.

One of the best possibilities that had a chance, was HKís 9MM sniper rifle.  Lotís of power.  But at the cost of magazine capacity.  I seem to remember we did just fine against the Huns with only 8 rounds at a time.  But the style these days are 30 round mags.  You gotta have them.

A couple cartridges that I would love to play with are commercially available to the rich and famous via a company called ďLazzeroniĒ.  Lazzeroniís Galaxy and Maverick rounds are wonderful.  But at a hundred bucks for a box of 20?  Iíll have to play with those rounds when I am reincarnated as Bill Gateís militant son.  Still, those rounds have potential when it comes to ballistics.  Imagine a new US Army cartridge chambered for one of those.  I donít think we would get any complaints about power.  Any complaints about recoil could be resolved by more PT.  This isnít a PDW for all people, just the guys at the front who have to engage the enemy as a primary job function. If they complaint about something like recoil, they are going to complain even more when I suggest they leave those silk PJs at home when they enlist into the Infantry!

An Infantryman is a Rifleman to the core.  A sharpshooter.  Or at least he should be if he takes his MOS seriously.  His rifle and his ammunition are what he uses to fight withÖ he needs the power to defeat his enemy.  The book Blackhawk Down is a good illustration that our Armies are fielding anemic weapons.  Those that say the M-16 is just fine are generally guys that were not in Mog.  But then again neither was I.  (I was in a different conflict at a different time.  I was armed with an M-16 too, and I wasnít thrilled with itís performance either.) 

A fighting rifle in .308 doesnít have to be very heavy, or big.  Take a look at DSAís ďShortyĒ variant of the FAL system.  Take a look at FN's new SCAR rifle, the Heavy variant.  Talk about a sweet weapon.  I donít think any red blooded American trooper would complain about one of those.  After all, America is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Hot Rod.  No, you canít carry as many rounds, but then again your not having to hit your targets 4 or 5 times either.