Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘Ammo’ Category

DSEI – NAMMO Introduces Programmable Ammunition

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Keeping soldiers safe from drones – how Nammo can help


Though originally designed for counter-defilade, the accuracy of Nammo’s programmable ammunition allows it to act as an effective anti-drone system as well.

Winter 2017 – coalition forces, aid groups and reporters in Iraq are harassed by commercial drones used by ISIS to spread fear. Lacking effective countermeasures against what was potentially flying IEDs, they are forced to flee from the simple and cheap commercial drones, causing widespread disruption. However, in part thanks to a new technology from Nammo, that threat may become a thing of the past.

Known as ‘programmable ammunition’, this new technology makes it possible for any larger gun to fire shells that can be programmed to explode with pinpoint accuracy, either before, above or inside a target. Adaptable to several weapon platforms, including 40 mm grenade launchers, 30 mm guns, 120 mm tank ammunition and M-72 rockets, this makes the technology ideal for dealing with a number of different threats, including drones. With the first versions already combat proven and in production, the technology offers three distinct benefits – low collateral damage, flexibility and ease of installation – together delivering a significant and reliable advantage to its users.


The 40 mm version of Nammo’s programmable ammunition has already been proven in combat.

Low collateral damage

One of the challenges faced by modern warfighters is the danger of collateral damage when operating near civilian infrastructure. This makes it difficult to fire regular ammunition at small aerial targets such as drones, because if they miss, the bullet or shell will just continue and eventually hit something else, potentially causing significant unintended damage. This threat is virtually eliminated with Nammo’s programmable ammunition, as it will explode where intended, independent of whether it has hit its target or not. In the case of smaller ammunition types, such as 40 mm grenades, these are designed to maximize their effect within a specific range from the point of detonation, with more limited effects beyond that. This means that as long as they are set to detonate sufficiently high above the ground, the fragments created by the detonation will fall harmlessly to the ground.

Additionally, given the accuracy of the ammunition, it has a good chance of either detonating or disabling any explosives or weapons that the drone may be carrying when they hit, further reducing the danger to infrastructure or personnel below.


Flexibility

Another constant challenge for warfighters is the question of space and weight, which limits the amount of weapons and supplies that personnel and vehicles can carry. The benefit of Nammo’s programmable ammunition is that rather than being a dedicated anti-drone system, that has to be carried in addition to other weapons, it is instead an upgrade to an existing weapon system, allowing it to be effective against a wide range of threats.

In fact, the technology was originally not developed with drones in mind. It’s primary purpose is as a ‘counter defilade’ system, able to defeat enemy forces hiding in trenches or behind cover by exploding just above, or beside them. Alternatively, in the case of larger calibers, it can be set to penetrate a certain distance inside a target, such as a dirt wall, before detonating. The ability to take down drones is therefore mainly a demonstration of the flexibility of the technology, rather than a key design requirement.

Ease of installation

A final challenge is the question of cost and complexity. Use of Nammo’s programmable ammunition does not require any physical changes to the gun itself, nor its ammunition handling system. That means that instead of expensive modifications and upgrades, the system can be easily added to any existing platform.

The system architecture is quite basic – in addition to the ammunition, it consists of a programming unit, and an antenna that is mounted on either the weapon or the vehicle. The distance to the target is entered into the programming unit either manually, or based on input from an automated range finder. Then, in contrast to competing systems, instead of programming the ammunition before it is fired, or inside the barrel, it receives its instructions just as the shell leaves the gun. This eliminates the need for upgrades to the barrel.

Small piece of the puzzle

Anti-drone operations are extremely complex, and place high demands on rules of engagement, sensors, and targeting procedures. Nammo’s ammunition does not alone resolve this issue, but it offers ground forces something they so far have been lacking, which is a cost effective weapon that could be used even in urban areas.

At this year’s DSEi exhibition in London (booth S6-162), Nammo will be displaying both our programmable ammunition in its various forms, and the remains of the drone that was shot down in the attached video.

In Nammo we believe that those doing an important job deserve the right equipment. That is why we exist, and why we work every day to help ensure that our products evolve along with the requirements faced by the end users on the ground.

www.nammo.com

SIG SAUER Introduces 6.5 Creedmoor Match Grade Ammunition

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Newington, NH (September 11, 2017) – SIG SAUER, Inc. extends its Match Grade Elite Performance Ammunition line for rifles with the addition of a 6.5 Creedmoor Open Tip Match (OTM) round. Featuring a 140gr Sierra MatchKing® bullet, this new 6.5 Creedmoor load has a muzzle velocity of 2,625 fps with muzzle energy of 2,142 ft-lbs.

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Designed for superior accuracy, the SIG 6.5 Creedmoor Match Grade load performs exceptionally well in wind, thanks to its high ballistic coefficient, delivering a flat trajectory with minimal recoil.

“The 6.5 Creedmoor is one of today’s most popular cartridges with competition shooters and hunters alike,” said Dan Powers, President of the SIG SAUER Ammunition Division. “It is an impressive, flat-shooting round that delivers precision in challenging, windy conditions.”

Engineered to excel in today’s precision rifles, SIG SAUER Match Grade Elite Performance Ammunition uses a temperature-stable propellant that delivers consistent muzzle velocity in all weather conditions. Premium-quality primers ensure minimum velocity variations, and the shell case metallurgy is optimized in the SIG Match Grade OTM cartridge to yield consistent bullet retention round to round. All SIG SAUER rifle ammunition is precision loaded on state-of-the-art equipment that is 100% electromechanically monitored to ensure geometric conformity and charge weight consistency.

All SIG SAUER Elite Performance Ammunition is manufactured by SIG SAUER at its new ammunition manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas to the same exacting standards as the company’s premium pistols and rifles. For more information, visit www.sigsauer.com/ammunition.

Rio Ammunition Expands its Sales Team

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Irving, Tx. (August 15, 2017) – Rio Ammunition, Inc, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, just added three experienced staff to its growing salesforce. With the new state-of-the art manufacturing facility completed in Marshall, Texas, Rio Ammunition has the capacity to produce more than a million shotgun shells per day, therefore sales and service demanded the expansion of the sales and product management team.

Darrell Morrow was recruited to lead the new team as Director of Sales. Darrell brings over 15 years industry experience to the team, and as an avid hunter and shooter, is looking forward to being in the ammo side of the business. Darrell most recently served as the VP of Sales at Vertx successfully growing the tactical apparel and gear line over the past 6 years while building strong relationships in the retail area. Darrell is a graduate of LSU with a degree in Business Administration.

Another industry expert is Tes Salb who will be one of two new Key Account Executives. With 16 years of experience in the industry, Tes has an expansive marketing and communications background having worked for companies like Benelli, Armalite, FN America and the NRA. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame in Marketing.

Finally, Bill Vitiello joined the team as the other new Key Account Executive. Bill is an Army veteran coming from Knights Armament with both LE/Military and Commercial sales experience.

Earlier this year Rio added Annie Foster (now Wilcox) to the sales team. She brings with her 10 years of in-depth experience in marketing, sales and manufacturing from her time at Colt Competition Rifles, XS Sights and Warne Scope Mounts.

To focus on products specific to the US market, Bryan Bornes has taken over in the newly created position of Product Marketing Manager. Bryan has been at Rio for 2 ½ years, having previously been one of the key people in the growth of Able Ammo and is considered a pioneer in online firearms and ammunition sales. Bryan has been deeply involved in the Skeet and Sporting Clays market and provides great insight to future product lines and improvements.

General Manager, Ken Pfau commented, “I’m very excited about the quality of talent coming on board at Rio. We’ve always had a great product at a good value, now we will be able to focus on our levels of service and bring additional new products for the competitive shooter and hunter. Rio is already one of the top brands in the world and we look forward to being one of the key shotgun shell brands in the US.“

Rio Ammunition, founded in 2002 and headquartered in Marshall (Texas), is MAXAM’s sports shooting and hunting cartridge subsidiary in the United States. Rio Ammunition’s success is based on proprietary technological developments – as a result of ongoing investment in R&D – and a totally integrated production chain ranging from the manufacturing of the main raw materials to the production of all the cartridge components (cases, primers, powder, wads and lead shot).

www.rioammo.com

US Army Facilitates Purchase Of M80A1 Ammo For Interim Service Combat Rifle Hopefuls

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

When the Army held the now suspended Individual Carbine trials a few years back, contractors had trouble acquiring the then new 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Rounds for their in-house testing.  The Army assisted those companies in procuring the ammunition which is still not in wide circulation, particularly for the commercial market.

IMG_3455

Now that the Army is looking for an Interim Service Combat Rifle which fires the larger 7.62mm version of the Enhanced Performance Round, M80A1, potential vendors are in a similar situation.  The Army has responded by issuing Attachment 0005, Flow Chart for EPR Commercial Sales to the solicitation on FedBizOpps. According to the program, the recommended path is to first contact the Olin-Winchester point of contact (POC) listed on Attachment 0005.

Of additional note, offerors may submit rifles with Mil Std- 1913 or M-LOK rails, with no length requirement. Additionally, as the solicitation does not specify much of anything aside from caliber and full auto capability, if an offeror submits more than one barrel length, they must submit full rifles.  They cannot just submit additional upper receivers.  

Federal Launches a New Line of Dual-Purpose Train + Protect Versatile HP Ammunition

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

ANOKA, Minnesota – August 1, 2017 – Federal Ammunition is pleased to announce its launch of Train + Protect, a new line of handgun loads designed for both practice and personal protection. The competitively priced ammunition features Federal’s versatile hollow-point (VHP) bullet and is available in three popular handgun cartridges and weight options. Shipments of this new ammunition are being delivered to dealers.

The Federal Train + Protect VHP bullet design provides both precise, practical performance at the range, and instant, reliable expansion on impact. The result is the ideal combination for training as well as defending yourself and your loved ones. The new ammunition proudly honors the American birthright to bear arms with patriotic U.S.A. graphics on its packaging.

Features & Benefits
• VHP bullet based on proven Federal hollow point design
• Reloadable Federal brass case
• Extremely reliable primer
• Loaded to produce consistent performance on the range and in defense situations

Part No. / Description / MSRP
TP9VHP1 / 9mm Luger 115-grain VHP, 50-count / $30.95
TP40VHP1 / 40 S&W 180-grain VHP, 50-count / $35.95
TP45VHP1 / 45 Auto 230-grain VHP, 50-count / $35.95
TP9VHP2 / 9mm Luger 115-grain VHP, 100-count / $56.95
TP40VHP2 / 40 S&W 180-grain VHP, 100-count / $66.95
TP45VHP2 / 45 Auto 230-grain VHP, 100-count / $66.95

Federal Premium is a brand of Vista Outdoor Inc., an outdoor sports and recreation company. For more information on Federal Premium, go to www.federalpremium.com.

PolyCase Ammunition Names CMG Marketing & Events and Murray Road Agencies of Record

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

PolyCase® Ammunition has announced that CMG Marketing & Events and The Murray Road Agency will become their Agencies of Record effective immediately. CMG will be responsible for public relations, media buying and event planning and Murray Road will cover creative services and social media.

PolyCase has been adopted as an excellent alternative to traditional ammunition in the self-defense, hunting, law enforcement and military markets. Terminal effects, accuracy and reliable performance from these lighter, faster polymer projectiles are revolutionarily different from traditional ammunition. The Inceptor® and Ruger® brands of ammunition are growing in popularity and the new team will focus on continuing the momentum and increasing exposure with customers and consumers alike.

“CMG’s expertise in media planning, public relations and event planning stands out from the crowd,” said Ric Brown, Sr. Vice President of Operations of PolyCase. “We have an ever-broadening product line and a diverse customer base that requires targeted and strategic engagement. The Murray Road Agency has a unique understanding of our industry and what it takes to move the needle. The ability of these two established agencies to manage our marketing efforts will be a major factor in our success.”

As part of the overall program, CMG will handle all elements of media buying and planning, including day-to-day contact with media outlets and their sales representatives. In addition, CMG will be responsible for all public relations and editorial product requests and will be the point of contact for all media inquiries to PolyCase. CMG will also oversee trade show and event planning needs.

The Murray Road Agency will assume responsibilities for all creative and marketing services as well as social media planning and execution.

“We are excited to be partnering with the PolyCase Ammunition team,” said CMG President Cathy Williams. “We will ensure the PolyCase brand is present in the most prominent publications and digital platforms. We are also here to help our influential endemic media obtain products, information and assets for their editorial needs. We look forward to helping the brands and company continue to grow.”

FightLite Reveals Next Generation (Squad Automatic) MCR and Lightweight Polymer Ammo

Friday, July 21st, 2017

FightLite® Industries, a division of ARES Defense Systems® Inc. located in Melbourne, Florida announces a development program for next generation, lightweight polymer ammunition to work in conjunction with its patented Dual-Feed™ Squad Automatic MCR® (Mission Configurable Rifle).

In a radical departure from the directions of both case telescoped ammunition and conventional polymer ammunition, FightLite® is pursuing an innovative development strategy for a 5th generation hybrid cartridge that is projected to lighten ammunition weight by up to 30% and deliver reduced ammunition cost, while also supporting legacy infantry weapons and machine guns.

There are millions of 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO weapons in both the US military and around the globe where users stand to benefit from a significant reduction in ammunition weight without sacrificing performance or reliability. FightLite® Industries and its parent organization ARES Defense have been very successful with their outside-the-box approach to problem solving in the small arms business during the past 20 years.

The company’s flagship weapon is its 8.5 lb. select-fire Squad Automatic MCR® that shares the excellent ergonomics of the M4A1 and feeds reliably from both M27-linked ammunition belts and standard M16 magazines at operator discretion. Featuring reliable gas-piston operation and a tool-less quick-change barrel system; the patented MCR® is the lightest and most portable belt fed machine gun in the world. Suppressor and grenade launcher capable, its select-fire operation allows soldiers and contractors to quickly and accurately engage both point and area targets. And when coupled with FightLite’s finalized 5th Gen lightweight cartridge, the MCR® and FightLite® ammo combination will represent the lightest 5.56mm automatic rifle with full combat load available anywhere.

The select-fire FightLite® MCR® is derived from the ARES-16 AMG-2™ (Assault Machine Gun) that was selected for testing by the US Army’s Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) and includes product enhancements that were made to the AMG-2™ following experience with M855A1 EPR ammunition and earlier military testing done during the Army’s AEWE Spiral H experiment at Fort Benning.

Such enhancements include further weapon weight reduction and simplification, a square shaped feed roller housing, a heat treated steel feed plate that reduces feed ramp wear from M855A1 steel tipped projectiles, refinements in the breech bolt lug profile, a reinforced charging handle assembly, the company’s highly effective RipBrake™ muzzle compensator, and a proprietary method of mitigating cookoff risk while maintaining a select-fire, closed bolt system of operation that is more accurate and user-friendly than standard open-bolt light machine guns.

Some additional key elements of the MCR® are that it shares a 52% part commonality with existing NSN components already in the government system and the core technology can retrofit to any MIL-Spec AR15, M16 or M4 type lower receiver; meaning that it is rearward compatible to the very first Colt Mod. 01 (M16) manufactured in 1960. These accomplishments reduce a military’s logistical footprint and costs including spare components and operator and armorer training. Additionally, the dual-feed MCR® permits squad automatic rifle users to operate during the assault with 100 and 200 round magazines of M27-linked ammunition, but also retains the ability to reliably feed from 4179 STANAG (M16/M4) magazines from other squad members should linked ammunition run low during combat.

“The Army and some of our commercial customers have been interested in lightweight ammunition for quite some time, so our R&D team is pretty excited about the progress we’re making to finally solve the elusive lightweight ammunition equation for conventional rifles and machine guns,” says Geoffrey Herring, CEO of ARES Defense Systems®. “We’re aware that various iterations of polymer cased ammunition have been introduced to the commercial market during the past several years, but we also know some of the setbacks they’ve experienced along the way such as ballistic underperformance, case melt, moisture absorption, case separation or deformation, and catastrophic failures when the heat or pressure is up. Most of the polymer ammunition manufacturers are employing first through third generation technology which can be predisposed to fail when subjected to rough handling, temperature extremes, environmental conditions, and the pressures necessary for full ballistic performance of modern rifle ammunition.”

Brass cased ammunition has been relied on for over 150 years and has presented many challenges for the arms industry to find an alternative material that accomplishes everything that a standard brass case does. In addition to providing a convenient capsule to house the bullet and components, keep the powder dry and reliably feed into the chamber, it is also a critical gas container that keeps the shooter safe from the 50,000-70,000 psi chamber pressure when the round is fired. When the malleable brass case expands against the chamber wall during obturation, it performs as a mechanical brake reducing bolt loading and embeds many impurities from the chamber such as grit, carbon or unburned propellant into the case body which is then extracted from the chamber in a semi self-cleaning arrangement. Since brass is an excellent thermal conductor, it also absorbs and removes with each shot a small amount of heat generated by the friction of the projectile traveling down the bore. It can be stored for extended periods of time and can tolerate temperature extremes such as freezing cold, rough handling, hazardous environmental conditions and water submersion. But some of the biggest strikes against it are weight and cost, and depending on the individual manufacturer the 12 to 20 step manufacturing process necessary to fabricate a single cartridge.

FightLite® isn’t sharing any proprietary details at this stage about the (5th Generation) construction methods being privately developed in house with IRAD until its patents for the hybrid technology are solidified. But the FightLite® R&D team is systematically addressing and overcoming the hurdles that have plagued early players in the lightweight ammunition space and is confident in its decision to pursue development of a lightweight cartridge that will also support legacy weapons in the US arsenal and NATO countries, and other users around the world.

“Our company’s approach to product development has always been to invest in inclusive technologies that benefit a greater consumer base as exemplified by our MCR® being rearward compatible from today’s production M4A1 to the very first M16’s that the Army ever purchased. To date, our company has produced and delivered thousands of dual-feed MCR® type upper receiver assemblies and rifles throughout the US and overseas, so we’re very comfortable with our product, its capabilities and the ability to produce it,” says Herring. “The primary objective for developing polymer ammunition is to additionally lighten the soldier’s ammunition load by at least 20% and we think that our hybrid case will be able to achieve that while maintaining safety and ballistic performance and also supporting legacy systems. We’ve already accomplished significant weight savings for the soldier with our squad automatic MCR® which currently weighs 50% less than the current M249 and is 3-times more accurate as verified by US military testers during live fire exercises. In fact, our gun was so effective at improving the squad’s speed and mobility during our participation in the Army’s AEWE Spiral H experiment that there is soldier support on record for adding two additional weapons to the current 9-man squad for a total of two of our guns per fire team.”

No firm date is being stated at this time for delivery of FightLite® 5.56mm hybrid ammunition to market. In the interim, FightLite® Industries and its parent organization ARES Defense Systems® will continue supplying its customers with its commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) Squad Automatic MCR® and AMG-2™ weapons which can currently use almost any of the billions of rounds of 5.56 NATO ammunition stockpiled throughout the world. Once the R&D cycle on FightLite® 5.56mm hybrid ammunition is completed, the company will likely either seek mass production of the ammunition through established high-volume ammunition producers or consider licensing its next generation squad automatic rifle (NGSAR) and ammunition technology to one of the USA’s larger prime defense contractors.

To learn more about FightLite® Industries visit www.FightLite.com. Follow FightLite® Industries on Facebook at facebook.com/FightLite , on Twitter @FightLite and on Instagram @FightLite.Industries.

“New Calibers, the Fight to Come” by Frank Plumb

Monday, July 10th, 2017


In my efforts to enhance the lethality of US weapon systems, my intent has always been to bring more people into the discussion. I do my best to not speak in absolutes, I intend to discuss things conceptually. This is so that experts in the finer points of cartridge construction, rifle barrel design, and ballistics could help drive the conversation. I am not some tier one super hero. I do not pretend to know everything and I would be highly skeptical of anyone who claims they do. But I have little fear in speaking out. I know this community has what it is needed to help drive the development of what could be the last cartridge based systems fielded by the U.S military.

There have been a few shifts in my thinking. The first was a firefight in 2003. Before then I was always under the notion that 5.56×45 mm projectiles would be modified to meet the demands of combat environments. When your perspective is based on ½ mass time velocity squared, 5.56×45 appears to the end all be all. But, I landed in Ft Bragg in November of 2003, with a new perspective.

I’ve mentioned the King and Queen of combat marksmanship. Energy Transferred into the target is the Queen and Shot Placement is the King. That these elements combine into the probability of killing the enemy. In the mid 2000’s a study was released that said 5.56 bullets need to yaw to transfer energy. If the 5.56 bullet does not Yaw or “tumble” shot placement becomes even more critical. It can kill without it, but the kill probability drops substantially. The Army study said a 5.56 bullet needs 4.75 inches of body penetration to Yaw. The people we have been shooting at for the last 16 years are not known for being more than 5 inches thick.

Until this study was released, I believed that the 77grain bullet and other larger 5.56 projectiles were going to be the answer in most applications. I then discussed with my father, a famous sniper in LE circles, the USMC’s experiences in the transition from the M14 to the M16. Stories of grown Marines on the verge of crying from frustration in shooting the M16 the first time are still visceral to him. Had we gotten it wrong all those years ago? Did we hamstring our forces for a half century in the name of lighter weight? Did we marry light, cheap, and easy at the expense of lethality and the military half mile? (I feel we should have ALL rifles capable of engaging targets to 800m not 500m as some have suggested)

Around this same time, I had a chance meeting with a staffer from Senator Tom Coburns office. One conversation led to an email. This email turned into hours of phone calls and a white paper. This white paper was sent to the Secretary of the Army and became the Individual Carbine program. At the time, I was a senior NCO assigned to a NG SF ODA. Not really the center of gravity in weapons modernization. But I kept in contact with Senator Coburn and his staff. I advocated for multiple weapons platforms that I thought would be effective solutions.

But what I tried to communicate more than anything else was the projectile. The bullet we were shooting was more important than the gun we were shooting it with. DoD was so tied to 5.56×45 that it there was no way any small arm wouldn’t use it. The Individual Carbine was cancelled a few years ago because none of the weapons offered any cost/performance benefit over the M4. It is the same reason the SCAR ® Mk.16 was cancelled. They all shoot the same 5.56×45 cartridge. Like I said the bullet we shoot is more important than the gun. No change in bullet equals no change in rifle, the M4 lived on.

Not long after this I went to the SCAR fielding at 1st Special Forces Group. While I liked the Mk.16, I completely forgot about it the second I shot the MK.17 SCAR®. It felt new, light, and a lot like the future. It was European so it had some quirks like ergonomics and not enough room for all the lights and lasers. But the aftermarket would resolve that. I started digging around in my network about the first field reports. I talked to friends at 2nd Ranger Bn. and 3rd SFG. I had faith this was going to be the system that was going put it all together. That the SCAR was a SOPMOD away from perfection. I figured the SCAR® was the answer. Now we can really knock people in the dirt. Simply put 7.62×51 is very lethal, and I could do house work with this gun.

But there is a problem. 7.62×51 does not have the legs to be effective past 1000m. For those that know there has been a long-standing need to have a +1000m battle rifle. I’ve known this for well over a decade. Until recently not many people listened. Some are now. One who agreed early was Jim Schatz.

I met Jim Schatz when he came to Seattle in 2012 for a small arms conference. I had a friend use his credentials to get me in. I remember it was in the convention center in Seattle, Washington. The same place I would meet Alan Handl just a few months later that same year.

I was advising the staff of Senator Coburn at the time on the Individual Carbine program. I had many questions and doubts about case less ammunition. How do you clear malfunctions? Can it fire out of a battery? What happens when it does? Jim told me about his experiences with an experimental case-less gun. Well if I had doubts before, they were concrete reasons now. It’s a conversation that makes me utterly scared of LSAT. While these solutions maybe the future, they have serious technical hurdles to overcome. Also, advancements in polymer cases will be probably too far advanced to make the effort cost effective.

I remember mentioning to Jim the bane of our existence, the PKM. That we had no proper counter. The Mk.13 had been fielded in 300WM. But two Sniper rifles vs area suppressing hit and run machine gun teams is a losing bet. He agreed and mentioned 6.5 calibers as a solution. I kept in touch with Jim irregularly over the years. I did not know Jim other than infrequent conversations and occasional emails. But it was very clear Jim was a person of immense experience, knowledge and professionalism. His was often the first opinion I would seek, which he freely gave. I found myself coming to some of his conclusions, long after independently covering the same ground. His input cannot be stated enough. I know everyone it the HK community knew exactly who Jim was. Unfortunately, Jim died recently. His death could not be more untimely. For the battle he had always advocated for is about to be fought. I feel it should be him telling this story.

I believe the answer to our problems is 6.5 projectiles. In my opinion, in a 2-cartridge solution. Handl Defense believes that all our solutions must fit three primary parameters. Something we produce must; improve performance, support doctrine, and show a cost benefit. Everything I’ve ever gotten approved in the military fit these three same tenets. It had to work better, be in left/right limits, and be inexpensive.

The new cartridges we adopt across the force needs to fit into these parameters as well. There is perfection and then there is effective. Perfection can be the enemy of the good. We can seek a solution that has the best performance. If it does not fit doctrinal applications and it is expensive, it will not get adopted. I see two solutions in both 7.62×51 and 5.56×45 sized platforms that fit the bill. The solutions we seek should emulate current supply chain structures as much as possible. This will reduce the cost of introduction an absolute key for adoption. I see four contenders each with their own strengths and weaknesses. I will discuss each of them superficially now. There will be a more in-depth discussion about each in their own blog post later.

What I see in small case solutions. While there are as many options as there are opinions, these two options reflect the most likely solutions to upgrade from 5.56×45.

The first option is 300 Blackout. Now before you shut down your browser or scream ” it is for suppressed use only!” There is more than meets the eye with this cartridge. Many people have been working diligently to get more out of 300 Blackout. Some of them have been successful. The issue with 300 BLK is that historically there has been much more bullet drop at comparable ranges to 5.56×45. Initial versions dropped the height of a 6 foot man in about 350-375 meters as opposed to about 450-475 meters for 5.56×45. Understand also 300 BLK required more training for the end user. You had to become more instinctive in compensating for bullet drop. Then there are issues with mechanical reliability in piston guns, they often had to be suppressed to get the extra back pressure to insure effective functioning. Handl Defense has been successful with 300 Blackout in our modified FN SCAR® 17s. But there was serious reworking of the operating group.

Regardless of its issues, the 300 BLK penetrates a target and begins to yaw in the target almost instantly. This means it carries a higher chance of being lethal round. There are some experiments with smaller 300 BLK rounds that show real promise. One 300 BLK producer who was using a blended metal technology that was claiming 700 meters with minimal bullet drop. There have been some projectiles under 120 grains that are getting 2600 fps and more. This opens the door for a EPR type of round in say 90-100 grains to make 300 BLK effective to almost 700 meters. I am sure this will require longer barrels (16 in and up). Then the fact this cartridge is based on 5.56×45, makes it a very viable option. The cost savings transitioning from 5.56×45 to 300 BLK would save millions upon millions of dollars and could be implemented very quickly.

But for a 5.56 based gun solution, 6.5 Grendel needs serious consideration. 6.5 Grendel does not use a 5.56×45 case. Even though it can hold more powder and provide higher velocities, the fact it would require a new case to be adopted is its most serious draw back. The expense of new cases on top of other new expenses cannot be discounted in these budgetary environments. One other drawback to the 6.5 Grendel is that it would also reduce the number of rounds in the magazine by four. But for these drawbacks you get serious performance that will fit in an M4. 6.5 Grendel cartridges shooting lighter bullets (90-100 grains) can achieve 2900 fps. There is equal and in certain cases superior performance from 6.5 Grendel to the 7.62×51 147 grain M80 round. Sierra states that their 123grain 6.5 bullet has 2900 joules of energy at 2700 feet per second. An EPR type M80A1 or M855A1 cartridge in 6.5 Grendel could be a powerful solution for 5.56×45 based rifles. This could be the 800 meter solution for the M4. But startup costs and fewer rounds per man in a light infantry role could very easily stymie 6.5 Grendel.

When it comes to 7.62×51 cartridge solutions, I believe the requirement is that it must fit in SR 25 pattern magazine. One other item I have always pushed for is a common 7.62×51 magazine. I believe any mid-sized cartridge must fit in legacy 7.62×51 systems with minimal retooling.

The first is 6.5 Creedmoor. My first experience with this cartridge was in early 2013. I was testing the AK conversion kit Handl Defense was developing for FN SCAR® Mk.17. Another shooter was a lane or two over with a 6.5 Creedmoor match gun. I knew of the cartridge but I had never fired it. He allowed me to fire about 30 rounds out of the rifle. It was instantly apparent this was a new beast. Flatter, faster, and seriously tight groupings. Not unlike the first time you ride a Ducati superbike, you had no idea you were going that fast.

6.5 Creedmoor is immensely popular in precision shooting circles. There is a lot of data, history, and success behind the cartridge. There are numerous advocates across all shooting disciplines. 6.5 Creedmoor has high-BC 6.5 mm bullets fired at good velocities (2700-3000fps). It has a very similar trajectory to 300 Win Mag. and less recoil than 7.62x51mm. When you look at match grade 7.62x51mm like the 175 grain M118LR, the 6.5 Creedmoor has about ¼ less wind drift. It will have about 100 inches less drop at 1000 yards. Then even with 20% lower mass, the 6.5 Creedmoor will retain 20% more energy. It will also hit the target at 1000 yards at about 300 fps more speed.

The 6.5 Creedmoor does not use 7.62×51 as its parent case, which could present the same issue with 6.5 Grendel. Which might mean the adoption of a new case system wide and the extra expenses that go with that. I have had discussions with some re-loaders who say you can make 6.5 Creedmoor from 7.62×51 cases. It just takes extra work. If used military brass can be converted to 6.5 Creedmoor easily, it will overcome its biggest stumbling block. Think of all the ASPs across the military. Think of the millions upon millions of rounds of 7.62×51. Without a way to use them and reuse them, it will be harder to justify the caliber change. Remember this decision will be made by Generals and Politicians. They do not care that one cartridge has 300 extra FPS. its BC is 4% higher, or 2% more accurate at 1000m. They care about cost to benefit ratio for project that pales in comparison of strategic impact to the JSF or Virginia class attack subs.

Which leads me to 260 Remington. This cartridge does not have a portion of the following that 6.5 Creedmoor does. It has almost all of the same performance in SAMMI spec versions as 6.5 Creedmoor. But 6.5 Creedmoor is more developed, better supported, and does perform that little better. For match shooters that little bit better is all the difference. But that does not mean that 6.5 Creedmoor is the better fit. 260 also flies much like 300 Win Mag. It also has the high BC bullets. It also will provide overmatch to the PKM.

260 Remington has two things going for it. The first is cost. To convert the metric tons of 7.62×51 brass to 260 Rem is far simpler and straight forward. Converting 7.62×51 to 6.5 Creedmoor might be just and extra step or an extra tool. When we must add an extra 3-5 cents per round and multiply it by 2 billion, that could be all the difference.

The other thing 260 Remington has going for it is a group in the government is working very hard to close the small performance gap between 260 and 6.5 CM. I do not have permission to disclose the particulars so do not bother. Handl Defense has supported this effort in the government. I understand there will be implications of bias. Regardless, an optimized 260 Remington could provide near equal the performance of 6.5 Creedmoor. It could do this cheaper both in initial startup costs and over the lifecycle of the program. This is a serious advantage that cannot be discounted.

I recognize there is a lot in this post, and others, that I do not discuss. For example, I do not discuss doctrinal applications, or if that one 6.5 bullet could work in both 5.56 cases and 7.62 cases, or bullet composition. That even when I delve into the calibers that there will be a lot I leave out. Even in these posts themselves, I cannot cover it all. These blog posts are not intended to be closing arguments. They are intended to start discussions. I know this is a highly contentious subject, so I expect vigorous debate. Additionally, the e-mails I have gotten recently and other input is not only welcome, it is exactly what I seek. It is what we should seek from each other.

My next blog post will be about the King and Queen of combat marksmanship; shot placement and energy transfer.

This blog post is in Honor of James Richard Schatz, Jr. Who died March 16, 2017. He was a paratrooper and an Army Marksmanship Unit Instructor. God Bless him and his family.

-Frank Plumb

The article was shared ny permission from Handl Defense.