Is This the End of the Line for 5.56 NATO?

Gen. Milley during the Armed Services Committee hearing.  (Photo: Gov.)

Since its introduction there have been critics of the 5.56 NATO cartridge. It’s an overgrown .22, a varmint cartridge, not a real battle rifle cartridge. This is the sentiment mirrored by retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales and others in the armed services Senate Committee.

“Since the end of World War II the richest and most technologically advanced country in the world has sent its soldiers and Marines into combat with inferior small arms,” said Scales (.pdf). “So inferior, fact, that thousands have died needlessly. They died because the Army’s weapon-buying bureaucracy has consistently denied that a soldier’s individual weapon is important enough to gain their serious attention”

Concern over the capabilities of 5.56 NATO has risen since the introduction of a new, low-cost grey-market body armor. Senator Joni Ernst (R. Iowa) asked General Mark Milley if the military was looking into a commercial alternative or a military-specific option to deal with emerging threats.

“I don’t know if the two are mutually-exclusive,” said Milley. “There are systems out there today on the shelf, that with some very minor modifications, could be adapted to munitions that we’re developing in Fort Benning that could be used to penetrate these SAPI plates that our adversaries are developing.”

“It’s not necessarily an either-or proposition on that one,” he stated.

The military is working on new bullet designs beyond what is being fielded and even tested today. These bullets can be used to make 5.56 and 7.62 NATO cartridges as well as just about any other suitably-sized ammunition.

What Milley is talking about is probably not based on the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round or its 7.62 variant. That is already in the field and in limited service. It could be the XM1158 Advanced Armor Penetrating (ADVAP) family of 5.56 and 7.62 NATO cartridges.

See Also: U.S. Army Looking for M249 Light Machine Gun Replacement

As far as defeating inexpensive body armor, it doesn’t sound like the military is too concerned about rolling out a new cartridge and making changes to all the weapon systems that use 5.56 NATO.

That said, recently multiple branches of the military have looked at cartridges chambered in the 6-6.5mm range for specific purposes and possible wide-range fielding. And the Army just fielded a notice for an M249 replacement that opened the door for a new mid-range cartridge option.

On the one hand, a mid-size 6mm cartridge could be fielded as a do-all round. But it would be necessarily heavier than 5.56 and require a lot of painful changes in logistics.

It sounds like the military is still developing improved 5.56 NATO projectiles, which means the cartridge is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

With a few trivial changes to the M4, such as a longer, better-profiled barrel and free-floating handguard, the military could easily and inexpensively push 5.56 NATO out further and make soldiers more effective. With modern hardware and the right training, high sectional density 5.56 has a much longer reach and improved armor-piercing properties.

{ 131 comments… add one }
  • John June 13, 2017, 11:03 am

    Any thoughts on the 6.8x45mm Kramer UCC?
    Same combat load is claimed

  • Grendelwarrior June 12, 2017, 9:56 pm

    If the military does choose to replace the under performing, pitifully short range 5.56, and decides to put politics aside and give our troops a superior ballistic alternative, it has to be the 6.5mm
    Grendel. Just for starters, the ability to engage the enemy moves from a maximum affective range of 400m with the 5.56 out to 1200yds.with the 6.5 Grendel, and
    due to shape and design of the round, there is much less wind deflection. Read up on this round, very interesting videos and reviews on youtube. There is no comparison between the two calibers, and the potential of each.
    In the political climate of perpetual war, the least we can do to support our military fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters, is put a fundamentally superior weapon in their hands.

  • Jim Chandler June 12, 2017, 1:41 pm

    A response to the “Logistical” Comments since my earlier entries (June 9-1139 and later in the MG Discussion) regarding the M-1/BAR/Browning .30 MG. My instructors were WWII and Korea Veterans. We won WWII with those Weapons (in the field). In Europe the US Army fought in Hedgerows and in the Mountains. In Africa the Desert. In the Pacific the Marines and Army used those weapons from point blank to 1000+ yards.

    The “Unit Of Fire”, the amount of ammunition a rifleman was expected to use in a day was carried in a Bandolier. The 5 pocket Bandolier carried 40 rounds. The 6 pocket carried 48 rounds. The rifleman was trained to hit the enemy with those rounds not “Suppress” him. I have a copy of the Army Marksmanship Training Manual of that period. It’s Title “Hits Count”.
    The BAR Man carried 2 Magazine Belts. His Assistant at least that many, usually more. If my memory serves me correctly, (it has been 57 years since I last loaded one) the Magazine Belt had 6 pockets and each pocket held 2 Magazines. The Magazine held 20 rounds.
    “Conscript” soldiers in WWII, from all nations fired their weapons about 30% of the time in combat. That is why the AK-47/M-16 and the like were developed. Read the professional journals in the post war period. “If the weapons don’t kick and make loud noises, maybe more soldiers will shoot them”.) Marines, and elite Army Units were not “Conscripts”, and the argument can be made that they won the War.
    In Korea, the Chinese Army was armed with the predecessor of the AK-47. An “Army Group” in excess of 100,000 men attacked the 1st Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir. The Marine Division was <20,000 men. When the snow settled, 2 Divisions of that "Army Group", were dropped from the Chinese rolls.
    A well trained Soldier/Marine, armed with an updated M-1 and trained in the tactics for the implementation of that weapon would have an unfair advantage over today's Soldier/Marine.

  • VieteranGunsmith June 11, 2017, 2:03 am

    The problem is not the weapon or the ammo, it is a tactics issue. Killing the enemy at moderate to long range is better done with the LMG or some other crew served weapon, and relying on the individual rifleman to be accurate out past 300 meters is a pipe dream that the generals and military procurement network have been drooling over for years. The fact is if you are taking fire at distances out past 300 meters there are better ways of handling the hostiles. We have a wealth of options in the modern integrated combined arms warfighting capabilities of our military, and there is no reason to rely on infantry to be able to kill at long ranges (for every soldier, like the mythical soldier with eyes like an eagle and who is able to hit minute of angle at 1,000 meters), in reality, under combat conditions few are able marksmen past 275 meters and that is a known fact. If your adversary is at long range, use an airstrike or an artillery fire mission to take them out. There is no excuse with today’s technology to expect your rarest treasure – the blood of infantry – to overcome hardened or distant range targets when we have the airpower, armor and artillery to do the job. The fact our tacticians will send infantry in without support is more of a problem that the infantry rifle and ammunition. I once saw an exhibit at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology museum at Walter Reed Army Hospital in 1973. It was a photographic presentation of the combat hospital’s surgery on an enemy soldier who had been shot in the hand by one of our soldiers using an M16 in 5.56 NATO caliber; the bullet entered the palm of the hand and tumbled along the bones of the forearm, upper arm, shoulder blades and exited on the left side of his back. The surgeon had to open the bullet track to fix all the vascular damage and this process was on display in a series of life sizes slides in the exhibit. I was impressed with the amount of damage done, and that they were able to save this man’s life. The man was never going to live had they not treated him at a MASH in the forward area, but unlike our enemies our military treats enemy wounded. This kind of trauma is considerable and flies in the face of General Scales’ representation of the round as a varmint caliber. It was reported that this man was hit at a range of 300 meters. Had we not hat the kind of medical corps we do, the wound he received would have been fatal without a doubt. The massive amount of trauma and blood loss from his wound would most certainly have killed him unless he got our medical care.

    This is why I have said that there is no problem with the M16 family, and expecting rifles to punch through walls or hit man sized targets at ranges approaching 800 meters and beyond is fantasy land. No one who has been in battle really believes that there is a magic one size fits all caliber that is a virtual death ray on the battlefield. It is the combined force’s method of delivering firepower on enemy targets that is the highest evolution of our military’s strength. If you equip the infantry squad properly there is a mix of weaponry and skills for them to put to bear against the enemy. These are the most commonly available weapons to our infantry; the individual rifle/carbine, the pistol. hand grenades, light machine guns (M249) and medium machine guns (M60 and others), The Mark 12 automatic grenade launcher, and mortars. This is an incredible level of lethality to deploy. Then you get into the M2 .50 BMG, chain guns, TOW missiles, man portable missiles like the AT4, and this is a force multiplier which may be underutilized. The prime consideration of an infantry weapons system is weight and firepower, and it makes no sense to burden your troops with a heavy, outdated primary weapon like the M14. The caliber is not capable of accurate auto fire in a rifle platform which is one reason the M14 was discontinued. The M14 was a vastly improved Garand type design, but it was impossible to use on automatic because of the recoil of the 7.62mm NATO round.

    The real solution is not changing the weapon and ammunition, it is effectively deploying firepower to cover all situations. Apparently the actual tactical experience in combat continues to take a back seat to the overwhelming urge to spend money on a new infantryman’s weapon. For decades I have seen and heard the complaints, and usually they are made by generals whose personal combat experience isn’t grounded in recent time or tactics. Having a one size fits approach to the modern battlefield is never going to work regardless of the caliber or the weapon platform.

    In my opinion the critics of the round and the rifle are mostly ignorant of just how damaging this caliber is at moderate to long range.

    • James M June 11, 2017, 7:10 pm

      I agree on most of your statements. But one thing that is far from reality. Air strikes, surgical strikes, gunships, missiles, drones, etc. These are not always cost effective. When boots hit the ground they are given a set of commands to accomplish. Rarely having backup standing by. And weaponry that is insufficient or unable to get the job done puts lives at risk. Never heard anyone complain about a weapon that was too good.

    • Grendelwarrior June 13, 2017, 12:24 pm

      I take it you didn’t bother to check out the youtube videos of John Q. Public hitting targets as far out as 1,000 yards with the Grendel and a nominal scope.
      There is nothing fantasy about the 6.5 Grendel round shooting through 2 car doors with the windows rolled down inside them, and delivering a kill shot at 100+ meters. The only fantasy is believing the 5.56 could do the same thing.
      Again, I feel sure money, and politics will keep the status quo firmly in place by those who have never, and will never face the enemy.

  • Larry June 10, 2017, 7:59 pm

    You believe all the flack about the NATO 5.56 can be solved with more and/or better training. Could that exact same opinion be used for ANY battlefield weapon?
    Case in point….Over 50,000 of our brother’s in arms will never see another sunrise because “The Powers That Be” decided to implement an “Experimental” battle rifle in Vietnam rather than a proven and trusted weapon, the M14 simply because a soldier could carry an extra 50 rounds. I turned down the offer of an M16 and kept my M14 and “Never Once” ran short on ammunition.

  • Altoids June 10, 2017, 7:41 am

    Certainly no expert on the subject, but…

    On the M4, since it’s primarily an urban warfare piece that doesn’t require a great amount of accuracy, just replace the barrels with a longer twist so that the projectile tumbles on impact. That would increase effectiveness.

    They had that “problem” initially with the M-16. For a close range weapon it sounds like they got it right the first time. It’s a battle carbine, not something you’re trying to win a target match with.

  • Roger Selover June 9, 2017, 11:47 pm

    Big costly effort to replace any entrenched military ammunition system, Of benefit to civilians would be surplus 5.56. Obama or Hilary would dump it in the sea.

  • D.E. Williams June 9, 2017, 9:08 pm

    The 6×45 is the way to go. A simple barrel change and the problem is solved!

  • Mike Mullen June 9, 2017, 7:39 pm


    Listening to the tacticool experts here, I am learning SO much !

    Here’s my .02c…… In trained hands, the AR/M-16 platform has no equal in a gunfight. Add the newer piston-driven models, and the reliability questions/doubts is immediately resolved. As far as operating controls, no other battle rifle handles better or loads faster while keeping the weapon on target than Stoners design. Don’t believe me?
    Go check out a USPSA 3-gun match sometime. In the hands of a USPSA Master, Specops soldier, or otherwise it is absolutely lethal in any caliber. Still don’t believe me?
    Ask some of the LEOs who have faced someone armed with one. Or ask some of our enemies that survived. For such a seemingly pathetic round, it sure draws a lot of attention and sure does kill a lot of people.

    My solution? Better training. then more training. Sure, you can resolve many of the above issues with redesigned bullets but at the end of the day it boils down to the shooter behind the trigger. In WWI and WWII, we were a nation of riflemen; few on the planet could equal the marksmanship of our rank and file. Now?

    Most of our best “men” spend their days qualifying on Rainbow Six Siege, or Black Hawk Down. So quit trying to solve the caliber debate, and master what you have. All the tacticool toys in the world won’t trump a thousand hours of hard, solid training and being able to hit what you are aiming at faster and more accurately than your enemies……..

    • vz.58fan June 10, 2017, 7:46 am

      a piston driven design is not needed for the M-4/M-16 since they’re very reliable as is

      • Charles Cox June 15, 2017, 6:53 am

        Obviously the person that wrote about not going to a piston design never had to clean one without it. I am no fan of the M4 or the M16 or especially the 5.56 cartridge. A lot of my friends came back from the sandbox and said that they wished that they had had a heavier round and a Navy Corpsman that helped patch people up shot with the 5.56, that likes it.
        Before we buy another gun or round we need to see how many general’s will make money off of it, like the Beretta pistol.
        The 5.56 was developed as a brush gun for Vietnam and we needed a longer range round in the sandbox.
        Ask our Special Forces Operators. Most of them want to go back to the 45 cal round and a different rifle and a heavier round.
        USMC Retired

  • loupgarous June 9, 2017, 7:10 pm

    With you on everything but the “longer, more profiled barrel”. That’s good for troops who only expect to engage away from urban areas. Otherwise, that longer, more profiled barrel will slow a troop down just when the troop needs to swivel and fire at a target of opportunity way off his original point of aim. Look at why we went with the M4 configuration in the first place.

    What we need are two personal weapons for the warfighter. They don’t have to be all the different, and can have parts in common. First would be that AR with a longer and better-designed barrel for 5.56mm. Just as important for the MOUT/UO mission is the same AR with a different upper receiver/barrel combo, firing .300 AAC Blackout. You could probably train every troop in a unit to do the swap (removing two pins in a clean area, replacing the upper/barrel assembly, replacing the pins, securing the other barrel in a protective tube or box) quickly. Then each troop would be assigned a lower, two uppers, and magazines for both. There are issues with this approach – the new upper doesn’t prevent you from chambering rounds that won’t work in it. This has led to destroyed weapons and in combat would be absolutely disastrous. But trying to swivel a long-barreled 5.56mm AR in dense urban terrain or knock an enemy down reliably with a short burst from a short-barreled 5,56 AR each have their own potentially lethal drawbacks. .300 AAC is about the only way around that not requiring separate weapons for each mission.

    • ALB June 10, 2017, 1:30 pm

      “Just as important for the MOUT/UO mission is the same AR with a different upper receiver/barrel combo, firing .300 AAC Blackout”.

      AFAIK the only change for an AR, in order to chamber the 300 BO is ONLY the barrel. All other parts say the same, including the magazines and no need to add, 5.56 cartridges can be reworked to a 300 BO size, significantly cutting costs.

      Grendel is more effective for long distances but the, we have the venerable .308 and the Lapuas

      • Grendelwarrior June 13, 2017, 12:36 pm

        Significantly less recoil than the .308, along with a better design for accuracy.

        • Charles Cox June 15, 2017, 6:58 am

          I would also like to see a foldable stock. This won’t happen with the M16 platform.

  • Hightechredneck007 June 9, 2017, 7:04 pm

    Sounds like the body armor they’ve invented is not body armor.

  • Graham June 9, 2017, 7:00 pm

    To me it’s obvious, 300BLK [7.62×35], already in use & stay with the same platform & accessories !!

    • bjg June 9, 2017, 7:47 pm

      Have one (.300 Blk.out.) and really like it Believe its better than the 5.56. The 5.56 is nothing but a short necked .222 Remington Mag.

    • Wade June 9, 2017, 11:05 pm

      Just reissue the M14, put a fiberglass stock on it and be done with it.

      • vz.58fan June 10, 2017, 7:47 am

        and have an unreliable, heavy rifle that doesn’t shoot well?

        • Tar Heel Realist June 12, 2017, 7:44 am

          You’re kidding…right??? It’s obvious you’ve never seen one let alone touched an M-14 or their derivatives.

    • Jake June 10, 2017, 1:11 am

      It’s obvious if you want .30 Carbine ballistics in your M-16.

  • Shadow June 9, 2017, 5:23 pm

    6.8 SPC hands down!

  • Pam Dunn June 9, 2017, 5:19 pm

    When I was in the Army (1966-1969) I had an M-14 in Korea about the time the Army went to the M16. The ONLY reason I heard for the switch was that it was a more effective weapon for the close quarters encountered in the jungles of Vietnam along with the lighter weight of the ammunition. I also heard about the STUPIDITY of no training and supplies to CLEAN the weapon (Thanks morons in the Pentagon led by the guy who designed automobiles out classed by the imports). The M-14 was lighter than the M-1,had a bigger magazine capacity (20 rounds vs 8 rounds) and was much easier to maintain. It DID still maintain the ability to reach out to long ranges accurately. The M-16 LACKED that ability and it was shown up in Iraq and Afghanistan and resulted in combat casualties and deaths.
    In regard to weight, MAYBE someone needs to look at all the crap they have our troops carrying NOW in comparison to WW2 and Korea.
    Wish I had an M-14 in my collection.

    • DaveGinOly June 9, 2017, 7:04 pm

      I was in (Army) 1974-78, and the only personal weapon ever assigned to me was the M-16. I’ve always thought the soldiers should be issued with weapons suitable to the mission and the environment. That would mean each soldier/Marine would be issued with two, maybe three, main weapon systems, and the environment and mission would dictate which weapon would be carried at any particular time. With the ability to change calibers on a single platform, this would not only be more affordable than it would have been in the past, it would also entail very little extra training, because a single platform operates the same way no matter which barrel and action are used. (Actual component swapping could be done by a company’s armorer.) I can see a logistical problem (I hesitate to rate it as high as “nightmarish”) in assuring the appropriate bullets are always on hand for a particular mission. But if it helps win battles and saves lives, wouldn’t it be worth the effort?

    • Graham June 9, 2017, 7:14 pm

      Hi, your comments are accurate, just like to add a small unknown point. The designer of the M16 stipulated ammunition must be clean burning because of gas impingement directly on bolt ! The Military ignored this advice & acquired regular 5.56 ammo based on cost, being much cheaper & dirty ! The designer was blamed & the poor soldier had to strip & clean the firearm often !

  • bison1913 June 9, 2017, 4:55 pm

    I’m thinking … something along the lines of a Fazer. Put it on stun, vaporize, or anything in-between.
    The truth of the matter… there is big bucks in the 5.56… they would rather our troops die than change anything.

    • DaveH June 10, 2017, 6:05 pm

      Bison1913, politely, you are wrong. I work in the aquisition corps for the and we test everything coming into the military inventory. You might argue that due to cost it is undoeable but i can assure you that we definitely care and so does the military leadership. Just look at all the armor we have bought and provided to our soldiers since the first gulf war. Up armored Humves, mraps, the Bradley and Abrams. So it isn’t an issue of caring.

      • talsman June 16, 2017, 2:06 pm

        I know that they care but it always seems like it is a day late and a dollar short.

  • Ralph June 9, 2017, 4:17 pm

    Why won’t the military use 30:06 in a magazine fed weapon like the M-14 I carried one (M-14) for yrs even in Vietnam until they made us take the M16s The marines used the M14 for their sniper rifle the weight difference between the 7.62 NATO and the -06 is very little My sniper rifle was a 30-06 bolt action and it killed at 1000 yes My next question is how far away do you want someone to be when you kill them?

    • Grendelwarrior June 13, 2017, 12:43 pm

      Farther than they can reach me with what their shooting.

  • Sgt. Pop June 9, 2017, 3:39 pm

    before too many of you come to conclusions concerning the virtues of the 7.62 (or your favorite) over the 5.56, you might like to read a report by the NATO Army Armaments Group, NATO Weapons & Sensors Working, Group, by Per G. Arvidsson, concerning penetration, range etc… of the 7.62 NATO round vs. the 5.56, quite interesting. PS, for those of you who want a weapon to shoot through sandbags, couple feet of linked rds. from a 60, or a few from a M2, may do. I never (21 years) was in, or constructed a defensive position that wasn’t at least 3 sandbags wide, usually 3-5, lapped. If you think your going to come up with a primary combat rifle to go through 3 or more sandbags at any realistic distance, lets see if you’ll carry it!

  • bulldurham48 June 9, 2017, 3:31 pm

    It seems that the military [industrial complex] will do anything to keep the 5.56 around. Spend millions developing new bullets, more developing and fielding changes to the current inferior rifle. Why not just get a new rifle and support system in the 6-6.5 mm range that will do the job for the foresee able future? Makes better sense but would upset the manufactures who are behind the fight to keep the cheap and easy to make and sell on the civilian market 5.56, which regardless of everything said and claimed has help kill more Americans than any other round in history. The 5,56 in anybodys book is a souped up varmit round that wont even kill all varmits

    • jim June 9, 2017, 4:17 pm

      change your name from bulldurham to bullshit. i have a strong feeling you are saying nothing from personal combat experience. It sounds like all you are doing is parroting what others are saying. Yes, the 5.56 is small, and does not kill cleanly, and sometimes not at all. But, there are many factors involved in ammunition/rifle selection, and killing efficiency is not the only, or even sometimes the most important. It it were, everyone would be carrying a .50 cal variant.

      For the General to state that the 5.56 has cost thousands of soldier’s lives is telling a mis-truth. Fact is, the .30-06 and .308 have their own issues, and conceivably cost thousands of soldier’s lives (the m-14 is a great rifle, but most soldiers were incapable of hitting the enemy in the chest beyond 50 yards). To the point…a larger bullet requires a larger and heavier rifle, and a larger, or lower capacity magazine. While it may only make a few pound difference, I will give you one anecdote to think about. As an infantryman in VN, I carried the M-16, 20 mags/400 rounds, 100 rounds of M60 ammo, 4 frags, two claymores/wires/clackers, two full canteens, a tin pot, and a pack that weighed 1/2 of what I did. EVERY LAST ITEM WAS ESSENTIAL. What would you tell me to leave behind so that I could carry 5 additional pounds for a new rifle & less ammo?

      More soldiers in combat die as a result of carelessness, poor training, or poor leadership than will ever die due to a bullet that is lighter than desired. But, those causes of deaths require that someone take PERSONAL blame, so they don’t get much focus, while a small bullet is an easy target for criticism. The reason our regular ground troops are so far better than those of any other nation is because they are better trained, better conditioned, and better equipped. If it is decided that a new cartridge/rifle platform is needed, that is fine with me. But, it is the height of arrogance and dishonesty to say a bullet is the cause for “thousands who died needlessly”.

      Flame on folks…I am neither defending nor villifying the 5.56.

      • Chris June 9, 2017, 8:32 pm

        Amen dude , and the reason for the smaller round is because ,for 1 you can carry more , it’s lighter , the rifle is lighter , and if it’s not a kill shot the wounded can be saved by medical personel, without as much damage to the body, I mean I love a 1911 .45 but the clip capacity on most is 7 or 8 rounds unless it’s a double stack, but at a long range it drops and looses energy , so a 9mm 1911 has a higher capacity clip , better accuracy at a longer distance and the bullet travels at a higher velocity so the penitration for a regular distance is more than with the 45. The 1911 platform is reliable and trusted among many . But I do agree with dumb decisions, and carelessness, and we’ll prepared enemies on their own land leads to more deaths than the size of a bullet, no war is without casualties

  • John June 9, 2017, 2:30 pm

    I wonder if the military has ever looked at the 243 Winchester round as a replacement.

  • Bobo June 9, 2017, 1:55 pm

    Carried the M14 in Vietnam. Between all the c_ap I carried, ammo, the 100 degree temperature and humidity, humping the whole day it was no fun lugging that rifle around. Yes, it was accurate but most of the time the ranges weren’t that long. If they can improve the 5.56 cartridge that’s probably the best solution.

  • Methadras June 9, 2017, 1:21 pm

    I’d like to see 6.5G for small platform and 6.5C for larger platforms be adopted. Just my 2 cents.

  • Zupglick June 9, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Ya know? We are the most technically advanced country in the world. Why are we thinking just of old solutions? With modern chemistry to provide propellants and tech to provide bullet/platform solutions we should be able to come up with a practical military weapon system. Why not dream up something new?
    Just asking.

  • GaryGary June 9, 2017, 12:09 pm

    The Mouse Round needs to be replaced with a real one shot killer round. Quoting a retired USMC major who said to me 3 years ago when I asked him about the M4/M16: ” That fucking mistake ” !

    Personal I like my latest build, AR15 7.62×39, a stone killer out to 200M.

    • James Smith June 11, 2017, 5:08 pm

      Yeah Gary , I have an STI built 7.62×39 AR . Hits *8 inch round steel every time out to 200 , can hit the same round steel at 340 yards using my scope hash marks – 3 out of 4 times. And it shares ammo with my Galil . I am selling my .308 AR-10 , way more recoil , slow follow up shots & out to 300- I am no more accurate than my STI AR . I don’t plan to shoot farther than that .

  • JoshO June 9, 2017, 11:44 am

    Some decent suggestions below: 7.62×51, 6.8spc, 300BLK. But none of those calibers is without limitations that can be overcome with a new mid sized caliber.
    7.62×51 requires a larger, heavier platform and fewer rounds can be carried. Also heavier recoil and slower F/U shots on target.
    6.8SPC has a relatively short ogive which negatively effects ballistic coefficient and limits its range
    300BLK likewise has limited range.
    Part of what drives the need for a new caliber that maintains lethality at longer ranges is the increasing prevalence of rifles on the battlefield chambered in 7.62×54, giving the enemy overmatch at ranges over 800m. But long range capability can’t be at the expense of platform and ammunition weight.

    We put a guy on the moon with less tech than is in your phone, we can do this, people.

    • JOHN T. FOX June 9, 2017, 12:20 pm


      • Jake June 9, 2017, 2:34 pm

        The original M-16 had a 1/12 twist 20″ barrel firing 55 grain fmj boat tail rounds called M193 Ball. The slow twist caused bullets to upset when they struck the target out to 200 yards where the round would have a catastrophic failure at the cannelure, breaking in two with both parts whizzing through the victim. Out to 200 yards the M193 caused explosive wounds and was exceptionally deadly. At greater ranges the bullet would upset and tumble through the target, again creating extensive wound channels.
        The new M855 is fired from a stupid 14.5″ 1/7 twist barrel. This 62 grain round moves slower and is over stabilized resulting in very clean .224″ holes with far less damage to the enemy.
        Go back to a 20″ barrel with a 1/12 twist firing M193 Ball and most issues disappear immediately. Do like the Canadians and issue the 20″ upper with a CAR buttstock. The Magpul UBR is a great choice for that.

        • Dan Gannon June 11, 2017, 1:55 pm

          Caps lock. It appears as if you are yelling when everything is in caps. On the other hand, some of us are trained to use caps lock, like engineers and it is difficult not to use them.

          When I fired two shots at a mussel flash in Viet Nam, there were no more flashes coming from that location. The M-16 served me well.

      • Steve Warren June 9, 2017, 2:53 pm

        Mmmm… OK. Man! Where to begin.
        I’ll just say that ask any combat vet if they would rather have their M4 or anything else firing 7.62×39, and to a man, they’ll take the M4. The only reason you don’t see Jihadis with M4s is that they can’t get ammo.
        Check your caps lock.

      • Archangel June 9, 2017, 4:39 pm

        I have a chart that breaks down how many rounds equal a pound for each common caliber.
        Interesting tidbits: AK-47 ammo weighs about 1 pound for every 27 rounds, 5.56 ammo weighs about 1 pound for every 37 rounds .22 rimfire ammo is 133 rounds per lb.
        So basically you could carry
        275 rounds of AK-47 ammo which is around 10 lbs,
        372 rounds of AR-15 ammo which is around 10 lbs,
        1,333 rounds of .22 rimfire which is around 10 lbs,
        lol maybe the .22 rimfire survival gun enthusiasts are on to something.
        A .22 rimfire might not drop someone where they stand, but without medical attention could turn deadly.

        (milsurp) Green SS109 63gr
        Rounds per pound: 37.21

        Wolf Steel Case 122gr FMJ
        Rounds per pound: 27.59

      • ProgHunter June 9, 2017, 8:13 pm

        Sorry John, no idea where you got your info, but it is seriously wrong. The effective range of the AK-47 was 200 yards, with 400 being the upper limit for better shooters. The Ak-47 is a 3-4 MOA capable rifle – terrible accuracy past 200 yards. When an AR15 is configured to shoot the AK round, accuracy improves, but the 7.62×39 and 5.56 have the SAME max effective range (450 yards). The 7.62×51 has an 800 yard max effective range. I agree, the heavier AK round is better for under 200 yard “street actions”, but the M4 has better accuracy.

        The AK round has significant recoil (AK47, AR15) compare to any .22LR rifle like the Ruger 10/22. About the same as a 30-30 in a lever rifle. AK47s are more reliable due to their sloppy tolerances, as compared to AR15s.

        An M4 configured for 7.62×39 would not have any reliability benefits over the 5.56eveloped a low opinion of the 5.56 in Vietnam (DMZ, 1969). I much preferred the M-79 I “acquired” or the real guns on my M48A3 tank (7.62, .50, 90mm using canister – a real party pleaser that was never deflected by bushes as was the 5.56). We sometimes used AK47s that we picked up (we had many ammo shortages) – but the distinct sound of the AK47 made too many nearby friendlies very nervous about your direction.

    • jim June 9, 2017, 2:23 pm

      the 6.5 Grendel will do everything performs great at long range works great in a sbr platform with a barrel,bolt change and new mags the rest of the m4 can be used.

    • Glenn Gerry June 9, 2017, 10:22 pm

      I’ve never served so can’t rightfully comment on combat effectiveness of the 5.56. But consider that by not actually killing an enemy combatant, it ties up more manpower to recover and care for a wounded combatant. Attempts to recover a wounded man also opens up more opportunity to take out more combatants!

  • Jim Chandler June 9, 2017, 11:39 am

    I was a Marine Infantry Officer 0302, with a secondary MOS of 0430 (Embarkation Officer) from 1957-1968. I served in both the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions. Rifle Platoon Leader, Weapons Platoon Leader, Rifle Company XO, H&S Company XO, Battalion S-4, Supply Officer. 57-59 we were equipped with the M-1&BAR. They were old and wearing out. Typically a Rifle Company would have >95% qualification annually. I was transferred to Parris Island in January 1960. The M-14 was being phased in and was issued to new recruits. Despite the “Official Party Line” the NATO round proved to be slightly less powerful than the 30-06. The bi-podded M-14 proved to be an unsatisfactory replacement for the BAR. In 1963 I was asked to join a Detachment of the MC Rifle Team I shot my way to a slot on the 1000 yd Service Rifle Match. I did not go to Camp Perry. The team received a half dozen M-16’s for evaluation. As a “Tyro” I was not asked to evaluate the weapon. The report sent to HQMC was all negative. A long time Team Shooter E-8 summed it up, and I paraphrase, I’m glad I’ll be retired before I have to go to war with this “Mouse Gun”. Shortly thereafter an order came down from HQMC that no one was to give interviews regarding the M-16, and all requests were to be forwarded to HQMC. The 30-06 is a great military cartridge and I have seen Female Shooters handle it. Jim Chandler

    • George Carnahan June 9, 2017, 12:28 pm

      I missed runner-up by one point in the Iowa service rifle state championship with a DCM rifle that I tweaked according to the advice of friends who were long time shooters. When I went to Camp Perry I scored for a shooter who had what I learned was a “Space Gun” a highly modified Ar-15 based rifle. He couldn’t even hit the target at 600 yards, and the wind that day wasn’t all that bad. After I got out of the service I read in Time magazine that soldiers we writing home to their parents who then went to Sears or Monkey Wards to get them cleaning kits for their M.16 rifles. I guess I’m glad I didn’t have to use it in service. The bolt carrier group seems overly complicated and the sight radius too short.

  • Mark June 9, 2017, 11:18 am

    Maybe if the army would stop shortening the barrel length of their service rifles and adopt a bullpup then they can get the penetration and fragmentation these rounds were intended to achieve.

  • Robert Craig Hudson June 9, 2017, 11:16 am

    7.62×51 is not realistic for a battle cartridge. Why? Weight, weight, weight!!! For those that served and had to dawn the gear knows they are already at weight limit. Don’t believe me? You dawn that gear and go cross country for 3 days. Not every mission is 10 feet from a vehicle. This is 2017. Powder and bullet is a strong answer. What is in question is diameter and penetration. (That’s what she said) That can be altered by powder and bullet weight and material. Soldiers have X amount of weight capacity. Suppressive fire is part of the job. More ammo capacity is a must.

  • Bob Long June 9, 2017, 11:05 am

    Bring back the 30.06 but in a M4 configuration. Black tipped ammo. Stop this pussy footing around that kills are BRAVE American youth who have the guts to sign up with the best military fighting forces on the face of the Earth. They should have the best weapon systems on the planet.

    • Mark N. June 9, 2017, 4:56 pm

      The .308 was developed because the .30-06 (7.62×63) is too long for reliable operation in fully automatic mode. Plus it is heavy. The Garand had its day, and that day is passed.

  • zenmonger June 9, 2017, 10:58 am

    My unexpert two cents: I don’t understand why each person in a squad isn’t tested/trained for ability with 7.62×51, and if the AR-10/M14 is too much gun for a smaller soldier then they can carry the 5.56. Why couldn’t at least two or three soldiers in each squad carry the 7.62 for the heavy lifting/long ranging/barrier busting work, with those armed with 5.56 providing cover fire as well as, hopefully, their own contributions to enemy body counts?

  • Patrick June 9, 2017, 10:41 am

    In my opinion the 7.62 NATO has proven itself over many years of service both has a knock down and a long distance round.
    The ability to grab a mag from a dead enemy and reload your mags would be highly beneficial. We don’t need something new and exotic. We need to think about in the heat of battle, keeping our men stocked. This was an issue during WWI, WWII, Korea, and partially in Vietnam. The enemy all were using incompatible rounds.
    The logic from a logistics point of view is most of our enemy also use the 7.62 making it easier to restock in the middle of a fire fight where you most likely will not have access to supplies.

    • JoshO June 9, 2017, 11:47 am

      You are aware that 7.62 NATO is different than 7.62×39 and they are not compatible in the same weapon, right? The enemy does not have any 7.62 NATO for you to pick up.

    • Caleb June 9, 2017, 12:27 pm

      7.62 NATO is 7.62x51mm. The stereotypical enemy rifle is chambered in 7.62x39mm. No ability to chamber their rounds. It was super-common, though, to pick up enemies’ AKs and carry them around, too, back in ’05 anyway.

  • Jabroni June 9, 2017, 10:27 am

    My 6.8 throwing 120gr SST’s is one bad mother. Too bad Remington botched the chamber specs when Uncle Sam was looking into this round originally.

    Yes, the Grendel is Margionally better at about 500yds which is beyond the capability of most, especially with the AR platform. I’ll also add that I consider there to be a great deal of drop at the point where the Grendel out performs the 6.8. I believe the 6.8 to be superior within 300yds anyway. Anything longer than that and I’d step up to the 7.62.

    Just my opinion. If was free so take it for what it’s worth.

    • Joe June 9, 2017, 4:58 pm

      I am pleased with my M4 shooting 6.8 SPC. The Mags are the same size as my 5.56 and fit all current issue gear with no modification required. The match is so close, I have marked all my 6.8SPC Mags with grease pencil to insure no mix up. Good accuracy in a heavier round.

  • Bill Scott June 9, 2017, 10:11 am

    I believe the 6.8 spc would be worth taking a good look at. It’s .277 cal. bullet at 117 gr is twice the weight of the .223 with corresponding energy. I don’t know how extensive, but the DOD is already involved with the 6.8. It would also mean a considerable monetary savings. The current M4 would only need a new barrel and magazine. The remainder of the weapon is the same. Remove the 3 shot burst feature and make it select fire would fulfill the need for a magazine fed LMG. That would make your enemy face MANY LMGs. My idea is simple, quick, and inexpensive. Bureaus can’t handle things like “simple fix”. We’ve been through this with the sidearms too. The 1873 Colt in 45 Colt was perfect, but someone thinks we don’t need all of that power, so we go to the .38 Spec. TOTAL fail. Back to the .45, in ACP. Perfect. Then in the 1980’s “we don’t need the .45”, so the 9m/m becomes the buzz word. Another toy pop gun. 1/2 the bullet weight of the .45. In the German Army, the Luger was more a part of the officers uniform than a sidearm. It added the appearance of authority with a really neat holster. I met a WWll vet many years ago who survived 6 hits to his upper body from an MP40. I can guarantee he would NOT have survived 6 hits from a Thompson. I also noticed that the USMC recently placed an order for 20,000 Colt 1911s, in .45 ACP

    • Michael June 9, 2017, 10:29 am

      Excellent points saved me the time and trouble to type it all out.

    • Hawk June 9, 2017, 12:09 pm

      Bill, With the 6.8mm SPC, only the follower needs replacing; not the entire magazine. That also means that ammo pouches don’t need to be changed. The bolt face might need tweeking also.

    • Rane June 9, 2017, 12:14 pm

      I agree with the 6.8 being a more suitable replacement. I own 2 AR’s chambered in this caliber for hunting purposes. I also have been reloading this cartridge for nearly 10 years. All I can say is “WOW!”. Yes, there are better calibers for the AR platform for long range and close range work, but none of them are as well rounded as the 6.8 especially if you consider the it’s short barrel performance. That’s the 6.5 Grendel’s only real downfall is the fact it needs a 20″ barrel to really reach its peak efficiency(very similar to the 5.56). But, the logistics of changing all of the bolts, barrels, and magizines would be a nightmare. Worth it to me, but I doubt this will happen unless SHTF. As for the 300 BLK, I don’t believe it’s a viable option as a replacement to 5.56. Don’t get me wrong, I love this caliber. I have a SBR and a custom bolt action savage in this caliber and love shooting them both. Both my weapons are designed to primarily shoot subsonic ammo through a silencer. It’s supersonic performance isn’t bad, but I doubt they will be going through all of the trouble to replace a caliber with one that’s out powered by 7.62 x 39, even if it’s just by a hair. The 6.8 has more energy, better trajectory, and better overall terminal ballistics when compared to the 300 BLK and the 7.62 x 39. Logistics would be much easier with the 300 BLK though. With only a barrel swap needed to complete the transformation. I agree with the bullpup comment as well. The MDR from desert tech is looking fantastic. Pair that with a 16″ 6.8 barrel and you have a very short and very capable weapon. If they did decide to scrap the Stoner rifles that would free up a lot of the logistics issues of retro fitting all of the existing weapons. I just got back from my last deployment about a month ago and while over there we carried M4’s. the 14″ barrels doesn’t do that caliber any favors. It is nice and compact compared to the A2’s but it’s not worth the loss in performance in my opinion. But a 14″ 6.8 spc barrel wouldn’t have as much of a loss in power when compared to a 20″ barrel. Both of my 6.8’s are fitted with 16″ barrels and I can shoot 95 grain bullets at 2850 fps. My friend shoots the same round through his 18″ 6.8 barrel at 2860 fps. His twist rate is a little tighter than mine too though. But, the point I’m making is this caliber doesn’t need a long barrel to reach it targeted performance. Anything past 16″ and the gains are insignificant. Even out of a 12″ barrel the round performs better than other AR chamberings in terms of overall performance. The heavy hitters obviously win in terms of close range energy (50 Beowulf, .458 SOCOM) but lack medium to long range performance(mostly due to trajectory) and suffer from low capacity and harsh recoil. Still want one of each though😊. I doubt I’ll see the caliber change before my retirement from the DOD, but when they do I only hope they make the right decision.

  • Bernard Corbin June 9, 2017, 9:48 am

    300 Blackout Whisper

    • Michael June 9, 2017, 10:30 am

      Good power up close not enough range.

    • Keith August 31, 2017, 1:31 am

      .300 Blackout using supersonic 125 grain bullets from a sixteen inch barrel is effective to about 300 yards. The 6.8 x 43 or 6.5 x 39 Grendel rounds are effective to beyond 425 yards from a sixteen inch barrel from what I have read. .300 Blackout is a great alternative to 5.56 x 45 for civilian American shooters.

  • DrJon June 9, 2017, 9:29 am

    The 7.62×51 has already been in production since the late 1950s, is a terrific round shared by the M60, supply lines already exist and production could easily be ramped up.

    The argument for carrying more rounds is specious, as aimed fire is the lost art of American combat with a dependence upon automatic fire in 3 round bursts or full auto to keep heads down, which is why since WWII the number of rounds to kill an enemy soldier is now over 25,000 rounds/ kill.

    The military could easily go to the AR10 family with gas piston, or, in my opinion, the far more robust and dependable M14, which has continued to be produced in proper forged receiver form up until the present moment.

    If inclusion is politically necessary then women and “small” men could be still allowed to carry the M16 family with its 5.56 caliber round, as there would never be a shortage of that round already in production and in supply lines.

    The argument for a 6.5 round, as a compromise is quite simply a devil’s bargain that will satisfy no one and will cause disruption in supply lines and never be capable of long distance accurate sniping, which is already possible with the 7.62×51. Certainly any soldier should be capable, considering they are generally inserted and not walking/marching a couple of hundred miles, of carrying a battle pack of 200 rounds, as well as, 10 20-25 round full magazines of 7.62×51.

    I suggest that the AR/M16 family be held in reserve and also continued to be issued for 2nd line troops incapable of handling the recoil of a full powered rifle, or issued, to large city police forces, who will have to deal with continued domestic terror threats.

    • Mark S. Tercsak June 9, 2017, 10:11 am

      You sir are spot on.
      It was the Demo-Rats who forced a caliber change under defense secretary McNamara back in the 60’s, to be blunt even Eugene Stoner was shocked, when it was announced that his AR-15 military model had been selected,. Bring back the M14 and various models thereof.

      • Tom June 9, 2017, 2:03 pm

        I always liked the power of the M14 and M60.

      • Mark N. June 9, 2017, 5:03 pm

        If Stoner was “shocked,” it was only because he’d had such limited success selling the rifle to the government, getting only the USAF to buy a few. Colt succeeded where he failed because it had better “connections” with the purchasing authority.

    • Michael June 9, 2017, 10:42 am

      You really should enhance your knowledge base before just blathering on. Little tidbits like the armalite being designed for the 308 thus offering a no training change, not to mention lighter weapon.

    • Steve June 9, 2017, 1:15 pm

      Remember in the politically correct military, we are not suppose to see “women” or “small” men, and everyone is supposed to be “equal” except when it comes to the physical fitness test. At that point, they fall all over themselves citing the sexes are different physiologically. So we need to either develop a new round, hold what we have or go back to the .30-06 as some have stated, but remember the military is a politicized machine and sometimes what is needed is not receiced because Pentagon pencil pushers know better than what the Soldiers on the ground are experiencing.
      Case in point, take out the Full Auto function on the M-16 because Soldiers were “wasting ammo” and can’t be taught to fire in bursts (BULL$HIT – I was taught that in Basic Combat Training in ’81 by Vietnam vets that taught us useful things to survive in combat) so the smart people decided that they will FORCE the Soldier to conserve ammo and use better aimed fire by installing a burst feature. Apparently, the pencil pushers and bean counters don’t know that when you need suppressive fire you need all the lead you can muster. We need to get the yes men out of the Pentagon – I was in the Army for nearly 34 years and the last few years worked in and out of the Pentagon and seen first hand how polical it can get, and like big govt, “they know” better than those on the ground and are there to “help.” OK rant off…

    • Keith June 10, 2017, 2:56 am

      At close to 13.6 pounds a soldier can carry 260 rounds of 6.5 x 39 Grendel loaded in ten twenty-six round magazines. From my reading 6.5 x 39 Grendel is effective to beyond 500 yards from a sixteen inch barrel. Standard 5.56 x 45 M-16 or M-4 lower receivers and stocks can be used with the 6.5 x 39 round. New rifle uppers would need to be purchased.
      The 6.8 x 43 Special Purpose Cartridge would also be a better choice than the 5.56 x 45 round. But from a sixteen inch barrel the 6.8 x 43 round drops more than twenty inches beyond about 325 yards in range. I do not think the 6.8 x 43 round would solve the problems of long range engagements that 5.56 x 45 also has.

  • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn June 9, 2017, 9:22 am

    \”But it would be necessarily heavier than 5.56 and require a lot of painful changes in logistics…\” I bet not as \”painful\” as this nation\’s service personnel being struck by bullets fired from firearms chambered for a larger and more suitable caliber. Since the days of the Civil War onward the government has placed fiscal cost over the cost of service-person lives… That ought not to be… With the expense of a nuclear aircraft carrier, a F35 jet fighter, a multi-generational drone aircraft, this nickel and dime mentality of the Department of Defense is costing us the lives of our sons and daughters is noting short of a murderous mentality.

    • Michael June 9, 2017, 11:03 am

      Thank you

  • Nate June 9, 2017, 9:21 am

    Old rumors abound in regard to why the USA chose the .223 almost 60 years ago; lighter so you could carry more, bullet explodes, bullet tumbles, etc. Regardless of why it was chosen, why it should stay is more important, and some studies should be done to determine those ‘whys’. For instance, now that we have female soldiers on the front lines, the issue of kick is very important. Accuracy suffers if the shooter feels too much kick, and a smaller framed soldier will feel more kick from a heavier round. Environment also plays a part, as to distances of shots and foliage disrupting the bullet path.
    Once we see ALL the data, I think we can come to a solution. Until then, I am pretty sure the .243 would be the best round.

  • Andy T Knote June 9, 2017, 9:16 am

    This is the same gun/ammo that is so powerful, so deadly its only use is as an instrument of war? That is the logic the media and politicians use for their AR-15 bans, right?
    So what is it?

  • A.J.SquaredAway June 9, 2017, 9:00 am

    Give me an M14 over an M16 any day.

    • ron June 9, 2017, 9:10 am

      What? Are you nuts?

    • Edward M Pate June 9, 2017, 10:08 am

      For pure knockdown power it is hard to beat the good old M-14 which is why so many were brought back into service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 5.56 is not a good barrier penetrator. Of course the downside is that is one heavy SOB to lug around as I can personally attest to! Perhaps an AR based platform firing 7.62×51 is the way to go.

      • Jay June 9, 2017, 10:33 am

        No such thing as “Knock down power” faux terminology and needs to quit being used. Stopping power yes but too many variables to put into place for a one shot stop on any weapon by caliber. Shot placement will always rule as King when it comes to firearms!

      • Royce C. Hayes June 9, 2017, 11:00 am

        I was trained in the early 60’s with the M14. I was 5’8″ and 130 something pounds in Basic. I had zero problems carrying or firing the M14. It weights 2 or maybe 3 pounds more than an M4. So, what is the big deal now???? Were we tougher back then????

    • DrJon June 9, 2017, 11:00 am

      Absolutely true! Anyone who thinks otherwise is just a fan of spray and pray and not aimed fire. One bullet in center of mass sure beats the hell out of 30 rounds expended that bounce off of structures.
      The twist bolt M14 is an exceptional platform that is easily modernized to accommodate every kind of optic and attachment that AR/M16 fans have become addicted to and in a better platform that is capable of fighting in EVERY environment or CONDITION.
      Sad that people have become brainwashed by the concept of carry weight of ammunition and not aimed fire. Every soldier should be able to carry 10 fully loaded 7.62×51 magazines and a sealed battle pack of 200 rounds, as few or our soldiers are required to walk to their destinations and are transported in and out and are capable of much more reliable resupply that 50 years prior.

      • MrBill June 9, 2017, 11:35 am

        Spray and pray aka suppressive fire?
        One-shot-one-kill is a sniper strategy, or at least that of the designated rifleman. Getting rid of “spray and pray” would require elimination of suppressive fire often used in bounding movements or in harrassing fire intended to coerce unwise movements on the other side.

        • DrJon June 9, 2017, 12:35 pm

          Suppression fire is fine, however, that is for an attack against a fixed position assault or for resisting an ambush. That is not what is required in shooting across a valley or having a lone numb nuts Jihadi taking shots into an American or coalition camp. If you believe that such suppression fire is beneficial, that can still be accomplished with the 7.62×51, as many of my Marine friends attest to when they came under fire by NVA and Viet Cong troops when they used the supposed hard to control M14 that quieted and ended those ambushes very quickly.
          There is a reason why the total expended rounds per kill is well over 25,000 rounds. And it is not a good one.

  • Phil Whitehead June 9, 2017, 8:38 am

    I personally, am a BIG fan of the 25-45 Sharps. Designed to be a simple barrel swap, it uses AR mags, bcg’s, and loads out with a 75-100 gr bullet. At 87 gr, it delivers over 1775 ft lbs of energy, almost half again as much as a 5.56 NATO rd.
    Ammo carried would be approx the same, and all existing training protocols would be identical.
    No perceptible recoil increase, and nearly as much close range knockdown power as a 7.62×51.
    VAST improvement over NATO 5.56…

  • Jay June 9, 2017, 8:22 am

    All the way back I believe around 1960’s the Army research teams where looking into a replacement for the 30 cal. At that time they had decided on the 6.5 but were too slow to get the information out there and the 5.56 was developed because a solder could carry about 2.5 times the ammunition, easily control the weapon under automatic fire and could be used by para troopers because of it;s lighter weight among other things. Hyper velocity was also a consideration but later the round proved to be not producing that effect. Interestingly the current stock of 5.56 rifles with today’s technology could more than likely convert our inventory of 5.56 to the 6.5 rather inexpensively barring the money hogs who want to get rich off our tax dollars! Maybe a project for all those in the military to do on base in the armory!

  • S.Streck June 9, 2017, 8:21 am

    I am a big fan of the 6mm variants. I have the 6.8 SPCII, 6.5 Grendel and 300AAC. There is no doubt that the 6.5 is better on paper, but the cost is at the length of the barrel. A 16″ barrel, I find they both were about the same on accuracy, but the Grendel didn’t really stretch its legs until I put on a 20″ barrel. The 300AAC would be a poor choice for a combat cartridge. I’m sorry. I am aware of the popularity, but it does not offer the versatility the others do. After several years of tinkering with equipment, working up loads and live fire, I prefer my 6.8 SPC as the all-round field rifle.

    • Rane June 9, 2017, 12:33 pm

      Completely agree Streck. My hands on research turned up the same results. I own several 6.8 and 300 BLK rifles and have shot a 6.5 Grendel that I put together(can’t say “built” when it comes to simple assembly) for a friend. My conclusion was the same. The 6.8 is the most versatile cartridge in the AR 15 platform as of yet. Haters gonna hate, but the facts are there.

  • Ari Medovic June 9, 2017, 8:15 am

    Can talk all they want. I am a defense contractor that supports the SOF community. Between the millions of items the US has in the 5.56 and the NATO and the State Department FMS, very, very unlikely. 7.62 is already being used and is a very heavy round.

  • Joe June 9, 2017, 8:14 am

    6.5 Grendel , 6.8 SPC or a redesigned projectile for the 5.56 are all doable with the existing upper and lower assemblies. Although a sacrifice in mag capacity To a lesser degree is to be expected, i’m sure the men in the field would find it acceptable. Now all to be done is to jump the political hurdles as if that is a minor object…

  • Infidel762x51 June 9, 2017, 7:48 am

    The AR platform had a longer barrel, originally 20″ then cut to 16″ and now cut to 10.5″, with each cut reducing performance of an already marginal woodchuck cartridge. Move to a 6mm? I wonder what the original designers of the Garand would think as it was originally designed as a 10 round .260 but the army wanted a bigger cartridge so it was scaled up to an 8 round 30-06?

    • kb31416 June 9, 2017, 9:42 am

      If I recall the story, the army, at MacArthur’s insistence, required the Garand to get redesigned from the 260 back to the 30-06 primarily because of the large amount of 30-06 ammunition in inventory that they did not want to obsolete. I don’t think that the reason was that they wanted the larger cartridge, but that they did not want to suffer the cost of obsoleting so much existing ammo inventory.

    • mulligun June 9, 2017, 11:27 am

      The Garand was first made in .276 Pedersen Cartridge but Gen. McAurthur turned it down.

  • Edward Feldsher June 9, 2017, 7:33 am

    I thought the 300 black out was to be the replacement .

    • Old Sailor June 9, 2017, 10:53 am

      The 300 Blackout is not much different than the 7.62×39 ballistics wise. We might as well give them all AKs if that’s the case. I have an SKS and recently built an AR. I was thinking about building the AR in 300 until I compared the ballistics with the 7.62×39. I decided to go 5.56 since I didn’t need an AR that performed like my SKS, or maybe even worse due to the shorter barrel. I now have the option of both calibers without incurring too much expense.

  • Dane R. Marley June 9, 2017, 7:28 am

    6.5 Creedmoor

    • Z June 9, 2017, 10:31 am

      6.5 Creedmor is a great cartridge but it’s too long to fit in the M-4 platform.

  • Kevin Rich June 9, 2017, 7:14 am

    I believe the 6.8 spc has proven that it’s quite capable.

    • Dan the A-K Man June 9, 2017, 8:03 am

      The 6.8 SPC has a much shorter Range than the 6.5mm Grendel that the U.S. Army now favors over the now lesser performing 6.8 SPC Cartridge!

      • Tyson June 9, 2017, 8:46 am

        According to Chuck Hawks website the point blank range of the 6.8 SPC is 267 yards while the 6.5 Grendel is 259, assuming a +|- 3″ trajectory. Up to around 500 to 600 yards the trajectories are almost identical. For the Grendel to have a longer effective range, a longer barrel (20″), while the 6.8 SPC can achieve its results with a shorter barrel (16″).

  • James Drouin June 9, 2017, 7:11 am

    Fact: The ‘search for a new cartridge’ has nothing to do with body armor … Russia, the only likely near-peer combat opponenet, has had said body armor as long as the US has. The US military command has never “liked” the M16/M4 and they want it gone.

    That, the issue has given a couple of Generals or three an unhealthy woody with the realization they might actually be able to score 15 minutes of fame and ‘make a change’.

    • Alan June 9, 2017, 9:07 am

      Considering that the M-16 was pushed through by the Air Force, I’m not sure how you came to believe that the “US Military” command has “never “liked” ” the M-16.
      If you made that statement of the Marines and the Army, I could see it.
      But to insinuate the M-16 was somehow not Militarily influenced in it’s adoption is false.
      The Air Force has always had massive influence over the services, along with certain congress persons, it was They who influenced the advent of the M-16 rifle series.
      Also known as the “Pentagon Pansy” by one long time self made ‘gun guru’ back in the day!

      • DrJon June 9, 2017, 11:02 am

        It WAS pushed through by the Air Force, who wanted their perimeter guard forces supplied with a very light weapon that was better than the M1 Carbine and its pistol equivalent round.

      • Mark N. June 9, 2017, 5:13 pm

        Not exactly. Stoner sold the rifle to the Air force but could find no buyers in the other services. He then sold the design to Colt. Colt pushed the rifle, and it had the contacts to do it.

    • Nate June 9, 2017, 9:13 am

      Yeah, instead change to the black beret. Oh, wait…

    • Dave Hicks June 9, 2017, 9:21 am

      The 5.56 / .223 works ask anyone with real combat . My son a US Marine Sgt.with 2 combat tours says always shoot twice. He also bought his own bullet proof vest. Nothing works without training. It’s our money that the Government is spending.

      • Keith June 12, 2017, 12:49 am

        Dave, the 5.56 x 45 is a less effective rifle round. Many rifle rounds beat it in range and stopping power. The 5.56 really loses a lot of stopping power beyond 200 meters. There are many better options out there for more effective cartridges. The 6.5 x 39 Grendel and 6.8 x 43 Special Purpose Cartridge are two such rifle rounds that are better than the 5.56. Both of those rounds are really effective to at least 300 meters and can be used with M-4 or M-16 lower receivers and stocks. But the M-4 and M-16 rifle upper parts and also magazines would need to be replaced if they changed calibers.

  • James Coles June 9, 2017, 7:02 am

    For just the cost of a new barrel the military can get an armor cracking round in the form of the (still wildcat) 6.8x39mm or .277 Wolverine.
    I shoot 95 grain Barnes bullets with muzzle velocities greater than 2700 fps. 50% more mass, AR-level velocity & extended reach equals bad news for our enemies at low upgrade cost to government.
    Nothing else in the rifle or magazine changes … American private industry and genius at work!!

    • kb31416 June 9, 2017, 9:46 am

      Amen to that! I just finished my 277 WLV rifle, and plan to try some test loads this weekend.
      Some friends and I have been deer hunting with 300 AAC for 6-7 years with great success, but the 277 WLV appears to be an even better choice. I am really looking forward to deer hunting with it this year in SW Wisconsin.

    • Z June 9, 2017, 10:35 am

      How many rounds fit into the equivalent 30 round .556 magazine? Isn’t 6.5 Grendel a .270 diameter bullet?

      • Z June 9, 2017, 10:36 am

        Nevermind, I typed too soon. 6.5 mm is .255 inches.

        • Brent June 9, 2017, 11:59 am

          The diameter for the 6.5 is .264 inches . The Army should go back to the 308 the bullet weight can be changed as needed .

          • Z June 9, 2017, 4:20 pm

            I understand, I’m writing about actual measurements and you’re writing about the actual diameter of a industry labeled cartridge. If you care, .264 inches is actually 6.7 millimeter.
            For anyone that cares to know, caliber is thousandths of an inch and therefore .264 caliber is 264 thousandths of an inch or .264 inches.

  • Rogertc1 June 9, 2017, 6:34 am

    Every year these stories go out. I doubt it will ever happen. A squad and Company had a variety of weapons and specialties. Called weapons teams. I am sure it is different since I was in during Vietnam.

  • D. Schutt June 9, 2017, 6:00 am

    We need a new round? Duh. Design it and make it happen. We’ve only been engaged in a hot war for 16 years, maybe someone should properly equip our troops? I routinely have built for me AR’s with near zero recoil that weigh less than 5 Lbs with optic. They are extremely reliable too. DOD needs to go back to the drawing board and equp our troops with better stuff. The dollar amounts and profit margins are not what they are on say fighter aircraft and hence the corrupt military bureaucracy never makes it much of a priority.

    • Mark Are June 9, 2017, 8:21 am

      Please post the ingredients to the less then 5 pound AR with optic. And please, no poly!

  • Gramps June 9, 2017, 5:49 am

    The 6.5 Grendel is the perfect solution. Because of a high BC, its performance out past 800 yards beats that of the std 308 168gr round! Think about that! A slightly larger bullet (123 gr) that fits the AR 15 platform with a few minor adjustments (bolt, mag plate, and barrel) and boom! You have a 6.5 Grendel. Of course, the military could tweak it here and there to fire a 6.5 projectile with fewer changes, call it 6.5 NATO. Whatever, it’s a great idea.

    • Rane June 9, 2017, 1:04 pm

      I don’t think the Grendel’s the best option due to the fact it needs a long barrel to reach the results in your post. I agree it’s a great long range AR platform round, perhaps the best in that respect, but our military has been cutting down our rifles barrels in order to meet our soldiers needs in the battlefield. You do that to a Grendel and it’s performance really suffers. The 6.8 spc has the advantage there. If your looking for long range performance, that’s a designated marksmen or snipers job. They usually carry a larger caliber like 7.62 x 51. Maybe the Grendel is niche caliber for those who want to shoot long range from an at 15 platform and don’t want to use an AR 10 or M14. The 6.5 creedmore would be nice in an AR 10 as a DMR or medium to long range sniper. But Grendel just doesn’t make sense to me. It fits in a smaller lighter receiver, but requires a longer/heavier barrel. It’s a little lighter than a 20″ barreled AR 10, but I’m not sure it’s weight savings is worth the power you give up making the jump to AR10 in Creedmore. Especially with the lightweight AR10 receivers that are out now.

  • J. Thompson June 9, 2017, 5:42 am

    6.5 Creedmoor

    • Steve Lieland June 9, 2017, 2:27 pm

      6.5 Creedmoor loaded in a 5.56 case. . . . read an article about a week ago, claiming a really good MOA at 1000 meters. All that was required was an upper change

  • Tom g June 9, 2017, 5:32 am

    6.5 Grendel’s are good choice. 16″ barrel and 1:8 twist with 120 gr bullet. One man in each fire team could have a 20-24″ barrel and better optics for longer shots.

  • Appalachiangunslinger June 9, 2017, 4:33 am

    But to step backward with. A longer barrel when we are encountering engagements well beyond the real effective range of the 556 no matter the barrel, unless you are not the normal infantryman but a sharpshooter. We need to keep with a barrel of around 12.5 and also have a round somewhere around the 6.5 260usa, 6mm or 6.4, 6.8mm. I prefere the previous rounds. The newer tungsten rounds are very expensive to manufacture without any real gain 90% of the time. Going with previous calibers we gain terminal ballistics, terminal velocity, range, and maximum takedown power out of even the 12.5 barrel with a capability of easily 800 meter on a point target with the right optics, shooter. Now take those calibers and make a better bullet with it being some type of expanding round and we would have a all around type round below antimaterial that you could offset weight with technologies such as caseless rounds, even better choice of material on rifles, using lighter weight materials out on the market. Easily making a sub 6 pound rifle outfitting with optic and a light, with a shorter barrel you could stay there with the right profile or material and still have the capability of night vision capabilities.

  • Powder June 9, 2017, 12:02 am

    6.5 Grendel stands alone in it’s capabilities and is the only viable replacement for the 5.56.

    • Mark Are June 9, 2017, 8:24 am

      You need to do some reading up on the .277 Wolverine. The Grendel has an issue in the AR platform due to the bolt being designed to fit the 7.62x 39 base. It has proven to fail too often with ears getting broken off.

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