USMC adopts new 5.56 round

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Agentwil, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. Agentwil

    Agentwil New Member

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    SOURCE: Jim Shepherd's Shooting Wire

    The United States Marine Corps is once again breaking from the norm when it comes to their equipment. This latest break is in their 5.56 ammunition. This latest change means the Corps will be using an "open-tipped" round as opposed to the heretofore standard M855 ball round.


    The New 5.56 SOST a "couple million" are already in theatre, and more is on the way.

    So what's the advantage? The new SOST round (Special Operations Science and Technology) is a more deadly and more accurate round - especially when fired in the Corps' shorter barreled rifles. Initially, the SOST was only cleared for use by the Special Operations Command troops (SOCOM) with their Special Operations Force Combat Assault Rifle (the SCAR).

    This new round is essentially an open-tip round, similar to sniper ammunition. It's also supposed to be "barrier blind" - staying on target better than M855s after penetrating windshields, car doors and other objects. It's also reported to stay on target longer when fired and deliver increased stopping power through "consistent, rapid fragmentation which shortens the time required to cause incapacitation of enemy combatants".

    In other words, the new SOST round is, ala-the high-tech hunting ammunitions which have existed for some time to quickly deliver the knockout punch to an enemy.

    According to reports in the Marine Corps Times, the round at 62-grains, weighs pretty much the same as other NATO rounds, and have a lead core with a copper shank. Speculation is they are a variation of the Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw round.

    Originally, the rounds were purchased for use in the SCAR, but its performances in penetration, accuracy and decreased muzzle flash convince the Corps to make it available to their general troops as well.

    The standard M855 round has been around more than three decades and has long been the focus of complaints regarding its overall effectiveness. Today, troops quietly criticize the round as lacking enough "oomph" to stop typical adversaries. The Pentagon first asked for an improved round in 2006.

    Despite determining the M855 no longer was meeting acceptable USMC performance standards, there are no plans to remove the millions of existing rounds from inventory.

    In the document clearing the use of the new SOST round, the director of the Navy Department International and Operational Law Division recommends the use of the new SOST-formally known as "MK318 MOD 0 enhanced 5.56 ammunition".

    "Based on the significantly improved performance of the MK318 MOD 0 over the M855 against virtually every anticipated target array in Afghanistan and similar combat environments where increased accuracy," Crisfield wrote, "better effects behind automobile glass and doors, consistent terminal performance and reduced muzzle flash are critical to mission accomplishment, USMC would treat the MK318 MOD 0 as its new 5.56mm standard issue cartridge."

    It will be issued to both the short-barreled M4 carrying troops - the original users, and field forces carrying the full-length M16A4. There's only one weapon that won't be using the new round - the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, and that's temporary. Currently, the round isn't being produced in the linked version needed for the SAW.

    Having cleared the international legal hurdles over using an "open tipped" ammunition, the USMC appears poised to go into combat with a more lethal round that is specifically suited to meet the needs of today's non-traditional combat.
  2. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    We started off in the 1960s with a 55-gr slug which tumbled upon impact.... created some nasty wounds, but didn't penetrate barriers well. In the 1980's we adopted a 62-gr steel core slug which penetrates better, but now we're unhappy with its wounding effect.... so we're swinging back in the other direction again?
  3. 45nut

    45nut Active Member

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    In the M-16A1 the rifling was such that the bullet was under stabilized. They increased the rifling in the M-16A2 but the bullet was over stabilized to the point that it made a nice clean wound channel as opposed to going in an arm and coming out the leg or butt.
  4. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    I just wonder if the 5.56 round will ever deliver ALL of the performance (barrier penetration, wounding effect, etc) that GIs need? After 40 years of tinkering, the M16 platform is still not as rugged/reliable as some other battle rifles (eg, the Kalashnikov) and the 5.56mm bullet still doesn't perform like a .30 cal..... this is hypothetical, of course, but perhaps we should have replaced the 7.62 NATO with some type of 6mm instead?
  5. Old Grump

    Old Grump New Member

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    For 50+ years we have been saddled with McNamara and LeMay's varmint round as our primary combat round. I don't care how you dress it up or what kind of gee whiz twist, golly gee powder or umpdeliocious platform you shoot it from, it's still a varmint round. Can anybody say .280 or bigger, if so can we have an AMEN.

    Better bullets is good, now they need to be bigger bullets and they will be better yet.
  6. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    Yeah, 7mm would be good too. According to Hatcher's Notebook, a contender for the NATO standard was a British 7mm design - 140 gr bullet at 2300 fps - but we "leaned" on the Europeans to adopt our 7.62X51 cartridge.
    A couple of years later - surprise, surprise - we were replacing our M14s with M16s. Seems schizophrenic to me.

    I imagine that the 7mm would incur some significant weight penalties, but hey - now we don't trust the troops with "full auto" anyway. Instead of packing 20 loaded magazines into combat, maybe they could get by with 10 or 15 instead.... especially if the cartridges were twice as effective as the 5.56 round.

    We owe it to our troops to supply them with the most rugged & reliable rifles in the world, using ammo (6mm? 7mm?) which is second to none.
  7. Agentwil

    Agentwil New Member

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    I say 308 holes make dead souls! Old Grump....AMEN!
  8. FTK87

    FTK87 New Member

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    I thought hollow points were against the geneva convention?
  9. Sandman

    Sandman Member

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    Lets see... Those of us in the US think the 5.56 is too small and there is always a discussion about how it would be better to move up to a 7.62 round. Meanwhile, the ex-soviets who have been shooting 7.62 for many more years than I have been alive, have changed to something in the 5.5mm range (not sure exactly what the AK-74 is). Just goes to show you that know matter which side of the fence you are on, the grass is always greener on the other side.
  10. Agentwil

    Agentwil New Member

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    The AK-74 is 5.45X39.
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Active Member

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  12. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    According to what I have read, the NATO planners back in the '50s decided that the average infantryman didn't need to engage targets beyond 500 yards.... with modern advances in radio communications, air support, artillery & armor support, it seemed logical to develop lighter, less powerful rifles and ammo.
    However, adopting a .22 cal rifle was an extreme step, and after 40+ years of tinkering, the performance still comes up short.... given the present "state of the art" in propellants and metallurgy, there's only so much you can do with that tiny bore.
  13. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    Give me my M14 any day!!!
  14. Old Grump

    Old Grump New Member

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