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Garand 06-08-2006 11:45 PM

Concern Growing Over US Troops' Ammo
Tests Raise Questions About Bullet For M-16 Rifle

(CBS News) As American troop casualties in Iraq continue to mount, concern is growing they may be outgunned. That includes new questions about the stopping power of the ammunition that is used by the standard-issue M-16 rifle.

Shortly after the U.N. headquarters was bombed in Baghdad in August 2003, a Special Forces unit went to Ramadi to capture those responsible.

In a fierce exchange of gunfire, one insurgent was hit seven times by 5.56 mm bullets, reports CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian. It took a shot to the head with a pistol to finally bring him down. But before he died, he killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded seven more.

"The lack of the lethality of that bullet has caused United States soldiers to die," says Maj. Anthony Milavic.

Milavic is a retired Marine major who saw three tours of duty in Vietnam. He says the small-caliber 5.56, essentially a .22-caliber civilian bullet, is far better suited for shooting squirrels than the enemy, and contends that urban warfare in Iraq demands a bigger bullet. "A bullet that knocks the man down with one shot," he says. "And keeps him down."

Milavic is not alone. In a confidential report to Congress last year, active Marine commanders complained that: "5.56 was the most worthless round," "we were shooting them five times or so," and "torso shots were not lethal."

In last week's Marine Corps Times, a squad leader said his Marines carried and used "found" enemy AK-47s because that weapon's 7.62 mm bullets packed "more stopping power."

Bruce Jones is a mechanical engineer who helped design artillery, rifles and pistols for the Marines.

"I saw the tests that clearly showed how miserable the bullets really were in performance," he says. "But that's what we're arming our troops with. It's horrible, you know, it's unconscionable."

To demonstrate to CBS News, Jones fired the larger-caliber 7.62 bullet fired by AK-47s used by insurgents in Iraq into a block of glycerin. The hole cavity is 50 percent or more larger than that of the 5.56.

"You can't just go out and, you know, rig up a little block of Jello and shoot at it and prove anything," says Pierre Sprey, a former Pentagon weapons expert.

Since the early days of the Vietnam War, Sprey has been a champion of the 5.56, and believes it both lethal and light.

"The brilliant thing about that bullet is that it allowed the infantrymen to easily carry 300 rounds," Sprey says. "Whereas the old sharpshooter's heavy, slow round — he could only carry 100."

In the chaos of war, the more bullets the better, he says, because bursts of automatic fire beat one big bullet at a time.

"There is no such thing as a well-aimed shot in combat, because combat is fought by scared 18-year-olds who haven't been trained enough and are in a place they've never seen before," Sprey says.

Here at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, the government's own engineers have done the most extensive testing on the 5.56 since 1990 and issued two draft reports.

In the first, dated 2004, the 5.56 ranked last in lethality out of three bullets tested.

A second draft, dated last month, confirmed that rating, ranking the 5.56 dead last in close-quarter combat.

The army issued a final report last week that concludes in essence that those test results are wrong and misleading. It argues the 5.56 has the "same potential effectiveness" of the 7.62 during the heat of battle.

Either way, there's no questions that if the Pentagon did have any questions about this bullet, it would face some very expensive modifications to the M-16.

(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved


So how many times does this have to be reported till they replace with a more efficient caliber??

brass hammer 06-09-2006 12:12 AM

well,crap!,,,issue the 'bearly-stabilized' 1-14" twist RIFLING[as these tennis-shoe wear tards should REALLY FEEL THE EFFECTS while in there MANGLED/FUNKY/PARTS-MISSING THROES OF DEATH!!!,,,damn-it}

and the dope those bastards are 'thigh' poppin' would EVEN make MELVIN SQUEAL/CREAM HIS 'undies'

KJUN 06-09-2006 04:57 AM

I've got hopes on the 6.8 SPC. I'd love to have that round in a bolt action and do some "field testing" on game animals (in season, of course).... :)

John in AR 06-09-2006 07:40 AM

IIRC, (and I do...), this same CBS was part of the “mainstream” media that was telling us twelve years ago how “powerful and deadly” the 5.56 was, when championing the ‘assault weapon ban’.


Hard Ball 06-14-2006 03:20 PM

Part of the problem is that a large number of 14.5 inch barrel M4 Carbines are in use. Their Muzzle velocity is too low for good terminal ballistics with the current issue 62 grain bullets. The Army is considering rebarreling its M4 Carbines with 16.5 inch barrels.

John in AR 06-14-2006 03:38 PM

That would be good, as would going back to the 55-grain ball (imo), at least for the carbines.

krept 06-15-2006 04:54 PM


I've heard of people hit by the 7.62x39 and it just zipped through them. Case in point would be the Hollywood shootout.

I have not heard similar stories about the 5.45x39, even smaller in diameter than 5.56. Guess we could work on the air pocket, but why not just focus on the effect of the cannelure?

Gecko45 06-15-2006 06:05 PM

What I heard of the 5.45mm was that no one survived a hit (hence the nickname "poison bullet"), BUT, it didn't necessarily kill immediately, it just scrambled things up so bad the hit was unsurvivable. Some were instant stops, some weren't.

Nothing is perfect, and you can't really judge a bullet's effectiveness based on hits to people ****ed up on khat or betelnut (or opium for that matter). They could probably have their leg blown off with a .50 BMG and keep firing until they bled out.

Combat is a nasty thing, and nothing is assured.

As for the 5.56, one has to admit it's quite deadly within its frag range.
Other than the steel helmet penetration at 800 meters (from the SAW's 24" barrel), I see no reason to stick to M855. . .the M193 was more effective on human targets further out (and I believe it even outpenetrated M855 out to about 80 meters).
The M262 (correct designation?) is probably too expensive to ever be a general-issue item.

Wylycoyte 06-15-2006 06:11 PM


I've heard of people hit by the 7.62x39 and it just zipped through them. Case in point would be the Hollywood shootout.[/QUOTE]

That'd be the steel core ammo. The lead core yaws after a few inches, turns sideways, and leaves a nasty wound path.

This "report" is utter crap and its been posted on just about every gun board I've seen. Here's some snippets of my "report" in riposte:

"An 8 ton, 10 ton and 16 ton weight were all tested...the 8 ton weight ranked last in lethality. When dropped on a chicken from a height of 1700 meters, the blood spatter from the 16 ton weight was much larger in diameter, making the 8 ton weight an obviously inferior choice.

In other news, 7 rounds were fired at an Iraqi, with no reports of whether he was hit in the heart, big toe, or left ear. It took a round from a pistol to bring him down, as apparently noone was smart/competent enough to just blast him in the head with their rifles until he fell over.

Lastly, here are photos of Major John Varmintbane's recent hinting trip. Major Varmintbane enjoys using 5.56 rounds on squirrels, as it "makes the little bastards look like someone stuck an M-80 inside a pizza puff!" He also said that he wanted a rifle that would "knock a man down with one round and keep him down!" and has high hopes for a shoulder-mounted 40mm assault cannon with HE rounds, as that's about the only thing that fits his criteria.

Good night, and stay classy, San Diego!"

Rich Z 06-15-2006 06:50 PM

The 5.45x39 is a very long projectile. I've heard that when it hits it deforms into a hook shape and just shreds whatever it hits. Supposedly it goes unstable within two inches of entering "medium". Darn shame the AP stuff isn't available any longer because some jerk made a handgun that fires this round. :-punch:

fffg100grns 06-17-2006 07:48 AM

I have found that at close range, alot of rounds just poke a clean hole, even with hollow points. It's like the speed of the bullet helps hold it together, till it slows down.
I base my claims on killings of various animals. I mean, is in possible to get a bullet that is effective at any usable range or speed?

7of7 06-17-2006 10:00 AM

They should use the 5.7 bullet model. No lead,... aluminum core. This wold make a very long bullet at 65 grains.. Shift the center of gravity back and you have a nasty bullet that yaws quickly.
However, the ability of the 7.62 to turn cover into concealment is quite evident especially with steel core ammo, as was used in the L.A. bank robbery attempt.

spurrit 09-09-2006 10:19 PM

Ya know what round works? NAPALM ! ! !

Gunners762 10-04-2006 04:14 PM

The media loves the M16
(CBS News) As "American troop casualties in Iraq continue to mount", concern is growing they may be "outgunned". You sure this story wasn't printed in 1967? The media whipped this horse to death.

RIKA 10-04-2006 04:49 PM

This controversy has been around as long as we have had the M16. Learn to shoot the damn thing accurately under pressure and yank out your filched 1911 when the going gets tough.

Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.


MileHighSailor 10-07-2006 12:10 AM

Le sigh. The 5.56 NATO round was developed as a varmint round. Last time I checked, a man is bigger than a coydog. Also, last time I checked....coydogs don't get all doped up on opiates and scream Allah akbar as they spray 7.62x39 rounds at you gangsta style. Last time I checked, haji DOES do these things. We don't need a new weapon system (except maybe the original 20" barrels)...or a new caliber....we just need them to load it the way they did back in Vietnam. The reason the M16 gained the title "The Black Rifle of Death" was due to the original loading of the round. The longer heavier bullet (with canneleur) yawed quickly upon exiting the medium of air and entering the medium of flesh. The canneleur then often caused the bullet to break into more than one piece. The newer loading does away with the bullet's canneleur and the bullet is shorter and lighter....thus reducing it's combat effectiveness. If I stumble upon my notes I can expand on this slightly and give out a little better info. Or if someone who also knows about this has the specs (exact bullet weights and velocities) please add to this.

brass hammer 10-07-2006 02:40 AM

well, there is thet dude/dudes over @ S.O.F. that can answer yer' EVERY
QUESTION on this 'subject-matter' SINCE BEFORE YOUR 'birth'


spurrit 10-07-2006 11:02 PM

Milehigh, a coydog is not a coyote; it's a hibred of a coyote and a dog.

KIDGLOCK 10-09-2006 02:41 PM

This is why God gave Rifleman the M14 .

MileHighSailor 10-11-2006 01:45 PM


I know the difference between a coyote and a's just that coydog sounds funnier. :)

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