Forums / Off Topic / U.S. rifles are less effective against Taliban, study finds

4 years 9 weeks ago, 7:11 AM

dockit

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US rifles not suited to warfare in Afghan hills

KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. military's workhorse rifle — used in battle for the last 40 years — is proving less effective in Afghanistan against the Taliban's more primitive but longer range weapons.

As a result, the U.S. is reevaluating the performance of its standard M-4 rifle and considering a switch to weapons that fire a larger round largely discarded in the 1960s.

The M-4 is an updated version of the M-16, which was designed for close quarters combat in Vietnam. It worked well in Iraq, where much of the fighting was in cities such as Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah.

But a U.S. Army study found that the 5.56 mm bullets fired from M-4s don't retain enough velocity at distances greater than 1,000 feet (300 meters) to kill an adversary. In hilly regions of Afghanistan, NATO and insurgent forces are often 2,000 to 2,500 feet (600-800 meters) apart.

Afghans have a tradition of long-range ambushes against foreign forces. During the 1832-1842 British-Afghan war, the British found that their Brown Bess muskets could not reach insurgent sharpshooters firing higher-caliber Jezzail flintlocks.

Soviet soldiers in the 1980s found that their AK-47 rifles could not match the World War II-era bolt-action Lee-Enfield and Mauser rifles used by mujahedeen rebels.

"These are important considerations in Afghanistan, where NATO forces are frequently attacked by insurgents using ... sharpshooter's rifles, which are all chambered for a full-powered cartridge which dates back to the 1890s," said Paul Cornish, curator of firearms at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The heavier bullets enable Taliban militants to shoot at U.S. and NATO soldiers from positions well beyond the effective range of the coalition's rifles.

To counter these tactics, the U.S. military is designating nine soldiers in each infantry company to serve as sharpshooters, according to Maj. Thomas Ehrhart, who wrote the Army study. They are equipped with the new M-110 sniper rifle, which fires a larger 7.62 mm round and is accurate to at least 2,500 feet (800 meters).

At the heart of the debate is whether a soldier is better off with the more-rapid firepower of the 5.56mm bullets or with the longer range of the 7.62 mm bullets.

"The reason we employ the M-4 is because it's a close-in weapon, since we anticipate house-to-house fighting in many situations," said Lt. Col. Denis J. Riel, a NATO spokesman.

He added that each squad also has light machine guns and automatic grenade launchers for the long-range engagements common in Afghanistan.

In the early years of the Vietnam War, the Army's standard rifle was the M-14, which fired a 7.62 mm bullet. The gun had too much recoil to be controllable during automatic firing and was considered too unwieldily for close-quarter jungle warfare. The M-16 replaced it in the mid-1960s.

Lighter bullets also meant soldiers could carry more ammunition on lengthy jungle patrols.

The M-16 started a general trend toward smaller cartridges. Other weapons such as the French FAMAS and the British L85A1 adopted them, and the round became standardized as the "5.56mm NATO."

The Soviet Union, whose AK-47 already used a shorter 7.62 mm bullet that was less powerful but more controllable, created a smaller 5.45mm round for its replacement AK-74s.

"The 5.56 mm caliber is more lethal since it can put more rounds on target," said Col. Douglas Tamilio, program manager for U.S. Army firearms at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. "But at 500-600 meters (1,600-2,000 feet), the round doesn't have stopping power, since the weapon system was never designed for that."

The arsenal, which is the Army's center for small-arms development, is trying to find a solution.

A possible compromise would be an interim-caliber round combining the best characteristics of the 5.56mm and 7.62mm cartridges, Tamilio said.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that in flat areas of Afghanistan, most firefights take place at shorter ranges of up to 1,000 feet (300 meters), where the M-4 performs well.

U.S. soldiers in militant-infested Zhari district in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province said they haven't experienced problems with the range of their M-4 rifles.

Lt. Scott Doyle, a platoon commander in Zhari, said his troops are usually facing Taliban AK-47s.

"When the Taliban get past 300 meters (1,000 feet) with an AK-47, they are just spraying and praying," he said.

Martin Fackler, a ballistics expert, also defended the 5.56 mm round, blaming the M-4s inadequate performance on its short barrel, which makes it easier for soldiers to scramble out of modern armored vehicles.

"Unfortunately weapon engineers shortened the M-16's barrel to irrational lengths," Fackler said. "It was meant for a 20-inch barrel. What they've done by cutting the barrel to 14.5 inches is that they've lost a lot of velocity."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100521/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan_bullet_wars

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4 years 9 weeks ago, 8:55 AM

HampsterW

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article, I agree that the decrease in barrel length has hurt the 5.56's
velocity. It sounds to me like they should design a new weapons system
from a clean slate and not try to "cobble" something together.

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:00 AM

Pkato

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is just what they are doing, using various weapons integrated into the units. This debate has been going on forever and I see their point really...no one rifle is going to be the answer in every single situation...ever.

Patrolman Kato
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They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone
under independence. -- George Washington
4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:12 AM

Pkato

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What about a system

like the Masada, where you can buy the 'system' get
various calibers and barrel lengths?

Patrolman Kato
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.
They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone
under independence. -- George Washington
4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:18 AM

HampsterW

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Pkato,

that sounds like the answer to me.

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:44 AM

catfish88

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I saw where the Masada or Bushmaster ACR is now available. They are pricy though!

4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:50 AM

HampsterW

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at them on Bushmasters web site....yep $2600 on up is kinda painfull.

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:54 AM

TXLUCKYGUY

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ugh

If they'd simply take off the gloves and allow better bullet selection, the accuracy and terminal effect of the 5.56x45mm would be better optimized.

Have Black Hills crank out huge gobs of 77gr SMK (which is already used in theater) or some 70gr XTAC, fit some M4s with mothballed M16A2 uppers, and there you have a very short-term solution for more dead Hadji.

I like the UKs recent selection of an American-made DMR....can't recall if it was Larue or LMT (both make terrific weapons). .308-cal AR, with an accuracy requirement and loadout based on simple ol' 149gr .308 British ball.

As for the grenade launchers...I have only limited experience/knowledge regarding them, but I can't imagine an M203 or even a Mk19 addressing point targets out at 800m.

4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:54 AM

greg az

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And it sure make since, we all know the prime advantage of the AR over AK is with distance accuracy, and its only logical that the short bbl would be a problem with longer range targets..

All have heard the stories about how they went back into armories and brought out the 1911's for force recon, and others.. i don't know to what degree, but thier was enough published about it, that i don't question it happening.

Why can't they do the same thing with the M-14 as opposed to coming up with a whole new bbl system..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
4 years 9 weeks ago, 11:59 AM

greg az

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That's makes since regardless of the round chosen.. pull that little pin up forward. the troops have the hi tech familiar lower... that honestly makes since..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
4 years 9 weeks ago, 3:16 PM

raffycanlas

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well...

i guess the army rangers dont have that problem with the scar-h rifle

I'm just another damn yankee with a loaded gun looking for some fun!
4 years 8 weeks ago, 5:03 AM

dockit

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It is interesting like

It is interesting like TXLUCKYGUY pointed out. If our military was not held to Nato rules we could use all types of 223 ammo with the M4 platform, and be very effective.
Here is a post from a dealer about different types of 223.

As a long-time gun dealer, I have to say HOGWASH to anyone who says that a .223 is not big enough for deer. I’ve read several articles on the web over the years with both pros and cons, but no proof to back the cons up. I’ve hunted with a sako 222 and a ruger m77 223 for years, and have never ever lost a deer, EVER (even with a couple of less than perfect shots).
This morning, I filled my tag by busting a 3X3 at about 200 yards with, YOU GUESSED IT, my ruger 223. It was a perfect shoulder/heart/lung shot. The deer dropped like a STONE, and didn’t even twitch once. I was using Winchester ballistic tips factory loaded. The round is so terminal that I ended up losing most of the front shoulder due to the explosive power. I even took multiple pictures of the entrance wounds of the animal, and of the shoulder when it was all skinned out just to disprove the "223 is too small" side. I don’t know how to post pix here, but I’d be MORE than happy to email them to anyone here that thinks a 223 is too small, or is only good in the hands of an "experienced" hunter with a well placed shot.

the .223 is an extremely explosive round with super ballistics, and is really great on just about everything in the deer family ( even mules, as I’ve popped them out to 550 yards and never had one even twitch after it was hit.)

get a 223. there great

http://www.nodakoutdoors.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=4084&start=40

I intend to live forever, or die trying. It Could Be that the Purpose of Your Life is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others. Join the Army, meet interesting people, kill them. All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

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