6.8mm A Cartridge for the Next Decade

Opinion

6.8 mm Cartridge Ammo Ammunition
6.8mm A Cartridge for the Next Decade

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- “Only put off tasks until tomorrow when you are willing to die today, because you left them undone” ~ Picasso

The dam finally broke!

The Pentagon has officially announced that US forces, at long last, will be moving away from the 5.56×45 (223). The new military small-arms cartridge is the 6.8, with ballistics similar to the Soviet 7.62×39 This announcement comes twenty-five years late. Some say fifty. Inadequate range and penetration (for military use) has plagued the 5.56×45 from the first day it was issued.

And, a dreary, serial roll-out of dubious “improvements” (“wonder bullets”) all fell short of expectations, one after another. With the 6.8mm, we’ll have a legitimate 300m rifle, and a 500m LMG, effectively doubling the range we enjoy now. And the 6.8mm will actually shoot through things.

As noted, the 5.56×45 was a poor candidate from the start, and it lingered far too long.

However, as a patrol rifle cartridge for domestic policing, for domestic personal defense, maybe even for rear-area defense, the 5.56×45 is adequate still represents a good choice for these tasks.

The Pentagon’s belated move is welcome news. Now, we’ll see if NATO falls in line, or becomes hopelessly Balkanized.

Comment on the Pentagon’s recent decision to move from the 5.56×45 to the 6.8mm, from a comrade who was in RVN about the same time I was:

“I say fifty years too late.

I dumped my M16 while in-country.

We loved our M14s! The ‘new’ M16 was forced upon us. We didn’t want it, and we surely did not give-up our M14s voluntarily.

During one of our first active contacts, I ‘appropriated’ a Chinese-made AK47, along with a supply of magazines and 7.62x.39mm ammunition.

My AK always ran well, never failing to feed nor otherwise function normally.

By western standards, my AK was ‘primitive,’ ‘rough,’ and not nearly as accurate as the M16.

But, all that I could live with.

It was the 7.62×39 cartridge that was so conspicuously superior to the 5.56×45.

My AK out-ranged the M16, and easily penetrated obstacles that provided genuine protection from 5.56×45 rounds.

Between then and recently, DOD has never honestly confronted deficiencies of the 5.56×45 round as a front-line, battle cartridge. As noted above, these deficiencies has been well known, and well documented, at least since 1968.”

Comment:

It will require the next decade for issues surrounding the new 6.8mm round, and rifles and LMGs that will be chambered for it, to be identified, addressed and refined.

Issues always develop when new military equipment enters the System (no matter how much “computer simulation” you do), most of which are unforeseeable and will not become visible until millions of weapons have been manufactured and billions of rounds produced and consumed in active training/testing/combat.

Only then will we know, beyond doubt, that we have adequate and reliable weapons that will serve our soldiers, and our mission, satisfactorily.

And, that is precisely why it is such a bad idea to “introduce” a new weapon in the middle of a war, absent adequate testing, nor the “break-in period” mentioned above.

The preceding was the unhappy fate of the M16, whose various problems were “discovered,” and belatedly “addressed,” during the active fighting, and at the expense of lives of our Marines and Soldiers who were doing their best to make the new rifle work.

Let’s now pray that this long-delayed update will go forward with all deliberate speed and that we don’t find ourselves embroiled in a major, world conflagration before it’s complete.

“The Tzar's police had Lenin, but released him!

Bavarian police had Hitler, but released him!

Rhodesia had Mugabe, but released him!

We had Bin Laden, but released him!

We repeatedly fail to learn from history, and we'll continue to pay for it.

Just ask a Romanov

… if you can find one!” ~ Anon

/John


Defense Training International, Inc

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or in-actions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

  • 19 thoughts on “6.8mm A Cartridge for the Next Decade

    1. The Remington 6.8MM round rifle platform such as the M14 are long overdue. We need to provide our military people the best we can manufacture now in terms of adequate equipment to get the job done. This rifle round should be put in service as soon as possible with state of the art sights now asap. The .308, 30-06, .338 are still adequate and potent rounds. 50 Caliber all of these caliber/rounds have been proven time and time again.

    2. I love how folks think the Hague Convention regulations concerning projectile (that’s “bullet” to those of you from Rio Linda) type and design had anything to do with attempting to make war more “humane.” Open-tip, soft point, “dum-dum” and other expanding designs of the time were totally unsuited for widespread military use, and the Hague signers knew it! Think about it: the primary need in a military round for use in warfare is PENETRATION! Hence the adoption of the 6.8mm round! The days of marching highly disciplined and organized ranks of infantry into the line of blazing machinegun and rifle fire ended with WWI. Modern soldiers tend to seek cover behind pretty much whatever they can find when the enemy opens up on them. Some of these “shelters” provide more protection than others, hence the need for rounds that penetrate. In addition, in warfare, shooting at the enemy soldier who is running away is accepted practice. Now, imagine that that running enemy is carrying a backpack or other equipment on their back; if your weapon cannot penetrate that equipment, then you might as well save your ammo! Not to mention vehicle fenders and doors; walls of various construction, up to and including brick and concrete block; trees of varying diameters; earthen berms, etc., ad nauseum! Some of these barriers require penetrative qualities that are beyond the capabilities of any modern “battle rifle.” But a properly designed full metal jacket projectile will defeat many of these barriers. One more thing: The weapons in use in 1905 tended not to function well, if at all, with anything but full metal jacket ammunition, and the Hague participants knew this. Just sayin’

      1. Penetration is a function of sectional density and bullet construction, but sectional density plays the biggest part. This is why those old 6.5 Mannlichers and Swedes could bring down elephants in the hands of a marksman. The nose-forward weight distribution of those pencil like 160 grain bullets keeps them going straight, and the mass gives them the momentum to penetrate deeply, even at relatively sedate velocities. If that was all that the military needed, they could probably load the 5.56 with a 105 grain round nose bullet (SD 0.299) pushed to 2,300 FPS or more, and get lots of penetration.

        However, they also need a round that will inflict incapacitating wounds and provide a flat trajectory out to 500 yards or so. That’s a tall order for a non-expanding bullet. In order to inflict more than an ice pick wound, the bullet must destabilize and tumble, but if it does that, barrier penetration is compromised. Or, it should have a wide, flat or cupped point to maximize frontal area, but then trajectory suffers. I guess the military settled on a larger caliber, heavier bullet as the best solution.

        Now that I’m thinking about it, a .223 loaded with a 100+ grain round nose soft point would likely be very effective on medium game, up to mule deer. One of these days, I must get my hands on a Corbin press.

    3. The M16 was not originally intended for infantry service. The Air Force wanted it for guarding bombers and missile silos. Politicians saw the rifle and ran with it forcing the other services to adopt the rifle and eventually, NATO to adopt the cartridge. The Army tried to kill it while it was still young but to no avail.

      1. The M1 Garand was originally designed with a .277 caliber round in mind, but the powers that be decided the 30-06 round would have to do.

          1. Nothing “wrong” with .30-06. It is just that the US had billions of rounds of .30-06 already stockpiled when the Garand was being developed. Also, the US already had the M1918 BAR, M1919 series of machineguns, and M1903 and M1917 rifles in the inventory. All were chambered in .30-06. So when Garand and his team first developed a prototype chambered in something other than .30-06, the Army told him to make the new rifle a .30-06. I have been told this is the reason for the 8-rounds in an M1 instead of 10.

            1. Regarding the “limited” magazine capacity of the Garand, 8 round en block clips, if I may use the term “clips” here, the following might be of interest. Late in WW2, there was a modification developed or proposed for the Garand. As I recall, it amounted to a 20 round box magazine inserted from the underside of the rifle, it might have been a BAR magazine, of which there were lots around. Obviously, this design change was not adopted, who knows why. I do not recall if this modification included selective fire capability, which I do not think would have been practical, but then who knows.

    4. I don’t believe kinetic energy can be compared at different velocities… Does a shove of 130 joules damage as much as a sand-grain size meteorite of the same energy? Of course not.. speed matters to damage and range which is why a rail gun is flat out better than naval artillery of yore, why a .22lr is better than a potato gun!

    5. dimension wise, if DOD is retaining the current M4 lowers, this new and improved 6.8 will have to close to the old SPC.

    6. I’ll bet NATO members are going to be thrilled. The 6.8 has been on the commercial market for long enough that if Pentagon planners just do a little research, stick with the AR platform, and insist on companies that are already producing reliable weapons for it, there shouldn’t be any serious issues, but we are talking about bureaucrats here.

      An irony here is that the .223 is an effective round – for civilians. The military is hobbled by the Hague Accords, and cannot take advantage of modern bullet technology.

      1. (IV,3): Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body such as Bullets with a Hard Covering which does not Completely Cover the Core, or containing Indentations
        This declaration states that, in any war between signatory powers, the parties will abstain from using “bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body.” This directly banned soft-point bullets (which had a partial metal jacket and an exposed tip) and “cross-tipped” bullets (which had a cross-shaped incision in their tip to aid in expansion, nicknamed “Dum Dums” from the Dum Dum Arsenal in India). It was ratified by all major powers, except the United States.[15]

        1. Not ratified, but still adhered to. Not doing so could potentially expose our troops to war crimes charges in the event of capture, perhaps even summary execution. That would force the U.S. to respond in kind, possibly escalating situations which could otherwise have been diffused with diplomacy. It’s a silly rule, born out of the other major European powers’ attempts to interfere with Britain’s control over its colonies in Central Asia, but it has since become military convention world wide, so perhaps discretion is the best policy.

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