An interesting and compelling debate is sparking back up as the Army is intensively looking at a replacement for the M4 and the other services eyeball what America's biggest military branch is going to do.
A robust argument was made at the Small Arms Symposium last month from European experts who debated whether NATO and the US should make a clean break from the 5.56 or adopt a whole new caliber/stick with 7.62. According to briefing Per Arvidsson, chairman of the NATO Weapons and Sensors Working Group, the 5.56 is the best solution when balanced against weight, accuracy, stopping power and range of other calibers.
Arvidsson argues (as the Army has) that true lethality is a function of marksmanship more than it is caliber. He explained that new weapon sights and training that emphasizes targeting from the head down the center-mass to the groin will kill every time...
Hit to the central nervous system: Immediate incapacitation regardless of caliber or type of projectile!On the flip side,caliber consultant and co-editor of Jane's Ammunition Handbook Anthony Williams argues that the 5.56 has inadiquate range and inconsistent ballistic yaw to open wound channels to kill targets.
More than 50% of engagements beyond effective rifle range (70% with short-barrelled guns)While Williams recognizes the 7.62 has its shortcomings (weight, recoil, suppression problems) he argues that the range and lethality of the 7.62 round should prompt a considered look at new calibers, including the 6.8, 7mm and 6.5.
•Inadequate suppressive effect (fire ignored)
•Unreliable terminal effectiveness (erratic yaw)
•Lack of barrier penetration (easily stopped or deflected)
Basically, when you look at Williams' brief, you can't help but come to the conlusion that the 6.5 Grendel is the best option, but a whole new round might be warrented. Thing is, going in a whole new direction might be a tough sell.
Be sure to take a look at the two briefs and pay particular attention to the ballistics and terminal effects charts. Also, an added nugget comes in Arvidsson's brief with his specs on a new NATO carbine.
So what do you think?