Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Was Thor's hammer really less than a third of an inch across?

The Department of Fish & Game won't let you shoot Bambi with full metal jacketed 7.62x51mm M80 ball because it would be inhumane.

The Hague Accords won't let you use .308 Winchester 150gr. Ballistic Silvertips on enemy personnel because it would be inhumane.



fast richard said...

Where FMJ is prohibitted for hunting the thinking is that too much game will get away even if mortally wounded. The goal is a quick humane kill.

The Hague accords, on the other hand were written because military surgeons wanted easier wounds to work on. In addition the ruling classes wanted to be able to recycle their cannon fodder into agricultural and industrial labor when they were done using them up in battle. It is hard to put a corpse back to work as anything but a scarecrow.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I KNOW! It grinds my gears...

Homer said...

The obvious solution, in both cases, is to use larger diameter projectiles.

Jay T said...


El Capitan said...

We're OK with flamethrowers, land mines designed to emasculate, and chem/bio agents that remain lethal for decades, but hollowpoints are verboten because they're inhumane?

What's next? Nerf and Airsoft become the next major supplier of infantry small arms?

B.S. philosopher said...

M80 ball is intended to wound, which takes a couple of additional soldiers out of the fight to care for the wounded and increases the requirements and strain on the enemies logistics system.

Silvertips are intended to kill, so you can eat Bambi.

Different designs and different purposes.

Tam said...

"...intended to wound..."

That has a nice ring to it, yet I have yet to encounter anything like proof of that assertion in all my reading.

Anonymous said...

Skipping directly to the big picture, those Fudds wanted a government to control their hunting and now they have it.

Turk Turon said...

I believe BSP has it. The intention is only to wound enemy personnel, but to kill Bambi deader'n a stone.

Tam said...

The Hague Accords are designed to avoid maiming, incapacitating wounds.

The idea that bullet are especially designed to make stretcher bearers is, to the best of my research, an urban legend.

Bram said...

Modern body armor has made soft-tip ammo fairly obsolete for general battlefield use.

NATO 7.62 ball tends to kill people pretty dead with a solid hit from my experience – saw lots of dead Iraqis courtesy of medium machine guns and our snipers (shooting those supposedly non-expanding hollowpoints). Unfortunately I even saw a soldier killed on a range - hit in the thigh with a round from an M60 that drove bone fragments all through him and caused him to bleed out despite immediate medical attention.

5.56 on the other hand... Those were the Iraqis I had to medivac.

BobG said...

I think Fast Richard has it; the military round is designed to either kill you quick or let you recover more easily if only wounded.

Wolfman said...

Common thread? 'Don't allow you to...' As in, don't want you to do that, cuz we said so... Having said that, I would avoid using FMJs on Bambi not for their 'inhumane nature' but because of their limited effectiveness. Limited effectiveness does not, apparently, apply to military action.

Tam said...


"NATO 7.62 ball tends to kill people pretty dead with a solid hit from my experience –"

Would you say it's more lethal than 8x57JS and 7.7x58?

And when you say "solid hit", I'm assuming you are referring to a bullet through the heart/lungs, liver, or CNS. In other words, a "solid hit" with M118 through one of these organs was generally fatal, whereas an M855 round through the heart/lungs, CNS, or liver meant a ride in an ambulance?

tomcatshanger said...

Dum Dum bullets scared the folks who made the rules, so they banned them in civilized warfare. If you are not a civilized nation, and you didn't sign the accord, then you got what you bloody well deserved you barbarian.

Reality doesn't matter.

The FMJ hunting rule, I have no clue.

Does it date back to the era where FMJ was the rule for rifle ammo?

Is it based on observations of wounded animals shot with random calibers of FMJ?

I would suppose the intent was to make folks use expanding rifle rounds. I could be as wrong as Al Gore though.

Baba55 said...

Isn't it nice of Uncle Sam to play by rules he didn't sign on to abide? Perhaps we can lay blame on Lord Kitchener and that nasty little war on the Boers... was it? Bad Form and all that messy P.R. back home. Don't want no superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering donchaknow?

Same could be said of Bambi. Want him dead... NOW!

Interesting paradigm, eh? Life is like that.

Tam said...

"I would suppose the intent was to make folks use expanding rifle rounds."


See, if a bullet doesn't upset in some way, then it doesn't do a whole lot of damage unless it hits something very vital. It doesn't much matter whether that bullet is .22", .27", or .31".

If a 5.56mm projectile yaws and breaks apart at some 2,800fps inside a thin-skinned, squishy biped, it makes a mess. If a 7.62mm projectile yaws inside the same biped, it also makes a mess. If it breaks apart while yawing, it makes an even bigger mess.

If neither bullet upsets in any way, all it makes is a hole, which, if it transects nothing particularly vital, is eminently survivable, as the number of veterans at the VFW with scars from Mausers and Kalashnikovs bears witness.

elmo iscariot said...

[shrug] Deer don't have access to battlefield medics.

The point of the Hague restrictions was that, when you've shot an enemy soldier who's way over there behind his own lines, he'll linger with a relatively (...) clean wound, and will survive until the docs can patch him up. The civilized goal is to remove the soldier from combat, and if a clean, survivable hole will do that, they figured it was inhumane to kill or maim the target unnecessarily.

The civilized goal of hunting is to end up with a dead mammal as quickly as possible. Different goal--different tools.

I'd argue the FMJ mandate's obsolete, mind you, but their conclusion doesn't strike me as particularly nuts for their context.

Ambulance Driver said...

I'd always subscribed to the "FMJ makes for more litter bearers and less fighters" theory myself, but like you, never saw anything to back it up in print.

I have however, shot Bambi with 8mm Mauser FMJ surplus ammo, and 8mm Remington 170 grain soft-nosed Core Lokt ammo.

All five deer I shot with them were killed graveyard dead, although in the two deer shot with the FMJ, the graveyard wound up being a hundred yards or so into the woods after the bullet struck.

On the other hand, I've shot a dozen or so with a .243 syoked with dinky little 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip hollowpoints, and none of them moved from their tracks.

Of course, if you break both shoulders and take out the lungs along the way, a .243 is as effective a killer as a .460 Heffalump.

Based on my purely anecdotal experience, I'd say that all other things being equal, hollowpoints are the more lethal for thin-skinned, squishy quadrupeds. The same would probably be true of thin-skinned, squishy bipeds.

Sherm said...

I suspect the wound-so-those-taking-care-of-the-wounded-are-also-out-of-the-fight was invented after the fact to give some justification to the bullets being used. I've heard the same said as partial justification for the switch from .308 to 5.56 diameter bullets. Further evidence of this was the state of battlefield medicine when the Hague Convention was first agreed to.

Stranger said...

Tam - you may find the printed answer you seek under "dum dum bullets" in the very oldest printed encyclopedia you have access to.

But the .303 bullets turned out at Dum Dum armory were not the very first expanding bullets used in warfare. That occurred during one of the Boer Wars.

If memory serves, the first use of expanding bullets in war occurred during the "Transvaal War," the first Boer War, circa 1880 something. The Brits were highly disturbed at receiving fire from "sporting arms."

"Veddy unsporting, chaps, even if you were out of solids," was the general tone of the London papers at the time.


Tam said...

Oh, I'm familiar with the history of it. :)

sofa said...

Hague Accords do not mention Zombies, so there would be no restrictions on ammo or methods.

And have you considered that FMJ would be more effective against domestic Zombies after communist health care is enacted - As it provides long painful protracted deaths through dehydration and/or infections. You gotta find the sunshine where ever you can!

Bram said...

Tam - I took Statistics so I know my data collection methodology was not valid. While the air control team I was on medivaced over 300 wounded Iraqis, I wasn’t documenting the wounds. My memory is that least 2/3 were shrapnel / concussion wounds, 1/3 bullet wounds.

The small arms wounds I saw that were on the torso of the living were usually the little baby 5.56 variety unless they were glancing shots mangled limb. The dead bodies all around us that didn’t have that .50 cal+ blown to pieces look, usually had at least one big motivated .308 style all the way through hole.

Tam said...


The whole point of this post was, of course, to incite discussion. Believe me when I say that I appreciate not only your comments, but your service.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Pistol are pistols and rifles are rifles. If you manage to poke a through hole and not hit anything vital, I was under the impression that the projectile going at rilfe speed does a bit extra than a bullet going at pistol speed.

Obviously we can't study a parallel universe where we compare exact duplicate hunters with exact duplicate shot placements with everything in both universes being the same except in one there is a hollowpoint bullet hitting bambi and in the other universe there is a FMJ hitting that same spot...

I'm wondering if there would be any mortality difference at rates higher thatn 1% difference...

But Tam, if you find that real data, and can suss it from water cooler conventional wisdom, I'd love to hear about it.

Roberta X said...

Thor's Hammer? H'mm, there's an obvious joke there but I shall leave it for the au courant.

WV: "holuckin" I would not call him that to his face.

Tam said...


A bullet that yaws, fragments violently, or expands significantly offers a larger wound track, with a concomitantly greater chance of that track transecting a vital structure. Further, the larger track, even if it doesn't transect a vital structure, offers a larger pathway for "letting air in and blood out".

Have you ever read through the archives at

Vaarok said...

Well, you've got to remember that this was not too long after things like Solferino and the formation of the International Red Cross, and the Franco-Prussian War, where bigass lead bullets were causing wounds that required amputation. Then suddenly we've got smallbore jacketed rounds, solids, and public scrutiny via new media like newspapers and telegraphs...

Remember how everybody confuses Geneva Convention and Hague Accords?

Bram said...


I guess the big difference is when the M80 hits a bone, that bone becomes a sizeable internal fragmentation grenade. Something that hunters really don’t want. An expanding lead nosed bullet will do more damage to soft flesh and break bones, but not as explosively.

Bram said...

My old NC shootin' buddy wouldn't hunt with anything over .270. Said it ruined too much meat.

Sebastian said...

The idea that bullet are especially designed to make stretcher bearers is, to the best of my research, an urban legend.

I've done a good bit of reading on this as well, and the only place I've ever found that story is from gun owners.

To me the main reason for using 5.56x45mm is because you can cart around a shitload more ammo for the same space and weight. Maybe a slightly larger bullet would have been ideal, especially for an open-terrain battlefield, but I don't think the concept of a lighter, faster bullet being better than, say, the previous standard issue .30-06 or .308 is all that bad. If I were a solider, I'd take the logistics guys being able to bring me enough 5.56x45 over them not being able to bring me enough .308 any day of the week. Same if I were carrying it myself.

Of course the idea that you can't use hollow-point bullets in combat is nuts.

B.S. philosopher said...

Keep in mind also that overpenetration in a group of armed troops is a plus in warfare.

Not so much when hunting.

As for the provenance of where I heard the FMJs make more stretcher bearers story, it was a big ugly USMC first sergeant who liked to yell, so as far as I know it's apocryphal, but I wasn't about to argue with him...

mariner said...

I had understood the rationale as Sebastian pointed out, more more ammo for the same weight -- justified by the idea that even if those itty bitty boolets didn't kill the enemy they still took him out of the fight.

Will said...

The problem with our currently used itty bitty boolets is they tend to not take them out of the fight as quickly as would be preferred. To the troops involved, the fact that the enemy you just hit may die of blood loss an hour or so later is not much consolation if he is still able and willing to pull trigger.
I think the idea of small cartridges allowing the troops to carry 3 times as much ammo is fallacious. If it takes multiple hits to put them down, there is no advantage. If the idea is the troops would rather hose the scenery with lots of bullets, maybe. But that's not very effective in a fire fight. Might keep their heads down, and that would be useful if waiting for air or arty, but that's not a reliable way to fight in a lot of cases.

Geodkyt said...

5.56 not only allows more ammo per pound, but it is more controllable. The controllability issue applies to everyone, but even more so with new troops than with old experienced NCOs. Since there are more new troops than old wizened Master Sergeants, maximizing the weapons system for PVT Snuffy makes sense.

In a military setting, you WANT penetration -- even before body armor. You need to be able to poke a hole in the guy, even if you hit him in the pack and magae to puch into his spare water bottle. Then there is also the hard penetration -- either diasbling a light unarmored vehicle, or hitting the guy who thinks that the door of the Toyota pick up he is hiding behind constitutes "cover".

Expanding bullets, by and large, suck in comparison, in those circumstances.

The Hague conventions really focus on "unnecessary suffering" rather than unecessary injury -- although I believe they do specifically call out bullets whose jackets expose lead AND are designed to expand as examples of "causes unnecessary suffering".

As for the provenance of "old salts" telling you about how you are supposed to wound rather than kill, consider this:

I'll bet that same USMC 1SG also said that it is illegal to use .50BMG on people, but OK to use it on "equipment and material" (meaning, you can shoot him in the uniform, and if teh bullet passes through and drills him. . . it's just collateral damage. . .

(The basic rule is there are valid weapons and valid targets. As long as you choose one menu item from each side, you're golden -- unless you run afoul of the "unnecessary collateral damage", like using a MOAB to get a sniper out of an orphanage full of babies.)

Geodkyt said...


Do you know what the nickname of the original XM16 (the AR15 BEFORE the Army tinkered with the ammo and forgot to issue cleaning kits) was in initial testing in Vietnam?

"The Meataxe"

Based on the wounds it's tiny little pellets left, as they tumbled and fragmented explosively.

The problem with the current generation of 5.56mm rifles is that they have chosen a 14.5" carbine barrel, combined with a heavier bullet, which flies slower.

The slower the bullet is going when it hits, the less damage it does -- at the same speeds, M193 and M855 do remarkeably similar damage. But with an M4, that range is limited to about 50-75 meters, as oppsed to nearly 200m with the old M193 out of a 20" barrel. (And yes, M193 does just fine out of a 1:7" twist. It even hits with a couple of inches of where M855 would from the same 20" barrel out to about 300m.)

Out to about 200 meters (which is WELL over the average infantry firefight range in the modern era), M855 and M193 from 20" barrels do at least as much damage to human targets -- more at closer ranges.

The reasons are simple:

1. 7.62x51mm FMJ (like USGI M80 ball) takes longer to tumble -- it tends to exit the body before it's even reached a 90 degree tumble. Bigger bullet, more interia to overcome to get that hydrodynamically stable "base first" travel going. (Same thing happens pretty much all the other ".30-ish" Main Battle Rifle rounds, for the same reason.) All that extra energy ends up being used on the landscape BEHIND the target, rather than used inside the target to chew things up.

2. M80 ball doesn't fragment like M855 and M193. Bigger bullet, tumbles slower (because it IS slower), and the larger bullet ALSO has a heavier jacket that isn't as compromised by the cannelure as the M855 and M193.

betcha didn't know that M855 has better hard penetration than M80 out a decent range for an infantryman, AND even the M193 can drill through one side of a standard steel helmet at 800m?

The Marines weren't noticing lethality problems from their full length M16s and M249s, unlike the Army who has pretty much shifted wholesale to M4 carbines and the short "para" barrel on the M249.

As for bullets hitting large bones -- ANY of these rounds will screw your day up if they get a solid hit on a bone at a decent velocity. Whether it's 5.56 or 7.62 will be somewhat academic to you as they are fitting you for your new prosthetic (presuming you don't bleed out).

Don't confuse the change to 5.56mm with the change to 9mm. With the pistols, the size matters, as neither 9mm FMJ nor .45ACP FMJ expand much of anything, and even tumbling they aren't making a much bigger hole. The bigger hole is generally going to let more red stuff out and stand a better chance of hitting something irreplaceable -- and the only way to realistically get a bigger hole with a service caliber using FMJ is to use bigger bullets. (Civilian or cop on the street? 9mm is fine and dandy -- you can use modern JHPs, and bore size shrinks in importance to your ability to hit with THAT gun. If you can make more, better, hits with 9mm, be my guest. If something that starts with a "4" makes you feel warm and snuggly, that's OK too.)

GuardDuck said...

Going off of memory here, so bear with any mistakes.

Hague convention was originally called by the Tzar in 1899.

Among the things agreed to at the convention was the limitations on what newer technologies could be used in warfare. Such as limiting projectiles which expel gas, firing projectiles or explosives from balloons and projectiles which flatten or expand.

From our perspective some of these limitations seem rather silly. What's the practical difference between dropping an explosive from a balloon or from an airplane?

But if you look at it from the perspective of those who wrote and signed on to the treaty you can see it from a different angle.

These men had seen massive, revolutionary changes in warfare throughout their lifetimes. From muzzle loading rifles to rapid firing cartridge fed weapons. From black powder line of sight artillery to rapid fire indirect fire long range artillery. From low order black powder explosive shells to high explosive dynamite, cordite, nitrite and other high order explosive shells.

The industrial revolution had increased the ability of armies to mass, move and supply. The battlefield had gotten bigger and deadlier. The honor of the soldier had turned into the slaughter of reality.

And this scared them.

They wanted to reduce the effect and ability of these new scary weapons to change the style of warfare they were used to.

This is really no different than our current prohibitions on weapons in space. Really, does it matter if your city is nuked by an ICBM out of siberia or a nuke dropped from a space station? The end result is the same, it's the change that makes people cringe.

Dead is dead, but a Roman who died at Cannae would be horrified at the long distance slaughter to be seen an Waterloo. One of Napoleon's Old Guard would see no honor to be found at Gettysburg. Even Sherman would find the Battle of the Somme to be to horrible to contemplate.

That's really what the prohibition of 'dum dum' bullets is all about, old men wanting to stop technology from changing the face of warfare that they were used to.

There is no such sentimentality when it comes to shooting for food. Oh wait, there is. Bow-hunting, muzzle loading hunts are all different takes of the sentimentality of how it used to be.

Tam said...


The pre-M16 Colts got the "meataxe" reputation using 55gr bullets out of 20"/1-in-14 twist bbls at close range.

The effect was lessened by the 1-in-12 twist of the production rifles, and is reduced even further with heavier bullets out of shorter, faster-twist tubes.

A lot of people I have talked to or corresponded with whose opinions I trust seem to that think a lot of other factors are also in play in the current discussions from the sandbox.

1) "You shoot at a guy on a ridge 300yds away and he runs off after being hit." vs. "You shoot at a guy on a ridge 300yds away and miss, and he runs off." Unless you're looking through a magnifying optic, how do you tell the difference?

2) "I emptied a full magazine into him and he kept coming until Ramirez dropped him with the SAW," can frequently be translated as "I shot at him a whole bunch and I'm sure I was hitting him, and then Ramirez lit him up with the SAW."

3) The average soldier of today has often never handled a real firearm before basic, much less gone hunting. Someone who has watched a lot of Hollywood and never seen a deer run a hundred yards or more after being gutshot with a 7mm Rem Mag is likely to have unrealistic performance expectations of shoulder-fired weaponry, to say the least.

reflectoscope said...

So many big juicy brains here, I don't really have anything to add that would improve the discussion!

In any event, if I ever have to fire a weapon at the enemy, I'd prefer it be a radio with a battery of M777s at the other end.


RC said...

"All that extra energy [of the m80] ends up being used on the landscape BEHIND the target, rather than used inside the target to chew things up."

"betcha didn't know that M855 has better hard penetration than M80 out a decent range for an infantryman, AND even the M193 can drill through one side of a standard steel helmet at 800m?"

Those two statements are contradictory. Either the M80 out-penetrates M885, thus dumping all of it's energy "in the terrain behind the target" and M885 doesn't have much penetration, thus dumping all of its energy in its target, or "M855 has better hard penetration than M80." Which would mean M855 would out-penetrate M80.

It can't be both.

BTW, my understanding is that 5.56x45's tendency to yaw means it actually doesn't really penetrate hard targets all that well, which is why some like to use it as a home defense round, because it will break up in the walls faster and penetrate less than other rifle or pistol rounds.

My own personal experience with .308 Winchester leads me to believe that it will turn just about any cover into concealment really, really fast. And that's using soft-point deer rounds, not armor-piercing rounds.

Tam said...


"It can't be both.

BTW, my understanding is that 5.56x45's tendency to yaw means it actually doesn't really penetrate hard targets all that well

Armor piercing and deep penetration in a semi-fluid medium are governed by two completely different sets of variables.

A 300gr hard cast SWC will shoot clean through a bison and turn into a gray splotch on a piece of 1/2" face-hardened armor plate. M855 will come apart in the bison and drill through the plate.

Bullet shape, velocity, composition, weight... there are plenty of variables at work here.

Gewehr98 said...

Apples and oranges, really.

Buddy of mine used his 6.5-06 with a 120gr Sierra HPBT MatchKing to shoot a deer in Texas. It went clean through Bambi, leaving at best a very faint blood trail which he promptly lost in the late afternoon light. He never did find the deer, and as somebody who's seen untracked wounded deer ending up jamming a combine's front end during the harvest, I taught him a few choice new words.

I was so pissed at his ineptitude that I took the rifle's bolt from him for a full year. I gave it back to him after presenting him with a box of 6.5mm 120gr Nosler Ballistic Tips for use in the 6.5-06 on deer.

UCMJ and Hague Conventions notwithstanding, I understand the difference between FMJ for war and softpoints for venison. The M82A1s my pals had in service were called "anti-materiel" rifles, but that was a concession to JAG, when it was well known they would also be used in an anti-personnel role, albeit after going through a wall or other concealment (you can't really call it "cover" against an incoming .50 BMG round, know what I mean?)

Jim said...

1985, I'm sitting about 8' off the ground in a low tree stand overlooking the Medina River just outside of Bandera, TX.

Yonder doe comes bounding out of the treeline, closely followed by a scrappy lil' forkhorn buck, sans brow tines. Dinner on the hoof, says I.

Son of Bambi has his nose so far up Fair Maiden's nether regions that he doesn't realize that his path is leading to one very dangerous tree.

The Weaver 4x atop my Remington 700 BDL in .30-'06 was completely full of hide when I squeezed off the zero-lead, zero deflection shot, at 90 degrees straight down.

Winchester white-box, 150 gr. Range? About four feet.

He ran a measured 78 yards, and upon field dressing, I found that the round had entered just to the left of the left backstrap, driven downward, rending the heart into nothing more than red jelly, nicked the right lung and then exited the bottom of the ribcage with no futher damage.

Just for context, he dressed out at just over 80 lbs, so live weight might have been 110/120-ish. (Texas Hill Country deer tend to the small side.)

No guessing as to what energy he was hit with, it was closer to the muzzle than you'd normaly set up a chronograph.

I can't speak as to projectile expansion regarding the damage found, but I can say that the shot was devestatingly lethal upon impact, but had Son of Bambi been a soldier, he'd have still have had some fight in him.

Until, that is, the brain said "night night" in protest of oxygen deprivation.

All I know is this; I don't wanna get shot with nuttin, no matter what.

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

unix-jedi said...

To compare and contrast, the last two deer I shot (both with .270 Win 130 gr Silvertips):

Doe, 120 yards, shot entered on left side, exited impacting right shoulder, smashing shoulder out, bullet unrecoverable, DRT. Kicked twice.

Doe, 220 yards, shot entered right side, exited left about mid-chest, between ribs in and out. .27 hole in. .27 hole out. Deer ran 40 yards before expiration. (through and through both ribs.)

Thinking of the hundreds of deer shot with .36 blackpowder, .32-20s with lead bullets and the like, meh.

Shoot 'em good, hit the heart or lung, and anything works fine.

I strongly suspect it's the same for the Hottentots.

I won't address the "legal" aspect of either.

Anonymous said...


This thread has solidified my preference for the Desert Storm brand of warfare as opposed to Shockin' Ya'll...

So clean, remote...and short.

Hardball, softip, expander, exploder...thin n' zippy or fat n' thumpy...none of it means squat if one cadre of combatants is calling the shots from a floating airport ten miles offshore. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Don Meaker said...

Teddy Roosevelt wrote that soldiers hit by 7mm Mauser were killed if hit in brain, heart or spine, and recovered surprisingly quickly if hit anywhere else.

Larger caliber gives you a better chance to take a nick out of those vital organs. Faster rounds give you a chance of hitting the liver, and it may tear, being less flexible than most other organs (except bones).

Don Meaker said...

My understanding of Hague convention is that the Swiss Rubin invented the jacketed bullet to permit higher velocities, but different folks stole the idea and applied the jacket differently. The Germans applied it with the base exposed, the Brits applied it with the tip exposed. At the Hague, the Germans arrived with hunting ammunition exhibits that showed its greater effectiveness, and claimed that Brit rounds would act the same. In reality, at high enough velocity any round will fragment. In modern times, The German 7.62 NATO with steel jacket will fragment at lower velocities than the US Bronze Jacket 7.62 NATO.

bmayer said...

For those commenting about .30-06 vs 5.56mm, get a copy of "An Effectiveness Study of the Infantry Rifle" by Donald L. Hall of the Ballistic Research Laboratories Dec 1956. This document can be had from the national Technical information Service. Or if you ask nice I will see if I can make a pdf.

This is *the* public document that outlines the militaries thinking about small arms logistics. For the area it covers it is an excellent analysis. The problem is that it leaves a lot of things out, like penetration of buildings made out of hard brick.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Different situations entirely, IMHO. BS Philo has it right. The catch is, both sides have their perceptual skews, one from pure hubris, the other from 'fog'.

Bram said...

Geodkyt - I hear that 200 meter engagement thing all the time. Except for urban combat situations, the experiences in Afghanistan and both Gulf Wars has been the exact opposite. Most engagements at 300+ yards.

As Tam said - The original M16 (low twist, 49grain round, 20" barrel) did some fearsome damage in Vietnam at short range. Now with heavier stable bullets, 1/7 twist, and shorter rifles - that massive tumble is gone.

Ian Argent said...

Supposedly, one of the reasons the US Army wants more ammo per soldier (and to a certain extent the USMC as well; though they do things a little different, including training to hit targets farther out than the Army and generally carrying the M-16A4 instead of the M4) is that the American way of war often involved what amounts to pinning your opponent to a map referent and then calling in supporting arms to finish him off. This tends to lead to a lot of bullets expended per target; most of which aren't going to end up in that target anyway.

when you're in a situation where the enemy doesn't pin worth a damn, or can break and run before the supporting arms get there; OTOH... Friend of mine who was in the Sandbox as one of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children recounted to me recently a tale of having to wait for a flyboy to come by, overfly the target to confirm, and then blow the target's shorts off because the ROE restricted the use of indirect-fire ordnance and someone with the mortars got cold feet about delivering a fire mission even in a circumstance the ROE permitted...

Overload in Colorado said...

If a 7.62x51mm over penetrates, what is it being shot out of? That is, is it being fired by a 24.7" barreled M240 or a 22" barreled M14? If so, what will happen if it's fired out of a 14.5" barreled carbine? Might velocity come down enough that it will tumble 90deg?

Tam said...

"That is, is it being fired by a 24.7" barreled M240 or a 22" barreled M14? If so, what will happen if it's fired out of a 14.5" barreled carbine?"



Clint said...

We need to remember that there are reasons people start doing things and reasons people keep doing things.

To side step the FMJ vs SP vs HP for a moment...

The M-16 and 5.56 was because the Army, really wanted full auto rifles. When that didn't work out the military kept the weapons and just dropped the full auto.

Much like FMJ ammo. 111+ years ago it seemed like a good idea, and it probable was given some of the soft point tech of the time. So why do we stick with it? First, someone might make ammo that is inhumane and somehow nasty to medics (or some other craziness) and new accords would need to be carefully worded to avoid that. (Sadly one cannot remove an old law without making a new one.)

The second reason we stick with it, and possibly the real reason: Because we've always done it that way...

Ian Argent said...

Let's hear it for policy inertia!

C Sherman said...

At the time that the Hague Conventions were enacted, the normal ballistics of a FMJ bullet resulted in a cleaner wound track than other bullets. This was because of slower velocities and more stable bullet designs. Bullets designed or modified to expand or fragment were "inhumane" because medical practice of the day defaulted to amputation when wounds became too drastic. They idea of a dynamically unstable bullet like the modern military boattails may not have been explicitly developed in reaction to this, but the fact that this neatly side-stepped the Hague prohibitions was not unnoticed. Also, hollow-point ammunition is not prohibited, only those bullets designed to expand or fragment. So bullets that use the hollow point to improve ballistics or accuracy are permissable...even if they do fragment or expand because of the hollow point.

The business about the terminal ballistics of the 5.56 bullets at long ranges (300m+) is a bit of a red herring. As Tam pointed out, most soldiers can't reliably hit a 300m target under any sort of stress or less than ideal conditions. Some can, and I know that everyone here can hit 10x10 on the "pop up, shoot back" range, but most can't...even highly trained Marines. So anything that increases the chances of a hit at those ranges, such as reduced recoil or less fatigue from humping a heavy rifle and ammo, automatically improves the terminal ballistics over those of a miss. As a lifelong Soldier, I'm of the opinion that you are wasting rifle ammo at those ranges, which is why God and Browning (PBUH) invented Ma Duece. I do believe that we need to spend a bit more effort on optimizing our bullets for maximum effectiveness, but the caliber itself is sound.

The M16A4 vs. M4 debate is largely moot, as each service used different criteria for making their selection. From the Army point of view, the 'close fight' and particularly the urban battle is extraordinarily lethal and is the most likely environment that the Army must fight in for the next 25 or so years. The M4 is extremely effective at close ranges and CQB, where weapon speed and reflexive shooting is a survival determinant. The Marines have always valued long-distance marksmanship, and the M16A4 satisfies their desire for 400m+ accuracy.

Also, the canard that the .50 caliber is 'illegal' to use against personnel is a myth. There is nothing in the Hague Convention that prohibits it. The confusion may be because the .50 caliber round was originally considered an anti-tank caliber. There is a possible grey area regarding the use of explosive or incendiary bullets in sniper-type anti-personnel applications, but I don't think anyone will ever bother to seriously explore that. (I've heard that such bullets are not ballistically consistent enough for effective sniping, so it may not even be an issue.)

My $0.02...your mileage may vary.