Thursday, August 25, 2011

British Soldiers Complaining About the 5.56 NATO Round

I recently came across this post at the Firearms Blog, citing some criticism (perhaps "observation" is a better word) of the 5.56 mm NATO round on longer ranges. This has long been recognized as an issue with the 5.56 mm, and is a particular problem with the shorter-barreled M-4 . Tom Clancy's book on the Special Forces had made mention of the Special Forces community recognizing the limited range of the 5.56 mm in the 1980's as a potential problem in desert warfare. The limited range and power is one of the reasons for the U.S. fielding .308 weapons for designated marksmen in the current conflicts. (To be fair, however, the .308 is, itself, underpowered for the long distances shot by snipers in Afghanistan).

The lesson to be learned? Firearms (including the ammunition) are tools, and you must select the right one for the job. The 5.56 mm has proven to be an accurate and, relative to other FMJ ammunition, deadly at short to medium ranges such as the jungles faced in Vietnam, and the urban warfare in the current conflicts. But if you need longer range, or to punch through walls, then you need something different.

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