One of these things is not like the others

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Re: One of these things is not like the others

Post by Fred » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:13 pm

Bob Fell wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:06 pm
The thing about these British lightweight rounds was poor ballistic performance and stopping power, bit like the early M16 rounds which had a tendency to tumble at longer ranges. The NATO SS109 ended up being accepted having defeated these problems being slightly heavier with increased propellant, a boat shaped round with a tungsten core in front of the main core with a small air gap at the tip within the jacket causing the tungsten core to punch out and splay the jacket when it hits you.

I remember reading about an exchange of fire in the Falklands between the RM naval gunfire support team armed with M16s and some Argentine commandos armed with 7.62 FALs. I think two Brits were each hit by a single 7.62 round and stayed down while at least one of the Argentinians was hit several times with a 5.56 before he quit. But, I cannot vouch for the veracity of this. The AR15 was being used well prior to this in the Far East and I recall that there was also some concern about the 5.56mm round being deflected off vegetation and lacking the punch of the SLR's 7.62. Again, it may be apocryphal, but I recall stories of Armalites being carried when the likelihood of an engagement was slight because they were Gucci and lightweight but, if there was any real expectation of running in to trouble, SLRs became the weapon of choice. However... all this could be mere soldiers' tales because, as far as I know, the SAS used Armalites quite happily from the late 60s or early 70s on and, if there had been any suggestion that they weren't up to it, they'd have been ditched pretty smartish, I'd have thought.


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Re: One of these things is not like the others

Post by Tinweasel » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:08 am

I'm finding it difficult to get much information on the 4.85 performance and the reasoning for not choosing it. However in comparison to the 5.56 it seems good at least one paper, 4.85 refers to the distance between the lands on the barrel of the weapon as opposed to the diameter of the bullet which is 5mm. It weighs in at 55 grains which I believe is the same as the SS 109 round that was chosen. It travels faster and has a flattering trajectory than the SS 109 making it easier to shoot accurately. And was available for testing with a penetrator or without.

It is possible that over penetration was as issue but until I can find some reports on it I can't tell. I'm beginning to suspect the issues were similar to the earlier .280 British, a round put up for adoption in the 50's. It's ballistic performance and stopping power seem to have been superior to the American 7.62, felt recoil was much lower and it was a smaller round. It's only problem seems to have been the Americans who buried reports, lied and generally refused to accept anything but an American developed round, they then started producing the M14, went to Vietnam and realised that a battle rifle capable of full auto chambered for 7.62 was fairly uncontrollable, cancelled the M14 and changed over to the M16 with it's 5.56 rounds.

I suspect (not proof, just opinion) America didn't want to have to change its weapon system and we're determined to bring 5.56 in as the standard.

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Re: One of these things is not like the others

Post by Dodge » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:22 am

I've seen wounds sustained by both and a 7.62 is like an elephant gun compared to the NATO 5.56... Although I have a couple of close friend that has taken a number 7.62 rounds at close range both are still upright and kind of normal, both cases they were lucky though, bullets were through and through in soft tissue and had minimal deflection... I also have another friend that was hit in the face with a 5.56 at close range and he's still here too and he seemed to survive that because of deflection., so I guess mostly luck is involved in how and what hits you :)

I served through the transition of 7.62 to 5.56 and the advertised reasoning at the time were 3 fold, NATO agreement on a cross forces capability. Lighter weight so more ammunition can be carried into battle / delayed replenishment etc. although you have to fire more to get the job done I suppose. And the ballistic nature of the 5.56 round meant it was more likely to maim rather than kill, the size of the round means it deflects more dramatically when it enters the body, it takes more people and resources to care for an injured soldier over a dead one.

Through many fire power trials in my unit during that transition period we continued to use GPMGs along side the SA80/M16 and occasionally when accurate heavy fire power was needed 7.62 converted Bren Guns came out to replace the GPMGs to but as soon as the SLR left service I never saw one again...

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