Congress Wants to Know Why Soldiers, Marines Don’t Use the Same Rifle Ammo

http://kitup.military.com/2016...ines-rifle-ammo.html

Congress Wants to Know Why Soldiers, Marines Don’t Use the Same Rifle Ammo

The Marine Corps and the Army use different rifle ammo — and Congress is demanding a report explaining why.

The final joint version of the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Appropriations Act, released Wednesday, includes a provision requiring the secretary of defense to submit a report to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees explaining why the two services are using different types of 5.56 mm ammunition for their M16A4 and M4 rifles.

According to the provision, the report must be submitted within 180 days after the bill, which includes the entire defense budget for the coming year, is enacted.

If the secretary of defense does not determine that an “emergency” requires the Army and Marine Corps to use the two different types of rifle ammo, they must begin using one standard kind within a year after the bill is passed, it states.

This provision, introduced by the House of Representatives, addresses a longstanding difference in procurement strategies between the two services. The Marine Corps uses an M855 5.56 mm round, while the Army uses the M855A1. The Army moved away from the M855 in 2010 after finding that the M855A1 steel-and-copper round performed better. The Marine Corps planned to do the same, but the project was sidetracked in 2009 when some bullets did not follow their trajectory in testing.

In 2015, Marine Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, then commanding general of Marine Corps Systems Command, told a congressional panel there were plans to test the M855A1 rounds again.

“What we are pursuing in a new round … are three things — precision, lethality and reduced signature or muzzle suppression,” he said.

Regards.

Mark

Formerly known as ML

Original Post

I'm confused... I thought the USMC was using the Mk 318 SOST round for combat ops? The article says it's M855 vs M855A1.

ETA: Nevermind- I read the wrong article, the new one mentions Mk 318 too.

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John Plaster had a pretty informative write up in American Rifleman on this issue. It's about two years old now but worth a read in my opinion.  

https://www.americanrifleman.o...dard-ball-cartridge/

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ggammell posted:

And with Mattis selected as the next SecDef, can we guess what the outcome is going to be?

If I were to guess, I think he will pick the most effective of the choices offered.  I believe he is a very rational man and although he was a Marine why would he consider Marine bean counters, better than Army bean counters?

 

 

"nobody understands Thomas except Thomas," Rudyard Kipling, Soldiers Three
          NE Texas

The Secdef will have nothing to do with the acquisition of a new round. Some LTC in a PM office will make the decision based on the advice from one of his supporting staff (likely a GS-12 somewhere). The decision will have some science behind it slanted in the direction they want to slant it. Truth may or may not be included depending on the particular GS civilian involved. Most likely it will be whichever option provides them more job security with less work. 

 

I could be entirely wrong but that's my assumption based on watching acquisition decisions daily. 

There is no reason for two DODICs for the standard small arms ammo used by our two ground combat forces. Seems like a crappy position to be in if we entered an actual war.

Generally, the Army makes pretty stupid calls when it comes to most things small arms, but the Marine Corps is smaller, and should be subordinate on matters like basic ammunition procurement. Most of the ACOGs need to be sent back for refurbishment of the tritium anyway, adjusting the stadia for a flatter shooting round doesn't sound unreasonable.

I'm ignorant. Does the fact that two or more services use different rounds constitute a problem? In the quantities all these organizations make their purchases, does this make things appreciably more expensive?  Do we NOT want to allow the services to decide on what rounds they want to match their equipment and mission? How many people here prefer it when the big green weenie allows us on the unit level to procure what we think we need in terms of various kinds of gear? Is ammo different? Do we want to make everyone use the same rifle, the same SAW, and the same ammo for each? How about sights? Do we want SECDEF to decree one RDS  or optic for all M4's?

 

Adversity is another way to measure the greatness of individuals.  -Lou Holtz

Maskirovka posted:

I'm ignorant. Does the fact that two or more services use different rounds constitute a problem? In the quantities all these organizations make their purchases, does this make things appreciably more expensive?  Do we NOT want to allow the services to decide on what rounds they want to match their equipment and mission? How many people here prefer it when the big green weenie allows us on the unit level to procure what we think we need in terms of various kinds of gear? Is ammo different? Do we want to make everyone use the same rifle, the same SAW, and the same ammo for each? How about sights? Do we want SECDEF to decree one RDS  or optic for all M4's?

I can think of a few things, though they might not necessarily be applicable in this case.  

If the ammunition is ballistically off enough that one service can't readily use the other service's ammunition without sight adjustment.  In another war, there might not be as easy resupply as there is now.  Think WWII or Korea in which Army or Marine units are fighting on the same front.  You need .30 cal ammo and if you're a Marine with an M1903 that uses 5rd clips, getting your ammo in 8rd Garand clips is a problem.  If one service has significantly superior ammo in terms of accuracy, reliability, lethality, wouldn't it make sense for everyone to use it?

Spare parts acquisition and delivery.  Rifles and carbines use different receiver extensions, buffers, springs, extractor springs & o-rings, handguards, gas tubes, barrels, etc.  

Different RDS can mean different batteries, different mounts, etc.

Unless there is a reason to use something different, I think uniformity where practical is preferable.

-------------------------

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Swear allegiance to the flag Whatever flag they offer

Never hint at what you really feel

Teach the children quietly For some day sons and daughters

Will rise up and fight while we stood still

 

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In peacetime at low production rate there is (technically) no problem.

In the real world you've complicated things as now there are three separate 5.56mm ammo lines.

We provide NATO-spec M855 to most of the force and to allies under NATO Standardization Agreements.  I'm curious to see what will happen when allies pick up 855A1 from our Ammo Supply Points to use in their rifles and carbines.

The Marines have their own Gucci 5.56mm lines -- except for the fact that bulk theater logistics are handled by the Army.  If the Army has to carry it then you have to manage separate lines as well (M855 and 855A1; Mark 318 and 294 for Marines; Mark 262 for SOCOM units).  Shipping it to Army units may have to happen if you have local shortfalls.  Hilarity ensues when zeroes are off.  

Services may or may not become pissed off when ordnance they pay for out of their service budgets gets parceled out like free Reese's Cups to other "Customers."

DocGKR posted:

These remain the best articles on this subject:

http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=2879

http://www.gunsandammo.com/uncategor...rs-and-marines

The USSOCOM/USMC SOST is a superior round for carbines, but Big Army wants M855A1 despite numerous continuing issues. I am also sure Army wants this settled before a potential SecDef Mattis is in charge....

Couple more recent articles: Someone is misled. Get a load of THIS:

 

-Sanchez also asked Army officials about complaints that the newer M855A1 is causing excessive wear on M4s over time.

"It has been suggested that the Army's round does damage to the weapon it is used in. Do you agree with that?" she asked.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson, military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology, did not agree.

"I have no test data to support that it caused more jamming or damage to the weapon," he said. "We are confident that we have picked the correct round, and we continue to support that." -

http://www.military.com/daily-...r-m16-m4-bullet.html

 

More here on recent article. Problems with M855A1 firing from Marine's IAR M27. Solution? A "New magazine". (Really?) The  Magpul PMAG. Sounds like they are underplaying the over pressured round shortening parts life span with excessive wear.

 

Preliminary results of an Army test to see how the service's M855A1 5.56mm round performs in Marine Corps weapons show that the enhanced performance round causes reliability and durability problems in the Marine M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, service officials say.

The Marine Corps in March added the M27 and the M16A4 rifles to the Army's ongoing testing of M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland after lawmakers questioned why the Army and the Marines use two different types of 5.56mm ammunition.

"One of the reasons we were doing that test was because of congressional language from last year that said 'you two services need to look at getting to a common round,' so we heard Congress loud and clear last year," Col. Michael Manning, program manager for the Marine Corps Infantry Weapon Systems, told Military.com in a Dec. 15 Interview.

Lawmakers again expressed concern this year in the final joint version of the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Appropriations Act, which includes a provision requiring the secretary of defense to submit a report to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees explaining why the two services are using different types of 5.56 mm ammunition.

Congress has approved the provision, but the bill is awaiting President Barack Obama's signature. The report must be submitted within 180 days after enactment of the legislation, which includes the entire defense budget for the coming year.

If the secretary of defense does not determine that an "emergency" requires the Army and Marine Corps to use the two different types of rifle ammo, they must begin using a common 5.56mm round within a year after the bill is passed, it states.

"The 2017 NDAA language doesn't surprise us; we kind of figured they were going to say that," Manning said.

http://www.military.com/daily-...-m27-auto-rifle.html

Dorsai posted:
Maskirovka posted:

I'm ignorant. Does the fact that two or more services use different rounds constitute a problem? In the quantities all these organizations make their purchases, does this make things appreciably more expensive?  Do we NOT want to allow the services to decide on what rounds they want to match their equipment and mission? How many people here prefer it when the big green weenie allows us on the unit level to procure what we think we need in terms of various kinds of gear? Is ammo different? Do we want to make everyone use the same rifle, the same SAW, and the same ammo for each? How about sights? Do we want SECDEF to decree one RDS  or optic for all M4's?

I can think of a few things, though they might not necessarily be applicable in this case.  

If the ammunition is ballistically off enough that one service can't readily use the other service's ammunition without sight adjustment.  In another war, there might not be as easy resupply as there is now.  Think WWII or Korea in which Army or Marine units are fighting on the same front.  You need .30 cal ammo and if you're a Marine with an M1903 that uses 5rd clips, getting your ammo in 8rd Garand clips is a problem.  If one service has significantly superior ammo in terms of accuracy, reliability, lethality, wouldn't it make sense for everyone to use it?

Spare parts acquisition and delivery.  Rifles and carbines use different receiver extensions, buffers, springs, extractor springs & o-rings, handguards, gas tubes, barrels, etc.  

Different RDS can mean different batteries, different mounts, etc.

Unless there is a reason to use something different, I think uniformity where practical is preferable.

The Marine Corps and the Army serve different roles.  Within those organizations there are many many different applications.  In the same way we have short, medium, and long barrel m4s we have different types of ammo for different jobs.  We have been engaged in sustained combat operations for the longest time in our nation's history.  On top of supplying ourselves we are also supporting NATO and host nation partners.  Issues have to my knowledge yet to arrive.  This stinks to me like a solution looking for a problem, maybe by some politicians that promised to be 'fiscally tough'.  Joni Ernst (R-IA) pressing Mattis on plans to upgrade small arms and service rifles and lack of lethality in the 5.56 standard during today's confirmation hearing, and I felt the same way.   There are more important things for the politicians we elect to build us a better tomorrow to be worrying about.  

I am wary of anything congress involves itself in....especially military affairs, being discussed  by non military people.

----------------------------

"Good landing, good fight, and good luck" James M. Gavin 09Jul43

 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

Maybe I'm just a dull Canadian, but why is there such difference between the services equipment? Camo, ammo, rifles, IAR, etc. 

Isnt life simpler and cheaper with common use equipment? Why the need for so many variations of the same kit for the same job? 

Do marines, sailors, army etc need three different uniform patterns and designs for the same AOs? Is there a need for every service to have a different variant of the M4/M16 platform with different ammo?

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The US Army and USMC are very proud of their tradition of service specific clusterfucks, that's why.

That and no one wants to be mistaken for the US Navy.

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FourNinerZero posted:

Maybe I'm just a dull Canadian, but why is there such difference between the services equipment? Camo, ammo, rifles, IAR, etc. 

Isnt life simpler and cheaper with common use equipment? Why the need for so many variations of the same kit for the same job? 

Do marines, sailors, army etc need three different uniform patterns and designs for the same AOs? Is there a need for every service to have a different variant of the M4/M16 platform with different ammo?

A couple of reasons:

1.  We decided we can afford it and Congress want's to pat themselves with their self licking ice cream cone.

2.  Nobody at the top of chain of command has said "SHUT UP AND UNFUCK YOURSELF!" since President Reagan.

3.  Somebody needs an evaluation that says they're special.

4.  What Kalterserz said.

 

 

 

 

....

Sincerely,

 

Trajan Aurelius

 

 

When violence is the local language, be fluent.

 

"It makes no difference what men think of war," said the Judge.  "War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone.  War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him.  The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.  That is the way it was and will be.  That way and not some other way.” Cormac McCarthy, "Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West"

My god.

Just field the damn 6.8SPC or .276 peterson or whatever the hell already and stop trying to eek out every last cunt-hair of terminal effectiveness from the .223.  This has just gone too far, IMO. The military has proven that money doesn't matter, anyway. Look up the Paladin. The carbine competition. How much money was just spent on picking a PISTOL!? Surely we could re-barrel some M4's and drop in new bolts.

WS6 posted:

...Look up the Paladin...

Pretty sure issuing an M109 to everyone  is not the way to go, so what do you mean? 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

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shoobe01 posted:
WS6 posted:

...Look up the Paladin...

Pretty sure issuing an M109 to everyone  is not the way to go, so what do you mean? 

I flubbed. I meant Crusader. A perfect example of why I do NOT want more funding to go to the military, and why I DO NOT think the military has a funding issue, and why I oppose ANY increase in military spending. They have a fucked in the committee issue. Not a funding problem. Spend what you have. Smarter. On things that will actually benefit the fine people serving our country, and once they retire. Sorry, but I get pissed when I see what our DoD's budget is, and how jacked a lot of other programs in the US are, and then I read things like the M855A1 and Crusader and Pistol competition, and then see how the VA's funding is getting my friends treated (or NOT treated).

6.8SPC is not the answer. We are invested, heavily, in the 5.56mm caliber. A caliber swap makes about as much sense as the rest of your ranting.

That being said, standardizing on the Mk318 or M855A1 needs to happen. For my money the Mk318 makes more sense, but I'm not a genius.

"We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful."

WS6,

Do a search on "stay in your lane".  Unless you've got significant, pertinent experience in this area and have the information to support your statements, better to read more, post less.  Based on your profile, your experience is civilian, non-LEO, non-Military, non-Government.  Knowledge based primarily on what you've read in other forums, internet commentary, etc.  is insufficient.

-------------------------

Mark

Swear allegiance to the flag Whatever flag they offer

Never hint at what you really feel

Teach the children quietly For some day sons and daughters

Will rise up and fight while we stood still

 

Joined:  2/24/2003                          Location:  Nevada, USA

PlasticMag posted:

6.8SPC is not the answer. We are invested, heavily, in the 5.56mm caliber. A caliber swap makes about as much sense as the rest of your ranting.

That being said, standardizing on the Mk318 or M855A1 needs to happen. For my money the Mk318 makes more sense, but I'm not a genius.

I have heard rumors that one of the design elements of one of the two rounds was making it environmentally friendly (or more so). I really hope that is not something we are really worrying about. 

This doesn't seem like an insurmountable problem.  Grab X number of off the shelf rifles with off the shelf ammo of both sorts.  Test how it feeds (any apparent damage to the feedway, number of stoppages under controlled conditions using existing magazines). Test pressure.  More is not better, and will lead to premature wear.  Test velocity at given points. Test intermediate barreir performance from different ranges. Test terminal performance at different ranges (within expected effective ranges). See which one performs better. Hell, even do a test to destruction of the weapon, and count how many rounds it took of each to do it.  Then compare the cost. If they are generally equal, the cheaper one wins. If one has an obvious advantage (flies further, faster, more accurately, kills shit better, etc), then extra cost an be explained. If not, cost IS a factor.

Note how I mentioned nothing about lead and environmental factors. 

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M855A1 presents a lot of unique challenges (since we hate to call things "problems" in the Army). It's loaded hotter than comparative rounds, it presents for loading at a different angle (so much so that the Army fielded a new magazine to avoid damaging the feed ramps of their rifles, and the new magazine is pretty terrible), and it apparently doesn't play well with the HK416 design which the Marines adopted for their IAR.

"We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful."

Dorsai posted:

WS6,

Do a search on "stay in your lane".  Unless you've got significant, pertinent experience in this area and have the information to support your statements, better to read more, post less.  Based on your profile, your experience is civilian, non-LEO, non-Military, non-Government.  Knowledge based primarily on what you've read in other forums, internet commentary, etc.  is insufficient.

I have roughly a decade of experience paying taxes, a sum of which go to bullshit like the Crusader, these pistol trials, etc. So yes, this most certainly "is my lane".

That said, I freely admit that I am ignorant of the specific road quite a bit, and quite often at times, and am quite open to learning and improving my understanding. So far, my understanding is that throughout the last roughly 70 years, multiple studies have concluded that a bullet of 6.5-7mm at 25-2800fps or so is optimal, and time and time again, the military makes other choices. First it was the full-size .30's, even though the .276 was deemed technically superior. Then it was the 5.56x45, then we had the whole 6.8SPC deal, and again, when they put forth an improvement, we ended up with 2 "competing" ammunition designs, one on the ragged edge trying to meet some arbitrary terminal performance at distance (which they have backed off of as noted lower in the thread), etc.

 

I'm sorry, but to me, the US Taxpayer, it looks like a cluster. But you're right. What do I know? I have to balance my checkbook, so my situation is different, and I'm probably looking at things wrongly. However, when I DO have a wrongful understanding, and someone like you says "just stay in your lane (implication: I'm military and know what I'm talking about)", it sounds a lot like "fuck off...but please keep paying for this shit."

 

So...please explain to me why Liberty Ammunition's idea was stolen, and then how much had to be spent to get it to work for the military, when Liberty was using it just fine previous? I mean, that's what I'm irritated over. Couldn't have just stuck with the barnes 70gr that USASOC already uses the hell out of. Couldn't have just used MK318 that the Marines enjoy. No. Had to steal something, dick it up, un-dick it, and now...?

 

If I am out of my lane understanding-wise, then I'd appreciate clarification. Thanks.

RyanScott posted:

Lead remediation at DoD ranges is a concern as is airborne lead from firing (which is still present in both).

As I understand it the pressure of M855A1 has been reduced and is now similar to Mk262, which is itself hard on guns but not unworkable. 

More lead issues from primers than anything, not to mention all that wonderful tungsten they dumped into the dirt. It was never about "being green", IMO. That was just a way to shuffle it past budget committees is my "outside my lane guess", either that, or we have people dumb as dirt making these decisions, because correct me if I am out of my lane, but we didn't "just discover" that tungsten powder + drinking water = Bad, and bullets + steel = powder.

RyanScott posted:

The tungsten was a proposal that was shelved during development of M855A1. 

Correct. The stuff I have now is copper jacket, steel tip, copper rear/core. The tungsten was shelved allegedly in part due to accuracy issues. That said, I'm averaging 4.55MOA for 10-shot groups with the new stuff, out of a proven 1-1.5MOA gun. Could just be a bad lot, but that really does go right in line with what Dr. Roberts said about "sure, it shoots <2moa now, but just wait..."

WS6 posted:
RyanScott posted:

The tungsten was a proposal that was shelved during development of M855A1. 

Correct. The stuff I have now is copper jacket, steel tip, copper rear/core. The tungsten was shelved allegedly in part due to accuracy issues. That said, I'm averaging 4.55MOA for 10-shot groups with the new stuff, out of a proven 1-1.5MOA gun. Could just be a bad lot, but that really does go right in line with what Dr. Roberts said about "sure, it shoots <2moa now, but just wait..."

Which ASP are you drawing them from? 

___________________________________________________________________

I'm either dead right, or horribly wrong. Either way the results should be entertaining.

 

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WyattT posted:

Where is all this brown tip 70gr Barnes? I've never seen it, nor do I see a lot of m855a1. Who is shooting 855a1, infantry guys, support? All I see is m855 and a little mk262

We have M855A1 here in POGville in Germany.  I've been here since 2014, and we went from M855 to M855A1 in 2015 or 2016.  We only get to zero and qual, no additional shooting.  We also just got brand new M4A1s (FN) late last year.  The M855A1 seems to be more accurate than the M855 in both the M4A1s and the M16A2s  we had before we got the M4A1s.  I didn't notice extreme recoil or pressure signs on the casings.   FWIW we were using a number of old Green and Black follower mags, with no notable failures to feed.  Again, we are only doing zero and qual.  The packing cases had cards in them indicating that they were different and to verify that the range was certified to use them.   

MAJ now LTC Glen Dean, who was on the M855A1 team has released a document titled "In Search of Lethality: Green Ammo and the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round" on the development of the M855A1 and claims that they used the green bullet money and some money from SOCOM to improve the lethality.   I purchased a copy on nook.   It's interesting, but I'd like some verification from another source.

Didn't one of our LF guys mention M855A1 in a post deployment AAR?  I'd also be intrrested in some solid info on M4A1s/M4 failure due to M855A1.  I don't think we will see it go open source.  It seems that the MILSPEC for M855A1, MIL-DTL-32338 is restricted access.  Big Army has been very cloak and dagger on the M855A1. 

I'd love to see some one like Dr Roberts get a chance to do a  full analysis on the rounds and do some really good radar, weapon and ballistic testing 

   

___________________________________________________________________

I'm either dead right, or horribly wrong. Either way the results should be entertaining.

 

"Shoot the MOTHERF$%^ER until he changes shape or catches fire"  the PAT ROGERS

WyattT posted:

Where is all this brown tip 70gr Barnes? I've never seen it, nor do I see a lot of m855a1. Who is shooting 855a1, infantry guys, support? All I see is m855 and a little mk262

For what it's worth, we started drawing M855A1 exclusively (except for shoot houses) in early 2015 in my Battalion in the 82nd. However, I had M855A1 on my OEF 11 and 14 deployments.

WS6 posted:
 
That said, I'm averaging 4.55MOA for 10-shot groups with the new stuff, out of a proven 1-1.5MOA gun. Could just be a bad lot, but that really does go right in line with what Dr. Roberts said about "sure, it shoots <2moa now, but just wait..."

Our Scouts did numerous KD ranges and were averaging 2-2.5 MOA with differing lots of A1. Definitely sounds like a bad batch. I was also fortunate to have good results with it in country, and definitely noticed an accuracy improvement over green tip with both my rifle and my Soldiers.

WS6,

Reel it in.  Yes, you are out of your lane and one post away from getting banned.  "10 years paying taxes" is an argument as valid as telling the police officer who pulls you over that you pay his salary.  Button it.  Unless you have specific experience, extensive personal experience with the ammo being discussed, keep it zipped.  If you want to ask a question, seeking information with those experienced in the subject, go ahead.  If I haven't made myself very clear, go ahead and PM me.

-------------------------

Mark

Swear allegiance to the flag Whatever flag they offer

Never hint at what you really feel

Teach the children quietly For some day sons and daughters

Will rise up and fight while we stood still

 

Joined:  2/24/2003                          Location:  Nevada, USA

Dorsai posted:

WS6,

Reel it in.  Yes, you are out of your lane and one post away from getting banned.  "10 years paying taxes" is an argument as valid as telling the police officer who pulls you over that you pay his salary.  Button it.  Unless you have specific experience, extensive personal experience with the ammo being discussed, keep it zipped.  If you want to ask a question, seeking information with those experienced in the subject, go ahead.  If I haven't made myself very clear, go ahead and PM me.

I have only fired 100 rounds of M855A1. I would not call that extensive, but Dr Roberts concerns about accuracy were pertinent. I've shot probably close to 800 rounds of Browntip. Its accuracy has been around 1.5 MOA, for me. That is the limit of my personal, hands-on observations of the ammunition being discussed. PM inbound, as well, TY

FWIW, my first experiences with 855A1 were in 2012 on deployment. I PCSed after that deployment to a new unit, and we shot A1 exclusively there. I never had, nor witnessed, any malfunctions relating to magazines or anything else. Accuracy was good as well. 

I think it was a dumb move considering some of the COTS options available, and I think that the services should all consolidate into one proven round, (I'll defer to Doc Roberts), but my personal experience, albeit anecdotal, didn't show any issues with the A1 at least. 

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