Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Should I abandon the venerable 5.56?

We were watching Futureweapons last night and I saw something rather interesting. This is a great show. Of course not a lot of the stuff is actually futuristic, and the host kind of makes me giggle with some of the stuff he says. It is good entertainment nonetheless. Last night they were showing the difference between the 5.56x45 and the 7.62x39. These of course are the two rounds used by the M-16/M4 and the SKS/AKM. The basic thesis was the 5.56 is very accurate and fast, while the 7.62 is slower and less accurate. His conclusion was the 5.56 doesn't have the knockdown power needed by our soldiers and Marines. The AK round has the knockdown power at shorter ranges, but struggles with accuracy at longer ranges. As everyone has heard before, shot placement is the most important factor when you are trying to kill a deer OR a human. There is something to be said for hitting something real hard though. More energy hitting your target is always a good thing. The 5.56 doesn't have the punch. It was thought, when the round was made standard, that it's high speed created devastating wounds. That turned out not to really be true. It has killed many, many people, but it is not all that hard hitting. Terrorists fight until they are no longer breathing quite often. You need a round to put them down.

The conventional wisdom has been to step up to the 7.62x51 when you need more firepower. It is an awesome round. No doubt. It has killed lots of Nazis and Chicoms to be sure. It is a knockout punch. It is also has a large casing and is heavy. This limits the amount of ammo the common soldier can carry due to weight and bulk.

The 6.8 Remington SPC was brought up in the show as the perfect solution. It combines knockdown power with high velocity and accuracy. It shoots as flat as the 7.62x51! The round it fits the AR-15. All you need is a 6.8 upper, and slightly different magazines. That is a huge benefit to me and of course our military. You can load 15 rounds in a 5.56 20 rounder and 25 rounds in a 5.56 30 rounder apparently. The round has lower chamber pressure than the 5.56. It apparently is a big enough round to take out medium size game easily according to some of the hunting crowd. The round was derived from using the old .30 Remington case, and necking it down. It uses a .270 bullet. The .270 is a very popular hunting round. Not as popular as it should be perhaps. We Americans tend to think anything less the 30 caliber won't get the job done.

Brass and bullets are available, though quite spendy. Of course what ammo is not expensive as hell right now? I paid $118 for 500 rounds of Wolf .223 this past weekend. That is a $25 price jump in the last month.

I will not be 'switching' to this round for a couple reasons. First I have two 5.56 rifles. They are accurate, ammo is relatively cheap, and available. I am confident any bad guy I have to deal with will be dispatched fairly well with either rifle. The other main reason I won't switch is the US Armed Forces have not switched. I believe it to be a good idea to use the same round they do for emergency situations. The .223/5.56 is the most available round in the country, and will continue to be so for some time.

At the same time, I do plan to build up a rifle using this round. It is a neat round, and I think I will use it to fill the intermediate slot in my arsenal of black rifle goodness. It will make a good lead weapon if the FreeFor ever needs to be put into action.

Here is a pic of the 6.8 Bushy upper. Sure would look good on top of mine! Actually it would look even better on top of another lower! :)

For some history behind the round check out Chris Byrne's excellent article over at Anarchangel.