It isn't the rifle, it's the cartridge

StrategyPage notes that Uncle Sugar is going to give the Heckler und Koch G36 a go (no permalink, look under 14 January 04), under the designation XM8.

Civilians in the less afflicted provinces can sample a functionally identical rifle in the XL8T.

It's all very interesting, Uncle, but the new platform sends the same booolet at the same velocity---or if even shorter barrels than that of the M4 carbine are considered, even less velocity.

Clearly the light and short weapon is needed, for mounted troops, rear-area troops who need to be armed but are not constantly engaged in fighting, and so forth. But there's no need to stay wedded to the weaker cartridge that comes along with today's carbines.

The proposed 6.8mm Remington SPC cartridge is headed in the right direction, using a case that is slightly larger in diameter than the 5.56mm, giving it slightly more propellant capacity, to push a .270" bullet.

This .270" bullet must be short and squat to fit the entire cartridge within the 5.56mm envelope around which modern carbines are built. This short, squat bullet has a poorer ballistic coefficient than it needs to have, so it will lose velocity faster and drop more as it travels.

So a counter-proposal: take the 5.45x39.5mm cartridge case of the AK-74. It has the same case head dimensions of the 7.62x39mm AK-47 round, in fact is is mostly the same case, but the Soviets "Ackleyed" it by forming the case walls straighter, eliminating the case's body taper to increase the propellant capacity.

Just don't neck it down to 5.45mm, stop at 6.5 or so.

The resulting cartridge case will be about 6mm shorter than the 5.56mm original, but have the same or better propellant capacity because it's fatter. Use the shorter case with a longer, higher-ballistic-coefficient bullet, seated out in the case. The resulting cartridge will fit within the 5.56's overall length. Drive a bullet of smaller caliber but higher BC and figure it will retain its velocity better than the 6.8mm.

Instead of 115 grains at 2800 fps, try 140 grains at 2300, assuming the case propellant capacities are identical, and a given mass of propellant delivers the same weight-velocity product whether it's in a longer, narrower space versus a shorter, wider space, which of course it doesn't.

Update: Hornady's Fourth Edition of their Handbook of Cartridge Reloading consists of two volumes, one of load data for various cartridges, and the other of ballistics tables. Lessee: their 6.5mm 140-grain spire point bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .465. When thrown at 2300 fps, it will hold on to 1513 of them at 500 meters. With a rifle zeroed at 200 meters, it will fall almost 71 inches at 500. A 129-grainer (BC=.445) at 2500 fps retains 1633 fps at 500 yards and drops almost 60 inches from a 200-yard zero.

Hornady did not even catalog a 115 grain bullet for .270 in their Fourth Edition handbook. The lightest they go is 130, with a spire point whose BC is .408. Sierra lists a 110-gr spitzer with a BC of .375. With muzzle velocity at 2800 fps, it still has 1717 fps at 500 yards and will drop 76 inches.

I just have a thing for long, narrow bullets with high ballistic coefficients.


I am going to proselytize an E-9 tomorrow (shop talk)

I already proselytized an O-6 yesterday, so might as well go for the trifecta and get the base civil engineer too. I'll either get fired or get my tour extended to end of FY.

Get this through your heads: in the USAF C-CW CONOPS, the unit has a lot of work to do, to integrate itself into the chain of command. This is traditionally where NBC exercises have fallen down---the gulf of nescience that ebbs and flows between the endlessly drilled airman, and the thoroughly indoctrinated wing commander. The links in the chain of command connecting the two is only now getting hard, legible, usable guidance on how to operate an airbase under NBC conditions.

When you have an operational readiness inspection due at your doorstep in 30 days, your first reaction should not be to suddenly shift to 6 days at 12 hours each, to hone individual skills for said inspection. Individual war skills are about as good as you will ever get them in 30 days.

Your reaction should be to get your flight chiefs and the unit control center staff together to mesh the UCC checklists against the SRC's expectations. Then trickle the findings down to your workcenter supervisors and make sure their actions and timelines are congruent with the UCC's checklists. Have a long look at your functional area's TTP section in Appendix 4 of AFMAN 10-2602. The essentials are all there.

Then you practice several Alarm Reds, a few post-attack reconnaissance runs, and several gear-shifts from Green to Yellow to Red to Green.

Simulate shifting from MOPP Four to MOPP Four Mask Only, or to MOPP Two. Find out where your comms break down.

Rehearse managing an asset under the Ten Foot Rule.

This is a martial art, folks. Anyone who has studied a martial art understands that mastery comes only after assiduous, repetitive drilling, punctuated by examination of purpose and intent of each step of the drill, sample applications of the drill under time pressure, role reversals to teach the anticipation of counters, free sparring to see if the student can apply the drill against an opponent, then more repetitive drilling. Your CE Readiness Flight handles the repetitive drilling part, like upper-belt students at a dojo. Squadron leaders---the masters of the school---teach the rest.

A knife-hand is a knife-hand is a knife-hand. It's a fundamental. Now look at which targets are vulnerable a knife-hand, which stances can deliver it, when it will work and when it won't.

The ORI is coming and it's too late to drill your Expeditionary Airmen in how to make a knife-hand strike. You'll just burn them out.

Now they need to learn what to hit with it. You will see the lights turn on. Trust me.