10mm Rifle

     Ever since the adoption of the 5.56mm M-16 rifle during the Vietnam conflict, soldiers have complained about its lack of hitting power.  During the disastrous Ranger raid in Somalia in 1993, soldiers were surprised that it took several rounds to drop a "Skinnie", the small, thin Somalis.  Retired Army Colonel Mark Gallmeier observed body armor tests as part of the Army's ongoing "Land Warrior" tests.  He is convinced the Army's 5.56mm rounds will prove almost worthless against body armor clad opponents in the near future.  In addition, urban warfare studies have revealed the need for a weapon which can shoot through doors and walls. Chuck Spinney forwarded this account of the new M-4 carbine (e.g. mini M-16).

Date 26 Mar 02
From: the Gunny X's Mailbag (a Gunnery Sgt in a Marine line combat unit)
Forwarded by Officer XXX, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Subject: Small Arms Performance in Afghanistan

Report of American small arms performance from a friend currently assigned to an infantry unit in Afghanistan:

"The current-issue 62gr 5.56mm (223) round, especially when fired from the short-barreled, M-4 carbine, is proving itself (once again) to be woefully inadequate as man stopper. Engagements at all ranges are requiring multiple, solid hits to permanently bring down enemy soldiers. Penetration is also sadly deficient. Even light barriers are not perforated by this rifle/cartridge combination. Troopers all over are switching to the seventy-seven grain Sierra Matchking (loaded by Black Hills) whenever it can be found. Its performance on enemy soldiers is not much better, but it does penetrate barriers. We're fighting fanatics here, and they don't find wimpy ammunition particularly impressive! 

Ed. The Afghans and most armies use the larger 7.62mm rifle round.

Adding to our challenges, our issue M-9 pistol (Beretta M92F) is proving itself unreliable. They are constantly breaking. To make matters worse, the 9mm hardball round we use is a joke. It is categorically ineffective as a fight stopper, even at close range. Some troopers, after numerous, desperate requests, are now being reissued 1911s! However, the only ones available for issue are worn out. Magazines are hard to find, and 45ACP ammunition is scarce.

We are frustrated here that none of the forgoing seems to be of the slightest concern to people in Washington. It is a damn good thing that we have air superiority and are not yet heavily engaged on the ground. Inferior weapons and ammunition are making us all nervous."

     Infantry squads need a weapon with more punch.  Currently, the Marine Corps equips each four-man fire team with an M249 5.56mm light machine gun called the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) (left).  Since the other three members carry 5.56 automatic rifles, the SAW doesn't add much flexibility, despite its weight of 22lbs (including a 200 ammo box).  The SAW should be replaced with a heavy caliber rifle like the BAR used in the two World Wars. (below).  This weapon would be designed to provide twice the penetrating power and twice the range of the 5.56mm rifle.  

      Such a weapon would be of great value against vehicles, helicopters, and light armor using high velocity "sabot" rounds, like the tungsten .50 caliber Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP) round used by the US Army and Marine Corps.  Marine Colonel Andrew R. Finlayson wrote in the March 1989 edition of the Marine Corps Gazette:  "A 12.7mm armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding sabot round will go in one end and out the other of a Light Armor Vehicle without the slightest difficulty."  Raufoss rounds from Norway, also used by the U.S. military, can penetrate the frontal armor of a Soviet BTR-60 armored vehicle at 1000 meters.

      These rounds can be fired by the M82A1A SASR .50 caliber (12.7mm) rifle now in service with American sniper sections.  This would be ideal for infantry squads, except it weighs 35 lbs when loaded, which is too much for a basic infantryman.  The smaller and 10lbs lighter Model 95 (right) could be used, but it is bolt-action and carries only five rounds.  The Army's new experimental assault rifle (OICW) can fire a 20mm round, but it's a low-velocity gun not designed for penetration or range.wpe9.jpg (8816 bytes)

       A new weapon is needed to fill the gap between the 5.56mm and 12.7mm .50 cal rounds.  A 10mm semi-automatic rifle should replace the heavier SAW.  This would be simple to design since no new technology is needed.  In fact, one manufacturer already sells the THUNDER CAR-10, a 10mm semiautomatic rifle with 11.5" barrel. (left)  Such a weapon is needed today to provide rifle squads with real penetration and range to supplement their basic  5.56mm rifles.  In addition, fear is a major factor in infantry battles, which explains the comment about "wimpy" M-16s by the Gunny.  A 10mm "elephant gun" will be very loud as well as powerful, making those with Russian 7.62mm AK-47 rounds sound wimpy.

                                   Carlton Meyer  editor@G2mil.com

2002 www.G2mil.com