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M855A1: Should it be the New Round for Soldiers and Marines?

by Jeremy Stafford   |  March 7th, 2012 127

M855A1I am not a ballistician, but I know a load of crap when I see it. There are elements within the U.S. Department of Defense that have been recklessly careening down the road to an improved “green” 5.56 round for a long time. After burning through millions of dollars (at least $32 million, according to the last report), it appears that they’ve finally gotten what they wanted in the M855A1.

The M855A1 EPR project has had serious issues since its inception. The problems include a lawsuit from the original designer of this round and the attendant multi-million dollar payout. In addition, there was an embarrassing revelation in 2009 that the initial bismuth alloy projectile would destabilize in higher ambient temperatures, causing it to miss the proverbial side of the barn. Great job, guys. Design a round that doesn’t work in the heat while we’re engaged against enemies operating in hot environments! Too determined to be deterred, they went back to work and “fixed” the round, leading us to where we are now.

I don’t want to be a total naysayer, so let’s talk about the advantages of this new round. It shoots flatter. Of course, the reason it shoots flatter is because they’ve juiced the round up so that it will fly at 3,100 fps. This would be a great achievement except for the fact that they did it by increasing the chamber pressure from 55,000 psi to 63,000 psi. That’s a number closely approaching proof-load pressures. So are new M4s being constructed using stronger materials to handle this hot round? No, of course not. The M4 is being manufactured to the same Technical Data Package (TDP) that they have always been. This means that not only are parts going to wear out at a much higher rate (which is already is an issue with the M4), but if, God forbid, there is any bullet set-back, the number of M4s reportedly going “high order” (i.e., blowing up) should increase exponentially.

While on the subject of the effect of the M855A1 on service weapons, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the new round cuts barrel life by almost 50 percent (information sourced by Individual Carbine contenders recently supplied 10,080 rounds of the M855A1 EPR so that they could tune their submission for this new load).

But no amount of tuning is going to alter the fact that the EPR has a 5.5 MOA accuracy standard. 5.5 MOA? Seriously? The Mk 318 SOST round that the USMC has fielded in Afghanistan is held to a 2 MOA standard, but the latest and greatest round that it’s being replaced by is held to a 5.5 MOA standard? Additionally, the Mk 318 has better terminal ballistics against soft targets, holds together better through intermediate barriers and costs half what the M855A1 costs. In this era of dramatic cost-cutting, it is absolutely mind-boggling as to why they are insisting on fielding a round so inferior in just about every aspect to one that’s already in theater — and pay twice as much for it!

Comparison chart

Click to enlarge.

The reasons for the increase in cost are easy to determine. The three-piece construction of the EPR consists of a copper base and a steel penetrator encased in a reverse drawn (from base to tip) copper jacket. This makes for a complicated manufacturing process that doesn’t really provide an advantage over currently fielded options. The EPR penetrates cinder block marginally better than some of the existing offerings, but it still fares very poorly against windshield glass and other intermediate barriers. It also does not penetrate SAPI body armor or its equivalent, meaning that if we were to come into conflict with another well-equipped nation, we would be forced to fall back to the M995 Armor Piercing ammunition anyway. The original spec for M855 that called for a penetrator was set forth in the 1970s, a time in which steel helmets were common issue in the world. But steel helmets are fading with history and no longer the norm on a modern battlefield. Our enemies today don’t often wear helmets—and the enemies of our tomorrow won’t be wearing ’70’s-vintage steel pots. The inclusion of a non-armor-penetrating steel tip on the 855A1 is a foolish additional step that serves no purpose other than to increase cost. The three-piece construction also increases the chance for something to go wrong, leading to more inconsistencies from round to round and increased accuracy variations.

The last thing I want to touch on here is the “green” aspect of the M855A1 EPR. This issue has been pushed down our throats for years, and it appears that the DoD has bought into it in a big way. The fact is that aerosolized lead from the ignition of primers containing lead is the only source of lead contamination that presents an issue (unless our soldiers and Marines have taken to licking the exposed base of the current M855 or fail to wash their hands after training).

Hard target performance

Click to enlarge.

OK, so let’s consider the bullets that are put into the ground during training. There has never been a single scientific study that has proven that lead from expended rounds has leached into surrounding soil or found its way into the water table. Not a single study. Not one. The whole concept of a “green” round is flawed. If airborne lead is the concern, shooting outdoors mitigates exposure. I currently work on an outdoor range where I’m exposed to airborne lead just about every day. My blood is drawn and tested for lead twice a year, and I’ve never had a high reading. Not even a remotely abnormal reading. The “green” issue is a political red herring. It’s a distraction. It is an answer to a problem that exists only in the minds of people who put such concerns above the concerns of putting holes into bad people.

So…to recap: The M855A1 EPR is poorly conceived and poorly executed and represents, at best, only an incremental improvement at an exponential cost. Our warriors and our taxpayers deserve better.

I would like to thank Dr. Gary Roberts for his invaluable friendship and mentoring. If not for what I’ve learned from him, this rant would not have been possible.

This article was originally published in Guns & Ammo’s Book of the AR-15, now available in stores.

  • JiminGA

    Seems to me this new round was conceived and produced by too many people at the Pentagon with little to do. When a mid-level person is given a task by a higher up he/she usually fulfills it, even if it's wrong and unnecessary. Reminds me of the Chevy Volt, the car "we had to make". This new round is the "round we had to make".

  • Minarchist_1776

    If they're going to get a new round for the military, why not something that could actually work to begin with? Such as 6.5 mm Grendel, 6.8 mm Remington SPC, 6.5mm Creedmore, etc.. The only reason I would not go for the .260 Remington or 7mm-08 is it might be too easy to confuse them with .308 when somebody is fumbling around trying to get ammo in the dark.

    • jamesinhouston

      Fully automatic CO2 powered BB rifle, light fast, and 2000 rounds in a plastic bottle. Should leave plenty of space and weight for bells and whistles. (45 years plus of sub standard battle rifle). (Short take only). Shoot them with asparagus.

      • MOG

        Thank you. I agree All The Way. In the current case, shoot them with pig's feet, or, BB's dipped in hog fat.

    • spccorder

      If they used the 6.5 Grendel it could be used in the saw and the m16/m4 and there could possibly be no need for the 240B because of the performance of the Grendel. It is a very good and versatile round in my opinion.

  • Zach

    Cheaper to use a "improved round" in the current platform than field a new platform. Compensation of the anemic 5.56NATO is to increase the speed. FAIL!

    I would say the DoD needs to scrap the M4/16, go with a new piston driven design around one of the 6.5s or to make it easy for logistics: 7.62x51NATO. But the DoD and military are staring budget cuts and downsizing.

  • Abnrgr

    Any idea how this bullet upsets and fragments in flesh target? That would be key, if not at least the same as M855. And 5.5 moa is unacceptable. Think of what that means even at 200m!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001024067263 Kyle Meier

    Just another example of beaurocrats making decisions that qualified people should make. Our men in uniform are going to pay the price for B.S. like this.

  • Antonio

    Brought to you be the procurement geniuses of the $10,000 toilet seat…

    • Davis

      $10,000 is just for the lid. It's $100,000 if you want a complete seat! Our government really needs to be reeled in. Not only do they need to cut spending, they need to get rid of thousands of these idiots that come up with this kind of crap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/prvanhorn Paul VanHorn

    I'm surprised they don't make them with a "green" tint to the bullet and a green tail tracer so the enemy can tell they are being shot at by "green" ammo. That way they can feel better about it when they get hit.

  • old vet

    The decision process that gave us this bullet, is basically the same that gave us the M16 in the first place. Too many non-warriors making decisions that the fighters must live or die with. We need a serious round that will do what is needed, not a glorified varmint round that no matter how you dress it, will not do the big guns job.

    • guest

      Dang straight Old Vet!

    • P.J. Graham

      Great point. They need something of a 6.5mm standard or better.

      • katzkiner

        6.5 Grendle is a fantastic cartridge, accurate to 1000 meters. Buy a 6.5 upper and work with it. It is light recoiling as 5.56 and at least as accurate as 7.62. If a world where survival of the grunt was the prime considerstion, the 6.5 would be the issue cartridge. When you need a “trick” bullet that’s is Murphy’s way of telling you that you have the wrong gun. After 50 years you would think somebody at the Pentagon could admit pinhead McNamera picked the wrong caliber. A caliber that works most the time is not good enough when its’ failure means your funeral.

    • jamesinhouston

      General LeMay needed a light weapon for his girls to carry on guard duty. The 5.56/.223, was never meant to be a combat weapon. I spent a year and a half humping thru the jungle with a 7.62 M-14. Semi auto, it worked. We knew at first fire on the range, we were screwed with the M-16. FTF was often. There was no cleaning, it broke open like a shot gun, clean and dust was all you could do. The bolt and firing pin were internal, only way to clean was at the armorer's. Try that in a firefight. The "cleaning" cartoons was a "cover our ass" on the part of the military, and the contractor. I get really pissed every time time I see "America's Rifle".

      • CA Midwesterner

        The bolt assembly is almost comically easy to tear down, compared to the M14. You literally only need a single cartridge, or punch, or even a pen/pencil. No other tools.
        Push the firing pin retainer out, pull it all the way. Tip up the bolt group, firing pin falls out the back. Push the bolt in, then rotate bolt cam pin 90 degrees, remove it. Pull bolt straight out the front.
        Wipe down, apply lubricant, reassemble in reverse order. Takes maybe 2 minutes, including opening the weapon to remove the bolt.
        Absolutely does not require an armorer; it's very much user-level maintenance. Cleaning is so easy an 8-year-old girl can do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7WWlFuaM6A

        • MOG

          The early M-16 (1965 in my case) bolt assembly could not be cleaned in the field. It was a precision system, tightly fitted, firing pin inside, the blow back build up would jam the pin. This was primarily because the US Army changed the powder formula from the AR-15 specs. All we could do was break open the rifle, rod the bore, and wipe and dust it down. James and I probably served in about the same time frame. I have no doubt the M-16/M-4s have been improved in that respect. You are not wrong, just in a different time zone.

  • Heretic

    The Marines describe the round as "Match accurate". 5.5 MOA doesn't sound match to me.

  • ACondes

    It seems the same people that came up with the 5.56mm because "a wounded enemy comabatant takes up more resources of the enemy" than a dead one also came up with this round. I just can't fathom why they can't understand that when you are out there in the field and engaged in a firefight, that you want your enemies DEAD and not just wounded and still firing back at you. The faster one can make them drop dead, the better. Yeap, a dead enemy will not be taking up resources from the enemy and so the enemy might have more resources to use against the US. But at least he won't be shooting at me anymore. That should make his ilk think twice before getting into a firefight with us. Go caliber 30! There are a bunch of them out there now, like the Wilson Tactical, if you want a cartirdge case the same size as that used in the 5.56mm.

    • 1stInfadelDiv

      Yeah, and the latest batch of enemy sees it as their religious duty to take as many as us non-believers out on their way to paradise and dont give resource logistics a second thought.

  • BetterPerformance

    Whoa! Wait! I thought the 5.56NATO M855 was the end all be all? Its "yaw" and "fragmentation" to create a larger wound cavity was unparalleled to any other round invented! Now there are reports of its lack to do those things reliably? Consistently? At longer distances? Or from a M4?
    We have been lied to?

    • old vet

      What? lie to you, no just use "near" truths to prove their point, in the real world of war, it does not matter about "green" bullets or other non-sense, what matters is what destroys the enemy.

    • jamesinhouston

      Yes. For years. And no let up in sight.

    • JimBobBillyJoe

      The 5.56 was to fragment with 1:12 Twist barrels with a length of 18"-20". The standard today is at least a 1:9 Twist out of a 16" bbl, or better yet, a 1:7 Twist out of a 14.5" bbl.

      When the round is stabalized, it won't yaw as it was intended to do. BTW, the 5.45 was Russia's better yawing round if that's what you are looking for.

    • MOG

      Yes, you have been lied to. Getting hit with anything from a rock from a slingshot, an arrow from a bow, is potentially deadly. The infantry needs a bit more than that. They ain't got it. All the hi-tech in the world don't mean crap against a determined foe on the ground with rifles that will punch thru walls, while almost anything will stop your rounds.

  • Mack Missiletoe

    Is our government trying to destroy us? Will America survive stupidity? We have all this tech, amazing vehicles, sharks with lasers… but here comes Obama saying 'Change we need'. Change we are! We always change. That's how we survive. What we need is a government that has our backs. Which means bullets that shoot.

    No gun guy wants green ammo–especially if it don't shoot. If you put us out there on the field with a weapon that don't work, we wont fight.

    You're not saving anything by shooting non-lead ammo. It's already been proven. Btw lead is naturally in the environment and no one is dying from bullets that have been shot and are sitting on the ground.

    We should conserve our country, but we cannot do that with a weapons system that does not. We will be wiped out by the enemy. The enemy cares not of conserving the environment…

    Did our enemies design this cartridge? YES

    • prentice

      yes, but most people are in denial.

  • Thinkaboutit

    Just because you read something on an online post, does that make it correct? Does the author use any proof in his story or is he just throwing stuff into an article. Unless anyone has shot the round, send the terminal effects and has viable data to compare it to, this article is just another chance to bash the military.

    • Andrew

      I witnessed Joe's coming off the 25meter zero range while in Afghanistan. They could not get their issue M4s to zero, the rounds were key holing at 25M!!

      • krulewicz18

        Well that is funny because I happen to be in the army and can make 6 rounds touch at 25 yards. I think that the joes you say you witnessed need to spend some more time on the range.

  • DocGKR

    This article is the best open source discussion I've seen detailing the myriad problems associated with M855A1. The article author is not a random internet wannabe or pseudo-expert; he is a decorated, combat experienced military veteran, as well as one of the most respected LE officers on the west coast.

    • MOG

      10 experts, 10 opinions, his is as good as anybody else's.

  • old vet

    To get an idea of the "enlightened" mind in war, how about this. In "NAM" we had a problem in tunnels when we opened fire with a large bore pistol or rifle. for a cure they came up with a nifty kit that included a light, and a nifty Ruger .22 pistol. Worked great, until some people from the Geneva Convention came, and wanted the guns back because (get this) the .22 rimfire uses a SOLID lead bullet and ALL military ammo at the time must be FMJ holy crap! we could use napalm, claymore mines and agent orange, but not the .22? They did not get the little gun back. superior wisdom trumps common sense every time.

    • C, Diggs

      Thanks for your service, old vet.

  • Beware the MIC

    vs all the fluff out there about how great it is (and the NOW identified short comings of the M855 that was denied to previously exist except anecdotally) I think Mr. Stafford's article is a honest assessment.
    Do some searches and find a number of fluff pieces with all PROs and no CONs. The fact they fail to mention the trade off of increased speed at the cost of decreased barrel life shows the lack of objectivity.
    Someone is looking to make a buck at the expense of our military service men.

  • Red leg

    Back in the day, The M193 round from a twenty inch barrel did a pretty good job of putting bad guys down if you could keep the crud it left in the rifle to a minimum. The folks I had to shoot with it generally stayed shot. The modern formulation of the M193 is pretty much crud less and still has enough zip to be effective from the 14" barrel of an M4. The M855 was a solution to a problem that didn't exist.

    • old vet

      Have to agree, the damage that tiny little slug did was remarkable. Also unpredictable.

    • Tom from MN

      I agree, the m193 is a very effective round. Unfortunately, the U.N. didn't like the "horrific" wounding capability of the round and made it illegal to use in war. That's the U.N. for you.

      • mike

        The UN needs one of these rounds between the eyes. Bunch of armchair hippies.

        • old vet

          Would not rate them even THAT high.

  • STB

    Just go buy a few thousand rounds of 9mm at BulkAmmo.com before they switch over to this junk.

  • BiggerisBetter

    55grn to 62grn to 77grn to 6.8SPC and now back to 62grn? There was a obvious trend there (more mass = more kills especially when shooting from far away or out of a short barrel). Looks like the politicians got involved!

  • JimS

    The SAAMI pressure limit for the .223 Remington is set at 55,000 psi.

    5.56×45mm NATO spec is 62,366 psi pressure. Proof load is 77,958 psi
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_EPVAT_testing#P

    • SFC T

      Very good Sir

    • DannyK

      So the new round is OVER the Service Pressure Pmax? How is that good?

      • SFC T

        63,000 PSI puts it well with in the safe pressure limits. 62,366 PSI was the original pressure of M855. The authors lacking knowledge of pressure differences between 223 Remington and 5.56 NATO on it's own should be enough to add dought to his knowledge of the subject and facts addressed in the article.

  • SFC T

    Bogus Bogus Bogus article not based on fact the editor should not have let this get printed. Why is it that such a scathing article would be printed with no fact checking. JimS is absolutely right an increase of 644 psi is negligible and does not affect the functioning of the weapon or the reliability of the weapon. The DOD is switching from chrome to a nickel boron based lining (chrome has been deemed bad for the environment) which we will start to see very soon and will make any current concerns about barrel life no longer an issue. During testing the round displayed incredible accuracy better than moa in rack grade weapons. 5.5 standard ad is false. As far as penetration goes A1 will penetrate 3/8 inch medium hardened steel at 300 meters trumping the capabilities of the NATO 7.62 M80 ball which will not.

    • AFGJoe

      There is the steel penetrator M855 or A1 vs M80 FMJ argument again. Compare apples to apples.

      • SFC T

        Apples to Apples sir you are correct it is an unfair comparison but that is the point. The M80 7.62 Nato 147 gr Ball ammo is well known for its ability to penetrate light armor hence its key role in our military. When soldiers role out on a convoy you are most likely to see them use a M240B with M80 Ball over a saw with M855 ball because it is much more effective at penetrating hard barriers such as engine blocks and concrete walls. When you enter a base in a combat zone you will most likely notice you are greeted by a M240,B once again due to its ability to penetrate engine blocks. Here’s what make M855A1 better apples to apples m855 does have a steel penetrator and as shown in the test was not as effective as M80 ball. So with a steel penetrator it is still less effective. There is something to be said for mass and energy M855 is only 62 grs M80 is 147gr. At 300 meters M855A1 penetrated a steel target that the M80 ball could not, making it a better penetrator than a bullet with more than twice its mass and energy.

  • SFC T

    Terminal ballistics are better at every range with yawl being being experienced with in 2"-3" with and with out a hardened barrier, vs. M855 yawl at 4"-7". Also at close range within 25 meters where the old m855 miserably failed to do anything other than pass through. The feedback coming from overseas is outstanding and our soldiers are lucky to have such an advanced bullet, it takes away all the concerns about the lethality of the 5.56 without having to change the weapon. Increased lethality, increased range, increased accuracy, ability to kill my enemy with 1 shot I’d say the increase in cost is well worth the money and look forward to using it next time I go overseas.

  • guest

    My cat yawls, the M855 yaws.

    • Gators

      lol! the author has more creditability than some online wannabe who does not know what 'yaw' is!

      • SFC T

        Yes he is correct it is yaw not yawl spell check got me.

        • AFITgrad86

          Yes, Yaw is an angular displacement about the vertical (z) axis whereas yawl is a boat or if you add another l is a southern contraction for you all. But we were talking ammo here and I’ll stay with my Model T era 1903 and the 30.06. Talk about penetration!

      • BanditZeroThree

        I served on a Coast Guard 187' Bouy Tender built in 1939 and still operating in 1978. When not working buoys, we patrolled the Mona Passage, a rough patch on a good day. Point being…I know what Pitch, Roll and especially Yaw…is. Puke to leeward!!

      • Guest

        Learn how to type "credibility" before criticizing others' spelling!

  • Heretic

    Somebody needs to get some of this ammo, and put it to the test. After the dragonscale armor debacle, I don't trust anything the DoD says.

  • Flashing Lights

    The 5.56 is based on a failed thery, and does dilver damage out to two hundred yard wth a full 20 inch barrel.
    What round I chouse 6,8 sThe best performing systems emphasizing tissue damage, on the average, in this
    study were of larger caliber than 5.56 mm. From the Roberts report http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2008Intl/Roberts.pdf.  “The 6.8 mm performance observed in this test suggests that an intermediate
    caliber is the answer to the trade-off balance issue.”
     “The 6.8 mm projectile had a near optimal balance of MASS, VELOCITY,
    and CONFIGURATION to maintain its effectiveness, even at a lower impact
    velocity.”
     “The 6.8mm SPC is far and above, the best performing ammunition…”

    • SFC T

      I was at the NDIA conference in 2008 were the slide show of the test noted above was given. The 6.8 is a great short to medium range round and it was the winner of the competition noted above… The criteria to the test shown was to see how effective the rounds would penetrate a hardened barrier IE glass and ability to expand within 2 inches of a soft target and continue to penetrate as the test shows 6.8 penetrated farther but the 6.5 had a slightly larger wound cavity with in the 1st 6 inches and did not continue to penetrate once it expanded, the 6.8 continued to penetrate after it expanded. Personally I’m a bigger fan of a round being able to dissipate all its energy while in the target, it does me no good if the round goes through the target and continues through the wood line. It should be noted that the most common configuration for the 6.5 Grendel is with a 123gr round not a 120gr round like what was used in the test.

  • SFC T

    The DCD (department of combat development) had a very simple philosophy during the process of trying to procure a better round for the M4 “it could be a .17 Cal but if the blows the enemies arm off when I shoot him with it that’s a winner” It’s not about the size of the round but the capability of the round, getting caught up in the size of the round simply closes your mind to the possibility of what you can do with what you already have.

    • SFC T

      Think about it M855 was originally designed as a machine gun round and then adopted army wide because it over all worked better than its predecessor at best it’s a 2 MOA bullet on a good day primarily because there’s no way to insure the penetrator is in the same place on every bullet they fixed that with the M855A1. The penetrator can be manufactured to exact specifications which translates in a more consistent bullet MFG it’s also longer due to the new design yet it maintains the same grain weight giving it a higher BC and with the greater velocity and greater accuracy a 14.5” M4 in the right hands and optics is now effective out to 700 yards instead of the traditional 550 from an M4. Unfortunately due to the devastating nature of the round we will probably not see it in the civilian market due to the fact that in the wrong hands it would put law enforcement in a position where there body armor would prove completely ineffective and take away the one advantage they have helping them defend themselves. Overall this is a great round and an awesome upgrade from the M855 in every way and we didn’t have to change the weapon.

      • Zed

        You may want to check the NIJ standards for body armor.

        Level II and IIIA soft armor (most common for LEOs) is already ineffective against virtually any kind of rifle fire, including that of standard .223 or 5.56x45mm ammo.

  • Conquest915

    And these same type of governmental bureaucrats that haven't got the common sense "God gave a goose" that will be deciding YOUR health care in the very near future.

    • prentice

      you mean "death panels" to decide the cutoff age.

  • Anon

    Compared M855 to M855A1, muzzle velocities almost identical however A1 is 50-70FPS faster at 300M (more aerodynamic) therefore less drop at longer distances. Overall group sizes the same at 300M with the A1 having more shots in the center and only the odd flyer increasing group size. No opinion, just numbers.

    • old vet

      Fliers=inconsistency.

    • I ve shot it

      Other than the SOLDIERS who have obviously shot this rd.
      Only Anon is correct. This round M855A1 is a combat proven rd now. This is as good as 5.56mm will ever be for combat SOLDIERS. When SOLDIERS need 7.62 they have it and they will bring it to the fight. Other future calibers are driven by requirements for overmatch. How far do SOLDIERS want over match with a SOLDIER carried firearm/weapon??? Pick a target at a min and max distance. Then design weapon to defeat it. This is how its done and how it will always be approached. Don't you think for a minute that the American SOLDIER doesn't have some of the best scientists in the world of Ballistics on their side because they do. Wait till you see the new SOLDIER carried weapons
      true revolutionary weapons that will change the battle space once again and it will not come from the Chinese. It will be American scientific ingenuity raising the bar for land warfare. And once again putting American SOLDIERS in the front with the very best technology.

  • William M Durham

    WHAT IS REALLY BAD IS THAT HERE IN VIRGINIA THE 23/5.56 CANNOT EVEN BE USED TO HUNT DEER, YET THE MILITARY "EXPERTS TO BE" STILL WANT TO HUNT MEN WITH IT. GO FIGURE.

  • poolboy

    the young men we put in harms way should have the best equipment available. to let international politics dictate our choice of arms or any other military equipment is asinine. this behaviour borders on treason.

    • old vet

      Unfortunately it has always been like that. The real stuff we need on the ground, comes in second to what is considered politically expedient to the U. N. or those who make the BUCKS!

  • Wes P

    I'm a 7.62 x 51 mm guy myself…M80 and M118LR work just fine.

  • JHJ

    what is going to happen to the pressure when the temperature soars or the ammo is baked in the sun ??

  • noradman

    question is when will the soldiers decide to whoa wait a minute and refuse to go to war under stupid conditions
    Only a military strike will change how we kill off our young,fathers and all other family members
    the military need for someone to speak up for all we currently only have yes men at the top Where are our McArthurs and Storming Norman type people? Only yes men in the corps now Lucky they are not all dead with where they send them

  • Nam Marine

    It does not matter how accurate the round is when you have to shoot the bad guy 5 times to kill him!

    • MOG

      We first got to Vietnam, (1st Brigade, 101st Airborne), the Marines were still carrying M-14s, we really envied them. Thank you Marine.

      • 3/1 Marine

        I was there when we changed over to the M-16. We thought it would be great. It turned out the M-16 was crap compared to a M-14. The M-16 jammed, was hard to clear because it ejected the round out the side of the rifle and the lighter weight bullet had less knock down power. True the 7.62 ammo was heavier but troops used less of it because the M-14 was normally semi-automatic.

  • William M Durham

    Have read all the comments and read all the experts views, but until the man on the ground/behind the gun speaks up nothing will change. If enough troopers write their Congessperson about the problem and the fact they won't fight with the poor ammunition nothing will change. But as I know, it feeld better to bitch and get it done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719873077 Robert S. Eidem

    Everything else evolves, but the stupidity of the United States government usually remains the same.

    1) The original notion that an incapacitating round is better than a killing round is now obsolete and idiotic. Very few countries out there fight in such a way that they spend a huge amount of time dragging their wounded back to safety like they did in WW2. Most of the countries we've faced lately don't have the medical supplies to do any fixing.

    2) Politically, green is in for this administration. No doubt some person/company with massive ties to Obama is going to make this round, and some say it is Soros himself who is buying up ammo companies. This is just another Solyndra or whatever. Little under this administration is concerned with doing things right…

    • Nmate

      5.56x45mm was never, ever designed as an "incapacitating" round. The confusion, probably, comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of wounding effects. The 5.56's wounding potential is enormous, with a properly designed projectile of course. To kill someone with a projectile, you first have to wound them. The theory behind the round is that it causes massive wounding that leads rapidly to incapacitation and death.

      Did it fall a bit short of that? Maybe. There really weren't a lot of complaints about 5.56 lethality (at least real ones) until the M855 was adopted. The M855 was designed to be able to penetrate Warsaw Pact issue steel helmets at 600m from a long barreled M249. It does this acceptably, if not extraordinarily, well. It was never designed to be used in rifles, let alone shorter barreled carbines. It simply doesn't fragment reliably at typical combat ranges from short barreled weapons as the older M193, let alone newer, more effective cartridges. Mk 318 Mod 0 is, by all accounts, a very effective cartridge for rapidly incapacitating and killing enemies. So is the bonded soft point load used by the FBI.

      Before you go and blame Obama, this round's origin goes back further than the Obama administration. The DoD doesn't want to foot the bill to clean up lead contaminated sites and/or perceives this to be a problem. That's the biggest part of it. As for Soros? I really don't see why people get so fixated on him, he's just one of the few hundred people that really run this country. There are many others like him, he just might be a bit more high profile. As such, he'd buy anything if he thought that he could make money from it. People forget he's a shrewd investor first and foremost, political activism is a very, very distant second.

  • Marine0861

    I have no clue why we continue to pour money into this crap round. 5.56 needs to be replaced. Forget reworking it or trying to upgrade it just get rid of it. 6.8 SPC is sufficient hell why not just get back to the ole 7.62 x 51 NATO in a standard issue rifle? With some upgrades to the round it would be perfect for the battlefield. The adoption of this round predates obama by decades so I don't even know why he was mentioned. Wake up DoD get rid of this crap round and get our boys something worthwhile and well thought out. We did well with the M1Garand and the M14 only to flop with this hunk o s__t.

  • Vic

    Question answered for someone who isn't combat experienced. Please
    The M193 55gr. round was originally fired from a 1-13 (or thereabouts)rifled barrel and was known to yaw and upset easily. Causing huge wounds.
    Aren't the newer barrels 1-9 to stabilize the M855 62gr. round?

    What has that done to the effectiveness of the M193, if any?

    • RawDawg

      The current US issued M4s are either 1/7 or 1/8 twist, I can’t recall off the top of my head but I want to say 1/7. 1/9 is a regularly seen twist on a varmit AR used for coyotes and prairie dogs and such. The 1/9 tends to bleed less energy off the round through kinetic dispersion of rifling the round. Subsequently you can use a lighter round more accurately. The 1/9 with light bullet tends to be much less accurate after 300m then a heavy bullet with a 1/7 twist.

  • Jes

    The bismuth-tin alloy core has been replaced with a copper core which can withstand the heat. The chamber pressure of an M193 and m855 is 65,000 psi (and always has been since vietnam, well not since vietnam because the propellant used then was even more unsafe), not 55,000. the 5.56mm and the 223 remington could be chambered in the same rifle, but M193 rounds are already, terrifying for the average shooter, as it spits a giant flame out of the muzzle as to set a person on fire. The m855a1 is designed for a higher burn rate because it needs to be used in a short barrel.

    • RawDawg

      5.56 and .223 can theoretically both be used in the same rifle, but you would be a lot better off starting that rifle with a WYLDE chamber. Since 5.56 and .223 are measured differently in regards to cartridge pressure SAMI limits. The m885 tends to come out a little hotter than your typical .223 round. A 5.56 can be fired from a .223 chamber, but It’s not very good to do so since the chambers are made to withstand different pressures. Realistically nothing will probably happen to a .223 with 5.56 coming out of it for your casual range shooter. Interestingly enough, a mid to high 60s grain .223 FMJ coming out of a 1/9 twist 18″ barrel will penetrate body armor, steel plates, sapi plates, kevlar, windsheilds, and for a fraction of the cost of this round. You do lose terribly on your beyond 250m engagements accuracy, but you can penetrate body armor within 200m. Lot’s of different things can be done with minor ballistics modification to already around equipment and rounds.

  • NigeWick

    I believe Mr Kalashnikov was a Sergeant when he started designing his weapon. Has anybody thought of asking the troops what round would be effective?

    • MOG

      Those Russian Ak47s were very effective in Vietnam. And, still are from what I have heard from troops coming home. Most tell me the 5.56 is great for keeping heads down, until the designated marksman moves up to take heads off with a 7.62 rifle.

    • Steve03

      Most would say 7.62 until made to carry 240 of them then they would say 5.56… green black or tracer

  • Jeremy

    Okay to all who think this round is not worth the money to a soldier, I've shot this round on the battlefield, against real bad people. The only real test there is. First to the comment that most bad guys don't wear steal helmets anymore so we don't need the steal perching round. Well, we don't aim for the head anyway! We aim fir the chest cavity. Insurgents usually wear a FLC carrying ammo mags over their vital organs made from , you guest it steal. The bullet penetrates the FLC and breaks apart in the body sending two separate pieces through the chest cavity bouncing around the internals. It incapacitated the enemy far better then the old round which goes right through. It sometimes takes up to 8 shotsnto take down an insurgent with the old round. With the new round usually one. This is from actuall combat experience. As far as the MOA well we fight in a close quarter combat situation usually only out to a few hundred meters so the MOA at that range doesn't have much affect. From what I have seen it flies straighter longer then the old green tip rounds. Also we fight in rocky mountainous environments this round sparks and breaks up when it hits rocks sending small shards of rock and hot metel all over so if you hit the top of the rock eons is hiding behind the shards will hit the guy behind it and douse a jerking reaction usually making him jolt up giving you a good follow on shot. For the long shots out to 1000 meters for the long mountain shots we have a different weapon which is designed to shoot long range. We have different weapons for different uses for a reason. BECAUSE IT SAVES LIVES!!! A bigger round makes a bigger gun to carry. I don't want to kick down a door carrying a longer heavier weapon. I enjoy this round. I have faith in this round because it works. It may sound different on paper but from real experience it works. And I trust it with my life.

  • Kimbert

    Damn you people cry alot! Shut the fork up & go back to eating you sad McDonalds happy meals. You want a better round for our troops then put up the forking money! Put Up Or Shut Up! First you want the Gov. to stop spending so much money then you want all new stuff for our Gov. troops? WTF do you people want? Which is it? What you want & what you get are two different things. Quit crying like a bunch of little babies! Why don't you babies design & manufacture some stuff for our troops & give it to em for free or is that asking too much of you?

    • Rev

      The concern is that we’re spending (the article mentioned $32 mil) on a round that doesn’t work. I’m not saying the M855A1 does or doesn’t work, but if the author is correct in that this round is junk, then we just wasted a shit ton of money. It’s not a question of spending or cutting spending, but being fiscally responsible and not wasting it. What generally happens is so much money is sunk into a product (Land Warrior anybody?) that nobody wants to kill the program because so much has been invested already. Then finally somebody wakes up and realized it’s all a waste (again, with Land Warrior the gov finally realized off the shelf smart phones did everything they needed and were cheaper and much lighter).

      TL;DR spending more money or cutting spending isn’t the problem; not being fiscally responsible with the money and not being loyal to the end user (soldier) but instead being loyal to the constituents (those who profit) is what us (the tax payer) are concerned about.

      • DaDamms

        $32 mil is a drop in the bucket for the American military. That’s less than half of an Osprey.

  • Anthony Kirkpatrick

    Well I am an army sniper deployed with 3rd group special forces we use the m855a1 and were putting 25 out of 30 rounds in an 1/4 in steel iron maiden at 750 meters we use it in high heat of Afghanistan at 8000 feet and in 34 mile per hour full value winds I love the round it shoots straighter than the 77 grain LR rounds it's better than green tip only issue is it penetrates to well with little to no expansion but it will penetrate glass like paper and it goes through a land rovers quarter panel and engine block pretty easy for those ISAF guys that have strict roe it's great you'll stop a moving vehicle quiet easy it just takes better shot placement to get your enemy down because it pokes small holes but suicide vests Kevlar even our issued plates don't stand up against these rounds I like lead because it puts the enemy down easier with half assed shot placement in a fire fight that's how it's gonna be but I love this round maybe we get better ammo who knows but it's pretty awesome stuff push out to your weapons max effective with thirty rounds see if you don't like it shoot at iron maidens shoot things made of metal you'll find out too that it's a very dangerous round just be aware where you shoot cause it goes through every thing

    • Steve03

      bullshit alert

  • jbelly

    I can not say too much about this, but a buddy of mine that does consulting, testing, and r/d for the military has put these on steel and armor, and I'll just say, it impressed him.

  • Andrew

    that's funny, you have said the complete opposite of everywhere else I've read… also about being lead-free. it may not bother you in your outdoor range civvie life, but when you're a grunt and you spent a lot of your time squeezing off rounds in small rooms, the long term effects of lead are a big concern. and military ammo performance should not be a concern for people who use it in civilian applications…. yes it won't penetrate sapi plates. but 7.62 ap won't penetrate esapi plates, and that's a dedicated AP round. so your argument is flawed.

    • RawDawg

      Go to a mech unit, you will forget all about the lead when you start dealing with the AP rounds and the gun grease for the 242 bushmaster. Both are very cancerous.

  • NOYFB

    At least the Marines didn't fall for this round. They adopted the MK318, which from what I've seen/read is a better. Everyone talks about M855 AP capabilities, but it was only intended to defeat Soviet armoured vest. The M995 is real 5.56mm AP round.

  • CHG II

    Classic case of the COMMUNIST(GREEN) folks getting there game in action. GREEN always equals BAD!!!!

    Ammunition in a "WAR" situation is there to terminate the enemy. The Military has many proven rounds which will do that job @ any distance and in any weather. NO NEED FOR NEW ROUND!

    The Politicians need to be removed from the equation. All Wars ever waged would have been over quickly if the fighting & decisions were left to the Military Branch engaged.

    Classic Government……….Those who know NOTHING making decisions.

  • dude

    This rant/article is pretty full of hot air and no facts. The range reports from fellow soldiers is that this new round is the cat's meow and even SOF units are ditching the OTM stuff for it. It's a ballistic match for BDC sights such as ACOGs and the Jarheads are getting on board with it as well. 5.5 MOA is the minimum performance requirement but actual round performance is on par with match ammo. Those of you that clamor for the venerable 7.62×51 comeback have never humped 2km uphill at 8000ft base elevation.

    • MOG

      As a matter of fact, I have humped the M-14 up and down hills, and mountains and climbed cliffs, waded swamps, rice paddies, day and night. We just did not wear a full armor suit, and have a bunch of crap hung on the weapon, while doing it. We had enough to carry mortars, base plates, rounds, and ammo. Moving fast and getting the hell of of the kill zone, if we could. I was 18 to 21 at the time, no way I could do it now. How light would you want to go on a weapon that you depended your life on, as well as others? Would a CO2 powered BB rifle suit? Infantry does not carry battle rifles any more. They are PDWs. The M-14, or variant, is still the weapon of choice for putting them down, and keeping them down.

      • John Alton

        Well meat ball, save your BS for your generation. You are second guessing us by thinking you know how we fight today. I will take my modern equipment and M-4 over that old junk any day. The plate carrier and ACH have saved a lot of lives. We wear it for that reason stupid. So before you think you are special go ahead and spend several years in the mountains of Afghanistan before you run your mouth.

        • F

          A disrespectful reply that was entirely unnecessary if John had properly read the post he was replying to.

          • John Alton

            So its OK for this asshole to take a disrespectful shot at my generation. “We just did not wear a full armor suit, and have a bunch of crap hung on the weapon, while doing it.” He is bashing us and has no idea as to how we fight or what the concept of modular is. He fought in a jungle, we had to fight in cities. Two completely different types of combat. Yet, he has the arrogance to judge us and the equipment we use. Just because he served in Vietnam does not mean he can bash us and hid behind his service afterwards .

          • RawDawg

            The guy only pointed out that the tactics of his time were different than we use now. No slandering or prejudice was introduced until you decided to comment. I agree we have better equipment now. Body armor is a must now. Mortars are much lighter and used in a lower quantity of tubes per round now. I have humped the m14 with a composite stock all over the hindu kush. Ya, it sucks, but the stopping power is undeiniable compared to the m4. I love my AR15, I regularly hit 800M targets in afghanistan with just regular issue ammo and a issue rifle. It is an amazing weapon and excellent against unarmored targets. Many people are seemingly forgetting that the m885 was designed for an 18″ or longer barrel and that coming out of said length barrel the round will actually fragment in to many, many little ninja stars. It seems like adding 6 inches to barrel length is a much more cost effective alternative to creating a multi stage rocket round that decreases barrel life, which is a huge problem when you are shooting upward of 500 rds a day. A typical production chrome lined barrel will lose accuracy every thousand rounds. See the problem with losing accuracy every 500 rounds instead of 1000? In heavy combat situations your point of aim changes every other fire fight? No thanks. I also did not enter a single building in afghanistan. It wasn’t allowed, the ANA did the clearing. All of our engagements were outside of 150 meters, typically over 300. Unl;ess you hit the tali in an incapacitating area, IE the heart or lungs or brain, he’s just going to shoot up with opium and adrenaline and run away anyway, 7.62 or 5.56, I’ve seen people drop from both and not drop from both. Shooter capability is, and always will be dominant over the round fired or the weapon fired from.

          • 3/1 Marine

            2nd that.

      • 3/1 Marine

        You’re right. The old M-14 in 7.62 was a superior weapon and its ammo had more knock down power. Marines in Fallujah liked it because it would blow clear through cinder block walls. And when full of crud it would still function.

    • Steve03

      This is incorrect most SOF units are using the Mk262 Mod 0 77grain “open tip” match round… or the SOST round.

    • tony corn

      If the numbers are correct on chamber pressure, that will cause problems. Personally i wished they would do away with kinetic rounds and give you the plasma rifles that were developed in secret in the80′s- 92 and be done with it

  • Hidden

    The author asserts that “There has never been a single scientific study that has proven that lead from expended rounds has leached into surrounding soil or found its way into the water table. Not a single study. Not one.”

    I don’t know where Jeremy Stafford looked in order to back up his claim, if he even bothered. I guess he’s one of these muzzle loading reactionaries who refuses to acknowledge the existence of personal computers, let alone the internet.

    For the rest of us, there’s Google:

    Chen, Ming, et al. “Characterization of lead in soils of a rifle/pistol shooting range in central Florida, USA.” Soil and Sediment Contamination 11.1 (2002): 1-17.

    Bruell, Rony, NIKOLAOS P. NIKOLAIDIS, and RICHARD P. LONG. “Evaluation of remedial alternatives of lead from shooting range soil.” Environmental engineering science 16.5 (1999): 403-414.

    Astrup, Thomas, Jens K. Boddum, and Thomas H. Christensen. “Lead distribution and mobility in a soil embankment used as a bullet stop at a shooting range.” Journal of Soil Contamination 8.6 (1999): 653-665.

    There’s a whole lot more out there, Jeremy. All you have to do is type “lead leaching at firing ranges” into your search engine, and let it do all the hard work for you. No need to strain your lead-addled brain.

    What you’ll quickly learn is that you are wrong. Dead wrong. Which makes you either a) a liar

    b) lazy

    c) ignorant

    I think you’re possibly all three. What do you say?

    • Steve03

      There is one preoblem with you using a civilian range vs. a military range. The M855 “Green Tip” does not use a lead core, it has a steel core, therefore significantly reducing lead projectiles (note: 5.56 M855 isn’t the only round to use steel core). There might be a little bit of lead from the MK262 Mod 0 and M118LR but those are generally reserved for designated marksmen and snipers so presence will be minimal in comparison to any civilian range on any given day.

      • BeGe1

        M855 is steel tipped, not steel core. It has a lead core tipped with a small steel penetrator. It is not all hardened steel core like a true armor piercing round.

    • 3/1 Marine

      They still dig up war bullets from Civil War battlefields i. You can buy them 100 to a bucket. I never heard of any environmental problems cause by the lead and we are talking mostly 50 cal. or larger bullets. They grow potatoes in France and Belgium on fields littered with bullets from WW1.

  • nikki

    not to sound stupid, but isn’t lead a natural mineral that is in the ground already? shouldn’t southeast Missouri be listed as a contaminated zone and be roped off? that is were a majority of lead is mined in the U.S?

    • Abraham Collins

      Lead is smelted from galena mostly. It’s very rare for lead to occur on its own in nature. Galena is still toxic, but not nearly as much as lead in its various pure, industrial forms.

      • bloodyspartan

        Deaths from Communism far exceed Deaths from Lead lying around or in the Ground.
        Probably from Flying lead too?

  • Mike G

    It appears the author is completely uninformed on this subject. The bismuth slug, not projectile, was replaced with copper in 2007. Also the Mk318 is sold to the USMC at nearly $1.00 each while the M855A1 is sold to the Army at about a third of that, coincidentally the exact same price as the standard M855.

    • Steve03

      wrong

      • Mike G

        Not wrong. I am extremely well versed on this subject.

  • Steve03

    Green tip, SOST, black tip and tracer. That is all that is needed for 5.56… unless there is a safe API being made… I’ll take some of those. :)

  • William Revis

    This round has a lot of hype behind it. But it is another one of those things that has great P.R. but problem in the marking. You want knock down not shot through! It’s great on light armor windshield’s body armor but no knock down on the human body shoots through. Weapon not built to handle it wear out faster then normal.

  • Brad Andre

    Agreement on alot of hot air here. these new rounds hold 1.87 MOA AT 200 yards

  • STFU

    Our military wipes it’s ass with 32 million dollars. Go look up how much money our military spent just last year, and you will no longer complain about spending 32 mil on developing a new bullet. The author of this story is crying, just to cry.

    • Sky High

      Exactly! That’s like 2 Blackhawks or half of an Osprey

  • Kharn121

    The author complaing about chamber pressures with a jump from 55k to 63, but the M4 spec sheet says it must fire the M197 test cartridge which has a chamber pressure around 70k psi. Its still 7k psi under specs. I suppose the barrel will wear out faster but its not like the chamber is going to blow out on the first round.

  • Sky High
  • Sky High
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