Colt 607: The First AR Carbine

The Model 607 was Colt’s first attempt at a carbine version of the AR-15 rifle, shortening both the barrel and stock. The action is identical to a standard AR, but the barrel is only 10 inches (254mm) long, and the stock uses a collapsing design unique to this model. Most examples used a small suppressor to reduce the very substantial concussion of such a short 5.56mm barrel down to more like that of a standard 20″ rifle. Production of the Model 607 was limited to only about 50 units, and they included substantial variation in details. This example has a flat side receiver, 3.5 inch moderator, and 3-position selector. Some included burst options, either with or without a full auto setting.

Experience with the Model 607 (including limited experimental use with the SEALs in Vietnam) led to further development of the carbine concept. The barrel was lengthened to 11.5 inches and the stock redesigned to the modern style of telescoping stock we recognize today. These would become the Model 609/610, the Colt Commando or CAR-15.


  1. I can’t help but wonder what the effect was on the ballistics downrange, and how that short barrel affected what they like to term “lethality”, these days.

    One of the aggravating things about what all these “short barrel” programs seem to share is that they seemed to look solely at how they affected accuracy. The M4 carbine testing was perfunctory, at best; I’ve seen zero data anywhere where they did anything more than “Well, does it hit where we aim it?”

    Of course, this chimerical “lethality” thing is never quite quantified, because nobody seems to have figured out how to give it a number. Mostly because they haven’t bothered to look, in my opinion. I honestly think we could apply some science to this, and achieve reliable, repeatable numbers–But, nobody wants to because it’s too messy to do the work.

    The 5.56mm is a cartridge that sits right there on the edge between “Really lethal out to range” and “Utterly unreliable at putting targets down”. The reasons for this haven’t been well-quantified or researched to my satisfaction. I’ve got a couple of acquaintances who were Rangers at Mogadishu, and their first-hand reports are diametrically opposite each other. One guy swore by the early carbine he had (I don’t think it was an actual as-issued M4…) and the M855. Other guy swore at it, and was a life-long convert to 7.62 as his minimum. It was funny watching them argue, and I think that they both raised really good points. They were of equivalent skill with a rifle, so far as I could tell, it was just that they’d had massively different experiences. Which could have been due to any of an infinite number of other variables…

    Truth be told, I’d instinctively say “Yeah, the 5.56mm is a marginally adequate cartridge we ought to replace…”, but the hell of it is, I cannot take the next step and say that definitively, because I know in my heart of hearts that that is mere opinion and “feels”, which you can’t base a decision of that magnitude on.

    From what I’ve actually observed, the 5.56mm works. Most of the time, and those edge cases where it doesn’t aren’t well-enough defined so as to be able to say “Yeah, replace that sucker…”

    They really should have stepped back, when they decided to mass-issue the M4 to the direct-action combat guys, and said “Hey, are we really sure this thing works reliably with M855 out to range…?”

    That they didn’t is a testimony to the general sloth and incompetence of the US Army’s small arms programs. So far as I can tell, they didn’t do “lethality” testing on the M4/M855 combo when they adopted it for the support troops; it was accuracy only. The idea that since they were making it the general-issue Infantry rifle, they ought to do more testing? Never seems to have occurred to anyone until all the complaints started coming in during OIF and OEF. That’s a pretty damning indictment of the system, to my mind; I expect them to be more pro-active than that.

    • 5.56 x 45mm “works” due to a combination of bullet design and muzzle velocity.

      With the original 55 grain FMJ at 3,000 F/S, on impact and penetration the jacket came apart and the bullet behaved like a hollow-point “varmint” round. Meaning, internal avulsion you could stick a squirrel in. (Shoot a squirrel with it anywhere but the head or tail = no squirrel left.)

      The “permanent crush cavity” resulting from M193 is larger than that of typical 7.62 x 51 or 7.62 x 39 rounds.

      Translation; at close range where full MV is maintained, the 5.56 x 45mm is an effective man-killer.

      And- surprise!- that was exactly what Continental Army Command (CONARC), the Infantry School, and (surprise again) the U.S. Air Force asked for back in 1952-53. After Project SALVO (1948-49), in which CONARC concluded that nobody had ever really bothered to quantify exactly how infantry kills the enemy, and the reports from the likes of “Slam” Marshall in Korea, it became painfully obvious that “marksmanship tradition” to the contrary, 99% of all infantry “rifle kills” were at ranges of 100 yards or less, and aimed fire at those ranges was no more effective than unaimed, full-automatic burst fire.

      I would also like to point out that rifle calibers “below” 7.62mm, in fact as far down as 4.5mm, were CONARC’s idea, and one Ordnance regarded as “heresy”.

      The AR-15 was Eugene Stoner and Armalite Division of Fairchild’s proposal for such a “reduced caliber” rifle. It beat out prototypes from Springfield Armory and Harrington and Richardson in trials.

      Interestingly, the Springfield was essentially a scaled-down M1 Garand action with elements of Edwin Pugsley’s M1 Carbine design. Some of its designers later created the very similar Ruger Mini-14.

      BTW; A 16″ to 18″ barrel is optimum for this load. 20″ is unnecessary, and anything below 16″ is stupid for a lot of reasons it would take too long to go into here.

      The bottom line is that when you change things on 5.56 x 45mm ammunition (like going to M855 heavy ball) to try to increase its effective range, you’re trying to make the cartridge perform in a way it was never intended to.

      You’re also falling for Ordnance’s fantasies of what “Real War” is actually like. Which bear little or no relation to the facts on the ground going back at least to the Retreat from Mons, if not even further back than that.

      Stop falling for Ordnance’s fantasies.

      clear ether


      • I’ve got to agree with you. Aside from the fact that Stoner was a huge believer in full-house .30 caliber, and that he’d little to do with the actual conversion to 5.56mm. If I remember right, that was mostly Sullivan, and it happened after Stoner had left Armalite for Cadillac Gage. He came back for some consulting work, but the credit for the AR-15 conversion ought to go to others.

        I also think that they really ‘effed up the whole M193 thing, as well. The early rifles tested in Vietnam with the Armalite-designed and purchased ammo seemed to have produced some superior results to the actual issue item that was handed the troops, later on. Whether that was hyperbole or the changes they made, beginning with the cheapening of the powder used? No idea.

        One thing about 5.56mm that I think few really appreciate is just how “edge” case the round really is. Under ideal conditions, when everything is working just right? Amazing round, truly a hideously effective killer. Let something be slightly off? It’s nowhere near as effective; and, it can be as minor as the projectile hitting a leaf or branch on the way into the target.

        Or, someone finding that production of the original IMR powders just wasn’t affordable or feasible at scale.

        In any event, the entire fiasco shows the depth of failure in the US system, as well as the depravity of the men running it. They never should have accepted the changes made to the cartridge without doing full testing and validation; never mind that they never really did actual fielding of the weapon before mass-issuing it as the longest-running “interim weapon” in the history of anywhere. Remember, the M16 was supposed to be this short-term “stopgap” off-the-shelf rifle, to fill the void in between the already-failed M14 and the nascent uber-waffe SPIW. Which never materialized.

        A rational person would have looked at the situation prevailing in the late 1950s, admitted they’d screwed the pooch with the M14/7.62mm combination, and then gone back to the original solution offered by the British with their .270/.280 cartridges. It’s amazing to realize that what we’ve just done with the friggin’ NGSW is basically recapitulated the entire failed line of attempts that the Brits made at replacing the .303 (note the ballistic similarity between the .276 Enfield and NGSW…), the .276 Pedersen, and the entire line of post-war intermediate cartridges that culminated in the .280 British. Also, factor in the M14/7.62mm NATO fiasco, in terms of program trajectory starting from false premises and moving towards an individual weapon cartridge that’s too big/powerful for real effective use/deployment as a general-issue individual weapon cartridge…

        The entire system is borked, TBH. The people running everything seem to be utterly delusional, living in their little fantasy worlds. The XM-25 program being a near-perfect example; they’re trying to bring it back, even as we speak.

        • What’s really interesting is what I learned from some retired Air Force noncoms back in the mid-Seventies.

          In 1962, the Air Force wanted the hot new rifle to replace the M1 and M2 carbines issued to the APs, especially the ones guarding the SAC bases and missile silos. General LeMay and General Power both wanted something with an effective range of about 300 meters, on the grounds that since their bases were largely in open country, that was optimum for a guard’s individual weapon. Anything further away than that would be dealt with by the support platoon, which at that time meant Jeep-mounted Browning .50s.

          The Air Force never had a second’s worth of trouble with the AR-15 (as they called it), and for that matter I never did either in duty use of “original” M16s (Colt Model 602, with “bird beak” flash suppressor, no FBA on upper receiver).


          The Air Force never used M193 made at Lake City. They used commercial-type .223 Remington, 55-grain FMJ, made by…Remington. And Remington never loaded theirs with “ball” powder.

          I used Remington 55-grain JSP. Also not loaded with “ball” powder. Again, no problems.

          In short, RTFM. And don’t let Army Ordnance write the FM.



      • The letality CONARC asked for in its contest was for the bullet to be able to pierce through a GI standard steel helmet at 600 yards. If it could do that, it was deemed to be lethal. The fact that a .223 bullet fired with enough speed to pierce a steel helmet at 600 yrds, at real combat distances, tended to fragment, becoming even more lethal, was sort of a lucky coincidence, and had been observed only after the adoption. Had Remington obtained the same result with a solid brass bullet it would had been adopted like that.
        On the other hand, the .30 Carbine had been adopted for service not many years before (and was living its “field day” in Korea). What was the main complain about .30 Carbine? lack of penetration (see the mith about it being stopped by heavy coats), so let’s give our light round more penetration.

        The main competitor for the AR15 in the contest, the only one that survived the preliminary selection, was the Winchester Lightweight Military Rifle, a classic wooden-stocked, forged-steel-receiver rifle that was even lighter than the AR15 and was made of fewer parts. It had some accuracy and endurance issue, likely fixable, but Winchester preferred to get out of the competition, probably considering it a dead-end that wouldn’t have led to the adoption of more than some thousands rifles at best.

        It’s true that Stoner had already left Armalite when the work on the AR15 begun. It had been Sullivan and Fremont that embarked in the not easy task of adapting the AR10 design to the new cartridge. Stoner didn’t like the .223 Rem. at all, and desiged its first weapon for it only well into the ’70s (also the Stoner 63 was Sullivan’s scaled-down version of the Stoner 62, that Stoner designed in .308 Win.).

        • CONARC asked for that 600 yard figure because Ordnance demanded it. It dated to when they first started issuing steel helmets instead of campaign hats, i.e. around 1917.

          Incidentally, the 180 grain ball round in .30-06 failed that test; it lost velocity too rapidly. However, the M1 150-grain ball optimized for the M1 Garand gas system would supposedly do it out to 700 yards.

          In fact, if you’re talking about the standard M1 “steel pot” helmet used from 1941 to 1985 (when replaced by the PASGT composite “Fritz” helmet), its Hadfield manganese steel composition was resistant to either .30-06 round or anybody else’s .30-caliber class round beyond 400 meters. It would stop all pistol rounds up to and including .357 FMJ at point blank. 5.56 M193 would break up on it at 180 meters.

          So Ordnance was demanding, and CONARC gave in on, a requirement that even their pet “full .30” weapons could not achieve.

          But of course Ordnance was never going to admit it. And they still don’t. That “penetrate both sides of the helmet at 600” standard remains in the specs to this day, driving ammunition designers crazy.

          Nobody ever dared to ask Ordnance to explain exactly how you are supposed to hit an enemy soldier in the head with “aimed rifle fire” at 600 yards, either.



          • The helmet thing always struck me as a bit “off”, TBH. Odds are, you’re aiming center-of-mass, so whether or not the round can go through the helmet is kinda beside the point. As well, I’m here to tell you that even if the bullet doesn’t penetrate, you hit someone in the helmet with a solid hit? Even if it doesn’t penetrate, they aren’t going to continue doing whatever they were… One of my guys took a 7.62X54R round in his ACH, one that was mostly spent; no penetration, but it rung his gong such that he was out of it for about a week before he was fully back up to speed.

            I think the real problem we have with all of this crap is that nobody, anywhere, has really gone to the trouble of researching and figuring out what the actual numbers are, in terms of energy transfer over time, for incapacitating/killing a human being. It’s all fuzzy as hell, everywhere.

            I used to shoot on a IPSC pistol league with a guy who was a trauma surgeon in Chicago. His take, based on extensive experience putting people back together after being shot, was that placement, projectile design, and a host of other factors had rather more to do with “lethality” than mere caliber. And, it was really a question of placement, and the response of the victim, more than anything else. He’d done a round of surgery back when the PCP “crisis” was big, and had been around the OR where they’d treated that legendary case where the criminal took multiple 12-gauge slugs to put down. The way he described it, the second they put the antagonist into him for what he’d been on, everything opened up and he bled out on the table nearly instantaneously.

            It ain’t a hard-and-fast scientific question, but I think we could be doing a hell of a lot better than we are with this realm of knowledge. It’s all subjective crap, when you trace down to the root of where these things come from, just like that helmet penetration standard. Just how many people are getting headshot at 600m, do you think…?

            It was interesting talking to that surgeon. His take was that it was all highly variable; he’d worked on people who’d been shot with the latest and greatest modern ammo (by Chicago PD…) and one guy who’d been shot with someone’s black-powder replica or antique Colt dragoon of some flavor. The one that was the biggest pain in the ass to clean up? The old-school lead ball, because it had hit the pelvis and then splattered through the victim’s pelvic region, hip, and lower abdomen. Apparently, the lead was really, really soft, and they thought he’d been shot with a shotgun. Being as it was handcast, they never quite got to the bottom of what that projectile was, but it made one hell of a mess at a very low velocity and high mass.

            What was also interesting was this guy’s opinion that none of his experience was really worth a damn; every case was different, and it mostly depended on a lot of other, outside factors. As he put it, motivation of the shooting victim counted a lot more for survival than anything else; he’d treated people who should have been dead, and he’d treated people who should have lived, and neither one met his expectations of life or death…

          • @ Kirk
            Shot placement is paramount, and at the same time is the hardest thing to get. Post-war studies demonstrated there was practically no difference in wound placement between rifle wounds and artillery splinters wounds. The probability of a part of the body to be hit only depended from exposition. At the same time, it needed a fantastic amount of ammos for every wound.
            From a statistical point of view, an infantry formation is like a collective shotgun, saturating the space with the most lead it can and eventually hitting something.
            In reality is different. Soldiers shoot form different angles, at different times, and for different reasons (to cover themself, their companions, for suppression… and obviously they shoot to any part of the enemy they can see, because hitting a finger is better than nothing), but that’s the result.
            So any research on the perfect bullet for the job should take into account that a thousand of them is going to be shot for every single wound.

          • I suspect that the goal was not to hit an enemy soldier in the head with “aimed fire” at 600 yards.
            Simply, for some reason, 600 yards were considered the longest realistic combat distance, and the helmet was the sturdiest protection a soldier carried. So, if the projectile was able to pierce trough the sturdiest protection of the soldier at the longest combat distance, by extension, it could pierce through ANY part of the soldier at ANY combat distance. So it was deemed to be lethal enough, because human bodies tend to badly react to holes being dug into them.

          • The thing with that “penetration test” that’s so bad is that it totally ignores the actual mechanism of wounding utilized by the 5.56mm projectile, which is “loses stability instantly, dumps energy, tears up target”. You optimize it for penetration of armor, and… You’ve just reduced it’s efficacy as a killer.

            Total absence of thought about what the prioritization should have been, not to mention “Who the hell is even spotting enemy targets at 600m…? Did we recruit Superman with his X-Ray Vision, or something?”

            Like I’ve been saying, the logic on a lot of these things evaporates once you start to examine them critically. Which the “important parties” never seemed to have done.

            That scene about how the Bradley got designed, in Pentagon Wars? That’s inaccurate as hell for the Bradley, but the spirit of it permeates most military design processes. There are “constituencies” and “advocates” for various features and issues, and few if any ever bother to look at the whole picture and say “Yeah, ya know what? Maybe that 600m helmet penetration thing doesn’t make a lot of sense, given that this cartridge needs to be inherently unstable to work as intended…”

  2. There is a reason that the Special Ops people were working on developing the 6.8 SPC which is to increase lethal terminal impact since the 5.56 out of the M4 was not very consistent in effectiveness out of a 16″ barrel versus the standard 20″ barrel. A round like the 5.56 that was designed for velocity to cause lethal damage and then had velocity lowered in short barrels reduced the cartridge ability to function properly. Going to a 10″ barrel will lower the velocity to the point that some heavier bullet loads might lose stability and accuracy at any range, making hits much more problematic. Real world test where the barrel of a Remington 700 was cut from 26″ to 6″ and velocity tested at every one in reduction in length the 26″ vel. was 3100+, the 20″ was 3071, the 16.5″ was 2968, the 10″ was 2489, and the 6″ 1955. that is over 600 fps velocity loss in 10″ of barrel reduction. The ammo used was Federal 55 gr. fmj. Data from article posted by RifleShooter magazine from 2015.This loss of velocity brings several headaches to the development of effective short barrel rifles in 5.56 mm.

    • M4 is a 14.5″ barrel. I think the 16″ is where they should have actually gone, with a mid-length gas system vice the off-the-shelf XM-177 length that Colt offered.

      The sad reality is that the M4 wasn’t really designed so much as it was assembled from what was available; it’s an almost accidental “shake parts bins; assemble” sort of deal. Which, I repeat, they never validated for use with M855 much past “Will it hit where we aim it…?”

      If it had been left where it was meant to be, in the hands of support troops? That would have been one thing; that they diverted it and wound up arming all the line Infantry outfits with it, and didn’t actually ensure that it worked effectively? Flatly criminal.

      I blame the people that procured it, almost as an afterthought they thought would be “cool”, and all the Infantry officers that glommed onto it because “cool”. I had a chat with one of those guys, once; he’d wound up working at I Corps headquarters, and I had the chance to talk to him about how that whole thing went down, because it was basically begun at 7th ID (Light) when they diverted all the M4s that showed up for divisional artillery and engineer troops over to the Infantry battalions. He’d been one of the decision-makers on that deal, and he literally could not articulate a reason for having done what they did, other than that the officers all thought the M4 was “cool”, and had “better handling characteristics” in the field. Not a damn thing went into it, other than those two things, per what he described as the “process” by which they decided on and justified the diversion. Optics, basically; nothing at all about whether or not the M4 was even an acceptable substitute for the M16A2. It just “looked better” and “handled better”; never mind how well it worked as a combat weapon. Oh, and the troops thought it looked cool, so it was good for morale.

      That was the depth of reasoning that went on. Theoretically, the 7th ID (L) should have stuck with the M16A2 because they were light infantry, needed the range, and had little to do with vehicles or airborne operations like the 82nd Airborne, who I believe were the next to do the diversion…

      Whole thing was done in an absence of real thought or testing. Just the “optics”; they thought the M4 looked cooler, so it belonged out with the Infantry, not it’s intended destination with the support troops.

      There was also a lot of cachet because SOCOM was type-standardizing on it, but nobody noticed that the version SOCOM was getting wasn’t at all the same one going to the line doggies. All those accessories made a hell of a difference, and SF has limited to no need for a really long-range basic issue weapon with all the other crap they have available to them. The M4 was basically a PDW-role weapon for them, in my opinion.

      • And the sequel is, the most popular version of the “family” today is the carbine-type with a 16.5″ barrel. The difference is that most such today, civilian, police or etc., have 1:9″ pitch rifling, which adequately stabilizes a much wider range of bullet weights than either the original 1:12″ or the M16A2’s 1:7″.

        The exact reason for 1:7″ in the A2 always escaped me. Of course, shooting it compared to the earlier 602 model and the 603 (A1) made me question the need for M16A2 overall to begin with. I tend to believe that it was the gravel belly chorus at Camp Perry that wanted it, the question being was it the Marines who wanted it to beat the Army in Service Rifle, or vice versa?

        I tend to view M16A2 as a superb “Designated Marksman’s Rifle”, especially with an optical sight and SS109 NATO ammunition. Its exact purpose other than that, or banging gongs over its micrometer-adjustable iron sights at 500 meters at CP, escapes me.



        • If I remember the justification for it, the 1:7 twist rate was to stabilize the tracer (!) projectiles they were looking at.

          So, they compromised the effectiveness of the ball rounds in order to get the tracer to work right, which was never really a major “thing” that the rifles were meant to use…

          Ya wonder why I question the intelligence and judgment of these people?

          You hear that “tracer” thing, and you generally just nod your head along with it, going “Yes, certainly, of course…”.

          Then, you stop and think about it: WTF? The design is compromised for the round we use out of these weapons 99% of the time, reducing its effectiveness, so that a loading we use on an infinitesimal scale is optimized? Are you ‘effing serious?

          Frankly, I’m not even all that convinced that tracer is of that much use out of a machinegun. It’s nice, and all, but given the differences I’ve observed between flight of tracers and the dust raised by impacts out in the beaten zone? I ain’t even all that sure that the 7.62 tracers are consistently indicating true “flight/fall of shot”.

          So, why do we use ’em? Custom? So the enemy can see where we’re shooting from? ‘Cos it looks so kewl?

          • I’ve always questioned the use of tracer in anything except AA and air to air shooting.

            In those areas, tracer can help ensure that the trigonometric problem of getting your stream of slugs to coincide with the trajectory of your target (i.e. that airplane with the other guy’s markings on it) coincide, forming the appropriate triangle on the XY axis and turning said airplane into a colander.

            In those functions, the fact that tracer also tells him where you are is largely irrelevant. If you’re in the air, he probably already knows where you are unless he’s otherwise occupied or just seriously challenged in the situational awareness department.

            If you’re on the ground, you’ve probably whacked him before he has time to realize you’re there.

            In ground to ground applications, tracer tends to get you the undivided attention of everybody within visual range. Most of whom on the other side will look for the source, i.e. you, and proceed to rain Hell on same.

            With something like the old M163 with the 20mm Vulcan “gatling gun” on top, that was kind of the price of doing business if you were mostly using the track as a convoy escort and ambush buster, which was what it was mostly used for in reality, as opposed to its AAA role.

            Firing tracer from the infantry rifle?


            I have a photo of a 2LT doing it to “spot” targets for his riflemen in VN. To judge by the rifle (early M16 with aluminum 20-shot “waffle-iron pattern” magazine) the photo was probably from around 1966-67. I’ve often wondered if that 2LT survived long enough to make 1LT.

            Leave tracer to the big guns, HMG and above. They have good reasons for using it.

            Riflemen, not so much.



          • Look into the development of the 5.56 round and you will understand just how convoluted the thinking of the people behind the program was. Something like 5 different powders, similar primers(ball powder responded differently to primer brisance), change bullet design and reset the entire load parameter, increase bullet weight and really affect everything. We never learned the reality of powder sensitivity to temperature and or humidity and the subsequent effect on ammo/gun performance. The British designed cartridges with cordite to keep pressures in the 30,000-to 40000 psi range while a colonial power in India and Africa. From the start, the 5.56 was designed to work in the 50,000+ psi range and that can cause problems in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

          • The thing about the “Let’s warp the cartridge/rifle design around the tracer requirement…” that just irritates me is that the tracers on a friggin’ M249 are just not all that reliable for calling fall of shot.

            Take an M249 out on a night-fire range. Observe, through the NVG’s you’re using to keep track of things, just where the ball rounds are raising dust downrange, versus where the tracers are indicating where the flight path/impact is. If you’re behind the gun, it kinda looks like the whole thing works… Laterally? Off to the side? You’re seeing a totally different picture; the tracer isn’t indicating the beaten zone at all well… Most of the time, it’s hitting past where the ball rounds are impacting. I’d wager that the actual flight paths of the projectiles are nowhere near the same, and that on the 5.56mm cartridges, I think the burning tracer compound is changing the flight path as it burns down in the lower-mass projectiles.

            Purely observational, so your mileage will no doubt vary, but there ya go.

            I really have to question the way all this crap gets thought through… The developers get wrapped around the axle of “tracer”, and ignore the stuff they should be prioritizing on, like “Does the ball projectile work at this speed/spin?” All of that gets thrown out, as they go running off after these really extraneous issues like “tracer”.

            In my entire career, I can’t think of a single time where I needed to fire tracers out of my individual weapon. I also can’t think of a single time where it was really vitally important for the damn MGs, either… My experience with tracers is that they were mostly only really good for starting range fires I’d have to shut down operations for, and go put them out.

            You want to really piss off the people at the Ammo point? Strip the tracer out of your 4&1 belts, and turn in the tracer separately because Range Control said “Absolutely no tracer while fire danger is high…”

            I did that once, when the boss told me to. I told him “Ya really need to run this by someone over there…”, and he ignored my advice. Turning in all that now-separate tracer? LOL… I thought the ammo guys were going to have breakdowns…

          • I read somewhere in a book written by a WWII fighter pilot that he was told by his sqn. commander that the path of .50 cal tracer was around five inches below ball at normal(?) fighter engagement ranges- say 100 to 400 yards which would basically invalidate use of tracer, except for where NOT to track your shots. This has be speculated as being caused by the burning material destabilizing the bullet over distance.

          • @David Stormont,

            It’s definitely the tracer compound burning out that does it, but how much is due to changes in projectile mass and how much is due to the gasses…? After all, a base-bleed artillery round is essentially a tracer projectile that’s been re-purposed to use the burning gasses from the fill compound to improve the aerodynamics…

            The issue with tracers is that while they try to make them at least somewhat ballistically similar to ball, the inherent differences are a physical limitation that can only be balanced so much. The newer tracers that have the so-called “pencil lead” fills vs. the old-school “fill it with compound” types are better, but… Still, the mass is changing throughout the projectile’s path.

            As well, the smaller the projectile, the worse the effect of the changes. 5.56mm is a particularly challenging projectile to do “special things” with, because of its low mass and cross-section. .50 cal? You can do all sorts of tricks, and still have margin. Not so the 5.56mm, which is one reason I’m not a particular fan of it.

            I still think something like the .280 British would have been a better choice, back when, but… Wasn’t my decision. And, try as I might, I just don’t have the numbers to say “Yeah, we ought to sh*t-can the whole 5.56mm infrastructure. It’s obviously just “good enough” for most use, but… Man, I wish they’d gone with something else.

        • Oh, and it was definitely the Marines who did the M16A2. The Army just went along for the ride; there are DTIC papers out there objecting to the A2 design features, by the Army, but they just didn’t care enough to really fight the issue.

          It wasn’t really Camp Perry, either; it was Marine Corps known distance qualifications that drove the train, more than anything else. If there was ever a case study for why you have to exercise caution in how you “gamify” things like qualification courses and standards, that’d be the Marine qual ranges from WWII up until into the 2000s, when they finally got a clue.

          I got a bunch of guys straight out of the USMC into the Army back during the late 1990s, when the Marines simply weren’t doing re-enlistments for their Combat Engineers, for some reason. All of them had difficulty with Army qualification standards, and not because they couldn’t shoot. Their technical shooting skills were amazing, but put ’em on a pop-up range with timed exposures? A lot of them freaked out, because they couldn’t get their heads wrapped around not taking exquisite care lining up their shots. I had one guy who came off the range with thirty rounds still in his magazines, freaked the hell out that the targets kept dropping before he got his shots off. He’d shot high Expert in the Corps, every time. Took him three tries to get Marksman in the Army, and it had nothing to do with his accuracy. He’d just been conditioned to shoot differently, and artificially.

          I have severe doubts about the Army marksmanship of that era, but that’s for entirely different reasons than the same feeling I have about the Marine marksmanship training that they designed the M16A2 around.

          Ain’t nobody came out of Vietnam saying that the M16 was a good rifle that just needed to be a little heavier, a little longer, and have a new, super-complex rear sight added on. Nobody.

          They did say it could have been shorter, collapsible-stocked, needed good night sights and better magazines. Oddly, not one of those issues was addressed by the M16A2… And, on top of that, we have the spectacle of the A2 being entirely supplanted in Infantry organizations by the M4, for very poorly articulated reasons that I think boiled down to “Looks kewl“, once you get past the verbiage of the staff officers justifying it.

          Ya ask me? Every one of those idjit dumbf*cks that made the A2 and the M4 happen ought to be sterilized for the benefit of the species, along with any kids they managed to produce. Some things are just so egregiously stupid that they call out for a full culling of the genetics involved…

          I mean, for the love of God… It took from the early 1990s when the M4 was first starting to be diverted to “primary infantry arm” until the mid-2000s before anyone started paying serious attention to the question of “Does this thing work well with M855…?”

          Does that seem at all… I dunno… Smart? At all professional? I know I had questions about that issue, just from the standpoint of a layman user, but I trusted the system to have done the testing on it. Which, when I went back to look for, I could not find the slightest sign of ever having been done, from other than a casual “Does this thing still hit where we point it…?” basis.

    • Technically, it was a flash hider, not a moderator. Going back to the resonance thing, its dimensions and vibration pattern tended to shift the audible signature of the muzzle blast upward beyond the human audible range. I might add that dogs hated it worse than they do dog whistles, as K-9 handlers found out the hard way.

      ATF decided that it and the similar flash hider on the CAR-15 were “silencers”, giving them another reason to charge $200 on a “bringback souvenir” before and after the GCA ’68 “amnesty”.

      There was in fact one actual “silencer” patent that worked on this principle deliberately. Originally intended for firearms, it eventually found use in reducing the exhaust noise of commercial jetliners.



      • Eon:

        Interesting information. Maybe this is something Ian could look at more closely?

        It looks as if we are slowly moving back towards moderators on rifles, which is probably a good thing. Hopefully they will be better than 3M’s useless earplugs.

        • That 3M earplug thing isn’t really a “3M” problem, and if they were honest, the arseholes at DOD and the original company that frauded the things into service would be the ones paying. 3M basically bought the original company and then brought the product into mass-production for the military, without doing their due diligence… And, of course, got screwed in the end.

          Most of the fraud with those things stemmed from a.) the original company, and b.) the military not doing proper testing. It was, as I recall, one of those “off-the-shelf” rapid-issue initiative deals.

          Granted, 3M could have and should have done a better job of validating it all, but they were working off of what should have been proven IP.

          Or, so I have been told by people who were involved in peripheral matters surrounding it. I haven’t seen the actual lawsuit paperwork, so my sources may or may not be accurate…

  3. If you look at the Thompson-LaGarde tests of 1904 conducted to establish the most effectively lethal caliber (not cartridge) the fairly predictable result was.45 caliber is the most lethal bullet diameter for fmj roundnose profiles. The trouble is that you cannot extrapolate the 1904 pistol results to rifle rounds 50 years later an have any useful data to work with. The T/L tests were applied to every potential round except .50 and above. 5.56 would have been a total failure in the 1904 tests since cattle and human cadavers were used to gather results.

    • The Thompson-LaGarde tests of 1904 was utter bullshit and should be recalled only to be ridiculed.
      At first they tried to shoot live cattle. When They had shot less than 20 animals with 7 different rounds and 9 different projectiles’ shape it was clear that, even in the controlled environment of the test, the shot placement, and so the results, varied so wildly that shooting live animals didn’t have any value (that’s weird, since measuring the effect of the projectiles on live things wshould have been precisely the goal of the test). In particular the animal hit with 6 rounds of .45 Colt the first day had to be finally killed with a hammer blow to the head, that was pretty disappointing, since Col. LaGarde was an advocate of the .45 from the start.
      Then they started shooting hanged human corpses and measuring the sway caused when the body was shot from different distances. So a measurement of the momentum transferred. That finally gave LaGarde the result he was searching for, since the bigger and heavier round obviously transferred more momentum to the pendulum. It has to be noted that, if that was the ratio, a push with the hand would have been more lethal than any of the rounds tested, or than a .50 BMG for that matter.

      • The interesting bit about those tests was that on “slaughterhouse bullocks” they achieved exactly one, count ’em, one “one shot stop”, defined as “down and dead inside of ten seconds”.

        The gun? Parabellum Model 1900.

        The caliber? 7.65 x 21mm aka .30 Luger.

        The load? 87-grain FMJ roundnose at 1,050 F/S.

        The wound ballistics?

        Hit the aorta square on, blew a hole through it, heart action bled the bullock out internally.

        The .45 was the result simply because after the failure of .38 Colt in the Philippines, nobody wanted anything less than a .45.

        The real problem with .38 Colt was that its 140-grain LRN was going slightly slower than the big 255-grain slug of the .45 Colt. Resulting in about 200 FPE energy instead of around 400.

        If they’d gotten that 140-grain up to about 1,100 F/S, it likely would have been a different story.

        Incidentally, 200 FPE is also the typical muzzle energy of the .38 S&W, the British 0.380in revolver version, and the vaunted 0.455in Webley, which everybody seems to think was some super man-stopper, even Indiana Bloody Jones. It wasn’t.

        If you accept that it takes a minimum of about 400J (~250 FPE) to inflict a crippling or killing wound on an adult human male with a center-torso hit, then prior to the .45 ACP about the only pistol rounds that qualified were .45 Colt, .44-40 WCF, .38-40 WCF, and the various European 7.63-7.65mm bottlenecked automatic pistol rounds (.30 Luger, .30 Mauser). They were the only ones over that energy threshold.

        Kinetic energy is what gets the job done. And the first rule of “stopping power” is the same as the first rule of highway traffic safety.

        Speed Kills.

        clear ether


        • Since the failure of the the .38 Colt in the Philippines is often cited to conclude that “9mm doesn’t stop”, it has to be recalled that the .38 Long Colt is the weakest 9mm smokeless round ever adopted by any army. It’s like taking the .30 Carbine as an example of the performances of all the .30 rifle calibers.

        • I humbly beg to differ with the thesis.

          Yes, speed does kill… Provided our fast projectile dumps all that kinetic energy into the damn target effectively.

          If it just passes through? Ain’t doing squat. If you’ve ever tried shooting game animals with the wrong bullet, you’ll have seen exactly what I’m talking about. FMJ flatly sucks for putting down a lot of game animals, and that’s the reason it’s illegal for hunting in many locations.

          Speed alone isn’t enough; you have to have projectiles that effectively transfer that energy to the target to do damage to tissue and bone. The transfer mechanism is critical, and if your projectile breaks up on the surface of the target or zips right through, no amount of “speed” is going to be effective.

          Disbelieve me? Go boar hunting with something super-fast and solid; you’ll get a bunch of in-and-outs, and few solid kills.

          • Perfectly true. It’s why big British African cartridges, like .600 Nitro Express, traditionally came in two different types.

            1. Solid nose, often solid-cast bronze, bullet for deep penetration to get to the vitals of elephant, rhino, hippo and especially Cape buffalo.

            2. Jacketed soft point, for rapid expansion on soft-skinned dangerous game like lion and leopard.

            The two bullet types were almost invariably as nearly exactly the same weight as possible, and loaded with the same powder charge and primer, to ensure that as much as possible they would shoot to the same point of aim out to maximum effective range.

            Even though they were really intended to be used at ranges under 50 yards. Mostly when the animal was already charging.

            In each case, they made the most effective use of their energy. The soft nose would open up and put a one-inch-plus “tunnel” right through a lion’s guts.

            The solid wouldn’t expand or deform at all, but it was quite common to hit a bull elephant in the forehead and recover the bullet halfway down the back after it had punched through the brain and wrecked half the spine.

            Either one got the job done on its proper target.

            And yes, this was one of the reasons for gunbearers. Quite aside from most men not being able to hold a 12-to-14-pound double rifle steady if they’ve already been carrying it all day, having one double loaded with solids and the other loaded with soft-noses just made good sense.

            Yes, the gunbearer had a lot in common with a caddy on a golf course. Except of course the 9th hole wasn’t going to jump up and try to eat you.



  4. The whole of the world’s testing regimes for “lethality” are pretty much delusional BS everywhere.

    You really need a more scientific basis for determining what works, and that means gathering data out where people are being shot, and then quantifying the whole thing on some rational basis. Which we have signally not done. Ever.

    I strongly believe, after having done time on a thoroughly “wired” battlefield as an Observer/Controller, that we really do not have the slightest ‘effing idea what is actually going on out on the two-way ranges of the world. Everything is subject to purely subjective observation by people under a great deal of stress, and nobody ever goes out to look at the reality on the ground to try and work out whether Lieutenant Schmedlap and PFC Snuffy actually got their witness reports right. I strongly suspect that most of what we think we know just “isn’t so…”, especially as to attribution of what did the most effective job of killing the enemy.

    One of the things most researchers seem to forget is that the dead stay on the battlefield, and nobody is really paying attention to what it was that killed them. You start going by what made it into the casualty system, and you’re making that same mistake the operational research guys started making about returned bombers in WWII… If the bomber made it back to base with certain areas shot up, then you don’t put the extra armor there, but where they weren’t shot up, on the premise that that’s where the hits knocked the bombers down over Germany. If someone makes it back into the casualty system, that’s not necessarily a sign your weapons are working, but perhaps an indicator that they aren’t.

    Once you get into the weeds, you also have “motivation” as a factor. My surgeon acquaintance had people who were so shot up that they had no business making it to the ER survive and go on to live relatively normal lives. He had other people who flat-out died because they talked themselves into it; one guy who was informed that he’d been shot literally dropped dead on the examining table, and the wound wasn’t anything at all serious; it was the shock/realization that he’d been shot, and therefore, “…ought to be dead…”

    The variable factors involved in all this are mostly due to the people factor, because what will kill one might not kill another. You have to compensate for that with your testing regimes and goals, which I don’t think too many people have done, surveying the literature. There’s a hell of a difference between putting down a Juramentado with all his improvised tourniquets and a little old lady…

    • It’s why you have to take any statement on the “most effective manstopping (whatever)” with a pound or two of salt.

      OK, a study done a decade ago says the three most effective man-stopping rounds in warfare have been, in order;

      1. 9 x 19mm

      2. .45 Colt

      3. .45 ACP.

      In looking at the methodology (I’m a lab geek, you know), I noticed that nobody was counting anything but total casualty numbers. Things like number of hits in the vitals per casualty weren’t factored in.

      Which means the “study” is pretty much shite from the beginning. During WW2, for instance, most 9mm and .45 ACP casualties were the results of submachine gun fire, not pistol fire. And most casualties were getting hit four or five times apiece at close range as a result, all in a fraction of a second- zero “onset time”.

      Meaning, they were getting the effect of being hit by a shotgun firing buckshot of 00 size or bigger. Needless to say, this is going to do more damage than a single hit by a single projectile.

      It could mean the old. 45 Colt revolver round is still the champion. Except for trick shots, most shooting with the “thumb buster” works out to one or at most two slugs to a customer.

      As you stated, we still just don’t know what happens “when the bullet hits the bone”.



      • Your last sentence is actually rather amazing, when you think about it. Billions of dollars spent by the US on experimental replacements for the M16 down the years, and yet… Ain’t nobody that I’m aware of who has really articulated the precise (and, more importantly, scientifically reproducible…) means by which the flippin’ 5.56mm cartridge works.

        If they had, then they’d have been a lot more cautious about casually changing the powder when it was first adopted, and they’d have looked rather askance at both the SS109/M855 cartridge designs. Similarly, the M4 would have been a much different rifle, or they’d have issued different ammo for it…

        A lot of this crap just boils down to piss-poor reasoning skills and an utter lack of any really scientific approach. Go ask someone to define exactly why they want to have the projectile penetrate both sides of a helmet at 600m. Force them to lay out justifications and all the rest; they can’t do it. It’s a “subjective standard” that they have zero validation for. It’s like the “Overmatch” with NGSW. WTF is this “Overmatch”? Define it, please… Quantify it, justify it, explain it in little words that a five-year old might understand.

        They can’t do it. It’s like the question of “How much energy to kill/incapacitate a human?” The answers are all over the map from 80 joules in a “vital area” to anywhere between 58 ft-lbs and 350.

        Not to mention, few bother to go that extra bit and work out the amount of time that energy needs to be transmitted to the body, and how much has to “stay” in it…

        If velocity of the projectile was all that mattered, than that physicist that took the particle beam in his head at the cyclotron should have flat-out exploded, not had the hole he had punched through his body.

        The whole question is dire need of some actual research and science being performed, but nobody wants to do the work. Imagine trying to get the research grant for “Yeah, we’re gonna shoot live people for science…”

        I think you could do a reasonable approximation by actually doing what we do at the National Training Center in terms of wiring up a unit for sound, sending them off to combat, and then carefully analyzing the results, to include full autopsies on all the casualties both friendly and enemy. Such a project would likely get you lynched, but it’s the only damn way we’re ever going to find out what we need to know.

        I mean, seriously… I’d love to be able to settle that argument between those two Mogadishu vets about whether or not 5.56mm was working worth a damn there. One says “Yes…” the other says “Hell, no…” Who is right? No damn idea, because I can’t put real numbers to anything really pertinent to the question.

      • If something useful can be extracted from the Thompson LaGarde test is that shot placement is paramount. So training.
        Since you can’t fully control shot placement, it’s better to have more rounds in the magazine, and to be able to shoot and reload faster.
        A single bullet being marginally more lethal than another, all things equal (when, in reality, things are never equal), comes WAY behind.

        • A single bullet being marginally more lethal than another, all things equal (when, in reality, things are never equal), comes WAY behind.

          Which is why I suspect the 5.56mm might be inside the envelope for “sweet spot” when it comes to individual weapon cartridges. The fact that you can get multiple rounds into the target without really losing your sight picture or physical references is an undervalued attribute; I think the much more powerful NGSW full-house round is going to fail on this precise basis; too long to make effective follow-up shots.

          The thing a lot of people just don’t get about combat is the same thing they don’t get about the MG42 and its “too high” rate of fire. The point isn’t that you’re “wasting ammo” so much as you’re trying to engage targets within the smallest time frame possible, because the target is going to react. Shoot a guy with the NGSW cartridge, and he goes to ground before you get your second or third fatal follow-up into him. Fire a burst at a fleeting target downrange, and if your rate of fire is too slow, well… You might get that one guy you spotted, but the other five around him that you didn’t see now have a good shot at getting below the line of fire.

          Eon made the point that “speed kills”. Well, that’s true in other ways, as well. The 5.56mm allows for really rapid and reasonably accurate follow-up shots; how much of that factors into its efficacy as an individual weapon cartridge?

          And, again… All stuff we’re guessing at, ‘cos nobody ever bothered to gather the data.

          • To me the NGSW is going to fail big time.
            The rifle is heavier, the round is heavier (so you can carry less) and it kicks harder.
            Think of the trench sweeping we are seeing in Ukraine. Between the guy with the M4 and the guy with the XM7, who would have an advantage? The guy that, at every shot, has to make sure to have assumed the correct position, just to not lose balance?

          • @Dogwalker,

            You and I are on the same sheet of highly cynical music. In the individual weapon, I think that cartridge is going to fail bigly, especially in the realm of practical combat.

            I don’t like 5.56mm NATO. I’m not an advocate for it, but I have to acknowledge the existing reality that it works. I cannot quantify my objections to it, and I cannot justify replacing it with something else “just because” I have an emotional reaction to it “feeling” too light to me.

            Objective fact matters. 5.56mm works, and has worked well within the parameters of our current tactical system. Changing it? Bad idea, unless you’ve got absolute incontrovertible proof your replacement is superior in performance in all regards…

          • @ Kirk

            I’m not a great fan of the 5.56 NATO either, but have to admit that, in its weight and power class, is maybe the best option and, if you want something more on one side, you have to lose something on the other.

            Problem is that, like for the delayed blowback we are talking of in the other thread, it works thanks to a delicate balance that’s easily broken.
            IE, the fragmentation of the bullet that makes it so “lethal” doesn’t happen always. At normal shooting distances it happens like half of the times. And that’s one of the reasons why there’s people that swear on it’s effectivenes and people that would prefer 7.62X39 any time. The simple tumbling of bigger bullets is maybe less lethal, but more reliable.
            It’s also VERY sensible to twist rate / bullet weight / barrel lenght combination. More than any other service cartridge.
            And so on…

        • Sorry to state, but speaking as someone with a few post-mortems under my belt (about a hundred, probably better than a third of them GSWs), I’m pretty sure that anyone taking about “shot placement” has lost the ball.

          First of all, motor skills go to shite in a stress situation. It’s why we train police officers and soldiers mainly to shoot by reflex. (Yes, using the sights- cf. “flash sight picture”.)

          It’s why the AK’s selector has single-shot at the bottom; the Russian army knew that, and so the rifle was set up so that when a grunt was suddenly under fire, and instinctively mashed that big triangular thing from “safe” to “fire”, he’d be on single-shot first instead of full-auto. Once he’d collected his wits, then he could move it back up one notch and go to work firing short, controlled autofire bursts.

          I’ve seen bullets and knives, the things that penetrate, do the weirdest shite. Those CSI shows where the doc tells the CSIs “The bullet entered above the heart, glanced off the breastbone, entered the aorta and was carried down to the right ankle”? Don’t laugh; in 1980, I recovered a .25 ACP FMJ from a dead guy that had done exactly that. And that was far from being the weirdest one.

          Once a bullet enters the body, it becomes a three-dimensional pinball machine in action, and there’s literally no telling where it’s going to zig or zag. So “shot placement’ is mostly a waste of time, other than the obvious thing about aiming or at least point-shooting for the torso or head, where you know the odds are you’re going to hit something important.

          If all you can see is a leg, shoot for the thighbone. Seriously. Look up “Scarpa’s triangle”, a favorite target of old-time duellists using rapiers. Slice the femoral artery open, and he’ll be unconscious in under ten seconds, dead in about a minute, just from blood loss.

          H.Beam Piper said it best, through his detective Col. Jefferson Rand in Murder in the Gunroom;

          I learned a long time ago that there’s no such thing as a “good second place finish” in a gunfight. And one reason that I don’t generally lose same is that I don’t get fussy about aiming. Lots of good men have died because they took too much time trying to shoot for a precise spot. Myself, I just don’t give much of a damn where I hit a man, as long as it’s somewhere that’ll hurt, and I keep shooting as long as the son-of-a-bitch is on his feet. And Dave (his associate) uses that .357 Magnum cannon of his precisely because all he needs to do is hit the other guy somewhere between his belt buckle and his brainpan; the Magnum slug will do the rest.

          That pretty much sums it up.

          1. Use enough gun.

          2. Shoot where it’s going to hurt.

          3. Keep shooting until he lies down and stops doing whatever caused you to conclude he needed to be shot to begin with.

          And most of all

          4. Learn to take your time- in a hurry.



          • “shot placement’ is mostly a waste of time, other than the obvious thing about aiming or at least point-shooting for the torso or head.’

            That’s shot placement.

            ‘If all you can see is a leg, shoot for the thighbone’

            That’s shot placement.

            It doesn’t came by itself. So training. That’s why you “train police officers and soldiers mainly to shoot by reflex” instead of giving them a gun and a pat on the back.
            THEN Since you can’t fully control shot placement, it’s better to have more rounds in the magazine, and to be able to shoot and reload faster.
            A single bullet being marginally more lethal than another, all things equal (when, in reality, things are never equal), comes WAY behind.

          • H. Beam Piper is a reference I would not have expected to see here, but he should be getting rather more memory and respect than he does from the firearms community… Love the man’s writing.

            In any event, I have to agree with the overall thrust of what Eon is saying here. Gotta hit the bastard, to put him down; all else is merely added unnecessary elegance.

            I will submit, however, that sometimes shooting with an eye towards having to explain said shooting to the courts might be worth taking into account. Better tried by 12 than carried by six, and all the rest, but… Trying to articulate why you emptied a couple of magazines into someone can sometimes come with difficulty: “He was still moving, the bastard!!!” countered with “After you shot him nine times with a .45? Really?”

            Me? I’m just going to point out a lifetime’s conditioning from military service to keep shooting until the target goes down and quits moving, and that I’m used to FMJ and it’s deficiencies as a defense load… With any luck, I’ll never have to defend myself in court, but… Yeah. I have thought about it, and I’m pretty sure that I’m probably not going to be one of those guys that shoots twice and pauses to evaluate the situation. You tend to fall back on past life experience, and I’m not too sure I’ve overcome that “Shoot until slide lock; reload, shoot until target ceases all movement…” thing…

          • I think we’re using different definitions of “shot placement” here.

            To me, it means the kind of thing “gamesmen” do for scoring on targets. Like IPSC, or the Agency Which Must Not Be Named’s “Computer Man”. The one gave us .38 Super Auto as the ultimate cartridge; the other gave us 9 x 19mm 147-grain subsonic as the ultimate “stopper”.

            Both gave us people who act like the Marines Kirk dealt with. They spend more time lining up the Perfect Scoring Shot than they do actually shooting. That works great in competition; not so well otherwise.

            If someone is taking two seconds to line up their first shot, that’s about one and nine-tenths of a second too long.

            As Heinlein said, make your first shot fast. Even if you don’t hit center, it will rattle the opponent and give you time to to make your second shot perfect.



          • Things being what they are, I’d advocate for a balanced approach; yes, you absolutely have to get hits on target to have effect, and you’re much better off taking the immediate first shot you can make, as opposed to taking your sweet-ass time and getting a perfect CNS or heart shot. By the time everything is perfect, you may have lost your opportunity, and I think I’d rather have an opponent trying to figure out how to get around on a badly wounded leg than wait a bit and try for that ideal headshot…

            Combat is not a realm where perfectionists do well; the guy who is “just good enough” to manage things in a timely manner is more likely to be effective than Mr. Perfect. Sad, but true.

          • @ eon

            “shot placement” means that a bullet in the heart kills more and faster than one in the foot, or in the liver. It doesn’t count if the hit was wanted or by chance.
            But, if your trained to shoot by reflex guy tend to lands his hits into five inches distance from the heart, he’ll have much more chances to hit it than if his hits tend to land somewhere between the top of the head and the feet.
            That’s why you train him instead giving him a gun and calling it a day.
            THEN Since you can’t fully control shot placement (anyone can miss, or even that bullet that landed within 5 inches from the heart can not hit anything really important), it’s better to have more rounds in the magazine, and to be able to shoot and reload faster.
            Giving a certain round instead of another, instead, is not shot placement.

          • Eon:

            I see it differently. The AK is, after all, an “automatic”. It was designed to replace the submachine gun. Hence I take it that the default firing condition is full auto, so the safety lever goes to full auto first, then semi auto. It is an automatic, and was designed to be fired full auto, with semi auto as an option.

          • @JohnK,

            That idea about the AK was taught for years in the US Army. Hell, I taught it… “First position full auto, weapon meant to be fired on full auto by default…”

            However, comma… That’s not the way the Soviets meant it to work or designed it. The AK selector is a gross-motor function “thing”… You’re meant to sweep it all the way down, to get to semi-auto by default, and only go back up to full-auto by means of a deliberate, conscious action. Our assumptions were wrong, and that’s not how the Soviets meant the thing to work.

            So, it’s “sweep to the bottom limit, shoot semi-auto… If you need full-auto, you have to take the time and think, then perform a fine-motor function to put it on full-auto…” rather than what we assumed it was.

            I got that out of a guy that was actually trained in a motorized rifle regiment towards the end of it all, who wound up in the US Army. There were more than a few similar assumptions we’d made, that our OPFOR and technical intelligence guys were training us on. Some of those ideas may have been “doctrinally correct” in that they came out of Soviet manuals, but they weren’t the way the Soviet troops were actually doing things.

  5. I would argue that the T&L tests are totally meaningless

    Their conclusion, that the minimum acceptable calibre is 0.45″ is not supported, at all, by their empirical tests.

    .30″ Luger gave the only instant one shot kill with a chest shot on cattle in those limited tests. That was arguably the most impressive performance of the whole report.

    There’s nothing presented in there to in anyway support their conclusions.

    I’ve seen it argued that they were expected to come up with a recommendation, so they did.

    an early example of follow the science® ?

      • if I’m not mistaken, .30 Luger 1911 barrels were available in Europe, when “military calibres” were still illegal in places like France and Italy

        back around 1982 or 1983, guns and ammo had a cover article about what slides, barrels and mags would work with a colt 1911 government model receiver

        There was one calibre or combination that needed a Commander slide and barrel to be compatible with the ejector position, I can’t remember what it was now.

        they had the same receiver working with .45, .38/45, 38 super and 9mm P.

        I think that the .38 super slide was used for 9mmp, despite the slight differences in case head

        those were the days before .40 calibres

        • Keith,

          You are probably right about the .30 Luger 1911s in Europe. I was just wondering if the US would have been better off adopting that calibre? It would surely have been flatter shooting than a .45, with less recoil. The Thompson gun in .30 Luger could have been smaller and lighter too. Obviously it would never have happened, the US was always going to go for a .45.

        • Ya just have to wonder what the small arms world would look like, had the US never run into the Juramentado issue in the Philippines. It’s also highly ironic that the US found a .45 necessary to deal with a bunch of guys who rarely got over about 5’6″, and weighed 120-140 pounds. The question of what we’d be dealing with, historically, had they transposed “Juramentado” with “Viking Berserker” is a bit of a mind-boggler: .75 Colt, anyone…? Something even bigger? Who knows?

          I do know that if I were ever faced with an axe-wielding bearskin-clad six-foot+ sort of person coming at me, frothing at the mouth? A .45 wouldn’t even be in the realm of consideration. I’d want something like that old Webley-Mars.

          Or, a Claymore mine strapped to my chest, as a “blood eagle” preventative. Take the bastard with me, ya know…?

          • The whole “Juramentado Moro” thing comes close to being an old wives’ tale.

            First of all, “Juramentado” means “oath taker”. A Moro going “juramentado” made a conscious decision, and took an oath, to sacrifice himself in the name of Allah and kill as many “infidels” in the process as he could. Americans, Catholic Filipinos, Chinese- he wasn’t particular.

            Second, he wrapped his torso tightly with linen or better yet silk. This provided some protection against penetrating wounds, but mostly it would keep him from bleeding out until he was finished, no matter how many times he was hit. It worked a lot like the old WW2 U.S. Navy dive bomber pilot’s “G-belt” in that respect.

            Third, he wasn’t generally high on drugs. His Islamic belief was all he needed.

            In short, a “Juramentado Moro” was following an Islamic tradition going back several hundred years, and remarkably close to some aspects of the Japanese code of Bushido. You might think of him as a “kamikaze pilot” minus aircraft.

            Now, put this it tactical terms. Who grabs a .38 revolver first in an IA when they normally have a rifle handy?

            Everybody claims the .38 “failed” in the Philippines. Nobody says the Model 1892 Krag in .30-40 did. “Civilize ’em with a Krag”, and etc.

            Using a handgun when you should have a rifle handy violates Keith’s Third Law; Never bring a pistol to a rifle fight.

            And the nature of the Army being what it is, there should have been a lot more privates and etc. with rifles than there were officers with revolvers.

            So, on logic alone, the story makes no sense.

            That said, there were probably “failures to stop” with the .38, due to the nature of the target. But I honestly wouldn’t expect the .45 Colt to do much better in similar circumstances.

            The real answer was probably what the Marines did there, and later in the 1920s, facing similar “fanatics” in Nicaragua.

            They issued Winchester M1897 shotguns with 20″ barrels, loaded with 00 buckshot and “punkin balls”. (The “rifled slug” hadn’t been invented yet.)

            To see how they were used, watch The Wild Bunch (1969) and/or The Wind and the Lion (1975).



  6. There’s actually a prototype of this carbine that exists in the Baby Boomers era. It was originally designed from the Colt 601 (Colt ArmaLite AR-15), and the design has a green handguard, pistol grip, and stock (the very first telescopic stock). It was designed in 1960 and test by the SEALS in 1962. The Colt 607 (CAR-15 Submachine Gun) was modified in November 1964. It debut in February 1965, a month before the US got involved in the Vietnam War. The M4 was an improvement from the XM177E2, when it was tested in 1983 by using the new M855 & M856 cartridge. So the theory of the M4 coming from the Colt 653 (M16A1 Carbine) and the Colt 723 (M16A2 Carbine) was incorrect. Especially the fact that the XM4 exists before the Colt 723, but you could consider as the close cousin of the M4. Another thing, I do have to say that despite many people saying that the M4 was starting to developed in 1984, I think it start in 1960. I mean the XM177 was not the official name, and the name CAR-15 was an unofficial name. The original finalized M16 was also called the CAR-15! Many people thought that the name CAR-15 is M16 carbines, but it not true, because there also a CAR-15 Heavy Assault Rifle M1 (Colt 606). The term X means a unofficial name and experiment. The weapon M21 was actually start development in 1958 as a prototype. It was referred to as the T44E4, and it was later referred to as the XM21 in October 1968. One of these days I will be making a family tree of the military AR-15 from the prototype US AR-10 to the Colt M5 Carbine.

  7. Mentioning aksu74 is anachronistic as obviously this is way earlier.

    Whats the rifling twist here?
    Aksu has actually a different twist, then ak74, bcos short barrel

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