Steyr ACR: A Polymer Flechette-Firing Bullpup From the 90s

 

The US Army ACR (Advanced Combat Rifle) program was an effort to find a new type of infantry rifle which could increase the practical accuracy of the M16 by a whopping 100% in the early 1990s. Building on a legacy of similar programs like SALVO and SPIW, the basic idea being tried were extremely high rates of burst fire, flechette rounds, and duplex cartridges as a way to increase hit probability mechanically. There were four final entries into the rifle trials – rifle from AAI, Colt, H&K (the G11), and this rifle from Steyr.

The Steyr ACR entry is a polymer-bodied weapon taking many basic cues from the AUG. It has a low power optic as its primary sighting device, translucent magazines (capacity only 24 round, though), a roughly 1200 rpm rate of fire, and full-hand trigger guard. Mechanically, uses an annular gas piston and fired from an open bolt, with semiauto and 3-round burst modes. The locking system is a unique vertically sliding chamber, using a similarly unique 10gr flechette cartridge with a polymer case and ring primer. It is quite the interesting an unusual rifle…but it failed meet the accuracy standards of the M16, much less substantially improve upon them. In the end, the ACR program was cancelled with none of the entrants meeting the goal.

For a fun look at the ACR program through the US Army’s PR lens, check out this video from the period:

61 Comments

  1. Good thing we don’t have miniature arrows flying around at supersonic speed. I would hate to imagine the hospital bill for any non-fatal injuries due to them, to say nothing about examining any corpse riddled like a pincushion with such projectiles…

    • I’m suspicious of a lot of the data on flechette projectiles out of individual weapons–Every time the lab boffins have been forced to put up or shut up, the results of objective testing have been way worse than their calculations projected. Plus, if the flechette/sabot combo worked, at this scale, why aren’t there any match shooters using and developing them…?

      Flechette in something like the old AP rounds for the 90mm recoilless…? Yeah, those work a treat, especially when you absolutely, positively need to nail a platoon of infantry to some trees or walls. In individual weapons, single-shot…? I don’t think you could affordably produce the sort of precision necessary in either the flechettes or the sabots for that application. Not in mass production, anyway.

      • Question is: what advantage can offer over (classic) bullets? And what with price?
        Fléchette seems to be returning theme, from time to time and most often end with conclusion of impracticality of weapon firing such projectile and not going past experimental/prototype stage, with maybe one exception
        https://modernfirearms.net/en/assault-rifles/russia-assault-rifles/aps-podvodnyj-eng/
        which nonetheless depending on criteria might be considered being or not being fléchette thrower

        • Flechettes offer two obvious advantages.

          First, the very high muzzle velocity (potentially) and very low drag of the projectile simplifies aiming, as very little ballistic calculation is needed at typical combat distances. At 1,450 m/s at muzzle, even a simple ‘battle zero’ on the weapon’s sights will be effective at surprisingly long range.

          Second, flechettes offer extremely high sectional density as projectiles, in much the same way that APDS ammunition does for tank shells, potentially permitting excellent armor penetration performance. A well-designed hardened steel flechette can potentially penetrate more armor at longer ranges than a comparable conventional bullet. Given the increasing commonality of rifle-proof personal armor on the battlefield, I would be surprised if the flechette rifle concept did not re-emerge at some point in the future.

          • I think flechettes are going to continually run up against the twin problems of repeatable consistent manufacture vs. affordability. It’s one thing to make a few tens of thousands of 120mm sabot rounds for the M1 tank; it’s entirely another to manufacture several million rounds of small arms manufacture down at that scale for consistency, affordability, and accuracy. The expense of producing enough small arms-scale flechette/sabot combinations in a relatively tiny caliber is probably too high for the accrued benefits offered by the technology.

            I suspect that by the time it is, there are going to be other technologies that will be more amenable to use in this field, just like with caseless. In my opinion, the classic cartridge/projectile combination is likely to be with us up until we transition over to things like directed energy and maglev solutions.

          • “well-designed hardened steel flechette can potentially penetrate more armor at longer ranges than a comparable conventional bullet. Given the increasing commonality of rifle-proof personal armor on the battlefield”
            Indeed, still one thing must be considered then: if you use ultra-penetrating projectile there is risk it will cleanly go through unarmoured target producing smaller effect than excepted. While technically solvable it might be problematic to not break Hague convention.

            “very high muzzle velocity (potentially) ”
            To attain this taper bore might be used, this World War II vintage technology:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littlejohn_adaptor
            give over 40% boost in muzzle velocity – needs special projectile, but there not problem with sabot.

          • Kirk;

            I’ve always thought that the only practical way to use flechettes in an infantry rifle would be some sort of electromagnetic accelerator. Call it a “gauss gun”, “rail gun”, or whatever, it would accelerate the flechette to over 1,500 M/S without much of the aggravation of doing so “the old-fashioned way”- like unacceptable recoil. (There would still be some, but not much comparatively speaking.)

            However, it would not be silent as the SF writers think. For one thing, anything moving that fast is going to have a ballistic “crack”. For another, at that kind of velocity, most sabot materials practical for small arms (polymers, etc.)are going to disintegrate at the muzzle due to air resistance and friction. I would expect a distinct sound signature and probably some flash from that, as well.

            Really, about the only practical way to launch flechettes with conventional small-arms technology is to use a shotgun and load flechettes in multiples in the cartridge case like buckshot. Using something like the Remington “power piston” to prevent the hard steel flechettes from messing up the bore.

            Other than that, I think the flechette advocates would be best advised to wait for a “soldier-proof” small-arms railgun.

            cheers

            eon

          • @eon,

            I fully agree, and add in the caveat that the “gauss gun” ammo is going to have to be able to be produced affordably; I have my doubts about that, given how difficult it is to make itty-bitty little darts consistently enough to be stable enough in flight.

            Somewhere out there is a white paper I once read in a library, written by a guy who was critiquing the SPIW program from that standpoint. He had a nice little chart showing just how sensitive the flechette concept was to really minute differences in manufacture, and how that affected the attainable accuracy. You do it with a chunk of depleted uranium that you measure in kilograms, that’s one thing–You do it with something you weigh in grams, well… All of a sudden, you start getting really inconsistent results for minute differences in machining and weights. Supposedly, he found that simple wear of the tooling would account for some really significant differences in flight characteristics for the flechettes used in SPIW, if I was reading the report right. And, along with that… Quality control in the 1960s was nowhere near good enough at that level of detail to enable serial manufacture of the projectiles in million-round lots.

            One of the problems anyone seeking to overturn the current paradigm we have going in small arms will need to overcome is the simple fact that what we have now is enormously insensitive to a lot of variables that candidate systems simply are not at all insensitive to. The production process for projectiles, for example? You can churn out billions of swaged gilding-metal bullets filled with lead, and they’ll more-or-less work. Even the M16 worked with the different powders they implemented for it, that it wasn’t designed for. Try that crap with some of the stuff like flechettes, and you’re going to find out that the new systems are enormously sensitive to even minute changes in the variables–And, good luck figuring those out.

            Now, that’s not to say that it will always be so: That white paper I read had a bit in it where the writer was saying something I think he meant to show how ridiculous the SPIW ideas were, in that he posited that the only way to make the thing work right, in terms of accuracy, would be to have an on-board computer that analyzed the ballistics for each shot and compensated for the differences between flechettes. At the time it was written, such a computer would have been the size of what we were doing moon shots with, and would have required an air-conditioned room the size of small apartment to house. Today, we’re selling such things in blister-packs down at the supermarket, for a couple of bucks. So, what was true yesterday…? May not always be so. If you could develop a sighting system that accounted for all the variants in manufacture of the flechette, and make that work effectively and affordably, all of a sudden that opens up some new areas for exploitation. Hell, suppose you could build in actual seeker heads and control vanes into the projectiles themselves…? Even at a cost which would stagger the imagination of a 20th Century logistician, once you’re firing one round per enemy kill, well… The calculus changes, somewhat.

  2. I really like that. For duds, you could perhaps put a rod forward that entered the chamber from the front, in the down position, thus pushing the round out including a live one in the mag backwards perhaps.

  3. If the US Army was really that interested in improving accuracy, they could spend the money they waste on projects like this on teaching marksmanship. All any rifle needs is a soldier who has been properly trained in how to shoot it.

    • Same with the Brits, they spend nothing on ammo for training. And they collect the cases, how dear is it.

    • It’s all big projects “business” see, big, at that. Nobody ever expected to do anything with any of this pish- Against enemies with the same gear. Then we became victorious, the Soviets collapsed. Now we can hassle aggressive goat herders, at minimal loss “unless your one of the losses”

      • It would have been fought on German soil and peace made before Holland or France in the cold war. Nothing has changed. As if we are going to be nuked “destroyed” by the Soviet Union, for lands in the east the Nazis used to run voluntarily. Keep our sovereigns thanks. And the French, yeah, right, they’d protect Germany/Prussia: Big fans.

        I’ve nothing against Germany, but let’s have it right. You pissed the Ruskies off in WW2 not us (As much)

        • Right isn’t it Jens Stolen cake. Hans bummed their women, and then had then indignity to string them up.

          Our fault? Angry Russian out there, I think not.

    • Or they can put computer-assisted aiming system on weapons.
      With today’s technology, smartphone are assumed to provide sufficient computing power for such task. Next step is to develop software and aiming tools.

      (Bluetooth communication could work for prototypes, but is not secured enough)

    • The solutions attained by providing better training for the individual soldier are simply not attractive because they’re too damn simple, and aside from selling more ammo to the military, you don’t see much in the way of benefit to the defense industries. Sad, but true–Skill at arms is not something they see as a solution, anywhere. Reality is, though? You could probably get about a 25% increase in overall “lethality”, however you chose to define that, by providing more and better training.

      Good God, what I think I could do just by providing better MG tripods and more realistic training to the gun crews… I’m just about certain that with some judicious purchases and mo’ bettah training, I could up the lethality on the MG systems we have now by about a solid 50%, and that’s just the low-hanging fruit.

  4. Very slick and simple. Fully ambi. Would it still be so simple with a 223 cartridge, or is that only because of the fully cilindrical case of the flechette?

    • It’s only simple because of the cylindrical cartridge.
      It doesn’t have to use a flechette, and I’m not entirely convinced it needs to be fully telescoped, but a traditional bottlenecked cartridge definitely won’t work.

    • I suspect that firing pin impact can be made at 90 degree; if so, then it could fire 5.56, but with greater impulse meaning potentially not safe.

  5. The ACR program represents yet another iteration of the conceptual failure culture within the US military. Why on earth would any sane and sensible person with the slightest familiarity of the realities involved with small arms ever think that any such thing as “100% improvement” was a reasonable goal?

    State of the art being what it is, you are not realistically going to see something like that happen until there are exponential improvements in materials, propellants, and/or fire control technology. At best, what they should be trying to achieve ought to be restricted to incremental evolutionary improvements in an iterative process of continual improvement. Things like adding scopes and red-dot sights to general-issue weapons, for example–which we actually did, under the pressure of war.

    This blue-sky nonsense is why we are still issuing a weapon based on a TDP that was frozen in the early 1960s, and haven’t slipstreamed in improvements like CHF barrels or better coatings.

    System’s broke, yo…

    • “100%”
      Russian 6П67 avtomat (also known as AEK-971, also known as A-545) was found worth of adopting giving 15…20 % enhancement in accuracy over AK-74 when firing bursts

      • Which totally leaves aside the question of whether an improvement in burst accuracy is even worthwhile, compared to putting your money into better target acquisition and semi-auto fire training.

        To a degree, I think that Soviet and then Russian obsessive emphasis on individual weapon full-auto fire is in as much error as the US cult of the rifleman. Sure, massed infantry on full auto is devastating, but when are you going to be able to mass like that on a modern battlefield? And with Soviet/Russian logistics? LOL… They had trouble keeping their troops fed and supplied with clean water; should a military like that rely on a small arms system reliant on constant ammo resupply and volume…?

        Philosophically, it is a bit of a mis-match…

        • “…Soviet and then Russian obsessive emphasis on individual weapon full-auto fire is in as much error as the US cult of the rifleman”
          ———————–

          You look to me like an old-timer Kirk (much like me). This has been way of past, it changed drastically since and both are in much the same league now. Although, I must say Russians have been more consistent in time. Americans do not know what boot to put their leg in, which is to some degree caused by competing commercial interests (aka H&K vs FN).

          • I’d say it’s less the “competing commercial interests” than the sad fact that the vast majority of the leadership in our military is stone ignorant when it comes to small arms, and that they don’t think that small arms matter much, in the grand scheme of things. The old saying was that if the commander didn’t check it, it didn’t get done, and by that, it was meant that if there was no emphasis, no attention, the troops would know it and not pay attention to those things. Small arms? Right in there for not being “checked”.

            I keep coming back to the MG we use, and its supporting systems: You look at a fully kitted-out German gun team from WWII, and they’ve got it all–Binoculars, range finders, repair kits, spare parts, tools, tripods, everything and anything that would help them use that gun in the most effective manner possible.

            Now, go look at the US equivalent team from today: Where the hell are the spare parts and tools…? Oh; up in the Armorer’s tool box at company level. And, for a long damn time Small Arms Repair Parts were completely unavailable to even the Armorer, a state of affairs that left me livid as the guy who was trying to keep guns up and running on ranges–You had to deadline the weapon, and then order the parts, and if you were lucky, they might have been able to hold on to them up at the Motor Pool in the Prescribed Load List stores, but that usually didn’t happen because nobody in the Motor Pool wanted to hold on to things that they had to track and account for (mandatory rules for any Small Arms parts during the Clinton and early Bush administrations…).

            It was insane–You’d have a crew break or lose a small part, and then it would literally take weeks for the order to go through and come down. When I was a private, serving as an armorer during the Reagan years, I had a fishing tackle box full of small parts in my kit, and I could get about anything shy of a broken bolt or barrel fixed right there on the range…

            And, our idiot ‘effing leadership? THEY IMPLEMENTED THOSE POLICIES. That’s how damn clueless they are about small arms–They literally stripped the company armorers of the power to repair weapons in the field because some idiots who were actually working in higher echelon maintenance back in the 1990s were stealing parts and selling them to civilians. What’s even better? The policies they put in place still allowed the guys at the level who’d been doing the stealing to have unfettered and unmonitored access to the same set of parts that the guys out on the line were no longer trusted with… Because we might steal them. To my knowledge, no company-level armorer was ever caught actually doing that, because all the really high-value crap isn’t even available to them. Third-echelon maintenance, who was actually the level caught selling stuff? Yeah; them and the civilians at installation and depot level, whose access remained unchanged… Dear God, the stupid… It burns, it burns…

            The leadership signed off on all of that, blindly. And, then what was the most aggravating…? “SFC K, how’s cum we have all these broke-ass weapons, and we no can qualify um soldier…?”.

            F**k me to tears, Captain/Major/Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel, it’s because you idiots took away all my damn repair parts…

            Know how bad it was? I was going out to gun shows and buying spare parts I could no longer legally and officially stock in the arms room, and keeping them in my damn cleaning kit. “Oh, hey… PFC Jones, lemme know if someone’s weapon goes down on the range, today… I may be able to fix it…”. Actually almost got prosecuted because I had the dreaded “SARP” in my gear, which was presupposed to be stolen contraband from the Army. The idiot who found it and wanted to charge me for having it was more than a little nonplussed to find out that A.)they weren’t government-owned or sourced parts, and that B.) I had the receipts showing where I’d purchased them from, legally. Idiot still wanted to charge me, thinking they were “machine gun parts”. And, all they were was a handful of the most commonly broken or lost pins and screws…

            That’s most of the leadership cadre for the US Army. They’re so damn stupid about small arms that most of them don’t even know they’re stupid…

            To continue the rant RE: MG equipment. Most of the binos we have aren’t even given to anyone who actually, y’know, might need them for spotting fires and directing them. The junior officers and NCOs who do that work…? Well, they better spend their own money, ‘cos the idiots writing the MTOE don’t seem to comprehend that the binos are even a necessary thing for the gun crews to have access to–If you’re lucky, the commander might have an authorized, government-issue set, and some platoon leaders might even be entrusted with a set. MG gun team leaders…? LOL; silly boy, those are for Very Important People, so they can mark themselves as Very Important Targets for the snipers by wearing them around their necks like Patton or Rommel…

            Yeah, I’m a little bit bitter. And, highly frustrated.

      • When you say “accuracy” in case of burst, I understand you mean actually grouping/ spread. I do not fancy term “accuracy” because it is not descriptive for purpose of obtaining score on target – unless you have all in dead centre. Give you example: just couple of says ago I shot 6mm PPC, very nice cartridge. At 200 yards I had tree shots within 1.7cm spread, but in outer black ring. Was it accurate shooting? Might have been better. But it was repeatable enough. If it was my gun, I’d fiddle with sight to get it there.

        I prefer ‘consistency’ or ‘repeatability’, although to some it may be playing with words.

        • Denny, what I’m getting at (and failing to communicate…) is that the Soviets/Russians seem to be fixated on automatic fire from individual weapons as a means of producing tactical effect. That’s what’s driven this impetus which has produced the AN-94 and the AK-derivatives with the “balanced recoil” counterweight stuff, and I think that it’s a flawed concept at the roots of it all. No matter what, the technical solution of giving a guy a rifle he can fire accurate automatic bursts is going to fall down on the fundamental issues of “is he seeing the enemy, and actually able to aim the rifle effectively at the targets”. If Ivan the Motorized Rifleman can’t ID the enemy at range, and fire at them accurately, it makes little to no difference whether he’s doing it on full-auto, a burst, or semi-auto only. He’s still going to miss, and you’ve wasted valuable time and money that would have been better spent on training him better and/or buying him a decent set of optics and night vision…

        • ” although to some it may be playing with words.”
          My error, original word is кучность, which is something different that точность, 1st image from top should help I hope:
          https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Кучность_боя_оружия
          Thus speaking in parlance of engineering handbook high кучность means low standard deviation (with disclaimer that standard deviation make sense only for observations with one feature, thus standard deviation in azimuth and standard deviation in elevation should be computed seperately)

    • “improvements in (…) fire control technology”
      Guided ammunition seems to be not too distant future looking at project ExAcTO
      https://www.darpa.mil/program/extreme-accuracy-tasked-ordnance
      crafted to be fired from weapons chambered for .50 Browning Machine Gun cartridge, which obviously is not suited for creating individual weapon for common use. Bullet .50″ is obviously bigger (easier to confine all required mechanisms) than .223″ but with rule “guided weapon” reevaluation is needed, similar to that done after introduction of guided AT missiles. Questions are:
      1. what should be caliber of new weapon, as with guiding high velocity is no so important for accuracy as for free flight projectiles, this should allow for bigger (but slower) projectiles giving similar recoil
      2. to rifle or not to rifle? smooth (not spinning) projectile might present easier task of creating guidance system
      3. use rocket propulsion, with guidance inherent inaccuracy of unguided (dumb) rocket could be overcame (this solution make 1 irrelevant)

    • >The ACR program represents yet another iteration of the conceptual failure culture within the US military.

      I virtually take some popcorn when you speak about those topics (M60, etc…)

      >Things like adding scopes and red-dot sights to general-issue weapons, for example–which we actually did, under the pressure of war.

      What if the dioptre is cheaper and already an improvement for long range accuracy?
      A flip-up sight with a dioptre and a rear sight designed for closer range can be a cheap solution to fit everyone (and increase ammo use on field, because good friends and connections are important, as well as supporting national factories with taxpayer’s money. Woops ! Some kickback may have slipped in someone’s pocket).

      >This blue-sky nonsense is why we are still issuing a weapon based on a TDP that was frozen in the early 1960s, and haven’t slipstreamed in improvements like CHF barrels or better coatings.

      “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” or “good old stuff”?

      • CG, the ultimate problem with the US approach to this stuff is that we’re still trying to do everything from a top-down perspective, driven by the officers and industry. And, sadly, neither of those parties has a damn clue what is really going on in infantry combat or what the troops need.

        As well, we don’t train or expect the lower levels to provide solutions for themselves, either. In the US Army, and to a somewhat lesser degree, the Marines, the solutions all come from the schoolhouses that control this stuff. Rarely, if ever, do you hear of things percolating up the chain from the field. Most of the time, guys like me who were out there actually executing things were unable to manage even a slight influence on what the higher authorities did–Witness the continued existence of that incredibly primitive POS the M122 MG tripod, which dates back to the M1919. Why on God’s green earth that thing is still on issue, and was used as the model for the latest and greatest M192, I’ll never know–It has no provision for changing command height at all, nor does it have any ability to extend/shorten the tripod legs, or adjust their angles. For the love of God, there’s not even a spirit level bubble on the thing for making sure your firing tables are level… And, no matter how many times I tried to ask the folks in charge of these things to try to understand why that thing limited the MG teams so much, they’d never actually comprehend what I was saying–I was always that crank who wanted to buy Nazi tripods.

        Fundamental problems we have with this stuff is that we don’t have actual leaders and subject-matter experts running the show. We have managers, ones who listen to the last self-proclaimed “expert” they talked to, and who can’t identify the bullshit artists and feather merchants circling the staff headquarters like remoras from the guys who actually have a damn clue. I joined in ’82, served until 2007, and while there were senior officers and NCOs around in my junior years that knew all the nitty-gritty details of the trade, by the time I retired? LOL… Swear to God, I’ve never seen so many ignoramuses running around “inspecting” ranges. Most of those ass-clowns wouldn’t have known a well-run range if it bit them–They just knew to check for water, ammo accountability, and whether or not we had shelter up for inclement weather. Concurrent training, or realistic ranges? Again, it is to laugh–Most of my better ideas got shot down by the Range Control folks on hypotheticals over safety risks, and the lack of ammo to risk trying something novel.

        And the problem with the weapons themselves isn’t so much the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality as it is that there are much better solutions out there now than there were in the era where we froze the TDP for the M16. Parkerizing? It is to laugh, and laugh hard–Why the hell are the commercially-procured Glock pistols treated with a superior nitrided finish, and the M16 is still relying on the same coating technology from the post-WWII era? Why isn’t something like Cerakote the standard? Why the hell are the barrels button-broached, instead of cold hammer-forged like the Diemaco/Colt Canada products? Hell, you ask the idjits in the Big Army units why everybody like the Danes and the Dutch are buying Diemaco/Colt Canada, and they’ll just look at you real stupid and go “Duuuuuhr… I didn’t know they were buying M16s!! That’s cool…”. Dumbass, the reason nobody is buying the standard US product is down to those barrels, mostly. We’re only now getting the CHF stuff due to the folks at Crane having specified them for the SOCOM M4 program… Just like all the real innovations–None of those have come from the Big Army realm, it’s all been out of SOCOM. Trijicon developed the ACOG back in the early 1980s; first time it got major visibility was in the ACR tests, on top of the prototype from AAI. Did anyone pay attention to it? Oh, hell, no–It wasn’t until SOCOM put those into their M4 SOPMOD program that anyone in Big Army paid attention to them. Honest to God, I suspect that if it were not for SOCOM and Crane, we’d still have the M16A2 on general issue, and nobody would even have a hint of the capability improvements offered by the ACOG or the various red dot sights.

        As an end user, and a trainer? If you left it up to me, put in charge of the purblind fools running our small arms procurement programs…? I’d fire the lot of them, have them sterilized so as to improve the race, and then find a bunch of SF weapons sergeants who know what the hell they’re doing, and put them in charge of it all. Couldn’t possibly do any worse than all the technocrats we’ve been relying on since 1945…

        • “(…)the M122 MG tripod, which dates back to the M1919. Why on God’s green earth that thing is still on issue, and was used as the model for the latest and greatest M192, I’ll never know–It has no provision for changing command height at all, nor does it have any ability to extend/shorten the tripod legs, or adjust their angles.(…)”
          Wait. From that I concluded that tripod you used was inferior (tactical-wise) even to pattern used in Schwarzlose yet in dawn of 20th century:
          https://www.forgottenweapons.com/wp-content/uploads/Schwarzlose/Kynoch%20Machine%20Gun.pdf
          Does U.S. forces have equivalent of Urgent Operational Requirement? If so how it is called?

          • Oh, it’s an inferior POS, all right. The root problem with it is that the idiots running the whole show do not comprehend what a disaster it is, having no real idea how to actually use machineguns on the ground, or what a good tripod would need to provide.

            The “urgent operational need” thing only works when the authorities understand what that “operational need” consists of. They don’t. I’d say that around 99.99% of the US Army leadership cadre don’t have a single, solitary clue about how to effectively use the machinegun as a true light infantry weapon. If they did, there would be a hell of a lot more emphasis placed on getting those guns onto stable, accurate platforms for firing, instead of relying on PFC Smith’s shoulder and a bipod. The powers-that-be are convinced that the tripod only needs to be used in static defense positions, not dynamically on the maneuver battlefield. They don’t know any better.

            The point is that you can’t really use the MG effectively unless you have it on a tripod, not out past about 300-600m. A gun crew needs something that they can correct fire from accurately–Telling PFC Smith that he’s a “hair off, to the right”, which is about all you can do from the bipod, vs. telling him to shift fire 3 mils left and 2 mils up…? Yeah; give me a good, well-trained gun crew firing off a properly set-in tripod, and I’ll spend an afternoon or two chasing your ass around any terrain feature within range of my guns, while inflicting casualties with every burst. From a bipod? About all I’m gonna be able to do is mark out my own positions for return fire…

            The majority of the people running the US Army do not understand this fact of life–Everything they’ve ever done with a MG is firing it off a vehicle, with the gun being a bit of a side-show to the main guns on the Bradley or Abrams. And, given that there are extensive sighting aids built into those turrets for the coax? They just don’t get what they need for ground ops. At ‘effing all.

    • Reason why this project was initiated was for increase of hit probability; some people confuse it with accuracy – two different things. The key here is while recognizing that every firearm produces recoil force which disturbs point of aim, to get out of barrel the projectile as soon as possible, before it gets affected by weapon’s motion. HK did succeed in that sense; Steyr chose different direction with more exotic means. Their minimized recoil at first place. Further more, they made projectile so light and with high ballistic coefficient so it can be shot without sights adjustments.

      Two different approaches with same final objective on mind. What baffles me is that no one tried to do something radical with taming recoil force transferred into shooter’s shoulder. This is still vacant space for possible effort and as far as know the only one left in conventional metallic cartridge technology. (Application of case-less ammunition by itself does not add any now quality; instead adds set of new problems.)

      • Hit probability was what I was getting at with my blatherings up above… I’m not sure that the burst-fire path or multiple-projectile-in-one-shot solutions are really going to help matters at all, excepting to make some arms manufacturers a bit wealthier.

        Fundamentally, small arms effectiveness in combat rests on three things: The weapon/ammo combo itself, the efficiencies of the soldier using them, and the tactical matrix within which that soldier operates. The improvements made to “hit probability” are essentially immaterial and utterly pointless, if the soldier isn’t effective at spotting the enemy and accurately directing his fire at that enemy in a timely manner; improving your hit probability ain’t gonna do you a lick of good if he’s still not seeing where the enemy is, and not shooting at them accurately quickly enough in the first place.

        This being the case, I think that directing most of your attention at what is actually a fairly small component of the “kill chain”, that of hit probability, is a mistake. You want to really up your effectiveness, you need to work on the other two areas–Individual soldier “skill-at-arms”, and your tactical and operational matrix. If your tactics and operational techniques do not afford your soldiers the opportunities to put their skill-at-arms to work, effectively, then it makes little sense to either buy them expensive weapons that enhance their hit probabilities or to lavish funds on their training. Master infantrymen who are riding around secured in the back of an IFV and only let out to be infantry on the rare occasions that they’re needed aren’t a good use of resources; training those guys to run light infantry operations is bloody expensive, and if all they’re going to be doing is serving as observers for the guns on the IFV and providing local security…? Give them an SMG, and call it good. There is such a thing as a cost/effectiveness curve, and if you are going to try to train every mechanized infantryman to be an Airborne Ranger or Spetsnatz trooper, well… I think you’re gonna go bankrupt in short order.

        Not to mention, if you’re not going to be aggressive and actually engage with the enemy as light infantry? Why bother with the expensive weapons and training? You want to play supersoldier with uber-waffe, you need to actually get out into the scrum and make it happen. And, accept that you’re going to lose some or a bunch of those guys, going up against even the knuckleheads of ISIS.

        I’m of the opinion that all too much of what we’re doing with things like the ACR and AN-94 programs is short-sighted fantasy, on both sides of the Cold War block-line. What does it matter if you hand out the AN-94 to your motorized riflemen, if they’re going to be flung up against NATO defenses that destroy that BMP before they even debark, or their logistics collapse under the weight of US Air Force deep penetration raids?

        All too much of this stuff is founded on some really bad assumptions that are based on the failure to actually understand or visualize how they’re all going to work together.

        I think that there really needs to be a deep re-thinking of what we’re all doing, and then fundamentally re-examine how we should proceed. The way things are going, I strongly suspect that the next major “shock to the system” that the military complexes of today’s world will suffer are going to come from militarized networked “toys” like the mass-produced drone market is producing. What will something like the G11 avail a soldier forced to deal with a half-dozen drones being flown by grade-school kids that are pointing out his position and movements to somebody with access to networked mortar and rocket fire…?

        More than likely, in whatever form of warfare comes into play in the next generation, the guy with the laptop that’s running the countermeasures and the drones is going to be a far more critical part of the squad than the guys with the rifles and machineguns. The people doing the development in small arms had better figure that into their calculations, and soon.

        • Thanks Kirk – all I can say is “I couldn’t agree more”. The more I study earlier wars the more I realise that the larger and more “total” the conflict is the more irrelevant the minor functional differences between the small arms of the combatants become. If every Allied soldier in France and Belgium in 1940 had carried a Garand would it have made any difference to the result of the campaign?

          • Hmmm. Interesting question, that.

            Let’s say that I agree, and at the same time, disagree. In some regards, and at some levels, selection of particular small arms solutions have limited to no effect on matters operational and/or strategic. However, that isn’t always true–German success at the minor tactical level flowed upwards into the operational and strategic realms mostly due to the way they clearly conceptualized and implemented their MG doctrine and procurement. German line infantry did far better in WWII than it really should have, and did so because of their machine guns and mortars–So,there we have an example of a case where the small arms really did affect operations as well as strategy.

            Had you gone back and showered the Allies with Garands…? I submit that doing that would have had little effect on the outcome for the Battle of France. Why? Because the Garand represented a poorly conceived and fundamentally flawed set of ideas about the nature of combat at that point along the technological and tactical historical scale. They misunderstood the primacy of concentrated firepower and the German tactics based around the implementation of that firepower through the MG34/42 family of GPMG systems, and while the Garand might have been a really big deal somewhere further back along our historical tactical/technological timeline, in 1940 it was ineffective and immaterial. Give the Belgians, French, and British all the Garands they needed, and tons of ammo…? They’d have still screwed the pooch, up against the Germans. Mostly because of flawed tactics and operational art, but since the weapons selected flow up (or, should…) from those things, the outcome would have remained the same.

            At the same time, swap the MG34/42 complex out for Brens, Chatelleraults, and Vickers guns? The Germans might still have won, but not anywhere as easily and with a lot more German casualties. The speed of German tactical movements would have gone down, along with operational tempo and strategy. Enough to change things significantly…? Maybe yes, maybe no…

  6. The debuted-at-the-January-2006-SHOT-Show AUG A3 CQC is the nearest available stand-in for the ACR since it has three detachable accessory rails covering the sides and bottom of the barrel with the fourth rail covering the full upper length of the rifle.

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