Winchester 1964 SPIW: Flechettes and a Blow-Forward Grenade Launcher

Today we are looking at the Winchester company’s entry into the 1964 SPIW (Special Purpose Infantry Weapon) trials. The SPIW program was an attempt to increase small arms lethality by increasing hit probability with ideas like hyper-velocity flechette cartridges and burst fire trigger mechanisms. In addition, the weapons were required to incorporate area-effect elements – aka grenade launchers.

This design used a 60-round drum magazine firing a high velocity flechette as well as having a blow-forward semiautomatic 40mm grenade launcher attached to the muzzle. One of the biggest challenges in the development was the flechette cartridge itself – the sabot holding the dart in place had to be loose enough to cleanly detach at the muzzle, but also tight enough to pull the dart down the barrel.

Ultimately, none of the 1964 trials weapons were successful, and this Winchester design was particularly unsuccessful. In addition to terrible balance and handling, it was not particularly reliable in the firing trials.

Thanks to the Rock Island Arsenal Museum for allowing me access to film this very interesting rifle! If you are in the Quad Cities in Illinois or Iowa, the Museum is definitely worth a visit. They have a great number of small arms on display as well as an excellent history of the Rock Island Arsenal.




  1. While this weapon is practically useless I can’t imagine that the under-barrel grenade launcher concept didn’t jump back into the practical when it was fitted to the M16. That said, the special purpose infantry weapon is fit for movie prop use, as it looks rather intimidating. I’m sure the Red Army also concluded that fancy sabot-arrows shot from infantry rifles made little sense.

    • According to
      main reason to abandon arrow-like projectile was that its introduction would mean total re-equipment of already existed cartridge-production plants.
      Notice that Ширяев unlike their U.S. competitors, did not attempted to incorporate grenade launcher, in any form. Thus АО-27 weight is 3,2 kg (unloaded).

  2. “hyper-velocity flechette cartridges”
    For cartridges used during project SPIW see 1st photo from bottom here:
    I am wondering if they were inspired by WWII-era British APDS shells for AT cannons? If yes they might have more luck if they would get inspiration from LittleJohn Adapter, see drawing here:
    it too requires special shell to be used, but should there should be not acute problems with spread increase due to sabot discarding.

    “weapons were required to incorporate area-effect elements – aka grenade launchers”
    They required not simply grenade launcher but multi-shot grenade launchers, which naturally ended much heavier and thus much more detrimental to balance. Even today crafting rifle incorporating multi-shot 40 mm grenade launcher would be great challenge.

    • Multiple-shot grenade launchers are best kept as separate weapons and not as add-on items for your primary weapons. Crafting a magazine-fed shotgun addition to your weapon is a different story if you’re planning on shooting doors open a lot, but is a dump of shotgun slugs and a follow-up full spray of 5.56 NATO overkill against foes without armor at bedroom distance?

    • Thanks for doing your usual ‘digging’ of sources Daweo. I did not manage to open previous(Russian) one, will try again.

      Regarding high velocity projectiles it is my impression that velocity is limiting factor due to material of bore and bullets ‘magnetizing’ each other and as result picking up material/ eroding bore. This was probably reason for using different contact material such as plastic.

  3. Strength of Ian’s lectures is in his ability to introduce and explain complex mechanisms and history behind it; this one is no exception. It is an introduction which would require otherwise lengthy (and probably boring) reading.

    What we have here is one of essential steps in development of U.S. small arms. Designers and planners were shooting high and missed which does not take anything from due credit. It is unique opportunity to see the result.

  4. It’s really interesting how this rifle is equipped with a traditional stock, and it’s short receiver allows it to do so without increasing overall length of the rifle.

  5. The Rock Island Arsenal Museum is indeed worth a visit. I particularly liked the display of “firearms confiscated from Indians”, done by the Army after Custer’s indiscretion. The collection extends outdoors to artillery from muzzleloader to modern. If only to see the One Millionth M60 machine gun, which is gold plated.

  6. I coulda sworn it was “Special Purpose Individual Weapon”, but maybe I’m wrong…?

    In any event, if you go back and read through all the supporting literature, the really weird thing to discover is just how little actual input any of these guys thought to go out and get from actual, y’know… Sources. It was all high-level analysis of existing data, scholarship vs. actual experimental research. You go looking for them having so much as talked to the guys out on the ground, actual combat veterans, and… Nada.

    And, I’ll grant you that the data you get from that sort of thing is fraught with potential for error, because a lot of the practitioners ain’t exactly small arms experts themselves, but they did know how they were using the weapons in combat, and little of that seems to have flowed into the entire process of assessment and development.

    The academic understanding of what was actually going on in WWII-era firefights, and later, seems to be entirely lacking. They were making studies and decisions based off of second- and third-order information, like the casualty reports they got back from the medical system, never considering that they ought to also be examining the poor bastards who wound up being handled by Graves Registration alone.

    I’ve done a lot of reading and research, over the years, and I’ll tell you this much: I don’t think the “system” we’ve got is really working, at least here in the US. You go looking at the actual studies and papers a lot of this stuff is based on, and the paucity of real-world experience and data that informs them is striking.

    Case in point–The focus on increasing “lethality”, whatever the hell that is. For one thing, the amount of time you’re actually firing at an identifiable individual target in combat is surprisingly low. In reality, there’s a huge percentage of “shots taken” that are fired not because there’s a target, but because the guy shooting is scared, wants to make some noise to comfort himself, or he’s looking to “keep the other guy’s head down” while he maneuvers himself or others on the ground. There’s a lot of fire that you know is going to miss a real target, but you fire anyway, because it’s meant to be “suppressive”. And, because you’re scared shitless, and want to do something, anything, to make it feel like you’re taking action. The psychology of it all is something that a lot of these studies miss, entirely. They think it’s just like a pop-up range, and your soldiers are coolly taking every presented shot at a target… Reality is, no, it’s hugely messy, confusing, and entirely prone to misinterpretation.

    I’m not convinced that we know what the hell is actually going on in combat. We have an approximation, based on subjective knowledge, but the reality is that its all too likely that we’ve missed what’s really going on, which is how things like SPIW and OICW happen when the disconnected academics and lab rats get control of things.

    I can guarantee you that if someone had actually taken the time to get the input of guys who’d actually, y’know, fought in combat in WWII, the programs would have looked very, very different. Every single one of the old combat infantrymen I ever talked to, who’d fought in WWII and Korea? None of them wanted anything that looked a bit like the M14; they all wanted a bigger, better M1 or M2 carbine, with a bit more range. Most of them spoke admiringly of the Stg44 and MG42 combination, those who’d come up against it. None of them who’d fought in either the Pacific or the Korean War wanted any of the enemy weapons, except for the Japanese mortars and light machineguns.

    The organizations that brought us the M14, the SPIW, and OICW are dysfunctional at best, and inimical as hell to supporting what the actual needs of the combat soldier are. The sad fact is, most of the time, they’ve only managed to support actual needs by accident, and with a marked reluctance to actually do their damn jobs. The few successes we’ve seen, like the 40mm grenade launcher systems? Those have been resisted, and shortchanged in development, in order to protect these idiot ideas like the XM-25, which is a weapon that on the face of things, never should have gotten past conceptual phase.

    • I find your comment regarding psychology part of combat most plausible. In the essence, I believe the people dressed as soldiers do not want to kill each other, just to “scare shit out off”, as you allude to.

      And to enjoy sour smell of burned propellant as boost to bravery 🙂

      • It depends. Your construction, which lends itself towards describing the experience of draftee soldiers who have found themselves caught up in the machinery of war, is one conducive to garnering sympathy for their plight. However evocative that is, it does nothing to address or capture the actual situation for the professional soldier.

        Personally, I found myself indifferent to the killing aspect of it all. If the enemy made it necessary, so be it; their choice, their option. Fires were something to be used to flush them out into the open, where they could be engaged, or to pin them down where indirect or other supporting fires could get at them. And, it is precisely those uses of individual weapons that a lot of the analysis missed, to my mind.

        As an example: It is an aspect of the MG34/42 system that most Allied analysts missed; the psychological effect those guns had on the men going against them, along with the second- and third-order effects stemming from the sheer volume of fire they could produce. Sure, they ate ammo like there was no tomorrow, but if that heavy fire rate kept the enemy out in the open, where mortar and artillery fire could get at them while the guns kept them molded to every bit of cover that the terrain offered…? Was that worth it?

        Additionally, it calls into question how we analyze the issue of what weapon is most effective; is it the artillery/mortar systems, responding to calls for fire that would not be timely enough to hit the enemy before they crossed the terrain from their jump-off points to your lines, or is it the machineguns that kept them out in the open, vulnerable to the indirect fires…? To which system do we ascribe the responsibility?

        • “Was that worth it?” Well when you put it like that, there is a good chance that it was. The Mg42 (forced them to dither, and then there was a better chance of getting them with a mortar)

          “To which system do we ascribe the responsibility?” That is a very good question, which if answered… Would probably lead to you issuing weapons accordingly… As oppose from, what we do now… Perhaps.

          Very interesting idea that Kirk, your dangerous you; glad your on our side 🙂

        • Small arms and indirect fire systems must work together just like armor and infantry. It is not relevant to analyze which is more effective. A modern army needs both.

          The Germans in WW2 were never very good with the indirect fire of things, by the way. They could not concentrate fires very well for anything else except pre-planned preparatory bombardment and frequently used artillery in a piecemeal fashion instead of concentrating a truly effective amount of tubes. Mortars were able to compensate that to a degree, but in general US and British artillery was more effective per tube.

          • I did not mean to include the field artillery in what I was describing; what I should have said was that I meant the infantry-organic indirect fire assets, like the mortars, attached rocket launchers, and the like. German infantry formations could not count on much in the way of dedicated external fire-support; by doctrine, that was the higher command’s tool. Individual units had to rely on their organic indirect fire assets, and they were generally very good with them–As Allied casualty lists can attest.

      • “psychology part of combat”
        Here, I want note that some weapons get nicknames due to sound made. Japanese TYPE 92 machine gun was known as woodpecker due to moderate Rate-of-Fire, Soviets used Stalinorgel rockets launchers, while U.S. forces used Calliope (=beautiful-voiced) rockets launchers. And, talking about that, I can’t skip this:–M
        (whizzbang was nickname used for German 7,7 cm shells)
        …And you’ll see all the wonders of no-man’s-land,
        If a whizzbang hits you.

    • On the plus side if the guys are at least sending lead in the right direction there is at least a chance they’ll hit a baddie, particularly if the “lead” explodes and thus it increases the chance of possible hits…

    • According to Edward C. Ezell in the 12th edition of Small Arms of the World, Project SALVO (1954-60) wasn’t an Army Ordnance operation, but a collaboration of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, and Army Materiel Command.

      They began by studying after-action reports from the Mexican War (1846-48) through the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and both World Wars, finishing up with Korea. They’d expected to find improved kill percentages at greater ranges as small arms improved from muzzle-loading smoothbores to muzzle-loading rifles to breech-loading repeating rifles to self-loading rifles plus machine guns.

      What they found instead was that in all of the above conflicts, over 95% of all individual kills were at ranges below 200 meters, and 80% were at under 100 meters, as Ian said. They also found that aimed individual fire was no more effective than unaimed suppressive fire in “generating” enemy casualties. In fact, they concluded that the most efficient example of effective use of rifle fire on record was the Union rifle line’s near-obliteration of Pickett’s and Pettigrew’s formations on the third day of Gettysburg, 3 July 1963, with massed fire at ranges from 450 yards down to about five feet, that really wasn’t “aimed” at all.

      They concluded that the major reason was that, in a wartime situation, there simply wasn’t time to train draftees to be expert long-range rifle marksmen. And in fact, it might not even be worth the effort to try. Note that in the Civil War, rifle training for line troops was essentially nonexistent. Many soldiers went into battle never even having fired their Springfield rifle-muskets once. They still managed to kill enemy troops (on both sides) about as efficiently as their grandsons and great-grandsons did at Belleau Wood or Bastogne, and at about the same ranges.

      Project SALVO’s staff concluded that it was probably better to devote attention to providing long-range marksmanship training to “designated riflemen” (i.e. snipers), while the conscripts were just taught to shoot straight and above all quickly, at ranges under 200 meters.

      They also came to the conclusion that the Wehrmacht had been pretty much right when they developed the “assault rifle” concept; a low-recoil impulse rifle that was effective in semi-auto fire out to about 300 meters, but would mainly be used to lay down full-auto suppressive fire in massed fire at 100 meters or even less.

      NB: No, they had no idea that the Kalashnikov or the 7.62 x 39mm cartridge for it existed. The first examples of the rifle were only known from May Day parade photos in 1957, and the first examples of the cartridge would not reach the West until 1958. At the time, the SKS was known, but it was believed to be chambered for the German 7.9 x 33mm Kurz round.

      From this, plus everything else, they concluded that what was needed was a rifle that could be fired like a submachine gun at ranges under 100 meters, and still deliver single, aimed shots at ranges out to 300 meters. And even that latter figure was mostly a sop to Ordnance, as SALVO’s studies concluded that 200 meters was good enough, and about all the average conscript could make use of, anyway.

      The .223 cartridge and the original AR-15 rifle were the final result of the SALVO project. And Ordnance hated them for it. In fact, they forbade Ordnance personnel from having anything to do with the “heretical” SALVO program. When they were complaining about SALVO advocating a “twenty-two” as the new infantry rifle caliber, SALVO was actually considering bore sizes down to .17. (Which later showed up in civilian shooting as varmint calibers.)

      As delivered, the early AR-15 did exactly what it was supposed to. It was accurate out to 300 meters, it could easily be kept on target in full-auto at ranges below 100 meters, and its tiny, 55 grain bullet at 930 m/s had an explosive effect on impact due to its thin jacket. Explosive enough to get the Hague committee protesting that it violated the prohibition on expanding bullets in “civilized warfare”. AMC pointed out that it was a full-metal-jacket, as the convention demanded, it had no explosive charge, as the convention demanded, and its behavior on impact was a result of physics, not design.

      The original AR-15 was a success. Then Ordnance got hold of it and started “improving” it into the cranky and unreliable M16, with a faster rifling twist to “improve accuracy” (which it didn’t), and use of ball powder for reasons of economy when the manufacturers, Armalite and later Colt, explicitly stated that the mechanism wasn’t designed to work with that kind of powder. It also caused a higher cyclic rate, increased wear, and plugged up the gas tube with calcium carbonate residue. (Ever tried to clean that crap out of an AR gas tube? I have. Expletive Deleted.)

      The combat failure of the M16 in Vietnam was due to Ordnance empire-building, rather than any deficiency in the original concept of the rifle and/or its ammunition.

      SALVO was an example of experts starting out to find what they thought the evidence would show, and finding something entirely different. And being honest enough to admit it and suggest a workable solution on that basis.

      Army Ordnance was not amused.



      • And yet again, I must state this: never underestimate the amount of jealousy and downright murderous hatred that overstuffed bureaucrats have towards “upstarts” who threaten to take away their influence. Had it not been for cooler heads in France, for example, André Chapelon’s steam locomotives might have literally been dynamited (with the dastardly deed attributed to anarchists) or the engineer himself could have been given a fatal “tragic railway accident” to prove that only government-approved locomotive designs would work.

        As for Army Ordnance sabotaging the M16 and further projects, I hope someone schedules a “professional aptitude test” appointment for those fools, an appointment which consists of tying them to the railroad tracks and waiting for a FRENCH steam locomotive (to add insult to injury) to run them down if they don’t agree to stop meddling in the weapons procurement process!

        • Regarding the “French connection”, you might want to read Victory Through Air Power by Maj. Alexander P. de Seversky. He has an entire chapter on the tribulations of trying to sell the Curtiss Hawk 75A to the French Air Force in 1938-39. Including French test pilots deliberately flying it slower and more clumsily than the French fighters like the Dewoitine 501, 502, and 520 (all of which the Hawk could outfly in its sleep) to make the Hawk look like a PoS, then privately apologizing later, saying they were under orders from their generals to make the “domestic” products look superior.

          De Seversky got the last laugh. In the Battle of France in 1940, Hawks flown by French Air force pilots shot down about 80% of the Luftwaffe planes accounted for by the French Air Force as a whole. And out of 265 Hawks they had on strength, they lost only 8 doing it.



          • So it seems: Only 13% of French Armee de l’Air fighters were Curtis Hawk 75s, but the top scorer: 230 victories for 29 losses.
            It is posted that some 106 Dewoitine 520s were lost, of which over thirty were shot down. The toll from the D.520 appeared to be 114 confirmed and 39 probables, of which 32 were fighters. The ME bf109 apparently enjoyed a two-to-one kill ratio vs. the Dewoitine.

            The MB.152 shot down 188 kilss for 85 losses. The Moraine Saulnier 406 logged 190 to over 200 for 150 combat losses.

            Vichy Dewoitines in Syria logged a three-to-one vs. the Hawker Hurricane and Gloster Gladiator biplanes let alone the Fairy Fulmar.

            Children’s book author Roald Dahl flew a Hurricane and described surprising the Vichy airfield only to find the pilots having wine with their girlfriends around their aircraft… So the first pass the Brits held fire so everyone could run for their lives. The chivalry of not machine gunning the ladies along with the Vichy planes and pilots was costly of course…

          • The D.520 was a much “hotter” energy fighter with a much higher wing loading than the Hawk 75A. The French pilots who flew it during the Battle of France had just converted to it and were still relatively unfamiliar with its strengths. Most of the Hawk pilots had been flying their machines for 6 to 12 months and the aircraft was also easier for pilots coming from older types such as MS.406.

            This is not to say that the Hawk was not a good fighter by 1940 standards. It was quite good, albeit a bit on the slow side compared to the Bf 109E. Finnish pilots found it superior to the Hurricane Mk.I and Soviet types prior to the introduction of Yak-7 and late production series of the LaGG-3 and Yak-1 in 1942 (early LaGG-3s were quite bad and early series Yak-1 was rarely encountered by Finnish Hawk pilots)

          • I was always struck by Finnish use of the Fokker D.XXI–apparently because it was reliable, used wooden pieces (something Finland has in abundance!)and used less refined gasoline? And also the Brewster Buffalo.

            I wish I understood more about aircraft of the era… Particularly the “light interceptor” scheme that seemed to result in the French failure Caudron C.714–flown by Polish pilots! (sold to Lithuania, or Latvia I believe?), the Tucker “Peashooter” and Bell Aircobra in the U.S., and–I suppose it might be argued–the Yakolev Yak-3, which was rather more successful.

          • ” “light interceptor””
            Yak-3 was NOT light interceptor.
            The whole point of so-called light fighter is usage of less powerful than maximal engine. Which is not Yak-3 case (more powerful engines were… existing, but were not fit for mass production). Catch is while with aerodynamically refined shape you could get horizontal velocity on par with heavier-engined fighter of that era – like in C.714 case, you would get fatal climb rate.

          • Why V.S.Yakovlev designed his fighter aeroplanes in that way during Great Patriotic War might be better understand if you know one thing. NOW READ CAREFULLY: Yak-1 was not first design of V.S.Yakovlev.
            He was designed own aircraft from 1920s. Mostly trainer/aerobatic/light utility ones. See photos and data here:
            Hence usage of wooden elements and trend for lightness.

          • The D.XXI was not a bad fighter by 1930s standards. While it was less maneuverable than the I-15 series or the I-16 horizontally, it was as fast as the latter in level flight (save the late I-16 variants with an M-63 engine, which were slightly faster) and could out-dive both. It also climbed faster than the I-16.

            You could very well make the claim that the D.XXI was a major reason why the Finnish Air Force developed energy fighter tactics quite early on. It could not turn with the Soviet fighters, which necessitated the use of vertical maneuvers. Tactics emphasizing energy conservation were then formalized after the Winter War, largely independently from the similar Luftwaffe tactics. These tactics then helped the Buffaloes to dominate over the older Soviet fighters and even some more modern ones such as the LaGG-3 and Hurricanes.

            The D.XXIs were of course severely outclassed by the 1942 generation of Soviet fighters (Yak-7 etc.), so at that point they were transferred to secondary fronts and were for the rest of the war used for miscellaneous duties including low altitude reconnaissance, liaison, ground attack etc. They kept on flying in a nominal fighter capacity since Finland had a production license, which meant good availability of air frame spare parts, and simply because more modern fighters were not available in sufficient quantities.

      • “The combat failure of the M16 in Vietnam was due to Ordnance empire-building, rather than any deficiency in the original concept of the rifle and/or its ammunition.”
        Apparently, to make sure that this weapon will fail, they decided to deliver it… without cleaning kits, citing
        for the sake of economy, no cleaning supplies were procured for the new M16 rifles and no weapon maintenance training was conducted for the troops. As a result, soldiers did not know how to clean their rifles, and had nothing to clean them with

        • No surprise. The Ordnance guys wanted to make the M14 a permanent thing because they had insisted on the following: traditional stock for the sake of familiarity, lots of punching power (to the point that hiding behind a brick house 200 yards away from the rifle would’ve failed to save any potential victims), and the ability to instantly kill someone from a mile away with only one bullet to the brain. They didn’t seem to notice the M14 was forced to do the impossible, given its design wasn’t good for assault or even holding the jungle floor. I suspect that the Beretta BM-59 and the MAS-49/56 might have done a better job in terms of user friendliness on the go, but I could be wrong.

        • Actually, they told everybody that the M16 “cleaned itself”. No, really.

          If used with the correct powder, the AR-15 action generally doesn’t require a lot of cleaning, because there’s very little solid residue from the powder. This was in fact one of Armalite’s “selling points” on the rifle.

          But when you use it with ball powder, there’s a lot of residue, especially in the gas tube, which is a stone PITA to remove.

          Another thing was that the original AR had a chrome-lined chamber and barrel, to reduce both corrosion and powder residue buildup. The Russians had been doing this going back to their Mosin-Nagant M1891 bolt-actions, one reason those rifles were famed for durability and reliability in adverse conditions. It does require initially boring and rifling the barrel slightly “oversized”, and then using the chromium lining plating to bring it “down” to spec.

          Ordnance eliminated chrome-lining as a cost-cutting measure, and made the bore and chamber tighter for improved accuracy out to 600 meters. What they ended up with was a bore that accumulated residue and corrosion, and a chamber spec so tight that case-head separations were common, especially with Lake City brass that was softer than the commercial-spec Remington ammunition the rifle was originally designed around. And no, they didn’t issue case extractors any more than they did cleaning rods. Also, the 55-grain bullet round was never accurate beyond about 400 meters, but then it hadn’t been intended for use beyond 300 to begin with.

          They also told everybody that the “short” magazine was a 20-round one, and the “long” magazine was a 30-round. Actually, they are 15 and 25-round magazines, were designed that way from the beginning, and even today if you put more than those numbers in either one, you’re going to have problems.

          To exacerbate all of the above, contractors were allowed to produce “sample” ammunition for AMC approval loaded with the commercial type powder the rifle was designed to work with- and then go ahead and deliver millions of rounds of ammunition loaded with the cheaper ball powder directly to ordnance for issue, bypassing AMC’s quality control. Again, a cost-cutting effort.

          With the M-16A1, Ordnance tried to cover up their screwups. They adopted a closed-end flash suppressor (admittedly, the open-end “bird’s beak” did catch a twig once in a while), changed to a heavier buffer to reduce the RoF, and chrome-lined the chamber (but not the rest of the barrel). And oh yes, they added the legendary “forward bolt assist” on the right side of the upper receiver to help close the bolt on a stuck cartridge or dirty chamber. I’ve yet to see anybody ever actually use it; the IA drill has always been to eject, try another cartridge, and if that doesn’t work break the rifle down and clean the chamber. Their excuse was “a soldier likes something he can push on”. (???WTF???)

          It’s worth noting that the USMC and USAF, both of whom adopted the original AR-15 and had their own supply chains for the correct ammunition, and who issued proper cleaning kits and instruction manuals (especially the Air Force, which was OCD about cleanliness on everything) never had any problems. They regarded the closed-end flash suppressor as a good idea, and refitted their rifles with same. Other than that, the Marine and Air Force “M-16” was in fact a fundamentally different rifle from the Army Ordnance version. BTW, the later, improved M-16A2 and -A3 were Marine Corps developments, not Army Ordnance products.

          The failure of the M-16 rifle in service can be laid solely at the door of U.S. Army Ordnance. Considering that the M-14 was also a failure, it would probably be fair to ask exactly what they thought their mission actually was.



          • “The failure of the M-16 rifle in service can be laid solely at the door of U.S. Army Ordnance. Considering that the M-14 was also a failure, it would probably be fair to ask exactly what they thought their mission actually was.”
            Aren’t they also responsible for ill-famed M60 machine gun? I am wondering if pointing possibility of self-disassembly they tried to explain “is not bug, is feature”. Possibility of firing without user will (in wear down example) also raises similar question.

          • Respectfully, the bore of the Mosin-Nagant rifle was never chrome lined. The Soviets did chrome the bores of the SKS and Kalashnikov, and so too the Chinese. The Yugoslavs did not chrome the bores on their versions of the SKS.

  7. You might be able to use Ni-Ti in XM-25 type airburst grenade fuses “I know I keep going on about Nitinol.” You could have a wheel; a ranging wheel E.g. 6 click adjustable say 50 to 300 yrds, mounted on a wee gas block attached to the barrel just forward of the chamber. The wheel would be one end of an adjustable gas block type design; I.e. Which would rotate in the block and thus present a series of different sized holes “running off around the sides of its circular inner, all off a central chamber port” ranging from the biggest (50 yrds) to the smallest (300 yrds) anyway…

    In the grenade a length of fuse would have 6 corresponding timed increments I.e. It would be 7cm long but with 6cm 1cm increments; a one cm burn is 50yrs etc, the fuse would be held in an expanded nitinol spring running centrally through the grenade and it would be able to protrude through the nose cap of the warhead via a hole in the middle of it with a detonator running around it.

    The rotating holes would line up with a port “of a diameter matching that of the biggest wheel hole” this port would run forward in the block (towards the muzzle) then veer off into a barrel port again; this would be aligned with a hole in the grenade just above its base “the design of the cartridge would ensure alignment via rail on it, that matches a groove for it in the chamber etc” so…

    When you fire, flash “directed from just infront of the case, lights the fuse, via said arrangement- the block to grenade port, is forward of an unfired one so it aligns when fired- and it also shrinks the spring via heat which shortens the fuse to the correct length; un-used fuse pops out the top, the biggest gas hole shrinks the spring the most I.e. It allows the most gas “so heat” to heat the spring in that duration; which is short, but identical per shot; because the grenades hole will soon pass that from the block.

    The fuse would be lit, and the spring would adjust it at the same time see, so if there was only 1cm of fuse the grenade would go off in 50yrds as the spring contracts the most via this setting.

    Just a thought, might be cheaper than electronic methods, and it sounds relatively simple to use in theory. They use Nickel Titanium actuators already in cars etc, and that is what this is really but in weapon. Rudimentary, may have problems etc… Just thinking of potential applications for Ni-Ti, since it is new to me.

    I like the idea of airburst 20 or so mm grenades personally.

    • Airburst 20mm grenades founder on one fundamental flaw: The chemistry of explosives at this time. Nothing we have in the inventory can create enough blast effect or fragmentation in the volume you can pack into anything around a 20mm boresize. As well, you start running into the physics problems of how much recoil the human body can absorb, and how accurately you can fire such a weapon.

      These factors are what the soooper-geniuses of the XM-25 program chose to overlook, as they went about spending millions of our tax dollars on their little fantasy. Such a weapon, fired full-auto off of a tripod…? That might make sense, but until you’re able to build and procure Iron Man-like augmented armor for the troops, it’s just not a practical thing for mass-issue to anyone in the format that the XM-25 was in.

      Support weapons akin to the XM-25 would be nice, but they founder on the facts of physics and chemistry. Maybe in a few years, mounted on something like the Boston Dynamics Big Dog robot…? For now, fired from a purely human shoulder, that whole concept is a non-starter.

        • The effect you get with a small munition like that is constrained; you either need to fire it with sufficient velocity that it would kill the human firing it, or you need to download it to the point where it pretty much just bounces off the mud walls, vice penetrating them. Add all the sophisticated fuzing, and the warhead payload gets even lower…

          The whole thing is just a bad idea, at this juncture. Kind of like trying to build a full-auto MG using black powder. Tech will likely get there, but it’s not there yet, and isn’t likely to for most of the rest of our lifetimes.

          • Mind you if you had folks in the open and you could fire straight at them, and one “bullet” killed 3… Although you could probably shoot three normally… Although not if they hid… behind rocks, hmmm… Pop it above them; probably has uses, but I see what your saying about the downsides.

            Shells… Or some shells, have or had mechanical type fuses; I think you rotate them, which adjusts the length of fuse available before it reaches the detonator. You adjusted them first prior to loading, maybe a Nitinol actuated rotating type fuse could work in 40mm along the lines of what I outlined so you could load it in an underslung launcher: Then adjust it from outside, backwards and forwards as required.

            The Ni-Ti spring would be attached at one end to say a central tube running through the grenade and the other to a rotating nose cone which could rotate around it: When it contracts via heat the cone would move up or down as per for example.

            You “drop them” on the target currently 40mm’s; actually you probably couldn’t fire 40mm’s straight at a target because of drop at range, so forget that probably.

          • Heat is produced from firing like isn’t it, so you’d have to isolate the Ni-Ti from extra heat if it wasn’t fully changed etc… Probaly ways, but it perhaps isn’t quite as simple as I hoped originally.

      • “For now, fired from a purely human shoulder, that whole concept is a non-starter.”
        For 30×29 (ammunition for AGS-17) multi-shot weapon which could be fire from hip see: it is enlightened in comparison to original Baryshev’s launcher, with weight lowered to 8 kg. Its felt recoils is described as similar to 12 gauge hunting shotgun.

        • Mr.Baryshev was working in past (some 25 years ago) with Czech Arms company. As it seems this project did not lead to a success in commercial sense. Although talented designer, I do not think he made any marked success anywhere. Accidentally, some years ago I spoke with Baryshev’s daughter; she lived that time in Vancouver. She inquired about business/ sales opportunities in this country. I suggested to her she was looking at wrong place.

  8. The three-round grenade launcher is pretty absurd as an attachment here – a single GL would have been ungainly out at the end of the barrel, much less a fully-loaded triple. It seems like it might have made a decent enhancement to the M79, though.

  9. Still learning very much about this, from Ian and some other knowledgeable folks…

    Vladimir Grigoryecitch Fëdeerov designed an “ideal” 6.5mm cartridge. He refused to countenenace 6mm, because only the U.S. Navy had ever issued one in the 1895 Lee 6x60mm. His cartridge, in terms of performance, not dimensions, was basically the .260 Remington avant la lettre.

    Still another Russian/Soviet in the 1930s thought the “ideal” caliber was the .25 Remington, you know, a 115-117gr. bullet with a sectional density of .253 and not too punishing to the weapon so chambered.

    Now here we are with the 5.56mm first in M193 55-gr., which didn’t have sufficient penetration what with a sectional density of .156, and the SS109/M855 62gr. derided for insufficient knock-down/lethality/obliterating power, followed by the snake eating crowd having an “interim” Mk.262 77gr. bullet… The Russians have the different iterations of the 5.45x39mm, which is a soft-shooting, stays-on-target-in-automatic-fire, light weight cartridge with a light bullet that is very long… the longer bullet allowing it to punch a bit above its inconsiderable weight.

    And the Chinese have the 5.8x42mm, which harkens back to the cancelled U.S. SAW program that decided an optimal caliber just might be 6x45mm (Sorry Brits! That 6.35x43mm might have been OK after insisting the über-expensive EM2 get amped up to 7/.280 7x44mm before the US of A insisted on 7.62x51mm… Before the SPIW offered its siren song of tiny hypervelocity darts…

    Meanwhile, in the U.S. gun press, people are all over 6.5mm Creedmor, 6.5mm Grendel, and have even necked 6.8x43mm SPC down to 6mm for the .224 Valkyrie… All of which is to say that .260 Remington, 6.5mm Creedmor, etc. just might be superior infantry cartridges… Provided that súper-über-hi-tech can make them smaller, lighter, more compact with “telescoped” ammo and what-not.

    As for the grenade launchers: If a “point defense” kinetic-energy personal defense bullet launcher is required to be attached permanently to it, I’m afraid it’d have to be one of these PDWs with questionable ballistics…

    @eon: 7x57mm Mauser vs. 6.5x55mm Swedish vs. 6.5x52mm Carcano-but-with-modern-bullets, yes? Ha!

    • I’m of the opinion that the “unified universal infantry cartridge” is not ever going to work. The idea is beloved of theorists because it simplifies logistics (although, to what degree is arguable… You’re still dealing with packaging issues, unless you resort to a Japanese solution that has your support weapon loaded with stripper clips…), and because it seems like such an elegant solution.

      The problem founders on what we actually find that we need to do, in combat: The individual weapon needs a certain set of characteristics, not least the need to be capable of being fired on the move from the shoulder on full-auto, and be light enough for the rifleman to haul it around easily. This militates against the requirements for the support weapon, which needs to be powerful enough to blast through fairly heavy cover, and serve in an effective way as an anti-material weapon. So, you try for a unified solution, and wind up recapitulating everyone’s experience since WWII, in that they discover that they need to supplement the individual weapon cartridge (which is what everyone focuses on for these universal solutions, unless you’re the US…) with a “real” man-killing cartridge. The Germans experienced this, with the attempts at giving everyone in the platoon an StG44, and discovering that they had to basically permanently attach those “too-heavy” MG42s back down to the platoons. The Soviets figured this out, eventually, and chose to replace the RPD with the RPK and PKM, which was sort of the same solution we’re now seeing in both the USMC and the British Army. In the end, the two roles are not amenable to being filled by one cartridge–The tactical requirements are too different. I suspect that the M249 is going to become regarded as a dead-end solution and a bad idea, once it’s subject to historical review in a few generations. It’s a reflection of a set of ideas about combat that really don’t work, over the long haul. I suspect that real-world experience in combat is going to do the same thing to the Chinese, who are already issuing two very different loads for their weapons, one for the individual rifleman, and the other for the support MG, which kinda obviates the arguments for unified logistics, just as the provision of belted 5.56mm does for the M249/Minimi.

      Long story short, the two-caliber solution at the squad and platoon level is what we’ve found works, and every time the theorists try to squeeze one weapon/cartridge into the two roles, it’s failed miserably. I think what we need to be doing is pursuing the optimal individual weapon cartridge, and forget about trying to make that fit into the support role, while improving what we have for that. I’m not at all afraid to say that the 7.62X51 NATO is a compromised design, for support weapons–It was intended as a “universal cartridge”, too, but optimized for a set of things that really made it a better support weapon cartridge than individual weapon one. Because of this, it isn’t optimal in the role of support weapon, either, and needs to be replaced with something that is–And, probably not the .338 Magnum beast that GDLS is offering, either. I think that’s a bit too damn heavy, all things considered; especially for dismounted maneuver.

      Overall, I think there’s been a bit too much fuzzy thinking in this arena; we need to go out and look at what we’ve actually been doing, and what worked. The reality is not to be found embedded in the official MTOE papers, but in examining what has actually been in place out in the squads and platoons, where the guys had to make the crapfest out of the MTOE and manuals actually, y’know… Work.

      One of my striking experiences with this was talking to a guy who’d been a WWII mechanized infantryman, working off of a half-track: Those guys stole every belt-fed they could get their hands on, and for the most part, when they were fighting from the track, there was a belt-fed mounted on every corner, with a couple of supplemental ones on the sides and rear, with a .50 firing forward. They didn’t even use their rifles for anything except as security when they halted to take a crap, or eat. Pictures he showed me actually had more guns than men in them, after casualties. On MTOE, those vehicles were supposed to have had a single .50, and one M1919. They had like six or seven of the M1919, a spare .50, and enough ammo to open a stand at a gun show.

      Which goes to demonstrate that practice deviates from theory considerably. We tend to examine the manuals and written records, taking them as gospel, while what was actually being done was never really captured in any way. All those machineguns my informant and his squad had scrounged? They were never on any record, and when they went to turn in their gear after combat was over, they just picked out the best-looking and cleanest guns, turned those in, and the rest got thrown into a pile of “combat losses” the ordnance guys had established. The only people who knew “what was really going on” got the hell out of the Army, and never looked back until some weird guy with a fascination for firearms and tactics started asking questions about “Hey, how did you really do all this…?”.

      Which goes a long way towards explaining crap like the M14 and M60–COL Studler was never a combat veteran, and the majority of the “careerist” officers who were making decisions post-WWII weren’t either. The majority of the guys with actual experience were either in the care of the US War Graves Commission, or they bailed for civilian life. It’s actually kind of disturbing to go through the numbers, and find just how little real combat experience there was in the post-WWII Army, and how many guys that chose to stick around and make careers of the Army were actually the sorts who’d hidden out in the folds of administration and logistics. One would think that we’d have kept the best of the best, but the reality was the same as every drawdown I’ve seen or personally experienced–The really good guys, the ones you want to stick around? Most of them… Just don’t. A few dedicated ones will, but the majority see the writing on the wall, and get out to go on to other things. Meanwhile, the slugs and drones? They are frightened of the implications of having to make it on their own, and stay in, which leads to a very negative cultural shift after every drawdown in the forces. Fact of life, right there–And, don’t think that that didn’t influence a lot of the small arms decisions, post-WWII, either.

      • Hey now. Colonel Renee R. Studler smoked a pipe, enjoyed playing polo, and was, erm, well, how shall we say? “upwardly mobile?” Yeah. That’s it. The Country Club set.

        Good observations, certainly. Note that the British, Germans, and perhaps some others organized things around the LMG, with the riflemen in support of that. So basically, “big deal that the manually operated bolt-action” remains the service rifle, since the point is the Bren for the former and the MG34/MG42 voracious monster with six extra barrels on the other? For the Germans, I do believe this goes back to late WWI and not the Wehrmacht’s 1930s thinking. To have a “decentralized” defense with fewer men on the Western Front, teams of MG08/15 gunners were the key on defense, and of course the much-hyped storm troopers for offense…With flame-throwers!

        In the U.S. as folks know, the “L” MG and automatic rifle supported the riflemen.
        Col. Rene Studler literally thought that ammo bearers would have the M1 carbine so they could, well, carry more ammo. He also oversaw the M3 and M3A1, rather than simply extend the M1 carbine direction to replacing the SMG in .45 acp. Small wonder, perhaps, that the M14 would get rid of the SMG, the carbine and the BAR in one fell swoop.

        • There’s a lot of details we’re missing, vis-a-vis the development of German MG doctrine. As you say, it went back to WWI, but the refinement of it all came during the years of von Seeckt’s Reichswehr. The key to it all was the German fear that the lack of trained reserve troops would cripple their army, so they decided that they needed to do everything they could to make what they had as lethal as possible. Which is why you see them base their squads around the GPMG, and chose to basically use that as their element of maneuver, along with the organic mortars. The idea was to make the best use of their trained manpower, with the MG gunner and squad leader being the guys they lavished training on. The rest of the squad was along to scout, haul ammo, and basically provide security for the guns. The Allies saw the rifleman as the base of the squad, and used their LMG elements to support their efforts, vice the German approach where the MG was basically the whole point of the squad.

          Which works better? Well, to be quite honest, I think there are advantages to both approaches, depending on terrain and enemy. Trying to use the MG as the maneuver element in heavy close terrain, like a jungle? Not necessarily a good idea; use it as such in more open terrain? Lethal beyond belief. The key, though, is that you have to have very well-trained gunners and squad leaders, who know how to use the guns to the greatest effect. Without those, you’re really wasting your time, and had better rely on mobs of half-trained riflemen with assault rifles, along with some LMG support, as needed. The MG-centric approach requires well-trained troops, and a solid understanding of the doctrine they’re working within being inculcated in their minds. The squad leader has to think in terms of “How would I place my MG, in order to dominate this terrain…?”, and be able to visualize how his fires will work in concert with the other elements in his platoon and company. As well, they have to have confidence that the key supporting elements, like the organic mortars, are going to be there, doing their jobs. Properly executed, the MG-centric approach allows for a great deal of economy of force, and keeps your infantry alive and killing a lot longer than the “rifleman is king” approach. That methodology relies on everyone in the squad being proficient, dedicated, and willing to take it to the enemy–Which wasn’t quite so, once the initial wave of troops in a unit had become casualties. The US replacement system was actually inimical to the “rifleman is king” idea, because it broke the small unit bonds of trust that such a set of tactics required. For the US, following the German idea of the crew-served weapon being the primary weapon of the squad would have been a better idea, because that would have allowed for the mob of new replacements to have been under better control, and the crew-served weapons were more likely to stay in action, with a set of buddies there to work the things under fire.

          US doctrine, I am afraid, did not take into account a bunch of psychological dynamics that the Germans did. There was tons of work performed by von Seeckt’s people, and on under the Nazis during the thirties that plays into this, like the choices made in bomber and tank design–The Germans felt it key that the crews were not scattered throughout the aircraft or tank, but were able to touch or contact each other to bolster morale. As well, there was the idea that isolated individual men were more likely to cut and run, or not fire their weapons, as opposed to small teams where there would be witnesses to cowardice or lack of what Marshall described as “combat non-participation”. Under the German system, such issues were far less problematic than the Allied approach, where the individual rifleman was subject to isolation and anomie. An MG team under the direct supervision of an NCO is far less likely to decide to “…just keep their heads down…” than an individual rifleman, who might very well discard unfired ammunition in order to make it look like he’d been “doing his part” for the rest of his squad.

          The Nazis were utter bastards, and deserve every ounce of malice they’re remembered with. But… The facts have to be acknowledged: Their personnel policies, tactics, and operational art allowed them to fight well above their weight class, and wreak havoc on the Allies far beyond what they should have been capable of. Studying precisely how they did this is something we’ve really essentially ignored, besides copying their uniforms.

          And, to be quite honest, the US military has never really understood what the hell the Germans were doing, tactically. That ignorance started back in WWII, and continues up to the present day, where you can’t find more than a couple of people who really grasp the principles behind the German tactics or weapons system design. Even now, people are still criticizing the MG42 for its supposed “too high” rate of fire, not grasping that that was a deliberate, planned choice: The Germans wanted to saturate the beaten zone as fast as possible, as far away as possible, in order to kill the enemy before they got within arm’s reach. If you contrast what an MG42 or MG3 can do in terms of saturating the kill zone at 1200m, vs. what is possible with something like the M60 or M240, you’ll note that the slower rate of fire on our MG systems allows for a significant fraction of the enemy to get to cover before the beaten zone is entirely covered. With an MG42 and a Lafette, you can dump a burst into that zone quickly enough that everyone still standing within it gets a bullet or two. The M60/M240? Not so much. 600 rounds per minute, vs. 1200 rounds per minute? You’re basically enabling the survival of the enemy. And, that’s the point that almost everyone concerned with the use of machineguns in the US military misses, because that sort of gunnery is simply not trained on. The US MG qualification system is based on the idea of static defense, a la WWI or the late Korean War era of combat. None of the ranges would support a dynamic use of the guns, the way the Germans trained them. It’s all static, from a fighting position, with some optional training from the bipod. Even our tripods aren’t designed to support the dynamic use of the guns, being meant to work solely off of prepared firing tables in the dug-in positions. You point that out to people, and it’s like trying to describe color to someone who’s been blind from birth; they just don’t get it–That’s not how you use machine guns, in their minds.

      • Again, respectfully, while it certainly was the case that “the Chinese, who are already issuing two very different loads for their weapons, one for the individual rifleman, and the other for the support MG, which kinda obviates the arguments for unified logistics, just as the provision of belted 5.56mm does for the M249/Minimi” it is m y understanding that there is now just a single 71-gr. bullet at approx. 3,000fps instead of the earlier two-bullets one caliber scenario. The first rifle cartridge, I think, was a 64gr. bullet going like 3,050 or so and the much longer bullet for the LMG variant?

        • I hadn’t heard of that change… Do you have a citation for it?

          Regardless, there’s still the functional problem of belt-fed vs. magazine-fed; your logistics aren’t necessarily simplified, unless, of course, you’re issuing your belts permanently, along with the cartridge-loader for them. That may alleviate some of the issues, but at the cost of creating others.

          • Well, for all I know I might be regurgitating balderdash. None of the sources appears too convincing? In any case, at the font of all intraweb info–possibly for ill and not good–the 5,82x42mm Wiki page cites a supposed “DBP10 variant” thusly:
            “The DBP10 cartridge is the newest 5.8mm variant to date. It was developed in 2010 and has a hardened steel-cored 4.6 grams (71 gr) bullet, a muzzle velocity of 915 metres per second (3,002 ft/s) and is designed to match all currently serving 5.8×42mm chambered weapons. As such, it will consolidate and replace all previous DBP87/95 and DBP88 5.8×42mm rounds. The bullet has a ballistic coefficient (G7 BC) of approximately 0.193.[4] Major improvements include a non-corrosive primer, a copper-coated steel case with a copper alloy bullet jacket with a 3.8 millimetres (0.15 in) diameter hardened steel core for better penetration of (body) armor. It also uses a cleaner burning propellant so as not to leave residue inside the weapon after firing. However, although testing of the previous DBP87/95 5.8 mm rounds showed that they were less likely to cause serious wounds, the issue was not addressed with the new DBP10 round.[10][11] DBP10 has an operating pressure of 255 to 289.4 MPa (36,980 to 41,970 psi).[12] The DBP10 cartridge weighs 12.9 grams (199 gr).[4] Accuracy of fire at 300 m (328 yd) (R50) is stated as 75 mm (3.0 in), at 600 m (656 yd) (R50) is stated as 140 mm (5.5 in) and at 800 m (875 yd) (R50) is stated as 230 mm (9.1 in). R50 at a specific range means the closest 50 percent of the shot group will all be within a circle of the mentioned diameter at that range. The circular error probable method employed by the Chinese and other (European) militaries cannot be converted and is not comparable to the common US methods (groupsize of 5 or 10 successive shots fired at 100 yards) for determining accuracy.”

            Again, no real idea or hands-on experience.

            Thanks for the interesting points on the Reichswehr–and the so-called “Black Reichswehr” as a “missing link” of _Auftragstaktik_ and machine gun doctrine und-so-weiter/ much else besides. One suspects that military historians may not know much about the Rapallo-treaty-era experiments in the USSR and evaluations of the WWI experience.

          • A. Williams’ “Assault rifles and their ammunition” at makes the same claim: “The DBP10 cartridge is the newest 5.8mm variant to date. It was developed in 2010 and has a hardened steel-cored 4.6 grams (71 gr) bullet, a muzzle velocity of 915 metres per second (3,002 ft/s) and is designed to match all currently serving 5.8×42mm chambered weapons. As such, it will consolidate and replace all previous DBP87/95 and DBP88 5.8×42mm rounds. The bullet has a ballistic coefficient (G7 BC) of approximately 0.193.[4] Major improvements include a non-corrosive primer, a copper-coated steel case with a copper alloy bullet jacket with a 3.8 millimetres (0.15 in) diameter hardened steel core for better penetration of (body) armor. It also uses a cleaner burning propellant so as not to leave residue inside the weapon after firing. However, although testing of the previous DBP87/95 5.8 mm rounds showed that they were less likely to cause serious wounds, the issue was not addressed with the new DBP10 round.[10][11] DBP10 has an operating pressure of 255 to 289.4 MPa (36,980 to 41,970 psi).[12] The DBP10 cartridge weighs 12.9 grams (199 gr).[4] Accuracy of fire at 300 m (328 yd) (R50) is stated as 75 mm (3.0 in), at 600 m (656 yd) (R50) is stated as 140 mm (5.5 in) and at 800 m (875 yd) (R50) is stated as 230 mm (9.1 in). R50 at a specific range means the closest 50 percent of the shot group will all be within a circle of the mentioned diameter at that range. The circular error probable method employed by the Chinese and other (European) militaries cannot be converted and is not comparable to the common US methods (groupsize of 5 or 10 successive shots fired at 100 yards) for determining accuracy.”

  10. Incidentally, the Limeys in the UK had a study from WWII that seems to prefigure the report Ian mentions– WO 291/471 “Weight of small-arms fire needed for various targets.” The study emphasized its “exceedingly tentative” nature. Basically, a slit-trench occupant exposed 1/2ft.squared when he was firing, and the lucky blighter in a pillbox exposed 1/4ft.squared from the embrasure while, erm, “whilst” firing.

    A full strength section with a Bren, 8 manually operated bolt-action rifles and a Sten machine carbine at 100 to 200 yards from the baddies in the trench and pillbox were thought to have to deliver 250 rounds on the slit trench for “light neutralisation” and double that on the pill box. For “heavy neutralisation” then 1k rounds and double that on the “pillbox.”
    Light neutralisation was to inflict a theoretical rate of 2 1/2% per minute or a “squaddie” of a platoon per minute if the blighter remained in his firing position for over 1/3rd of the time they were under fire.
    Heavy neutralisation is more like eon’s Pickett’s Charge at G-burg I suppose: Stops “retaliatory measures on the part of the enemy, with a casualty rate of 10% per minute, or one man per section per minute.” Doubtless there were other studies of how long particular Germans could sustain such “neutralisation” effects before they broke and ran for their lives, e.g. “scarpered.”

    • The 1000 rounds for neutralization looks like most of a full load of ammo for one squad. Offhand every member of a 10 man squad carried two Bren magazines for 400 rounds total, plus riflemen carried approximately 150 rounds in stripper clips, for 1200 rounds plus 120-180 rounds of 9mm for the Sten so less than 2000 rounds per squad, although my estimate of Bren magazines may be low and in sustained fire at least one man would be reloading Bren magazines from stripper clips

    • Like most of this stuff, I want to go digging back into the data they based their conclusions on. Every time I see someone come up with a nice, neat, and round-numbered equation describing something involving people, I get suspicious. People are never neatly round-numbered, and the question of how much weight of ammo needs to be fired to take out one enemy soldier in a slit-trench becomes highly dependent on a bunch of factors that have little to do with the amount of rounds you rain down on that position.

      You do have to work out the numbers, to a degree, but the flaw in the thinking is that they really mean much of anything. Examine the number of times that supposedly “elite” German veterans fled in the Italian campaign at the mere mention of there being either Gurkhas or Goumiers operating at night in their vicinity–Both of whom were renowned for their supposed ferocity, inhumanity, and preference for knife-work. Convince certain German units that either of those two groups were operating in the area, and you could forget about being able to establish night-time security; everyone would be huddled up in their blockhouses and positions, afraid to move.

      Psychology has more to do with the whole thing than many would like to admit; you fire silenced weapons, and discover that the guys you’re killing don’t notice the fire effect, and miss the fact that everyone on their left or right flank is dead; they keep charging you, and if you’d been firing an unsilenced weapon, they’d have broken off the charge due to the “fear factor” your noisy weapon created.

      I’m simultaneously certain that we don’t know enough about this stuff to really be making “scientific” decisions on it, and equally dubious of the idea that any of it can truly be “known” in a scientific and reproducible-in-experiment manner. As with anything involving the human factor, it’s more an art than a science. You can “reasonably plan” that dumping a certain weight of fire on a position will suppress or kill, but then there are always going to be those times when it wasn’t enough, or it was way more than needed, because the enemy broke long before your fires plan was finished. You saw some of that in the first Gulf War, where the US used B52 Arc Light strikes on Iraqi positions–After the first few, the Iraqis just needed a hint, and they abandoned everything to flee north. Which, while highly gratifying, did tend to kind of waste a bunch of ordnance…

  11. Seeing the details of that Winchester SPIW prototype weapon, exposes just how much incorrect assumptions were built into the entire Project Salvo conception. Contrast the fancy action with its exotic ammo, to the iron sights which are not much more evolved than something you could find on a Civil War rifle.

    • I could be mistaken, but I remember the SPIW program having some kind of bleeding-edge telescopic sight to go with it all, and the iron sights were just place-holders for the weapon developers.

      If I remember right, some of the sight technology eventually rolled into the night vision program. Been awhile since I researched all that, so I am unclear on the details. I think it is some of the DTIC reports on the SPIW program…

      • Hmmm… On review, some of what I thought I remembered wasn’t quite… Right.

        The first sign of optical or enhanced sights in the SPIW program actually showed up after it was formally abandoned, and AAI was doing their own thing. What appears to be a red-dot sight shows up on the AAI XM-70, and the successor to that, something that was apparently built somewhat before the ACR program got formally started, is what has the sight I remember seeing, which was a box-like affair with enough switches on the side to be at home in a modern fighter jet.

        AAI did introduce us all to the Trijicon ACOG, though, with their entrant into the ACR program.

        • It’s all there in that 1952 ORO study which birthed SALVO. Plenty of interesting analysis and experiments, but loads of untested assumptions. All leading to the theory of a “salvo” firing weapon as the ideal solution for an individual weapon.

          The study didn’t seriously consider changes to training as a possible solution to the marksmanship problem, and the shooting experiments underlying the basis of the salvo theory was limited to shooting M1 rifles and carbines. No optically sighted firearms were experimented with.

          As I mentioned on the OICW thread, I think that 1952 ORO study was a good starting point for looking at the problem, but to me it cries out for expanded experiments and additional analysis. Instead the Army seems to have accepted that study as a final answer.

          How ironic that the bankrupt British Empire was trying to equip their standard infantry rifles with optical sights decades before the U.S. finally did.

          • There’s a lot of just sheer “WTF?!?!?” in much of the history of these questions; the most striking thing is reading the stuff written by some of the actual combat veterans who were at the Infantry School, and who presciently got things “right” according to the history we’ve actually lived, but who were also studiously ignored by the people running things. And, there were some very astute and perceptive types, that wrote copious papers and articles outlining many of the problems we later encountered.

            I could lay out a metric butt-load of similar evidence for the counter-mine and route-clearance arena from the 1990s, but this ain’t the venue. The actual issue is Army-wide, and comes down to an endemic problem with doing the things it would need to do in order to actually be a “learning organization”, which it manifestly… Ain’t.

            The point about training is excellent, and one of the things that everyone seems to miss is that a huge problem for the combat soldier is just identifying the damn targets. It really isn’t that easy to tell where the enemy is, or where you’re taking fire from–Which means that a lot of your outgoing fire is actually useless, because you’re just using it to make morale-boosting noise.

            If I were to set out to boost overall “lethality”, the first thing I’d do would be to figure out how to boost the overall ability to identify where the enemy is, and then direct fire at that enemy. Especially in situations where they’re behind concealment, from either vegetation, terrain, or buildings. Improvements in sensors and networking should enable some really useful improvements, particularly with small UAV assets that can provide overwatch to infantry ground movements. Ubiquitous networking of what the UAV or RPV assets can see would vastly enhance the ability to direct friendly fires, and respond effectively to enemy fires–Which, when you get down to it, is about ninety percent of where we waste our ammo and efforts. Right now, a lot of the time, about all you can figure out is that you are taking fire from somewhere on that hillside on your right flank; the ability to say “Yeah, the fire is coming from that particular hillock…? Golden.

            The low-hanging fruit out there isn’t in the weapons, it’s in what the military calls the C3I, the Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence part of the problem. Improve that, and you could probably be issuing the old Springfield .45-70 as an individual weapon, successfully winning all of your engagements.

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