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Old February 20, 2011, 01:30 AM   #51
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A quick glance at NATO caliber standardization will reveal that just about every standard is of US origin with little or no input accepted from other nations. When 7.62x51mm was adopted the British had a much more forward thinking round that would have been a tremendous compromise between 7.62x51mm and 5.56mm without the rather "meh" ballistics of 6.8mmSPC. We basically told them where to shove it and the 7.62x51mm was adopted. Just sayin, that's usually how that kind of thing has worked in the past.
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Old February 20, 2011, 07:19 AM   #52
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I have shot hundreds and hundreds of Kangaroos a few years back under a destruction permit with the 223, 308 and 7.62x39 mostly under 100 meters (110yards). A Kangaroo is pretty much a man sized target and the 223 doesn't hold a candle to the damage a 308 or even a 7.62x39 does. The 223 were mostly soft points and the 308 and 7.62x39 were mostly FMJ's. They had large exit wounds with the large calibers at reasonably close range.
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Old February 20, 2011, 09:00 AM   #53
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I have shot hundreds and hundreds of Kangaroos a few years back under a destruction permit with the 223, 308 and 7.62x39 mostly under 100 meters (110yards).

Were you using FMJ or soft point ammunition in the .223 vs .308 argument? If it's soft point your argument is apples to oranges. I agree the .308 has more power behind it but at close range does it perform the same as M855 or M193 ball?
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Old February 20, 2011, 11:42 AM   #54
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Oh, goody, we debate - again - whether we need a new Service Rifle. Ya'll take a big deep breath, and remember, last time we changed, it went from 12 pound .308 to 6 pound FULL AUTO .223.

Now, how do we tweak the battlefield requirement to put out a LOT of ammo? Because, like it or not, the studies have shown since WW1 lots of ammo out to 500m is the best way to increase hit probability. Even random chance hits go up if there's twice as much ammo flying around.

Anything with an effective range over 500m is wasted and detrimental to the soldiers ability to put out more ammo. It has either too much power, which immediately increases weight and limits ammo, or increases recoil, which slows troops from firing it again, or firing it accurately and quickly.

So far, you see it's all about USING THE GUN, not lethality, extreme range, or getting them DRT. You just have to incapacitate them, break down the ability to return fire, and a hit does that. More hits, more incapcitation of the opposing force.

What's on the table for the Improved Carbine isn't what some want to read into a commercial news source article (and Military.com ISN'T the Army official mouthpiece.)

This is a bit more official : The IC requirements support future system enhancements for accuracy, lethality, reliability, signature suppression, ammunition improvements, maintenance and other weapon/accessory technologies.

Read more: http://kitup.military.com/#ixzz1EW7t07Fx

You're looking at a polymer lower, extruded upper, hammerforged nitrided barrel, with standard suppressor. It could very well be caseless, the LSAT doubles the amount of ammo per magazine with the same weight. Soldiers can carry twice at much as before, and twice as much ammo shot is a 50% increase in hit probability. That is twice the effective combat power per soldier, out to the known limit of 500m. Anything further is a crew served weapon, something the weekend range shooter has no clue about, because they didn't serve, or didn't serve Combat Arms. Ahem.

All those logistic units have organic M249's, M60's pintle mounted on turret rings on the truck cabs, grenade launchers, etc. If you think it's an unfair fight we only show up with M4's, well, you think wrong. We make it as much an unfair fight as a TEAM - the individual soldier weapon is just one tool of a dozen resources.

That's what's fundamentally wrong with these discussions, it's usually a rant about what some wannabe thinks they should go to war with, and no clue about the reality of the task and resources. If your choice of caliber is already known as decreasing hit probability, you don't even have an argument in military circles. It was already decided in the '40's when STG44 equipped troops kicked our Garand equipped butts in the Ardennes.

We may make mistakes, we do learn from them, and we move on. Intermediate calibers are here to stay, the .308 is just another supplementary tool at the company level, not for general issue. It's not even the future sniper caliber - they are all being rebuilt into .300 Win Mag as we speak.
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Old February 20, 2011, 03:06 PM   #55
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Now, how do we tweak the battlefield requirement to put out a LOT of ammo? Because, like it or not, the studies have shown since WW1 lots of ammo out to 500m is the best way to increase hit probability. Even random chance hits go up if there's twice as much ammo flying around.
+1 to +1,000,000.

Every time one of these threads gets kicked up it seems that most of the people with opinions just cannot wrap their head around the concept that the biggest choke points in the engagement process are target acquisition/positive ID and then actually making the hit in the first place.

So you get brilliant ideas like going for maybe a 25% increase in lethality, in terms of terminal ballistics, in exchange for a 50% decrease in basic load of ammunition carried and a 25% decrease in engagement speed. (Yes, Virginia, there is an M14, and it's been retired for a good long time now for good reason.)

And so on.

"Fixing" the caliber of our service weapons, if you just mean trading one brass cased cartridge for another that pushes the pluses and minuses around slightly into some different configuration, is so far down on the list of things we need to spend one cent of tax payer money on that I'd venture to guess it might even make the Reflective-Belt-Fetishism Classes they teach at the Sergeants Major Academy look like a good pay off. Before we spend several billion dollars to fix 1% of the problem, maybe we'd be better served focusing on ways to fix the other 99% of the problem (training, optics, etc.).
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Old February 20, 2011, 05:16 PM   #56
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There's a lot of big numbers being mentioned here when there's talk of changing the basic rifle. A billion dollars? That's a thousand million. Anyone have any realistic idea of the actual cost of a changeover, assuming that everything is replaced and no current component beyond detachable sights are retained? Also ignoring any inflation aspects because it won't all be replaced in one year. It wouldn't be necessary (or realistic) to replace things very quickly either. The national guard was still using .30-06 caliber weapons in the 1970s.

I'd have to say that a part of the problem, if there is one, is that Americans have a thing about big. It migrates overseas from time to time, too. The famous FAL was supposedly originally designed around the 7.92k cartridge, a round that is no more powerful than the 5.56mm. However, the FAL is actually still in service in some places--in 7.62 NATO, a round that was thought of as intermediate when it was introduced.

Some of this reminds me of the resistance there was to submachine guns in 1940. Maybe its a good thing the enemy doesn't use the 5.56mm. Then we'd really find out how well it works.
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Old February 20, 2011, 05:53 PM   #57
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A billion dollars? That's a thousand million. Anyone have any realistic idea of the actual cost of a changeover, assuming that everything is replaced and no current component beyond detachable sights are retained?
Cost of fielding the XM8 was estimated at just a bit over a billion dollars, with no associated change in caliber but a need to go to a non-STANAG magazine, so I'm pretty comfortable assuming it would be a couple times more expensive to do the same with a brand new caliber as well.

(And a lot of optics would have to get scrapped as well -- AimPoints would be fine, but anything like an ACOG or MGO that has bullet drop incorporated into the reticle would probably have to go unless the new round was a very close match for 62 grain M855.)

Quote:
I'd have to say that a part of the problem, if there is one, is that Americans have a thing about big. It migrates overseas from time to time, too. The famous FAL was supposedly originally designed around the 7.92k cartridge, a round that is no more powerful than the 5.56mm. However, the FAL is actually still in service in some places--in 7.62 NATO, a round that was thought of as intermediate when it was introduced.
We migrated it overseas. The FAL was experimentally built in 7.92x33, but was then very well developed for the 280 British round. But then the clown shoe wearing crowd at US Army Ordnance stuck their fingers in their ears and yelled George Patton quotes at the top of their lungs anytime anyone brought up the idea of an intermediate cartridge and forced NATO to go with 7.62x51. Since the FAL was Belgium's planned rifle for NATO service, it got chambered for what NATO was blackmailed into adopting by the US. I don't think anyone was enamored of the round or enthusiastic about it. (And the British adopted it in 7.62x51 with the understanding that we would adopt the same rifle in the same caliber as well, for NATO commonality, but that's a whole other lie we shafted our allies with.)

As for 7.62x51 being considered an intermediate cartridge this is only vaguely true. The abovementioned clown shoe wearing criminals who forced the cartridge onto NATO were savvy enough to realize that smarter people than themselves were warming up to the concept of an intermediate cartridge based on real analysis of battlefield use of service rifles and observations of the StG-44. So, rather than change their thinking or design, they instead took the wonderfully Orwellian tact of declaring 7.62x51 an intermediate design because it was cut down from 30-06 (never mind that it was only adopted because it identically matched the ballistics of USGI 30-06 ball ammo as adopted).
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Old February 20, 2011, 06:22 PM   #58
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The M16/M4 and 5.56 are not going anywhere anytime soon; and personally, there isn't anything really wrong with them. Sure, I for one would love to see a more reliable M4 (piston?) and I think the 6.Xmm would be a quality performance upgrade. But honestly, throw a few long range .308's in the mix and keep pushing marksmanship and the 5.56 and M16/M4 will continue to march on. I do think that series is starting to peak out...for real this time We have done a lot of modfications, add-ons and ballistics upgrades, but I don't know how much more they can squeeze out of the current combo. Money, logistics and training will prevent any major changes. The juice just isn't worth the squeeze.

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Old February 26, 2011, 06:33 AM   #59
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A better way would be to offer a small selection 6.8 SPC and send them on missions. After several contact engagements ask them if they'd prefer the 5.56 or the 6.8.

I think we ALL know the difference.

Is the 6.8 "perfect"? No, but it has better terminal performance than any of the 5.56 ammo currently fielded.

I dread to say this but the Germans, Russians and BRITS were on the proper path...

It's probably too late to change with NATO interoperability requirements. Lost opportunity.
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Old February 26, 2011, 06:35 AM   #60
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Beautiful synopsis, Horse Soldier.
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Old February 26, 2011, 10:37 AM   #61
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The cost to reequip our forces with a new caliber, including weapon, has already been calculated to be about the price of one fighter jet.

It's NOT the cost that's a problem, it's that a problem doesn't exist except in the mind of untrained, uneducated, and unknowledgeable shooters with no clue about military requirements.

Nobody except some SF even wanted 6.8, much as I appreciate the caliber. The Army went to 5.56 in the face of using .308 over 45 years ago, the ballistics were accepted, the decision made, and all the research of battle from the prior fifty years proven by the results since.

You don't need DRT, you need to increase hits, and only out to 500m. Those are base on human factors, like it or not. We are not superbeings, it really doesn't take much to incapacitate us and prevent continuing the fight. It's also hard to actually have the skill to hit a human target at that range. Hunters study animal behavior to focus on high probability areas from as close a range as possible.

Do not confuse the "ethical" treatment of game animals in caliber selection, humans have used a lot of methods now made illegal because they work very well. It's not ethics, it's simply not wanting to work hard at recovering game. A larger bullet with lots of power makes it easy to bring about a quicker kill. We spend less time tracking animals, and don't work as hard to find them. Nothing to do with combat at all - we don't need to track and recover wounded enemy as much as handle them surrendering. Post battle consolidation activities never get talked about much outside professional circles.

In battle, it's equally good however the enemy is stopped from resisting, and artillery, chemical warfare, air dropped munitions, land mines, barbed wire, and use of long ranging direct fire weapons is the preferred and instituted methods of doing it. It often doesn't come down to soldiers firing at each other on the battlefield, when you can cut off their supplies, prevent them moving forward, even deny them the simple pleasure of sleep.

Force them to work at night, then incapacitate them when superior optics reveal their presence. Drones can do that better than soldiers, cover more area, and get successful results.

The art of war is about having more reach than the other guy - longer swords, use lances, counter with arrows, and respond with ballista. It's a series of measures and countermeasures to actually prevent seeing the whites of their eyes. Fighting under 500m is a small part of a very deep 500 mile battleground engagement in traditional warfare.

But, some can't possibly know that from the singular perspective of sighting down a rifle. No, that's NOT what it's all about, it's a very narrow and unrealistic view of a very small part of one engagement.

The Army can certainly spend one fighter jets worth of money on new caliber weapons, it does no good if it can't show a proven and significant increase in hits on the battlefield. Just another brass cased cartridge is exactly that, no real help at all.
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Old February 26, 2011, 01:58 PM   #62
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Excellent post, tirod. Ought to be required reading.

One sometimes reads something about how many bullets it takes to kill one enemy these days. There was a time, not so long ago, when machines guns were used for indirect fire, just like artillery. Sounds inefficient, doesn't it? Yet we often make the mistake of measuring efficiency the wrong way. The object, usually, is to win battles, not necessarily to kill the largest number of the enemy. Even so, winning the most battles doesn't necessarily win the war.

I'm not sure the army can spend the cost of one fighter jet, because the army doesn't have any. There is the minor problem of inter-service rivalry at play sometimes, but mostly in the form of a competition for limited funds, which may possibly become even more limited.
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Old February 26, 2011, 03:29 PM   #63
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I had an old man tell me once that the only ammo he wanted for his BAR was the black tipped AP ammo. The regular ball didn't penetrate well enough for his liking.

It seems that soldiers were even complaining about .30-06 not being good enough at some point...
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Old February 27, 2011, 02:43 PM   #64
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Add into the mix the fact that today, we are not fighting enemy armies

We are fighting "terrorists", and the tactics and weapons optimised for fighting enemy military units are not always the best one for dealing with the "insurgents".

Quote:
But has anyone ever bothered to calculate how many lives would have been lost by staying with the 308 because soldiers ran out of ammo. Or because they could not shoot it as well.
No one has, or can. The data is non-existant, and even if it were possible to do anything beyond a wild guess, it would be irrelevant anyway. Because each engagement is an individual thing, fought by individual soldiers. Some of whom are going to blast off all their ammo and not hit a thing, regardless of the caliber, while others are going to aim well and hit. And most are going to be somewhere inbetween.

You could ask how many troops did we lose in WWII because we used the .30-06 and not the 5.56mm? The answer would, of course, be all of them, a huger number! But it would have just as much real meaning, in other words, none.

The past hundred+ years of war have tought us that long range accuracy is good, and useful, but not to the point of being worth the cost of trying to get every troop capable of it. Not even worth the cost of getting all the infantry capable of it. The Army has gone in nearly the opposite direction. Giving every solder an automatic rifle, optic sights, small caliber, etc. This makes them easier to shoot rapidly and reasonably accurately. Does it mean each individual round has less power than what we used before? Yes. Does it mean less long range performance? Yes. There is no easy (or even correct) answer. What we have been slowly coming to is what we used to do, a mixture of weapons, so that at least some are opitimsed for what ever conditions present themselves.

Look at a WW II squad. Then at a platoon. You see a mix of weapons, SMGs, M1/M2 carbines, M1 Garands (the odd springfield bolt action) and BARs. Supported by machineguns and light mortars. It worked then, it would work now, and probably better with more modern weapons.

I was serving when the 5.56mm was still a new round for the military, and left when the M16A1 was the pinnicle of developement. I didn't care for it then, and I'm not a big fan now, even though they got about all the bugs out of them, after 40 freakin' years!!!

Those of us around at the time remember that it was the bean counter whiz kids in the MacNamara defense dept. that took the AR-15 that Gen LeMay wanted for his Air Force SPs (to replace their M1 Carbines) and shoved it down the whole DOD's throat, insisting that it was the perfect infantry weapon. It wasn't. It still isn't, but it is better than it was.

Good is the enemy of Best, and the AR rifle and 5.56mm has proven itself "good" enough, it isn't going away, even though there are other things that might be better.
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Old February 28, 2011, 01:19 AM   #65
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LOL, the Army is ALWAYS looking. People hear that they are looking and always seem to assume that means there will be a change soon. Don't hold your breath.
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Old February 28, 2011, 11:46 AM   #66
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The "bugs" weren't in the original design, some budget cutter dropped the chrome lined barrel instituted in the '30's design of the Garand. And the facts were very much on record, more ammo does indeed play a serious part in keeping soldiers alive.

It didn't take 40 years to fix it - it was fixed by 1970. The existing out of spec barrels gone, the repurposed powder eliminated, and the soldiers taught to keep them reasonably serviced. Every soldier would like a caliber and gun that stops them DRT, even the 8mm Mauser won't. Soldiers don't want to balance things out until it's loaded on their back, then reason and common sense come into play. You can't have uber kill calibers, and you don't really need them. What you do need in combat is the ability to do a better job of hitting a target that hides and makes it as difficult as possible, just like you would.

I trained with early M16's, some from the '60's, none gave me any trouble. Problem is, the only ones who get attention are the ones who complain, not the 20 million servicemen and women who have been using one since the production ramp up guns were fixed. They don't have problems with the M16, and the 9 million around the world haven't been given away for free. Governments had their pro's look at them, use them, and then recommend them because they work.

It's not rocket science, but when you study it enough to stop parroting rumor and myth, the facts are really right there. It's not that they are just good enough, nobody has yet made any other better gun for combat use. Those that claim one is largely ignore the fact the M16 is the basis.

Design a gun without a barrel extension, with a new non rail universal optic mounting system, using a cartridge under 2.400" loaded. Don't put any controls where the M16 had them, use a free floated barrel, and for sure don't use DI but still keep it under 7 pounds unloaded.

Nobody bothers, the design elements of the M16 are pirated foward every chance they get - because it's better. It's not all about Direct Impingement, it's the total gun design. Look around, all the new designs are using the M16 as a stepping stone, keeping everything they possibly can, and changing the things they don't understand.
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Old February 28, 2011, 09:35 PM   #67
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Many of the lethality complaints revolve around the bullet and retained velocity. Hornady has recently introduced a 75 grain superformance load for the .223 Remington (http://www.hornady.com/store/223-Rem...ormance-match/). The muzzle velocity of 2930 ft/sec is 140 ft/sec greater than the standard 75 grain match load.

The 140 ft/sec may not seem much, but it is enough to make that bullet reasonably effective out past 400 meters.
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Old February 28, 2011, 10:17 PM   #68
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If only because of the sound involved with the .308, and the need to be in densely populated urban areas, the current 5.56 round is the best round I think. You have to be able to shoot 3 clips then listen to what's going on around you. I doubt you could do that with the .308 nearly as well as with the 5.56. There's alot of talk about the 5.56 not having enough killing power, but it's the same argument some guys make when they say the .243 doesn't have enough killing power for deer. A better caliber might make you feel better, but the real problem is most of the guys in the army can't shoot all that well.
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Old March 1, 2011, 01:29 AM   #69
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The last issue of The American Rifleman had an article addressing this problem.

They are bringing some M-14s out of storage.

It seems that the distances are great in that terrain and a heavier bullet is needed. As probably everyone on this forum knows it's a 308 Win or 7.72x51mm Nato round.

The only draw back as I see it is the extra weight that they have to pack.
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Old March 1, 2011, 01:34 AM   #70
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I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the military has spent too much time and money devloping the M16/M4 family of weapons to suddenly change up for something else.
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Old March 1, 2011, 01:56 AM   #71
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They are bringing some M-14s out of storage.
Past tense. Some were brought out of retirement, and despite the mythology to the contrary, they did a so-so job at best. A lot of units issued them just chucked the things back into CONEX's and left it at that, since a guy with an ACOG and an M4 or M16 can make better hits than an M14 with optics on it.

And it's about hits, as tirod described.
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Old March 2, 2011, 11:20 AM   #72
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They refurbished about 5,000 M14's by adding a bunch of M16 accessories. What they got was about 1 per squad on patrol. That's a supplementary weapon, not a huge reversal spelling out doom for the 100,000 M16's and M4's already in Afghanistan.

The war has already shifted to IED's and urban terrorism. Back to Baghdad for all extents and purposes. We've got Civil Affairs units selling the concept farmers can be free and market food to the urban areas, LEO activities targeting the Taliban drug traders cutting into their income, and lots of experienced command level decisions with literal ground level experience who helped them bust the Soviet Union. We're well aware of what mistakes we shouldn't copy.
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Old March 2, 2011, 02:43 PM   #73
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From article: It will also be determined if the new carbine will use 5.56 mm rounds or 7.62 mm ammunition, said Tamilio.
Hmmm....five years ago I was told it was all over but the shouting, and .27 was to be the new caliber. I just figured that simply meant new uppers for the M4s, but here we are with the same hole-producing M4s. I wish they'd make up their minds, so we could get our hands on all that surplus 5.56 NATO.
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Old March 2, 2011, 06:21 PM   #74
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Quote:
The last issue of The American Rifleman had an article addressing this problem.

They are bringing some M-14s out of storage.
The 1911 folks got all giggly when they found out that the Marines were bringing old 1911s out of storage and about every time one showed up in a deployment image, somebody felt the need to post it.

I think the M-14s have been out for a while. They don't look like they are going to be general issue again.

Here is a SEAL with one in 1991
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SEAL_with_M14.jpg

M21 http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/foru...0&#entry712190

A bunch posted in 2007 http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=6081
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Old March 2, 2011, 06:32 PM   #75
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http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/vid...VR5&FORM=LKVR9

At the ranges these guys are firing, the M-4 won't penetrate soft body armor..... it won't likely even be lethal ..... holdover would be measured in meters, not inches........

I read somewhere awhile back that the initial range of 50% of all engagements in Afghanistan is greater than 500 meters..... making the M-4 pretty much a noisemaker useful for keeping the enemy's attention while supporting fires are called in...... which apears to be what they were doing here.
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