No. The Army Won’t Go Back to 308

I have been getting hammered with inquiries and comments about the Congressional testimony of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on the US Army switching to 7.62 as a standard service round. That in conjunction with the recent DOD RFP for 5.56 caliber alternatives has the gun-geek community pegging the DERP meter.

Here’s the problem: DC is a shit show. And staff officers at the Pentagon giving advice on weapons selections is akin to pencil-necked ESPN anchors telling 300lb linemen how to do their jobs. I acknowledge both are in, “the business”. But recognize no greater disconnect between these two worlds. And the same can be said here.

SCAR-17. Probably the best 308 “battle rifle” ever made. Principally due to light weight and simplicity of design. Good choice as a standard service rifle? Likely not.

So What is Really Going On?

In my opinion, the DOD is engaging in a technology check. What is that you ask? Simple: every decade or so, the government will put out a commercial solicitation for some parameter of new weapon. The usual suspect companies will cobble together some responses and mockups, and when the bean counters discover their proposed new service rifle isn’t a, “Phase-Plasma-Rifle in the 40 Watt Range”, they’ll cancel the program and march on with a AR based 5.56 rifle.

But the gun-blogs and gun-dorks don’t want to tell you that. They get more traction out of dropping, “breaking news” and sensational headlines than giving you sensible analysis. Translation: Click Bait.

Knights SR-25. The gold standard of the AR-10 design? Some say yes. Some say no. While others say the AR doesn’t lend itself well for a high-volume 30 caliber round.

So What is Going to Happen?

Truthfully? Nobody actually knows. I suspect you “might” see some tweaking around the Sniper / DMR platforms caliber wise. And the Army will develop even, “more better” AP 5.56 ammo. That’s about it.

“But…but…but…my buddy who’s Tier 1 call sign was Black Mamba says…”. But nothing. Consider a few interesting data points from US Weapons Procurement History. Or…maybe that’s rewriting of history: The M-14 was actually a failure and was hated by most SME gun folks in the US Military. The F-14 way before Top-Gun was an overcomplicated, flying piece of shit with under-powered engines. The M-16 was a terrible rifle and never would truly replace 30 caliber weapons until it did. The F-4 Phantom was a flying coal furnace with it’s exhaust visible from here to Hanoi. The Stryker system was an outright joke among the armor folks until it proved it’s worth in Iraq. Shall I continue?

What’s the point? No matter what you do, there will ALWAYS be people complaining about X,Y,Z being better than 1,2,3. It’s the nature of military service. Ain’t nobody ever really happy. So keep that in mind whenever you hear anecdotal stories about particular weapons systems. Good or bad.

Example of a M-14 pressed into the DMR role. The rifle basically sucks by today’s standards.

Complaining Isn’t a Reason

Nothing will come of this. Rifle technology hasn’t really progressed beyond where we are at now, service weapon wise. It’s just the gun-dorks don’t want to see it. Instead like ESPN anchors, they are invested in hyping teams over analysis. What has changed is body armor. So put your think’n caps on and riddle me this. Take two as of yet undesigned AP bullets. The only difference is one is 22 caliber at 3100 or more FPS. And the other is 30 caliber at 2500 FPS. Without using some kind of explosive EFP warhead in these rounds, which one has “more potential” for penetration? Physics tells us the 22 does because of increased velocity across a smaller area.

5.56 and 7.62 shot at mild steel. Courtesy US Army May of 2017.

But…but…let’s just say I am dead-ass wrong. Let’s just pretend the Army decided to go back to a “manly” caliber like 7.62×51. Guess what? It’ll be in semi-auto only. Why? Because…again… physics, that’s why. A 30 caliber rifle, lighter in weight than the uncontrollable select-fire M-14? Yeah, giving that a 3 round burst makes all kinds of sense (sarcasm). So…it will be in semi-auto. A semi-auto SCAR-X, BREN-80X, 417 type rifle? All will be right with the world? Yeah! That’s going end the complaining(more sarcasm).

So for the next 30 years, the same people calling for dumping the M4 as it sits today, will be telling us all how 5.56 M4’s were “the best” choice and more appropriate for the future wars in MEGA cities. Dumping it was a mistake. And how the 30 caliber, semi-auto battle rifles that supplanted it were looking backwards to the last war in Afghanistan.

The original M-14. You can tell it’s a M-14 by the small control at the rear of the receiver.

Go Make Your Bed

Gun-Dorks hear what they want to hear. It’s a giant echo-chamber of circle-jerks. Why suddenly wait with baited breath on every word some staff officer in DC utters? Because it fits their agenda, that’s why. We call it, “Selective hearing”. Makes you wonder how many of them actually started making their beds everyday? I mean…Admiral McRaven…DERP…DERP….Navy SEAL…DERP…DERP…make your bed everyday…DERP DERP.

Whatever. It’s a big waste of time. As soon as every “industry professional” starts his day bouncing a quarter off his perfectly made bed, I’ll start taking advice from them about how the DERP-Factory, I mean DOD, REALLY works.

 
Marky
www.John1911.com
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Marky Mark

Marky Mark

Writer at John1911.com
Writer for john1911.com. Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

Latest posts by Marky Mark (see all)

  • What we saw in this hearing was politics, not policy. If a Congressman or Senator brings up a subject, you agree and nod your head.

    —Marky

  • tanstaafl2

    I agree – 7.62×51 is not coming back in a standard infantryman’s rifle. It’s got a place in machine guns and DMR’s (both of which benefit in their roles from 7.62×51’s greater range), but not as something for the regular Joe to use day in and day out. In most cases, full-auto capability on a .308 rifle is just a quick way to waste ammo because you can’t control it. Besides – being able to carry and fire a larger number of .22 caliber rounds better suits the scenarios in which the typical soldier will operate. For those occasional times one DOES need greater range – that’s what the DMR or MG is for.

    • Think about this is worst case scenarios. In the future, the DOD is expecting to NOT dominate airspace like we have for the last 70 years.

      That translates into less help and possibly longer contact times to extricate yourself from contact.

      Think the about the now infamous Black Hawk down incident. How would having less rounds possibly changed the outcome?

      We shot A LOT of people. A lot.

      Marky

  • Scot Prehn

    I think that if i were given the choice, i’d rather carry more rounds for the same weight, or the same rounds for less weight, assuming my role is Rifleman and not some other specialty. I stole this info from interweb so if it’s inaccurate feel free to point out my ignorance (or lack of effort to make a point). Sorry for formatting, it looks OK until i save it, then the formatting disappears.

    Cartridge Cartridge weight Weight of loaded magazine Max. 10 kilogram ammo. load
    7.62×51mm 393 gr (25.4 g) 20 rd mag @ 0.75 kg 13 mags @ 9.7 kg for 280 rds
    .223 Rem 183 gr (11.8 g) 20 rd mag @ 0.32 kg 31 mags @ 9.93 kg for 620 rds
    7.62×39mm 252 gr (16.3 g) 30 rd mag @ 0.82 kg 12 mags @ 9.2 kg for 360 rds

    • 2+2=4. Wether it’s 1960 or 2017. Nothing changes until technology changes.

      Marky

  • MickeyG

    My M-14 (with selector switch) looks just like the pictures, except for being a ’60’s refugee. 🙂

    • Cool. From a gun-library perspective, we’d like to have a GI M-14 on tap. Just for the reference potential.

      Marky

  • guns2317

    But….but….I LOVED the flying coal furnace! Phantoms Phorever ! ! 🙂

  • John Coleman Stewart

    We will get a new caliber, before we go back to across the fire team 308, or we will get a juiced 5.56, with an improved bullet. That b into said, the US Army CoS might get a COTS buy of SCAR 17s, if that’s what will shut him up. A new “intermediate smg and dmr round is being looked at, where have we heard that before? 6.5 and approximately what the Swede has been all along, with a bit lighter bullet. Don’t hold your breath in that either, even if it proves out. Like Markt said, physics favors the smaller frontal area. I still want an M1-A, because it’s a fine rifle and I’d love a SCAR, except the price makes me mildly nauseous. A Weatherby Vanguard in 308 will probably b the ticket for that itch, or I could just go 243, which is a round I really love. Btw: Glock lost its appeal, SIG 320 moves forward.

    • Logically…if they want to carry heavier ammo with less rounds, they will be wise to cut the weight in the rifle.

      I don’t know of any 308 battle rifle (off the top of my head) that is lighter than a SCAR-17. Maybe an unseen BREN?

      AR-10/SR-25 likely would have issues hacking a testing regime.

      But everything I just typed is vapid vomit because this ain’t never going to happen.

      Marky

  • Nick Bryan

    I think overall weapon design has hit a plateau, I think we are better off perusing new bullet technology like careless ammo or telescoping ammo. Something gets the weight down that may make using more powerful bullets more powerful or allows you to carry more 5.56. Mo bullets is mo betta! Anyone that says otherwise has never been in a sustained firefight where you are cross leveling ammo across the fire team/squad/Platoon and having to make every round count. I think staying with 5.56 or maybe moving up to a 6mm-6.5mm round makes sense and maybe adding an extra DMR to the MTOE. But switching back to a .30 cal round for everyone makes no sense. Whatever we had prior to 5.56 is what everyone would be bitching to go back to. If we had .30-30s or .17 cal rifles before 5.56 that’s what they’d be bitching to go back to. I think people tend to remember the “good ole days” a lot more fondly than they actually were. For instance, I’m a Tanker always been on M1’s, mostly M1A2 SEPs and you always some crusty fucker come out of the wood work that says the M60A3 did this or that better. Even though in a fight a Platoon of M1A1s would route a Platoon of M60s…. not even in the same ballpark. Some old AEF (American Expenditionaey Force/WW1) probably said Garands are bullshit and we should go back to 1903s…. let’s try to be more forward thinking and not so quick to retreat backwards.

  • Joshua

    Interesting to read this as I sit here getting information on how the ICSR trials are going.

    • Just like the trials for the AN-12, Comanche helicopter, Sgt. York, NLOS Cannon, USMC’s EFV, the Crusader, the CG(x) cruiser, the XM-25 grenade launcher, Joint service pistol, etc all.

      My point…nothing is adopted or deployed until the fat lady sings.

      Let me add this. The DOD is looking at the future of warfare and realizing that over the next 50-60 years, ground forces are more and more likely to be engaged in ground combat operations in, “mega-cities” but will field a rifle that is meant to engage dirt-billies across Korengal valley distances?

      That is the very definition of retarded and a perfect example of how civilian gun-enthusiasts (nerds) shouldn’t be given too much authority. It’s those same kind of nerds that gave us the 1903 Camp Perry bullshit sights and the USMC M16A4 with that stupid-ass, long, competition, fixed stock.

      If you ever get a chance to watch news footage of Marines doing building searches in Falluja with those stocks, know some gun nerd really fucked those kids.

      Wait and see.

      Marky

      • Joshua

        I agree with you. I will say this I had input on this, as did a lot of people.

        We were ignored across the board.

        My recommendation was to adopt a new rail system and charging handle to compliment the Army’s move to the M4A1, most agreed with me.

        My hopes is that the ICSR ends up failing, or if completed it is pushed through as a M110 replacement, because the CSASS has been defunded so there is a capability gap in regards to the current M110.

        Only time will tell, but this was not what those of us who use these rifles for a living wanted or recommended.