The back and forth over the ineffectiveness of the 5.56 M855 cartridge hit the AP wire yesterday
As Sgt. Joe Higgins patrolled the streets of Saba al-Bor, a tough town north of Baghdad, he was armed with bullets that had a lot more firepower than those of his 4th Infantry Division buddies.
As an Army sniper, Higgins was one of the select few toting an M14. The long-barreled rifle, an imposing weapon built for wars long past, spits out bullets larger and more deadly than the rounds that fit into the M4 carbines and M16 rifles that most soldiers carry.
“Having a heavy cartridge in an urban environment like that was definitely a good choice,” says Higgins, who did two tours in Iraq and left the service last year. “It just has more stopping power.”
Strange as it sounds, nearly seven years into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bullets are a controversial subject for the U.S.
The smaller, steel-penetrating M855 rounds continue to be a weak spot in the American arsenal. They are not lethal enough to bring down an enemy decisively, and that puts troops at risk, according to Associated Press interviews.
And on it goes from there. Just about everyone without a financial stake in retaining the 5.56 knows and admits that the cartridge is inadequate for the task and wants something at least 6.5mm in diameter, depending on their personal preference.
But, rearming a military the size of ours is something so damn huge that apparently no one wants to deal with it. It is truly sad that it is that way, but government is problematic, US army administration, moreso.
In the latter half of this article, I suppose for “objectivity” reasons, the AP includes part of an interview from a pro-5.56 former combat surgeon.
Dr. Martin Fackler, a former combat surgeon and a leading authority on bullet injuries, said the problem is the gun, not the bullet. The M4 rifle has a 14.5 inch barrel — too short to create the velocity needed for an M855 bullet to do maximum damage to the body.
“The faster a bullet hits the tissue, the more it’s going to fragment,” says Fackler. “Bullets that go faster cause more damage. It’s that simple.”
Before I get to the big reason I linked to this story, I would just like to point out that the good doctor here seems to be exaggerating just a bit. All things relative, a .17 Fireball is not going to do the damage of the standard 7.62.
But back to my main point of contention: I have heard exactly the opposite from what the doctor is saying on this particular branch of the discussion. That the shorter barrel reduces the velocity, slowing the projectile down just enough that it will actually stay within the body of the target and deliver the full energy load to said target instead of delivering the 50-60% of a through and through hit.
To a man, the folks who’ve been on the ground that I’ve spoken with have even gone so far as to request that if they cannot have a 7.62 rifle, then they want the 14.5in carbine.
Am I the only one who has heard/experienced this?
Found at Uncle’s