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This is only a small part of the story, though. The inclusion of XM8 into the testing is very telling. The XM8 program was canceled because the gun wouldn't function to the Army's expectations. At the same time this was happening, H&K developed the HKM4 (which is now the 416) but certain people within the Army command structure actually tried to prevent the HKM4 from reaching military hands. Why? Because there was a fear that the simpler, less expensive HMM4 would outshine the XM8 ... and too many people's careers were tied to XM8.



For example, HK was convinced not to submit the HKM4 for the SOCOM "SCAR" test, but instead submitted the XM8 even though SOCOM had indicated they did not want the XM8 and didn't consider it suitable for their needs. There are quite a few folks who believe the 416 would have walked away with the SCAR contract if only H&K had submitted it.



I'd also guess -- and this is just speculation -- that some of what we're seeing is a backlash to earlier cries by Colt that too many units were buying 416's with emergency discretionary money rather than going through existing contracts for M4s ( = Colt) or going to competition. The result is that the Army put a stop to much (though not all) of the H&K 416 proliferation within the US Military.
 

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Disagree that a new round is needed. Most of the claims that the 5.56 is ineffective have been traced back to misses, not inadequate hits. It's a lot like the clamor for a .45 ... people assume it's just better and why not complain about your gear when you're stuck in a war zone and the perception is that it's not good enough? I don't blame the troops. But I do blame the people who should be doing a better job informing the troops rather than let them crawl into their cots every night with low confidence in their fighting equipment.



Both green tip and the 77 OTM have been very successful when they hit people in the upper chest.



It's funny, so many people in the military think the 5.56mm is inadequate while U.S. law enforcement is absolutely thrilled with its performance. I sat in on an after action report a few years back where a BG shot in the ankle by an M4 was described as being "completely incapable of continuing aggressive action."




And a 20" AR-style rifle runs pretty well, even in dusty environments. It's the tacti-cool need to shave five and a half inches (or eight and a half, or ten!) off the front of the gun that results in both reduced reliability and reduced terminal effectiveness. While certainly there are some specific units performing specific missions that need shorter carbines, the general issue of M4s is, in my opinion, fueled by (a) politics and (b) a desire among the rank-and-file to have the same gear as the ninjas.
 

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Dude ... thanks for the chest beating. Nope, never been a "grunt" in combat. I rely on the expertise of the SOF folks I talk to all the time who have had great success, and the people at military R&D facilities that have collected the info I mentioned above. You might notice, btw, that with all the talk of switching rifles it's still going to be 5.56mm.



But thanks for the kind words.




edited to add: I remember five years ago when a certain Army unit came to us (I was at SIG at the time) telling us that the 6.8mm was a done deal and we had to develop our rifle in that caliber if we were ever going to have a chance selling rifles to the military. Five years later ... I'm happy to say we saw what was really going on and decided not to waste the money.
 

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synergy said:
To be serious, though...talk to enough .50 gunners, and you'll find someone who can tell you about someone who needed a second hit from a .50BMG to go down for good.


Really off-topic, but this line reminded me of something I heard from an FBI SWAT guy a couple years back: "We use the .45 because even a near miss will knock a guy down." I swear it's true, he said that.



I don't doubt that there are people who get hit by M193 or M855 or even Mk262 and keep fighting. It's the suggestion that "if only the bullet had been a little heavier/faster/whatever" that magically the same exact guy, shot in the same exact place, would have turned into a puff of pink mist that I just can't rationalize.



A friend of mine ran an experiment for an Army research lab related to the need for better range and rangefinding on the M4. They brought soldiers in who were back from the battlezone and had them do range estimates. It was very informal, sitting in a windowed office and asking them to identify how far away a car was in the parking lot, or how far away the next building over was, etc. What they discovered is that the soldiers were regularly guestimating 50-150% more distance than actually existed. So people were taking, for example, a 600m hold on a target that was less than 300m away ... and therefore shooting over their heads.
 
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