Saturday, October 17, 2009

The AR-15 on Steroids

IN the early years of the Vietnam war, the thinking heads of the Kennedy administration decided that the military needed to upgrade their weapons to a still smaller caliber. The progression has been a long process. During, and immediately after the revolution, there was no true standardization of caliber. Since each weapon was hand crafted, variations in caliber were common, and each soldier carried a bullet mold with him. This practice remained into the (un)Civil War. The earliest weapons often ran to calibers approaching .75, with .72, or 12 gauge being very common. the .50 Kentucky, common among modern rendezvous's was not a popular caliber. Since rifle tech was in its infancy, high chamber pressure was dangerous. therefore, to achieve power, a larger projectile was used. During the Civil War, caliber dropped to .58 for the Springfield rifles as rifling and the Minie ball brought advances to the battle field. Other calibers included the 56-56 Spencer, .577 Enfield .52 Sharps, and a host of others. Improvements meant longer range, increased accuracy, and more power.

Advances immediately after the war brought the Springfield 1873 in 45-70 to the military, and its companion, the 45-55-405 cavalry carbine, famous for its failures at the battle of Greasy Grass.

The next step, and again a step down in caliber was the 30-40 Krag series of Rifles from 1892 to 1907. This was the first round developed for smokeless powder. It was a rimmed cartridge, the last used by the military.

It was replaced beginning in 1903 by the 1903 Springfield in 30-06. The 30-06 and 30-40 were balistically similar, but the design of the 06 case improved function and reliability of the weapon.

The 1903 was supplemented in WW1 by a design called the 1917 which was a modification of the Enfield pattern rifles built under contract by Remington and Winchester for the Brits. This adaptation was a well built weapon and was actually the mainstay for our forces in Europe.

1932 saw the advent of the Garrand. No change in caliber, just an automatic weapon, the first for a battle rifle.

WW2 revealed many shortcoming in the Garrand. They are an awesome piece, but the enbloc clips left much to be desired. Tests showed also that the 30-06 cartridge was far more powerful then was needed for combat. That's their theory anyway. My theory is that if the round does not blow the adversary limb from limb, and kill the nearest soldiers on his flank and rear, shoot him again just to be safe.

The end result of all that testing was the 308, or 7.62x51, a round very similar to the 06, but shorter. Improvements in powder made it balistically equal to the 06.

In 1964 the Army again shrunk the cartridge with the adoption of the M-16 and its companion M193/m196 round. This dropped the caliber again to 5.56mm or .223 inches. This change had advantages and disadvantages. One advantage was the amount of ammo a grunt could carry. 210 rounds became the standard load, seven thirty round mags.

The M-16 served for well over 40 years despite its short comings. Army tacticians had determined that the limited range and reduced power were not disadvantages. the theory was that a wounded enemy removed three soldiers from the Field of battle as two were needed to carry their buddy to medical aide. Wounding was also for some strange reason deemed humane. I say well, see comment above.
The fighting in Afghanistan has brought a renewed approach to the age old argument. Given the battle field conditions seen in Afghanistan, it became clear that a round with better range and power was again needed.
Enter the 6.8 Special Purpose Cartridge. Using a round very similar to the 5.56 NATO Remington was able to deliver increased punch in the same package. Bullet weight jumps from 69 grains to 115 grains. This resulted in a jump of nearly 25% in energy.
Field tests in actual combat proved this cartridge to be worthy. troops I have met who have used it in combat say it is a most effective round. Also note that the military has significantly faster rounds then what Remington offers online.
Tonight's offering is an Olympic Arms rendition in the 6.8 SPC caliber. It sports a BSA cats eye scope which is a low light illuminated reticule in 3.5-10 power. This is one of my collection of AR-15s. We can call this the Might Mattel on steroids.


Diogenes said...

You know, it's been pretty well documented in psychiatry circles that guys who obsess over large rifles have, shall we say, small derringers in their pants. Compensation, they call it.

Maybe you should contact a local mental health professional and see if you can score some grant money, as they study you to confirm that theory.

Diogenes said...

When one feels a need to post cheesecake photos of one's firepower and extoll its virtues, there's more than a few screws loose at the Redneck Ranch.

As for the "large" reference, it was a reaction to the "steroids" braggadocia i the title. But you make a good point: prolonged steroid use will shrink one's testicles, which may offer yet another angle on where the Redneck is coming (or not coming) from.