Army begins shipping improved 5.56mm cartridge

pardus

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PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (June 23, 2010) -- The Army announced today it has begun shipping its new 5.56mm cartridge, the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, to support warfighters in Afghanistan.

The new M855A1 round is sometimes referred to as "green ammo."

The new round replaces the current M855 5.56mm cartridge that has been used by U.S. troops since the early 1980s.

The M855A1 resulted in a number of significant enhancements not found in the current round, officials said. They explained these include improved hard-target capability, more dependable, consistent performance at all distances, improved accuracy, reduced muzzle flash and a higher velocity.

During testing, the M855A1 performed better than current 7.62mm ball ammunition against certain types of targets, blurring the performance differences that previously separated the two rounds.

The projectile incorporates these improvements without adding weight or requiring additional training.

According to Lt. Col. Jeffrey K. Woods, the program's product manager, the projectile is "the best general purpose 5.56mm round ever produced."

Woods said its fielding represents the most significant advancement in general purpose small caliber ammunition in decades.

The Enhanced Performance Round contains an environmentally-friendly projectile that eliminates up to 2,000 tons of lead from the manufacturing process each year in direct support of Army commitment to environmental stewardship.

Woods said the effort is a clear example of how "greening" a previously hazardous material can also provide extremely beneficial performance improvements.

Picatinny Arsenal's Project Manager for Maneuver Ammunition Systems manages the M855A1 program.

Project Manager Chris Grassano called the fielding "the culmination of an Army enterprise effort by a number of organizations, particularly the Army Research Laboratory, Armament Research Development and Engineering Center, Program Executive Office for Ammunition and the Joint Munitions Command.

"The Army utilized advanced science, modeling and analysis to produce the best 5.56mm round possible for the warfighter," he said.

The M855A1 is tailored for use in the M-4 weapon system but also improves the performance of the M-16 and M-249 families of weapons.

A true general-purpose round, the M855A1 exceeds the performance of the current M855 against the many different types of targets likely to be encountered in combat.

Prior to initial production, the EPR underwent vigorous testing. Official qualification of the round consisted of a series of side-by-side tests with the current M855.

Overall, the Army fired more than 1 million rounds to ensure the new cartridge met or exceeded all expectations. The M855A1 is without question the most thoroughly tested small caliber round ever fielded, Woods said.

The Army has recently completed the Limited Rate Initial Production phase for the M855A1 and is beginning the follow-on full rate production phase where plans are to procure more than 200 millions rounds over the next 12-15 months.

The M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round is the first environmentally-friendly bullet resulting from a larger "greening" effort across the Army's Small Caliber Ammunition programs. Other greening efforts include 5.56mm tracer, 7.62mm ball and green primers.

Soldiers in Afghanistan will begin using the new, improved round this summer.

http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/06/23/41283-army-begins-shipping-improved-556mm-cartridge/

Sounds great, particularly interested in the statement I made bold saying it performed better than a 7.62X51
 
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8'Duece

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Maybe they'll start letting the civvies have their M855 at a steep discount. :D


I am glad to hear that there is an improvement in the ammuntion, but it begs the question of if they should move to a slightly larger caliber or use more devasting ammunition (hollowtip or hollow point) not ammunition that is Green safe. :rolleyes:
 

pardus

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I seem to recall that there is a hollow tip bullet being issued to snipers...?

It is legal because the hollow tip is designed for accuracy not devastation.

The round is both more accurate and more devastating.

A Win, Win! :cool:
 
8

8'Duece

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I don't want ammunition to punch through cinder blocks I want it to expand, tumble, explode and leave an exit wound as big as the target's head. :D

One shot, center of mass, and you've got a whole plate of red, white and blue meat all over the street.
 

pardus

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Anyone know what these "certain types of targets" were? Seeing a 5.56 punching through most things better than a Nato 7.62 is something I'd like to see!

I could easily imagine tissue being one of those things.

I'm a big fan of the NATO 7.62 but it has it's down sides too.
 

AWP

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What's the weight of the round?

And I can see 5.56 performing better than 7.62 at certain things and under certain parameters and desired results (wound cavity for example). For example, I'd bet that 5.56 performs better than 7.62 at close distances like those found in rooms and certain urban settings whereas once the range increases the 7.62 comes into its own and outshines the 5.56.
 

The91Bravo

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In a van, down by the river...
I seem to recall that there is a hollow tip bullet being issued to snipers...?

It is legal because the hollow tip is designed for accuracy not devastation.

The round is both more accurate and more devastating.

A Win, Win! :cool:

P,
It is not really a hollow point, but simply a small void where the round was rolled to a point then trimmed. The M118LR (7.62 NATO) has a 175 grain Sierra Boat Tail Hollow Point.
 

pardus

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What's the weight of the round?.

From the article...
The projectile incorporates these improvements without adding weight

P,
It is not really a hollow point, but simply a small void where the round was rolled to a point then trimmed. The M118LR (7.62 NATO) has a 175 grain Sierra Boat Tail Hollow Point.

Thanks for that. On impact it does act as a hollow point correct?
 

AWP

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Thank you, Pardus. When I read it I was looking for a number. When I re-read it I looked for a number. Journalists are supposed to print lies and numbers to make it easier to understand their point. :D
 

pardus

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Thank you, Pardus. When I read it I was looking for a number. When I re-read it I looked for a number. Journalists are supposed to print lies and numbers to make it easier to understand their point. :D

LOL, you know what, so was I! I honestly don't know what the weight of the current round is... I was hoping you or someone else would.
 

Cabbage Head

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Thanks for that. On impact it does act as a hollow point correct?

No it doesnt. It is a wonderful target round. The down side is it flies right through the target too and if its flesh and blood, it goes on until it hits something (or someone) and is eventually stoped.

This is one reason why LEO shooters are more and more switching from this type of round and moving towards something that has good penetration and expansion (kinda like Hornady TAP).
 
8

8'Duece

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With the ranges and type of terrain our troops are fighting in A-stan, I would think the Army would have sent....

MK262
http://www.gunsandammo.com/content/black-hills-mk-262-mod-1

or

MK318
http://accurateshooter.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/usmc-adopts-new-open-tip-sost-5-56-ammo/

The Mk262 has a proven combat track record. Why not just issue it ? 77 grain BTHT. Case closed, great ammo, but no ? :uhh:

Oh, that would be too easy and some politician that is in bed with the ammo manufacturer wouldn't get his pork bill that was added to another bill signed into law. :rolleyes:
 

Diamondback 2/2

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So help me out here, is the M855 another name for the SS109 round?

M855 is the round, SS109 is the type of bullet (i.e. 62gr Steel penatrator).

M193 is still in use, but it's hardly effective with out a slower twist rate. It was kind of like the AK74, in the effect that the slow twist rate (1/12) matched with M193 would cause the bullet to tumble once it struck something. The down fall was that the distance was limited to effective at 300m, where the Army and USMC wanted greater range and the ability to punch through walls and some forms of cover. The M855 was developed for this and the M856 (tracer) was also matched up with a 1/7 twist rate barrel. The 1/7 was picked over the 1/8 and 1/9 due to the M856 round needing a faster twist rate. Thus giving the M16(A2) the effective range of 500+m.

The sad part is the barrel twist was selected on a tracer round that is hardly to be used in the rifle. If they would have said fuck the tracer and gone with a 1/8 or 1/9 twist matched with a 55gr to 77gr match bullet we would have gotten the distance needed and they could have developed a special AP round for punching through cover.

Personally I think the best match up for Infantry type units would be the current issue M4 with MK262 Mod 1, punching through walls and cover can be done with MG's (AP round) and M203's (HEDP). Kind of the whole don't drive a screw with a hammer deal (right tool for the job).

As for the SOF side I would not know what would work good for them, but I would guess they would need the best of all worlds in a small package (multiple round selection).
 

Diamondback 2/2

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One other thing, the histroy that you posted is not right.

Mainly here

M855 NATO 5.56mm ball cartridge: Introduced as a replacement for the M193 cartridge, the M855 fires a heavier projectile with greater accuracy. While the cartridge was designed to be fired from the newer heavy barreled M-16A2 assault rifle and M-4 carbine (each of which has a 1 in 7 twist barrel) it may be fired out of older M-16 models without severe degradation of accuracy. The M855 can be identified by its green painted tip.

If you fire the M855 through a 1/10 twist or higher (like the M16A1 1/12) the round is only effective to 90m and tumbles as soon as it leaves the muzzle.

From FM3-22.9 Chapter 2

2-11. AMMUNITION TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS
This paragraph provides information on different types of standard military ammunition used in the M16-/M4-series weapons (Figure 2-42). Use only authorized ammunition manufactured to U.S. and NATO specifications. (Figures 2-43 through 2-47 show ammunition trajectory data.)

a. Cartridge, 5.56-mm, Ball, M193. The M193 cartridge is a center-fire cartridge with a 55-grain, gilded metal-jacketed, lead alloy core bullet. The M193 round is the standard cartridge for field use with the M16A1 rifle and has no identifying marks (1, Figure 2-42).

b. Cartridge, 5.56-mm, Tracer, M196. (Used in the M16A1 rifle) The M196 cartridge has a red or orange painted tip (2, Figure 2-42). Its main uses are for observation of fire, incendiary effect, and signaling. Soldiers should avoid long-term use of 100 percent tracer rounds, which could cause deposits of incendiary material, or chemical compounds that could damage the barrel. Therefore, when tracer rounds are fired, they are mixed with ball ammunition in a ratio of no greater than one-to-one with a preferred ratio of three or four ball rounds to one tracer round.

c. Cartridge, 5.56-mm, Dummy, M199. (Used in all rifles.) The M199 dummy cartridge is used during dry firing and other training (3, Figure 2-42). This cartridge can be identified by the six grooves along the sides of the case beginning about 1/2 inch from its tip. It contains no propellant or primer. The primer well is open to prevent damage to the firing pin.

d. Cartridge, 5.56-mm, Blank, M200. (Used in all rifles.) The M200 blank cartridge has no projectile. The case mouth is closed with a seven-petal rosette crimp and shows a violet tip (4, Figure 2-42).

e. Cartridge, 5.56-mm, Ball, M855. (Used in the M16A2/3/4 and M4-series weapons.) The M855 cartridge has a 62-grain, gilded metal-jacketed, lead alloy core bullet with a steel penetrator. The primer and case are waterproof. This round is also linked and used in the M249. It has a green tip (5, Figure 2-42). This ammunition should not be used in the M16A1 except under emergency conditions, and only at targets less than 90 meters in distance. (The twist of the M16A1 rifling is not sufficient to stabilize the heavier projectile of the round).

f. Cartridge, 5.56-mm, Tracer, M856. (Used in the M16A2/3/4 and M4-series weapons.) The M856 tracer cartridge has characteristics similar to the M196 tracer with a slightly longer tracer burnout distance. This cartridge has a 63.7-grain bullet. The M856 does not have a steel penetrator. It has a red tip (orange when linked 4 to 1 for the M249) (6, Figure 2-42). This ammunition should not be used in the M16A1 except under emergency conditions, and only at targets less than 90 meters in distance. (The twist of the M16A1 rifling is not sufficient to stabilize the projectile of the heavier ammunition).

g. Cartridge, 5.56-mm Short-Range Training Ammunition (SRTA), M862. (Used in all rifles.) The M862 SRTA (7, Figure 2-42) is designed exclusively for training. It can be used in lieu of service ammunition on indoor ranges and by units that have a limited range fan that does not allow the firing of service ammunition. SRTA ammunition must be used with the M2 training bolt.

(1) Although SRTA closely replicates the trajectory and characteristics of service ammunition out to 25 meters, it should not be used to set battle sight zero of weapons to fire service ammunition. The settings that are placed on the sights for SRTA could be different for service ammunition.

(2) If adequate range facilities are not available for sustainment training, SRTA can be used for any firing exercise of 25 meters or less. This includes the 25-meter scaled silhouette, 25-meter alternate qualification course, and quick-fire training. SRTA can also be used for Urban Operations training. (See Appendix A for use of SRTA in training.)
 
8

8'Duece

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If your looking to purchase the M855 ammunition it is listed as "Lake City SS109 62 grain 5.56mm"

It is also has the green tip.
 
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