Generational Mistakes

What is it about the .dotmil that it hasn’t been able to field a proper battle rifle since 1942?  (In case anyone’s missing my point, that would have been the M1 Garand.)

Now I’m not going to fall into that “they could still use that today without too much problem” trope (although they could, in a pinch);  getting the best-available rifle for whatever the technology can produce at the time is a laudable goal.

But right out of the gate, the U.S. Army has fucked it up since WWII.  Yes, soldiers needed to be able to carry more ammo — but did anyone of sound mind think the best plan for that goal would be in reducing the weight of the ammo by shifting to a .22-caliber bullet?

What gets up my nose is that the answer, even back then, was quite clear:  drop from a .30 bullet to, say, a .275-grain bullet — lighter than a .30, not as light as a .223, but still wonderfully effective against human targets.  Flat-shooting cartridges had been achieved before, when armies moved from the ~11mm- or .4x bullet to a 7mm/.30 bullet.  (Even that was not far enough;  back then the .dotmil wanted maximum punch from their bullets and the 7mm/.30 certainly did that.)

Funnily enough, the Brits came closest when they suggested a .276-caliber bullet, after the Great War, but the U.S. was still wedded to the .30, so thence to the .308/7.62mm which was shorter and lighter than the .30-06, but not enough.  With the .22 bullet, though, not only would the ammo be lighter but the “platform” (what used to be less-pretentiously called the “rifle”) could also be much lighter than the weighty Garand and M-14, and hence the Mattel plastic M-16 / M4 / M-whatever they call it now.

Leaving the cartridge aside for the moment, the next wave was the fascination with geegaws that would supposedly make infantrymen more effective: red-dot scopes instead of iron sights, flashlights and so one.

I have no quibbles with this development, mind you.  Modern dot-scopes are far better than iron sights, as long as battery life is not an issue.

The issue with these new mil-specs for the battle rifle is that the things become more complicated both to operate and to manufacture.  No problem with the latter, of course, because we’re Americans, and with proper equipment training (at which our .dotmil excels, by the way), the first issue becomes likewise moot.

No;  the real problem comes when the people who are drawing up the mil-spec requirements get carried away, and start adding features to both cartridge and rifle of ever-increasing ambition and scope.

Which is what we face today with the latest “generation” of battle rifles, which quite frankly has become a cluster-fuck of absolutely epic proportions, where ambition and wishful thinking have combined to grind the gears to a complete halt.

On all key technical measures, the Next Generation Squad Weapons program is imploding before Army’s very eyes. The program is on mechanical life support, with its progenitors at the Joint Chiefs obstinately now ramming the program through despite spectacularly failing multiple civilian-sector peer reviews almost immediately upon commercial release. 

Civilian testing problems have, or should have, sunk the program already. The XM-5/7 as it turns out fails a single round into a mud test. Given the platform is a piston-driven rifle it now lacks gas, as the M-16 was originally designed, to blow away debris from the eject port. Possibly aiming to avoid long-term health and safety issues associated with rifle gas, Army has selected an operating system less hardy in battlefield environments. A choice understandable in certain respects, however, in the larger scheme the decision presents potentially war-losing cost/benefit analysis. 

The new bullet is a waste of time:

The slight increase in ballistic coefficiency between the 6.8x51mm and 7.62x51mm cartridges neither justified the money pumped into the program nor does the slight increase in kinetic energy dumped on target. Itself a simple function of case pressurization within the bastardized 7.62mm case. Thus the net mechanical results of the program design-wise is a rifle still chambered in a 7.62×51 mm NATO base case (as the M-14), enjoying now two ways to charge the weapon and a folding stock.

…and we’re not even going to talk about the scope:

Another problem is the weapon sight. The Vortex XM-157, which may have critical components made in China, is most definitely not an ‘auto-aiming’ sight. For guaranteed hits, the shooter still must manually ‘ping’ the target. This takes back usable seconds and makes shooting 100% accurately on the fly, as envisioned under the program to justify the reduced available round count, an utter pipe dream. The scope is otherwise a normal scope.

And the conclusion:

Starting from a highly dubious intellectual, strategic and tactical baseline, the NGSW program is now failing mechanically and ballistically at once. Army came out hard with the program’s aims and expectations, unreasonably so, practically declaring a War on Physics from the outset. Unfortunately, like so many other antecedent programs Army has lost the war again, badly. In terms of weight, recoil, durability and ballistics, expectations vs reality are crashing down on Army right now, hard.

I don’t claim to be a military firearms expert,  but even I can tell a horrowshow fuckup when I see one.

What I can see is that the answer to the cartridge issue is simple:  6.5×40-something mm, e.g. the 6.5 Creedmoor.  (As a traditionalist, I’d say the 6.5x55mm Swede is superior in every respect to the Creedmoor except length — but action length is a big deal, so the Creed is a better option.)  What I haven’t seen is a rationale for why the U.S. Army hasn’t adopted a 6.5mm bullet, and is now pushing for a 6.8mm one (almost, once again, something akin to a .30 bullet, long since discarded).  Why?

Here’s what I do know.  The current procurement cock-up is going to end with our kids using a next-generation junk rifle (just like they had to do with the original Armalite, and the Brits had to endure with their first-generation SA-80).  We’re better than that, and our kids deserve better than that.

As for the Army procurement staff, they deserve a collective kick in the ass.

What About “Follow The Science”?

Apparently, there hasn’t been enough study of the WuFlu for the DOD to change its policy:

A top Biden defense official on Tuesday during a House hearing rejected a leading medical journal’s recent conclusion that immunity is as effective as vaccination.

“Right now, natural immunity is not something that we believe in for this,” Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros said.

This, as opposed to back in 2021 when there were ZERO studies, but everyone just had to trust Big Pharma and ingest whatever snake oil they threw at us, or be fired / arrested / banned.

Here’s the “science” he’s ignoring:

Cisnero’s remarks ignore The Lancet’s analysis earlier this month on immunity. After an extensive review of 65 scientific studies, the journal concluded that immunity is “at least equivalent if not greater than that provided by two-dose mRNA vaccines.”

The journal furthermore suggested that future policies for workers “should take into account immunity conferred by vaccination and that provided by natural infection.”

Of course, given that most “reputable” medical opinion at the time was that “we’re all gonna diiieeeee unless you get jabbed!”, some would actually call for at least a little skepticism, but that’s true of all medical studies.

Remember when salt was the Big Killer?  And red meat?  Now, not so much — at least, until the next study is released.  In the meantime, watch your ass.

A plague on all their houses.

Gun Smoke

…as in, blowing smoke up our ass.  Here’s a breathless little piece which, after careful reading, sounds like the kind of scam you would expect from a Nigerian con man:

Has the next generation rifle already arrived?

My immediate take is: no.  Not even close.  Not when you see puffery like this:

The Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) efforts have resulted in multiple, unique 6.8 mm cartridge designs. Each of the companies involved has tried to develop a solution to the Army’s reported desire to penetrate modern, peer-level body armor far beyond close-combat ranges. The selections of SIG Sauer’s 6.8×51 mm hybrid-case ammunition, XM5 carbine and XM250 light machine gun as solutions have been met with both fanfare and skepticism. While the velocities that are reported for the 6.8×51 mm, and its .277 SIG Fury commercial counterpart, seem to generate the most excitement, this cartridge’s projectile energy is likely to be the main driver of the DOD’s interest. 

According to SIG’s published numbers, its hybrid steel-and-brass cartridge case allows chamber pressures to reach a whopping 80,000 psi. Subsequently, its 150-grain projectile is reported to leave a 16-inch barrel at 2,830 fps with 2,667 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy. Running those numbers through a ballistic program shows that SIG’s loads should fly flatter and hit much harder than anything used in current battle rifle and light machine gun designs, including 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. loads, out past 1,000 meters.

Long experience in examining the .dotmil’s record in tinkering around with this issue makes me think they’re still in the “oh what if” and “wouldn’t it be nice if” stages — wishful thinking, in other words — and even so there’s this little warning sign:

Pushing a bullet faster so that it will fly flatter and hit harder is one thing. Doing it without rapidly burning out barrels or prematurely wearing out other parts has proven difficult with several past attempts to achieve game-changing muzzle velocities.

Yeah, that bastard Newton enters the fray again.  But all is well:

One bit of reassurance on barrel wear concerns comes from a reliable source within SIG, who told me the special material technology used in their 6.8 barrels can hold up to this high pressure cartridge.

Oh, well then we don’t have anything to worry about, do we?  Manufacturers never lie about this kind of thing, especially when there’s a multi-billion dollar military contract dangling in the wind.

No doubt, their “special material techology” will be super-inexpensive too, cheaper than the current steel even.

Just think:  if the US Army had adopted the superb .280 British (actually 7.2x43mm, or .284 in Murkin) cartridge back in the late 1940s, we’d still be fielding it — but no, we had to go to the 7.62×51 which was oops too powerful and then over-correcting with the .223 which was oops too underpowered.  Ever since then, the Army has been fucking around trying to find ammo’s Holy Grail — and I have to say that based on what I can see, the 6.8x51mm isn’t going to The One.  (FFS:  .277 SIG “Fury”?  Better ammo through marketing?)

It’s like watching a kid with learning issues trying to fit the multi-shaped sticks into the proper slots:

So, to answer the headline’s question, the answer is…


Our Leaders

Two different takes on the people who purport to be our nation’s leaders, first a global view from VDH:

As the nation sinks inexplicably into self-created crisis after crisis, debate rages whether Joe Biden is incompetent, mean-spirited, or an ideologue who feels the country’s mess is his success.

A second national discussion revolves around who actually is overseeing the current national catastrophe, given Joe Biden’s frequent bewilderment and cognitive challenges.

But one area of agreement is the sheer craziness of Biden’s cabinet appointments, who have translated his incoherent ideology into catastrophic governance.

The common denominator to these Biden appointees is ideological rigidity, nonchalance, and sheer incompetence.

They seem indifferent to the current border, inflation, energy, and crime disasters. When confronted, they are unable to answer simple questions from Congress, or they mock anyone asking for answers on behalf of the strapped American people.

We don’t know why or how such an unimpressive cadre ended up running the government, only that they are here and the American people are suffering from their presence.

And then a local perspective from Kurt:

The clusterfark in Uvalde is just a symptom of a much bigger pathology. It is a symbol of the failure of every institution in our society. And the solution is never to revamp the institutions and eject the parasites heading them. It’s always – always – to take power from us and give it to the people who screwed up in the first place.

November 2022 can’t come quickly enough (and we need November 2024 to come even more quickly) so we can get rid of these lying, incompetent and corrupt assholes at federal, state and local level.

There are quicker ways, mind you, but I’m not going to go there.

In The Air Again

With only a few exceptions, anyone who knows anything about history and aviation has respect (at worst) and love for the extraordinary De Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber-reconnaissance airplane.

As a number of my Readers fall into the history/aviation dork genus, here’s an hour or so of the restoration of a Mozzie.  I loved every minute of it.

Even better, in Canada (????).  Brilliant stuff.