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  • #5795
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Not that I wish to make anyone sick with jealousy or anything, but as part of my new job I attended the Shrivenham symposium on Small Arms and Cannon last week. There was a range day in the middle of the symposium, in which I had a go at firing machine guns for the first time in 30 years — an MG-4 and a Vickers — and had my first experience of a 5.56mm weapon, as well as the rather kickier 7.92mm Mauser. And I note with approval that a powerful conspiracy of members of the Queen’s and PWRRs continues to infiltrate all aspects of the UK’s work on dismounted close combat.

    But the point is, I have also seen what I think is the future of infantry weapons, and, when I say infantry weapons, I mostly mean LMGs. The presenters were all too sensible to make the sort of silly claim one hears in other parts of defence, where it is routinely claimed, without evidence, that technology is advancing at such a pace that it is dragging the blood to the back of our heads. More than one person pointed out that it’s a bit difficult to make such a claim in the area of small arms, where some perfectly respectable cartridges are well over half a centiry old, and some over the century.

    There were also too many wise old birds to be bothered to reprise the 5.56 vs 7.62 argument, although there seemed to be what I thought was a distinctly dodgy undercurrent of favouring accurate mag-fed automatics over proper belt-fed guns. Some people in the defence procurement system seem determined to show that the LSW (a routine procurement) is a better weapon than the Minimi (procured as a UOR), hence a graph showing “proportion of effective rounds fired” rather than effective rounds per unit time.

    Anyhow, getting slowly to the point, there seem to be a number of advances in materials science and manufacturing methods that will make the LMG (which I hope will be belt fed) of the future a rather more elegant beast than we now have. It will still be a bullet-chucker, probably in something like 6.5 Grendel if prevailing expert opinion is heeded, instead of procurement being driven by politics again.

    The first factor is the advent of lightweight polymer cartridges robust enough to be used in belts. Those of you who recall the H&K G11 will remember that caseless cartridges never really caught on, because the copper cartidge case does two important jobs; obturation of the breech, and carrying away waste heat when ejected. A caseless weapon would have to achieve praeternaturally good obturation, while handling all the waste heat from cartridges fired. Polymer cases can do the obturation job as well, and, having low thermal conductivity, won’t actually absorb or transmit that much heat — it will go into propelling the round up the barrel instead. Polymer cases and belt links will be much lighter for the same performance than those made of brass or steel.

    The extra oomph behind the bullet can be used in several ways — more velocity, a heavier bullet, or a reduced charge for the same speed and weight. Modern bullet design permits long bullet shapes — sink ’em well back into the case if you must — with excellent form factors, which retain their velocity well; and hard steel cores offer good barrier penetration and body armour defeat without compromising squidgy-target lethality unduly.

    Of course, the heat has to go somewhere, and a lot will be deposited in the barrel. The technology newest to me was that of flowform manufacture of barrels — a high-precision cold-forming process that can be used with superalloys that have astonishing thermal properties. At the moment the barrels will be no lighter than existing models, but there will be no need for quick-change barrels, as the superalloy barrels continue to function, without loss of accuracy, at insanely high temperatures. Mention was made of trials firing through a superalloy GPMG barrel that showed no detectable wear after a firing cycle that took a conventional barrel to its condemning limit of wear. Of course, the gunners are going to have to be jolly careful not to touch the barrel, but essentially the cooling problem has been solved by not bothering to cool the barrel at all. This saves the weight of the spare barrel and the quick-release mechanism (and avoids the risk of dashing off to your new fire position holding just the barrel, as I did with (or rather without) a Bren on one occasion).

    So, the future LMG will I think be recognisably the same sort of beast as its predecessors over the past century. However, it will have a substantially lighter (several kilos) overall system weight, while offering performance at least as good and usually better than existing rounds in almost all aspects of precision, consistency, range, barrier penetration and effect on human targets. How much more will it cost? Not a lot. The flowform process looks set fair to be cost and weight neutral, the improved bullet designs are all cost neutral, and though polymer cases aren’t there yet, there is no reason they should not be cost neutral or cheaper. Any extra money you want to spend should be on one of a variety of optics that were on display. (I’m sure the no-parallax red dot sights are great once you’re used to them, but I have a horrible feeling that I did some of my more accurate shooting of the day with the iron sights on the Gew-98 — new-fangled guns just don’t feel right to me).

    All the best,

    John.

    #5796
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Thanks very much for that John, very interesting.

    One question occurs though: if the round is going to be that effective at penetrating body armour, will Western countries actually want to develop this and sell it widely?

     

    there seemed to be what I thought was a distinctly dodgy undercurrent of favouring accurate mag-fed automatics over proper belt-fed guns. Some people in the defence procurement system seem determined to show that the LSW (a routine procurement) is a better weapon than the Minimi (procured as a UOR), hence a graph showing “proportion of effective rounds fired” rather than effective rounds per unit time.

    I think Jim Storr makes the case for the LSW here https://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Real_Role_of_Small_Arms_RDS_Summer_09.pdf ,whilst the basis of the refutation and preference for an MG34-derivative LMG comes from the weapon push/weapon pull/effects of cohesion on suppression ideas outlined in Brains and Bullets.  Iwonder if some of the preference for the LSW-type solution with a small number of highly accurate suppressive rounds might be partly because it makes the solution to the combat-load problem a bit easier, whereas it is hard to haul loads of ammunition whilst wearing the heavier sets of modern body armour.

    Regards

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #5808
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Well, once the technology exists, it’ll spread. I’d be surprised if either the Chinese or Russians weren’t investing in developing better small arms rounds for defeating body armour.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #5853
    Sparker
    Participant

    Queen’s and PWRRs

    I’m confused. I thought the Queens and Royal Hampshires were combined into the PWRR?

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #5861
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    I had read rumors of super alloy barrels but this is the first hard news I’ve gotten about them. Thanks !!!

    #5890
    Gaz045
    Participant

    Great read you lucky B…..interesting stuff, the LSW was my personal weapon back in the day……very nice to shoot and accurate too, often engaging way out there with the GPMG targets…..(Disgruntled that I had to take that and a rifle to the ranges for qualification etc-and two to clean afterwards! Made the mistake (once) of grizzling and was ‘gifted’ with the GPMG too…)

     

    The mention of the 6.5 Grendel takes us back to the sizes of the  original cartridge size envisaged with the EM-2 and the British .280…..circles within circles……but its only govt. money!

    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    #5975
    John D Salt
    Participant

    the basis of the refutation and preference for an MG34-derivative LMG comes from the weapon push/weapon pull/effects of cohesion on suppression ideas outlined in Brains and Bullets.

    There’s also the point that D(Inf) decided in 1948 that the next section MG would be belt-fed ratherthan mag-fed, as some OR work had shown the benefits of mag feed on rate of fire — a more important point than the high cyclic RoF that characterised the German MGs.

    I’d be surprised if either the Chinese or Russians weren’t investing in developing better small arms rounds for defeating body armour.

    Indeed; the Chinese 5.8mm heavy round and their 5.8mm short are both designed to defeat CBA. And I gather the old 7.62 Tokarev pistol round is retaining its popularity in Russian circles because it is a much better penetrator than the fat round-nosed 9mm Luger and .45 ACP.

    I’m confused. I thought the Queens and Royal Hampshires were combined into the PWRR?

    Correctly correctington. I only mention the Queen’s because a lot of the people I’m referring too are old enough to have served before the PWRR was formed. Same as me.

    The mention of the 6.5 Grendel takes us back to the sizes of the original cartridge size envisaged with the EM-2 and the British .280…..circles within circles……but its only govt. money!

    The EM-2 and TADEN would have made an excellent armament for the section, probably better and lighter basic weapons than we have now, despite being 1951 designs.

    It’s curious how many times the “ideal calibre” has been reinvented. Some of the first selective-fire rifles, the Cei-Rigotti and the Avtomat Fedorov, used 6.5mm rifle rounds. Then we have had the 8mm Ribeyrolles just too late for WW1, the Pig Board and .276 Pedersen (the calibre the Garand was originally designed for) just before WW2, .280 British just after, in the 70s the 6mm SAW. None of these were adopted. Now that the Chinese have gone for their own 5.8mm, so maybe that will shake things up a bit.

    All the best,

    John.

    #5978
    Sparker
    Participant

    Sparker wrote:I’m confused. I thought the Queens and Royal Hampshires were combined into the PWRR?Correctly correctington. I only mention the Queen’s because a lot of the people I’m referring too are old enough to have served before the PWRR was formed. Same as me.

    Ah yes, very wise! Actually I remember a very happy day as a young Army Cadet with 3rd Queen’s at Connaught Barracks, Dover. Great bunch of blokes, looked after us really well and pushed the boat out for us – Close combat range in the moat, ETR range with Charlie G’s firing at massed Soviet tanks, Milan simulators, the works!

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

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