Testing the 5.56mm MK318 MOD 0 / 5.56 SOST ammo
The 5.56 SOST is the ammo currently being used by the USMC and other troops in the GWOT, it has not been available for the public to buy for very long so I, like a lot of other people have been curious about how it performs. The round was designed to have better terminal performance and accuracy from short barreled rifles with a muzzle velocity of 2925 fps from the 14.5 inch M4 barrel. The round is a OTM, this is important to remember as it is not the same as a hollow point. It does however, offer up better performance and is barrier blind. The bullet itself has a thick copper base and a lead front end with the usual open tip that results from the process of making the bullet. Also present are the rings seen around the bullet much like a barnes triple shock X. A lot of people assumed and still do that the SOST is a barnes solid copper TSX, but it is not.
After getting my hands on some of the ammo I decided to test it for accuracy first. Since the ammo is intended for combat weapons, I chose to use my Colt 6940 with milspec barrel with 1/7 twist. I did put a Leupold 18x target scope on the carbine though so i could get all the accuracy out of it I could. I fired 2 strings of 5 shots at 1 inch dots and one string of 10 shots of M855 to compare it to the common military load all at 100 yards. It was around 1100 AM , sunny with a 2 oclock 18 MPH wind.
Other then the normal 1st round flyer you usually get from hand cycling the action as opposed to letting the recoil operate and chamber the next few rounds, the ammo showed some great potential. The group on the left was a little worse due to my own bad trigger work and lost concentration on one shot, but still pretty good considering. Now I know some claim 5 shot groups tell nothing, but if you over lay to strings you get a pretty good idea and you keep barrel heat down and mirage off the barrel messing with the scope.
After shooting the groups I decided to test out how the round matched the trajectory of the M855 since that is one of the things the SOST round was meant to have in common with the green tip. Out to 300and 400 yards the SOST did match the BDC of my TA31F ACOG and zero of other scopes and Aimpoint RDS I had on hand zeroed for the green tip. Also when comparing the position of the groups in relation to the aiming points, you can see on paper that the zero held very close for both rounds.
Now, the real surprise for me, was how good the lot of M855 I shot turned out to be! Many gun board expurts and gun magazine expurtitions will gladly tell you how terrible green tip is in the accuracy department along with its many other flaws , makes it slightly more useful then tits on a boar hog. After getting the carbine hot after some drills using the SOST and playing around, I fired off 10 rounds fairly quickly with the Colt/18x combo. The results left me a little surprised, rarely have I seen green tip shot for accuracy with sand bags, a table and a target scope further then 50 yards. And I do not recall having seen any pictures of it doing as well in a true 100 distance group. I shot the green tip with all seriousness and the same concentrated effort I did with the SOST and the results were pleasing and a little surprising to me. I have never taken the green tip seriously enough for my own needs in the accuracy department so this will indeed lead to more testing of the M855 if for no other reason then to see if this was a fluke.
Now I do not mean to sound like I think green tip is crap, I have seen some good performance out of it at longer ranges on coyote size targets and even man sized targets. But on the other hand, I have seen some terrible accuracy from it too. Of course lots and different MGGs have as much to do with it as anything, not to metion the different shoots and the quality or lack of in the guns used.
Back to the SOST, I think its a pretty good round from what I can tell. It is not MK 262 or TAP 75 gr. But for general issue to everyone, it is an iprovement in my humble opinion. I have not shot anything living with it yet, but I will. Also, in the next few weeks I will test it though a few “barriers” like auto glass, wood, and wall paneling. Hopefully I will get to shoot through some auto doors as well. I would not use it in my own house if over shooting is a issue, but I would use it for anything else at this point if you can find enough for SHTF bulk storing. And you have the benefit of practicing/training with M855 and still being able to shoot the SOST without a zero change. At this point I can not say it is better then any MK 262 top load in accuracy, but it is not meant to be, but, it is better then M193 by a long ways and it shows the ability to shoot a lot better the M855 and even if it just matches it in accuracy you still have the benefits of better terminal performance and barrier penetration while still holding together to hit the target behind if power point presentations can be believed. Hopefully my future testing will offer at least a tiny sample to help prove or disprove the new round.