I swear I didn’t make this one. But it spoke to me.
Laugh all you want!
Soon the good folks at PSA will put out a version of the M-14 and soon will be in the hands of millions of happy citizens!
I really don’t the fixatation on the M-14. I mean, we had far worse infantry weapons in our military history.
Take the Springfield Trapdoor, for instance. Please. Take it. It’s still crippling the loading standards for the .45-70 Government round…
OK, you want another? The Thompson 1928A1. The M3 “Grease Gun” was vastly more functional and cheaper at the same time.
The original Springfield 1903, shooting the .30-03 cartridge was a real loser as well. Throats burned out in 1200 to 1500 rounds…
The root of the problem with the M-14 is that the rifle has become the Italia Irredentia for the big-caliber gravel-belly leftovers who are in denial about the whole concept of the intermediate-caliber cartridge concept.
They keep wanting to bring the damn things back, mostly because they love them some 7.62mm NATO, and are in denial about how war is really fought, these days.
Personally, I find the entire lot of them to be a bunch of fatuous idiots, including some of the guys who’ve “been there, done that”. They’ve fixated on this idea that the individual rifleman is some sort of magic talisman, and ignored the fact that about 90% of the actual population of the guys we recruit for the Infantry can’t actually spot or hit sh*t anyway much past 400m. I have had former Marines working for me who were hot sh*t on the known-distance ranges they’d shot on in the Corps, but who were utterly useless in actual practice against targets which were not great big bulls-eyes sitting out in the open with no distractors: “OK, see that pop-up, against the tree line? Just left of the lane marker…? No? Well, it just went down… Lemme get the tower to put it up, again…”.
The key thing is that you don’t often get situations in real combat where your vaunted individual marksmanship skills are key and essential; what you more often run up against are fleeting targets that you’d be a lot better off using a machine gun on, preferably with a nice, high rate of fire such that you can saturate where you saw the contact, and everything in the general vicinity.
Which is why we’d have been a lot better off if we’d actually examined German WWII MG doctrine and practice, and then adopted that, rather than trying to take Camp Perry and the National Matches off to war. Given the actual issues of target acquisition and spotting, you’re a hell of a lot better off past about 300m with what amounts to a long-range shotgun that can rip through light cover and concealment. The M-14 is not a weapon which fills out this solution set, and the 7.62mm NATO was not a cartridge we should have selected for answering this issue.
Frankly, the two caliber solution makes a bunch more sense; you need something controllable on full auto in an individual weapon for the stuff at close quarters, out to about 300m. And, you need something that can reach out and touch someone effectively to about 2000m for your crew-served, and the 7.62 is marginal. If it were me, I’d have looked long and hard at the Swedish inter-war years, worked out a shortened case version of their 6.5mm, and then selected something like their 8X63 heavy MG cartridge. I don’t think the .338 magnums are a good idea for a man-portable gun, given the weight of ammo that will have to be hauled around by manpower, so I’d go for something bigger than 7.62mm NATO, yet still light enough to haul significant numbers around on foot.
The end of the day, most of the people who are enamored of the “battle rifle” are people who have no idea at all how modern wars are fought. They’re in denial about the role of the individual soldier, and living in a fantasy land where one shot=one kill. The reality is, for about 90% of combat actions, what you really need to be doing is following the “one burst=indeterminate number of kills” policy. You simply do not have the sort of situation where you’re even able to spot the bastards consistently enough to where you can afford to rely on PID and having all your guys playing Joe Sniper. Most of your kills are going to come from firing a burst or dropping a mortar round “on spec”, just on the general idea that there were probably a couple of guys you couldn’t see out there about where you did see that one guy just before he got behind cover.
Combat ain’t deer hunting.
I’m in full agreement with your idea about a cartridge based on the 6.5×55, only shorter. I’ve thought for a long time that we could have done far better with a rifle chambered in 6.5-something, with a bullet weight of about 120 grains.
The story of how the Garand (and subsequently the M-14) ended up chambered as they are is the stuff of gunmaker legend. I guess my perspective is that John Garand designed two very competent rifles (from the standpoint of a gunsmith looking at reliability and quality of design/construction) – but he didn’t have any say in the selection of cartridge for them. The .30-06 was chosen over the .276 Pedersen because we had tons of the ’06 available during the Depression. Garand designed the Garand around the .276 Pedersen round, but Garand wasn’t a political dummy – he saw the writing on the wall for any round that wasn’t ’06, and he had a few rifles built up for ’06 for when the inevitable (as he saw it) request for “Nice rifle, but we’re sticking with ’06. Can your design handle that?” came down the line, he had a pre-built answer.
The .308/7.62 was chosen by administrative fiat by one of the desk-jockey gravel bellies you speak of – Renee Studler. John Garand was actually in favor of a more intermediate cartridge for the rifle that became the M-14. The Brits and the Germans both had an intermediate power cartridge, and even rifle designs, but Studler was never going to adopt it. He flatly stated that Ordnance was never going to adopt a non-American rifle, nor a sub-30-cal cartridge.
Garand even warned the Ordnance brass that the M-14 was going to have issues of control in full auto in a rifle of less than 10lbs weight with an ’06-class cartridge.
The irony was that after the US (and Army Ordnance) shoved the 7.62 down the throats of our NATO allies (two of whom had well-developed intermediate power cartridges for the new infantry weapons, and the FAL was already a good design out of the gun wizards at FN), a few years later we adopt the 5.56, which was by our allies’ estimation, under-powered… but the rapid about-face by the DOD on the issue of cartridge and rifle was reflected in some documents I’ve seen at TSJC that showed the white-hot fury of our NATO allies at this development. They didn’t have out financial resources – they couldn’t afford to adopt a new rifle/cartridge, outfit their militaries, and then only a few years later, decide “Nope, we’re doing this instead.”
The flip side of the “battle rifle vs. auto-carbine” debate has been that the DOD keeps letting contracts for some mythical “one gun to rule them all” design boondoggle every few years – with 10’s of millions of dollars pissed down a bottomless rathole every time, without any chance of the results being adopted. We’re now on, what, the fifth iteration of this exercise even as we speak since the 90’s? Some of these ideas have been the purest intellectual onanism – like the OICW, or H&K’s caseless ammo design?
At this point, I think the best bang:buck (pardon the pun) improvement we might make is to think about better bullets/ballistics/loads in the 5.56. Add in better (and more ubiquitous) optical sights, etc. And maybe give the infantry a full-throttle option in addition to just a 3-round burst. If we wanted to get more radical, then we could look at blowing out the 5.56 to 6mm in the 5.56’s case, and launching a, oh, I dunno, 90 grain bullet. The requirement is that we need to keep the same magazines and rifles. We’d need new reticles in scopes, or new charts of come-ups on iron sights.
Absent a re-start of the Armory system (ie, that we’d re-start the real Springfield Armory, Rock Island, et al as houses of gun/ammo design inside the US military, and pull all future weapon design back inside the military), we’re stuck with the situation we have now: Every “new” weapon seems to be a re-spin of the M-16, in some version that is smaller/lighter/better sights/etc, with contracts let to some vendor to try to “replace” the M4/M16/AR/whatever – which is never adopted because the expense to field a new infantry weapon is much, much higher than anyone imagines when they start asking for new “gee whiz” features on a new rifle.
As an aside, as from the perspective of a gunsmith, I would also NB that the American military has been obsessed, and I do mean obsessed, with the idea of preventing infantry from “wasting ammunition.” You see this in the Army’s choice of rifle again and again and again, and you see it in features of gun designs they adopt. eg:
– the magazine cutoff on the 1903/A3 rifle. They were worried about men “wasting ammunition,” and by leaving the magazine cut off, and forcing the men to load singly, they hoped to slow the men down. I’ve never known anyone to use the magazine cutoff, BTW.
– The decision to not put a detachable box magazine on the Garand
– The three-round burst setting on the M16/M4
– the bias against lever-action rifles/carbines after the Civil War
It’s like this myth in gun design that just won’t die… give an infantryman anything other than a single-shot rifle, and he’s going to waste ammo. It’s like the DOD brass really wants everyone shooting a Sharps 1874…
Because it’s fun for me. let me have my fun.
OK, OK. I was just wondering, that’s all. It’s just that I’ve worked on them (and Garands, and BM-59’s and other such rifles) and eh, they’re OK as far as rifle designs go. I mean, they have issues with whether or not they fit doctrine and field conditions, per Kirk’s points above. But they’re not some cheap-assed POS gun, like many commercial guns I could name today – or expensive problem guns like the H&K G36, which has serious issues at a rather high price, etc.
More than anything else, I was wondering if I was missing out on some gun-zen-master inside joke…
Mechanically, I don’t think there’s much to be said. I think that if you’re going to go with a full-bore “battle rifle” concept, then you need to do what the Swiss did with the StG57, and bias your design towards being an LMG rather than the Ultimate Rifle for the Individual Marksman ™. None of the various folks who tried to square the circle of a full-power traditional cartridge in an individual weapon ever managed to actually make it work, and I include the beloved M1 Garand in that category.
The whole thing boils down to a complete lack of understanding about what was going on in combat. The traditional full-power rounds had some rationality to them when we were having to worry about stopping cavalry charges, but once that was off the menu of likely combat engagement scenarios, there’s no damn excuse for not having gone to something like the 6.5X55 Swedish in order to make it easier to train and easier on logistics and the shoulders of the troops in actual combat. Even with a bolt action, I’d submit that the vast majority of the traditional full-power rounds were too big and too heavy on weight and recoil for what you got. Even with the Garand; what would be better? One missed .30-06 shot, with no follow-up because “recoil”, or two-three quick shots from something like the 6.5X55 Swedish that allowed for more effective follow-up that might actually have hit someone?
Honestly, the whole of small arms development internationally just didn’t make a lot of sense for most of the 20th Century, from a practical standpoint of doctrine or use. The recognition that single aimed shots were nowhere near as important or effective didn’t really come until late in WWII, and even then, only in certain quarters. The US was in denial about that until the early 1960s.
The whole point of an individual weapon in combat is to effectively kill the enemy. Lots of people lose sight of that, and that’s why these great big cartridges get procured. The people behind them think they’re hunting f**king elephants or something, and seem to miss the idea that men are furtive little fleeting targets who are mostly pretty damn hard to spot, and that while it’s super-cool if you can put a .338 Lapua Magnum into one of their heads, the average soldier is not going to see the opportunity to do that very often, and won’t likely be able to take advantage of the power of that cartridge in the first place. From an operational/systems standpoint, you’re a lot better with a less powerful cartridge that the average schmuck can get several shots off at his fleeting image of the enemy, and just hope that it all averages out to a hit or two. Being able to control the individual weapon on full auto is another “good thing” to be able to do, for those (few, admittedly…) times you really need to be able to do that crap.
Well, having reviewed the history of the US military’s choices of weapons clear back to the Civil War in great detail, I can tell you that there has been this bias in favor of heavy projectiles all the way back – it was broken only by the .30-06 and then M16/5.56 in the 1960’s.
Going back to the Springfield Trapdoor, there was grousing by cavalry using the carbine form of the Trapdoor that the 400+ grain bullets (in either .50-70 Government or .45-70 Government) would really “massage” your shoulder to a rather tender state. I’ve shot 20 rounds of .50-70 out of a Trapdoor carbine, and let me tell you – it leaves you wanting not much more of that. I can only imagine what the guys who were firing hundreds of rounds in a few hours at the Wagon Box Fight felt like when they came off the line…
Along comes the Spanish-American War, and we nearly get our clocks cleaned at San Juan Hill. A few Spaniards with 7×57 Mausers were hammering our guys, most of whom were still packing .45-70 Trapdoors and a few .30-40 Krags, which were loaded with absurdly heavy, big round lead nosed bullets. Everything we were shooting on that day had the trajectory of a rainbow compared to the 7×57.
Fast-forward to the 1903 Springfield – in the initial .30 Government – what is now known as .30-03. The gravel bellies could not countenance a bullet lighter than 220 grains – and in my research, there was plenty of grousing among some in the Army brass about such a ‘light’ bullet at 220 grains. There were comments like “How is this supposed to replace the .45 caliber bullet we’ve used for so long?” In order to make the trajectory of the ’03 round look even remotely similar to the 7×57, they had to launch the bullet at some impressive pressures. The throat erosion of the .30-03 was impressive. Had we kept that round, the Army would have needed gun plumbers by the boatload to re-barrel 1903 rifles.
To replace the ’03 round, along comes the ’06 round, with the “light” 150 grain spitzer bullet. There was more controversy from the gravel bellies, wailing about how ‘light’ the bullet was. Mind you, .30-06 ball ammo has taken nearly ever animal there is to shoot in North America, including horses, elk and moose.
But come the 1920’s, and the quest for a semi-auto infantry rifle, Pedersen (who worked for the Armory system) designed the .276 round for the semi-auto rifle. It was launching a 120 grain bullet at modest velocities/pressures, and fits the idea of an intermediate cartridge on the ‘hot’ side. This was the design target of the Garand rifle, not the ’06.
In the run-up to the final trials of the Garand rifle, Douglas MacArthur decided that the rifle would be chambered in .30-06, not the Pedersen cartridge.
BTW, as for killing horses as military doctrine: I talked to a WWII P-47/P-51 pilot who said about their strafing runs on the way back to the UK after bomber escort that they considered horse-drawn carts on the roads in Germany to be ‘fair game’ because the Germans moved so much material by horse in some areas of Germany. He said that most of these carts, teamsters and horses died ‘normal’ deaths under a burst of the .50’s, but every now and again, you’d see an impressive explosion come up off the cart, with the teamster and horse flying off in several directions…
Re: the Swedes and their choice: The 6.5×55 is one of the longest-serving cartridges in the world, and it is used today in target competition in Scandinavia in the STR-2xx rifles. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the 6.5×55. Swedes, Norwegians, etc have told me that they take deer, reindeer and other game with the 6.5×55 on a very regular basis.
Today, when shooters ask me “what’s the best round for long-range shooting?” I tell them to figure out which bullet they want to launch first, then think about how they’re going to launch it. That’s how the Swedes arrived at the 6.5×55.
Biggest thing I see wrong with what we’ve been doing is that we go about the whole process with the cart before the horse at all times. The question that needs to be answered first and foremost is this: What the hell do you want to do with the projectile? What is the effect you want to achieve with it, at what range, and what are the targets?
Once you figure that out, then you work backwards to design the cartridge case and propellant package. What speed does the projectile need to achieve in order to create the effect you desire? What other packaging factors come to mind? Is it meant to be fired on full automatic from a magazine or a belt?
Once you’re finished with the cartridge, then you design the gun the same way–Working backwards from desired effect into mechanical features.
You most emphatically do not do what we’ve mostly done since the French invented smokeless powder, and introduce something new and improved, then work to figure out how the hell it is going to integrate in with how you fight. That’s the kind of thing you only do at the dawn of a new era in technology, like smokeless powder, when it is more important to get the new idea fielded. Even then, the French experience with the Lebel rifle and its cartridge are a salutary lesson in how going off all half-cocked can literally cripple your small arms systems for generations to come. The French paid for being a few years ahead of the game by getting stuck with the Lebel cartridge into the flippin’ 1930s, which is just plain nuts. They didn’t even have the excuse of using a rearward cartridge pull on their MG the way the PKM almost perfectly justifies sticking with the 7.62X54R, long after it should have gone the way of the other dinosaurs.
No, you want to do it “right”, you almost need to look at what we’ve done, and then use that as a guide to do the diametric opposite at every step along the way.
Thank you gentlemen.
Kirk, you’re always worth listening to, man and I really respect and enjoy reading your views. Oddly, just today I was thinking of you and a long ago conversation about the use of machine guns in section tactics over at Hognose’s place. I hope you’re doing well in these troubled times.
I’ll just add that as the owner of a fine bolt gun chambered for The Best and Most Versatile Cartridge Ever Designed, I’m unsurprised to see the 6.5×55 Swede get a few mentions in this very interesting discussion.
I really think it’s the greatest rifle cartridge of all time. From varminting, through men, to large game, and with a few exceptions of course, if you can’t do it with the Swede, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Cheers from Australia
mostly its just fun for me to rag on a mediocre rifle that for some reason a lot of people stil think is a miracle rifle. Part of it is ignorance and the other half is this weird romance people have with “wood and steel”! I blame the movie Full Metal Jacket for a lot of the Gen Y and Gen Z fascination and the gravel bellies for the rest. I think I said about all I have to say on the M14 back when I did that original article that i still get hate mail over. It’s an Ok rifle that is fine, I don’t have much of a problem with it or people wanting on like i would want a Krag. The idea that its the uber rifle we should all be using and is a precision sniper rifle etc that is unmatched etc etc is what I do have a problem with. Kirk has already said everything I would say about it’s use as a fighting gun and sniper rifle. To me I think of the M14 like I do the old Vietnamese saying. It’s a duck. A duck can swim, fly and walk but doesn’t do any of those things really well.
I’ve got to agree with all of that, and I’d apply the same comments to the AR/M16/M4. It’s an OK rifle. It can be more accurate than the old battle rifles (which were actually 2 MOA rifles with ball ammo). It’s cheaper to manufacture than the classic “steel and wood” rifles today. It’s got lots of accessories for those people who want to Barbie-doll their rifle(s). I think the operational ergonomics of the AR/M16 platform are pretty good, except for how the rifle mounts on someone’s shoulder, and then it is embarrassingly poor.
For accuracy work, my “gunsmith’s perspective” is that if someone is really worried about “precision”, arguments about which semi-auto is “better” are like arguing “which is the better sexually transmitted infection?” when the correct answer is “I’d prefer none of the above.”
For repeatable precision, especially from a cold bore start, all semi-autos and full autos are the wrong answer. But WRT Kirk’s comments, ‘how much precision does a combat weapon need?’ is a question that isn’t being asked or answered correctly – or at all – in our small arms acquisition process, training and doctrine. The Soviets seemed to ask and answer the question coming out of WWII to their satisfaction, because they chose the AK line as their default combat weapon, knowing full well that they had more precise weapons in their inventory. But the cost of making AK’s with sloppy groups is so low, the USSR could (and did) use the AK as an instrument of foreign policy – they could ship millions of them to technologically backwards people to help spread communism – and the AK survives harsh treatment by people who barely know how to make fire.
We, on the other hand, keep living some sort of Revolutionary War mythology of the single marksman with a good rifle vs. massed troops with muskets that won’t group worth crap at 100 yards… but the truth was that the bayonet on the end of those can’t-group-worth-crap muskets killed a whole lot of people.
Gotta say,this post while a joke initially really led to a lot of good info./conversation.
What’s an M14?
Just kidding. Not really.
For the car-beans we’re seemingly stuck with in perpetuity, the infantry “needs” a 6mm similar to Dyspeptic’s 223 necked up to 6mm and that cartridge, the 6×45 a.k.a the 6/223 already exists as a wildcat. Or there are a variety of other decent short-case 6mm’s like the 6 Rat or the 243lbc which is simply the 6.5 Grendel necked to 6mm if a simple 6×45 isn’t trick enough for the brass. The 6 PPC would also serve well for 90’s. The 6.8 bore is an answer to a question better asked of the 6 and 6.5mm’s (and the 25-cal is just begging for somebody to put some serious time into). Also, I like Kirk’s big 8mm for sheen-guns. If you want to get fancy and have some kinda trick 300 or 338 magnum cartridge for snipers, that’s cool, but much of the taking and holding of ground would get done just fine with a trio of 6mm, 8mm and the ever useful field radio for calling in the big guns..
My personal opinion is that the 5.56 has worked tolerably well for the 300-meter arena for a long time now, and a lot more training would be necessary for the average grunt to take advantage of anything with more reach than that, and Big Army is never gonna go there. I’m aware of sounding like McArthur holding on to the 30-06 by making that statement, and also that a heavier bullet has the advantage of better penetration which is always a good thing for these purposes and I’m certainly in favor of that. My opinion is also that if you’re contemplating engaging targets out to 2000 meters with a sheen-gun, you’re also contemplating making your team an obvious target unnecessarily, and should be reaching for your radio and calling in a fire mission instead.
When you drill down to the reality of things, IMHO? The root of it all is the demonstrated inability that most of our marksmanship gurus have when it comes to “war as she is really fought”.
Case in point: Typical Trainfire range setups, which a lot of the world has emulated. Stop and think about it–What do the usual courses of fire have the subject of the training doing? They get X number of rounds and X number of target exposures, which conditions them to that whole “one shot, one kill” deal.
Which is delusionally wrong. You’re out on the qual range, and the range is conditioning you to take one shot at each target, no more. Reality? Dude, you pick out which target is the bigger threat, and you shoot at that sonuvabitch until you kill it. If that guy at 50m with the suicide vest is coming at you, you shoot at him until he’s stopped, and screw that dude at 275m.
The ranges and the training do not teach you to do threat identification and prioritization. At. F**king. All.
This is stupid, and contradicts reality on oh-so-many-levels. The idea that you get 40 rounds (yeah, things have changed, a little, but go with me on this…) and 40 exposures is insane. That does not reflect reality, and it encourages ineffective use of your munitions. What should be happening, and which would reflect reality a hell of a lot better, is that you got to the rifle range with your squad, you each get a lane, and then you qualify as a unit. And, oh-by-the-way, you don’t get graded on “one shot, one kill”: You get graded based on reality, which is that the closer-in targets you miss are what kill you. I’d start the targets “coming in” from 300m minimum, and have them “walk” on into the 50m line, and if you manage to let something get that damn close and then miss it? You’re eliminated from the next iteration of the qual course, just to emphasize a couple of things: One, the battle is never-ending, and that if you allow someone to get in close, you’re gonna die. I’d also eliminate the entire idea that it’s a one-shot per exposure deal, and if you miss, oh well, onto the next one. No, under my regime, you shoot at the f**king target until you hit it, and you’re actually rewarded for making effective follow-up shots, which are evaluated for how well you do them. Hell, I’d even bias the scoring system so that a quick and accurate follow-up scored higher.
I would also have my targetry set up in clusters at the set ranges, such that you have no idea which 200m target is going to be coming up–Or, for how long. What I’d also do with all that is have multiple targets come up during the exposure period in succession, to mimic reality a little better. Say the 150 is up for 30 seconds, but it’s two different targets that are close to each other, one for ten seconds and the other for twenty.
The current training regime for the Army is delusionally out of line with the reality of things. One shot, one target is just not how things are done in combat, but that’s what we’re training the troops to do, which is f**king nuts. The standard needs to be “You shoot until the target is hit”, and what I’d do would be to move towards at least the inclusion of a squad-size qualification course of fire that gave every man his basic load, and ran in succession with guys having to go through multiple differing courses of fire that would at least pay lip service to reality by demonstrating that the key thing was to stop the target “moving up” on your position. In all this, the squad leader would have to “qualify” on fire control and managing the firefight. I’m not even sure I’d grade that bastard on his individual shooting, either–I’d be more worried about how he managed and controlled his squad, up to and including the organic automatic rifles and crew-served he might have.
Issue we have going right now is that the training is a game that poorly replicates reality, and just like with the way that the National Match mentality crept into decision-making for procurement, the game has warped our idea of what combat requires. I say we start paying attention to making the game more closely mimic reality than we have been, because what we’re doing right now is flat-out delusional. If somebody in combat sees the enemy at fifty meters, shoots, misses and then says to himself subconsciously “Oh, well… I missed my shot, on to the next guy who exposes himself…”, then guess what? That guy is going to die unless he breaks his conditioning and recognizes that the important thing to do is to kill that f**king guy at 50m, and f**k how many rounds it takes. The current grading system is insane, in that regard. I’d wager that there are at least a few people who’ve internalized the “game rules” and gotten themselves or their buddies killed without even applying active thought to the matter. I know from anecdotal evidence I’ve heard that there is at least one American soldier out there who did just this, and it took having the Iraqi he was shooting at get damn near close enough for a knife-kill before he went “Yeah, I need to keep shooting at this one guy…”.
When you set up your training and evaluation programs, you need to step back and look at what you’re actually conditioning your subjects to do, vice what you think you are doing. We don’t do enough of that.
Kirk, what you said here reminds me of something I heard EB Sledge (author of “With the Old Breed”, USMC vet of PTO in WWII) say about battle – that it is a wholly different experience for the man right at the actual front line of battle than what the man only 100 yards behind the actual front line experiences.
What you say about defining what you want to do first is what the British tended to do. If you read the rationale behind the British .270 and .280, and later on, their 4.85x45mm, that is exactly what they were doing. What is the target? What range do we realistically expect to be able to hit the target? How much energy is required to defeat the target? etc. etc. Then come up with the bullet, then the cartridge, then the weapon. Some of the stuff in the Collector Grade book about the EM2 goes into it in some detail and it is quite interesting.
You also mentioned the Swiss Stg.57, and the concept they used. An excellent example of what you describe, actual doctrine driven technology. I highly recommend a visit to Mike at the Bloke on the Range Youtube channel. He is currently doing a series in collaboration with a young researcher, Dale Ding, on the Stg 57 and most recently, the rifle grenades for same. Absolutely fascinating!
The Swiss had looked at the intermediate cartridge/Assault Rifle concept, but as you mentioned, when push came to shove, they opted for a full power LMG/Automatic Rifle based concept, because it matched their DOCTRINE.
Much of this was driven by the Soviet invasion of Hungary, and that accelerated development and fielding. The rifle grenade bit is even more interesting. They lacked a lot of AT capability, and wanted to enhance it “on the cheap”, and like the French, they liked them some rifle grenades! As the need to make them bigger to match the thicker armor of modern tanks, the recoil became an issue, so Swiss rifle grenades became rocket assisted.
Everything in their system was designed around small infantry teams, even the uniform was meant for load carrying, so the jacket carried the ammo, field kit, and a couple of rifle grenades. The AP round was basically the equivalent of an 81mm mortar warhead, and the AT round used the same HEAT warhead as a larger AT rocket launcher, and there was a very good smoke round too. Every man in the squad could be an automatic rifle gunner, provide quasi-light mortar fire support, or be an AT weapon, and, since this was all provided by the standard rifle, they could do it at close quarters and from confined spaces (no back-blast with a rifle grenade). Lots of tactical flexibility.
There are currently three videos in the series, one on the rifle, two on the rifle grenades, and I believe there is one coming up of hopefully some live fire grenade launching. The technical spec and info on the rifle grenades is fantastic. I can’t recommend it enough.
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