Tag Archives: Weapons

Myths About the NATO 5.56 Cartridge

M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the current M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4NATO 5.56 round and its effectiveness on the battlefield. Now before you make a judgment as a soldier or as a firearm enthusiast (a more euphemistic way of saying “gun nut”), consider your sources. Who is it that is telling you the 5.56mm, or .223 if you prefer, is an ineffective round? Is this source an armchair general who has watched Blackhawk Down one too many times; or a Navy Corpsman who has been attached to a MEF fighting in Fallujah and has seen, treated and inflicted these wounds with his own M-4? People look at the .30-06 round from their grandfather’s M1 Garand and the 7.62×51mm round from their dad’s M-14 and compare it to the M-16/M-4’s 5.56 and think; “Wow, this is considerably smaller. Therefore, it must be less effective.”
Now Joe Nichols had it right when he said, “Size Matters.” However, when you are talking about combat cartridges this is not always the case, and I say that hesitantly. When the 5.56 was derived from Remington’s .223 in the late 1950’s, it was meant as a “force multiplier” if you will. By that I mean a soldier could literally carry twice as much ammunition as one who has the older 7.62 for the same weight. They wanted a soldier who could stay longer in the field without re-supply and could literally out-last and out-shoot the enemy in many aspects. The 5.56 is an incredibly fast and flat shooting round compared to the 7.62, but is under half the bullet weight.

So one might ask; ‘How in the world can a smaller bullet be more lethal than a bigger one?” One word: cavitation. Cavitation is the rapid formation and collapse of a substance or material after an object enters it at a relatively high velocity. I guarantee you have seen cavitation before. Next time you are in the pool or on the boat, look at your hand as it passes through the water or the propeller spinning. In both cases you will notice bubbles on the trailing edge of each. You see this because the liquid water falls below its vapor pressure. Without getting into physics and the hydrodynamics behind it, I’ll just leave it at that. When a human body is hit with a 5.56mm 62-grain bullet traveling at 3,100 feet per second; essentially the same thing happens but much, much more violently. For a split second, the cavity created inside the human body by the round from an M-16/M-4 is about the size of a basketball (if hit dead center of mass). The 5.56 creates this massive cavitation by tumbling through the body initiated by inherently unstable flight.

5.56 ballistic test
5.56 ballistic test

Other calibers of bullets travel through the body on, more or less of, a straight line after some fragmentation. When the 5.56 round was first designed by Remington, it was meant to tumble through a target, not kill with brute force. It did this not only by the relatively blunt shape, but also by using a rifle barrel with less of a twist. Next time you look at an M-4 or an AR-15, notice it says “5.56 NATO 1:7” on the barrel. This literally translates into; “the bullet will make 1 full rotation for every 7 inches of this barrel.” This was not always the standard twist set for the new NATO round. The first AR-15 made by Armalite, had a 1:14 twist making it a very, very unstable round. One can only imagine the orientation of the entry and exit wounds. Now if you haven’t figured it out already, the less the twist, the more unstable the round is. (1:14 twist is less than 1:7) It is said in “firearm enthusiast” legend that the first tests were done on pig carcasses and that the entry wound could be on the lower right stomach with an exit wound coming out of the back upper left shoulder. It left horrific wounds and terrible internal damage to its intended target, immediately drawing the interest of the US Military, in particular USAF General Curtis Emerson LeMay. That’s right folks, you can thank we in the United States Air Force for the M-16/M-4 legacy (I say this without sarcasm). He thought it was an ideal weapon for his deployed members of the USAF Security Forces for guarding the perimeters of Air Force installations in such places as Korea and Vietnam. Before military trials, Armalite increased the barrel twist to 1:12 to improve accuracy. But when tested in frigid Alaska, accuracy was decreased because of the increased friction from the denser, colder air. Therefore, the barrel twist was eventually increased from 1:12 to 1:9 and eventually to the 1:7 you see it today. Although some bull-barreled AR-15’s and Stoner Sniper Rifles can be found in a 1:9, most issued M-16’s and M-4;s are primarily a 1:7 twist.

This change increased the accuracy of the 5.56 round out past 500 meters, but decreased its lethality when striking a body. Now the real debate begins… How truly deadly is the 5.56? Well, this past April when I was going through Combat Skills Training at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin, one week was spent in Combat Life-Saving class (CLS). The medics who instructed us had slide show after slide show of combat injuries they have treated over their last three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. And let me tell you, these were not for the weak stomachs among us. If you are reading this article, I bet you are the same type of person as I to ask, “What calibers caused those wounds?” These men and women have seen the worst injuries of coalition forces and enemy combatants alike. The Geneva Conventions state that medics must provide medical care to all captured enemy personnel when able. Therefore, many Taliban and Jihadist fighters came across their operating rooms. After class one day I asked all of them, “Do any of you doubt the killing power of the 5.56 round?” They all answered with a resounding, “NO.”
I personally don’t like telling war stories but I do enjoy telling hunting stories. I have brought down 180 to 200+ pound deer with a 55 grain .223 FMJ (full metal jacket) with no problem. Yes, I know, the counter argument to that is, “Well that’s not an enemy combatant hopped up on cocaine, khat or adrenaline.” I understand that, but if you saw the exit wound or those on the pictures from the combat medics, you would certainly cease your criticism of the 5.56. However, there are certain design features of the M-16/M-4 that continue to puzzle me.

We have all heard the reports of those rifles failing during combat during Vietnam and even yet today. During the 60’s when it was first introduced, it was hailed as “the self-cleaning rifle.” Of course that was proven to be a myth within the first months of its service. Soon thereafter, cleaning kits, cleaning manuals with attractive cartoon-like characters, and muzzle covers were issued in large numbers. A lot of the first problems the rifle saw were due to using ball powder vs. stick powder. Ball powder burns hotter, faster and dirtier than stick does. This caused the rifle to gum up quicker in the humid atmosphere of Vietnam and mis-feed the rounds. The U.S. Military then switched back to the cleaner burning stick powder and added a forward assist to jam the bolt carrier forward after heat expansion and carbon build-up. The military saw this problem and fixed it fairly early on, so why haven’t they saw the clear flaw in the 100% gas-blowback operation of the firearm? Why haven’t they learned lessons from rifles such as the AK-47, AK-74, G36, SCAR and countless other who have switched to a short stroke gas piston?

gas piston operated
gas piston operated

So far rifles such as the HK 416, HK 417, SCAR and MAGPUL Masada have all incorporated this short stroke gas piston in their designs and have all seen massive reductions in carbon build-up, over-heating, and mis-feeds. If this needs any explaining; what this basically does is stop the hot, carbon-filled gasses just rear of the front sight and pushes a pistol-like rod back instead of the gas traveling all the way back to the bolt carrier assembly. It is even possible to convert current uppers to this gas piston system using such kits as those offered by Bushmaster. If the cost benefit is too great for these kits to be installed, why not begin to install them on the floor as they are now? They are 100% compatible with all lowers used by the M-16 and M-4.

So in conclusion, the main flaws of the M-16/M-4 assault rifle system is not necessarily in the round itself, but in one minor design feature of just the upper. This article is meant as a predecessor to a piece in the making on the advantages to switching to a round such as the 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. The 5.56 round is effective, but could be better. I want to hear your feedback. Tell me why so many people (mostly civilians) think the flaws of the rifle are in the round. I’m looking to you military folks; tell me about your operational experience with it. Airsoft players, armchair generals, and firearm enthusiasts; let’s hear your voice, but don’t comment on its “knock-down power” unless you hunt big game with a .223 or were once in the military and have used it in combat. Next up: A viable future replacement for the 5.56 and the M-16/M-4 combat rifles along with first-hand news from the front on forces already making the switch.

Remember; every rifle and every round can be equally as deadly when put in the right hands. We seek to find the perfect round and the perfect rifle to increase that number of hands.

Thermobaric Weapon – Explosive Fuel-Air Bombs

faeanimClick on the Thumbnail to view the animation.
There are many different types of Thermobaric weapons, it is the destructive concept that renders Thermobarics different than conventional high explosives.  Rather than a simple bomb with high explosives in the warhead, thermobaric weapons, or fuel-air bombs, are predominantly filled with either an aerosol or powder of a high explosive mixture.  The bomb has 2 charges, the first to blow away the casing and release the aerosol cloud, and the second to detonate the cloud.  This 2 stage method renders the size of the blast to be drastically larger in diameter than conventional high explosives, which dramatically increases the shockwave and heat created by the explosion.  These weapons are the most powerful bombs besides nuclear weapons, common examples are the MOAB and “Daisy Cutter” bomb, the latter is popularly displayed twice in the awesome movie Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman (in the opening scene and ending scenes).  Also known as vacuum bombs, they are also used on building and caves because of their ability to collapse structures.  The shockwave and subsequent dramatic overpressure created by the intense heat of the explosion draws in oxygen so fast that it literally sucks in anything in its radius, be it cave walls or walls of a structure.  Thermobarics have seen widespread use in the caves of Afghanistan, and smaller versions are also becoming more widespread with applications from hand grenades to rocket launchers. 

Future Weapons

Richard MackRichard Machowicz, the host of The Military Channel’s Future Weapons, probably has the best job on the planet. I mean, after 10 years in the Navy SEALS he probably got bored with all the intense training and bad ass weapons right? I guess not. Now he gets to enjoy augmented civilian status as he still has access to top secret facilities and weapons technology, which he proudly displays with cold precision on his Military/Discovery Channel show Future Weapons. Basically, “Mack” is our hero here at Future Firepower. Its not like he has a show where he just narrates while soldiers shoot all the guns and show off, he actually gets to get into the tanks and drive them, pick up the brand new machine gun prototype and unload as many clips as he wants; and he does it all with perfectly honed form and skill. Probably the best moment was when Mack competed against a US soldier in a cold-bore sniper rifle competition, and Mack out shot the soldier with a perfect headshot with the 1st round. Obviously, he has extreme weapons training. It’s been a long time coming that Discovery Networks finally launched the Military Channel, and it was long enough that they finally came out with Future Weapons. Richard Machowicz 2Discovery Networks has always been very respectfully patriotic, and they have also done a good job keeping up with the times by gradually increasing their military-related broadcasting. I remember as a child the best show that I could find was Wings on the regular discovery channel. I guess they could tell that I watched it all day long, and made the military channel with robust programming just for me. Now all the Military Channel needs to do is quit showing so many reruns and kick their production engine into high gear. They need to have a million different shows with a million different weapons, hell, they should just start inventing weapons. Long live the military channel, the embodiment of my inspiration for this humble website, FutureFirepower.com.

Mack is also the author of a book: Unleashing the Warrior Within, and also founder of the Bukido Institute.

Read Mack’s Wikipedia Bio here.

MGL M32 – Multiple Grenade Launcher

Manufacturer: Milkor USA Inc.
MGLThe phrase of the day today folks is this: Force Multiplier.

As defined by Wikipedia:

A force multiplier is a term referring to a factor that dramatically increases (hence “multiplies”) the effectiveness of a group or unit. The term was originally used by the military to describe elite units, such as Special Forces, that could be used to increase the effectiveness of indigenous forces by training them to fight guerilla warfare, but the term has broadened in usage and is now used frequently outside the military domain.

The Milkor Mk32 MGL Multiple Grenade Launcher does exactly this. A single soldier is handed the ability to wreak havoc on a scale simply not possible before he was handed an MGL Mk32. For whatever reason, lets call it our reliance on technology; Western nations with smaller populations develop weapons which effectively work around our lack of manpower, and we make each man more powerful. Hence the multiplication of force. Like I always tell people wary of the galactic number of soldiers fielded by the PLA of China, what can 20 guys with Ak-47s do to one guy with a grenade machine gun? Nothing. It is most probable that they would be under the impression that they were under attack from multiple mortar teams, and would take cover.
MGL Grenade LauncherNow picture multiple platoons of soldiers all armed with MGL Mk32s, and you’ve got yourself a situation that you probably would rather not get involved in; a deterrent force multiplier. Aside from being the first multiple grenade launcher, the MGL also sports all of the other high-technology you would expect with a futuristic weapon. A red-dot site, multiple variants with specialized ammunition, and all-weather and lightweight variants. You do the calculations, the MGL Mk32 is simply a force multiplier product that you don’t want to be divided by.

Check out this Future Weapons MK32 video. It shows many of the advanced uses for the MGL.
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The DREAD Weapon System – Small Arms Technology and Innovation

Click the Image of the DREAD weapon system below to see the full size brochure.

Dread Gun Brochurer
The DREAD weapon system is a revolutionary small arms weapon that can shoot upwards of 120,000 rounds a minute with absolutely no recoil or heat signature. Perfectly suitable for space-based applications such as satellites as well as ground vehicles and aircraft, the DREAD weapon system is truly a universal small arms weapon. This small arms innovation will bring firepower to a whole new level with an electrically driven firing mechanism eliviating the need for explosive propellants and cartridge cases. DREAD has a variable rate of fire and best of all it is completely silent making it in essence a stealthy machine gun with incredible capabilities (both lethal and non-lethal).

An exclusive video of the dread small arms weapon system has been made publicly available recently for your enjoyment. To download the video right click the link and got to save as. If you have Quicktime movie player you can watch the video in your web browser.

(18.9 MB)DownloadDREAD Weapons System

Metal Storm – Future Weapons Breakthrough Technology – 1 million rounds per minute!

Metal Storm
metal storm pistolIntroducing Metal Storm, a breakthrough technology developed by a company whose namesake bestows the western world with a capability never seen before on the battlefield. Developed by Metal Storm Limited in Australia, the flagship idea of the Metal Storm array of weapons is the concept of stacked projectiles, which eliminate the moving parts of traditional guns. In fact, Metal Storm could be poised to eliminate the classic monicker of “machine gun” because this technology eliminates the moving parts necessary for traditional firing mechanisms. MetalStormAICWLikewise, the absense of moving parts is exactly what allows the Metal Storm weapons to theoretically deliver up to 1 million rounds per minute. Also, less maintenance is required to keep the weapon firing, aside from fixing the trigger after overuse from bouts of uncontrollable annihilation. Expectedly, the Metal Storm idea of stacked projectiles has found its way into myriad applications, from area denial systems to missile defense to assault rifles, this technology could prove to revolutionize the battlefield capabilities of western nations fortunate enough to share the common values of innovation, perserverance, and moderation in all things. Indeed, this system has recieved much attention from the US military’s weapons procurement staff, and will likely find its way into all sorts of unexpected and imaginative applications.

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Chinese Military Weapons – Technology of the PLA

At Future Firepower we always keep the latest breaking news on the newest weaponry available to the United States Military and its allies. On top of following the technological advancements in weapons systems of the US, we also like to introduce the military capabilities of nations throughout the world. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has some very advanced weapons systems. Ballistic missiles and missile defense programs are paramount in Chinese military planning with the PLA carrying a number of advanced bombs and missiles. Everything from mobile artillery howitzers, to high-tech tanks such as the Type-99 and the lighter Type-96 as seen in the picture below can be found in the Chinese military.
type 96 china
On top of having an array of advanced ground vehicles, China also boasts an advanced naval force with large advanced submarines, and many worthy battleships but lacking aircraft carriers. The PLA also has a capable air-force, although it is nothing that could match the capabilities of NATO forces or the United States Military with the F-22 and many other reliable and proven fighters. The Jian-10, swept-wing fighter has been introduced by the Chinese air-force but the capabilities remain unclear.

There was speculation years back that the “star wars” program would spark a new weapons race and nothing could be more true as, once again, Russia, The US, and China are entering into a weapons space race. The United States militarization of space has caused uneasiness within China and Russia which has caused them to invest in their aerospace programs as well. One very frightening feat that China has been able to attain is the ability to destroy GPS and other military satellites owned by the US. China launched a vehicle into space intending to destroy an old weather satellite 500 miles in orbit and achieved their goal proving that they could indeed take out the ‘eyes’ of the United States military. The US military also admitted that China disabled a satellite while it orbited over China’s land mass using a directive energy weapon of some sort which produced a high power beam into the face of the satellite.

With China only spending 10% of what the United States does on military technology and expenditures, the PLA has some amazingly advanced technology. Some estimates say that Chinese military spending may spike to half that of the U.S in the foreseeable future. This would make the U.S government very uneasy.

Slideshow of Chine Military (PLA) weapons

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Currently there is a weapons embargo between the European Union and the US with China. The Federation of American Scientists, a liberal group long known for its opposition to nuclear weapons, has come out against lifting the EU ban on arms sales to China.”Indeed, troubling transfers of Chinese military and dual-use equipment are numerous,” Matt Schroeder of the Federation of American Scientists, wrote recently.

The British Accuracy International AS50 BMG Sniper Rifle

Accuracy International AS50as50
This awesome weapons represents the British attempt at designing the worlds greatest sniper rifle. Similar in design and features to the Barrett M107 .50 caliber sniper rifle, the Accuracy International AS50 certainly exhibits the pinnacle of futuristic sniper rifle engineering. The greatest difficulty to overcome when designing a rifle of such high caliber is how to effectively and efficiently disperse the recoil, and the AS50 employs a free-floating barrel with a dual chamber muzzle brake to accomplish this feat. One important thing to note about this rifle though, is that it is truly designed as an anti-material weapon, meaning that it is intended to be armor-piercing to take out lightly armored vehicles such as APCs and trucks rather than intended as anti-personnel. However though, the accompanying video definitely stirs the imagination when it shows the melons, the perfect shape for a human head, being blown apart after the round penetrates some concrete blocks. I’m just waiting for the X-ray vision scope to be put on this bad boy, watch out everyone!

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The AS50 has documented kills in Iraq where APCs where taken out from over a mile away, they had no idea what was hitting them.

Al-Qaeda Training – Air-Strike Attack on Al Qaeda

The US air-force put a stop to Al qaeda’s heavy weapons training real quick in the video below. Several insurgents were killed in this air attack during a training mission in May of 2007. Anti aircraft fire and other munitions can be seen during the surveillance of the al-qaeda base. There was speculation that al-qaeda was training for an attack on coalition forces. Thanks to good intelligence, the plans of these insurgents were foiled before they were given a chance!

U.S. military officials in Baghdad said that coalition forces killed an estimated 10 to 14 insurgents and captured eight others after they were spotted firing a truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun at a farmhouse northeast of Karmah. The military said intelligence reports and surveillance of a known al-Qaida in Iraq meeting spot led troops to discover three trucks, two of which were mounted with anti-aircraft artillery weapons. The vehicles were followed, and after the insurgents started firing the guns at two houses, it was determined that they were practicing for possible future attacks against coalition troops, according to a Multi-National Forces-Iraq news release.

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Search for more air strikes and bombing videos in our search box above.

Slow-Motion MLRS Video – Rocket

MLRS breakdownThe video below shows the multiple Launch Rocket System developed by Lockheed Martin in action in slow motion. The Guided MLRS (GMLRS) rocket is being developed under an international cooperative program with the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany. GMLRS will have a global positioning system aided inertial guidance package integrated in a rocket body. Additionally, small canards on the guided rocket nose will add basic maneuverability to further enhance the accuracy of the system.

Click here to open the video in a new Window

For more information about the MLRS or Multiple launch rocket System check out another video and post here.