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I'm of the opinion that standalone systems are better - you save on outboard weight on their rifle, and you can get a better HE thrower. Stuff like the french captive piston 2" mortar, or a small 60mm. Rifle grenades are also acceptable, since they don't add as much weight.

So the germans were ahead of their time with their squads built around the MG? :P

More like the Chinese are moving with the times by having so many launcher options.

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In a world full of compromise, some don't...unless you suck, and we hate you.

Traditionally the U.S. called the calibre tune for NATO because major ammunition supply depots are funded by the U.S.  This causes a lot of gnashing of teeth sometimes (such as when the U.S. raids the

Oh ye of little faith. We have not even begun plumb the depths of silliness.  

More like the Chinese are moving with the times by having so many launcher options.

 

 

The Chinese are - in fact they are scary - only the fact that their training is far below what is considered standard has kept their effectiveness low.  The French are who have been ahead of the curve since the 1960s.  The Germans in WW2 stumbled into it with a nice selection of explosive throwers added to squads built around a GPMG.

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I'm of the opinion that standalone systems are better - you save on outboard weight on their rifle, and you can get a better HE thrower. Stuff like the french captive piston 2" mortar, or a small 60mm. Rifle grenades are also acceptable, since they don't add as much weight.

 

Standalone weapons do not allow you to splatter a target with a grenade and then immediately follow up with your rifle, which is an important capability. However, standalones are still useful, hence the M320 GL, which can be both.

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I will take a shot at a rational defense of GPC, even though I am not a big advocate.

 

mas49-56-1.gif

 

Here is my vote for the best infantry rifle of all time.  In the 1950s and 1960s the French took it and jiggered with the design a lot.  Out of that came some one offs that were very impressive - it was the MAS 1954.  Basically is was the MAS49 action with an inline stock in a bull-pup configuration.  It was perfect in every test except one problem - the 7.62x51mm was too heavy for automatic fire.  The weapon was given a makeover then using up spare parts from previous weapon trials and it was several 7mm rounds before being tossed. 

 

It was one of these conversions, I think to the 7x33 wildcat of the German intermediate round, that they discovered some interesting trains.  The gun was till rock solid reliable - scoring better than the G3, M14, and FAS in almost all tests.  But the weapon was now capable of firing automatically without too much muzzle rise.  The rifle had integral grenade launcher with full sights allowing accurate use of rifle grenades, and it had a quick release scope mount.  The 7x33 was fed through a 30 round magazine based on the STG44 design.

 

The more "normal" 56 design was eventually adopted, but the testers said that the rifle was as close to a multi-purpose rifle as had ever been tested in France.

 

So here I would advocate a GPC round that did not try to do the job of heavier GPMG weapons. Get rid of the requirements to be in a machine gun and I think GPC might be doable.

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I agree.  Take an infantry rifle and put a grenade launcher on it.  Not much weight and it expands the envelope of what the soldier can engage.  Give them a scope designed for short range use and they increase the effectiveness of their local engagement options.  That combination has existed pretty solidly since the 1950s although I think the 40mm is a weak contender for a firepower thrower and should be replaced - and not by a 20mm that is even less effective no matter how smart. 

 

However, kinetic energy man portable individual weapons are limited to a 200 meter envelope no matter how power the ammunition they throw is.  Let them keep the 556x45 and be done for now.  I think there is an argument to be made for what ammunition that a squad automatic weapon uses, and I certainly think that the designated marksman can carry different ammunition as well.

 

One issue as well is no longer the huge problems.  Computers have changed logistics a huge amount, and even in the pre-computer days the logistics arm kept 3 distinct ammunition types flowing to combat units without issue.  

 

I'm hesitant to overstress logistics, but I think at least two or three kinds of ammunition are handled easily enough. Perhaps two kinds of loose ammunition, and one belted, or something of that nature.

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I have a pretty good idea of the performance the 7x33 would produce - how could it be anything but inferior to 5.56? And if it's not superior, then how is it any more of a GPC than 5.56 is?

 

The French integrated a sniper on each squad on infantry in 1951 and was based on a common practice that went back to 1915.  French snipers were deployed differently than German.  A German sniper was part of a special hunter team.  In France it was just the guy in a squad who was the best shooter.

 

So here the goal of GPC would not be to keep the MG and rifle fed by the same ammo, but to keep the rifleman and the sniper fed with the same ammo - IF that sniper is squad based and part of the maneuver element and not outside.  The FR-F1 was the eventual French solution, even though every French rifle after 1956 had rails for telescopic sights.  

 

Again, the solution the French now use is two rifle calibers.  I am just saying that the GPC does not make much sense applied to machine guns, but may make more sense applied to infantry rifles that have to pull double duty as individual marksman and defensive rifle.

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The French integrated a sniper on each squad on infantry in 1951 and was based on a common practice that went back to 1915.  French snipers were deployed differently than German.  A German sniper was part of a special hunter team.  In France it was just the guy in a squad who was the best shooter.

 

So here the goal of GPC would not be to keep the MG and rifle fed by the same ammo, but to keep the rifleman and the sniper fed with the same ammo - IF that sniper is squad based and part of the maneuver element and not outside.  The FR-F1 was the eventual French solution, even though every French rifle after 1956 had rails for telescopic sights.  

 

Again, the solution the French now use is two rifle calibers.  I am just saying that the GPC does not make much sense applied to machine guns, but may make more sense applied to infantry rifles that have to pull double duty as individual marksman and defensive rifle.

 

There are arguments for and against, but most importantly, a DMR cartridge does not necessarily need to be so large. 5.56 makes an adequate DMR cartridge with the right loads.

Larger rounds like the GPC are favored by those with a "bigger is better" and "more energy is better" theory of small arms ammunition, but there's quite a bit of doubt in my mind about the virtue of those two metrics.

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There are arguments for and against, but most importantly, a DMR cartridge does not necessarily need to be so large. 5.56 makes an adequate DMR cartridge with the right loads.

Larger rounds like the GPC are favored by those with a "bigger is better" and "more energy is better" theory of small arms ammunition, but there's quite a bit of doubt in my mind about the virtue of those two metrics.

 

 

I think the only disagreement I have with you on anything here is that killing power is not always the main factor to consider.  You are correct that bigger is better, more energy is better is a flawed model, or so I think, but the one think I think is flawed is when the shooting you do is not depending on random killing power but on precision shooting.

 

Except for shooting under the mirage line in the desert or over water, the most difficult issue to deal with in shooting for accuracy is windage.  A human is pretty much a vertical even when they are laying down.  The take up more space on the vertical plane that the horizontal.  The more windage that has to be adjusted for the more chance of a miss even if you get the windage right, because small murphy factors can creep in.  And heavier bullets with more mass require less windage adjustment than lighter.  Now its been years since I had to qualify on a military rifle, but I remember my M16 was 8 clicks windage at 10MPH at range distance, while the M14 was 4 or 5.  Heavier bullets drift less in wind.  Faster bullets of course are easier to get for elevation, but again you have more wriggle room here.

 

So here I think the one error in your thinking is: can a 5.56 really be made as friendly at long ranges for DMR as a 7.62 using the same technology.  IT may be possible, and again, this is devils advocate.  

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Guest Tony Williams

This provides the Bundeswehr with a unique opportunity. The Germans have historically been on the cutting edge of trends in small arms, and It's plausible that after seeing the deficiencies of the 5.56mm calibers performance in the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, they're very likely to be forward thinking in this regard and try to go with a new generation approach that would be better suited then the current "Golf bag" approach. A bullpup weapon would be more then ideal for this as it would combine the great CQB aspects of a 5.56mm carbine with the long range abilities of a 7.62mm design. a replacement program for a rifle along the lines of the Radon MSBS chambered in 6.5mm Grendel with the optimal 8g loading would, with current options be the best overall replacement for any future combat scenarios based on lessons learned from recent conflicts.

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Welcome to the forum, Tony.

You mention that it's plausible the Germans could switch to a new caliber. That doesn't seem likely to me; the Bundeswehr would be loathe to breech NATO standardization agreements, much less obsolesce their entire stock of ammunition in favor of a new round with no military production or standards behind it.

Further, those I've talked to who are closest to this issue all agree that the replacement will be in 5.56mm. The Bundeswehr needs rifles, and it needs them immediately, so this makes sense.

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Realistically, does any NATO member have the ability to switch to a new small arms caliber?  There would have to be some period where the legacy calibers and the new calibers were in concurrent production, and I don't believe any NATO member states have the spare production capacity to do that.

 

Hell, how much money does Germany even have to get new rifles in any caliber?

 

If HK is good at anything, it's iterative improvement of their designs.  They took an originally simple concept; the quasi-locked roller action, and added and elaborated on it until it was more than a mass-produced crap steel wunderwaffe that was desperately being slapped out to turn back the Russian hordes.  They fluted the firing chamber to get more consistent bolt carrier velocities.  They added the anti-rebound claw to prevent the bolt carrier from sticking out of battery.  They added the cocking tube and the charging handle notch so the bolt carrier could be locked open.  They added the drum sight, spring friction buffer and later granulated tungsten buffer.  They tweaked the Steuerstüeck angles to work with different barrel lengths and ammunition loadings.  Yes, I'm aware that a lot of the changes I mentioned happened in France before there was an HK, but it was mostly done by future HK employees.

 

The G36 was made when the Bundeswehr had no money and HK had no money.  Hell, they'd recently been bought up by the UK.  I suspect that the rifle was made to a price, and lacking any surplus cash (or any particularly robust export orders), HK has not had a chance to do their usual iterative improvements.

 

Just how different is a final spiral XM8 from a G36?  I know the gas port is opened up, the receiver layout is a bit different, and there are extended bolt catch/bolt release and magazine release controls.  Anything else?  Maybe you stick some NATO-spec rails on an XM8 and make a few other minor mods, and that becomes the G36A3.

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Just how different is a final spiral XM8 from a G36?  I know the gas port is opened up, the receiver layout is a bit different, and there are extended bolt catch/bolt release and magazine release controls.  Anything else?  Maybe you stick some NATO-spec rails on an XM8 and make a few other minor mods, and that becomes the G36A3.

 

A5. There is already an A3 and A4.

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Realistically speaking they don't have the funding for a major new small arms program or calibre overhaul that isn't supported by NATO as a whole. The most likely bet is they will have to address the issues with the now infamous polymer trunion. I'd imagine the purchasing of up to 100,000 HK 416s doesn't sound too appealing to them. Without knowing their current store levels their best bet in the short term may be to again increase the number of G3s per section (as they had in Afghanistan) to offer increased range and assured accuracy.

The most certain thing is that it's going to be a long haul, with HK calling for further investigation. They're up a certain creek without a paddle.

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Taking a gander at Germany's current and historical defense spending, it would be very ambitious of the Krauts to suddenly decide they need a new rifle AND a new caliber both in one go and totally independent of their NATO allies. On the other hand, given how crazy the world is, it wouldn't surprise me if Angela Merkel tomorrow channeled her inner Bismark and gave a "Blood and Carbon Fiber" speech while advocating for a Greater Germany. 

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Traditionally the U.S. called the calibre tune for NATO because major ammunition supply depots are funded by the U.S.  This causes a lot of gnashing of teeth sometimes (such as when the U.S. raids these piggy banks for elsewhere in the world. This is changing, so a new calibre is become more possible.

 

War stocks is a major consideration with calibre use.  Both the French and the Swiss maintained an unusual calibre for decades because they had a hundred days or more of war stock on hand and the potential replacement was no better than what they already had.  

 

WARNING - Long discussion the new logistics, ignore if you wish.

 

Most people who contemplate equipment use such as firearms for the military are shop window types, they consider what the weapon looks like in the window of a store, but not all the factors that it takes to get into the hands of a person who uses it.  Supply is an issue since the best weapon in the world is worthless without supply.  NATO is the master of supply, keeping dozens of nations both in the alliance and attached supplied around the world.  NATO is a master only because three of its member nations - the US, France (sort of member), and the UK are the kings of logistics bar none.

 

Computerization has meant that it is now possible though for supply to integrate new products more efficiently, Up until the 1990s supply requests in NATO in peacetime were based on a paper system that was push / pull.  A division would have a "unit of fire" of supply and would be pushed a regular allotment of supplied to a Corps depot, while subunits would indent for their supplies by supply requests to division, allowing for double entry style bookkeeping as pushed product met pulled requests.  This system was an American invention of WW2 and in pre-computer days it was the best in the world.

 

The problem came in with non-standard items and with unexpected use.  In the 1980s toilet paper was removed from the ration packs and U.S. soldiers started using more toilet paper - there is actually research on why this happened, but it started a period of nearly a decade when military units in Europe could not get adequate supplies of this product.  It became desperate when electronics started to demand lilon batteries of dozens of different types - and electronic manufactures are renown for not standardizing batteries as a marketing strategy.

 

This has been changing the last decade as NATO has developed a new supply system to deal with the War on Terror.  It is still  being standardized and moved into place, but it is based on the supply system used by Amazon and Best Buy.  

 

Go on the Internet and search for some looney decrying the US will be taking all their rights and as proof they point out that the Post Office signed a contract for 3.4 billion rounds of ammunition.  This is one of the aspects of the new system.  The Army will line up contractors for logistic items, and the contractors will specify their immediate and emergency capacity to supply product, along with their contract maximum (the absurd number of rounds listed in the contract).  When the Russians decide they want to threaten the Ukraine they start rolling thousands of trucks to build up their logistics foot print - their supply system is about as good as the US in the 1960s.

 

When NATO (in our new systems) decides that it wants to have forward combat capability to defend Estonia SACEUR makes a notional movement order in the supply system (the units mostly remain in place) that starts the supply system bulking up supplies, but these supplies movements are nonlinear.  A base in Germany gets 500 cases of toilet paper more than it needs and the system knows this, because it has internal smarts and it knows that this toilet paper will get married with other items and form part of the supply picture.  The bad guys in this case have no idea that NATO just changed its operational tempo because the system is programmed to avoid huge lifts of ammo and weapons to right next door to the trouble spot.  Computers make this all work.

 

This smarts means that if your unit uses .338 you can order it, and the system remembers and starts putting it on the list of supplies you need.  Back at the tail of the system the 27 units that use .338 get tallied together and that ammo is ordered JIT from industry, plus additional capacity for emergency surge is paid for.  When your unit moves to a new place the system moves boxes of .338 shift through the system virtually, following you without moving warehouses.  If your supply situation makes .338 supply an issues then sometimes there needs to be some cross decking so the .338 is moved to a new place that is more efficient to supply it to you.  Some products are important enough that JIT policy is removed and they get predictive chaos theory applied to them.  So perhaps .338 is hard to predict in usage since special operations soldiers move around the globe so much and operational tempo is not linearly predictive.  So the .338 gets over supplied and additional supplies are sent to warehouses that may not be predictive of current tempo, but may be predictive of future tempo.  Also, logistics covers are important.  Since many SO teams use .45 ACP and .45 ACP deliveries could be used as intelligence to predict their movements, .45 ACP may be purchased and shipped to random places to remove this as a potential source of intelligence.

 

The system is smart in that it knows how much it costs to lift a product, how much it costs to store a product, and the database collects data on its own mistakes to improve its own operation.

 

In 1990 creating a new calibre of ammunition required that millions of forms be discarded, thousands of square meters of warehouse space be opened, tens of thousands of logistics people be trained, and the logistics footprint of every unit in the military be recalculated to determine the changed supply lift and delivery needs - a process that could take five years.  Today using the new system a soldier handed a new rifle with an unusual ammo can have that ammo specified in the system in a few days.  In four months that ammo will arrive anywhere in the world where that soldier is without fail (although oddballs tend to require human staff time for the first year as they need the system occasionally to be overridden - which is why end users now can order supply like ordering from Amazon).

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My perspective on the matter aside, that doesn't seem to be a resounding argument for a GPC. After all, if more flexibility in ammunition is possible - especially if that ammunition is being ordered regularly and predictably, then having more calibers may not be such a burden.

 

Somewhat paradoxically, it does raise the chances that a new caliber - even a GPC, if for example it was someone's pet project - could be adopted

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This provides the Bundeswehr with a unique opportunity. The Germans have historically been on the cutting edge of trends in small arms, and It's plausible that after seeing the deficiencies of the 5.56mm calibers performance in the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, they're very likely to be forward thinking in this regard and try to go with a new generation approach that would be better suited then the current "Golf bag" approach. A bullpup weapon would be more then ideal for this as it would combine the great CQB aspects of a 5.56mm carbine with the long range abilities of a 7.62mm design. a replacement program for a rifle along the lines of the Radon MSBS chambered in 6.5mm Grendel with the optimal 8g loading would, with current options be the best overall replacement for any future combat scenarios based on lessons learned from recent conflicts.

 

Given that the germans are not likely to wish to delay their purchase of new rifles (since the current ones don't seem to be fit for purpose), what bullpup rifles have been proven to work with a GPC like that and are available to purchase off the shelf?

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Given that the germans are not likely to wish to delay their purchase of new rifles (since the current ones don't seem to be fit for purpose), what bullpup rifles have been proven to work with a GPC like that and are available to purchase off the shelf?

 

There are no available GPCs - within the definition you outlined, Tony - that meet military ammunition specifications. Further, I know of no bullpups available that have been chambered for the 6.5 Grendel or similar by any factory larger than small custom shops.

Given the absolutely limited extent of the 6.5 Grendel, it doesn't seem to gain you anything to stay within that round's specifications, as you're not maintaining compatibility with any appreciable existing infrastructure.

Therefore, any new GPC rifle/cartridge development will be starting essentially from scratch.

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Guys the G11 is gonna come back, I swear.

 

But seriously. This is a pretty big thing. I can't imagine a recall and upgrade being worth the effort, or even possible at all. That may result in Germany dropping the gun, and buying a new one. If H&K's burned enough bridges with the government as much as they've done with private consumers by now, they may not even hope for increased 416 sales. But then completely re-arming isn't exactly easy, either, and they can't exactly sell them off to legitimate or desirable people. So, it's going to be expensive, and they're going to either do it cheap, or do it right. Knowing that countries like Germany are under pressure from their population to keep spending down, I don't think a whole new weapons program or caliber switches being in the cards. Problem is that they have no real domestic options besides H&K. As a result, we may see FN, Steyr, or (huge longshot) Colt try to step in.

 

I wonder if this will spread, now. The EU now seems more focused on getting involved with Syria and other conflicts, and it's hard to flex your military for political capital when your stocks are going un-tested or under-maintained for this long.

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Well, I guess they should just play it safe and opt for .300 Blackout, perhaps in an H&K 416 which will allow for greater modularity which should allow for more flexibility in attaining synergy with other weapons systems.

Blackout is definitely not the answer, it's ballistics would hold it back for any consideration for general issue.

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