Info on 5.56mm Effectiveness from Sweden

Here’s a great PowerPoint presentation on how effective 5.56mm ammunition is from a military standpoint.

I say it’s great because I agree with a lot of what it has to say, but it really does have some good info, whether you are a proponent of 5.56 or not.

I’ll let the presentation do the talking.

“Is there a problem with the lethality of the 5.56mm NATO caliber?”

One of the most interesting parts of the file is page 21, which lists muzzle velocities at various barrel lengths, from 8.3″ to 20″.

8 thoughts on “Info on 5.56mm Effectiveness from Sweden”

    1. There are certainly better loads than M80 ball in 7.62×51, but few of them are “land warfare legal”.

  1. Page 28. From what I remember of Dr. Fackler’s work concerning the M855, the bullet is less than stellar in terminal performance below 2700 fps. And the search for the SOST bullet suggests that there IS some disatisfaction with the M855’s terminal performance.
    Training is extremely important, but sub-optimal hits will take place regardless, and the best wound producing bullet should be utilized for this event.

  2. My understanding is that Mr. Arvidsson was not originally scheduled to appear in the NDIA presentation queue (where this PowerPoint was taken from), but used his influence as NATO Infantry Weapons Standardization Chairman to gain a spot, right after Mr. Tony Williams, a British military historian and small arms and cannon expert, who gave a presentation on the benefits of intermediate (between 5.56mm and 7.62mm) calibers. In addition, from talking to Mr. Williams, I have gathered that Mr. Arvidsson’s point was not that the 5.56/.223 caliber was an adequate round, but that the M855/SS109 standard was not only adequate, but the best ammunition and caliber currently available, superior even than 7.62 NATO at range. This is demonstrably false; while the hit probability of 5.56mm is much greater than larger rounds, specifically the full-caliber battle rifle rounds such as 7.62 NATO, the performance of the cartridge at 500 yards closely resembles the 5.7x28mm or .22 Magnum at the muzzle. While I have little doubt that at that range 5.56/M855 can kill (just as a .22 Magnum at the muzzle can do so), it pales in comparison to other cartridges, like 6.8x43mm or 6.5x39mm.

    From what Mr. Williams tells me, Mr. Arvidsson’s PowerPoint was met with lots of shaking heads and facepalms.

    In closing, I want to make it clear that I don’t hate 5.56mm, I trust it with my life as my chosen home defense caliber, right next to my 12 gauge shotgun; however, my understanding is that Mr. Arvidsson has generally been ill-received at the NDIA conferences he has attended (this is not his first), primarily for making 5.56mm out to be something it’s not: Not just a workable cartridge for 500 meter shooting, but the best possible cartridge for shooting at all ranges, including long-distance shooting, like that encountered in Afghanistan. In addition, while Mr. Arvidsson makes fine points about the need for greater infantry training, especially at long ranges where error margins can be so high, he totally discounts the effects of ammunition selection on soldier effectiveness in combat, to the detriment of his worthier arguments.

    1. I’m not sure on the specifics of your post, but I do recall a thread on Lightfighter where Mr. Williams was unable to convince a number of folks of his point of view.

      I think that if the AR had been originally designed in a 6.5/6.8 caliber, we might be better off today, or if the M1 Garand had been made in .276 Pederson, and so on and so forth. But training is a much bigger issue than caliber, in my opinion.

      1. First, ignore all the data you already know in the above comment, I was being specific for its own sake.

        Aside from Lightfighter being one of the more lifelike gun forums on the Internet, Tony isn’t and was never a soldier (as I never was/am), so it doesn’t really surprise me that he had a hard time there. Having said that, what strikes me about Mr. Arvidsson the most is that he’s particularly wed to the M855/SS109 load in particular. I don’t really think there’s anything inherently wrong with M855, besides the fact that it was designed by folks overly concerned with penetrating a helmet at 500 yards, and I don’t necessarily suggest switching over whole hog to a more ideal intermediate cartridge (it may not be cost-effective, especially considering looming technologies that may replace brass-cased ammo altogether), but there are definite advantages to going with a different loading of 5.56mm, especially in Afghanistan. I am particularly thinking of the new Mk. 318 ammo, which looks like an especially good load for the unarmored insurgents we shoot at mostly in Afghanistan, while retaining barrier penetration.

        That someone like Mr. Arvidsson is so wed to M855/SS109, and that he’s in such a position of influence, worries me. It could be an issue if the time comes to switch to another load, caliber or possibly technology.

        But maybe I’m worrying a bit much, considering the recent adoption of M855A1 and Mk.318.

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