Final SADJ Article on NGSAW & polymer

Wizards of all things Ammo:

Please see attached Article from Small Arms Defense Journal. Please remember it was not written for this community. I would appreciate comments and suggestions. I plan to keep going on it.

Many thanks to Mel Carpenter for the picture and the additional help.


1 Like

Jay, that article looks great. Can you post a .pdf of the file so we can download it?

JayBell_SADJV12N1.pdf (293.9 KB)

1 Like

Jay, I have worked for the US DoD for nearly 46 years, first in uniform - then as a defense contractor, culminating as a V.P. for the 5th (formerly the 4th) largest in the world. Your article was GREAT, with the pinnacle quote being: “Mere mortals may not fully understand all the evaluation factors.” In full fact, this is an understatement.

Despite all the regulations, laws, and policies to the contrary, the government almost always finds a way to buy from vendors it “wants” - not those it “should”. Sometimes (almost seems at random), the “should” and “wants” coincide - in which case the government and tax payers win.

Often, “wants” and “should” conflict, in which cases evaluations are distorted, “value adds” are ignored, technical criteria are unevenly applied, price realism and price reasonableness (two separate criteria) are treated with salutary neglect, and the “wants” win the contract. In my experience, when that happens, the vendor wins and tax payers loose at least 8 times out of 10.

Joe - Thank you!! Much appreciated.

Please consider posting something similar on LinkedIn. I am getting negative backlash within the industry for being too honest and could use the positive plug. Someone said I am ‘not making any friends’ at GD, TV, Sig, AAI, etc.

You are spot on with your comments above. Hidden factors! Don’t forget about personalities - some government people just don’t like a certain company or people within the company. Other government people like to flex their muscles.

I think the location is another HUGE hidden factor - if it is close. We are all human. If you are about to award a 5-year IDIQ and will be spending significant time in this place for the next 6 years - would you rather award someone in Camden, AR or Perry, FL?


Jay - WILCO.

Yes, personalities play a HUGE role (again, despite all the laws and regulations to the contrary); as do “human factors”. There is good reason why companies hire attractive, well groomed, stylishly attired customer-facing sales reps & BD folks.

As a supplement, especially to disarm those who may claim “sour grapes”, I will frankly and honestly state that I’ve won contracts I probably shouldn’t have, lost contracts that I definitely shouldn’t have, and won contracts that I should have. In this business, if you are REALLY lucky, you win the coin toss about 40% of the time.

People who, like you, tell the truth as they see it, are never popular.
Take the threat of “not making any friends” as hollow as it really is. In a situation of really needing friends, they would not come from “GD, TV, SIG, AAI, etc.” anyway.
I do not share all your views but I admire your common sense approach.

Good reading.
That the earth is round.
In my opinion, these plastic “innovations” are just a waste of resources.
Without going into technical details, I’ll say that if customers stop going to the brothel, it’s necessary to change not the lamps and wallpapers, but the girls.
And all these games with plastic are just attempts to make new bows from old stripes.
The main problem of the case is the presence of the case itself.
The case, in addition to parasitic weight, complicates the design of both the ammunition and the weapon itself. The only solution to achieve a noticeable improvement is caselless ammunition.
But this will violate the interchangeability of ammunition for the military and civilian markets. And with the existing disability system for developing and ordering weapons, it is fraught with serious problems…
The problem is not technical, but administrative.
When decisions are made by people who are more interested in “how my reporting for the year will look” instead of “what is the real benefit to the army of this”, it cannot be otherwise.

They need their Trump in the Ordnance Office. ;-)

I have to disagree: there are serious technical problems with caseless ammunition.

For a start, it is fragile, which is not good given the violent handling of ammunition by automatic weapons; on trial, propellant blocks commonly break up or crack, drastically altering their burning characteristics. Secondly, the propellant (or combustible sleeve) is exposed to the atmosphere and affected by changes in humidity etc. Thirdly, the gun design needs to provide obturation normally achieved by the cartridge case. The late Jim Schatz, who knew a lot about this subject, spelled out the problems HERE.

A polymer case (with a metal base for conventional cases) resolves these problems at a minimal cost in weight. In fact, polymer is not only much lighter than metal but has advantages in limiting heat transfer between the case and the chamber.

As Jim put it: the US LSAT project showed that a polymer case reduced the ammo weight by around 40%, a caseless round achieved 50%, but there are lots of problems in trying to achieve that extra 10%.

1 Like

If, nevertheless, to delve into the technical nuances …
There are several (in my opinion) significant.

  1. What weight savings does the use of stainless steel cases with an aluminum bottom provide?
  2. How much internal volume does the plastic case steal?

If we are already talking about the cost, then the plastic cartridge is more expensive than stainless steel, not to mention the caseless cartridges.
The operational strength of plastic, perhaps (but not fact), is greater than without a case, but definitely worse than stainless steel.
The same applies to sealing.
The same is true for the shelf life.

IMHO it’s just pulling money for their pockets…
Yes, it is undoubtedly necessary to support the inventors and developers of ammunition, and this whole booth is useful for such purposes.
But instead of developing designs and technologies, we see stupid eating up of funds.
Perhaps it would be wiser to direct the resources just to work to eliminate the shortcomings of the caseless ammunition that You mentioned?..

I read the material You mentioned even when it appeared.
It looks right …
in relation to the past tense.
Ammunition with a solid metal case was also initially considered expensive, heavy, unsuitable for manufacture in the army, and what else …

He asked himself, he answered … :-)
The internal volume of the polymer case is insufficient even for old bullets (green nose)

The new M855A1, with the normal amount of ordinary gunpowder, simply will not fit into the polymer sleeve. Similar to tracers.
This means that such 5.56 cartridges are not suitable for the army.
And if you develop a new ammunition in another caliber using a polymer case, then the telescopic scheme looks much more promising.

One gets the impression that all this puppy fuss with polymer cases was started only in order to prevent the introduction of ammunition for new players like Shellshock, Novxammo and others.

Are you implying nothing has changed or improved since 2004 when this was “discovered”?

What do You propose to improve?
The laws of physics? ;-)
Even if one succeeds in picking up gunpowder with a significantly higher gravimetric density than the existing service gunpowders, such gunpowders (known to me) have insufficient stability and cause a noticeable decrease in the service life of barrels.
Plastic with volumetric strength like stainless steel? No comments…

We haven’t yet touched on the question, “what will happen to such cartridges, which, under pressure from the spring in the magazine, were heated to 40 + Celsius. And then cooled to 0 +/- Celsius?”

This is a dead corner.