M855A1 article


#1

There have been questions before now about the US Army’s new M855A1 EPR round. The first critical review to be published: gunsandammo.com/2012/03/07/m … d-marines/


#2

In the very beginning of the article where they talk about how there was a lawsuit over patent issues, and that millions of dollars were paid out, I believe they are referring to Liberty Ammunition of Florida, who make virtually identical ammo, and who also make the new Halo Point pistol AP ammo, and Halo Point Civil Defense hollow points. I would wager that the money they made from the lawsuit is what helped them expand recently, produce Halo Point, redo their website, etc…

http://www.libertyammunition.com


#3

Thanks for that, Matt - I wasn’t aware of them.


#4

Tony, I noticed that the article’s author says he is mentored by Gary Roberts. That guarantees the article would be critical of the M855A1. Roberts has long advocated the military switch to expanding bullets such as the Mk318 or the earlier ATK TOTM, and opposed use of Ball projectiles like M855 or M855A1.

IMO, that article is therefore biased, and should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. FWIW, posts in other forums by individuals who claim to have used M855A1 in Afghan fighting have been very favorable in regard to its combat effectiveness.


#5

I note the article does not mention the amazing screwups committed by Picatinny in the early stages of development of a lead-free 5.56mm bullet. This would make for an interesting article for the IAAJ. I know a lot, but by no means all, of the details.

Having been intimately involved in a similar project at the time (but on the Air Force side), and having some first-hand knowledge of what was going on at Picatinny, I can attribute the developmental problems encountered directly to the Army’s refusal to even consider the use of two separate cartridges - one for training use and one for tactical (combat) use. What resulted, which was probably inevitable, was a round that was an inadequate compromise for either purpose.

Unfortunately, whatever the prevailing feeling about lead-free ammunition is, under current state and federal environmental regulations (which apply to the military in Spades), it is nearly impossible to avoid a transition to it. In other words, the Army didn’t particularly want to go that direction but they had little choice - and it won’t get any better.

I, too, agree that much better bullet terminal performance is highly desirable, but so long as the USA has committed itself to following the LOAC insofar as the Hague Convention is concerned, it won’t happen. I’m sort of surprised the Mk318 ever made it into combat. But I’m happy it did. Bless the US Nayy - they are far more progressive in their approach to small arms ammunition than the Army.

I haven’t seen much about the actual effectiveness of the new M855A1 in combat, but it would be very interesting to know what the experience has been to date.


#6

[quote=“stanc”]Tony, I noticed that the article’s author says he is mentored by Gary Roberts. That guarantees the article would be critical of the M855A1. Roberts has long advocated the military switch to expanding bullets such as the Mk318 or the earlier ATK TOTM, and opposed use of Ball projectiles like M855 or M855A1.

IMO, that article is therefore biased, and should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. FWIW, posts in other forums by individuals who claim to have used M855A1 in Afghan fighting have been very favorable in regard to its combat effectiveness.[/quote]
True, it is not exactly written with scientific objectivity!

However, I have heard of the 62,000 psi chamber pressure from other sources and have no reason to disbelieve it. After all, the velocity from the short-barrelled carbine has been increased, while the longer lead-free bullet uses up more case volume. Both of these would tend to push up pressure. And if that is right, then it is logical that it would increase barrel and gun wear and the mechanical failure rate.

Furthermore, I have never believed the claims about improved accuracy which seem completely incompatible with the fact (stated by the army) that the steel penetrator is often so loose in the jacket that it can be spun with the fingers! I gather that while most M855A1 batches achieve 2-3 MOA, the requirement is indeed only for 5.5 MOA. In contrast, the requirement for the USMC’s MK318 is 2 MOA.

I think that the author’s viewpoint is understandable in the context of the apparent success of the MK318, which is considerably less expensive as well as avoiding the M855A1’s problems. The MK318 does seem to offer superior performance in almost every respect, the obvious exception being armour penetration (although as the report points out, the M855A1 can’t cope with modern military-grade body armour anyway).


#7

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s an informative article on M855A1 development:

soldiergeek.com/milblog/2011 … f-the.html


#8

That takes me back. I attended several of the Army “Green Bullet” meetings in the early and mid-00s as the USAF rep, one of which I hosted here in San Antonio. The first one I remember being devoted specifically to the Army’s Post-tungsten debacle redesign effort was held in conjunction with the Albuquerque NDIA small arms meeting, in, I think, 2005. I didn’t attend the 2005 meeting at Lake City as I had a schedule conflict, but I probably have some documentation of it somewhere on my archive hard drive.