Military Small Caliber Ammunition Overview Presentation

Small caliber ammunition, present and future, overview, 2013 ARMAMENTS AND MUNITIONS FORUM, PICATINNY, NJ; November 12, 2013:

Interesting. Col. Clark is from where???



Here is the information given on DTIC-

From the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Conference Proceedings, 2013 Armaments and Munitions Forum,
The presentation is listed as “PM MAS SMALL CALIBER AMMO LTC Phil Clark, USA, Deputy Project Manager, Maneuver Ammunition Systems Small Caliber Ammuntion”


Here is some background on Maneuver Ammunition Systems

Quote (2004):

Maneuver Ammunition Systems
Perform Life Cycle Management of Ammunition to Include
Development, Testing, Production and Fielding. Additionally,
Provide Expertise in Weapons, Ammo Handling, Target
Acquisition/Recognition and Fire Control
Platforms Include – Abrams Tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Mobile
Gun System, Future Combat Systems and Aviation
Provide the Army, the Department of Defense and
Allies With World Class Ammunition for Use by the
Soldiers and Maneuver Combat Weapons Platforms
Ammo for Current, Interim,
Future Systems & Dismounted Soldiers”

See also: … newill.pdf

Looks like a couple of big downloads. Don’t have time right now.

What I meant was, what outfit is Col Clark and M.A.S.S.C.A ? A military unit? Assigned to Picatinny Arsenal?



I feel like I’m back in school:-)

Briefly from a quick search: Program Executive Office Ammunition or PEO Ammo is located at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, the home of the Joint Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammo.
Subsections are APEO Industrial Base (Private contractors), Close Combat Systems (Demolitions and non-lethal ammunition),
Combat Ammo Systems – Indirect Fire (Mortar and other indirect fire ammunition), Maneuver Ammo Systems – Direct Fire (Small, medium and large caliber ammunition), Joint Services (Demil).

It appears there are civilian and U.S. Army personnel heading up the various subsections, with periodic changes in leadership roles between the two groups.

Now I got to go shovel snow!


Ahhh. Thanks Brian.

Sorry to keep you away from snow shoveling. ;-) I wish we had snow to shovel. Seriously. We’re in a deep drought. It’s especially hard on the deer, elk, javelina, rabbits. We can provide water for the birds but not much beyond that.


There has been a Small Arms Conference (under varying names) in May of each year and you can find the presentations of previous years on the same web site. I recommend to have a look. Among the presenters featured is Tony Williams, for example. I personally like those by Jim Schatz, formerly of HK, best (although I do not always share his views). And there are the presentations from various military outfits, including some foreign.

In 2013 we foreigners looked open-mouthed at the U.S. comedy of budget. It led to the cancellation of a bunch of conferences on military subjects, among them the Small Arms Conference. It looks as if this November event was a sort of Ersatz for it. As such, annual status overviews from the program managers are nothing new. It is simply the first time they were presented in November instead of May.


You are right. National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) conferences of years past have provided some very interesting presentations on various aspects of ammunition research and development, production, supply etc. Hopefully things will get straightened out in the future.

Something that was discussed there but is not in the published papers (I put this together for Jane’s International Defence Review):

[quote]The US Army has announced a ‘Caliber Configuration Study’ to support two new small-arms programmes, designated CLAWS (Combat Lightweight Automatic Weapon System) and LDAM (Lightweight Dismounted Automatic Machinegun).
The announcement was made at an NDIA (National Defense Industries Association) conference held in mid-November at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal.

CLAWS is intended to result in the eventual replacement of all of the existing 5.56 mm rifles, carbines and light machine guns by one modular weapon family with interchangeable barrels, stocks and accessories. This is expected to consist of a carbine (barrel length c.300 mm), assault rifle (c.400 mm), squad designated marksman rifle (c.500 mm), and a squad automatic weapon / light machine gun (c.600 mm barrel). LDAM is seen as an eventual replacement for the 7.62 mm M240 medium machine gun (FN MAG) and the .50 calibre (12.7 mm) heavy machine gun in dismounted applications.

The calibres of the new weapons have yet to be determined, but the requirements indicate the replacement of the existing 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm NATO rounds that have been in US service for 50 and almost 60 years respectively. LDAM is intended to match the effective range of the .50 Browning with much less weight, so it needs to fire a considerably larger and more powerful cartridge than the 7.62 mm.

The obvious existing candidates are the .338 inch (8.6 mm) Norma and Lapua Magnum rounds which differ only slightly, with weapons designed for one being readily adaptable to the other. The Lapua round is in widespread use in long-range sniper rifles (including the British Army’s L115 from Accuracy International), while the Norma cartridge was selected for the General Dynamics LWMMG (Lightweight Medium Machine Gun) revealed in 2012. This weighs little more than the M240, although the ammunition is significantly heavier.

If the supporting fire role is to be filled by weapons in 8.6 mm or similar calibre intermediate in power between the 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm, that implies that the CLAWS weapons will need to replace some of the lighter current 7.62 mm rifles like the M14EBR and M110 (the British equivalent being the L129A1 ‘Sharpshooter’), plus light machine guns such as the MK48 (FN 7.62 mm Minimi). A reduction in effective range will probably be unacceptable, which means that whatever cartridge is chosen for CLAWS will need a longer range than 5.56 mm can provide.

In recent years both ARDEC and AMU (respectively the technical research and marksmanship arms of the US Army) have examined future small-arms calibres, and have zeroed in on an optimum calibre range of between 6.35 mm and 6.8 mm. There are few current cartridges that seem likely to meet the CLAWS requirement; the 6.5 mm Grendel may represent the smallest feasible solution, the experimental 7x46 UIAC the largest. A design intermediate between these two could potentially match the long-range performance of the 7.62 mm with much less weight and recoil.

Whatever calibres are chosen, it is clear that the ammunition will be required to use lead-free bullets (making it harder to provide good long-range performance) and will need to be adaptable to the use of hybrid polymer/metal cases which offer a valuable ammunition weight saving of 25-30%. With such cases, the CLAWS ammunition should weigh little more than the current metal-cased 5.56 mm.

Tony, we all (one more one less) heard about plans for a “new” and unified replacement caliber for about 20 years. The discussion is still going on, research is done, money spent (wasted?) and about 2 major conflicts (and many small ones) in the last 2 decades were overcome with the 5.56x45 - all somehow confirming and repeating the shortcommings of this caliber known since Vietnam (I may have generalized a bit here).
While being aware that a new standard caliber (also on NATO level) will be a big issue, costly and certainly replacement will go slow (at least a nother decade I guess) I wonder why not at least the new caliber to go for and promote to potential users (and NATO again) is not settled on after such a long time? The man was sent to the moon in a shorter time period!

The Russians seem to have the same issue, including the attempt of an unified caliber of 6mm an there also nothing came out. Thouth they have at least the good old 7.62x39 to use when needed (and they do!).

So as you have quite a good insight into this, what are from your view the reasons for the slow pace (or shold I say stall?) and back and forth in all this?

Good question. I suspect that the following reasons may all apply, to some degree:

  1. The headline cost of replacing all of the small arms and ammunition production systems would be very high (even though in practice such a change would be phased in gradually). It would therefore not be a good career move for anyone to suggest this.

  2. The Army has invested huge cost and effort into the 5.56mm cartridge, so is strongly committed to it (even though the M855A1 introduction has not turned out well). It would not be a good career move for anyone to suggest a change.

  3. The Army has also devoted a lot of time and prestige into fighting off complaints about the 5.56mm calibre ever since it came into service. To admit that it actually isn’t very satisfactory and that the troops would have been much better off with something different would not (you’ve guessed it) be a good career move.

  4. There is massive inertia in an organisation as big and long-established as the US Army. To make a radical change to an entirely new calibre would require someone with the determination to make it happen and the authority to see it through. Very few posts provide that sort of authority, and the military ones generally rotate after three years which isn’t enough time.

Taking all of the above into account, it really isn’t in the interests of those in authority to argue for such a change, so the odds against it happening are high, no matter how strong the ballistic and logistic case might be. However, the current research work into the question of the optimum rifle cartridge does provide a smidgen of hope.

As I guessed and you more or less confirmed there is a lot of personalyity involved.

Maybe one should suggest to have a permanent “board of change” established with specialits on it who do not rotate in, out, back, forth, on, off, up, down and what so ever. Keep it in one hand till the job is done and take the position off the “frontline” and all the (mad) barking dogs who are only concerned about the own legislative period (or assignment period) and to come out with a fat bonus (or other merits) because they did not cause “inconvenience” and watch soldiers dying because they have crap in their hands issued by the same people.

I love bureaucrats, armchair stategists and do-gooders!