Let's go over the evolution of issue Infantry weapon ammunition of the United States military. One thing has not changed. You got a bunch of guy. You turn them into soldier. A large number of these soldiers need to go out and shoot the enemy soldiers one on one. That enemy can be British, Mexican, brother Americans, Spaniards, Germans, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Iraqi or Terrist. Whatever. You need to give you guys a principle personal weapon to do this shooting of the enemy. That personal weapon will be, invariably, some form of shoulder fired long gun.
Originally, it was a simple lead ball.
Then improvements were made. Percussion caps made it easier to fire with less flash in the pan.
Then the Minie ball allowed for easier use of rifling in your long gun. Now every shooter has a rifle with greater accuracy and range.
Then breechloaders came about. Range was improved because pressures could be greater in your Spencer rifle.
Then self contained cartridge ammunition was introduced. Stuff like the .45-70 army. The round was smaller than the old .58 caliber, but it more than made up for this loss of oomp by ease of use and greater internal pressures allowing greater range. Not that the .45 lead ball lacked for 'oomph' that much.
Smokeless powder came out. Another improvement. Bolt action rifles allowed for greater rates of fire. Now the Army was issue with .30-40 Krags. Better than the .45-70? Arguably, yes indeed. The .30-40 had greater velocities, flatter trajectories.
The next improvement settled on was a better bolt action rifle. The ammo was pointier now. 'Spitzer' bullets flew better, and faster. And the cartridge was improved compared to the .30-40. The Army got the venerable .30-06. No one would argue the .30-40 was better than that round. And that lesson was hard learned, where Spanish soldiers firing better Mausers at US fighter armed with Krags.
So how do you improve on the .30-06? Easy. You make something as good in speed and power, but maybe you make the round a bit shorter to work better in semi-automatic weapons. Similar performance in a more portable round. And being shorter it was slightly lighter. Easier to carry that way. And you have the .308 to hand.
Ok... Now how to improve on that? We're starting to cut the baloney thin. You can't make the leaps forward we used to, tripling the range from lead ball to Minie ball, or tripling again to self contained breech loaded smokeless powder cartridges. Tripling the range again now. That's north of 3000 yards. It's hard to pick out men to shoot that far away with binoculars. Binoculars you can lift and carry. You can continue to make the cartridge lighter and easier to port around, I guess. That's good, right? Make it 2/3rds the size of the .308. It won't hit as hard. But it will be easier to control on follow up shots or on automatic fire. The round might be small, but we can up the velocity to make up for that. Aim for equivalent power at target. Sorta. Anyway, here's the latest and greatest .223 round. Less than half the diameter of the old .45-70 and very much lighter in bullet weight. And the whole cartridge is much lighter than the precursor .308. Some say the .223 (or 5.56mm) is an improvement on the .308 (and in some ways it is) and some say it is not (and in some ways it is not.)
So? What next? It will have to be revolutionary. Maybe get away from a slug thrower all together. Maybe go MUCH bigger and be shooting bomblets. Smart bomblets that seek out bad guys 1000 yards away hiding around a corner and get him AND all his buddies nearby with one shot. Or energy weapons firing charged particles. Or maybe get rid of the Infantry dude altogether and use Robots. I don't know. I can't even imagine what path it will take. Like I said, it would almost have to be revolutionary.
Another bottle of Hippie Tears, waiter. - Is there any wine as sweet as the tears of a hippie? http://t.co/cNw7ldothe — Tamara K. (@TamSlick) December 20, 2013 It never fails to amuse me to watch ...
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