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Nickdfresh
04-02-2009, 06:35 AM
Army's 'Subcompact' Rifle Search in Doubt

March 26, 2009
Military.com (http://www.military.com/news/article/armys-subcompact-rifle-search-in-doubt.html?ESRC=army-a.nl)

It could be a perfect fit for cramped cockpits and truck cabs -- a weapon potent enough to penetrate body armor, but sporting a bantam package that won't turn maneuvering in tight spaces into a Houdini act.

Though the Army says it's interested in putting a so-called "subcompact" carbine into the hands of certain Joes, the effort is likely to get kicked to the curb in favor of a new, full-sized carbine -- the victim of withering budgets and the service's focus on updating the M4.

Late last summer, the Army embarked on an ambitious analysis of the latest weapons the small arms industry had to offer. The effort focused mainly on possible alternatives to the M4 carbine, but its secondary goal was to look at subcompacts, or so-called "personal defense weapons."

These handy little guns can be anything from a submachine gun to a chopped-down carbine. The Army first announced it was interested in such a weapon in 2007, to give pilots, tankers and truck drivers a little more firepower than the Beretta M9 9mm pistol.

The service's interest prompted gun makers to gin up a variety of these James Bond-style weapons in multiple calibers and barrel lengths. Gun companies showed off their new designs at an Army industry day in November, but Army weapons officials still have no concrete plans for the effort's future.

"The subcompact has to serve a lot of different people ... it's much too early to say this is what we are looking for," Jim Stone, the head of the Soldier Requirement's Division at Fort Benning, Ga., told Military.Com recently.

Such a cautious approach has veteran gun makers doubtful that these new, compact weapons will ever make it to formal testing, let alone into Soldier's hands.

"I see this as an uphill battle," said C. Reed Knight Jr., owner of Knight's Armament Company. "The government still doesn't know what it wants."

Knight's Armament unveiled its new 6x35mm PDW at the industry day late last year. The sleek, 4.5 pound package has an effective range of 300 meters and can fire 700 rounds per minute on full auto, Knight said.

But the subcompact concept is nothing new. It all started with the .45cal Thompson and M3 submachine guns of World War II fame.

Over the years there have been innovations to the submachine gun genre, such as the Heckler & Koch MP5, a very popular 9mm weapon developed in the 1960s and still favored by numerous special operations and law enforcement units.

Experts say the only real drawback to the submachine gun is that its pistol ammunition isn't powerful enough for the battlefield. One alternative that emerged during the Vietnam War was the XM177, or "Commando" series of weapons. It fired the same 5.56mm round as the M-16, but came with a telescoping stock and 10-inch and 11.5-inch barrels.

The latest versions of these shorty carbines -- such as the H&K 416 -- emerged in 2004 at the request of some special operations units looking for something more reliable than their M4A1. The key to the 416's reliability is its piston gas system rather than the direct impingement system used on the M4 and M-16, which blows heat and carbon residue into the chamber.

And the most compact version of the 416 sports a 10-inch barrel -- that's 4.5 inches shorter than the M4's barrel.

Since then, the small arms industry has been flooded with new piston-driven carbine designs, many of them small enough for use as PDWs.

Among these is LWRC International's PSD. It has an 8-inch barrel and comes in both 5.56mm and the more potent 6.8mm. The Adams Arms Inc. PDW 5.56 takes the barrel length down do 7.5 inches.

Another type of PDW that's gained popularity over the past two decades combines the compactness of a submachine gun with small, rifle-style ammunition powerful enough to penetrate some types of soft armor vests and ballistic helmets.

The first of these appeared in the late 1980s when FN Herstal introduced its P90. The unique design features a 5.7x28mm round and an effective range of approximately 200 meters. The P90's bullpup layout and 10.4-inch barrel keeps the overall length at less than 20 inches, where and M4 measures 30.5 inches when the stock is fully collapsed.

The P90 has a 50-round magazine and can fire up to 900 rounds per minute. The weapon earned more notoriety when it showed up on the set of the TV series "Stargate SG-1."

A decade later, H&K came out with its version of the hybrid PDW, the MP7. It's chambered in 4.6x30mm and also has an effective range of about 200 meters. The 20-, 30- and 40-round magazines load through the pistol grip, making the MP7 resemble the venerable Uzi submachine gun. With this design, the 7-inch barreled MP7 measures only 16.3 inches with its stock collapsed.

By comparison, Knight's Armament PDW measures 17.5 inches with an 8-inch barrel when the stock is folded. The 6x35mm ammunition gives it an effective range of 300 meters with 50 percent less recoil than the M4 carbine, said Knight, who began developing his PDW in 2004 to fill the gap between the M4 and the M9 pistol.

"The 5.56mm is too big and the 9mm is too small," he said. "We really need something in between those."

As part of the request for information, Army weapons officials maintain the service is looking at all calibers for both the carbine and the subcompact.

The Army has made it clear, though, that it will not have a new requirements document for a subcompact until it completes the carbine requirement sometime late this summer.

"The carbine is the priority over the subcompact," the Army's Stone said. "I don't think you will see a new subcompact requirement this year."

The state of the economy will also force the Army to consider "is this worth my investment or not?" Stone said. "Separating wants and needs sometimes is very tough."

It's this kind of talk that makes Knight doubtful he will get a return on the $2 million his company spent developing its new PDW.

Knight said he knew when he started that the weapon would have less than "a 50-50 chance of it getting adopted.

"I think it will probably die a slow death," he said.
Copyright 2009 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rising Sun*
04-02-2009, 08:42 AM
I find it hard to believe that in the vast range of small arms developed so far there aren't weapons that will serve the various purposes.

What truck driver needs a weapon that fires 300m? If he could sight and accurately fire a weapon that far he probably wouldn't be a truck driver.

What tank crew member needs a small arm that fires 300m when he's been brewed up from much further away by a much bigger gun, such as on another tank, which his small arm won't affect?

Of course, the real problem might be that none of the various suitable weapons are new American ones which would allow the American arms industry to have another big and long suck on the increasingly withered tit of the American taxpayer to produce another wonder weapon like the M16 which was a really good idea but rendered dangerously ineffective in service by the bean counters in government.

Nickdfresh
04-02-2009, 11:53 AM
Yeah, I was about to post that they should just buy a bunch of MP-5s off the shelf, or issue an improved M-4 with the glitches solved, and be done with it...

Schuultz
04-02-2009, 01:30 PM
I know that Germany is adopting the MP7 to replace the Uzi (oddly enough, the Bundeswehr isn't using the MP5).

As for the HK416, I think Rising Sun was right when he said that the main problem is that its not an American rifle, otherwise I'm positive they would've already adopted it a long time ago...

Churchill
04-02-2009, 03:14 PM
Use a bull-pup model, its as easy as that...

mosinnagantm9130
04-02-2009, 07:03 PM
Army's 'Subcompact' Rifle Search in Doubt

March 26, 2009

The Army first announced it was interested in such a weapon in 2007, to give pilots, tankers and truck drivers a little more firepower than the Beretta M9 9mm pistol.



Sounds kinda like the circumstances that led to the M1 carbine.

Dixie Devil
04-07-2009, 12:50 PM
As for the HK416, I think Rising Sun was right when he said that the main problem is that its not an American rifle, otherwise I'm positive they would've already adopted it a long time ago...

I doubt that is it. We already use an Italian pistol and Belgian machine guns. Even our tanks have German guns on them. It probably has more to do with the fact that there are miles and miles of red tape involved in getting anything new approved and you compound that with the fact that the current arms are functioning ok and it is nearly impossible

Nickdfresh
04-07-2009, 06:27 PM
The current Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have also impeded arms development and caused the XM-8 to be scrapped...

Man of Stoat
04-08-2009, 06:31 AM
The XM 8 was scrapped because it melted and was crap, and was in any case only an attempt to recover released something workable out of the ridiculous OICW project...

The current wars have resulted in the 416/417 series, as well as various bells and whistles for the M4 and M-16 A2-A4 weapons. So to say that the war has retarded development is... rather counterfactual...

I would imagine that the Bundeswehr uses the MP 2 rather than the MP 5 is purely on the grounds of cost.

It also appears that the silly little PDW cartridges (4.6 and 5.7) have no legs militarily -- the terminal ballistics are comparable to .22 WMR, and the purpose for which they exist (defeating an enemy wearing level II armour out to 200 m in a lightweight package) no longer exists, since the bad guys are either unarmoured (leaving you with the problem of crap terminal ballistics), or wearing level IV armour (which these little cartridges can't defeat anyway).

Knight's 6.8 mm cartridge is probably a good compromise if you want to go down this road.

5.56 mm out of the short little barrels is extremely unpleasant for the shooter and the bystanders, by the way. I know, I have worked as range officer on practical rifle matches on indoor ranges with guys shooting 12 inch (and occasionally even shorter) AR-15 rifles, and I had to hold my clipboard up to try mitigate the blast.

Schuultz
04-08-2009, 07:19 AM
The XM 8 was scrapped because it melted and was crap, and was in any case only an attempt to recover released something workable out of the ridiculous OICW project...

You make it sound as if the melting was an unsolvable problem?


The current wars have resulted in the 416/417 series, as well as various bells and whistles for the M4 and M-16 A2-A4 weapons. So to say that the war has retarded development is... rather counterfactual...

Well, I'm pretty convinced that weapons testing was, aside of oil, one of the major reason for the war(s)..


5.56 mm out of the short little barrels is extremely unpleasant for the shooter and the bystanders, by the way. I know, I have worked as range officer on practical rifle matches on indoor ranges with guys shooting 12 inch (and occasionally even shorter) AR-15 rifles, and I had to hold my clipboard up to try mitigate the blast.

I know what you're saying, I've experienced the same thing...

Man of Stoat
04-08-2009, 07:28 AM
Well, I'm pretty convinced that weapons testing was, aside of oil, one of the major reason for the war(s)..

.

that is... possibly the most cynical thing I've ever read.

Nickdfresh
04-08-2009, 08:28 AM
The XM 8 was scrapped because it melted and was crap, and was in any case only an attempt to recover released something workable out of the ridiculous OICW project...

....


The XM-8 might have been crap, but there was a serious issue of not enough small arms, and insufficient production levels toward the beginning of the War, as the occupation's resulting insurgency caught the then incompetent gov't completely off-guard...

If it didn't kill off the program, it was one of the main causes and has been stated as such previously by more than one media source...

Nickdfresh
04-08-2009, 08:32 AM
...

Well, I'm pretty convinced that weapons testing was, aside of oil, one of the major reason for the war(s)..

...


What were they hoping to test? how the overemphasis on conventional armored warfare and the complete purging of Vietnam-era counterinsurgency doctrine from the US military's collective consciousness was completely idiotic? that numerous figures such as Gen. Shinseki told them they would need at least four times more "boots on the ground" to occupy a country with the size and population of Iraq?

How can one test anything when one already knows everything?

Schuultz
04-08-2009, 08:51 AM
What were they hoping to test? how the overemphasis on conventional armored warfare and the complete purging of Vietnam-era counterinsurgency doctrine from the US military's collective consciousness was completely idiotic? that numerous figures such as Gen. Shinseki told them they would need at least four times more "boots on the ground" to occupy a country with the size and population of Iraq?

How can one test anything when one already knows everything?

I'm not even talking about doctrines, but rather actual weaponry. It might not have been the reason for the invasion, but I believe it to be a factor for the continuing occupation. What better place to test experimental weaponry, including UAVs, etc and train their operators? Its the arms industry's wonderland...

From a political point of view, the two wars are without a doubt weakening the US financial power, but on the other hand, they are strengthening their military. One of the most crucial thing for an army is to be experienced, and Iraq & Afghanistan provide just that: Experienced soldiers and officers.

This of course doesn't mean that the losses are just ignored, but, as long as they stay as relatively low as they are, they can always be replaced thanks to humanity's favorite past-time.

Experience, however, can only be gained on a battlefield, not in the barracks, and with the US Army being far from the worlds largest, experience is crucial for it.

Still, I'm convinced that the 'War on Terrorism' in Afghanistan & Iraq will most likely go as another failure into the annals of history.

Nickdfresh
04-08-2009, 01:48 PM
I'm not even talking about doctrines, but rather actual weaponry. It might not have been the reason for the invasion, but I believe it to be a factor for the continuing occupation. What better place to test experimental weaponry, including UAVs, etc and train their operators? Its the arms industry's wonderland...

From a political point of view, the two wars are without a doubt weakening the US financial power, but on the other hand, they are strengthening their military. One of the most crucial thing for an army is to be experienced, and Iraq & Afghanistan provide just that: Experienced soldiers and officers.

This of course doesn't mean that the losses are just ignored, but, as long as they stay as relatively low as they are, they can always be replaced thanks to humanity's favorite past-time.

There really wasn't much learned other than the time tested remedial lesson of don't get involved in other people's civil wars. Aside from IED jammers, that have a very mixed record, and putting more armor on things like Humvees and the creation of a few new armored cars, I cannot think of one major technological break through that came from this War.

It did "transform" the US military into a more flexible institution that no longer is trying to re-fight the first Persian Gulf, which itself was a doctrine created for Europe as was the use of massive firepower and armored maneuver warfare the US senior officer corp, still smarting from Vietnam, favored up until as late as 2006...

I suggest Thomas Rick's "Fiasco" for further reading...


Experience, however, can only be gained on a battlefield, not in the barracks, and with the US Army being far from the worlds largest, experience is crucial for it.

I agree that the US now has a diverse, combat-hardened and experienced Army (and Marine Corp) as a result. Not too mention that sailors and airmen have also gained experience operating in roles they never thought possible...

But the Wars have also taken a severe toll on readiness of both people and equipment. It has inflicted a toll of PTSD on numerous active duty personnel and veterans, and severally disrupted their personal lives and marriages as the strain of any long term war would do to a professional military...


Still, I'm convinced that the 'War on Terrorism' in Afghanistan & Iraq will most likely go as another failure into the annals of history.

Yes and no. Things like that are hardly back and white. Has the stated Neo Con goal of creating an 'oasis of democracy' in the Arabic Middle East happened? No, not hardly and Iraq may well drift back into dictatorship once the US leaves. Has the Surge failed? Yes and no. The tactic worked very well, and "al Qaida of Iraq" was marginalized if not nearly defeated outright by a clever US counterinsurgency strategy not unlike "hearts and minds" of the Vietnam era. But the Shia gov't has failed to create a national reconciliation, which was the stated goal of the Surge --to provide a measure of security in which an accord could be reached between (mostly) the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds -this has not happened and probably will not happen without a lot more bloodshed.

But at the same time, the US military can also say they at least partially pacified Iraq and directed the insurgency away from them by finally bothering to understand they internal dynamics of Iraq and its culture. This is a victory of sorts, but one achieved too late. Ironically, it will probably be the US backing the very faction they overthrew, the Sunnis, and the Shiites being propped up by Iran for the foreseeable future as Iran is in many ways the big winner of the Iraq War...

And Afghanistan is an open question...

Firefly
04-08-2009, 04:29 PM
I dont think pacifying Iraq was ever a goal though. All thats happened is that Iran has been the biggest winner out of the whole affair, which youve touched on there. The whole reason for the adventure in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction after all, with a side order of democracy to go.

However, the war has brought about the rapid introduction in some areas, my own speciality of airpower has had more than a few innovations in targeting and air to ground data feeds.

Then theres the more simple stuff like the introduction of improved body armour and small improvements in small arms, look at the SA-80 for example, a much improved and more reliable weapon.

Battle experience may not be as important as we think though as well trained men who havent had tht experience tend to do just fine when the time comes. You only have to look at Normandy to see that it was often the raw divisions that performed well for the Allies, with some of the battle hardened ones being some what casualty shy as they knew what was coming if they pushed too hard.

Difficult to predict what will become of Iraq, fundamental Islamist state? Democracy? Something inbetween? I predict though that Iraq isnt going to be what the US and UK thought it would be in march 2003.

One things for sure, I wont be going back to Iraq again, well be gone by july this year and have already handed over our bit to the US.

Uyraell
04-08-2009, 10:06 PM
Yeah, I was about to post that they should just buy a bunch of MP-5s off the shelf, or issue an improved M-4 with the glitches solved, and be done with it...

Nick, what I've not understood from this thread is why a simple solution, such as an American copy of the Czech Skorpion tankcrew pdw isn't adopted, even if in a new calibre?

Is it simply politics and parochialism, some sorted of introverted "not buy foreign" mentality?

I have no wish to be critical, as God knows, NZ is as guilty of mismanaged equipment procurement policies.
I'm just genuinely at a loss to understand that which should be a perfectly locical solution: copy in either the US or Israel the Skorpion design in a calibre that is suited to the envisaged application.

Kind Regards, Uyraell.

Schuultz
04-08-2009, 10:15 PM
Nick, what I've not understood from this thread is why a simple solution, such as an American copy of the Czech Skorpion tankcrew pdw isn't adopted, even if in a new calibre?

Is it simply politics and parochialism, some sorted of introverted "not buy foreign" mentality?

I have no wish to be critical, as God knows, NZ is as guilty of mismanaged equipment procurement policies.
I'm just genuinely at a loss to understand that which should be a perfectly locical solution: copy in either the US or Israel the Skorpion design in a calibre that is suited to the envisaged application.

Kind Regards, Uyraell.

Well, I think the Americans don't just want to copy a foreign product, they want to 1-Up it with a product of their own...

Uyraell
04-09-2009, 12:29 AM
Well, I think the Americans don't just want to copy a foreign product, they want to 1-Up it with a product of their own...
But that's precisely where I'm lost in this: IIRC when the Skorpion became known, the Tank Corp types in both the UK and US Armies were extremely interested in having their own equivalent weapon. The Bundeswehr certainly was, which AIUI is what led to the HK PDW series weapons. The Israelis simply produced the mini-Uzi and the micro-Uzi for use in the crew-Pdw role, though admittedly favouring the firepower (getting rounds out) side of the equation rather than the penetration power (stopping the enemy soldier) side.

If recall serves, the Calico, though dismissed on the basis of insufficient development (despite leading to the Bizon design in the USSR) was originally developed as a crew Pdw firearm.

Hence, I'm either missing some significant detail, or have lost sight of a relevant factor somewhere in all this. Remembering too, that Eugene Stoner had an initial concept in the same role, which by various models evolved into the M4 and xm177 et-al.

Regards, Uyraell.

Nickdfresh
04-09-2009, 07:59 AM
The US Army uses two Belgian machine-guns, Italian pistols, a German sub-machine-gun, and a Swedish anti-tank weapon...

Man of Stoat
04-09-2009, 08:53 AM
As Nick implies, the days of "not invented here" are long, long gone.

Uyraell
04-10-2009, 06:08 AM
I Apologise if I seem to have been disrespectful : That certainly was not my intent.

I'm quite simply baffled as to an apparently available and seemingly realistically simple solution being ignored.

I spent considerable time during the late 1970's and early 1980's following up on various compact firearms, having myself been rather intrigued with the Skorpion design.

Hence I am curious as to why an equivalent has yet to be adopted by both US and UK forces some thirty years later.

Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

pdf27
04-10-2009, 05:33 PM
The UK currently uses an EXTREMELY short carbine version of the SA-80 family for some uses (IIRC it's issued to either tank crew or Apache aircrew, can't quite remember).
The weapon is about 2/3 of the length of the standard L85A2....

Uyraell
04-11-2009, 05:46 AM
The UK currently uses an EXTREMELY short carbine version of the SA-80 family for some uses (IIRC it's issued to either tank crew or Apache aircrew, can't quite remember).
The weapon is about 2/3 of the length of the standard L85A2....
I've just seen a picture of one of the short SA 80-s you refer to, Pdf27.
Yes, that weapon is damn short, though still larger than the Skorpion or Mini-Uzi. Then again, I'm taking the SA 80-short (aka L22_A1{?}) as being still able to fire the standard rifle bullet where the other two fire pistol rounds.
In which case,it would seem that the SA 80-short is a reasonable compromise.

Thank you for pointing it out. :)

Regards, Uyraell.

Nickdfresh
04-11-2009, 08:27 AM
Incidentally, I've read that cut down versions of M-14s in full caliber 7.62mm NATO are popular with some US special operators called the M-1A (?)...

http://suburbanprepper.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/spga_story28a_544.jpg

Dixie Devil
04-13-2009, 07:23 AM
Incidentally, I've read that cut down versions of M-14s in full caliber 7.62mm NATO are popular with some US special operators called the M-1A (?)...

The M1A is actually a civilian rifle made by Springfield Armory and is just a modified M14. The rifle in the image is called a SOCOM 16 which itself is a shortened Springfield M1A. I haven't heard of them being used by the military but it isn't hard to imagine someone using one with the resurgence of the harder hitting .308 (7.62x51mm NATO) round by military forces.