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Old 09-09-2018, 08:13 PM
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Default Opinions Please - Are Assault Rifles Perfected?

Just spend some time reading the wikipedia article on the FN SCAR and it occured to me that assault rifles are pretty much a mature technology and any refinement from here on in are pretty much minor, but then again I've never used one.

What are your thoughts?
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Old 09-09-2018, 09:51 PM
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I would say not quite. The average assault rifle is in its third generation and is very reliable under most conditions. Accuracy is acceptable. Where they fall short is in universal ergonomics. The "ideal" assault rifle would have the following features:

- A safety that can be reached EASILY with the firing hand thumb or firing finger. There are several options here. I like the AR option but it has this annoying trait that you CANNOT "on safe" the weapon and then load it. You must load it then put the safety on. The FAL's safety is good as is the M14/Mini-14's (and M1 Garand's) inside the trigger guard push to "off safe" lever. The SKS also uses a push to off-safe trigger blocking safety which is FAR SUPERIOR to the AK's receiver-mounted safety (which I have trouble disengaging WITHOUT breaking my firing grip). The Mossberg Shotgun's tang-mounted safety is the MOST ergonomic shotgun safety I have ever used ON A STRAIGHT STOCK. Put that safety on a pistol grip style stock, however, and it becomes UNREACHABLE! Thus one must consider the weapon's stock design in tandem with the safety's placement.

- A drop-free magazine release that can also be "manipulated" with the firing hand easily. The AR wins here as well. The paddle release is not bad it is just slower than a mag release that allows the empty mag to drop free. The drop-free mag release CAN BE "problematic" IF it is poorly designed. The IW/L-85 was known for "dumping its mag" as the catch would rub on a soldier's equipment. The FAMAS was also known to "dump" a loaded mag while moving. The AR mag catch was often known to fail if the user locked in a 100 round Beta Mag and began moving with it. The Beta Mag just weighed TOO MUCH for a stock mag catch. This also became an issue during the War on Terror with the M249's 200-round "Pork chop" box. The plastic tabs would break and the box would just fall off the SAW leaving the gunner dragging a belt. SF operators began carrying the 100-round soft-sided "Nutsack" (due to its round shape) carrier in lieu of the 200-round "pork chops." The "nutsacks" are still highly popular with moving troops due to their smaller size, lighter weight, and more reliable attachment to the gun.

- A bolt hold-open on an empty chamber AND one that can be manually "locked back" to clear a malfunction. The AR has a good bolt hold open that can be manipulated with the weak hand (the SCAR and Remington ACR too). The H&K G series just SUCKS. Its left side charging handle is forward of the action (requiring you to reach FORWARD of the mag after seating it) and has no automatic bolt hold open. The experienced H&K user will manually lock the bolt back when the gun goes "click" and just slap the charging handle down (and into battery) after loading the new mag. This is still slow. The AK's right side charging handle/bolt without a hold open is the second slowest operating system. The M14/Mini-14 and FAL at least have a hold open on an empty mag (although some models will snap closed when the mag is removed). The FAL's non-reciprocating charging handle is ideally positioned (for right-handed shooters) on the left side and will release the bolt hold open (there is no button to do this).

- A bolt/charging handle that can be configured to either strong or weak handed operation and is NOT a reciprocating charging handle (to prevent it dragging on walls or obstructions and jamming the weapon). The Beretta AR160 with its "configurable on the fly" charging handle swap AND ejection change is a winner here. The SCAR is close but the charging handle reciprocates so you have to be careful not to place a SCAR too close to a weak-hand wall (if you like your charging handle weak side like I do) or it could strike that wall and cause a malfunction. The FAL has a good weak hand side charging handle but the non-reciprocating metric guns I fired could NOT use the bolt to remove a stoppage if the bolt was jammed. The M14/Mimi-14, with its right side charging handle, is slightly awkward to use (reaching over the receiver) but does hold open on an empty mag. The AK's right side charging handle with no automatic hold open (which you reach under the receiver to manipulate) is the second worst bolt to run. The H&K is DEAD LAST in this category. The charging handle is on the weapon's left (weak hand for me) side FORWARD of the magazine. It has NO automatic bolt hold open and you must push the charging handle into receiver cutouts to manually lock the bolt rearward. When reloading, you must lock the bolt back manually, then drop the empty mag and replace the full mag. You must then slap the charging handle downwards out of the retaining cutout to run the bolt forwards. To add insult to injury, IF you try to reload the mag with the bolt closed on the chamber, a fully loaded magazine often WILL NOT SEAT because of the full mag. Savvy H&K users will often download their mags by one round to prevent this.

- A bolt/charging handle that can be used to extract a stuck round from the rifle's chamber. This style MUST NOT conflict with the trait above. The G36's non-reciprocating charging handle is the ideal to me. You press a button on top of the handle (which is hinged to spring backward to avoid snagging) to lock the handle into the bolt. You can then work the bolt with the charging handle. Pressing the button puts the handle back into a non-reciprocating mode. The AR is the worst here. The charging handle is NOT YOUR FRIEND! It can only be used to eject a dud round and will be of little use in a chamber jam. Jams will occur on occasion if you charge the weapon by running the charging handle. It is better to lock the bolt to the rear, load a mag, and drop the bolt by using the bolt release on the upper receiver. You should avoid manipulation of the charging handle at all costs.

I hope these experiences I've had give you some "insight" into various weapon's quirks.

Last edited by swaghauler; 09-10-2018 at 07:23 PM. Reason: clarification on m16.
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Old 09-10-2018, 02:03 AM
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Cool stuff!

Does anyone think that there'll be a game-changer technology for the assault rifle?
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:22 AM
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It's possible, but I'm thinking it'll most likely be in the ammunition itself, probably with the development of a stable caseless round.
4.7mm as used by the G11 had loads of potential, but I believe there were still problems with the propellant cooking off, or being effected by moisture (possibly both). All would have been sorted out in time though I think...
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:49 AM
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It's possible, but I'm thinking it'll most likely be in the ammunition itself, probably with the development of a stable caseless round.
4.7mm as used by the G11 had loads of potential, but I believe there were still problems with the propellant cooking off, or being effected by moisture (possibly both). All would have been sorted out in time though I think...
Caseless ammo has bigger problems.

(1) Fragile: dropping a caseless round (even in a magazine) can cause the propellant to crack or completely break, leading to a malfunction.

(2) Malfunctions: to clear a malfunction on the G11 you essentially had to field strip the gun. For regular cased ammo, operating the bolt manually (to eject the unfired round and chamber a fresh round) is usually sufficient.

(3) Overheating: Brass cases absorb heat from the propellant exploding and are then ejected out of the gun. Caseless rounds don have this to get rid of some of the heat from firing and will overheat much faster.

No, caseless ammo is really a dead end.

(Talking about small arms here, not the ammo for larger cannons and howitzers)
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Old 09-10-2018, 09:44 AM
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So just making sure are you asking about assault rifles (M-16 and such) and battle rifles (M-14 and such), or assault rifles and carbines (M-4 and such), or just any shoulder arm that may be carried by troops today?
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Old 09-10-2018, 01:17 PM
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Default It's the Round, not the Rifle

I think the major issue that's affecting assault rifle efficacy is the intermediate cartridge/round. I don't think the tech. will be "perfect" until this is adequately addressed.

Combat experience has demonstrated that the 5.56mm round is too light, lacking the range, and penetration/stopping power to effectively engage targets at anything beyond 100m. It's adequate for MOUT/CQB, but when the enemy aren't up close, like in most of Afghanistan, it's a problem.

Heavier rounds, like the 7.62x54mm perform better at longer ranges, but the more powerful cartridge generates more recoil, negatively impacting accuracy (especially during automatic fire) and causing generating more wear and tear on the internal action.

So, once a better intermediary round is adopted, then yes, assault rifle tech. will pretty much be perfected. I'm sure that there will be continued debate over the best internal action (delayed blow-back, gas piston v. gas impingement, etc.).
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
I think the major issue that's affecting assault rifle efficacy is the intermediate cartridge/round. I don't think the tech. will be "perfect" until this is adequately addressed.

Combat experience has demonstrated that the 5.56mm round is too light, lacking the range, and penetration/stopping power to effectively engage targets at anything beyond 100m. It's adequate for MOUT/CQB, but when the enemy aren't up close, like in most of Afghanistan, it's a problem.

Heavier rounds, like the 7.62x54mm perform better at longer ranges, but the more powerful cartridge generates more recoil, negatively impacting accuracy (especially during automatic fire) and causing generating more wear and tear on the internal action.

So, once a better intermediary round is adopted, then yes, assault rifle tech. will pretty much be perfected. I'm sure that there will be continued debate over the best internal action (delayed blow-back, gas piston v. gas impingement, etc.).
I would have liked to see the 6.5, 6.8, or even a .243 Caliber become common. NATO is happy with both the 9mm and the 5.56mmN and I do not foresee a change in the near future. Based on the questionable performance of the Chinese 5.8mm round, I'm not entirely sure there is one round that does it all.
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by copeab View Post
Caseless ammo has bigger problems.

(1) Fragile: dropping a caseless round (even in a magazine) can cause the propellant to crack or completely break, leading to a malfunction.

(2) Malfunctions: to clear a malfunction on the G11 you essentially had to field strip the gun. For regular cased ammo, operating the bolt manually (to eject the unfired round and chamber a fresh round) is usually sufficient.

(3) Overheating: Brass cases absorb heat from the propellant exploding and are then ejected out of the gun. Caseless rounds don have this to get rid of some of the heat from firing and will overheat much faster.

No, caseless ammo is really a dead end.

(Talking about small arms here, not the ammo for larger cannons and howitzers)
I think MetalStorm's digitally/electrically detonated caseless propellant is really the wave of the future. The US Navy successfully deployed a number of 40mm MetalStorm units as a close combat weapon on ships. The ammunition is reliable and the rate of fire is INSANE.
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Old 09-10-2018, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by swaghauler View Post
I think MetalStorm's digitally/electrically detonated caseless propellant is really the wave of the future. The US Navy successfully deployed a number of 40mm MetalStorm units as a close combat weapon on ships. The ammunition is reliable and the rate of fire is INSANE.
And it was developed here in Australia too.

Yes, current caseless ammo has it's problems as I mentioned in my earlier post, but, should those problems be solved, the benefits will be huge - twice the ammo carrying capacity for each soldier just for a start, not to mention larger magazine capacity for smaller bulk. Alternatively, a larger calibre for the same (or even less) weight and bulk, resulting in greater hitting power and penetration.
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Old 09-11-2018, 07:08 PM
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And it was developed here in Australia too.

Yes, current caseless ammo has it's problems as I mentioned in my earlier post, but, should those problems be solved, the benefits will be huge - twice the ammo carrying capacity for each soldier just for a start, not to mention larger magazine capacity for smaller bulk. Alternatively, a larger calibre for the same (or even less) weight and bulk, resulting in greater hitting power and penetration.
The interesting thing about MetalStorm is that the "propellant" is sprayed onto the round and is totally INERT even when burned until you put the right current (in Amps, Volts AND Ohms) to it. This allows the stacking of rounds inside a barrel while still being able to fire just a single round without detonating the others. This also allows a digitally programmable rate of fire with a theoretical limit of ONE MILLION ROUNDS PER MINUTE. I think this is going to be the future of personal projectile weapons. The Navy's 40mm Grenade Launchers were originally conventional rounds with special priming that used a contact to program the fuse for either proximity or contact detonation. The launcher allowed this THROUGH the MetalStorm ignition system.
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Old 09-11-2018, 09:53 PM
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Basically, nothing is ever perfected -- humans aren't capable of that. Things are modified to make them better (or worse -- or offer no improvement at all), or a (usually grudging) admittance that a new model is need (or that it is needed to go back to an earlier but better model).

No, the assault rifle is not perfected. Many of the projected future improvements are based on ammunition (whether using harder-hitting rounds or exotic rounds like caseless, case-telescoped, synthetic-cased, or electromagnetic rounds a la the original Traveller gauss rifle). Other possibilities include modified service ammunition, including flechettes and duplex ammunition. Lots of possibilities there for improvement.

Other possible improvements include a direct gas system without the problems of the Stoner direct-impingement gas system, conversion of existing rifles or new designs using a bullpup layout (something I firmly believe is far better than continually shortening the barrels of existing conventional-layout assault rifles), and better ways of attaching accessories to the assault rifle.

Other room for improvement includes better sights, particularly in the area of add-on sights (none issued to the military satisfy everyone, and different types are needed to be issued for different missions right now), muzzle brakes for SBAR that do not throw up a large exhaust and IR signature, and barrels for assault rifles that can be switched for a different barrel length by the user, and muzzles are threaded to allow suppressors or muzzle brakes to be mounted that do not require that the weapon be turned into the armorer.

And that's just what I can think of in the spur of the moment. I'm sure there's more room for improvements.
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Old 09-13-2018, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by swaghauler View Post
The interesting thing about MetalStorm is that the "propellant" is sprayed onto the round and is totally INERT even when burned until you put the right current (in Amps, Volts AND Ohms) to it. This allows the stacking of rounds inside a barrel while still being able to fire just a single round without detonating the others. This also allows a digitally programmable rate of fire with a theoretical limit of ONE MILLION ROUNDS PER MINUTE. I think this is going to be the future of personal projectile weapons. The Navy's 40mm Grenade Launchers were originally conventional rounds with special priming that used a contact to program the fuse for either proximity or contact detonation. The launcher allowed this THROUGH the MetalStorm ignition system.
One very practical application I could think of would be as a "disposable" ad-hoc CIWS setup to take out drones or incoming missiles. Of course, you'd need to have incredible guesstimation skill for the missiles.
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Old 09-13-2018, 12:17 PM
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From Paul -
"Basically, nothing is ever perfected -- humans aren't capable of that. Things are modified to make them better (or worse -- or offer no improvement at all), or a (usually grudging) admittance that a new model is need (or that it is needed to go back to an earlier but better model)."

Amen there Paul - never seen any weapon system that you could say was now perfect
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:15 PM
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One very practical application I could think of would be as a "disposable" ad-hoc CIWS setup to take out drones or incoming missiles. Of course, you'd need to have incredible guesstimation skill for the missiles.
That is essentially what they bought them for. The secondary use would be against small boat swarms like the boats the Iranians are using in the Gulf.
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Old 09-14-2018, 02:45 AM
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I think the major issue that's affecting assault rifle efficacy is the intermediate cartridge/round. I don't think the tech. will be "perfect" until this is adequately addressed.
The problem is that there is no "perfect" rifle/round combination. What is ideal for the open spaces of Afghanistan is not ideal for the forests of Europe or room clearing in a highrise building.

Given that, the current rifle/round combinations are reasonable compromises.
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Old 09-14-2018, 11:11 AM
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Being able to change uppers...and therefore change calibers for your task would be great. Using the same physical sized magazine, just with different calibers would be nice.

Think 5.56 and .458 SOCOM style philosophy....
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
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I think the major issue that's affecting assault rifle efficacy is the intermediate cartridge/round. I don't think the tech. will be "perfect" until this is adequately addressed.

...
But then it is no longer an Assault Rifle, you are moving back into the Battle Rifle realm.
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:39 AM
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I sincerely believe that the concept of Battle Rifle and Assault Rifle are flawed and do not actually contribute to the understanding of what they are & how they are used.

The terms are too arbitrary, for instance, according to prevailing thought, these two rifles are Battle Rifles: -
.303 bolt-action SMLE
7.62x51mm select-fire G3

The 5.56mm HK33 is classed as "Assault" Rifle by virtue of it's ammo even thought it is identical in form and function to the G3.
The G3 is lumped together with the SMLE even though they share almost nothing in common regarding design, design philosophy, function and usage.

Given that we have certain designs in several calibres that make the one design available as both battle and assault rifle and we also have what are basically SMGs that fire 5.56mm (commonly called Micro Assault Rifles rather than SMG), I think part of the problem with deciding if "assault" rifles are perfected, is how they are defined.
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:57 AM
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I sincerely believe that the concept of Battle Rifle and Assault Rifle are flawed and do not actually contribute to the understanding of what they are & how they are used.

The terms are too arbitrary, for instance, according to prevailing thought, these two rifles are Battle Rifles: -
.303 bolt-action SMLE
7.62x51mm select-fire G3

The 5.56mm HK33 is classed as "Assault" Rifle by virtue of it's ammo even thought it is identical in form and function to the G3.
The G3 is lumped together with the SMLE even though they share almost nothing in common regarding design, design philosophy, function and usage.

Given that we have certain designs in several calibres that make the one design available as both battle and assault rifle and we also have what are basically SMGs that fire 5.56mm (commonly called Micro Assault Rifles rather than SMG), I think part of the problem with deciding if "assault" rifles are perfected, is how they are defined.
At least what I was taught the G3 and the SMLE are not in the same class. Just becasue it is used in battle does not make it a battle rifle. One is a bolt action rifle the other is a Battle Rifle. To be a battle rifle it has to be selective fire using a full power cartridge, so a bolt action is not going to fall under that. And the Assault rifle has to be the same as a battle rifle but it uses an intermediate cartridge.

As for having the same designs in several calibers you can have in the same basic design a SMG (uses pistol cartridges), Assault Rifle, and Battle Rifles. But the different cartridges and what goes with it does make a very big difference, at least I think so.
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Old 09-15-2018, 04:06 AM
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The 5.56mm HK33 is classed as "Assault" Rifle by virtue of it's ammo even thought it is identical in form and function to the G3.
One uses a full-sized round, the other an intermediate round. This is by far the biggest difference and is what matters.

Quote:
whatThe G3 is lumped together with the SMLE even though they share almost nothing in common regarding design, design philosophy, function and usage.
Only you are lumping them together. The SMLE is an obsolete service rifle (all bolt-action rifles are obsolete as infantryman's weapons) while even the G3 and FAL are only obsolescent.
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Old 09-15-2018, 04:13 AM
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At least what I was taught the G3 and the SMLE are not in the same class. Just becasue it is used in battle does not make it a battle rifle. One is a bolt action rifle the other is a Battle Rifle. To be a battle rifle it has to be selective fire using a full power cartridge, so a bolt action is not going to fall under that. And the Assault rifle has to be the same as a battle rifle but it uses an intermediate cartridge.
This is very close to what I have heard, as well.

Quote:
As for having the same designs in several calibers you can have in the same basic design a SMG (uses pistol cartridges), Assault Rifle, and Battle Rifles. But the different cartridges and what goes with it does make a very big difference, at least I think so.
The SMG is arguably becoming obsolete, with very short-barreled assault rifles avalable.
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Old 09-15-2018, 04:29 AM
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...

The SMG is arguably becoming obsolete, with very short-barreled assault rifles avalable.
Very true, was just saying that just because the platform is more or less the same but with a different caliber does not make it the same thing, the caliber makes a huge difference (as in the actual class of the weapon).
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:32 AM
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Very true, was just saying that just because the platform is more or less the same but with a different caliber does not make it the same thing, the caliber makes a huge difference (as in the actual class of the weapon).
True. The only real advantage of a SMG over a short assault rifle is that a fired round is less likely to go through multiple walls This really makes to more of a police weapon these days than a military weapon, though there are certain specific, limited military applications for a SMG.
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Old 09-15-2018, 06:45 AM
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Caseless ammo has bigger problems.

(1) Fragile: dropping a caseless round (even in a magazine) can cause the propellant to crack or completely break, leading to a malfunction.

(2) Malfunctions: to clear a malfunction on the G11 you essentially had to field strip the gun. For regular cased ammo, operating the bolt manually (to eject the unfired round and chamber a fresh round) is usually sufficient.

(3) Overheating: Brass cases absorb heat from the propellant exploding and are then ejected out of the gun. Caseless rounds don have this to get rid of some of the heat from firing and will overheat much faster.

No, caseless ammo is really a dead end.

(Talking about small arms here, not the ammo for larger cannons and howitzers)
Got to hold a 4.7MM caseless. You need a heat and rough handling resistant propellant. Also for long term storage it must be sealed. But I thought it was "neat". Also, it seems that one must "give and take" on desired features for now in regards to the weapons them selves.
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Old 09-15-2018, 07:47 AM
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Got to hold a 4.7MM caseless. You need a heat and rough handling resistant propellant. Also for long term storage it must be sealed. But I thought it was "neat". Also, it seems that one must "give and take" on desired features for now in regards to the weapons them selves.
Wasn't that round supposed to come in sealed 10 round packs and only opened when the magazine was being loaded? After those brief moments in the sun, the rounds are again protected this time by the magazine body.
Seems they had the potential fragility of the round fairly well covered.
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
Wasn't that round supposed to come in sealed 10 round packs and only opened when the magazine was being loaded? After those brief moments in the sun, the rounds are again protected this time by the magazine body.
Seems they had the potential fragility of the round fairly well covered.
In the cartridge collector world, one sees more singles, a bag of those would cost quite a bit. If I'd been able to see a bag, I would tell you more.
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
Wasn't that round supposed to come in sealed 10 round packs and only opened when the magazine was being loaded? After those brief moments in the sun, the rounds are again protected this time by the magazine body.
Seems they had the potential fragility of the round fairly well covered.
Put a carton of eggs in a steel box, then drop the steel box from 1.5m.I

If any egg cracks, your G11 has just malfunctioned.
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Old 09-15-2018, 08:27 PM
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They aren't exactly eggs though are they. Anything that fragile wouldn't have even cycled and certainly wouldn't have made it into a service rifle like the G11.
Apples and oranges...
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Old 09-16-2018, 08:36 AM
.45cultist .45cultist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
They aren't exactly eggs though are they. Anything that fragile wouldn't have even cycled and certainly wouldn't have made it into a service rifle like the G11.
Apples and oranges...
Since I don't know how RDX feels, it might have been coated.
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