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Author Topic: Bullet calibre: Bigger not always better?  (Read 1080 times)

Ed Giglio

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Bullet calibre: Bigger not always better?
« on: January 08, 2007, 07:45:18 AM »

Have just finished reading an Italian gun magazine which had an interesting article on gun ammunition...particularly calibre size and efficacy.

The article started off with the general assumption of bigger calibre being more effective at neutralizing targets. However it produced a series of physics experiments conducted in the USA and Soviet Union during the Cold War showing that a 5.56 round fired at higher speed would be more effective than the 7.62 round. The theory behind it involved the 5.56 bullet providing greater kinetic energy impact due to its reduced weight but greater velocity.

At the end of the article there was mention of the next generation of assault rifles which would have a bigger casing than the bullet diameter via some sort of patented system. Essentially, a 7.62 casing would be used with a 5.56mm bullet...has anyone heard of this?

Can anyone offer me some clarification in regards to the above as I am slighlty confused...
bigger calibre, smaller calibre, mixture of the two?!!!

Mamma mia my head is exploding?   ???





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Re: Bullet calibre: Bigger not always better?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2007, 08:59:19 AM »

There are a couple of schools of thought on this.  Remember that in military applications you are chosing a round for the masses.  There is a lot more to the decision other than just the effect of the bullet on the target however.

Lighter calibers are typically easier to shoot and train troops with.  They can also carry more ammo.  Mass firepower instead of aimed fire is still the norm.  It's less expensive as during peacetime you don't have to train as much. 

Larger calibers can retain thier enegery at longer ranges, but a realitive small number of  troops can utilize it.  Only a small percentage of recruits have any experince with firearms these days and marksmanship in the military is somewhat downplayed in favor of mass firepower.

The results of the impact of large or small calibers tends to have a lot to do with shot placement. If you hit only soft tissue with ball ammunition you tend to punch little holes straight through without a lot additional damage.  If a larger caliber hits heavy bone they are more likely to break it, if smaller calibers hit heavy bone they often will bounce through more soft tissue causing damage.  Its often the luck of the draw.

We are no longer the nation of rifleman that we were durning WWI and even WWII.  While I personally would prefer a .30 cal battle rifle, for the masses a smaller lighter, easier to shoot and carry rifles make a lot of sense.

The debate between fast and light verses heavy and slow has been around a long time.  There are formulas that supposedly prove one is better than the other but I don't buy into them.  One such formula, when take to the extreme, proves that a bowling ball moving at a foot per second is more deadly than a 124 Gr. 9MM bullet moving a 1150 feet per second.  So take those things with a grain of salt.