As the U.S. military looks to move away from the M4 carbine and 5.56×45 ammunition, this story from americanmilitarynews.com reports that the Marine Corps is coming close to adopting a new 5.56 rifle round, one already used by the Army.
Congress has repeatedly called for both branches of the service to use the same round, in order to eliminate the waste and redundancy of having two separate ammo caches, the story notes.
The Marines will finish testing the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round at the end of the month, according to the story, and a proposal will then be made to USMC officials.
Currently, Marines use the M855 ammo in their M4 carbines and the M16A4 rifles still in service, as well as in the M249 light machine gun.
The testing examines a wide array of areas, to include performance, stopping power, the durability of the weapon after repeated use of the round, and the impact of the trajectory of the M855A1 round compared to the M855. The trajectory may mean alternative funding would be needed to fix current Marine Corps rifle ranges to meet new safety concerns.
The M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round is topped with a 62-grain bullet, with a 19-grain steel penetrator tip over a copper-alloy core in a partial copper jacket. The Marines’ current M855 ammo has a bullet with a solid-lead core. The round is designed to work, ideally, with the shorter barrels of the M4, and it will work with the M249 light machine gun, and the H&K and M16A2 rifles. It is suitable for use in most weapons with a 1-in-7 barrel twist.
Any benefits of the change might be short-lived, for extensive reports from years of fighting in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan and Iraq seem to show that the 5.56 rounds is not adequate for the typical engagement distances, especially when facing enemy AK-47 platform weapons chambered in 7.62x39mm.