1120Z WED 15SEP04.
I'd like to see a firearm magazine do a thorough comparison of the 6.8mm SPC vs. the 7.62x39mm round as fired in the AK-47. While we're at it, let's throw the 6.5mm Grendel in the test suite, and the 7.62 NATO as a heavier-duty comparison round.
AR-type rifles have been chambered for the 7.62x39mm round, going back to the Colt Sporter. Knight's Armament has reportedly developed a new "AR-47" which fires the round and uses standard AK magazines.
From what I can learn, the 6.8mm SPC may be a slightly better round than the short 7.62mm, but the difference might not justify development of a new round for the ballistic advantages alone. Apparently, the 7.62x39mm was rejected due to incompatibility (or at least the lack of universal reliability) of the 30rd AK magazine, and the desire to avoid developing a new magazine or lower.
According to Charlie Cutshaw of "Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement," those in the military who were looking for a better round rejected the 7.62x39mm because the 30rd AK magazine, which curves more sharply after the straight section ends would not reliably feed in existing AR magazine wells, which are designed for straight feed; necessitating either the development of a new magazine or new lowers. The military wanted a conversion, not an entirely new rifle. The 6.8mm SPC can (reportedly) be accomodated reliably by standard 5.56mm magazines in standard AR lowers.
Cutshaw also categorizes both these rounds as short range cartridges. He believes comparing them to the 6mm PPC or the 6.5mm Grendel is comparing "apples to oranges," as those rounds are designed as long-range competition shooting rounds. True, but how does the 6.5mm Grendel compare to the 6.8mm and the 7.62x39mm at short ranges? If it is very nearly as good at short ranges, and better at long ranges, is it a better general purpose military round, able to meet the needs of soldiers anywhere in the world, in any type of fighting?
I'd like to see a head-to-head comparison of all three rounds (6.5mm, 6.8mm, and 7.62mm) fired from a barrel which differs only in the chambering and twist (optimized for each cartridge). OK, while we're at it, let's ask for tests using short (12in.), medium (16in.), and long (20in.) barrels.
OK, let's throw the 7.62mm NATO round into the test also, as that's the chambering I'm most likely to buy in an AR for personal use (since I don't have to lug lots of ammo around).
Here's a novel idea: A firearms magazine which publishes tests as requested by its readers.
If you ask ACE:
If we're going to replace our general issue firearm (which has been around for about 4 decades) with another rifle which could be around that long, perhaps we should develop the OPTIMAL round for military use, not a round which is a compromise to use existing lowers and magazines.
If Big Green is going to issue an entirely new weapon (eg. the XM8), there's no need to be restricted by the restrictions the developers of the 6.8mm SPC placed upon themselves.
If Big Green is going to stay with the 5.56mm to avoid the cost of a changeover, how much do we gain by the high cost of switching from the M16/4? I'd rather see that money put into development of a better 5.56mm round. (Just deciding we'll use HPs would probably make the 5.56mm adequate for military use.)
The 6.8mm SPC is no doubt better than the 5.56mm, but is it the best we can do?