By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
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Image Credit: U.S. Army
July 27, 2013
Well, it's taken a little while, but the U.S. Army's finally gotten around to developing a 7.62mm NATO (7.62x51mm NATO) Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) round that that will essentially be the 7.62mm equivalent of the M855A1 5.56mm NATO (5.56x45mm NATO) EPR lead-free "green ammo" round. As such, it will feature the same bullet design with copper jacket and exposed hardened steel penetrator, so it will probably be super-lethal. The M855A1 EPR round's performance is impressive, so the 7.62mm EPR should be really impressive.
But an enhanced-lethality 7.62mm round isn't the whole story. The "green" environmentally-friendly aspect of the new round is even more impressive than the M855A1 EPR, since the Army was able to cut 114.5 grains of lead out of it versus only 32 grains of lead from the M855A1. That should make the pot-smoking tree-huggers happy, but DefenseReview (DR) is frankly much more concerned with how the 7.62mm EPR's lethality/terminal ballistics stacks up against the ATK/Federal MK319 MOD 0 SOST (Special Operations Science and Technology) round the U.S. Marine Corps has been rocking since 2010.
Actually, while we're on the subject, we'd also like see the terminal-ballistics rundown between the M855A1 EPR and MK318 MOD 0 SOST rounds. The SOST rounds are pretty badass as they're variants of the Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw round, otherwise known as the Federal Premium VITAL-SHOK Trophy Bonded Tip Rifle Ammo. So, is the green just as mean, or is the SOST the most? As Shakespeare would say, that's the question.
U.S. Army infantry troops should reportedly start receiving the 7.62mm EPR round sometime in 2014.
Until then, here's Picatinny Arsenal's press release on the 7.62mm EPR for you to chew on:
"PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (July 1, 2013) — If you use the expression "get the lead out" around members of a special technical team here working on the Army's 5.56mm and 7.62mm enhanced performance ammunition programs, don't expect them to move more quickly.
That's because the expression has an entirely different meaning to this select group of scientists and engineers who make up the base's enhanced performance round teams.
The switch to the new 5.56 mm green bullet, the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, or EPR, in 2010 has eliminated nearly two thousand tons of lead from the waste stream, according to the latest Picatinny figures.
Now Picatinny's EPR team is applying the same technology to improve M80A1 7.62 mm ammunition that troops are scheduled to receive in 2014.
Thirty-two grains of lead are eliminated per M855A1 projectile, and 114.5 grains of lead will be eliminated per M80A1 projectile.
The M855A1 EPR, a lead-free version of the M855 cartridge fired from the 5.56 mm family of weapons (M4, M16 and M249), allows for training exercises on ranges that prohibit lead projectiles.
"The EPR replaces the lead slug with a copper slug," said Lt. Col. Phil Clark, Product Manager Small Caliber Ammunition in the Program Executive Officer Ammunition.
"This makes the projectile environmentally friendly, while still giving Soldiers the performance capabilities they need on the battlefield. So far we have eliminated 1,994 metric tons of lead from 5.56 ammunition production."
The round's new bullet design features a copper jacket and exposed hardened steel penetrator. The switch has prompted a number of significant performance enhancements over the M855A1's predecessor which was fielded in the early 1980s.
Similar improvements are expected from the 7.62 version.
Improvements include better hard-target penetration, more consistent performance against soft targets and significantly increased distances of these effects, Clark said.
Based on fiscal year 2013-2018 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm projected ammunition procurements, an additional 3,683 metric tons of lead could be eliminated from ammunition production."
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