By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
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October 16, 2012
Last updated on 10/29/12.
Earlier this year (2012), DefenseReview (DR) documented and participated in an important U.S. Military CQB/CQC (Close Quarters Battle/Close Quarters Combat) training course utilizing both 5.56mm NATO (5.56x45mm NATO)/.223 Rem. and 9mm Parabellum/9x19mm NATO Ultimate Training Munitions (UTM) Man Marker Round (MMR) force-on-force training ammo (ammunition) supplied by the good folks at Phoenix RBT Solutions/UTM. This was DR's first time using UTM MMR rounds for force-on-force CQB/CQC gunfighting training. While we're not yet at liberty to disclose the specific nature or purpose of the training, we can say that the course was primarily a tactical carbine/rifle course, and we can and will discuss the UTM ammo, and related tactical gear. The UTM 5.56mm MMR marking cartridges functioned shockingly reliably over tens of thousands of rounds for the entire course, and we ran A LOT of it through a plethora of SureFire MAG5-60 HCM (High Capacity Magazine) 60-shot quad-stack (4×2 config) rifle mags (magazines). The SureFire mags worked like magic. Magic.
Out of tens of thousands of rounds and about 30 or so guns (M4/M4A1 carbines and M16A4 rifles), we witnessed what was perhaps even less than a handful of malfunctions that, thanks to an email message sent to us by the Phoenix RBT Solutions/UTM staff, we now know were caused by over-lubrication of the barrel bore rather than a UTM 5.56mm marking cartridge round getting stuck in the barrel due to paint residue clogging up the barrel, which we initially reported. As it turns out, due to the UTM MMR round's unique design, the MMR cartridge's paint can't clog up the barrel. In any case, barrel-over-lubrication malfunction was easy to correct by simply running a Hoppe's BoreSnake (also written "Hoppe's Bore Snake") with some bore cleaner through the barrel, and making sure the barrel bore was completely dry.
The following is the email letter written to DefenseReview by Phoenix RBT Solutions' Director of Training Rob Lambraia to educate both us and our readers on the cause and solution to the above-described malfunction and the unique design attributes and advantages of UTM MMR ammo. DR is publishing it with Phoenix RBT Solutions/UTM's permision:
Thank you for your recent article in Defense Review (DR) that featured our UTM Man Marking rounds and M4/M16 conversions. UTM has set the standard for accuracy, reliability and safety for Force on Force training ammunition and we too were glad to have supported the training that you described in your review. I did want to provide one point of clarification for your readers if you would allow me to do so. It deals with an important question that arises form time to time and one that is easily answered as well..
Regarding the statement in the article : Quote:
Out of tens of thousands of rounds and about 30 or so guns (M4/M4A1 carbines and M16A4 rifles), we only witnessed a handful of malfunctions that were caused by a UTM 5.56mm marking cartridge round getting stuck in the barrel due to paint residue clogging up the barrel.
I can affirm, as you did, that malfunctions were virtually non-existent even after thousands of rounds fired that week. This is a tribute to the reliability of the UTM 5.56 man marking rounds and conversions as well as the weapons handling ability by the young operators participating in the training. The misconception I would like to clarify is an understandable but critical one to identify regarding the functionality and maintenance of the UTM system. The stoppages (however infrequent) were NOT due to paint residue clogging up the barrel. Although that particular problem is fairly common with some types of non-lethal training ammunition (NLTA) used for force on force, UTM engineers have rendered this type of stoppage virtually obsolete with our bullet design and driving band technology.
We, as operators, law enforcement or avid shooters are trained to apply a light coat of oil to the inside of the barrel of our rifles including the M4 platform after cleaning, which is appropriate for live ammunition and many types of NLTA. It is NOT however, compatable with the UTM conversion system for firing man-marking rounds (MMR) due to the fact that the weight of the projectile is equivalent to that of a paper-clip. Since the bullet itself is so light and traveling at only 375 fps, even small amounts of oil residue can cause the projectile to not fully exit the barrel.
The UTM conversion system needs to be run on a COMPLETELY DRY BORE (lightly lube all other parts as per usual manufacturer maintenance reccomendations). If a stoppage occurs, a lodged round is easily dealt with by simply punching the projectile out with a rod (towards the muzzle) and drying the barrel. You have aptly and accurately reflected this in the article when you wrote regarding the clogging and I quote: "This was easily corrected by running a Bore Snake through the barrel." The BoreSnake resolved the jams because it dried the oil residue left in the barrel from the marines applying oil, not paint from the rounds. I can attest to this first-hand because I tapped out a few barrels that week myself as did my colleague from UTM.. The clogged bores I cleared were a result of excess oil inside the barrel and after a brief review of the simple maintenance procedure with the operators, followed by drying the barrel with a bore snake, no further stoppages for that rifle were observed. Subsequently, I made a point of checking back periodically with the few operators who experienced problems and they confirmed that after drying the bore, reliability was again near 100%. If I recall correctly, we even had freezing rain, cold and wind that week at times and the system ran flawlessly even in those conditions.
Thanks again, David for your informative website and work with our product. As you and many of your readers know, UTM continues to approach ubiquity in the US Military arena and is quickly gaining popularity among law enforcement agencies and professional training organizations because of it's accuracy, reliability and 100% failsafe technology. As such, I am grateful for this opportunity to troubleshoot a very simple and preventable maintenance concern that may arise for some of the end users becoming familiar with the system so that they can spend more time training and less time fixing problems! Finally, I will add that my personal weapon goes thousands of rounds without a single malfunction as long as I am running it on a clean, dry bore and using good magazines. The message is simply: If you remember to bore snake (or equivalent) your barrel dry before training and "punch the barrel" after training, the reliability of the 5.56 UTM MMR is 99.9% and 100% safe.
Take care and stay safe,
Phoenix RBT Solutions/UTM
Director of Training
But back to the SureFire MAG5-60 HCM mags; we simply couldn't believe that these mags proved every bit as reliable as the blue polymer 30-round UTM factory mags. We were shocked. Based on our experience in this high-round-count U.S. Military CQB/CQC training course, we can now say that UTM 5.56mm MMR marking cartridges are the most reliable force-on-force training rounds we've ever used out of real weapons (AR-15/M16/M4/M4A1), and the Phoenix RBT Solutions team was very professional in both their presentation and assistance with the course.
Converting your tactical AR-15 carbine for use with UTM ammo is a very simple procedure; just swap the standard AR-15/M16/M4/M4A1 bolt carrier group (BCG) for the UTM AR rifle/carbine conversion BCG and your MILSPEC 30-round mag for the UTM 30-round mag. However, per the above, the SureFire MAG5-60 HCM mag works perfectly, as well.
DR was also surprised at the large amount of 5.56mm and 9mm UTM MMR training ammo that Phoenix RBT Solutions provided for the course. It was the most force-on-force rounds DR's ever seen used in a course, especially 5.56mm rounds. The UTM 5.56mm marking cartridges exhibited good practical accuracy for our purposes, which included force-on-force urban warfare training drills, specifically house-to-house/street-to-street and house-clearing drills against OPFOR. DR spent some of the time on OPFOR (Opposing Force), and the rest of the time embedded with the U.S. Military student operators. We'll try to obtain some hard accuracy data on both the 5.56mm and 9mm UTM MMR ammo.
Defense Review wasn't able to run any of the UTM 5.56mm marking cartridges through the SureFire MAG5-100 HCM 100-shot mags, since we didn't have any at the class, but we have no reason to believe that the UTM ammo would be any less reliable in the 100-rounders. DR's run the SureFire MAG5-100 HCM 100-rouders extensively on both semi-auto and full-auto, and they run just as well as the 60-rounders, in our experience. Then again, we can't know how the SureFire 100-rounders will run with UTM rounds, for sure, until we test it.
Most of the force-on-force protective gear was provided by PDT-Tech (Practical Defense Training Technologies), although some full helmets were provided by UTM.
In addition to shooting a lot of photos in the force-on-force tactical shooting course, a small handfull of which are embedded in this article, DefenseReview also shot a lot of video footage, but we haven't yet been cleared to show the latter, since the instructor, event runners, or U.S. military may not want us to show any of the specific training drills or techniques. In fact, we can't even show a lot of the photos yet, for the same reason. Once DR is cleared to show them, however, we can add the additional photos and/or video clips to this article and/or include them in a subsequent DR article.
Company Contact Info:
Phoenix RBT Solutions, LLC (Headquarters)
55 Readington Road
North Branch, NJ 08876
Toll Free: 888-423-9444
Law Enforcement Contact:
Dan Kinkel, U.S. Sales Manager
Phoenix RBT Solutions, LLC
Email: [email protected]
18300 Mount Baldy Circle
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Toll Free: 800-828-8809
Customer Service Email: [email protected]
International Sales Email: [email protected]
Practical Defense Training Technologies (PDT-Tech)
3200 Danville Boulevard, Suite 220
Alamo, CA 94507
Email Info: [email protected]
Email Sales: [email protected]
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