Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): October 1998

By Nick Steadman

SADW is a monthly electronic publication from Nick Steadman Features. Nick, intrepid world traveling reporter for much of the arms industry, files this 40,000 to 50,000 word report once a month to his loyal subscribers. Those lucky ones pay a mere $50 (US) £32.50 (UK) per year for the privilege of getting the hot tips and insights from one of the industry’s insiders. Nick’s unique perspective is globally based, as is his wit. Each issue is full of insight and information for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.


MORE ON SCOUT RIFLE FIXES: our US sources indicate that Steyr plans to produce new Scout Rifle firing pin assemblies which allow five different positions (instead of the current three) for the spring tensioning circlip. This should assist users to find a degree of spring compression which better suits the range of ammunition they may fire in the weapon. However, the alternative fix using two adjusting nuts still may not reliably fire INDEP Portuguese ball.

OLIN .50 Mk 211 (MP) AMMUNITION: Olin/Winchester told us in mid-Jun 98 that they were only then beginning production of a US-made version of the impressive .50 Multi-Purpose APHEI round, under license from Raufoss in Norway, using Norwegian bullets. We got the impression that Olin’s experience with the .50 WALAP round, an HE-enhanced variation along MP lines which was abandoned in prototype phase, had convinced it that buying in the Raufoss MP bullets was a simpler move than making its own.

7.62MM NATO DEPLETED URANIUM AP AMMO: a UK gunsmith writing on the Cybershooters list said that in the late 1980s he worked on a project to develop a 7.62mm NATO subsonic AP projectile from copper-plated depleted uranium (DU). We guess this was a special forces requirement. Anyway, apparently the material was very difficult to machine, requiring huge amounts of lubrication in order to suppress the dangerous swarf, and the only practical alternative, to cast or sinter the projectiles, presented other problems such as toxic fumes & high tooling costs. In any event, the cost of the DU bullets would evidently still have been around £10 a pop, and it’s thought the idea was eventually dropped.

M118 LR EARLY TEMPERATURE PROBLEMS: we recently saw papers suggesting that back in 1996 the new US military 7.62mm NATO M118LR (Long Range) cartridge with 175gr Sierra bullet achieved a chamber pressure of more that 64,350 psi when conditioned at 120 degrees F. At that time it was recommended by the USMC test facility that the M118LR should not replace the M852, nor should it be used in the M14 self-loader in summer conditions. Interestingly, three reports from the M118LR USMC tests confirm that groups with the 168gr Sierra opened up beyond 600 yards, with one referring to bullets exhibiting yaw when striking the targets at 1000 yards. We note the latest detailed specifications for the M118LR, dated 3 Mar 98, now prescribe a maximum pressure at 125 degrees of 57,200 psi. Manufacture of the first production M118LR ammunition has now started at Olin/Winchester, using a new propellant which meets this revised pressure specification. By the by, having now seen the dimensions of the M118LR, we would not consider it a VLD design (though this is how it was initially described), since it does not appear to have a particularly long ogive. This view is confirmed by discussion with other sources.


HARD EXTRACTION WITH RG-HEADSTAMPED 7.62MM NATO AMMUNITION: back in Oct 98 we mentioned instances of hard extraction with Boxer-primed 7.62mm L2A2 NATO ammunition headstamped RG 90 (for Royal Ordnance, Radway Green) but with a red primer annulus. Ammunition expert Peter Labbett maintains this is subcontracted ammunition of Hirtenberg (Austrian) origin, despite the headstamps, but says that - as as far he can ascertain - it was rejected for UK MOD use and disposed of to rifle clubs. He also notes that all his samples of earlier Hirtenberg production for Radway Green are Berdan, not Boxer-primed.

PROZAC A FACTOR IN SPRINGFIELD SHOOTINGS?: for what it’s worth, a Jun 98 report in the Vigo Examiner said that Kip Kinkel, the teenager held for the Springfield (Oregon) school shootings, was on the drug Prozac. The paper noted that Prozac had been linked to most of the homicidal mass shootings of the last decade and said that its manufacturer Eli Lilly had recently been sued in this connection.

LATVIA & NICARAGUA GET M16A2s FROM USA: despite the Latvian authorities’ unfortunate attitude towards their significant Russian minority, we hear that the US government has nevertheless gifted 10,000 5.56mm M16A2 rifles to that country. We also understand that Nicaragua has received another 40,000 of these weapons from the US. Dealers separately trying to effect commercial sales of small arms to these countries which are receiving official US aid tell us they are appropriately miffed.
One wouldn’t, of course, want to be so bold as to ask how the US and other Western governments square their current, well-orchestrated ‘horror’ at the worldwide ‘proliferation’ of small arms with their continuing readiness to provide bulk supplies of military weapons as an instrument of foreign policy. Perish the thought!

‘YEAR 2000’ PROBLEM FOR FN 7.62MM M240: sources very close to the problem have pointed out to us that in the year 2000 the FN M240/MAG 58 machine gun will no longer be protected as a proprietary design, the Technical Data Package will theoretically be available to all, and other gunmakers (such as Colt, maybe) will then be able to bid on US DoD contracts for this weapon. And as it happens, 2000 will also be the peak year for US forces M240B orders.

PRIMEX ST MARKS MILITARY POWDERS: the Primex Technologies (formerly Olin Ordnance) St Marks Powder plant in Florida lists its military Ball Powder propellants in descending order of burning rate. The small arms natures (with applicability) are given for interest below:

WC 440S - .50 Blank M1A1
WC 814 - 5.56mm Blank M200
WC 818 - 7.62mm Blank M82
WPR 260 - 5.56mm SRTA M862 (short- range training)
WPR 270 - 9mm NATO HPT (proof round)
WPR 289 - 9mm NATO M882
WPR 293 - 9mm Subsonic
WC 687 - 7.62x39mm Ball
WC 827 - 7.62mm SLAP M948, SLAP- Tracer M959
WC 844 - 5.56mm Ball M193 & M855, Tracer M196
WC 844T - 5.56mm Tracer M856
WCR 845 - 5.56mm Ball M855, Tracer M856
WC 846 - 7.62mm Ball M80, Tracer M62
WC 846S - 7.62mm Ball M80, Tracer M62
WC 846 + CaCO3 - 7.62mm Ball M80
WC 750 - 7.62mm Match M118 & M852
WC 856 - .50 SLAP M903, SLAP-Tracer M962
WC 857 - .50 Tracer M17
WC 860 - .50 Ball M33
WC 860 + CaCO3 - .50 Ball M33

AUSTRALIAN .50 REQUIREMENT BEING RE-WRITTEN: we were surprised (see earlier issues) when the Australian forces failed to select any of the .50 Browning long-range rifles they’d been testing; these included the Barrett M82A1 and the PGM Hecate. Apparently none met the military’s requirement. Well, as often happens, we now hear from Australia that the requirement is actually being re-written, and thereafter a request for a further round of testing is expected.

MISSING WEAPONS RECOVERED (BULGARIA): back in April, Bulgarian sources confirm that eight Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition which had been reported missing by the Arsenal company (formerly Kazanlac Arsenal) were among a haul of illegal weapons recovered by police in Kazanlac during a raid in which 11 people were also detained.


IF THE OICW BATTERIES SIGH & DIE: an item in Army magazine quoted a Picatinny Arsenal official from the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) team as saying that if the combination system’s high-tech fire control system loses power, the 20mm smart-fuzed HE ammunition will only provide impact detonation. Which would, we guess, make the grenade-launcher component rather less effective than existing 40mm systems - though you could obviously bang off more rounds, and faster. Indeed, you might well need to.

MINE DETECTION BY SHOCKWAVE: Battlespace newsletter in the UK drew readers’ attention to a new technology under development at the University Buffalo, which may be able to detect mines, of whatever material they are made, using weak shock waves which are reflected off buried items. The method works by reacting to the different densities of material the shock waves encounter But so far only simulations have been carried out.

RUSSIAN ELECTRON ACCELERATOR: according to Jane’s News Briefs, US sources say an ‘electron accelerator’ has been developed in Russia that could be used to zap electronic circuits in bombs and stop vehicles.


1999 NDIA (ADPA) SMALL ARMS SYSTEMS DIVISION ANNUAL MEETING: 21-23 Jun 99, at the Doubletree Hotel, Somerset, New Jersey, with firing at Fort Dix. (Tel(703)522-1820, Fax(703)522-1885, WWW - http://www.ndia.org/)

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N1 (October 1998)
and was posted online on December 9, 2016


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