111 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
124 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
Subject: US Military Small Arms: Shortcomings, Innovations, and Solutions
Intent: To provide insight on some of the challenges the United States military faces in small arms. Additionally, to discuss Plumb Precision solutions to fill these capability gaps.
Background: Our ground combat forces must engage and defeat enemy combatants in many varied and complex environments. The United States faces an increasing number of enemies that are technologically advanced, innovative, unrestrained and increasingly more lethal. With the last 15 years of U.S. combat operations, we have shown the world a new way to fight. Where technology, command and control, and operational awareness are cohesively utilized.
Our adversaries are rapidly emulating our techniques and equipment. U.S. combat forces have self-imposed operational restrictions whereas our adversaries do not. The technological advantage our ground forces have relied on is being rapidly diminished by our adversaries. This dramatically highlights one area our ground combat forces have never held the advantage, the individual combatants’ weapon.
The U.S. weapon of choice has been the venerable and adored M16 and its M4 variants. Yet, this design is now over 50 years old. Even with improvements, the M16/M4 riﬂe and the 5.56x45 mm NATO round are questionably adequate in the face of current threats. With adversaries’ advancements, future ground combat operations against advanced adversaries could result in devastating losses.
Solution: U.S. forces need better training, a more lethal primary cartridge, and better combat weapons. These enhancements need to meet current and emerging performance requirements. Plumb Precision is doing its part to help forge a pathway in providing the American Warfighter the needed solutions. Plumb Precision is a veteran-owned innovation, solution, and precision manufacturing company. We develop solutions that increase effectiveness, support doctrine, and show cost benefits. Even though Plumb Precision is a veteran-owned small business we have substantial reach in the commercial and military small arms space. Plumb Precision has identified 7 primary issues that impede the U.S. military and its small arms programs from fulfilling operational requirements. These will be given a brief explanation and then a detailed perspective in an attached appendix.
Disproportionate influence of foreign state-owned small arms companies. (Appendix A) Large foreign-owned small arms manufactures are taking the majority of U.S. small arms contracts. They can keep U.S. based producers from providing the solutions which are better suited to our needs. There are financial, logistical, tactical, and strategic implications of these arrangements.
Command emphasis on enhancing combat skills. (Appendix B) Training priorities must reflect the combat tasks first. Many hold the perception that a lack of emphasis on combat tasks has become systemic in the force. It has become apparent that primary small arms weapon training is insufficient to dominate the operational environment.
New caliber capable of overmatching current and emerging threats. (Appendix C) The current U.S. caliber used has questionable lethality. Primarily the ability to kill the enemy is not assured in every situation. Unless this is resolved, emerging threats will leave U.S. Forces at a serious disadvantage.
Weapon system with broad application and seamless technology upgrades. (Appendix D) This new combat weapon requires lethality sufﬁcient for the full spectrum of environments. The ideal weapon has multiple configurations and the ability to be adapted with new technologies. The force needs to adjust the weapons capabilities to the operational environment. Also, streamlining supply, simplifying training, and operational commonality are key considerations.
Magazine commonality in medium caliber weapons. (Appendix E) U.S. forces have several 7.62x51 mm based weapons systems. None of them share a common ammunition magazine. This has multiple negative cost and operational effects. U.S. weapon systems continue to rely on foreign-sourced proprietary magazines that have no interoperability.
More effective combat engagement reticles for optics. (Appendix F) More effective weapons and cartridges provide no value if the end user can not accurately employ the weapon. To provide an easier and more effective way for the end user to engage targets is a critical leap forward. Plumb Precision has an innovation that makes the user more effective, more accurate, in less time, for less cost.
More pathways for emerging technology to be evaluated. (Appendix G) It is most often that smaller companies are the sources of innovation. It can be quite difficult for small companies to make their innovations known to military experts. Many times, the cost savings and capability expanding goods and services of small companies are never noticed.
The following appendices will detail these issues. Plumb Precision will present the problem and why it is relevant. We will then show solutions and how they are more effective, support military doctrine, and show cost impacts.
Conclusion: Our ground combat forces face complex environments. The United States faces increasingly advanced, innovative, and lethal enemies. The global security environment continues to destabilize. The United States now faces multiple near peer threats that have expansionist goals. The situation in the Middle East is volatile and devolving. The United States military faces several challenges in small arms.
Our small arms technology is based on 50-year-old technology. We have outsourced our weapons production to foreign companies. Combat skills such as marksmanship are no longer an emphasis. Our calibers, weapons, and training do not reflect the current combat environment. Then emerging small arms technologies have few pathways to adoption. Solutions are available and Plumb Precision can fill these capability gaps. But because Plumb Precision is a small veteran owned company we face daunting challenges to bring these solutions to the military. Without grants or other government support some of these technologies may never advance past prototype or conceptual stages.
Francis M. Plumb CW2(R), SF CEO
Disproportionate influence of foreign state-owned small arms companies
U.S military individual weapons contracts have increasingly been awarded to foreign state-owned small arms producers over the last few decades. Heckler and Koch GmbH, Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal S.A., and Sig Sauer GmbH have been taking an increasingly larger portion of U.S. military small arms contracts.
Many of these systems are designed with proprietary parts. While this might be an inconvenience for most programs, for small arms it can be a critical limitation. For the U.S. military it is often a requirement to buy large amounts of foreign-sourced items that can have substantial lead times. This is further exacerbated when multiple weapon systems platforms have no compatible parts and components.
For example foreign-owned companies will purposely design weapons that have little in common with similar U.S. designs. This means that the U.S. government most likely will not be able to access the robust and cost-competitive U.S. commercial firearms market for parts support. Often the cost of the weapon on per unit basis is not expensive. But the small parts and product support can be very expensive.
Due to the parts being proprietary and hard to source they are by their very nature expensive. By minimizing the number of these proprietary weapon systems that are procured by the U.S. commercial market they suppress any cost competitive advantages U.S. producers could provide. This is done by reducing any commercial opportunities to a point where there is no viable or scalable profit. This prevents a U.S. manufacturing base from developing. By “drying out” any commercial U.S. based support this ensures the U.S. government pays whatever prices the foreign entity demands for supporting parts and components. This often means that these parts are also sole source to the foreign state-owned manufacturer.
Which in the case of global conflict, the U.S. military could be separated from small parts support for primary weapon systems. Simply the weapons themselves are not where the foreign company makes excessive profits. It is the support packages and add-on costs that drive costs upward. Due to EU labor costs and tax structures these foreign state-owned entities carry a much higher cost of goods. These costs of supporting foreign labor and goods are passed on to the American taxpayer. This is done through locking American companies out of supporting military small arms programs.
For example, most contracts held by foreign-owned entities have no small business carve outs or set-asides. Often the foreign owned entity will utilize a wholly owned U.S. based subsidiary to bypass direct importation issues. But then they do not utilize any small business manufacturers, when the firm itself, the wholly owned subsidiary, is not doing (or minimal) manufacturing to complete the work. Then when American- based companies compete directly with these foreign owned entities, they use their massive wealth advantages to squash U.S. based competition.
One example is when the XXXXXXXX competition took place in XXXX. There was a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXX an American veteran owned company developed a rifle called the XXXXXXXXX. It appeared to meet the requirements of the XXXX better than any other platform. I was advising the staff of Senator XXXXXXXX on small arms programs at the time. The XXXX seemed like the perfect candidate.
According to testimony from former employees of XXXXX they were pushed out of the XXXXX competition. One of the foreign owned entities began using frivolous legal injunctions against them. The U.S. Company did not have the financial reserves to meet the numerous legal challenges head on. XXXX is a well-respected XXXXXXXXXXX company that is veteran owned, who was focused on delivering exactly what the force needed. It is very apparent the foreign owned entity saw the XXXXX as a clear threat. I saw it as the most likely winner of the competition for several reasons.
Former U.S. Senator XXXXXXXXXX does have knowledge of this situation and would be a good source to follow up with. The heavy-handed nature of these foreign owned entities squelches many small arms innovations reaching the U.S. military.
Push for small parts and accessories commonality, where feasible. Many of the aforementioned companies cannot share parts or components. A few contrasting examples are the M4/M16 rifle and mounted accessories. The M4/M16 is an openly shared design. The specifications and tolerances are widely distributed. This allows numerous manufacturers the ability to produce parts and complete rifles. This organic U.S. owned production redundancy is key to drive costs down. Another example is for all attachable weapon accessories to be compatible. An example of this is the MIL-STD 1913 rail attachment. This is a rail system allows for various grips, lights, lasers, and optics to be attached to any weapon. This allows for universal application across many weapons platforms. This theory should be adopted whenever possible.
Remove sole source from large scale small arms contracts. In the future small arms programs should be decentralized from any foreign owned entity or their wholly owned subsidiaries. This also insulates the U.S. military from supply chain issues. It also reduces complications from foreign political, labor, and economic issues. Reference XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
Emphasize small business carve-outs, set asides, and emphasize U.S. owned and based manufacturing. U.S. military weapons programs should support U.S owned manufacturing and jobs. By requiring foreign-owned entities to outsource manufacturing to U.S. owned firms we develop needed redundancies in the manufacturing base while creating U.S. jobs.
Provide clear and distinct advantages for veteran owned small arms companies in supporting government weapons procurement. The government would be well served to rely on veteran owned companies to support small arms manufacturing. The internalization of the institutional knowledge of military operational requirements would provide multiple benefits.
Cost Benefits: By increasing parts commonality wherever possible there will be substantial cost savings. Proprietary parts and accessories for small arms are designed and developed whenever possible for no other reason than to fleece more money from government contracts. A glaring example of this is with rifle magazines. See Appendix E (Magazine commonality in medium caliber weapons). When manufacturing is outsourced to U.S. owned manufacturing in these contracts there will be cost competitive advantages. EU labor costs are notoriously expensive. These small arms contracts are sending millions of dollars in profits, of U.S. taxpayer money, to overseas firms. We do this while bypassing supporting our own American industry to support foreign industry. These contracts are also going to companies that are notoriously litigious. That have no problem squelching U.S. small arms innovations and manufacturing. The United States has the largest and most innovate small arms industry in the world. It is filled with combat experienced veterans whose expertise is second to none. But the pathways for U.S. industry and its innovation to reach the U.S. military are routinely fraught with risks and massive foreign companies blocking entry. This results in more expensive small arms systems that export U.S. taxpayer dollars to foreign held industries.
Command emphasis on enhancing combat skills
The focus on non-combat skills is overwhelming time and efforts for combat skills. In light of reduced force structures, operational environments, and budgetary restraints the U.S. military is facing daunting challenges. The training priorities must always reflect the most important and pending tasks first. Many hold the perception that an emphasis on non-combat issues has taken a too high of a priority in the force. A socially fractured force is ineffective, so this should remain an area of attention, but larger issues loom. U.S. combined arms power is so intimidating that only the most sophisticated adversaries would even contemplate limited engagements. Although, advanced adversaries are closing the technological gaps.
We should prepare our forces to fight current and emerging threats as technological peers. It would be a huge fallacy to think we will maintain our technological advantages. We should expect that our adversaries will be able to mitigate or disrupt our technological advantages in any future engagement.
The last few decades have shown that to meet strategic or regional goals, our adversaries rely on asymmetric or guerrilla warfare. This allows our adversaries the ability to engage U.S. forces without the expensive or easily targeted modern military forces. Simply put, no countries want to fight against Ford class aircraft carriers, F-22s, or M1 tanks. But regularly, across the world, ragtag groups will pick up AK 47s and RPGs and conduct irregular warfare against U.S. ground forces.
One reason for this is closing with and killing the enemy has fallen behind as a core competency for all service members. Our tactics and equipment are starting to reflect this reality. Our enemies know their best opportunity to kill Americans is in small arms ambushes and other hit and run tactics. This is also normally focused on less trained support elements.
This pays dividends locally and internationally. Our lack of lethality in individual weapons and self-imposed restrictions contribute to enemy ground forces having tactical advantages. This can provide the latitude to dictate results from an Information Operations perspective. From the adversaries perspective nothing says a successful operation like footage of burning American HUMMVs regardless of their own losses.
Mitigating the effects of asymmetric warfare is much more than better marksmanship. But more lethal small arms systems and better marksmanship will alter our adversaries’ decision-making process. Our individual weapons are known by our enemies to be lacking in true lethality. Increased lethality in our individual weapons will also pay dividends in a conventional ground conflict in the Baltics, Eastern Europe, or the Pacific Rim.
A new individual weapon using the latest technology. The ideal concept, is a weapon that has multiple configurations with all accessories included. See Appendix D (Weapon system with broad application and seamless technology upgrades)
Place more command emphasis on combat skills, weapons qualification is chief among these. This must come from the highest levels of command. There has been a precipitous decline in weapons focus in our armed forces. A watershed moment is when the U.S. Army removed weapons qualification scores as a consideration for NCO promotion. This egregious error set the conditions where the current drift away from warfighting tasks is becoming the norm. The U.S. Marines mantra of “every Marine is a rifleman” needs to be the norm across the entire force. Our military exists for one primary reason, to fight our wars. Our training emphasis should clearly reflect that.
Radical changes to weapon qualification. For example, the current U.S. Army qualification course does not accurately depict engaging the enemy on the battlefield. Targets are static and on mostly level ground. These targets depending on range, remain visible and stationary. The modern battlefield is not as static. Soldiers fire twenty rounds from a prone supported position, then twenty rounds from a prone unsupported position. Soldiers are conditioned to expect that their targets will not move. Then it reinforces the false concept that one shot anywhere on the target will incapacitate or kill. The U.S. Army qualification course is also limited to 300 meters, far short of longer common engagement ranges. “The rifle qualification course of 1949” provides an example of a combat focused marksmanship qualification. The ability to engage targets regularly out to 500 meters will also require upgrades to equipment. See Appendix F (More effective target engagement reticles for optics)
These changes will allow Soldiers and leaders need to understand the capabilities and limitations of their weapons. This will allow them to employ these systems better. The net result is a more lethal and survivable force. They will be able to dominate their operational environment and start to alter the ability of enemy or irregular forces to inflict U.S. casualties.
Cost Savings: The U.S. military spends huge sums of money on ammunition. By implementing more effective training programs a proficient force will develop faster and therefore cheaper. Skills maintenance will require less effort. More effective and efficient programs will provide cost savings by reducing ammunition waste. Many organizations already possess the skills and techniques required. Army Marksmanship Unit is a phenomenal resource. The amount of information and expertise at the AMU is profound. Competitive organizations such as the Civilian Marksmanship Program, United States Pistol Shooting Association, and 3 Gun Associations are innovators in the small arms training realm. Former SOF civilian instructors are also great resources in developing curriculums that develop skills more effectively and efficiently. Simulation equipment should also be used to enhance shooting fundamentals, but under no circumstances replace live fire.
New caliber capable of overmatching current and emerging threats
U.S. forces use NATO 5.56x45 millimeter based weapons. The U.S. weapon of choice has been the M16 and its M4 variants. This design is now over 50 years old. Even with improvements, the M16/M4 riﬂe and the 5.56x45 mm NATO round are questionably adequate in the face of current threats.
There are Communist Bloc weapon systems that fire the 7.62x54R cartridge. This cartridge has much more performance than the 5.56x45 mm round. It even has more performance that our larger 7.62x51 mm caliber used in U.S. machine guns, sniper rifles, and battle rifles. With adversaries’ advancements, such as the new Russian “Ratnik” body armor, 5.56x45 mm and 7.62x51 mm might now be completely irrelevant.
Future ground combat operations against advanced adversaries could result in high U.S. casualties.
A shortcoming of 5.56x45mm ammunition is to be lethal it requires pitch (yaw) for its ability to fragment once inside the body. Bullet fragmentation often depends on design and materials. The most critical element though, is the velocity at which it strikes the target For a bullet to exhibit yaw, it must be somewhat unstable when it hits the target. If a bullet begins to pitch (yaw) at high velocity, the bullet will fragment under the stress. As the bullet breaks up into fragments. It has an exponential effect on wound channels, a direct reflection of its lethality.
The intent is the body tissue expands and tears, creating a large, permanent cavity. In the late 1980’s Dr. Martin Fackler conducted tests of current 5.56x45 mm ammunition for the U.S Army. Dr. Fackler’s tests showed about 70% of the time a 5.56x45 mm bullets travel 4.75 inches in human tissue before yawing. 15 % of the time it would pitch (yaw) before 4.75 inches or after 4.75 inches. This means there is an 85% chance a 5.56x45 mm bullet will not begin to yaw and fragment until it has passed nearly 5 inches of tissue. Most 5.56x45 mm bullets will just pass through most enemy combatants, considering their smaller size, unless the bullet strikes bone or at an angle.
When I was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in Ft. Campbell, stories were told of how of a 187th Infantry Battalion Commander, David H. Petraeus, was shot in the chest by a 5.56x45mm round.
He walked out of the hospital several days after the accident. Had the round been any other caliber he probably would have been killed. A study by the Joint Service Wound Ballistics IPT in 2006 discovered that the ideal caliber seems to be between 6.5 mm and 7 mm. Many are working to develop cartridges between 6.5 mm and 7 mm unconstrained by current design, equipment, or material parameters. This would require a new design of a weapon capable of firing the cartridge, or any subsequent design advancements. See Appendix D (Weapon system with broad application and seamless technology upgrades)
Solution: This is a basic description of many of the advanced calibers available. I would defer to individual manufacturers for more details. This can be a highly contentious issue with various Commercial and Military Firearms experts. These calibers are selected as potential solutions for multiple reasons. They have better performance over current 5.56x45 mm cartridges. They are based off current cartridges in the DoD system. These cartridges are not the only solutions but they are the focus of most efforts to increase performance.
260 Remington The 260 Remington has been adopted to extend the performance of 7.62x51mm precision rifles. A combat rifle which is chambered for 7.62×51mm can be converted to 260 Remington. Since it based on the 7.62x51 mm case, it would be easy to standardize this round. When loaded to higher pressures, the ballistics of this cartridge are basically similar to the high performance 6.5×55 mm “Krag” with bullet weights at 140 grains or less. 6.5 mm (.264") bullets have high ballistic coefficients. 260 Remington has been successful in rifle competitions. It is capable of duplicating the trajectory of the powerful 300 Winchester Magnum found in sniper rifles, while generating significantly lower recoil.
6.5 Creedmoor This is a medium power cartridge often compared to the .260 Remington, as it is also based off of 7.62x51 mm ammunition. This is because 6.5mm Creedmoor is also capable of duplicating the muzzle velocity and trajectory of the 300 Winchester Magnum while generating significantly lower recoil, based on lighter projectile weight. It also has been widely adopted in competition shooting. The 6.5mm Creedmoor as has been characterized as "boringly accurate" at 1000 yards. Some competition shooters claim this ammunition is capable of less than 10 inch groups at 1000 yards
6.5 Grendel Many experts and studies have recommended 123 gr., 6.5x39 mm Grendel Lapua Secnar cartridge as a replacement for the current 5.56 mm NATO. It has twice the mass of the 5.56x45 mm bullet, The 6.5 mm Grendel projectile far outperforms the M4/M16 5.56x45 mm and the AK-47 7.62x39 mm bullet. It ﬂies faster, farther, and with less recoil than the 7.62x51 mm round. It has superior ballistic performance, low recoil, and higher accuracy.
7.62x39 and 7.62x54R These two calibers are Communist Bloc ammunition types. These calibers service the AK-47 and SVD rifles. We should always consider logistics in any caliber selection. While these calibers are old, they very plentiful and are frequently found in the countries we are normally engaged in. The ability to modify our rifles to accommodate these calibers is a key capability that has never been utilized. Theater Security Cooperation Plans require US forces to support our allies in regions where these older calibers are plentiful. The inability to access these calibers insures a heavier financial and logistical burden for U.S. forces. Plumb Precision has produced caliber conversions for some of these caliber variants for certain weapons platforms and have delivered them to USSOCOM for testing and evaluation.
Weapon system with broad application and seamless technology upgrades
Some weapons systems have become very specialized to meet operational requirements. Squad Automatic Weapons, sub machine guns, and sniper rifles are all individual weapon systems that have been refined to meet certain needs. Often they are so specialized they become completely impractical in any other application. The operational environment often requires the individual’s weapon to act with properties of all three.
The ideal concept, is a weapon that has multiple configurations with all accessories included. Commanders would have the flexibility to adjust the capabilities to the operational environment while maintaining supply, training, and operational commonality. This new or enhanced combat weapon requires lethality sufﬁcient to kill the enemy across a broad spectrum of environments. I must emphasize this strongly, our small arms must be lethal. Incapacitation of the enemy is not an effective combat doctrine.
A weapon that rapidly adopts new calibers and technologies is required to meet our operational needs. This new system must prove effective at close quarters, possess the needed flexibility needed at mid-to-long range, and then engage long-distance targets across open terrain. The new system must have the capability to penetrate through new Russian body armor and light vehicles at a distance. Then excel at urban close fighting and double as a long-range precision riﬂe if needed. It also must be modular, field upgradable, and be highly reliable.
A weapon system designed to perform in all applications usually means making compromises to do so. The modular nature of the M4/M16 series of weapons still falls short of this concept as it is too small to fulfill the role effectively. The FN SCAR program was a leap in this direction. The FN SCAR program had its main effort dropped (MK.16) as it showed no real performance upgrades.
The FN SCAR MK.17 did stay on in the USSOCOM inventory with some success after initial issues. FN Herstal was presented with an enhancement package by Plumb Precision. The Plumb Precision proposal took an existing program of record and added commercial off the shelf upgrades. These upgrades modified the SCAR MK.17 to fulfill all of the aforementioned capabilities. The Plumb Precision MK.17/MK.20 Enhancement Program was submitted to USSOCOM (US Special Operations Command). USASFC (US Army Special Forces Command) G8 Target Engagement Commodity made a request for these upgrades. The acquisition of these items was mired in European labor disputes and the lack of small business set asides in the SCAR MK.17 contract.
In 1980 NATO accepted the 5.56×45mm NATO as the standard rifle cartridge. Then a Draft Standardization Agreement (STANAG) was developed to allow NATO countries to share rifle ammunition in common magazines. The U.S. M16 rifle magazine became the basis for standardization. NATO members then procured rifles with the ability to accept this type of magazine. Since 1980, the ability for a weapon system to take the common magazine has guided weapons and ammunition development.
As stated earlier the smaller cartridges, based on the 5.56x45 mm, have limited lethality and performance. Even with advancements in technology and materials, the performance of 5.56x45 mm cartridges is outclassed by adversaries’ capabilities. Also, as mentioned before, new adversary body armor technology might have made 5.56x45 mm irrelevant.
The most likely solution to have overmatch against adversaries it to use 7.62x51 mm based cartridges. U.S. forces have several 7.62x51 mm based weapons systems and are procuring new ones. Currently we have the M14, M110 (SR-25), SCAR, and HK 417 (M110A1). The M14 is over 50 years old and is being rapidly phased out. The SCAR and HK 417 (M110A1) use proprietary magazines. The M110 (SR-25) is very widespread across the U.S. military and uses the U.S. standard magazine. The SR-25 pattern magazine is very wide spread. They have a long history of being very reliable. SR-25 magazines are also abundant, they have substantial U.S. commercial market support. There are tens of thousands already in the inventory. Then there are millions more available in the commercial market. This lack of magazine commonality presents a very real problem.
For example: a U.S. Navy SEAL with a FN SCAR, a U.S. Green Beret with an SR-25 based rifle, and a member of a Tier 1 unit with the HK 417 could all be executing a mission together. Imagine a situation that required them to share ammunition. Because all the rifles use different magazines, one would have to strip the magazine of ammunition and then reload their personal magazines. This would most likely happen under the worst conditions. Solution: These following recommendations will provide the U.S. military the ability streamline the force.
Mandate all U.S. military 7.62x51 mm weapon systems use U.S. common magazines. These are commonly referred to as SR-25 magazine pattern. It is already mandated that all 5.56x45 mm rifles must use the 1980 STANAG NATO magazine.
Adopt Plumb Precision SR-25 pattern magazine conversion kits for the weapon systems in place. The Plumb Precision Mk.17/Mk.20 Enhancement Program does this for the FN SCAR rifle. The patent pending Plumb Precision SR 25 Pattern Magazine Conversion does this for HK 417 (M110A1) rifles.
Cost Savings: One area when foreign owned small arms manufacturers continuously build in excess profit is in proprietary magazines. The FN SCAR magazines are routinely sold for $50 and the HK 417 magazines are sold for $100. Considering each rifle comes with at least 6 to 7 magazines this can get expensive in per unit costs. Often these magazines get broken or damaged and need to be replaced. Expendable magazines at $50 to $100 per unit can become more than the cost of the rifle itself. The U.S. military could use the SR-25 magazines already in the inventory. Magpul PMAGs that retail for $25 dollars could be procured. These are U.S. made and extremely durable, reducing the frequency that magazines are replaced. The cost savings could be immense when viewed from the perspective of purchasing 25,000 or 100,000 rifles.
More effective combat engagement reticles for optics
Combat engagements happen in three distinct rages; close, intermediate, and far.
Close ranges are often inside structures, dense jungle, or in urban environments. To accurately engage targets requires quick reflexes and optics that do not restrict the view of the shooter. The scope reticle, commonly referred to as “crosshairs”, must allow for quick focusing on the target. This is normally done with just a red dot.
Intermediate ranges are from 100 meters to 400 meters. This can be open terrain, forests, and large urban areas. These shots require more deliberate shooting. While it can be done quickly more factors are brought into play. Bullet trajectory must be accounted for to a minor degree. Often times breathing, sight picture, and trigger press are core competencies to effective and fast shooting at these ranges.
Long Ranges are from 500 meters and farther. The open terrain of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and the Russian Steppe are good examples of this environment. Shooting effectively in these ranges requires very deliberate shooting techniques. Fundamentals of shooting that are ignored at these ranges will result in missed shots. The shooter must compensate for bullet trajectory, wind direction and speed, barometric pressure and other factors that dramatically effect how the bullet travels to the target. This type of engagements requires a lot of practice and skill to do accurately. The shooter must compensate for all the factors in their environment to be effective. Then they must be able to the mathematical equations quickly and accurately to determine the distance to target. Currently each of these environments requires its own optic type and reticle to best facilitate shooting accurately.
It is not uncommon for U.S. soldiers to be engaged by the enemy in each of these distances, at the same time. Currently there is no optic that can be used accurately across all three ranges effectively because no reticle supports all three types of engagements.
Solution: The Plumb Precision Rapid Target Engagement reticle. This patent pending reticle allow the user to engage targets in all three types of distances. It allows for rapid close engagements in reflex “red dot” mode. It has graphic representations that compensate for bullet drop in all engagement ranges. This will assist in intermediate range engagements being faster and more accurate. It eliminates the need for the shooter to do the mathematical equations need to determine range and compensate for bullet drop.
Then for advanced shooters who possess the skill for accurate long distance shooting it can still be used as a normal precision reticle. It also has other visual aids in place that assist the advanced shooter in determining distances to targets. This again accelerates the time required to make accurate long distance shots.
Cost Savings: The Plumb Precision Rapid Target Engagement reticle will rapidly reduce the time needed to bring higher levels of proficiency. Advanced shooting concepts normally require mental visualization for comprehension, not all shooters are able to grasp them. The Plumb Precision RTE has windage and bullet trajectory graphically represented. This allows the shooter to understand advanced concepts faster.
The faster learning cycle allows for less time and ammunition spent in teaching advanced shooting concepts. Advanced simulation would be added to the training suite. This would slash training costs while rapidly driving proficiency higher. This also allows for a board section of the force to develop more advanced skills. Because the reticle is used in scopes that can be used across multiple applications this will also streamline optics procurement. With one system that can fulfill multiple roles this reduces number of types of optics that need to be procured, reducing system costs.
More pathways for emerging technology to be evaluated
It is most often that smaller and newer companies are the sources of innovation in any industry. The firearms space is no exception. It can be quite difficult for small companies to make their innovations known to military experts. The scale of small arms contracts lends itself to larger and less innovate companies. Many times the cost savings and capability expanding goods and services of a company like Plumb Precision are never noticed. The ability for a small company that can radically expand military capability are never a focus of grants.
The Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) process is by subject line and not evaluated on a company or case by case basis. There seems no ability for a command to direct a research priority or alter a budget priority so that a small company could bring this type of innovation to bear. It has been our experience that the small, agile, and innovate companies that have the most to gain from government assistance are the least likely to get it.
Solution: It is our perspective to allow more flexibility in the use of research and grant money. That in addition to directing the purpose of grant and research money, allow the submissions on a case by case basis. Let companies propose projects and concepts based on their views of fulfilling force needs. For example, if Plumb Precision were to have been granted $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 in grant money, these technologies would be independently tested and validated already. These systems would be ready for immediate adoption. The realization of these substantial cost savings would far offset any cash outlay to the Government.
Often it is the smallest companies who are the most innovative and agile. They often have the most to offer in new technologies. They are also the companies who would benefit most the capital injections in the form of grants.