Forgotten Soviet cartridge 6x49 mm vs cartridge 6,8 mm NGSW

Consequences for the RF Armed Forces in the Case of Success or Failure of the NGSW Program

In a previous article, we looked at what actions can be taken if the Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) program is partially successful, when program participants cannot create weapon, providing at the same time a significant increase in range, and high armor penetration, in combination with a fairly low recoil, and an acceptable mass of weapons.

In this case, the weapons created under the NGSW program will occupy a limited niche in the US armed forces in the form of the light machine gun NGSW-AR and the Marxman rifle NGSW-R. At the same time, the bulk of US troops will be armed with traditional weapons chambered for 5,56x45 mm caliber, or weapons with slightly more powerful ammunition, for example, on the basis of 6,5x39 Grendel or 6,8x43 Rem SPC cartridges.

The response of the Russian armed forces and industry in this case may lie in the area of ​​relatively low-cost evolutionary development of existing weapons, such as the Pecheneg machine gun, SVD / Microwave sniper rifles and Kalashnikov assault rifle or machine gun, as well as ammunition for them of the caliber 7,62x54R, 7,62x39 mm or 5,45x39 mm.

However, if NGSW members will be able to to create a weapon that provides both a significant increase in range, and high armor penetration, combined with a fairly low recoil, and an acceptable mass, a simple improvement of existing weapons and ammunition will not succeed. In this article, we consider what options for reciprocal decisions can be implemented by industry in the interests of the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

As a preamble, one can cite the words of Alexei Sorokin, former director of the Tula TsKIB SOO: “It is obvious that promising systems of small arms (SALW) should be built on the basis of new ammunition, since the potential for modernization of cartridges 5,45 × 39 mm and 7,62 × 54 mm is practically exhausted and still does not reach promising requirements. Several years ago, research was carried out on a new ammunition for promising small arms and light weapons, and although, in my opinion, the work was interesting, the parent organization carried out very poorly technological work on the manufacture of an experimental batch of cartridges, and comparative tests did not show an advantage over existing ammunition, a negative output. Work stopped. The discussion of returning to the 7,62 × 39 mm cartridge is speculation. "No significant advantages over 5,45 × 39 mm can be obtained, and work on the creation of new ammunition for machine guns and sniper rifles, and machine guns is not actively and systematically conducted."

To borrow useful things from the West, as we see, is not the first time for Russia. But borrow only the caliber of the rifle is not worth it. It is better to start, for example, with at least a partial creation of that atmosphere of open and public discussion that accompanies similar work "with them." Moreover, it does not require additional money. On the contrary, to reduce efforts to classify everything, and everything will even save. Unless, of course, once again it turns out that the "secret" was not from strangers, but from their own "

Forgotten Soviet cartridge 6x49 mm vs cartridge 6,8 mm NGSW

TsKIB SOO, a branch of KBP JSC (Tula), is a developer of not only weapons, but also ammunition. In the photo are cartridges for underwater firing of the PSP (with a bullet made of tungsten alloy) and PSP-UD for the two-medium machine gun "ADS" of caliber 5,45x39 mm

And another digression: “In accordance with a request for information from 08.07.2019 issued on July 8, the US Army Contract Command, on behalf of the military research and production organization Picatinny Arsenal, wishes to receive from the industry data on the possibility of manufacturing, cost of testing and supply of new ammunition of caliber 6,8 mm designed for use with weapons under the NGSW program. Cost and cost estimates should take into account the use of equipment necessary for the manufacture of cores from tungsten carbide».

Cherished 6,5 mm

Since the advent of the unitary cartridge for small arms, countless ammunition of various caliber and purpose has been released. Probably from this moment the search for the perfect ammunition began, first for rifles and machine guns, and then for machine guns, which continues to this day not only on the pages of specialized Internet resources, but also within the walls of defense enterprises and institutes. Often, in search of an “ideal” caliber, it is forgotten that the diameter of the bullet is only one of the characteristics of the ammunition, and cartridges with fundamentally different characteristics can be realized within the framework of one caliber.

Cartridges 7,92x57 mm and 7,92x94 mm with almost the same bullet, with initial energy, respectively, 3567 J and 10673 J

Often the choice of the best ammunition is surrounded by legends, one of which is the widespread belief that the ideal cartridge for an assault rifle should be the 6,5 mm caliber cartridge, proposed in the 1913 year by V.G. Fedor 1913 year cartridge 6,5x57 mm for an automatic rifle of his own design. For cartridge 6,5х57 mm V.G. Fedorov developed not only standard, but also armor-piercing bullets, with tungsten alloy cores.

The cartridge 6,5X57 mm was never adopted by the Russian and then the Soviet army, and therefore it is possible to talk about its likely advantages only in the alternative format stories.

Cartridge V.G. Fedorova caliber 6,5X57 mm

At the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries, a lot of cartridges of the 6,5 mm caliber were produced - this is the Italian cartridge 6,5 × 52 mm Mannlicher-Carcano, and the Swedish 6,5 × 55SE mm Swedish Mauser, and the Japanese 6,5 × 50SR Arisaka, which V.G. Fedorov used in his rifle instead of his own cartridge 6,5x57 mm.

Cartridges 6,5x50SR Arisaka, 6,5x52 mm Mannlicher-Carcano, 6,5x54 Mannlicher-Schonauer, 6.5x54R Mannlicher, 6.5 × 55 Mauser and 7,62xXNNMXR

Ultimately, in the 20th century, ammunition of the caliber 7,62 mm and low-pulse cartridges of the caliber 5,45 / 5,56 mm dominated by a huge margin. Given the funds that the leading powers of the world invested in defense research, it can hardly be said that this choice is unreasonable.

Nevertheless, the story is made in a spiral, and the development of promising ammunition caliber 6-7 mm can be claimed in promising weapons.

Soviet heritage

In the USSR, systematic studies were conducted of promising small arms and ammunition for it. As could be seen from the previous article The evolution of an automaton in the USSR and in Russia in the context of the American NGSW programThe scale of the work carried out in the framework of the competition for the “Ratnik” equipment machine is not even close to what was implemented in the USSR as part of the solution of a similar problem.

An interesting ammunition for small arms, about which there is not enough information, is the 6x49 mm cartridge, developed at the end of the 80 of the XX century by specialists from the Central Scientific Research Institute of Precision Engineering (TSNIITOCHMASH). The 6x49 mm cartridge is a rifle and machine-gun ammunition designed to engage targets protected by means of individual armor protection (NIB) at a distance of up to 1000 meters. The predecessor of the 6x49 mm cartridge was the 1975x6 mm cartridge created back in the 54 year, with an initial speed of the 5-gram bullet in 1080 m / s. The energy of the bullet of the cartridge 6x54 mm exceeded in some parts of the trajectory, and in others it was comparable with the energy of the bullet of the cartridge 7,62x54R.

Left to right cartridges 7,62x54R, 6x54 mm, 7,62x39 mm, 5,45x39 mm

The 6x49 mm cartridge had higher characteristics compared to the 6x54 mm cartridge with smaller dimensions. A bullet weighing 5 grams was accelerated to a speed of 1150 m / s, while the recoil momentum was less by 25-30% than the cartridge 7,62x54R.

From left to right, cartridges of 6x54 mm, 6x49 mm with an ordinary bullet with a steel core, 6x49 mm with an armor-piercing bullet with a steel core, 6x49 mm with an armor-piercing bullet with a tungsten-cobalt core X, with an xNUM xNUM core core, X mm ordinary x, with an ordinary core bullet, X x NUM x mm, with an ordinary core, N x 6x49 mm with a modified sleeve and with an experimental bullet with an enlarged core. For comparison, on the right is the Fedorov cartridge of caliber 6 mm

Cartridge 6x49 mm
Under this cartridge prototypes of small arms were developed - sniper rifles TKB-0145K developed by TsKIB SOO and SVK, SVK-S.

Experienced sniper rifles TKB-0145K and SVK, SVK-S

Apparently, the 6x49 mm cartridge is the most developed and promising ammunition developed in the USSR / Russia. How suitable is it for weapons that can be considered as a competitor to the automatic rifle created under the American NGSW program?

As we said earlier, in the case of negative results on the NGSW program, the majority of U.S. military personnel will be armed with traditional weapons chambered for 5,56x45 mm caliber, or weapons under a reinforced cartridge based on cartridges of the 6,5x39 Grendel or 6,8x43 Rem SPC type with an initial energy of 2000-2600 J. In the scenario, the initial energy of a promising 6,8 mm NGSW cartridge can be of the order of 4300 J. This is much more than the 7,62x51 cartridge and even more than the .30-06 Springfield cartridge (7,62 × 63 mm) used in the American M1 Garand rifle.

Semi-automatic American rifle M1 Garand chambered .30-06 Springfield

The initial energy of the 6x49 mm cartridge bullet is about 3300 J, it can probably be increased to 3500-3700 J. This is supposedly lower than the promising American cartridge of the 6,8 mm NGSW caliber, but there is a suspicion that it is one thing to want to get an automatic weapon under the cartridge with the initial energy of 4300 J, another thing is to get it in reality. It is likely that the US military will have to “cut back sturgeon,” and in the process of developing the United States will come to the same 3500-3700 J.

Another argument is that even if the Americans manage to create a weapon that allows firing in bursts with a cartridge with an initial energy of 4300 J, then at short ranges it will lose in accuracy the automatic weapons of a similar layout, made on the basis of a cartridge with lower energy. Thus, a weapon chambered for 6,8 mm NGSW with an initial energy of 4300 J will have advantages over a long range, for example, over 500 meters, when firing with single shots, and a weapon created under a cartridge of 6x49 mm with an initial energy of 3300 J will have advantages at a lower range, for example, to 500 m, when shooting in short bursts.

Long-range shooting, in addition to the necessary and sufficient parameters of the weapon-cartridge complex, also requires appropriate skills from the shooter. It is doubtful that all US Army personnel will be able to realize the capabilities of such weapons, and in this sense, weapons under a powerful cartridge are more effective in the traditional role of Marxian weapons. At the same time, it is possible to fire suppression both with weapons under the promising 6,8 mm NGSW cartridge, and under the 6x49 mm cartridge.

The penetration of modern and promising NIB at the effective fire range should be approximately the same for both cartridges. The smaller estimated energy of the 6x49 mm cartridge, compared to the 6,8 mm NGSW cartridge, is compensated by almost 30% of the greater transverse area of ​​the bullet of the latter. The area of ​​a bullet with a diameter of 6 mm is 28,3 mm2, the bullet with a diameter of 6,8 mm is 36,3 mm2, for a cartridge 6x49 mm with 3300 J it is 117 J / mm2, for a cartridge 6,8 mm with 4300 J it is 118 J / mm2. Accordingly, if the initial energy of the cartridge 6x49 mm is increased to 3500 J, and the cartridge 6,8 mm NGSW is reduced to 3700 J, these figures will be 124 J / mm2 and 102 J / mm2, respectively. Of course, these are fairly general figures, since much will determine the shape and size of the carbide core, the aerodynamics of the bullet, and other factors.

Weapon chuck 6X49 mm

It can not be said that the idea of ​​using a cartridge 6x49 mm instead of an intermediate cartridge is some new one. According to reports, the 6x49 mm cartridge was initially considered as a single ammunition for a promising sniper rifle, machine gun and machine gun, although there is no reliable information about the machine gun. Experimental weapons were tested under the 6x49 mm cartridge — the TKB-0145K and SVK, SVK-S sniper rifles, a PKM-based machine gun and, presumably, an Abakan-based machine gun based on the AN-94.

Concepts of an assault rifle and a Marxman rifle chambered for 6x49 mm, based on an AN-94 assault rifle, made by a member of the NEZNAIKO forum

Can the AN-94 assault rifle be reborn like a Phoenix bird and become the basis for a promising rifle complex based on the 6x49 mm cartridge? The answer to this question lies largely in how well the AN-94 design is developed, and how it will work in tandem with the 6x49 mm cartridge, which is much more powerful than the 5,45x39 mm. The main advantage of the AN-94 assault rifle is that it uses a monitors with a shifted recoil momentum, which will potentially allow firing with powerful cartridges of the caliber 6x49 mm in short bursts with acceptable accuracy and accuracy. Presumably the gun monitor is used in one or more weapons developed by the NGSW program.

The carriage scheme was also used in the Stechkin experimental machine TKB-0146, developed as part of the Abakan contest. Despite the fact that the Stechkin TKB-0146 assault rifle lost the test, it could well be finalized at a new level and considered as another weapon model under the 6x49 mm cartridge. By the way, a purely visual device TKB-0146 looks much simpler than the AN-94. The problem of the need for a double recharge in the Stechkin machine can certainly be solved in one way or another.

Stechkin experienced machine gun TKB-0146

Also in a promising machine based on TKB-0146 can be taken into account the achievements obtained during the creation of automatic grenade launcher systems 5,45A-91, 7,62A-91 and ADS (special two-machine gun) developed by KBP JSC (Tula).

Automatic machines 5,45A-91, 7,62A-91 and ADS

Thus, in the framework of a potential Russian competition, in response to the American NGSW program, two participants can be attracted: Kalashnikov Concern with a machine gun based on AN-94 and KBP JSC / TsKIB SOO branch with a machine gun based on TKB-0146. In addition to developing a promising assault rifle for a single 6x49 mm cartridge, as it was planned, a machine gun should be created, for example, based on the Pecheneg machine gun, and a sniper rifle based on the microwave.

Also, to reduce recoil on promising weapons, a closed-type muzzle brake compensator (DTK) can be used. In addition to a significant decrease in recoil, closed-type DTCs significantly reduce the brightness of a muzzle flame and reduce the sound of a shot to values ​​that are safe for hearing - you can shoot indoors without any problems. When firing from a prone position, a weapon with a closed type DTK raises significantly less dust. DTC closed type can be used with supersonic cartridges. By the way, unlike silencers, closed-type DTCs are allowed in Russia for civilian use.

Closed type DTK

The mass of a closed type DTC depends on the number of cameras and averages from 400 grams (tactical series) to 900 grams (machine-gun models). Titanium alloy products weigh approximately 30-40% less. In the manufacture of closed-type DTCs from titanium by the 3D printing method, as is expected for some samples of weapons created by the NGSW program, their mass will be even lower and efficiency will increase.

For example, the Rotor-43 closed-type DTCs easily withstand bursts of fire even with cartridges like 7,62x54R. In this case, the muzzle flame is almost completely removed, the sound volume decreases from 120-140 dB to 72-78 dB. The DTK is quickly put on the weapon and also quickly removed, it is not necessary to introduce additional amendments to the sights of the weapon. Also, replaceable membranes and regular care are not required - DTK “cans” are self-blowing.

DTK for AK-74 5,45X39: shooting
The use of closed-type DTKs made of titanium alloys by 3D printing can be one of the leading trends in the development of promising weapon-cartridge complexes. In combination with a fire monitor, this can really make it possible to move in small arms from small-caliber, low-pulse cartridges to a single cartridge of the caliber 6-7 mm, with an initial energy of the order of 3500 J. There is a non-zero probability that promising closed-type DTCs can reduce returns to such the level at which the application of recoil accumulation schemes is not required, which in turn will significantly expand the list of weapons potentially acceptable for conversion under the cartridge 6x49 mm.


Why exactly 6X49 mm? Is it not possible to create a completely new cartridge using the latest technology? Of course, the development of a completely new ammunition using the latest advances in the creation of materials and gunpowders, as well as production technologies, will make it possible to obtain a product with higher characteristics than those that can be implemented in the 6x49 mm cartridge. The only question is whether they are being conducted now and what results have been achieved. Cartridge 6x49 mm, and its production technology, with a high probability worked out at a fairly high level. Based on the existing backlog, the 6x49 mm cartridge and weapons for it can be created in the shortest possible time, which will give an adequate and timely response to the American NGSW program, in case of its quick successful implementation. Also affected by the cartridge 6x49 mm can be used as the basis for the development of a new cartridge caliber 6,5-6,8 mm, if it is deemed appropriate. In any case, as mentioned earlier, the diameter of the bullet is far from the only parameter of the cartridge, and the number 6,5 mm is hardly worth considering as an answer to all questions.

On the other hand, the NGSW program cannot be ruled out over time. In this case, we do not need to rush and we can approach the development of a promising ammunition for small arms with more thoroughness, using promising striking elements, materials and layout schemes for ammunition. Of course, in this case, one can not do without the backlog of the Soviet period, but we will talk about this in the next article.
Photos used:,,,,,,,,,
Articles from this series:
NGSW Advanced Small Arms Program: Causes, Current and Expected Results
The evolution of an automaton in the USSR and in Russia in the context of the American NGSW program
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