In previous materials (Forgotten Soviet cartridge 6x49 mm vs cartridge 6,8 mm NGSW и Caliber bullets and a tungsten carbide conical barrel: the future of small arms) we examined technical solutions that can be applied to create a promising small arms weaponscapable of effectively resisting small arms developed in the United States under the NGSW program.
As the main objectives of the program NGSW two declared: increasing the range of destruction of targets protected existing and perspective means of individual armor protection (NIB), and increasing the effective range of regular infantry infantry weapons.
From the point of view of solving the task of hitting targets protected by NIB, the most effective solution is most likely to create a smoothbore small arms in combination with high-speed sub-caliber bullets. At the same time, it is likely that weapons with sub-caliber bullets will have less accuracy and accuracy at long distances - over 500 meters, even when firing in single-shot mode. Or the solution to this problem will require the manufacture of feathered sub-caliber bullets (OPP) with extremely high accuracy, which will make them too expensive for even special operations forces (MTR).
At the same time, the creation of a universal weapon capable of effectively hitting targets protected by NIB at short ranges and ensuring high accuracy and accuracy of hits at long ranges may not be possible. Weapons under a powerful cartridge will not allow providing the necessary density of fire to obtain an acceptable probability of hitting targets at close range, and a weak cartridge will not provide acceptable efficiency of hitting targets at long range.
So what? To arm soldiers with two types of assault rifles / rifles, for example, when most of the units are armed with assault rifles for conditionally close combat, and a smaller part is equipped with long-range "Marxman" rifles?
Two ammunition for different ranges
In principle, such a separation has always existed. If you recall the Second World War, then in the Soviet troops there were both long-range Mosin rifles of the 1891 caliber of 7,62x54R caliber and Shpagin submachine guns (PPSh) of the 1941 model of 7,62x25 mm caliber.
The German army had a similar situation: a Mauser 98k rifle (carbine) of caliber 7,92 × 57 mm and a submachine gun MP 40 of caliber 9x19 mm.
Mauser 98k rifle and MP 40 submachine gun
The creation of small arms under an intermediate cartridge in the middle of the 7,62th century, it would seem, changed the situation: all the infantry (motorized infantry) was armed with a single model of small arms, in the USSR the legendary Kalashnikov assault rifle of 39xXNUMX mm caliber became the ancestor of this type of weapon.
Kalashnikov assault rifle under an intermediate cartridge of 7,62x39 mm caliber
Subsequently, the leading armies of the world switched to low-pulse cartridges: caliber 5,45x39 mm in the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty countries and caliber 5,56x45 mm in the United States and NATO countries.
Nevertheless, it quickly became clear that the weapon under the intermediate and low-pulse cartridge does not provide for the defeat of targets at all necessary distances of fire fighting. This led to the appearance in the rifle units of the USSR / Russia and the USA, in addition to weapons under 5,45x39 / 5,56x45 mm cartridges, weapons under more powerful cartridges 7,62x54R and 7,62x51 mm. In the USSR, it was the Dragunov sniper rifle (SVD) and a Kalashnikov machine gun (PK) of 7,62x54R caliber, while in the USA it was an M14 automatic rifle and an M60 machine gun of 7,62x51 mm caliber.
"Marxman" rifles SVD and M14
Nevertheless, the ratio of 5,45x39 / 5,56x45 mm weapons to 7,62x54R / 7,62x51 mm caliber weapons was significantly shifted in favor of the weapon under a low-pulse cartridge. The situation began to change after the U.S. armed forces entered Afghanistan, where it turned out that 4x5,56 mm M45 rifles were often ineffective, since in the highlands the enemy often attacked from a long distance using 7,62x54R or 7,62x51 mm weapons. Also, the military was not satisfied with the ability of the M4 rifle to break through barriers, for example, duval - adobe fences or walls in Central Asia that separate the inner courtyard of a house or house from the street.
Classic duvalls in Central Asia
This led to a natural increase in the interest of the US armed forces in relation to more powerful and efficient weapons.
The simplest solution was to purchase the latest weapons of 7,62x51 mm caliber. In particular, the US Special Operations Forces purchased Belgian rifles FN SCAR modifications SCAR-H caliber 7,62x51 mm, completely abandoning the purchase of modifications SCAR-L caliber 5,56x45 mm. Also, the US Department of Defense purchased 4492 rifles HK G28 (HK 417) caliber 7,62x51 mm as a Marxman rifle.
At the same time, the topic of the transition of the armed forces to a new cartridge of 6,5-6,8 mm caliber began to be actively discussed. Initially, it was assumed that as the new main ammunition of the US armed forces cartridges are considered as 6,5x39 mm Grendel or 6,8x43 mm Remington SPC.
Cartridges as 6,5x39 mm Grendel and 6,8x43 mm Remington SPC
However, in reality, it turned out that the US armed forces are ready to take a much more decisive step and create a promising weapon-cartridge complex with energy that is 2-3 times higher than the energy of a weapon under a low-pulse cartridge. And in this case, we again return to the question of whether the weapons created under the NGSW program will be able to accurately and efficiently shoot at remote targets in semi-automatic mode, and heap effective shooting at targets at close range, in automatic fire mode.
It is likely that weapons created by the program NGSW, will not provide a bunch of effective shooting in automatic fire at targets at close range, a promising weapon with sub-caliber high-speed ammunition will be inferior to weapons created under the NGSW program when firing at long ranges, and promising weapon for the reincarnation of a cartridge 6x49 mm there will be a compromise between the two options.
In this regard, история may happen again and in the armed forces there will again be two samples of small arms, which are approximately equally common: a classic machine gun for combat at short and medium ranges up to 300-500 meters and a semi-automatic twenty-shot rifle for combat at a range of 500-800 meters, possibly up to 1000 meters . In this case, the rifle squad will lose to the enemy armed only with assault rifles in the case of fighting at short range, and lose to the enemy armed only with semi-automatic rifles in the case of fighting at long range.
The question arises: is it possible to implement a combined solution based on the use of two types of ammunition?
Combined Hunting Weapon
Combined weapons are quite widespread in the hunting environment. In general, multi-barrel single-shot models were developed - one cartridge per barrel. Typically, the number of trunks varies from two to four. For example, a shotgun can have two smooth 12-gauge barrels and two rifled barrels, but in practice the combination of different calibers is limited only by the manufacturer’s imagination.
With store and self-loading models, everything is not so rosy, which is understandable by the complexity of creating such weapons. Nevertheless, it exists and was developed in the USSR / Russia, in TsKIB SOO.
The MTs-27 shotgun combines a single-shot upper rifled barrel with a caliber of 9x53 mm, with a longitudinally-sliding bolt, and a smooth barrel with a detachable magazine for two 20-round cartridges. The drawback of the MC-27 is its weight of 3,8 kg.
An even more advanced model was the MTs-28 shotgun, in which there are two self-loading mechanisms and two magazines for both types of barrels. The upper barrel with a rotor-type drum for three .22LR rounds is equipped with a free shutter. The lower smooth barrel with gas automatic control and a box magazine for two rounds is implemented as in the MTs-27 rifle. The ease of implementation and reliability of this weapon is noted. The disadvantage, as in the case of the MTs-27, was the mass of weapons, amounting to 3,9 kg. The MT-28 combined rifle was not distributed due to the extremely limited output volume.
In the MTs-29-3 rifle, the top single-shot smooth barrel of 20 caliber (MTs-29 - 32 caliber) was combined with a .22LR barrel with a free shutter and a tubular eight-shot magazine.
Despite the fact that the combined self-loading weapon has not gained popularity, the very fact of its creation suggests that this is quite feasible. It must be understood that the above samples were created in the 60s - 70s of the XX century.
Combined Combat Weapons
The most famous attempt to create a combat combined weapon can be considered the American project OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon), in which a prototype of the promising XM29 rifle was created, which combined a 5,56x45 mm automatic rifle (KE module) and an automatic 20 mm caliber grenade launcher (module HE).
The final sample XM29, developed by the OICW program
As in the case of hunting weapons, the mass of the XM29, amounting to 7,8-8,2 kg, became a serious obstacle. However, the problem was solved non-trivial. In addition to the multiply-charged grenade launcher of 20 mm caliber, which in itself is quite a lot, a significant amount of weight was had by an expensive computer sight, providing remote detonation of grenades.
But the main obstacle to the XM29 most likely was the complexity of the implementation of the aiming system, providing remote detonation of grenades over the target. Given the fact that the development of the XM-25 grenade launcher complex, created on the basis of the backlog under the OICW program, was closed, most likely it was not possible to provide guaranteed detonation of grenades over the target, which depreciated the entire program. At the same time, the idea of creating a combined weapon does not discredit it.
By analogy with the XM29, a Daewoo K11 rifle-grenade launcher system with 5,56 × 45 mm and 20 × 85 mm caliber grenades was developed in South Korea. The curb weight of the Daewoo K11 was 7,1 kg. The grenade launcher module was manually recharged using a sliding bolt. In 2017, the second generation of the Daewoo K11 complex was introduced, it is possible that the project will still receive further development.
In Australia, the AICW (Advanced Infantry Combat Weapon - advanced infantry fighting weapon) was developed. The basis of the promising weapon was the well-known 5,56 × 45 mm Steyr AUG rifle, supplemented by a three-shot 40 mm grenade launcher made according to the Metal Storm system with a sequential arrangement of grenades, and an electron-optical sight. Structurally, such a system is simpler and more reliable, and the barrel of the machine is longer than the XM29 or Daewoo K11, but the curb weight of the complex was 9,9 kg, which was absolutely unacceptable.
AICW Combined Rifle
In the USSR, combat combined weapons, the 80.002 rifle-grenade launcher system, were created in the 70s of the 12,7th century, on the basis of a Kalashnikov assault rifle, supplemented by a ten-shot grenade launcher for 80.002 millimeter caliber ammunition. Product 1979 did not leave the prototype stage and the project was closed in 90, although the solutions in the framework of this project were worked out by designers until the XNUMXs.
Prototype of a product 80.002
The simplest and most functional way of creating a combined military weapon was to place an additional module on a standard small arms weapon. If we discard single-shot grenade launchers and talk only about multiply-charged solutions, where the grenade launcher module is actually a small-arms weapon, then we can recall the quite successful American experience of installing under-barrel shotguns on M16 and M4 rifles.
In Russia, a 9A91 9x39 mm caliber automatic developed by GUP KBP was equipped with a multi-shot under-barrel shotgun.
9A91 assault rifle with a shotgun
Thus, we can say that in different countries there is considerable experience in the creation of combined small arms, which, although not always led to the appearance of mass-produced products, allowed us to gain experience in their development, which can subsequently be claimed in promising small arms models.
Advanced Combat Weapon
The idea of a promising combined weapon was considered by the author in the article Assault Rifle: What Should It Be?published in the journal "Soldier of Fortune" No. 9 for September 2007. Since then, little has changed in the field of small arms, and it can be taken as the basis for the formation of the concept of a promising rifle, discarding the most radical decisions, such as cartridges with electric ignition.
As we said at the beginning of the article, the prospective combined rifle under consideration should be able to conduct automatic fire with acceptable accuracy and the probability of hitting targets protected by NIB, which should be ensured by the use of feathered sub-caliber bullets, or sub-caliber bullets of a different layout. At the same time, there is a possibility that it will not be possible to ensure acceptable accuracy and accuracy of hits by caliber bullets at targets located at a distance of 500 meters or more, which may require the possibility of semi-automatic firing of a cartridge with a rifled bullet of sufficiently high power.
A promising combined rifle should include a module with a smooth, possibly conical barrel, for firing bursts at ranges up to 400-500 meters, under a telescopic cartridge with an OPP caliber of 2,5 / 10 mm - 3,5 / 10 mm, and a module, made according to the “bullpup” scheme, with a rifled barrel designed for semi-automatic shooting with high accuracy, a cartridge of 6-8 mm caliber, at a range of up to 800-1000 meters.
Thus, the promising weapon will be somewhat similar to the weapons created as part of the OICW program. Could it be that we will repeat the mistakes of the creators of weapons on this and similar programs?
First reason The closure of the OICW program was the low efficiency of 20-mm grenades with remote detonation, which we do not provide for using in a promising combined rifle.
The second reason OICW program closures are the high cost of weapons developed under the OICW program. We have previously considered that by the criterion of cost-effectiveness, small arms are ahead of many other weapons. In addition, the absence of grenades with remote detonation makes it unnecessary to develop, with the composition of a promising combined rifle, a specialized, expensive electron-optical sighting system.
We do not plan to equip with the prospective combined rifle the millionth army, crews of armored vehicles and auxiliary units. First of all, a promising combined rifle is intended for Special Operations Forces, and secondly, for warring units, that is, the need for new weapons can be estimated at 10 thousand - 100 thousand units.
Taking for the maximum cost of one promising combined rifle in the amount of 500 thousand rubles, we get the necessary amounts for the purchase of respectively 5 billion and 50 billion rubles. Is it a lot or a little? For example, a football stadium in St. Petersburg cost about 43-50,8 billion rubles. About 50 billion rubles is worth one nuclear-powered icebreaker of the Arctic type. The military budget of the Russian Federation in 2020 is approximately 3 trillion. rubles.
If someone considers the cost of small arms in the amount of 500 thousand rubles sky-high, then he should pay attention to the products of the Russian company Lobaev arms, the cost of which rifles comes to two million rubles. In addition, an increase in the series may affect the cost, that is, for a batch of 10 thousand units it will be 500 thousand rubles, and for a batch of 100 thousand units, it is already 250 thousand rubles. In general, the issue of value is a debatable issue.
Third reason The closure of the OICW program is a significant weight of the received weapons samples, and this applies to other similar programs. Can this problem be solved?
The mass of the KE module, the automatic part of the XM29 complex, could not be found, but the mass of the Heckler & Koch XM8 rifle at the development stage was 2,6–2,9 kg. Another example is the Remington 700 Titanium mountain rifle weighing 2,4-3 kg in calibers up to the powerful .300 Win Mag.
The rough addition of the XM8 and Remington 700 Titanium gives a mass of about 6 kg, but we need a semi-automatic module for a rifled cartridge, on the other hand, in a single design, some elements of the weapon will also be unified (butt, stock). How else can you reduce weight?
The American company PROOF Research is actively developing its line of carbon fiber trunks with a steel liner. PROOF Research's trunks include a 416R stainless steel inner liner and a solid carbon fiber-based polymer composite outer casing. Composite trunks from PROOF Research weigh on average half as much as conventional trunks of the same profile. The greatest benefit comes from their use in medium and large caliber rifles.
Composite material also significantly dampens vibrations that occur in the walls of the barrel during the shot. A carbon fiber barrel is also advantageous for intensive firing, since, according to the manufacturer, it gives off heat much faster and its cooling time is about 60% of the time required to cool an all-metal barrel. This is achieved due to the special structure of the material, the selection of the properties of the carbon fiber matrix and surface characteristics.
The .50 BMG sniper rifle demonstrated at the United States Marine Corps, based on the McMillan TAC-50, with a Steiner 5-25 × 56 sight and Cadex stock, equipped with a PROOF Research barrel, weighs 4,5 kg less than the standard version. This gain is due to the use of a composite barrel with a reduced weight of 55%. PROOF Research is so far the only company whose carbon fiber barrels are used by the US Army and special forces of other states.
Composite trunks made of carbon fiber are also produced by Christensen Arms, a competitor to PROOF Research, it is possible that other weapons companies are also developing in this area.
Given the fact that the mass of the barrel is an essential part of the weapon, the use of composite barrel in a promising combined rifle will save several kilograms of weight.
Also, composite materials and titanium can be used in the manufacture of the box and receiver. An even more promising solution may be the use of foamed materials and materials with a complexly oriented internal structure, which we talked about in the article Armor of God: technologies for promising means of individual armor protection, and which should further contribute to reducing returns.
The combination of a titanium frame, composite materials and materials with a complex internal structure will not only help reduce the weight of a promising combined rifle to four to five kilograms, but also provide the necessary rigidity of the structure, as well as heat removal from the trunks.
The use of a silencer - a closed muzzle brake of the compensator, which seems to become a steady trend, will reduce recoil and increase accuracy of fire, as well as minimize the impact of the sound of a shot on the hearing organs of a soldier. It is likely that the silencer will be needed only on the module for firing bursts, while on the module for precision firing its installation will be optional or optional.
An additional advantage of a promising combined rifle can be increased reliability, due to the presence of two independent mechanisms with a common trigger and a fuse lever. The fuse operation algorithm for example can be as follows:
- fuse - automatic fire (smooth barrel) - single shooting (smooth barrel) - single shooting (rifled barrel);
- fuse - automatic fire (smooth barrel) - firing in short bursts of 2 or 3 shots (smooth barrel) - firing single (smooth barrel) - firing single (rifled barrel).
How appropriate is the creation of a combined rifle? The whole question is whether it will be possible to ensure the necessary probability of hitting targets protected by NIB in the entire range of required ranges, using weapons only with a rifled barrel and caliber bullets, or weapons only with a smooth barrel and sub-caliber bullets.
Firing range is increasing. This is facilitated by the appearance of new sighting systems, providing not only detection, but also target designation of the arrow for a confident hit, taking into account the distance to the target and meteorological factors. And promising small arms must match the capabilities of such sighting systems.