View Full Version : 5.56 in Iraq

John Lindsey
22nd November 2005, 07:52
PS - Speaking of weapons, John can you give me any info on how effective the 5.56 (.223) round is in combat? I've heard a lot of horror stories about having to shoot a BG 2-3 times to put him down. I am considering a rifle purchase and am leaning toward the AR-10 7.62 (.308) in an M-4 configuration. A little heavier, but maybe more economical with regard to ammo.

I carry a Bushmaster M4. The only problems I have seen is in stopping vehicles with a 5.56. Engine hits need to get the radiator to do any real damage. Yes, it may take a few more rounds to put the BGs down, but shot placement is key as with all weapons. Most of our contacts are in urban environments, unless it is outside the main towns. We have SAWs, Negefs, and now PKMs for long range fire. At 300+ meters, I would like to have a 7.62.

I know some soldiers do complain about the 5.5.6, but it is still my choice for my home. Oh, and the .458 SOCOM is an excellent choice as well. You can get just the upper and slap it on your M4 lower.

I attended Paul Howe's pistol and carbine course recently, and he still picks the 5.56. He was in Delta, and highly featured in the book Black Hawk Down. He "serviced" many Bad Guys, and reports that at times, the green tips would pass right through and not even phase the guys. He teaches to target the spine, and his failure drill is 5 shots to the torso and then transition to 1 shot to the head.

The AR10 is good, but the magazines can cause problems. HK is coming out with a AR10 clone next year, but only for LEO and gov I think. The HK 416 for the M4 (5.56) is excellent, and they should be for sale to LEO next year...maybe. The closed gas system makes a big difference. I have fired about a 1000 rounds through a HK 416. We see them with some of the Spec Ops folks over here. Regular civilians will probably never own these HK rifles, unless you were lucky enough to get one of the few that "slipped" through the system and onto the market.

22nd November 2005, 10:36

Thanks for replying so quickly. I am a federal LEO so I could get the HK version, except that I am a federal LEO and don't make spit and HK is damn proud of the guns!

I have a SF buddy (20th Group, AL NG) who swears by his AR-10. He was telling me you can get modified M-14 mags, but newer after-market mags are coming out now. He says he has never experienced a problem, and he does a lot "combat" firing courses with it (2-3 gun courses).

I agree about shot placement. Most regular Army and Marine units don't place enough emphasis on marksmanship training any more. They are apparently using a lot of ACOG and AIMPOINT signts and forgetting how to use the iron sights.

I have also recently heard that the US is going to a round that is almost a hollow point, but not quite (NATO and Geneva Convention). Have you heard this?

I have a friend who is a detective with Dallas PD. She will be going to patrol rifle school with her Rock River Arms AR-15 (entry configuration). I envy her, any time I can put a bunch of someone elses rounds down range I go for it. Thats why I am frantically trying to reenlist in the USMCR before they close this war down.


22nd November 2005, 12:39
I have a question also if I may.
Your response is as to the round. I'm a big fan of the 5.56 and AR-15/M16 since boot camp. I also own a AR configured as M4 and also carry one on SWAT.

I just completed an assault rifle instructors course here and the lead instructor showed me a (unofficial) report on the military opinions on certain weapons and the result was many were not happy with the M16's (and a few others) because of jamming caused by the fine snad getting into the action.

Has this been your experince as well?

Thanks in advance.

John Lindsey
22nd November 2005, 16:26

I have heard nothing about any new rounds for the Military. There is some talk among us contractors about the blended metal technology bullets. BTW, the LEO price for the Hk416 upper should be around $1100.


I think one problem with the m16 / m4 rifles is the open gas system. That is why the HK and its closed system is doing well in testing. The only weapon I hear the soldiers complain about is their pistol. Part of that problem was bad mags, but they still want something better. I carry a Glock 17 and love it. The thing never fails to shoot and stands up great in the dirt and dust here. Oh, I have never seen any sand over here, just the brown dusty dirt. I used to be a m1911 fan, but not anymore.

22nd November 2005, 17:01
Thanks for your response John.

22nd November 2005, 20:12

Re: Paul Howe's Failure Drill. We are being told here that the good ol' fashioned two to the body, one to the head is no longer considered sufficient. That it has basically become a "shoot him 'til he's down" approach. Regarding multiples, we are also being told experience in the sandbox is pointing the same way - taking your primary threat out first then transitioning to additional threats rather than putting a few rounds on each one. This dovetails with some other recent training from an experienced Israeli (also using M-4s and 9mm predominantly).

Your opinions?

Stay safe. Please write more when you can on how you are applying your budo study to your experiences over there. Please consider a book when you get back home for good.

22nd November 2005, 21:04
What is being heard in Iraq about the 6.8SPC round? It was recently featured in the American Rifleman as being spearheaded by SF units in Afghanistan who were unhappy with the 5.56. The article also discussed HK's platform that is being considered for the new main battle rifle.

Interesting reading, to say the least. I wish I could reference specifics, but a buddy of mine borrowed my copy of it, and that's the last I've seen of it!

I can only speak from shooting experience in hunting situations, but it would seem that the 5.56 would have a hard time taking a human down quickly unless the central nervous system was impacted directly. A hit in the spine will stop them cold, no question. That's asking someone to hit a relatively small target, though, in a stressful situation. 5.56 rounds in FMJ would impart even less hydrostatic shock than expandable bullets, and would, I would THINK, have an even harder time putting the target down quickly.

Again, there is no military experience behind these questions...just a lot of hunting and shooting for recreational purposes. When selecting suitable rounds for hunting, we are looking for sufficient kinetic energy at the terminal end alongside a bullet built to stay in one piece (though it needs to expand) as it passes through the target. My dad's uncle was in Europe during some the nastiest parts of WWII, and he swore by his M1 Garand. When made a sergeant and given an M1 Carbine, he promptly tossed it in a ditch and drew another Garand. He said everyone using the carbines was having issues getting the Germans down quickly, while the guys with the Garands knocked 'em flat. But the M1 Car. round is very diminuitive compared the the .30-06. And that little carbine round is, supposedly, the inspiration for the 5.56 round.

Any insight would be great....as I've always wondered about such things.

John Lindsey
22nd November 2005, 22:00

Shoot em till they drop seems to be the standard here. For us PSD guys, our rear gunners do most of the shooting and we don't stay around very long. We shoot as we break contact. I just posted a few more messages in the Baghdad budo sub forum for you Kit :).

In regards to the 6.8, I doubt the Army will ever go for it, unless NATO changed too. Even if they wanted to do it right now, it would be a long time till it got over here. The soldiers just have to make due with the m16 systems for now.

The 7.62 rocks! I have an FN FAL, but can't use it due to State Department rules. So, it stays at a friend's house, along with my other toys.

Here is an interesting story. One of our teams was driving up to a Marine checkpoint. This was in a very hot area, and the team had special radios to let them know they were coming in. They drove slow, in a convoy, lights flashing, etc. Well, they got fired up by the Marines and turned around and left! Later, when the team leader investigated why they were shot at, he said the Marine captain was more interested in knowing why his 7.62 machine guns didn't stop the armored vehicles. He said he was going to get AP rounds for the guns! I guess he had a different view of the situation...

23rd November 2005, 04:38
Thanks for the info. John. I work with a guy here who is ex-Army MP. He once told me that apparently the Marines were operating under a different set of ROE than the Army. He told me of a time a Marine unit was approaching his checkpoint looking like bunch of pirates. Apparently the ROE was, in effect, give the BG's half a chance (and only half) to surrender. If they don't, light'em up. He also told me that the Iraqi's knew who was operating in the area, and were way more guarded when they were in a Marine AO. Sounds to me like that captain's first concern was the welfare of his Marines, and having effective weapons. Sorry to hear it was a friendly element, though. I wonder what the mix-up was. Good thing they were using standard 240 rounds, instead calling in a Cobra. Would have been a really bad day, then.

I am trying to get back into the Marine Reserves. The local unit was an arty. unit which was recently converted into a grunt unit, specifically for AT missions. I guess its like a reserve FAST company. They went to the sandbox for the initial push into Baghdad, and took one casualty. They are working up to go back. I hope I can get back in, in time to go. If not there is a grunt unit down in Montgomery and 3d Force Recon down in Mobile. Lots of options.


Lee Mc'pherson
25th November 2005, 15:46
John i hear you about the FN FAL it saved my !!! enough times and i would sacrifice the more rounds and less recoil that the 5.56 gives you and choose a 7.62 round if i was over there with you (depending on OP). I would go for one of the newer russian AK's but it all depends on availability.
As for a side arm i used to swear by the glock range but for the last 2 years i've switched to the FN FiveSeven www.fnherstal.com/html/Index.htm if you can get to the ammunition it's the best choise especially for the type of work your doing there. It's like carrying a mini carbine with you and a 20 round clip can never be a bad thing :)
any way that's my European mentality for you and just my opinion . Stay safe

John Lindsey
25th November 2005, 17:35

I hear ya on the FN FiveSeven. Sweet pistol with little recoil. Never seen one over here, but I have seen the P90 carried by some Italian PSD teams. I am restricted by State Department regs on what I can carry when I duty.

25th November 2005, 19:28
Mr. Lindsey,
Have you seen or heard any After Action reports on the 5.7 in Iraq.
I am curious as to their affectiveness.
We have several P90's and pistols on the team.
While I like the P90, though don't carry one, I'm not too keen on the pistol.
Any intell that you can share would be greatly appreciated.

John Lindsey
25th November 2005, 19:34

I understand your question, but I can't recall ever seeing any AAR on the 5.7 over here. Matter of fact, the only one I did see, was from Houston, TX I think. Might have been the HPD SWAT team. I will try and remember the ask the Italians if I see them again.

I think a lot of people like you are wondering about this bullet and how good it works.

Have you seen this forum: http://fivesevenforum.com/forums/index.php

25th November 2005, 21:07
Oh great another forum to get hooked on. :)

Seriously though, thanks for your response Mr. Lindsey.
I look forward to hearing information from Italians, if any.

26th November 2005, 00:22
I had read an article in an issue of guns&ammo, if I'm not mistaken, written by a soldier who served in Afghanistan. His story was a great illustration of how well a job the .223 dosen't do. He had said after they thought they had dropped some guys they were moving through a house(I think it was) only to run into a few of the guys they shot just minutes earlier. One of the guys in this guy's squad got beat on, by one of the taliban that they shot, with a 2x4. I really think the state dept. should drop the crap about limiting what a soldier can carry over there. I know some of those rules are there for the saftey of the soldiers, but they really need to rethink some stuff. A FN FAL or one of those La France modified M-14s or anything that fired something bigger than the 5.56 would be welcomed by soldiers overseas with open arms. A more effective rifle won't win the war over there, but I'm sure it'll help a wee bit.

John Lindsey
26th November 2005, 06:04

The State Department only controls us Security Contractors, not the soldiers. Sorry for the confusion. If you are not under a DOD contract, then you can use what you want. The Interior Ministry is supposed to monitor all weapons in Iraq, but I guess they are a bit too busy withe the torture scandal and banning beer at the airport now...

The Iraqi public are allowed to own one weapon for self protection. Most of them have a AK47 or a pistol.

27th November 2005, 08:38
Hey John,

I have heard about these things. They seem interesting. I'll let you know if I come across anything about the "almost" hollow point for military use.

How often do ya'll get to the range over there? Are they making you carry ball 9mm ammo?

At work I carry a Beretta 92D Cenution (ugh, I HATE this gun. Its definitely not a combat pistol. Being in law enforcement I would rather have my Glock (my personal is a Glock 22, .40 Cal. loaded with Hydra-Shok Personal Defense Rounds). At least we get decent ammo (Remington Golden Sabre hollowpoints). We keep hoping the powers that be will let us transition to the Sig (they have this silly rule about an exposed hammer).

If you can, PM me recruiting or contact info on the company you work for (unless you are contracted directly to State). It sounds interesting. I don't have any SpecOps time, unless you count the fact that every deploying Marine grunt unit is Special Ops Capable (hell it was an 81mm mortar platoon that performed the TRAP for Capt. O'Grady in Bosnia, I think the Army would have assigned that mission to a high-speed Ranger unit). Of course, it would interfere with my reenlistment options, but I am looking to keep ALL of my options open.



George Kohler
27th November 2005, 17:10
At work I carry a Beretta 92D Cenution

Ugggghhh, That sends shivers down my spine.

28th November 2005, 07:57
Ugggghhh, That sends shivers down my spine.

Because the gun sucks, which it does, or because I can't spell "Centurion?" Let's see, in addition to the 92D the powers that be have determined that our intermediate weapons will be the PR-24XTS and OC with no more than a 5.5% formula. Oh, and for DT they have this thing called a flow drill. Never mind that I have been doing Bujinkan for 20 years, I almost got kicked out of class when I rolled as my partner did omotegyaku (they call it an INSIDE wrist twist). Of course, I did roll over his ankle (his fault, I went where he took me) which took him out of DT class for a couple of days. But, alas, our troopers are testing soon.

Why do I work for this place? Because they were hiring and pay pretty well. I used to work for a couple of real PD's in Texas (Lake Worth and Trophy Club, a suburb of Denton not a strip club in Houston) until one unfortunate night almost 5 years ago (story for PM, not a public forum). By the way, George, when I was with TC our investigator was married to the chief at Melissa, I believe. Small world, neh?


John Lindsey
15th December 2005, 06:03

I get more range time on leave then in Iraq. They are building a new range in the Green Zone for everyone to use. I do a lot of dry firing.

As for ammo, good stuff can be hard to come by. I do have some black hills 77g 5.56 I save for special occasions. Majority of my stuff is green tip and tracer.

Mick Travis
2nd January 2006, 23:23
What guns does the state department limit contractors to using?

At first I had heard they were using a hodgepodge of Iraqi surplus captured guns because of prohibitions on bringing guns into Iraq..


Mick Travis

John Lindsey
3rd January 2006, 11:56
Back in the days after the war, AKs were common because they were available and because it took time to get M4s into the country. Time to get the paperwork approved, orders filled etc. HK has refused to sell weapons to more than a few companies because they were destined for Iraq!

The reason they don't want us to use an AK is because an M4 acts like a far range good guy indicator. If you see a guy get out of a car with an AK, he can be a good or bad guy. Most Local Nationals (Iraqis) carry the AK anyhow, at least in our company.

I have seen weapons as big as 50 cals being used, but nothing greater than that, and no explosives at all. Thus, no frags, 203, etc.

One reason for the tight control from State Department is because they don't want people riding around with crappy weapons that might fail. We are also limited to modifications to our weapons for the same reason.

I carry a M4 Bushmaster with a 11.5 inch barrel. I actually favor a longer barrel now, up to 16" due it having a higher FPS and thus the bullet with fragment better, which is the way the it kills faster. With a slower round, you just poke holes thru people.

Mick Travis
4th January 2006, 23:05
Tank you, John.

I can see why they prefer contractors carry M4s so that they will not be confused with insurgents and such. But are you just limited to M4s and no other western guns like G3s or FNs? Maybe because there were not likely any M4s in Iraq before the occupation while I imagine there were FNs and G3s floating around.

mick travis

George Kohler
5th January 2006, 00:06
Because the gun sucks, which it does, or because I can't spell "Centurion?"

Sorry for not answering ealier, I wasn't keeping an eye on this forum in a while. To answer your question, IMO, Beretta pistols suck.

I used to work for a couple of real PD's in Texas (Lake Worth and Trophy Club, a suburb of Denton not a strip club in Houston) until one unfortunate night almost 5 years ago (story for PM, not a public forum). By the way, George, when I was with TC our investigator was married to the chief at Melissa, I believe. Small world, neh?


Yep, small world.

John Lindsey
5th January 2006, 21:34
Tank you, John.

I can see why they prefer contractors carry M4s so that they will not be confused with insurgents and such. But are you just limited to M4s and no other western guns like G3s or FNs? Maybe because there were not likely any M4s in Iraq before the occupation while I imagine there were FNs and G3s floating around.

mick travis


You don't want to have a mix of weapons on your team. You want everyone to have the same weapons so you can all use the same magazines. For every different weapon you have, you have to support it with spare parts, etc. That is why they tend to keep things all the same. That is also one reason you don't see any 45s over here. They tend to require more work to keep them running, and ammo is hard to get. With a Glock, you rarely have to fix anything on it.

Also, American contractors are raised on the m16 system. I would not want to use a G3 or FN as my main rifle. I don't have the muscle memory and skills history with these weapons that you need in combat.

Jock Armstrong
6th January 2006, 04:53
Yep- keep it simple. Uniform weapons- makes logistics much easier.plus your buddy can toss you a mag if you are in the pooh.

6th January 2006, 15:44
Sorry for not answering ealier, I wasn't keeping an eye on this forum in a while. To answer your question, IMO, Beretta pistols suck.

I agree. The folks in our agency who picked the Beretta may be retiring soon. Maybe then we can get them to go with a better pistol. They actually said that one of the reasons they picked the 92D was because it was NOT designed to be a "combat" pistol. They don't want cops carrying "combat" pistols here. They'd prefer to have a cop dead than to actually train the officers well enough to trust them with a "combat" pistol.

Off duty I carry my Glock 22, but they'll never adopt Glock. They like having that external hammer. Maybe they'll go with a Sig. I can live with that. We have to leave our duty weapon at work when we go home, which is fine with me.