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1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

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  • 1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

    1-shot killer
    This 5.56mm round has all the stopping power you need — but you can’t use it. Here’s why:

    By John G. Roos
    Special to the Times


    Ben Thomas and three colleagues were driving north out of Baghdad in an SUV on a clear mid-September morning, headed down a dirt road into a rural village, when gunmen in several surrounding buildings opened fire on them.
    In a brief but intense firefight, Thomas hit one of the attackers with a single shot from his M4 carbine at a distance he estimates was 100 to 110 yards.

    He hit the man in the buttocks, a wound that typically is not fatal. But this round appeared to kill the assailant instantly.

    “It entered his butt and completely destroyed everything in the lower left section of his stomach ... everything was torn apart,” Thomas said.

    Thomas, a security consultant with a private company contracted by the government, recorded the first known enemy kill using a new — and controversial — bullet.

    The bullet is so controversial that if Thomas, a former SEAL, had been on active duty, he would have been court-martialed for using it. The ammunition is “nonstandard” and hasn’t passed the military’s approval process.

    “The way I explain what happened to people who weren’t there is … this stuff was like hitting somebody with a miniature explosive round,” he said, even though the ammo does not have an explosive tip. “Nobody believed that this guy died from a butt shot.”

    The bullet Thomas fired was an armor-piercing, limited-penetration round manufactured by RBCD of San Antonio.

    A new process

    APLP ammo is manufactured using a so-called “blended-metal” process, said Stan Bulmer, president of sales and manufacturing for Le Mas Ltd. of Little Rock, Ark. Le Mas is the distributor of RBCD ammo.

    Various bullet types made by RBCD are designed for different effects, Bulmer said.

    The frangible APLP ammo will bore through steel and other hard targets but will not pass through a human torso, an eight-inch-thick block of artist’s clay or even several layers of drywall. Instead of passing through a body, it shatters, creating “untreatable wounds.”

    Le Mas gave Thomas a small number of APLP rounds after he contacted the company.

    After driving off their attackers, Thomas and his colleagues quickly searched the downed enemy fighter for items of intelligence value. They also took time to examine the wound.

    “There’s absolutely no comparison, whatever, none,” to other wounds he has seen from 5.56mm ammo, Thomas said in a telephone interview while on home leave in Florida.

    He said he feels qualified to assess a bullet’s effects, having trained as a special-operations medic and having shot people with various types of ammo, including the standard-issue green tip and the Black Hills Mk 262, favored by spec-ops troops.

    Thomas was the only member of the four-man group who had RBCD ammo. He said that after the group returned to base, they and other members of his group snatched up the remaining rounds.

    “They were fighting over it,” he said. “At the end of the day, each of us took five rounds. That’s all we had left.”

    Congress wants tests

    Last year’s defense budget included $1.05 million for testing blended-metal bullets, Bulmer said. Fourteen months into the 24-month period during which those research and development-testing funds must be spent, the military has not purchased a single bullet from Le Mas.

    Publicly, at least, military officials say RBCD ammo is no more effective than other types now in use and, under certain conditions, doesn’t even perform as well. Those conclusions are derived from a series of tests conducted a few years ago in which RBCD ammo’s effects were observed in ballistic gelatin, the standard means for testing bullets.

    Naval Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Gary Roberts, a recognized ballistics expert and member of the International Wound Ballistics Association, conducted the gelatin tests in March 2002.

    According to his findings, “Claims that RBCD bullet terminal performance can vary depending on target thickness, size or mass were not shown to have merit, as bullet performance remained consistent irrespective of gelatin block size.”

    Roberts found that in gelatin, a 9mm, 60-grain slug exhibited “tissue damage comparable to that of other nonexpanding 9mm bullets and is less than that of standard 9mm [jacketed hollow point] designs, since the RBCD bullet does not create as much tissue damage due to its smaller recovered diameter.”

    A .45-caliber bullet “offered average terminal performance in bare and denim-clad gelatin, similar to that noted with the 9mm bullet. ... The RBCD bullets do not appear to be a true frangible design, as significant mass is retained after striking a target.”

    Not surprisingly, Roberts’ assessment remains a major impediment to getting RBCD ammo into military hands. Considering his standing in the ballistics community, his findings are accepted as gospel by many influential members of the special-operations community.

    But Bulmer insists that tests in ballistic gelatin fail to demonstrate RBCD ammo’s actual performance because the gelatin is chilled to 36 degrees. Their bullets seem to shatter most effectively only when they strike warmer targets, such as live tissue. Bulmer said tests using live animals clearly would show its effects. Despite his appeals for such testing, and the funds set aside by Congress to conduct new tests, the military refuses.

    Bulmer said authority to spend the testing funds initially went to U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., which delegated testing responsibility to the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

    Queries to the command confirmed that it was aware of the testing requirement but had not decided when, or if, the tests will be conducted.

    Bill Skipper, president and CEO of the American Business Development Group, is a lobbyist representing Le Mas on Capitol Hill. “When I heard of the ballistic characteristics of this ammo, as a retired military officer, I realized it has to stay in the good guys’ hands,” he said, adding that SOCom’s reluctance to test it is “irresponsible.”

    “This is an issue of national security,” he said.

    Some supporters of RBCD ammunition suggest SOCom officials may be reluctant to test the ammo because it threatens “in-house” weapons and ammunition programs underway at the command.

    Special-operations forces long have sought a more potent standard round than the 5.56mm, which lacks the punch needed during the long-distance engagements that frequently occur in Afghanistan and Iraq. In response, SOCom is working with weapons and ammunition manufacturers to develop a new round and new upper receivers for M4 and M16 rifles.

    The command apparently has narrowed its search to a 6.8-by-43mm round.

    Indication of industries’ involvement in this effort was seen in October during the annual Association of the U.S. Army exhibition in Washington.

    If Le Mas’ 5.56mm APLP round delivers the performance SOCom is seeking in the new 6.8mm ammo — and Bulmer insists it does — the rationale and the potentially lucrative contracts for producing a new ammo type and modifying thousands of weapons used by special-operations forces would disappear.

    Thomas said he isn’t familiar with the reasons that might keep RBCD ammo from getting a realistic test within the military.

    “The politics, that’s above my pay grade,” he said. “All I really care about is that I have the best-performing weapon, optics, communications, medical equipment, etc. I’m taking Le Mas ammo with me when I return to Iraq, and I’ve already promised lots of this ammo to my buddies who were there that day and to their friends.”

    When military officials in the United States got wind that Thomas had used the round, he quickly found himself in the midst of an online debate in which an unnamed officer, who mistakenly assumed Thomas was in the service, threatened him with a court martial for using the nonstandard ammo.

    Although Thomas was impressed by RBCD ammo’s performance, he feels it should not be the standard ammunition issued to all U.S. forces.

    “The first thing I say when I talk to people about Le Mas’ ammo is, make sure that 22-year-old infantrymen don’t get a hold of this, because if they have an accident ... if they have a negligent discharge, that person is dead. It doesn’t matter how much body armor you have on.

    “This is purely for putting into bad guys. For general inventory, absolutely not. For special operations, I wouldn’t carry anything else.”

  • #2
    December 2003
    Editorial

    A better bullet
    Blended-metal ammo rates realistic testing

    During a mid-September firefight north of Baghdad, Ben Thomas recorded the first known kill of an adversary with a relatively new type of ammunition. The former Navy SEAL, now a security consultant with a private corporation contracted by the U.S. government, was traveling with three colleagues when they were ambushed by an estimated eight to 12 “bad guys.”


    Blended-metal in action



    Streaming video of blended-metal bullet technology
    taken at the 2003 Shoot-out at Blackwater.
    Click here to download free streaming video player.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Read a story from the December 1, 2003 issues of the Military Times regarding the blended-metal bullets.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Read coverage from the Shoot-out at Blackwater.

    What Thomas says about that single bullet’s performance should have Pentagon officials scrambling to test the ammo. But they’re not. In fact, when word of the engagement reached an influential member of the military’s weapons-testing community, he mistakenly surmised that Thomas was an active-duty serviceman and, via an e-mail exchange, threatened Thomas with court-martial for using unapproved ammunition, the former SEAL told AFJ.

    During a telephone interview last month, Thomas said the bullet he fired struck one of the attackers in the upper left quadrant of the buttocks, killing him immediately. Under most circumstances, a 5.56mm bullet striking a person’s buttocks wouldn’t be expected to create a fatal wound. The shot was made at a distance of about 110 meters, Thomas said, using a standard M4 carbine with a 14.5-inch barrel.

    I’ll spare the details, but when Thomas and his colleagues later examined the body they couldn’t believe the destructive effects caused by that 5.56mm round. Thomas said he has shot people with various types of 5.56 ammo used by special operators — regular Green Tip, Black Hills Mk 262 and tracer — but has never seen any wound from a 5.56mm round that evidenced the destructive energy released by that bullet.

    The ammo that Thomas used was a so-called “blended-metal-technology” round, manufactured by RBCD of San Antonio and distributed by LeMas Ltd. of Little Rock, Ark. For the past four years, RBCD has been featured during AFJ’s annual “Shoot-out at Blackwater” training center (August AFJ), where the ammo’s unique performance has impressed most of the special operators observing its effects. Designed to release maximum energy in soft tissue, the “armor-piercing limited penetration” ammo will bore through hard targets, such as steel and glass, but will not pass through a person or even several layers of drywall.

    Considering the ammo’s effects, you’d think the special-operations community would be beating a path to RBCD’s door. Congress attempted to make that happen by including just over $1 million in last year’s defense budget to test “blended-metal” ammo; however, 14 months after lawmakers appropriated those funds, not a dime has been spent.

    Officially, at least, military officials say RBCD ammo is no more effective than other types now in use and, under some conditions, doesn’t even perform as well. That line flows from tests conducted a few years ago in which RBCD ammo’s effects were observed in ballistic ordnance gelatin, the standard means for ammo testing. Stan Bulmer, president of sales and marketing for LeMas, responded that standard tests in ballistic gelatin fail to demonstrate the performance of the new technology in RBCD ammo — an RBCD bullet’s destructive capabilities are most apparent in living tissue. Tests using live animals would clearly show its unique effects, Bulmer said. But despite his appeals and the funds for testing provided by Congress, the military refuses to retest the ammo in live tissue.

    Some observers are convinced that Special Operations Command officials’ refusals to test RBCD ammo stem from work that’s well underway at that command. For some time, the special-operations community has been conducting work on a new 6.8mm round to replace the 5.56mm. If a 5.56mm round proved to be as effective as larger 6.8mm ammo, the rationale for new ammo and a new weapon would disappear.

    Thomas isn’t interested in any of the reasons that might be keeping RBCD ammo from reaching U.S. special-operations forces, but he is convinced that its use would save soldiers’ lives. An adversary hit by a blended-metal bullet — even if struck in an arm or leg — would be in no condition to continue the fight, he said.

    The former SEAL’s experience with RBCD ammo should be reason enough for Pentagon officials to insist that Special Operations Command immediately begin realistic testing of the blended-metal ammunition. Further foot-dragging by the command should trigger a congressional inquiry.

    Comment


    • #3
      It takes about ???? 3 minutes to fill out al the BS on the second page to view the viedo on "Real One"

      I suggest you do it.. they shoot a Roast Beef with one of these bullets and it's freaking scary.

      OR FUN.. ;)

      Comment


      • #4
        Blackwater is about 15 miles north of my house...I've shot their speed-pistol range before. ;)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by arty
          It takes about ???? 3 minutes to fill out al the BS on the second page to view the viedo on "Real One"

          I suggest you do it.. they shoot a Roast Beef with one of these bullets and it's freaking scary.

          OR FUN.. ;)
          Link, please?

          I'm writing my congressmen tomorrow about this...
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          • #6
            I couldn't find the video but I found their webpage that has pics of shooting cold beef and warm beef. Impressive.

            http://www.lemasltd.com/1Shot/d5.56mmColdnHot.htm

            - It's who you game with.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by =Sarc=
              I couldn't find the video but I found their webpage that has pics of shooting cold beef and warm beef. Impressive.

              http://www.lemasltd.com/1Shot/d5.56mmColdnHot.htm
              :shock:

              Smart bullets. Creepy.
              I am the one, I am the zero, I am your low resolution hero.

              Comment


              • #8
                Okay- MAYBE my impression was wrong, but I was of the belief that the military intentionally uses bullets that go in and come out clean, leaving the victim incapacitated but not necessarily dead. I thought the idea was to humanely stop the aggressor.

                *shrug*

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by =luna=
                  Okay- MAYBE my impression was wrong, but I was of the belief that the military intentionally uses bullets that go in and come out clean, leaving the victim incapacitated but not necessarily dead. I thought the idea was to humanely stop the aggressor.

                  *shrug*
                  For general grunts (not to be confused with a General grunt), that is indeed the intent... Not so much to be humane, but more for the fact that it takes one or two additional soldiers to treat or carry a wounded soldier, while a dead enemy soldier requires no immediate attention. This is one of the reasons why the Army switched to a lighter, faster bullet several decades ago...

                  But for certain applications, a bullet that is more fatal would definitely be desired. Especially if it could be made in the same caliber as your service rifle.

                  The frangible APLP ammo will bore through steel and other hard targets but will not pass through a human torso, an eight-inch-thick block of artist’s clay or even several layers of drywall. Instead of passing through a body, it shatters, creating “untreatable wounds.”
                  Think of what kind of advantage this would be for a police officer or soldier that must clear a hotel room-by-room while it is filled with a combination of bad guys and innocent people...
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                  • #10
                    Re: 1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

                    Here's the only video that I can find that's still up: http://www.defensereview.com/water/b...metalintro.wmv

                    I'm impressed right after the minute and seven second mark...

                    Leejo just bought some of this ammunition and we're going to try to get together at a range that will let us shoot some cool stuff. AAR will follow.
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                    • #11
                      Re: 1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

                      Holy crap, that's awesome.
                      ---
                      Sources say the Dow Jones' decline is directly related to Dethklok front-man Nathan Explosion's constant deleting of potential new albums.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: 1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

                        Originally posted by CingularDuality
                        Think of what kind of advantage this would be for a police officer or soldier that must clear a hotel room-by-room while it is filled with a combination of bad guys and innocent people...
                        Pardon my inexperience with police/mil tactics, but I don't immediately see the advantage in that situation. I would think that in a mixed target environment, the gains in stopping power would be offset by the potential for greater civilian casualties. No woundings or grazes - whatever you hit you kill dead. I could see this as a Special Forces type ammo - as the article says - where your tactics are based on speed. But isn't clearing buildings in Basra more like the "grunt" work that requires standard munitions?
                        In game handle: Steel Scion
                        sigpic

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: 1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

                          That's why you only want to shoot the badguys :)

                          I think that what Cing is referring to is the idea that you could clear a building without worrying about stray rounds traveling through walls and killing hostages, while at the same time having the capability of taking down armored enemies. It's the best of both worlds...you shoot the man with the gun and you know he will die. If you hit a wall you know the civilian on the other side will live.

                          Also, in a crowded room, or an airplane, or any one of 50 other scenarios I can think of, your bad guy may be surrounded by hostages. This gurantees that your bullets will not travel through him and kill the kid behind him.
                          ---
                          Sources say the Dow Jones' decline is directly related to Dethklok front-man Nathan Explosion's constant deleting of potential new albums.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: 1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

                            Originally posted by Switchcraft
                            I think that what Cing is referring to is the idea that you could clear a building without worrying about stray rounds traveling through walls and killing hostages, while at the same time having the capability of taking down armored enemies. It's the best of both worlds...you shoot the man with the gun and you know he will die. If you hit a wall you know the civilian on the other side will live.
                            But that's not how it works...
                            The frangible APLP ammo will bore through steel and other hard targets but will not pass through a human torso, an eight-inch-thick block of artist’s clay or even several layers of drywall. Instead of passing through a body, it shatters, creating “untreatable wounds.”
                            So, again, you're just increasing the mortality of the round without altering the ballistics or accuracy.
                            In game handle: Steel Scion
                            sigpic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: 1 SHOT KILLERS............ 5.56 TO ANOTHER LEVEL

                              Steeler the idea is that a miss will not pass through the wall into your child's room and kill the child. You want a bullet that "stops" what it hits but will not pass through walls and then kill what it hits.


                              With regard to the idea of increasing the lethality of a round, yes, that's always a good thing. You don't shoot people to discourage them, you shoot people to kill them. Given that people sometimes miss, you want a bullet that minimizes the risk of hurting others with the miss. That's what this bullet is attempting to accomplish.

                              FWIW, I recommend taking the stance that all of this is BS and that these are just regular bullets with some fancy marketing. To date, there is a paucity of evidence of a systematic, scientific, accredited, documented TEST of these claims, just dudes shooting crap in the backyard and hamburger exploding in slo-mo.

                              We'll shoot some drywall and some clay and take photos and see for ourselves.

                              Comment

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