6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness
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Thread: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

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    Expert stanc's Avatar
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    6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    It has often been said that historical tests like those conducted by the "Pig Board" have shown the "ideal" caliber range for infantry rifles/carbines to be 6.5-7mm. Yet, every country that adopted 6.5mm or 7mm eventually abandoned them in favor of 7.62mm or larger calibers. In most instances, economics and/or politics played a major role. However, those don't seem to have been factors in the decision by Imperial Japan to switch from 6.5mm to 7.7mm.

    The only published reason that I've ever seen is that combat experience resulted in dissatisfaction with the terminal effectiveness of 6.5 Jap. This is a bit puzzling to me, inasmuch as the standard, 139gr ball projectile has a configuration and rearward weight bias which should produce fairly rapid onset of yaw in soft tissue.

    Can anybody:

    1. Cite authoritative source(s) of the actual reason(s) for the switch from 6.5mm to 7.7mm?
    2. Cite anecdotal reports of incapacitation effect of 6.5 Jap ball ammo, either by shooters or shootees?
    3. Post the ballistic gelatin wound profile of WWII 6.5 Jap ball ammo?

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    Carbineman tolson68's Avatar
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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    The switch from 6.5 was brought on by reports coming from Japanese infantry that when they shot someone they just kept coming (sound familiar). I believe part of the actual quote mentioned Hollywood. Apparently they were expecting an approaching soldier to fly backwards and bounce off a bar room wall after being shot, but it didn't happen. I believe the original bullet was 160gr round nose projectile and they later switched to the 139gr bullet to get greater velocity and effectiveness at shooting through heavy bamboo brush in the pacific theater. I might be confusing the 6.5J with the 6.5 Carcano on the 160gr issue, I'm too tire to look it up.

    Most of the European and Scandy countries adopted the 7.62 simply for NATO, even some of the countries that didn't participate in NATO. The 6.5x55 Swede is a fantastic hunting round used all around the world, though most of the loads are at far less than capacity, simply because the older weapons the round was designed for cannot handle higher pressures.

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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    Quote Originally Posted by tolson68 View Post
    The switch from 6.5 was brought on by reports coming from Japanese infantry that when they shot someone they just kept coming (sound familiar). I believe part of the actual quote mentioned Hollywood. Apparently they were expecting an approaching soldier to fly backwards and bounce off a bar room wall after being shot, but it didn't happen. I believe the original bullet was 160gr round nose projectile and they later switched to the 139gr bullet to get greater velocity and effectiveness at shooting through heavy bamboo brush in the pacific theater. I might be confusing the 6.5J with the 6.5 Carcano on the 160gr issue, I'm too tire to look it up.
    Thanks for the feedback. I doubt that movies were a factor, as Hollywood didn't get into the "knocked 20 feet backwards" silliness until well after WWII.

    You're correct about 6.5 Jap originally having a heavy, round nose bullet (as did every other military rifle cartridge when smokeless powder came into use in the late 19th century). But, the spitzer bullet was adopted a few years before the First World War.

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    XCR Guru dont_tread_on_me's Avatar
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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    Stan I think you may find this article very interesting.I know I did.It touches on the 6.5 Arisaka but takes on development of several other military cartridges during the 20th century.
    http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/256brit.htm



    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.... A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.----John Stuart Mill

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    Marksman marinewmu911's Avatar
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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    This is just my opinion, but the military was set to transition to a 6.5-7mm cartridge when the Garand was developed, they didn't because we had 30-06 coming out our asses so the Garand was chambered for that. And every weapon since has been either 7.62 or 5.56ish across the world, because of the ease and inexpense of the two cartridges. Now trying to transition to 6.5 grendel, creedmoor (a precision round), or 6.8 SPC because they are better performing is still not happening due to the ease of keeping the current 'does the job, sorta' 5.56 and venerable 7.62x51. Its not because they don't 'meet standards' its because top brass and thus major ammo manufacturers like the way things are. This seems to be changing slowly as people with more progressive and 'the best for the cost, not the lowest cost' attitudes slowly make an impression. Still slow as all get out, but I have hopes for the army and marines adopting the ACR in the coming years and that opens the door for cheap caliber conversion as opposed to the entire rearmament of the force.
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    Rifleman tinman's Avatar
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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    i think if the LSAT program proves to be a success, then we may finally see a bullet in the 6.5 to 7 mm range adopted by the military for both the individual soldier as well as a light to medium machine gun cartridge. if this happens, then kiss the stoner design goodbye as well as SCAR or any other conventional design out there today. IMHO :2cents:

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    Expert stanc's Avatar
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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    Quote Originally Posted by dont_tread_on_me View Post
    Stan I think you may find this article very interesting.I know I did.It touches on the 6.5 Arisaka but takes on development of several other military cartridges during the 20th century.
    http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/256brit.htm
    Yeah, Tony has some informative articles and good photos on his site.

    Here are a couple of items I came across, on the 6.5 Jap specifically:




    I still haven't found anything authoritative as to reasons why they initiated a switch from 6.5mm to 7.7mm, though.

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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness


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    Rifleman tinman's Avatar
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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    sweet. i'd like some of that AP to try myself.

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    Marksman johnny mac's Avatar
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    Re: 6.5mm Terminal Effectiveness

    I'm not even close to being knowledgeable about ballitics in a meaningful way, but I kinda see it like this: men and game animals are very different targets, usually shot under very different circumstances. In a hunting scenario, other than limited time and "buck fever", you have the ability to be more careful with shot placement, distance, etc. You also may need to penetrate more deeply to reach vitals on a large animal, and a shot to the vitals that doesn't even come close to instant incapacitation is acceptable, so shooting an animal through the heart or lings and having it run off even a few hundred yards is common. Game animals are also often larger, and pound for pound tougher than people.
    Human targets, on the other hand, need to be incapacitated quickly, even if the wound isn't fatal, and there is no concern over preservation of meat or hide. Shot placement and engagement distance will likely not be "choices" available to the shooter. Bullet design can be optimised towards tumbling and fragmenting, but barrier penetration could suffer significantly-or, conversely, barrier/armor penetration can be optimized with the trade-off of minimal damage to the actual target-small clean holes that don't incapacitate well, even if they WILL ultimatley be fatal due to blood loss.
    Then there is the economic and logistical factors-the Barnes products seem to perform exceptionally well relative to weight and diameter, but the expense of millions and millions of rounds could be prohibitive. Soldiers need to avoid being wighted down with bulky, heavy guns and ammo, but need fewer more effective rounds, rather than a two or three to one ratio for the same result.
    I only bring up the hunting for comparative purposes-if a cartridge is generally only marginal, or even inadequate for game with ideal engagement criteria, it can hardly be considered optimal for combat in less than ideal circumstances. I think the .30 caliber bottom line is simply the point at which there is sufficient bullet weight and diameter to ensure adequate performance in all aspects without the need for a relatively high impact velocity or a very sophisticated standard for bullet design and performance-.

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