Myth of the "magnificent" sevens
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Thread: Myth of the "magnificent" sevens

  1. #1
    Expert stanc's Avatar
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    Jan 2009

    Myth of the "magnificent" sevens

    To this day, there are people who complain that the US Army made serious blunders in not adopting the .276 Pedersen cartridge in the 1930s, and the .280 British round in the 1950s. I say that's not true. Here's why:

    .276 Pedersen

    I agree that the Army missed a golden opportunity in the 1930s, but strongly dispute the idea that .276 Pedersen was the path that should have been taken. The .276 round would have offered only a few minor advantages, while incurring some significant drawbacks.

    In that time period, there was an existing cartridge which was nearly ideal for the WWII blitzkrieg operations in Europe, and the jungle combat in the Pacific: The .30 Remington.

    The .30 Rem could have been used with the case "as is" and loaded with the standard military 150gr FMJ spitzer bullet. Better yet would've been to shorten the case about half an inch and develop a 125gr FMJ spitzer specifically for it. With just a little imagination, the US Army could've had the world's first assault rifle cartridge...a decade earlier than the Germans!

    Such a .30 Remington Short would also have enabled Garand to design his rifle to be considerably lighter than the .276 and the .30-06 versions. In addition, it would've been far more amenable to use with a straight, 20-round, box magazine than the .276 cartridge, which has such extreme case taper that it would require a more expensive and difficult-to-manufacture curved magazine.

    Very little was lost by not adopting .276 Pedersen. The .276 T3E2 Garand was only 12 ounces lighter and 1.5 inches shorter than the .30 M1 Garand. As for clip capacities of 10-rd vs 8-rd, I don't see a difference of two rounds as having any significant impact on combat effectiveness. Additionally, if the .276 Garand had been adopted, the US would've entered WWII with a 3-caliber system: .30-06 machine guns, .276 rifles, and .30 M1 carbines. In contrast, if the Garand had fired .30 Rem Short, its minimal size and weight means there would not have been a perceived need for the M1 carbine, because everyone would've had a short, lightweight assault rifle!

    Above: T20E2 Garand, shown without 20-round box magazine. Imagine it with the barrel six inches shorter, overall weight lightened by three pounds, and chambered in .30 Remington Short.

    ------------------------- .30 M1 --- .276 T3E2 --- .30 M1AR
    Unloaded Weight --- 9.5 lbs ----- 8.75 lbs ------- 6.5 lbs
    Overall Length ------ 43.5 in ----- 42.0 in -------- 36.0 in
    Ammo Capacity ------ 8 rds ------- 10 rds --------- 20 rds

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    .280 British

    Although the .280 British (center, above) would arguably have been a better choice than 7.62 NATO (right, above) for infantry rifles, the fact is that it was outmoded before it left the drawing board. The .280 British is a battle rifle cartridge, developed after intermediate rounds like .30 Carbine and 7.92 Kurz (left, above) had already shown a better way forward.

    However, I do agree that a terrific opportunity was missed in the quest for a NATO rifle cartridge in the 1950s. IMO, what should have been done at that point in time was to mate the superbly shaped, 125gr bullet from the .276 Pedersen, with the .30 Remington case shortened to, say, ~1.6" length.

    The resulting ".276 Rem Kurz" would have enabled creation of assault rifles with significantly lighter weight and much greater magazine capacity than battle rifles chambered in .280 British.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    The moral of the story? Don't shed any tears over .276 Pedersen and .280 British not entering service. They simply were not the best available options.

  2. #2
    Expert wombat338's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Myth of the "magnificent" sevens

    Good write-up, Stanc, thanks!

    Military procurement has a long and distinguished history of being unable to think outside the box. That's why in those rare cases when it does happen, it's so notable. The current carbine competitions seem to be more of the same -- from what I've read, the pre-determined result is that the Army wants a piston-driven AR chambered in 5.56. At least they're calling for caliber interchangeability at the unit armorer level.

    What would be truly interesting is if somebody decided to design a cartridge that out-performs all of the current intermediates (perhaps a 6.5mm-7mm just a little bit longer than would fit in an AR-15), and then designed a rifle around it with a bolt diameter, ejection port and magwell of sufficient dimensions to permit lots of experimentation.
    “Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” -- James Madison


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