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Nice read from John Farnam

2889 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  badman400
If you weren't aware John from DTI (http://www.defense-training.com/) is a pretty big fan of the XCR. He recently wrote a short article that outlines the 6.8 SPC.

25 Nov 07


In the late 1940s, the British Military started experimenting with an "
intermediate rifle/MG cartridge," which ultimately became known as the
This project was a direct result of their keen interest in the
high-capacity, autoloading (gas-piston) German MP44 rifle and its 7.92X33Kurz
cartridge ("
Kurz" translates to "short").

The MP44 ("MP" stands for Maschinenpistole) came along too late in the War
to have a major impact, but it represented a critical departure from
conventional military rifles, with its light weight, reduced length, pistol
grip, and
large-capacity, box magazine, and it was, of course, an autoloader.
Employed mostly on the Eastern Front (which is why it largely escaped American
British notice), the MP44 acquired a excellent reputation and was highly
regarded by Germans and Russians alike.

The MP44 was actually developed in secrecy, as Hitler himself had already
nixed the project. Development and even deployment went forward regardless,
with Hitler deliberately kept in the dark and only finding out about it well
after the fact. Indeed, when Hitler briefed troops returning from the Eastern
Front, he asked them what they needed. With a single voice, they all told
him what was needed most was more copies of the "new rifle!" Hitler, of
course, didn't know what they were talking about, but, as the truth gradually
came out, he was happy to belatedly take personal credit for the project!

After the War, the 280British cartridge worked well in tests, but it never
saw the light of day, as Americans insisted on the 308 cartridge (slightly
shortened from the 30-06) becoming the standard, and all of NATO dutifully went
along. Meanwhile, Kalashnikov in Russia was designing his new rifle around

the 7.62X30 (30Soviet) cartridge. The 30Soviet has since earned the
reputation of the most widely used "intermediate cartridge"
in history!

John Garand himself, as he was designing what would ultimately become the
vaunted M1 Rifle, also considered an "intermediate" cartridge, as a short
cartridge will work in a rifle with a short bolt-throw. The whole rifle can be
relatively short and light! However, Doug MacArthur would have none of it!
Doug insisted that the M1 be chambered for the standard of the time, the
American 30-06 cartridge. The M1 was ultimately produced in that caliber,
thus claimed the title of the biggest, heaviest, and most powerful infantry
weapon ever issued, before of since!

None the less, as the War progressed, the Americans developed a two-level
system, probably by accident. M1 Garands could not be produced fast enough
the War rapidly ramped up. So, the M1 Carbine, chambered for the "
intermediate" 30M1 cartridge filled the gap. M1 Carbines could be
produced much faster
than M1 Garands, and, owing to their compactness and light weight, they were
originally designed for rear-area defense and vehicle crews. Of course, the
distinction quickly blurred, and they ended up serving everywhere.

After the dust settled, Garands (M1s and M-14s), FALs, G3s, and others, all

now chambered for 308, continued to serve around the Free World well after the
end of the War.

During the 1960s, General Curtis LeMay persuaded his friend, Robert
MacNamara, then Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations,
infantry rifles and machine guns needed to be shortened and lightened for
the new style of war that was on the horizon. That meant less-powerful
calibers, which meant less range and penetration (the two characteristics upon
MacArthur had always insisted). MacNamara, and his team of whiz-kids (none
of whom had ever fired a shot in anger in their pampered lives) thus became
convinced that the 308 cartridge needed to be abandoned for a shorter, less
powerful one. The American standard became the 5.56X45 (223), and has been
ever since. The 5.56X45 is at the extreme low end of the "intermediate
" spectrum. It is a 150m cartridge with poor penetration.

Between the late 1960s and now, blatant deficiencies associated with the
5.56X45, particularly inadequate range and woefully inadequate penetration,
become widely acknowledged throughout the military community, and the push is
currently on to:

(1) return to the 308 and the M-14 system, or

(2) move on to a more satisfactory "intermediate cartridge."

There are plenty of "intermediate cartridges" to choose from, and many have
been around for a long time! The 6.5X50 Japanese Arisaka, 6.5X52 Carcano,
6.5X55 Swedish, 30Soviet, to name few. All these cartridges are still
currently produced and can be found in any large gunshop.

However, the one currently getting all the attention is the relatively new
6.8X43SPC ("Special Purpose Cartridge). The 6.8mm (26.7 caliber) shows every
sign of representing an ideal compromise. It still functions in short, light
rifles, but range and penetration are significantly improved over the 223.

It features a 115gr bullet at 2700 f/s, so it is a legitimate 300m rifle.

Barrett and Robinson Arms, weary of waiting on the Pentagon, have boldly
stepped forward and produced military rifles in this new caliber. I have a
of Robinson Arms XCR in 6.8mm, and I'll be testing it shortly. Cor-Bon is
now making 6.8mm DPX rifle ammunition.

I can see a three-level system developing, with the 6.8mm being the "
main-battle" rifle, the M-14 being relegated to long-distance,
duties, and the 223 still being in the system for rear-area defense.

Whatever happens, we, as a nation and as a civilization, had better be
preparing for the fight of our lives!

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I've got to disagree, with the 6.8 now dead as far as the military is concerned, it sounds more like no-data 5.56 bashing than anything else, really. Not that he isn't a knowledgeable guy; that just isn't a very well written article.
Actually, the 6.8 is far from dead in the military, it has a pretty good following, just not on the conventional side. I thought the background info was interesting, the modern day stuff is of course his opinion. I do believe that the military needs some sort of "in between" cartridge. I would love to see us get a 7.62 battle rifle but lets face it, the Army as a whole is getting soft. To politically correct, to "nice" and as part of the whole soft thing, some of the soldiers are complaining about an M16 being too heavy. The army will never adopt a 7.62 battle rifle but I could see them adopting something that will work in stuff they already have with a little retrofitting.

Call Silver State Armory sometime and ask them how much 6.8 ammo they send to the military, I think the answer would suprise some.
I'm glad he likes the 6.8.
He's wrong about the MP44 being light & the M1 carbine wasn't developed because there weren't enough M1 Garands to go around. ::)
He's wrong about quite a few things, and there are some logical fallacies in there that are...well, mind-boggling.

Nevertheless, the 6.8 definately has some uses. The trend to super-heavy (relatively) bullets in .223 sort of treads on its toes as it's originally conceived, but with 130gr bullets I think we'd have a good "intermediate" cartridge. Essentially, you'd have the same thing as the 6.5 Grendel, just with .270 bullets instead of .264 ones. Match grade bullet availability isn't as good as the 6.5, but it's not bad (better, really, for hunting) and if the 6.8 sees more sales that will change quickly enough.

I'd still be inclined to choose the 6.5 over the 6.8, but there is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with the cartridge. From my point of view as just a guy that shoots, I think both of these cartridges could very easily replace the .308. They're cheaper to handload, have much of the .308s performance, and are usable in smaller, lighter guns than the .308. Both have bullets available that are well into the .30 weight range, with far better SDs and BCs. This is especially attractive with .308 surplus drying up and prices getting ridiculously high.
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Here's something to think about.

When the 6.8 first came out, there was one manufacturer of the ammo -Remington. Remington had a hard time with it due to management of the project. Then Silver State got into the ring. Now there's Hornaday also.

Though it will not replace the 5.56 in the military, it is becoming (as I predicted from the outset) a very favorable round for the civilian and police crowd. Ruger has decided to make a Mini-14 style rifle in the 6.8.

Right now the 6.8 is darn expensive. However, it will come down as more and more civilians find out how fun it is. The 6.8 has very low recoil compared with the 6.5 and the .308. Yet it packs a strong punch up to 300 or 400 yards.

There may come a day that is not too far off when it's not too much more than 5.56. That's not saying much since 5.56 is now around 30 cents a round.

Alex J. Robinson
Robinson Armament Co.
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Hunting Shack is also making it and I will be offering it in my ammo group buy in january on some other boards.
Hey Jack, What's the chance of you sharring the ammo buy with this group, when it happens in January??? Thanks, Gunner
Gunner, you may want to call Silver State if you are looking to buy bulk. Not sure what hunting shack is charging but SSA gave me a sweet military discount. If you were going to get enough people together to make it worth their while they may be able to do something.
Hey Jack, What's the chance of you sharring the ammo buy with this group, when it happens in January??? Thanks, Gunner
I'd be happy to if I get the OK from TPTB
I'd be interested in knowing about the group buy as well... 8)
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