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Weapons: Losing The Lead
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June 1, 2010: The U.S. Army has been under pressure for years to use non-lead bullets. That's because training and combat use of army 5.56mm weapons puts 2,000 tons of lead back into the environment each year. This lead was originally taken out of the environment to be temporarily stored in the form of bullets.

While this non-lead policy burnishes the army's image and environmental cred, it also provides troops with an inferior bullet; the M855A1 copper alloy slug. But inferior to what? Well to a another new bullet. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has developed a new 5.56mm bullet, the SOST (Special Operations Science and Technology) round. The SOST bullet solves a problem the M855 has long had, the inability to penetrate things like automobile windshields. SOST uses lead, and also has more killing power than the M855 (that did not inflict as much internal damage, and bleeding, as 7.62mm and 9mm rounds.) The M855A1 didn't solve these problems, but it was "green" (less polluting).

The U.S. Marine Corps was going to switch to the M855A1, but changed their minds when they found out about the SOST round. Army troops would like a heavier M855A1 bullet, not really caring if itÂ’s made of lead or copper. Soldiers would like the SOST round, but the only army personnel getting that are Special Forces troops. The army has spent over $32 million developing the M855A1. SOCOM spent a lot less developing SOST, which has a bullet that weighs as much as the M855A1 slug, but is based on a popular hunting bullet design (the Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw). SOST is more accurate than the M855A1, as well as being deadlier and having greater penetrating power.

The army is now working on an environmentally correct 7.62mm round, and ignoring troop requests for the SOST round.

 

 

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mabie       6/1/2010 5:49:08 AM

The army has spent over $32 million developing the M855A1. SOCOM spent a lot less developing SOST, which has a bullet that weighs as much as the M855A1 slug, but is based on a popular hunting bullet design (the Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw). SOST is more accurate than the M855A1, as well as being deadlier and having greater penetrating power.

$32M to develop a bullet? Am I the only one to experience sticker shock?  Its good to know the superior SOST round actually cost a "lot less" to develop. 

 
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aggienfo    Geneva Convention   6/1/2010 10:54:11 AM

Regular soldiers can not use the SOST round because the Geneva convention prohibits the use of expanding ammunition.  Haven't you ever wondered why all military rounds are FMJ??  Only special forces troops are exempt from this rule. 

 
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aggienfo       6/1/2010 10:57:54 AM
Sorry make that the Hague convention of 1899.
 
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WarNerd       6/1/2010 12:17:07 PM

Regular soldiers can not use the SOST round because the Geneva convention prohibits the use of expanding ammunition.  Haven't you ever wondered why all military rounds are FMJ??  Only special forces troops are exempt from this rule. 



I was not aware that Special Forces were exempt from the requirements of the Geneva Conventions.
 
But that would explain why development costs were so much less, they probably just took the best bullet for deer and elk, which are in the same size range as humans.  A controlled expansion round puts 'tumbling' and 'fragmenting' rounds to shame for terminal ballistics.
 
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aggienfo       6/2/2010 2:10:24 AM
Well like I said, I misspoke it is the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.  Either way though, the US military has basically adhered to said treaties for the last 100 years.  Even though we only signed the later (1907) treaty.  However, in the mid 80's and late 90's the courts and military brass issued rulings that the Hague Conventions did not apply to counter terrorism operations when the armed forces of another country where not involved.  That has kind of been expanded on since and now the special forces use expanding ammo almost exclusivly.  I find it unlikely that practice will be continued with the regular forces however.  Even if you reduce it to the al mighty dollar, using expanding ammo would be considerably more expensive. 
 
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WarNerd       6/2/2010 11:33:34 AM
Another factor to consider is that with the increasing likelihood of engaging opponents with body armor expanding bullets could easily become a disadvantage because of reduce penetration.
 
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AllThingsAmmo    Bad Info about M855A1 and SOST   6/2/2010 8:55:30 PM
It's a shame to see this type of bad information out there. It will become clear when the new M855A1 round is introduced later this year. It's far superior to anything else out there for 5.56mm. It is the best round the Army has ever produced (yes, they have considered SOST and similar ammunition). Anyone that thinks it is "inferior" has absolutely no clue.
 
Corrections for inaccurate information in the article:
 
USMC did buy the A1 but can't use it until fielded by the Army. (ask them)
A1 is more accurate than SOST and the M855 (ask SOCOM, they will not deny this)
A1 has MUCH better hard barrier capabilities than SOST and the M855 (ask SOCOM, they will not deny this).
 
Also:
A1 excels at longer ranges (SOST can't).
A1 is matched to the current tracer round, allowing use while linked for the M249. (SOST can't be linked to the tracer)
 
oh yeah.....the M855A1 is lead free.
 
There are many "experts" out there that will be choking on their previous statements when the A1 comes out.
 
 
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AllThingsAmmo    Bad Info about M855A1 and SOST   6/2/2010 9:00:40 PM
It's a shame to see this type of bad information out there. It will become clear when the new M855A1 round is introduced later this year. It's far superior to anything else out there for 5.56mm. It is the best round the Army has ever produced (yes, they have considered SOST and similar ammunition). Anyone that thinks it is "inferior" has absolutely no clue.
 
Corrections for inaccurate information in the article:
 
USMC did buy the A1 but can't use it until fielded by the Army. (ask them)
A1 is more accurate than SOST and the M855 (ask SOCOM, they will not deny this)
A1 has MUCH better hard barrier capabilities than SOST and the M855 (ask SOCOM, they will not deny this).
 
Also:
A1 excels at longer ranges (SOST can't).
A1 is matched to the current tracer round, allowing use while linked for the M249. (SOST can't be linked to the tracer)
 
oh yeah.....the M855A1 is lead free.
 
There are many "experts" out there that will be choking on their previous statements when the A1 comes out.
 
 
Quote    Reply