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AK47 vs SA80 Question of lethality

#1
As one who studiously avoided the ground whenever possible I have a question for those with experience of battle.

A chum of mine was decrying the 5.56mm round used in the SA80/2, claiming a lack of lethality was built into the original American idea of wounding on the (Vietnam) battlefield, thereby tying up soldiers to deal with their injured comrades. The AK47, meanwhile is designed to kill first time, it leaves a much bigger wound on exit. Is it true that GPMG is still in use in Afg? If so, why? Does it go through mud walls and the like? Anyone care to comment on the lethality or otherwise of SA80?

The 5.56 has been described as a cold war weapon, designed to be lightweight so that lots of rounds can be carried.

Is it time to now consider reverting to the old NATO standard of 7.62mm?

Or this ultra modern version;

Barrett M468 6.8mm Semiautomatic Rifle
The weapon for delivering the new 6.8mm Remington cartridge is basically an AR15 / M16 / M4 rifle, with a few added features. Barrett calls the new rifle the M468 [it has not been type classified], and is being built in both a civilian-legal model, and also in a close quarters battle (CQB) configuration. Complete rifles or the upper conversion units are available.

The Barrett M468 leaves the performance of the 5.56mm for others to ponder. The M468 can be utilized by law enforcement, military, and civilian shooters. The performance of the 6.8mm Remington SPC far surpasses that of the 5.56 mm.
 
#2
nigegilb said:
As one who studiously avoided the ground whenever possible I have a question for those with experience of battle.

A chum of mine was decrying the 5.56mm round used in the SA80/2, claiming a lack of lethality was built into the original American idea of wounding on the (Vietnam) battlefield, thereby tying up soldiers to deal with their injured comrades. The AK47, meanwhile is designed to kill first time, it leaves a much bigger wound on exit. Is it true that GPMG is still in use in Afg? If so, why? Does it go through mud walls and the like? Anyone care to comment on the lethality or otherwise of SA80?

The 5.56 has been described as a cold war weapon, designed to be lightweight so that lots of rounds can be carried.

Is it time to now consider reverting to the old NATO standard of 7.62mm?

Do those in the know, consider the AK47 to be a more lethal, if inaccurate weapon?
:lol: :? :roll:
 
#6
Oh dear, oh dear, you have no idea of the potential world of hurt you have just walked into.

It is an Ugly world full of Gravelbellys, ex_Stabs, and where logic is Cutaway by Gun_nuts.

(try a site search for "calibre", "sa80 replacement", "lethality", et cetera)
 
#7
It ain't the weapon it's the round.

The AK 47 uses a 7.62 x 39 round.
The more modern AK 74 uses a 5.45 x 39 round

Which do you want to compare?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
5.56 was partly designed around being able to carry many, many, rounds to throw at the Soviet hordes, or erm, Korean hordes, backed up by Chinese HOOOORDES, should that little Pandora's box get opened again . . . oh, wait . . . :D
 
#10
Why do civvis ask such bone questions, when you get hit you ain't going to f*** what round it is, I'm only glad .38 didn't go to far after passing through my flackjacket
 
#11
archer said:
It ain't the weapon it's the round.

The AK 47 uses a 7.62 x 39 round.
The more modern AK 74 uses a 5.85 x 39 round
Which do you want to compare?
Some (well ALL ) use a 5.45 x 39 round. :D

Oh - and it's the system not just the round!

Pendantic head off :D
 
#13
Most discussions of this subject get bogged down with trolls, CoD 4 players and sundry idiots talking utter crap. The ratio of signal to noise is better on ARRSE in the threads mentioned earlier but even so a good filter is required. Thing is, a lot of the discussion is nothing to do with facts, it's all about belief.

As to design the AK-47 came out just after WW2. It used the standard Russian 3 line barrel (0.3 in, 7.62mm) with a cut down cartridge (just like the Germans did with their 7.92mm). It was designed to be cheap, reliable, and good enough - any Russian squaddie bleating about "lethality" would be told to shut up and shoot him again. Indeed, when the Sovs moved to 5.45 it was all about lighter ammo that was still good enough. They've always seen support weapons as the killing tools with personal weapons as backup, the opposite of the Western approach.

The 5.56 was a child of the sixties and was all about a lighter weapon and ammo that still got the job done. Much as the old and bold fetishise the SLR and M14 they were overkill and far too heavy; had we not been able to use Argentinian ammo and mags then British troops would have run out of ammo in the Falklands.

Now, the US have had some issues with their kit as they insist on using ammo designed for the M16 out of the M4 which has a shorter barrel. Funny old thing, performance falls off at range. And as long as they keep regarding bullpups as the manifestation of the Antichrist on earth no amount of tacticool crap on their rifles will help.

Funnily enough, I've seen no similar complaints from UK soldiers with the A2 with a full length barrel; or the Canadians for that matter. And that settles the question for me.
 
#14
I realise that my last post was offhand and blase but the 5.56x45mm is effective out to ranges that the 7.62x39mm is not. The quality of the training of the person firing that is definately a factor in the effectiveness of a round as is the quality of the weapon system being employed to fire that round.

The AK47 was a mass produced weapon designed for troops with little or no marksmanship training and is no way compareable with the L85A2. The AK47 is supposedly able to engage targets out to 300m but this is highly unlikely compared to the ACOG sight fitted L85A2 that will hit targets from the standing position at 400m.Now, I know that there will be people reading this that will decry this claim but I have seen it done,admittedly not under battle conditions but then again nobody was under fire when they said that the AK will hit targets at 300m.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#15
I'm not at all sure that lethality per se is the main issue. A soldier who has been hit in the main body mass will generally stop fighting, unless the round which hits him was insufficiently powered to penetrate clothing, body armour (if any), skin, bone etc etc. That is a function of various factors, including the shape of the projectile, its weight, its velocity, weapon barrel length, the engagement range and so on.

'Lethality' on its own is a meaningless concept: at a range of two feet my ten pound lump hammer is probably just as lethal - for a head hit - as Dirty Harry Callaghan's .44 magnum. You could probably take every military rifle which has been issued anywhere in the last 150 years and if you shot a man through the centre of his torso at 200m with it, they would all be equally dead.

A better description would be 'effectiveness', which describes weapon (in the sense of rifle and projectile) accuracy, 'shootability', reliability, portability etc etc. Thus, one might say that, at ranges out to 100m an AK is equally as effective as the SA80A2, whereas at ranges beyond 400m you might want 7.62 Nato weapons rather than 5.56mm for better effect.
 
S

stabradop

Guest
#16
Maybe ask a medic as they are the ones who have to deal with the mess that any round makes :?
 
#17
stabradop said:
Maybe ask a medic as they are the ones who have to deal with the mess that any round makes :?
No, talk to the gravediggers. Look at medics' numbers, and you'll read that bayonets cause hardly any wounds that require treatment, so aren't very dangerous :roll:
 
#18
remember reading book about medics in beriut
people shot with ak47s that made it to theatre often lived
m16 rounds not so many often died on operating theatre table:(
 
#19
The "designed to wound" thing re the 5.56 is a myth, but based in the reality of the search by medicos and politicians for a "humane" round back in the late 19th century. They pushed for FMJ small-calibre bullets (meaning .303 back then!) and the armies of Europe were more than happy to go along with it for the reduced weight, increased range and penetration afforded. The same goes double for 5.56 and 5.45, but neither were specifically designed to just wound. In fact, the US 5.56 continues to be craftily "accidentally brutally" to quote Blackadder, designed to to great execution to thine enemy via fragmentation/secondary cavity action (oo-er).

As for the AK round, in fact it falls into the "humane" category, believe it or not. Nice neat wounds, easily treated, for the most part. It's down to the ammo design, again. Make it expand or fragment (as I think Yugoslavian 7.62 does) and it's a different barrel of monkeys entirely.

Now, where your mate is sort of correct, is that the L2A2 that the SA80 fires HAS been designed, not to wound exactly, but not to do that nasty blowing up in the body thing that our American cousins enjoy. They thickened the jacket in line with the "spirit" of the Hague convention and some conference that went on in Switzerland I think it was, back in the early 90s.

So OUR 5.56 could be said to be "less lethal". And yet, I haven't read of a single case where a British soldier has complained that his target failed to be incapicatated. I suspect it's a quirk of culture and gun culture - the Americans might be more familiar with firearms as civilians (with larger calibre, expanding bullets to take down beasts that don't know they've been shot), but that just means that they have unreasonable expectations about what bullets can do.
 
#20
Interesting. A lot of the footage I have seen has been in thick cover around river beds in fertile regions. I figured the SA 80/2 might lack a bit of power, getting through the cover.

Doesn't sound like there are too many complaints though. Just wondered what the personal weapon of choice would be as we appear to be in Afg for the long run.

The stuff about the Falklands War was also interesting. I couldn't understand why I had heard stories of Argentine soldiers still walking after being hit 3 or 4 times. Now it makes sense, (different ammo?) still not sure if the stories are true though!
 

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