USA — Army begins shipping improved 5.56mm cartridge

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — The Army announced today it has begun ship­ping its new 5.56mm car­tridge, the M855A1 Enhanced Per­for­mance Round, to sup­port warfight­ers in Afghanistan.

M855 5.56mm cartridge
The new round replaces the cur­rent M855 5.56mm car­tridge that has been used by U.S. troops since the ear­ly 1980s. The M855A1 result­ed in a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant enhance­ments not found in the cur­rent round, which include improved hard tar­get capa­bil­i­ty, more depend­able, con­sis­tent per­for­mance at all dis­tances, improved accu­ra­cy, reduced muz­zle flash and a high­er veloc­i­ty.
Pho­to cred­it Cour­tesy pho­to
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The new M855A1 round is some­times referred to as “green ammo.”

The new round replaces the cur­rent M855 5.56mm car­tridge that has been used by U.S. troops since the ear­ly 1980s.

The M855A1 result­ed in a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant enhance­ments not found in the cur­rent round, offi­cials said. They explained these include improved hard-tar­get capa­bil­i­ty, more depend­able, con­sis­tent per­for­mance at all dis­tances, improved accu­ra­cy, reduced muz­zle flash and a high­er veloc­i­ty.

Dur­ing test­ing, the M855A1 per­formed bet­ter than cur­rent 7.62mm ball ammu­ni­tion against cer­tain types of tar­gets, blur­ring the per­for­mance dif­fer­ences that pre­vi­ous­ly sep­a­rat­ed the two rounds.

The pro­jec­tile incor­po­rates these improve­ments with­out adding weight or requir­ing addi­tion­al train­ing.

Accord­ing to Lt. Col. Jef­frey K. Woods, the program’s prod­uct man­ag­er, the pro­jec­tile is “the best gen­er­al pur­pose 5.56mm round ever pro­duced.”

Woods said its field­ing rep­re­sents the most sig­nif­i­cant advance­ment in gen­er­al pur­pose small cal­iber ammu­ni­tion in decades.

The Enhanced Per­for­mance Round con­tains an envi­ron­men­tal­ly-friend­ly pro­jec­tile that elim­i­nates up to 2,000 tons of lead from the man­u­fac­tur­ing process each year in direct sup­port of Army com­mit­ment to envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship.

Woods said the effort is a clear exam­ple of how “green­ing” a pre­vi­ous­ly haz­ardous mate­r­i­al can also pro­vide extreme­ly ben­e­fi­cial per­for­mance improve­ments.

Picatin­ny Arsenal’s Project Man­ag­er for Maneu­ver Ammu­ni­tion Sys­tems man­ages the M855A1 pro­gram.

Project Man­ag­er Chris Gras­sano called the field­ing “the cul­mi­na­tion of an Army enter­prise effort by a num­ber of orga­ni­za­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Army Research Lab­o­ra­to­ry, Arma­ment Research Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter, Pro­gram Exec­u­tive Office for Ammu­ni­tion and the Joint Muni­tions Com­mand.

“The Army uti­lized advanced sci­ence, mod­el­ing and analy­sis to pro­duce the best 5.56mm round pos­si­ble for the warfight­er,” he said.

The M855A1 is tai­lored for use in the M‑4 weapon sys­tem but also improves the per­for­mance of the M‑16 and M‑249 fam­i­lies of weapons.

A true gen­er­al-pur­pose round, the M855A1 exceeds the per­for­mance of the cur­rent M855 against the many dif­fer­ent types of tar­gets like­ly to be encoun­tered in com­bat.

Pri­or to ini­tial pro­duc­tion, the EPR under­went vig­or­ous test­ing. Offi­cial qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the round con­sist­ed of a series of side-by-side tests with the cur­rent M855.

Over­all, the Army fired more than 1 mil­lion rounds to ensure the new car­tridge met or exceed­ed all expec­ta­tions. The M855A1 is with­out ques­tion the most thor­ough­ly test­ed small cal­iber round ever field­ed, Woods said.

The Army has recent­ly com­plet­ed the Lim­it­ed Rate Ini­tial Pro­duc­tion phase for the M855A1 and is begin­ning the fol­low-on full rate pro­duc­tion phase where plans are to pro­cure more than 200 mil­lions rounds over the next 12–15 months.

The M855A1 Enhanced Per­for­mance Round is the first envi­ron­men­tal­ly-friend­ly bul­let result­ing from a larg­er “green­ing” effort across the Army’s Small Cal­iber Ammu­ni­tion pro­grams. Oth­er green­ing efforts include 5.56mm trac­er, 7.62mm ball and green primers.

Sol­diers in Afghanistan will begin using the new, improved round this sum­mer.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)