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Alternate History Post. (Unbiased) Nato Rifle Trials 1956


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OK, I know it's hard, but imagine a world where NATO was like Yugoslavia and actually made a meaningful attempt to adopt the best possible rifle for its infantry across all of its nations based purely on its performance (I know from Bojan that the Yugo trials also featured feasibility of production with nationally extant resources etc. so we are going a step further and going totally in individual merit here). .280 British has been adopted as the NATO standard calibre and a rifle has to be selected. All are to be optionally equipped with the same unity power optical sight (specific eye relief variants allowed) as an alternative to irons, so sights alone can't be a significant factor.The following are trialled in this calibre (please assume that they work as well as in 7.62x51 NATO or CETME).

 

Armalite AR10 (fluted steel barrel version)

FN FAL

CETME

M14

EM2

MAS49/56

BM59

SIG 510

 

Which wins, and why?

 

Late edit: the designs can be scaled to the cartridge - not just re-barreled etc.

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It's not the answer you were looking for but does it matter, now that NATO has adopted an intermediary round? Probably not much. Am I right to think that the difference between .308 and .280 British is far bigger than between the AR-10 and the M14.

 

That being said. My gut feeling says AR-10. In .280 it would be more or less an AR-15.

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My guess is that variants of the FAL would have become NATO standard, though the Belgians would have been a bit put out about W. Germany's use.

In the US, the AR16/M16 would probably still have been adopted due to Vietnam, and 40 years later, US servicemen would be complaining about how the USian FAL sucked, because it made a mediocre DMR...

Edited by shep854
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How would a FAL scaled to .280 British be better than the other options?

After Springfield Armory got finished dicking around with the US version it wouldn't.

 

 

I want you to imagine a World where the US Army Ordnance Board and the senior management of Sprinfield Armory had all died in a tragic plane crash in 1954.

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My guess is that variants of the FAL would have become NATO standard, though the Belgians would have been a bit put out about W. Germany's use.

In the US, the AR16/M16 would probably still have been adopted due to Vietnam, and 40 years later, US servicemen would be complaining about how the USian FAL sucked, because it made a mediocre DMR...

 

But still better than an M14 with a scope. The FAL works for example. ;) Though todays GIs would stumble over the gas adjustment I think.

 

But why .280/30? It is nearly as long as .308 and has the same head diameter and body diameter making magazines only a few millimetre shorter. So not much is saved there.

 

 

 


 

 

Armalite, FAL, or CETME, which will win in the end will probably depends on the ammunition and which works best with the powder and rounds used.

 

The AR-10 needs aluminum forgings, which were expensive back then. It really was space age technology coming from the aerospace field. The FAL and CETME are safer bets. FAL using traditional milled parts. The CETME basically the same technology for stampings as car bodies. For which there is already an installed industrial base.

 

 

The other candidates are ruled out, because:

 

M14; MAS49/56; BM59 are all 1930ies designs at heart
EM2; SIG 510 both too expensive to manufacture. The EM-2 is too fiddly and complicated, The SIG 510 is called the shooting anvil for its weight and optimized for swiss milita sitting in their alpine fortresses waiting for the enemy.
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Speaking of manufacturing.

 

If you have a gun that works well and are more or less ready to produce it, produce it even if it's not the best. Re-tooling costs time and money and the typical users are disinterested draftees and rusty reservists, so a 10% difference on paper is no difference in real life.

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pertinent reading on all this is found in Tony's article about his General Purpose Cartridge concept. After WW2 situation starting at page 13.

 

http://quarryhs.co.uk/GPC.pdf

 


 

Speaking of manufacturing.

 

If you have a gun that works well and are more or less ready to produce it, produce it even if it's not the best. Re-tooling costs time and money and the typical users are disinterested draftees and rusty reservists, so a 10% difference on paper is no difference in real life.

Retooling is necessaray anyway as the M14 has shown. It could only transfer maybe the skill of a few workers that had manufactured M1 garands during the war. Everything else had to be done anew. So recycling old tooling is not going to work imho. so no gun was really ready to manufacture at that point.

Edited by Panzermann
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The .280 is dimensionally not that different from .308, but the lower recoil impulse would allow a lighter weapon, not just for recoil attenuation, but action strength if you are using a FAL like locking mechanism.

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"Retooling is necessaray anyway as the M14 has shown."

 

Fair enough for the USA but how about the others? If Spain, Belgium and Italy are about ready to produce their designs why not?

 

PS: I keep forgetting France.

Edited by Markus Becker
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"Retooling is necessaray anyway as the M14 has shown."

 

Fair enough for the USA but how about the others? If Spain, Belgium and Italy are about ready to produce their designs why not?

 

PS: I keep forgetting France.

 

Because that's not the premise of the scenario. :P If you keep tweaking things by adding more and more reality, you'll get back to what actually happened, and what would the fun in that be?

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Eugene Stoner dies of a fatal heart attack in 1955, thus the Armalite series never takes shape. The M14 proves to be unsuitable in Vietnam, so (taking a cue from the Portuguese who are fighting a similar type war) the US Army and Marines quickly rearm with G3's to fight the remainder of the war. Due to a Constitutional amendment, Mick Jagger defeats Nixon to become President.

 

How's that? :D

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Chris, point taken. Less reality, more fun.

 

Dawes, Jim Sullivan and the not so mini 14 to the rescue?

Possible, except that Sullivan was recruited by H&K to manage their new factory in Alabama. Many years later he retires to operate a winery in California. He later writes an article for American Rifleman "The G3 Rifle: How it helped us win the Vietnam War".

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Eugene Stoner dies of a fatal heart attack in 1955, thus the Armalite series never takes shape. The M14 proves to be unsuitable in Vietnam, so (taking a cue from the Portuguese who are fighting a similar type war) the US Army and Marines quickly rearm with G3's to fight the remainder of the war. .

 

Due to a Constitutional amendment, Mick Jagger defeats Nixon to become President

 

How's that? :D

While the G-3 is a fine rifle I don't see it as a quantum leap over the M-14 in jungle warfare. Both are about the same weight. The G-3 is a little shorter. Neither is good in full auto.

 

Why would electing the lead singer of the worlds most over rated rock band as president of the USA make a difference in 1968 / 69? Is he some kind of military genius ?

 

Best to have some one as president in 1964 or so who would "declare victory" and bring every one home.

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