The issue of developing a low-impulse cartridge in the West was brewing up long before the appearance of the 5.56 NATO ammunition. The first studies of this issue date back to the First World War.
However, the real era of low-impulse cartridges emerged after World War II. Back in 1945, the .280 British cartridge was developed in the UK based on this concept, which was rejected under pressure from the United States and was replaced by a 7.62x51 NATO cartridge. As time has shown, the new cartridge could not meet the needs of the armed forces. Weapons chambered for this cartridge had significant recoil, the ammunition load weighed quite a lot, which limited the ability of units to conduct heavy fire. And the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge wasn’t suitable for small arms.
That is why the US Army decided to create a smaller caliber cartridge. In the late 1950s, Armalite and some other U.S. gun manufacturers began an experimental Small Caliber/High Velocity (SCHV) assault rifle program to create an assault rifle chambered for a low-impulse cartridge. According to the new requirements, 3 cartridges participated: .222 Winchester, .224 Springfield, and 5.56, the development of Eugene Stoner from the American firm Armalite. The winner of the competition, both for the cartridge and for the weapon, was Stoner's developments and the AR-15 assault rifle. The 5.56 ammo was designed specifically for the AR-15 assault rifle.
5.56 NATO ammo caused a furore. Colorful stories immediately arose about how a bullet somersault while flying, as a result of which inflicted terrible wounds, hitting the target. However, as it was established, the severity of the wounds was due to the fact that the bullet was torn apart due to its high speed.
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