More Misinformation from the Media – The Sig MCX-SPEAR

Once again, the media are going out of their way to cause panic.

One would think with the resources available to the media and politicians that they would be able to afford to hire at least one individual familiar with firearms.  Failing that, one would think they could at least find an expert to interview prior to publishing nonsense.

Media coverage of the new Sig Saur MCX-SPEAR rifle is deliberately misleading and obviously intended solely to cause panic.

From MSN:

  • “A gun company is marketing an assault rifle that can shoot through bulletproof vests to civilians.
  • SIG Sauer’s MCX-SPEAR can fire bullets with twice the kinetic energy of an AR-15, The Daily Beast reported.
  • Making the gun commercially available raises questions were to get into the hands of a mass shooter.”

It would appear MSN simply parroted the report from The Daily Beast.

From The Daily Beast:

“SIG Sauer’s new MCX-SPEAR fires bullets with twice the kinetic energy of those from an AR-15. That means double the horrifying force that mangled the victims of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and left one youngster essentially decapitated.

“It’ll shoot through almost all of the bulletproof vests that are worn by law enforcement in the county right now,” said Ryan Busse, a former firearms company executive who is now a senior policy analyst with the Giffords Law Center and author of Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America.

The MCX-SPEAR is the civilian version of the U.S. Army’s NGSW-R (Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle), which was created with the express purpose of tearing through enemy body armor.”

The Daily Beast piece was in turn picked up and posted all over Twitter – to include a post by Shannon Watts.

Sig has not made many details about this new rifle available yet.  The MCX series of rifles are essentially an AR-15 pattern.  The primary difference with the new rifle is that it is based on the NGSW-R rifle recently adopted by the U.S. military firing a new cartridge; the 6.8X51 also known as the .277 Sig Fury.

Cartridge details.

The .277 Sig Fury uses a hybrid cartridge case design that allows chamber pressures around 80KSI.  Typical modern rifle cartridges are around 60KSI.  The limited data available indicates the Sig Fury will drive a 140 grain bullet to 3000 FPS muzzle velocity – producing 2529 ft lbs. of bullet energy at 100 yards.

The new cartridge is .270 caliber (.277 bullet diameter).  For comparison, the .270 Winchester came out in 1923 and it drives a 140 grain bullet to the exact same 3000 fps muzzle velocity producing the exact same bullet energy.  Sig has managed to replicate the performance of a 100 year old rifle cartridge (admittedly in a shorter overall length). 

There are a significant number of rifle cartridges on the civilian market that are decades old and that will outperform or equal the .277 Sig Fury:

  • 7mm Remington Magnum (1962)
  • .30-06 Springfield (1906)
  • .300 Winchester Magnum (1963)
  • .264 Winchester Magnum (1959)
  • And virtually all of the .270 magnum rifle cartridges.

To be fair, not every one of the cartridges I listed here can use the higher ballistic coefficient bullets that the Fury can use.  Those differences are not particularly significant unless we are looking at extreme range.  Almost every cartridge I listed above is or has been available in a magazine fed semi-automatic rifle for decades (the Browning BAR came out in the late 1960s, the Remington 742 came out in 1960).  There are millions of rifles in civilian circulation with similar ballistic capabilities.

As for the new rifle, it is a box magazine fed semi-automatic (the civilian version).  The M-14 adopted by the U.S. military in the late 1950s (currently available in a civilian version known as the M1A) was similar (but heavier).  It fired the 7.62 NATO cartridge.  This cartridge will develop 2900 fps with a 150 grain bullet (.308 diameter) producing about 2800 ft lbs. of energy (at the muzzle).  The primary difference between the new rifle and the one that is 60 years old is weight.

As for penetrating body armor, the new cartridge won’t be any different than any of the other cartridges noted above.  I good deal of body armor is designed to stop shrapnel or in the worst case pistol bullets.  Some will reliably stop a rifle bullet fired from something in the .30-06 Springfield class.  Level III and IV body armor (incorporating hard plate) is required to stop rifle bullets.  The Sig Fury, from what I’ve found so far, will not have any magical body armor penetration capabilities.

Why then would Sig and the military spend time and money to develop this new rifle system when cartridges offering the same or similar performance have been around 100 years?

Quite simple.

The M-16 and the 5.56 NATO cartridge is uses have been found lacking in some military applications.  This has been an ongoing controversy since the system was adopted in the 1960’s.  It became even more apparent with U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As a result, the military pulled its M-14s out of mothballs and put them back in service (typically in the DM role).  The 5.56 NATO lacked sufficient range in some cases.  The U.S. military decided to go back to a system with performance closer to the 7.62 NATO, without going back to the weight of the M-14.  It appears the new .277 Sig Fury will outperform the ballistics of the 7.62 NATO – but not by much – not much at all.

Once again, the media destroys its credibility with an obvious campaign to cause panic, using misleading reporting.  They are not helping themselves.


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