Letter Re: Advice on 5.56mm, Versus 6.8mm, Versus 7.62mm Rifles?

I’ve been a member of a survival retreat group for about a year. A member told me to contact you. I am finally going to purchase a rifle (not for hunting). I read where the [U.S.] military is really unhappy with the 5.56 and the possibility of changing to the 6.8mm Remington. I like the idea of something larger than the 5.56mm and smaller than the 7.62mm. Is it possible the military will make this change and how soon? I am only going to buy one rifle. What are the disadvantages of buying the 6.8mm? Sincerely, – R.S.

JWR Replies: If the economy were to hold together, and ifthe new 6.8mm round were to eventually gain long term civilian market popularity, then it someday might be a viable option. Otherwise, no, I do not recommend it, since supporting your firearms battery logistics could be troublesome at best, or perhaps even a complete “show stopper” in a worst case. If you have huge budget, you might want to buy both 5.56mm and 6.8mm upper receiver/barrel assemblies to mate with your AR lower and several thousand rounds of each type of ammo. Otherwise, I would skip the small calibers all together and get a battle rifle that is chambered in a real sure stopping and versatile caliber: .308 Winchester. (Parenthetically, I’m amazed how many letters I get from readers who say that they wouldn’t use a .223 for hunting 150 pound deer, but they are willing to trust their lives to .233 for hunting 200 pound armed men. I fail to see the logic there.) For .308 battle rifles, I prefer FALs and L1A1s, since they use inexpensive magazines and have clean (non-fouling) adjustable piston-operated gas systems. But if one of your key goals is light weight, then get an AR-10. (Although the latter do require more frequent and thorough cleaning.) If you do decide to get an AR-10, then make sure that it is one of the brands such as American Spirit or Bushmaster that accept commonplace (and inexpensive) FAL magazines rather than unique (and expensive) OEM magazines. (The Armalite and DPMS brand AR-10s use proprietary magazine designs. Those are usually very expensive modified M14 magazines. Avoid AR-10 from such makers!)