Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Blackwater and the Magic Bullet

Since a report came in from Iraq about the effectiveness of blended metal bullets there has been a fair bit of talk on the net about them and the claims of their manufacturer Le Mas Ltd. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept the bullet is designed to pierce hard surface like body armour but to cause massive wounding when it hits flesh. I’ve repeatedly heard these claims ridiculed as impossible, over-stated and outrageous (by people whose knowledge of metallurgy and ballistics far surpasses mine) but after watching this video of the .45ACP version hitting a slab of meat, I’m inclined to believe the claims. The first story I heard from Iraq was from a private operator who shot a terrorist in the ass. The round impacting caused massive trauma and took the Bad Guy out of the fight straight away. Not bad for a 5.56mm hit! That’s when the story hit the net around the start of the year.

There’s a run-down of the blended metal technology (BMT) available at Defense Review. Now, I don’t pretend to even understand some of the arguments put forward to reject the claims of Le Mas but the visual evidence of a bullet turning a hunk of meat into hamburger is pretty convincing. Apparently the reports coming back on the damage the rounds can cause on actual human flesh (as opposed to ballistic gelatin) are also highly in favour of the effectiveness of this technology. And check out this statement from the Blackwater Shootout: “The reason every M16 in Iraq and Afghanistan isn't loaded with them, frankly, is that the bullets are considered too lethal. The kryptonite of bullets.” Sounds exactly what’s needed.

It seems to me that if a company has developed a bullet which will effectively penetrate body armour and cause massive wounding to hostiles, then that merits attention- a lot of attention. The US Army has money set aside for a study but as the BMT performs poorly in gelatin the study has not gone ahead. Le Mas runs a password protected website aimed purely at law enforcement and the military but Defense Review has a CD of videos of live animal tests on the round. Hopefully they will post them soon. The BMT may turn out to not be the magic bullet its makers claim, but it may just turn out to be a highly effective addition to the arsenal- surely that’s worth investigating. Frankly, heat transfer or whatever reason is given can be debunked to the cows come home by people who know more about this than I do, but if this bullet works I’d be happy enough if Le Mas told me that it’s because of the little imps inside the bullet; all I care about is whether or not it works, not how or why. If there’s chance this thing will act like a major upgrade to the 5.56mm rifle and give our troops the edge in combat, isn’t that the important thing?

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