The Rise and Fall of ‘~10.5’

The video is (quite obviously) another of Mike Jones’ work.

Is the MK18, the CQBR, an obsolete platform. Do we need to go and start tossing out all our 10.5ish (10.3 if you’re a close cloner of the old guns) inch SmolBoi platforms.

I’d take the time (were I you, or me since I watched) to watch the video and go through the breakdown.

But here are my thoughts.

Short answer, no. The MK18, the CQBR platform, is not obsolete.

The M16 isn’t obsolete.

But they are reaching the ends of their development arcs. The 5.56 NATO families of firearms and the ammunition has seem decades of optimization and improvements to the point where we are squeezing about everything we can physically expect out of this round and the platforms that fire it.

And it is good.

The CQBR concept is merging with the M4 and we are ending up on a modernized variant of the Colt 733. But we are in a period of running down the most diminishing of returns when we, years ago at this juncture, surpassed the point where we had a solidly functional product for the niche.

The military picked up CQBR’s for a very specific purpose, size under suppression. That utility hasn’t changed too much.

When the Military restructures under a new service caliber then we will be looking at filling those same niches with new platforms for that caliber at need, but we are not there yet. Firearms are durable goods. Sure they wear, need maintenance, and eventually will be replaced, but they don’t get less good at their roles without something else changing.

In the day-to-day, we aren’t looking at engaging a near peer enemy force with modern weapons technology and personal protective systems. Instead we are looking at soft opportunistic humans of the normal squishy variety that we also are. We need to protect ourselves from the hyenas and coyotes of the human world, not some grizzly bear on grizzly bear territorial disputes.

Short 5.56 guns are going to serve us a long time, even as the advanced ammunition systems like 6.5 and 6.8 start to become mainstream in the military spaces. We aren’t going to see a hyper rapid overlap into the civilian space until cost and availability of the calibers drop into the ‘buy it now’ range. We will see niches grabbing it up, I probably will to experiment with it, but that is my job. But until .277 Fury is .45/round and you can get an $800-$1200 rifle that shoots it well it isn’t going to be a priority.

Add to that the fact that the experimental .277 rounds are meant to increase the maximum effective range of the squad’s individual weapons while the individual citizen user already has access to several calibers that more than cover the useful effective ranges of defense firearms. It’s why 5.56×45, 5.45×39, 7.62×39, and .300BLK have become the 4 workhorsemen of self defense rifle calibers and .308 and 6.5 CM are specialists that can flex down into that roll.

So no, no need to write off 5.56 anytime soon. Probably not this century.

Long live the MK18.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.