Army, sometime in the 1920s: Most of the technological militaries are going to 6.5-7mm cartridges, with good success. John C. Garand, design us something like that.
Garand: How about a self-loading rifle in .276 Pedersen? Easy to shoot, reliable, effective.
Infantry officers: I wanna be a engineer! Let me tell you my ideas.
MacArthur: I’ve decided that since we had lots of .30, the rifle should be in .30. Just because we’re changing doesn’t mean we should…change.
Army: This rifle can't handle full loads of .30. They bend the op-rod. Reduce the power of the .30, call it M2. And that the en bloc clip Mannlicher came up with in the 1880s is pretty cool, so modify it for that, too. Just like the Carcano.
GI: OW! M1 thumb hurts! Good rifle, but OW! And yeah, the op rod bends sometimes. Still, there will NEVER be anything better than this!
Army: Yes, there will never be anything better, so let’s improve it. Turns out, you can pull off the base plate and with a few minutes of milling, fit a BAR magazine on it. How about that?
Army leadership: That’s too simple! We’ll research this for a decade, and expect improvements in another decade. A new, improved Garand, magazine fed with its own PROPRIETARY magazine. Because, you know, the rifleman and automatic rifleman should NEVER have commonality of magazines.
Garand: I’ve designed this bullpup rifle. Short, light and compact.
Army: WTF?! That doesn’t “look” like a rifle! Forget it.
British MoD: We figure the mid caliber is the way to go, and the bullpup concept. Here’s the EM2 in 7mm.
Army: What?? A smaller caliber? Only .280? We need a "full power" man-stopping .30 that's capable of killing a man at 2000 yards, even if the sights are limited to 460. After all, without .30, you can't properly jerk your co...anyway, it HAS to be .30! Screw you, NATO. .30 or nothing.
Belgium: We call this the FN49. Now exporting in .30, 8mm and .308.
France: Unh hunh! We shall convert our MAS 49s.
Spain: Ve could do ze (cough), sorry, senor, didn’t meant to sound German. I’m not, you know. No former Nazis here. Anyway, here’s the Cetme, in .308, sort of. We’d wanted a bit lighter cartridge for this roller lock, but it’ll work, if you load the ammo light enough.
Belgium: This is the FAL. Stamped steel, and broach cut receiver, and quite cheap to produce.
Eugene Stoner: Armalite I have this idea, considering what the Army’s doing. AR10. Change uppers, and it’s rifle, carbine, machine gun and sniper platform.
Army: OMGWTFBBQ! That looks like a ray gun! Not a REAL rifle! We can't have that! But, the carbine/rifle/MG idea in one platform is good. Let's steal that. Springfield, can you do that?
Springfield: Uh, suuuuure. Yes, we can. Mass produced, too, so you don't have to worry about those commie union workers.
Infantry: Wait, what's this about the Russians, Chinese and Koreans having a rifle that holds 30 rounds and is select fire? Screw that. GARAND! GARAND! GARAND!
Springfield: Here’s the rifle. It’s basically an improved Garand with a magazine, just like we discussed in 1934, and it only took us until 1954. This is almost as cool as that Beretta the Italians have out, based on the Garand.
Army: That’s great. What do the Italians know? Ours MUST be better! It's American! And .30 cal! And it only costs $240 to the Garand's $80. Well, so it's a bit more expensive. Okay, three times as expensive. But it replaces the BAR and M3 and M1 carbines as well! Okay, it doesn't REALLY replace the BAR. Too much recoil, not controllable, and too small a magazine. Crap. Well, take the M60 GPMG and tell people it's an automatic rifle! Problem fixed! $240, 9 lb rifle replaced with $750, 26 lb machinegun. And it still replaces the grease gun and carbine. Well, not really. It's heavier, bulkier and kicks too much to be a carbine. No problem, we'll just hang onto the grease gun and carbine. The point is, it's better than the Garand, so it's better than perfect! Three times better, in fact, which is why it costs three times as much!
…Okay, so it's not great in the jungle, with its dirty gas system and long length. But that's because those damned commies won't fight like men! What's this AK47 thing, anyway?
So, Europe, whaddaya think now? Huh? Huh? Isn't the precision milled, by skilled, master union machinists, M14 better than your cheap stamped and broach cut FAL? Eh? Aw, screw you. Hey, Springfield, didn't we discuss that this was supposed to be easy to produce without master craftsmen?
Scientists: See, you can't actually see a man past 500 yards, and 98% of engagements are under 300. If you use a smaller round, you can carry twice as much ammo, inflict twice as many casualties, for the same weight of system.
DoD: Shut up, you dumb grunt. Here, take this stick and go hit the enemy.
Infantry: A stick! Cooooool!
General Lemay, SAC: Holy crap, Eugene, this downsized AR10 of yours kicks ass. Crap tons of capacity, twice the power of the toy Carbine, what the hell was the Army thinking with that 6 MOA squirrel shooter? I want these for the APs tomorrow. Here's a check from my personal account.
APs: Cooooool! Off to Tan Son Nut.
SEALs, Green Berets: Wait, you've got a rifle we haven't seen? That's not allowed. Gimme. (Shoots Gook. Gook blows in half). Holy crap, this freaking rocks. We'll take lots. And it's LIGHT. That means we can carry more ammo. Coooool!
SAS: A new rifle what? That also takes a grenade launcher? YOU SEND ME NOW! YOU SEND RIFLE! Israel, Singapore, Canada, you wait your turn!
Army: Alright, we'll do as the scientists say, mostly because the M14 really isn't doing anything a Garand doesn't, and not as well, really. Sorry, Springfield. But, we have to IMPROVE this new rifle! Change that bolt! Change that rifling rate! Change that ammo! Add some doohickey to the side! Whaddaya think of THAT Eugene?
Stoner: Er, I kinda hoped you wouldn't do that. See, this was designed as a unit to...
Army: No, no, you're supposed to say you LIKE what we did!
Stoner: I guess we're both disappointed, then. (Actual quote)
Infantry: Screw you, Stoner! This rifle you designed--
Stoner: _I_ designed?
Infantry: Basically, yes. It's jamming all over the place! Especially when we put it back together with pieces missing! (Actual quote) What's this about it never needing cleaned?
Stoner: No one said it never needed cleaned!
Army: Someone at Colt said it was self cleaning.
Stoner: WTF? NO, NO! The GAS TUBE is self cleaning. Only.
Infantry: Huh? But I've been jamming sticks and rods and stuff down that gas tube to clean it. And it BREAKS! Luckily, I hear they're going back to the .30 before 1970.
Stoner: Yeah, you're not supposed to do that.
Infantry: Who the hell are you to tell us what we're not supposed to do?
Stoner: The enginee....oh, screwit. I'll go design the AR18/180/SA80/L85/G36 platform, the Stoner 63, bunches of other crap these imbeciles at Armalite will never market successfully, and someone else will get rich off. See ya.
Civil War vet: The problem came when you pansy whippersnappers went away from the full power .58 Minie! That was a man's cartridge. Those .45s and .30s and .22s will NEVER replace the REAL American rifle!
Infantry: I Want .30 WANTWANTWANT! .30!
DoD Logistics: Dude. Supply chain. You cannot possibly carry enough .30 for a modern firefight, anymore than you could carry .45-70.
Infantry: WANT .30! WaaaaaaaaaaaHHH!
Scientist: 5.56 will stop the enemy, and will do so better than the Russians' 7.62X39.
Infantry: That's impossible! See, .30 is BIGGER than .22. So there! I hit this guy 47 times center of mass and he didn't fall down!
Neutral observer: With a 30 round magazine?
Infantry: Screw you, you're not Infantry so you don't know nothing! I don't care about a guy in the lab. I was the man in the field!
Neutral observer: Did you do side by side comparisons, in different environments, with cameras and controlled media and...
Infantry: Didn't you hear me? I WAS IN COMBAT! That makes me smarter than you! Luckily they're going back to the .30 before 1980.
Marines: Okay, we want to upgrade this rifle. Heavier barrel. More robust stock. Stronger receiver.
Marine infantry: And three round burst, because taking your finger off the trigger is haaaaarrrrrddd! And it should be able to shoot through a helmet at 800 yards! Just like a .30!
Scientist: As we've discussed before, you can't even SEE the enemy at that range, the sights aren't good for that range, you can't shoot accurately at that range in combat, and this is an ASSAULT RIFLE, not a SNIPER RIFLE.
Infantry: Who cares? This is only temporary anyway. They're going back to the .30 before 1990.
Colt: We'll do it. We can always sell it to camo commando survivalists.
Army: Um, this new round isn't as lethal as the last one.
Colt: Well, yeah. You wanted more range and to punch through steel at that range. That requires a heavier, tougher bullet. Heavier, tougher bullets don't fragment as well, for several reasons, including...
Infantry: Aw, screw all of you! It's a good thing we're going back to .30 before 2000!
Colt: Anyway, we made this carbine for some Arabs who wanted a carbine with grenade launcher capacity.
Army: Sweet! We'll just issue that to everyone. What's the range on this? 1000 yards?
Colt: Er, no. 400.
Army: Awesome. 1000 yard carbine! With armor piercing explosive fragmenting incendiary nuclear ammo that will stop a muj with one shot every time, even if it misses!
Colt: Look, basically you have a light carbine. Two hundred yards yes. Four hundred with a good marksman and planning.
Army: Colt, why aren't you giving us what we want? We'll go talk to HundK! They promised all that from a 12" barrel with a 100 round grenade launcher, too, in a 5 pound package.
Infantry: Boy, I'll be glad when they go back to the .30 by 2010! Or at least that new 6.8, like the Brits came up with after WWII!
HundK: Ja, weighs 25, like we agreed. 25 kilos. Three rounds grenade, und pistol mit no sights.
Army: Look, we started the SPIW program in 1960. It’s been 40 years, and now you’re calling it OICW. Any other progress yet?
HundK: Ja. Gif us more money.
Fanboi: We should have stuck with the Garand! And the Sherman tank! Patton loved them, which proves something!
DoD: So, special ops guys, what do you think of the 6.8?
Special Ops: well, it’s good for what we do. Definitely more punch. The problem is, there’s not enough more punch to offset the reduced ammo load. Fine for us, of course, but those grunts will just shoot dry. It’ll do a fine job of replacing .30, though, for a smaller, lighter series of support weapons with more ammo.
DoD: Sweet. We’ll get cracking on that, then.
Infantry: Boy, it’s a good thing they’re going back to .30 by 2020!
…to be continued…endlessly.