M576 Cartridge, 40mm, Multiple Projectile (Buckshot)
For close range fighting two M79 rounds were developed during the Vietnam era. The first was a flechette or Bee Hive round which fired dozens of small darts at once. Later in the war this was replaced by the M576 buckshot round. Containing twenty-seven 00 buckshot, this round was devastating at close ranges. The pellets cast a cone of fire 98 feet (30 m) wide and 98 feet high and travel at 882 feet per second (269 mps). The round has no mechanical-type fuse. This round is olive drab with black markings.
The multipurpose round is not a typical "explosive" grenade -- it is, for all intents and purposes, a really big shotgun shell. A moderately common round with multiple potential uses, the M576 is a buckshot-loaded grenade. This makes it the equivalent of a sawed-off 40mm shotgun -- wide spread, high penetration (for buckshot) and thus a very high damage capacity -- at short range. Though it is a multipurpose round, it is most effective in thick vegetated areas or for room clearing. Be sure to aim buckshot rounds at the foot of the target.
As of early 2006 the Office of the Product Manager Crew Served Weapons at the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center, Picatinny, NJ was investigating and is currently seeking sources for the availability of a non-developmental 40mm short-range antipersonnel shotgun type cartridge that is compatible with the M203 Grenade launcher and one that can be fired quickly without precise aiming, with a high probability of producing casualities.
It is essential that the candidate cartridge be able to demonstrate a lethal anti-personnel capability out to a maximum range of 50 meters (75 meters desired). A minimum casuality level of 0.3 kill probability is required at the maximum effective range against standing men under 30-second defense - 100% incapacitation casulty criterion. The literature received from the interested candidates describing their NDI cartridge and its physical and functional characteristics including all available support data shall be evaluated by the government and compared to the functional capability of the 40mm, Multiple Projectile, M576 Cartridge currently in the Army inventory.
If sufficient and credible interest is generated, a Foreign Comparative Test (FCT) or Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) may follow.
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