Cobalt-barrel machine guns could fire full auto Hollywood style • The Register

Thus, LMGs (aka squad automatic weapons in some circles) and heavier general-purpose machine guns are generally designed so that the barrel can be quickly and easily swapped for a spare, allowing the first one to cool down while the gunner keeps shooting.

That’s not ideal, though, as steel gunbarrels – especially ones intended to stand up to sustained automatic fire – are heavy. Furthermore, even though barrel change is quick and simple it means an inevitable pause in the suppressive fire which is keeping the enemy’s heads down and allowing the gunner’s team-mates to manoeuvre and win the fight (that’s the theory, anyway).

via Cobalt-barrel machine guns could fire full auto Hollywood style • The Register.

Excellent!! Already the Army is looking at an M240 with the receiver made of titanium to reduce weight.

Of course, all this comes at a much greater cost per weapon, but let’s face it, this is pretty small potatoes on the procurement 



4 thoughts on “Cobalt-barrel machine guns could fire full auto Hollywood style • The Register”

  1. Cobalt residue from the passing of the projectile through the rifling, and the subsequent cleaning of a cobalt-alloy barrel with solvents is a BIG problem.

    Cobalt poisoning is irreversible and almost always deadly. Breathing it, or having residue on one’s skin for extended periods, are two of the three common ways it occurs.

    Neat metal, light and heat-resistant, but not to be handled constantly.

    1. Well, as it will be an alloy (and the barrels will almost certainly be stellite lined) I’m not that worried about it.

      Now, if the barrels were Cobalt-60…

  2. Given some people’s unwillingness to change barrels, this might be a good thing. On the other hand, the fact of the matter is, if you CAN fire the ammo, you very likely WILL fire it. MGs going black on ammo early in the fight is never good, and what light fighter carries that much 7.62. Preventing the gun from overheating through controlled fires not only enhances accuracy, but also conserves ammo. As for me, they taught me to “fire a burst of six” and that is still what I follow, 25 years later.
    On a side note, as always in a COIN environment, unlimited cyclic rate fires in most environments is probably a bad thing.

  3. What I wonder about is how a Cobalt barrel will stand up in the throat. Throat erosion occurs because of heating and friction. While I know Steel well, Cobalt is a black area for me. There are a lot of claims about other alloys relative to Steel, and they may compare well in one characteristic (claims like “Stronger than Steel” have not worked out yet) but always fail in other more important characteristics.

    I’m not as sanguine about Cobalt’s health characteristics as Brad is. I think it will be a serious problem.

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