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Published on Jul 28, 2012

Shooting the M16 with a 6.8mm upper for the first time. This baby really barks! She heats up real quick too... Probably what this platform should have been from the beginning - I'm sold on it!

The 6.8 mm Remington SPC (AKAs: 6.8 SPC, 6.8 SPC II & 6.8×43mm) is a rifle cartridge that was developed by Remington Arms with collaboration from individual members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, United States Special Operations Command to possibly replace the 5.56 NATO cartridge in a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR)/Carbine.

Based upon the .30 Remington cartridge, it is midway between the 5.56×45mm NATO and 7.62×51mm NATO in bore diameter and velocity. It uses a .277 (7.036mm) diameter bullet, which is the same diameter bullet as the venerable hunting cartridge .270 Winchester uses. It is particularly adaptable to current 5.56 mm NATO firearms, the cartridge overall length being comparable.

The 6.8mm SPC cartridge was designed to address the deficiencies of the terminal performance of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge currently in service with the U.S. Armed Forces. The cartridge was the result of the Enhanced Rifle Cartridge program. Participating in the program were U.S. Special Operations soldiers, as well as armorers and other technicians from the United States Army Marksmanship Unit. The development of this cartridge is unusual and interesting in that it was designed by actual shooters in the armed forces, instead of by industry professionals. The goal was to create a cartridge that would bridge the gap between 5.56mm and 7.62x51mm NATO.

The program started the design by using a .30 Remington case, which was modified in length to fit into magazines that would be accommodated by the magazine wells of the M16 family of rifles and carbines that are currently in service with the U.S. Armed Forces.

In tests, it was determined that a 6.5mm projectile had the best accuracy, but a 7mm projectile had the best terminal performance. Further tests showed that a 6.8mm projectile was the best compromise between the two, providing accuracy, reliability and terminal performance up to 500 meters. The combination of the cartridge case, powder load, and projectile easily outperformed the 7.62x39mm Soviet cartridge, with the new cartridge proving to be about 200 ft/s (61 m/s) faster. The resulting cartridge was named the 6.8 Remington Special Purpose Cartridge due to the size of its projectile and the fact that it was based on the .30 Remington case.

In general, adapting an AR-style rifle to the new cartridge only requires the replacement of the barrel, bolt and magazine of the 5.56mm-chambered rifle; but to further streamline and simplify the conversion process many parts manufacturers sell complete upper receiver assemblies chambered for 6.8SPC alongside their conversion kits focusing on the key individual parts. While a complete 6.8SPC assembly is a somewhat more expensive route, the conversion of an existing 5.56mm/.223 rifle to 6.8 SPC using a complete upper assembly takes less than a minute on an AR platform rifle without the need for specialized tools or skill. In contrast, when swapping out the individual component parts, a significant level of gunsmithing experience, special tools, and time are generally required to detach the barrel from the rifle's upper receiver and the gas system, and conversely those same needs are required for the reassembly of the upper receiver with the new 6.8SPC barrel. Also, there is the issue of having to readjust the sights if a new barrel is placed on an existing upper receiver.

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