Two months ago I blogged that the Norwegian Army suspected that the ammunition used in their new H&K 416 rifles were making soldiers sicks. Chief of Staff Brig. General Rune Jakobsen initiated an investigation after Army HQ received three different reports about groups of soldiers getting sick after firing the new rifles. Symptoms included headaches, fever and joint pain. The investigation has determined that the soldiers were experiencing mild heavy metal poisoning caused by the “green” lead-free 5.56mm NATO ammunition manufactured by Nammo.
Norwegian solider with H&K 416
The report states that the gas exhausted from the rifles contained high levels of copper and zinc which account for all the symptoms suffered by the riflemen. A few, quite comical, short term solutions have been recommended. These include only shooting outside, slower rate of fire and spacing the shooters out more when at the range!
In 2003, under pressure from environmental groups and politicians the Army started using environmentally friendly ammunition. Since then they have had plenty of problems. The Norwegian ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops in Afghanistan were ordered to use the new ammo. The ammunition delivered either failed to fire or did not have enough energy to cycle the weapons. 300,000 rounds had to be dumped leaving the troops with no reserve ammunition. All the troops who did not need to leave the base had to hand in their ammunition so it could be distributed to those who needed it. The Army has also had to ban the green ammo from use in the MG3 machine guns because unspecified malfunctions occurred that could harmed the operators.
Nammo 5.56mm ammunition
I found a powerpoint presentation on the internet made by Nammo in 2006 extolling the virtues of their green ammunition. Here are a few very ironic slides (I added the red arrows):
Recently it was determined that the “green” tungsten training ammunition used by the US Military could be toxic.
So in summery: don’t use green ammunition.
Many thanks to Daniel Watters of The Gun Zone for the research he did for this blog post.
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Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 3:00 pm Post subject:
Same issue happened in the 70s-80s with the early M16s.
When they switched over to a NATO standard of S109 powder, the performance tanked as the weapons weren't as responsive to it.
So it looks like the same will happen as people go to 'green' ammunition. Weapon rebuilds will come out and the engineering will change, as all engineering tends to be done on a standard type of power load, prime, casing and actual bullet.
So this is a non issue at best, the problem is of course what happened to all the old ammunition, it should have been used, rather than dumped, worst case I'm sure the US could contribute some ammunition or even the Canadians, or another nation, all NATO countries tend to use the same ammunition, magazines etc.
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