How Does Caseless Ammunition Work?

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When you hear the word Caseless it refers to complete ammunition, that upon firing, it will not leave behind a part of itself. It begs the question, how does caseless ammunition work? Generally, caseless ammo works the same way as regular ammunition. The difference is the chamber of the gun will seal more tightly, and the case is absent from the round.

Researchers and hun developers have for many years been trying to perfect caseless ammunition to modern acceptance. The advantages would be immense especially if you consider common issues of weight and expense from brass cases. Soldiers in combat would easily carry more ammo and it would cost less to produce more ammo.

However, the problems are many. In some cases, when the prototype caseless ammo was tested with Smith and Wesson, many years ago the entire magazine of ammunition tended to ignite. It is harder to seal the breech of a firearm that uses a cartridge without a case. The typical brass case performs so well in this aspect. Ignition for caseless ammunition is electrical since it prevents the bits of a conventional primer from floating around in the action of your firearm after the propellant burns away.

There is always the risk that the power residues may foul the electrical connection. 

The caseless designs are not as sturdy as the standard brass cartridge case. The bullet must attach to the solid propellant using an adhesive. The more durable the caseless cartridge is the harder it is to ignite.

There have been some advances in making caseless ammo military prototypes for use in cannon-sized rounds and it has shown some glimpse of promise. But I can say with some level of certainty that we will not see caseless ammo for small arms in the immediate future.

What are the Benefits of Caseless Ammo?

The primary benefit to all caseless ammunition comes from its name. The lack of a cartridge case. Consider the following benefits.

Lighter Ammunition

Caseless ammo boasts big reductions in weight. When you get rid of the weight from the metal cartridge case you potentially reduce the volume of the ammunition. For the same reason that you do not need a case component, you end up saving on precious material.

Consider the example of a 5.56x45mm cartridge:

Each complete cartridge consists of the cartridge case, bullet, powder, and primer.

For a 55 grain bullet, it is loaded with 25 grains of powder and the case and primer weigh 96 grains. In theory, getting rid of the case will save you 90 grains of weight from each cartridge. It sheds off roughly half the weight from each cartridge. 

However, it is not the way caseless ammo works since caseless ammunition will not work well by just stacking a primer with loose powder and a bullet. In essence, the resultant cartridge will most likely save about ¼ of the total weight of a traditional cartridge.

Physical Packaging of the Ammunition.

By removing the cartridge case from the system, you also remove the potential source of causing a jam in your firearm. If you consider the traditional way of using a powder behind the bullet, it makes it easy for the bullet to be broken off from the propellant. Therefore, instead, of using a bullet into the propellant, the bullet is almost encapsulated within the propellant. It also leads to maintaining a unified cartridge.

Provide a Higher Cyclic Rate of Firing,

You do not need a combustible adhesive or a propellant that can be formed to shape. It is because there is no need for the firearm to perform an extraction of the spent case after every shot. A higher cyclic rate needs a larger capacity magazine, on a more compact weapon. 

Easy and Faster Reloads

If the firearms community was to popularize the use of caseless ammo again, magazines would probably be different. The ammo would probably be issued in pre-loaded, tubes or disposable boxes that would slot into the weapon. It would make it potentially simpler as you will not need a complex mechanism to eject the empty case. There will also be no need to use lots of energy to open the breech and reload it.

Problems Associated the Use of Caseless Ammunition 

There are lots of potential issues that may arise. It may range from finding a propellant that is moisture-resistant, consistent, reliable, and heat resistant, to a weapon that can chamber ammo different from the common ones.

The Durability of the Propellant. 

When using cased ammunition, it is impervious to environmental conditions. It is tough and will resist damage as it can take a lot of heat that may cause the powder inside to spontaneously combust. The same is not true for caseless ammo. When using traditional ammo, the metal case is an ejected heat sink.

Caseless Ammo is a clockwork nightmare on the inside

Making a weapon that uses caseless ammunition is a hurdle. An example of a firearm that fires caseless ammunition is the HK G11. It rema