Two DSA .308 Carbines

DSA SA58 carbine with rail interface, Leupold Mk4 CQ/T and…

DSA SA58 carbine with rail interface, Leupold Mk4 CQ/T and Laser Devices MOLAD three-way targeting laser/white light. BOTTOM: SA58 carbine finished in Lauer Custom “Afghan Camo” Duracoat and EOTech Holosight.

More and more police departments throughout the United States are choosing 5.56x45mm (.223 Remington) carbines for patrol. This trend has been driven by a number of factors, not the least of which is the increased use of body armor by the “bad guys” and the increased lethality offered by the rifle caliber cartridge. Although the .223 is the primary small arms cartridge of the US military, the fact is that it is actually a “varmint cartridge” and in many states is illegal for deer hunting because the .223 lacks the terminal ballistics to ensure a clean kill of a deer. Given that a human is essentially a deer-sized target, state game laws prohibiting the use of the .223 for deer hunting calls to question its utility for law enforcement use. Indeed, the .223 has not acquitted itself especially well in Afghanistan, where reports are coming to light of enemy soldiers being shot repeatedly with M4 carbines and continuing to fight. The .223’s lack of performance was also documented in the book Blackhawk Down, where it was noted in several instances that Somali gunmen were shot with M4 Carbines, but kept coming, necessitating that they be hit repeatedly to be stopped. Informal feedback from Afghanistan indicates that many wounds inflicted by the standard 62-grain military bullets are similar to those of a .22 Magnum. This lack of terminal ballistics has driven the special operations forces to adopt a new round for the M4, the Mark 262 Mod 0 5.56mm cartridge that fires a 77-grain bullet. There is also experimentation underway for a new cartridge in the 6mm range for special operations use in the M4 carbine.

For law enforcement use, .223 ammunition such as Black Hills 77-grain, Hornady’s TAP, or Winchester Ranger should be adequate for most situations, but there are times when a patrol carbine in a larger caliber is desirable, particularly in departments whose jurisdiction encompasses rural areas where distances are greater than in cities and units which require a weapon with terminal ballistics beyond those of the .223. For these situations, the .308 cartridge is an obvious choice. The ability of the .308 to penetrate targets that would defeat the .223 bullet is a clear advantage, although in some instances and with some types of ammunition, the .308 would overpenetrate. For law enforcement use, .308 match ammunition is probably a reasonable choice because its terminal ballistics are far superior to the .223.

As overpenetration and ricochet are significant issues with law enforcement, it is well worth noting that limited penetration .308 ammunition is available from Black Hills Ammunition, which solves overpenetration concerns regarding the .308, while at the same time delivering very impressive terminal ballistics. When fired into ten percent ordnance gelatin, Black Hills Limited Penetration .308 Match penetrated no deeper than 10 to 12 inches and left a very large permanent wound cavity. In our accuracy testing, this ammunition performed as well as standard match ammunition from both Black Hills and other manufacturers. The “downside” to Black Hills Limited Penetration ammunition is that it’s more expensive compared to standard .308 ammunition. With several agencies examining the potential of .308 patrol carbines, other manufacturers are developing not only limited penetration ammunition, but frangible ammunition as well.

When it comes to selecting a patrol carbine in .308, one of the best is manufactured by DSA, Inc. of Barrington, Illinois. DSA makes what are arguably the highest quality FAL rifles in a variety of models that should satisfy any department’s requirements. The FAL is one of the few .308 rifles available as a lightweight carbine. The FAL design is a proven one and the rifle at one time was so widely used that it was referred to as “The Free World’s Right Arm.” Over 90 different countries adopted the FAL as their standard infantry rifle and it is still serving as such in some nations. The FAL carbine is extremely reliable and well suited for use as a patrol carbine, if the decision is made to go with a weapon that is more powerful than the .223. It handles extremely well and is only marginally heavier than most .223 carbines. With their short 16-inch barrels, DSA’s carbines are also no larger than most .223 LE carbines.

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