For years, a short 7.62x51mm rifle has been the Holy Grail of entry platforms. It has also been just about as elusive as the Grail itself. There have certainly been several short entry platforms made for this chambering, but most seem to be far less reliable after leaving the factory. Mostly a good idea that has just never really worked out, this hasn’t stopped the law enforcement community from wanting it.
The 7.62mm NATO caliber provides solid entry firepower while allowing one rifle to be used at any practical police distance. The round is a proven performer and it’s available in dozens of different loadings and bullet selections. It has excellent accuracy and, with the proper round, has proven to overpenetrate far less often. As ammunition has improved, this has only added to the argument that has existed for years when it comes to the .30-caliber entry rifle. In the military world, the argument has all but ended. Many of the military units that perform entry duties are clamoring for a 7.62mm rifle—the shorter, the better. These units field M14 rifles that have been altered or custom-built. This comes from actual engagements where the advantages of the round are immediately evident. In the police world, the 7.62mm will defeat most barriers encountered, including the typical armor a suspect might use. There is no doubt as to its effectiveness on threats, and LEOs will generally have to expend far less ammunition. With modern bullets that eliminate concerns of overpenetration and proper training, the only real concern left is length.
Few 7.62mm rifles are short, however, and those that are typically suffer from reliability. The reliable ones are often ammunition-specific. A 16-inch barrel is generally the minimum required to keep the gun running. But that makes a typical rifle long and a tad heavy, unfortunately placing a lot of the weight towards the middle or front of the gun. Given the fact that a tactical officer holds or carries their rifle far more than they will ever use it, this becomes an issue.