Recently Government Arsenal /DND, the national armory and arms factory of the Philippines government introduced a new round that they have in development for their military special operations forces. This round, the 7.62x37mm Musang, looks to be a hard hitter.
The specifics of the round
The 7.62x37mm Musang has apparently been in development for some time but has only been made public in a series of AFAD (Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines) sponsored arms shows in the Philippines in the past month. It would seem to be a wildcat round somewhere between the .300 AAC Blackout and the 7.62x40WT Wilson Combat. Its immense 250-grain bullet is loaded to go subsonic while its necked down case will still fit in a standard 5.56x45mm magazine and therefore, magazine well. With a modified upper atop the standard PI M16/M4 platform, any standard issue rifle is just two pins away from being able to fire the Musang round.
The 7.62x37mm as a caliber is not new. Heckler and Koch's development team of nutty Bavarians came up with their own 7.62x37mm cartridge almost twenty years ago when they took the SSK .300 Whisper, itself based on a .221-Remington case, and necked it down to accommodate a large (up to 220-grain) bullet. This round is used on their proprietary and slow selling HK SL9SD subsonic sniper rifle. The Pilipino development team has chosen to use a 5.56x45mm NATO case instead. This gives the Musang an ever so-slightly more rounded shoulder that either the Whisper or the H&K round even though the tolerances are within millimeters of each other. The subsonic Musang, loaded with handgun-grade propellants, is optimized for use with suppressors and delivers a solid 250-grain thump in close quarters combat scenarios. It should be remembered that the Philippine military is heavily involved in counter-insurgency/counter terror operations against Islamic radicals and it’s no doubt that this round is needed. In fact, if an insurgent chambers a readily available 5.56mm round into a captured Musang rifle, he could be in for quite a bad bad.
According to posts on the PI military blog timawa.net attributed to GA director Jonathan Martir, the round is also planned as a big part of the upcoming suppressed Night Fighting Weapon System now in development.
The Philippines' Army and Marines are hard-pressed and have been in a forever war with local insurgents for decades. Note the M4 rifles and locally produced holstered M1911s. Some of the best 1911s made in the world come from Philippine factories.
The unique new cartridge isn’t meant to replace the 5.56 or the 7.62x51mm NATO rounds, which will still be used for the standard infantry and marine rifles and machineguns. As stated before it will hold a niche capability in the growing legions of local CT teams and spec-ops groups. With the GA arsenal being the sole manufacturer of the cartridge, this helps make M4s chambered for the weapon unusable if captured by insurgents. It should be remembered that the country is made up of 7107 islands, some of which have never considered themselves a part of the Manila-based government.
From left to right, the 5.56x45mm NATO, the 7.62x37mm Musang (note the lack of neck and resemblance to the .300 Whisper), and the 7.62x51mm NATO. timawa.net photo.
The Musang is undergoing testing and low-initial production at the GA's Camp General Antonio Luna in Bataan Province. Government Arsenal Director Jonathan Martir, formerly commander of the Phillipine Marines says that it’s a step in making the country more ammunition independent. In an interview for ZT he said “Our armed forces now is more a like a consumer armed forces because it buys everything from abroad. You have an army that buys its camouflage uniforms from China. The navy and the marines buy their camouflage uniforms from Taiwan, combat boots from Taiwan and Singapore. The only last thing that is proudly Philippine-made — as we say in the Arsenal — is our ammunition."
The low recoil 7.62x37mm Musang, with good long-range performance and very high accuracy in a subsonic envelope is a neat step towards that.