Raufoss Mk 211
The Raufoss Mk 211 is a .50 caliber (12.7×99mm NATO) multipurpose anti-matériel projectile produced by Nammo (Nordic Ammunition Group, a Norwegian/Finnish military industry manufacturer of ammunition), under the model name NM140 MP. It is commonly referred to as simply multipurpose or Raufoss, which refers to Nammo's original parent company: Raufoss Ammunisjonsfabrikk (Ammunition Factory) in Raufoss, Norway, established in 1896. The "Mk 211" name comes from the nomenclature "Mk 211 Mod 0" used by the U.S. military for this round.
The multipurpose name is based on the projectile having an armor-piercing (tungsten core), an explosive, and an incendiary component, thus making it capable of penetrating lightly armored targets and causing damage to personnel inside the target after penetration. It is a suitable round for engaging helicopters, aircraft and lightly armored vehicles, as well as unarmored vehicles, and it is capable of igniting jet fuel. The Mk 211 has about the same destructive power as a standard 20mm round against such targets.
The Mk 211 is a very popular .50 caliber sniper round used in the Barrett M82 rifle and other .50 BMG rifles. It is also often used in heavy machine guns such as the M2 Browning. Due to its popularity several U.S. arms manufacturers produce the round under license from NAMMO Raufoss AS. There is also a tracer variant, the MK300, used in the Browning heavy machine gun.
The Multipurpose concept developed by Raufoss is unique in the way that, instead of using a mechanical fuse, it uses a pyrotechnical detonation train to ensure proper detonation of the explosive and incendiary components.
This round is usually identified by a green over white paint tip mark. Its tracer variant, which is typically only used with belt-fed machine guns in naval applications, includes a row of red paint between the green and white rows.
The headstamp on the casing can also help to identify the round as Raufoss and some common headstamps include, but not limited to: HXP89, WCC94, and FN91; or HXP, WCC, LC, or FN with different two-digit numbers as production year suffixes.
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There has been much debate over whether the Mk 211 projectile is legal to use against personnel, or if it is strictly anti-matériel ammunition. The International Committee of the Red Cross has sought to have the ammunition banned, due to concern over the incendiary and explosive components and their effect on personnel. Under the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 the "military or naval" use of explosive or incendiary projectiles with a mass of under 400 grams is forbidden. Very few nations were parties to the St. Petersburg Declaration, however, and that declaration does not govern the conduct of non-signatory parties. Further, the Hague treaties of 1899 and 1907 – which superseded the St. Petersburg Declaration, and were signed by a far wider circle of nations – do permit the use of such ammunition for auto-cannons and heavy machine guns. Machine guns firing .50 cal/12.7mm ammunition are heavy machine guns. At best, the ICRC's position can be applied to only a small group of nations that were parties to the St. Petersburg Declaration; at worst, the ICRC's position is made moot by more than 100 years of subsequent international treaties.
Trials conducted by Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt (Norwegian Defence Research Establishment) have concluded that the ammunition most likely does not have an unlawful effect if unintentionally used against personnel, as the round will have penetrated the body and exited on the other side before the explosive and incendiary components of the round are initiated. Upon hitting a person the round will detonate about 50% of the time; if the target is wearing body armor a higher detonation frequency is to be expected (as shown by the ICRC tests carried out in 1999). If detonated, the round will have a significant fragmentation and incendiary effect in a 30 degree cone behind the struck target, and this might affect others standing in the vicinity. The distance the round will travel from ignition to detonation is 30–40 cm, so if the target is hit at very specific angles the round may still be inside the target at the time of detonation.
Most nations using the round train their soldiers not to deploy the projectile against personnel, but in the heat of battle such regulations are easily overlooked. Also, many parties currently fielding the ammunition have no such regulations.
The official stance of the Norwegian Government is that the 12.7 mm MP round should not be used against personnel, but an exception has been made for snipers using the round — due to the practical limitations of snipers having to change the type of ammunition used when switching between hardened and soft targets. It is being exported strictly in an anti-matériel capacity. The current U.S. policy is that the ammunition is suitable for use against all targets.
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- John Pike (May 13, 2010). "Mark 211 .50-caliber Multipurpose Ammunition". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
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- International Efforts to Restrict or Prohibit Military Small Arms: Annual Report 2001 - Office of the The Judge Advocate General of the Army
- Mark 211 .50-caliber Multipurpose Ammunition - Global Security
- Official Mk211 site at NAMMO.com [dead link/login required]