Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

The M1917 Revolver: Brilliant Adaptation

Two Colt 1917 revolvers (one repark'd for WWII), from an excellent article in

Two Colt 1917 revolvers (one repark’d for WWII), from an excellent article in

One of the most remarkable and unique improvisations in American military history was the M1917 .45 caliber revolver. There were actually two: one made by Colt, and one by Smith & Wesson. The Colt was quite close to the Model 1909 that the company had made for the Army in cal. .45 Long Colt; the Smith was based on the company’s large-framed revolvers. But both were chambered for a first among revolvers: a rimless cartridge, using the then-novel, now-routine improvisation of a “half-moon clip.” It was the success of the M1917 that made the idea possible.

Reviewing a period (1918) source on this weapon’s development, the 7 Nov 1918 issue of American Machinist1, some things jump out at us:

  • The mechanics of the day had a remarkable can-do spirit;
  • Even then, there was a tendency for some people to condemn service weapons; the purchase of revolvers, “led to the circulation of the gross fallacy that the 45-caliber Government Colt automatic was a failure and that it was given up by the Government in favor of a new type of double action revolver.” (In almost everything written postwar by an Ordnance man, whether members of the tiny prewar cadre of 100 officers and 750 men, or one of the many thousands of engineers and workmen called to the colors, you can expect to find reference to unfair press criticism). Plus ça changé, plus c’est la même chose;
  • The Army made plans for a certain level of handgun issue, but the demand for handguns on the front was much higher, leading to a doubling of the order of Colt pistols, and still leaving unmet demand even after Colt upped production “200 percent in six months.” That was the impetus for the 1917;
  • Institutional memories of ammo mismatches in the Spanish-American War made Ordnance peremptorily rule out reissue of stored .38 Colt M1904 revolvers. (The article does not mention stocks of .45 LC revolvers, so they may have already been through disposition by the time the US entered the war);
Here's a Colt 1917, one of many now for sale on GunBroker.

Here’s a Colt 1917, one of many now for sale on GunBroker.

  • The article, which was “Passed by the office of the Chief Military Censor, Washington, DC on 16 Oct 1918,” was lighter in technical depth than we’d have liked to see. Whether those two facts were related, we can only speculate.
  • The article contains some errors, many of them small: “Smith-Wesson” instead of “Smith & Wesson”, etc. The mere contemporaneous nature of a source is no guarantor of accuracy, it just removes one potential cause of inaccuracy.
And here's a "Smith-Wesson" -- heh.

And here’s a “Smith-Wesson” — heh.

  • Some errors are larger, like the suggestion that the velocity lost by gas leakage in the revolver’s cylinder/barrel gap was “balanced by that used in the operation of the automatic pistol.” But the revolver’s gap comes before the barrel exits the bore; most of the auto’s use of the shot’s energy comes after the bullet exits the bore, and after the bullet exits the bore it has all the energy and velocity it’s ever going to get. As a simple matter of physics, Mr MacKenzie should have caught this.
  • This may also be an error, but the article suggests that Winchester was about to begin producing M1911 pistols. Fascinating if true; imagine the collector enthusiasm for them, if the programmed half-million Winchester 1911s had been made.
  • One of the keys to the success of the 1917 was the three-cartridge half-moon clip. Colt and S&W revolvers both accepted the same clips, and the ammunition was supplied to the front like that, in clips.
  • The initial 1917 revolvers were made from revolvers and parts that were in inventory at Colt and Smith.
  • An Army pistolero was supposed to be content with 24 rounds of ammunition, back in those days!

By December 7, 1918, the US Army Ordnance Department had accepted 417,275 “Pistols, cal 0.45, Model 1911″ from “Colt and Remington, Bridgeport.” (We’re not sure whether that means that the pistols were made or inspected there), and an additional 289,211 “Revolvers, caliber 0.45, Model 1917 (Colt and Smith & Wesson)2. We are not sure whether production stopped at that time, but we know rifle production, at least, continued into 1919, so it’s possible that revolver production was continued to fulfill new contracts.  However, the November, 1918 article only described contracts for 250,000 revolvers; there must have been another order beyond those noted by MacKenzie.

The text of MacKenzie’s article is attached, after the jump.

References

1. MacKenzie, Paul Allen. Using Rimless Cartridges in New Service Revolvers. American Machinist, Volume 49, No. 19. 7 Nov 1918. Contained in Volume XLIX, July 1 to December 31, 1918, p. 366. Retrieved from Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=EMJLAQAAIAAJ

2. Colvin, Fred H. How Ordnance is Inspected. American Machinist, Volume 50, No. 7. 13 Feb 1919. Contained in Volume L, January 1 to June 30, 1919, p. 312. Retrieved from Google Books.

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Shenyang Juvenile Delinquency Campaign

Apparently, China has a real problem with JD’s. The Chinese have another problem, too, although they haven’t yet cottoned to it: sociologists and psychologists. These pseudo-scienticts are a much more serious threat to society than criminals; murder and theft have been with us since Genesis, but the soft -ologies are mostly a 20th Century “own goal.” As China grows stronger and wealthier, these academics appear, parasites eating away their host from within.

In any event, the bright sparks at the Shenyang Center for Psychological Research have concluded, based on their interviews with a bunch of juvie soul-takers and widowmakers, that they’re depraved, not on account of they’re deprived, but because their parents called them bad names when they were small.

“Words can be weapons,” the Shenyang center argues, and their clever way of illustrating it is to take the insult (like “moron” or “you’re garbage”) and turn the characters (Chinese characters naturally) of the word of phrase into a stylized image of the weapon the particular little darling used. Like this:

While we’re thrilled with the brilliance of their concept, as science it’s a bit thready. Chinese parents are notoriously firm with their kids. Is the kid who took up a gun and killed somebody the only kid ever called a “moron”? We’re kind of doubtful about that, although we recognize no real, credible numbers for the denominator can possibly be created.

While, “Don’t call your kid ‘moron’ or ‘garbage'” is probably a good rule of parenting thumb, we can’t escape the suspicion that the people doing this are not going to be reached by public service announcements coming from artists and -ologists. So who’s the “moron”?

Of course, it wouldn’t be WeaponsMan.com if we didn’t look into the story of the kid who was told, “you’re garbage,” and had those words turn into a weapon, to wit, a crossbow. The kid was Liu Jiakai, a farm kid who had the cross of an alcoholic father to bear:

Whenever he got drunk, he went crazy. He used to say I was useless, I was garbage.

Sometimes I wondered if I was his real son.

My mother was sick, she had a brain tumor. Paying for her treatment put us in debt. And then I dropped out of middle school… and found a job working on an OEM production line. Partly to make money, but also I really didn’t want to see my father.

The foreman was just like my father, bad-tempered. He also called me, “garbage, garbage, garbage.”

Later one day I made a cross-bow and shot him in the hip. I never thought he would end up a paralytic.

I really regret what I did. The thing is, calling me, “garbage,” you know, deeply affected me. But my father will never know how much.

For those of you looking to critique your next meal at the Great Wall Buffet, “garbage” in Mandarin sounds kind of like “fee-oh-uh”.

But we dunno. Does everybody who gets called names as a kid plan out elaborate and violent revenge… and then execute the plan? Maybe the kid’s father called it right.

We lack Liu’s daddy issues, but wish we could learn a bit more about his crossbow. You can learn more about the Shenyang campaign for parental civility at WordsCanBeWeapons.com, but unfortunately, no more details about Liu’s homemade crossbow.

Homemade crossbow? We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention, that’s what you get with gun control in a brutal police state.

What happened to this abused child?

This is a passage from a book of nonfiction by a guy who is, unusually, celebrated both for his award-winning fiction and for his award-winning novels. (He’s also an Army combat veteran, a fact modestly omitted from his book-flap bio). It describes how a child was disciplined. The only change we have made was to substitute generic terms or pronouns for proper names.

His father was old-fashioned, a firm believer that beatings were a part of the boys education. These were administered with such regularity that he was once thrashed, following [a notorious murder], merely because he questioned the notion of his own mortality and eternity. In particular, he became suddenly dismayed by the thought that if he died the world would simply go on without him, and he would be forgotten, and that would be the end of it and of him. His father’s reasoning for beating him was that abstract concepts such as these were better with to his father and other adults rather then occupy important time in a 10-year-old’s mind.

Boy, that sounds rough. And he obviously remembered it, for it to have a place in his biography. Must have scarred the kid for life, don’t you think? Probably made an utter ruin of the boy. What do you think happened to this abused child? Let’s take a poll!

What happened to this abused kid?

 
pollcode.com free polls

 

Answer in a separate post (along with the ID of the book) at circa 1800 EDT today.

Award-Winning Essay: Women Do Not Belong in the Infantry

rangerette-benjaminLauren Serrano is a Marine officer, and one dedicated to the idea that women ought to serve in the ways that are best for them, and best for the service. It is clearly with great reluctance that she stepped up and touched the Third Rail of military PC these days: the women-in-combat issue. She wrote an essay about it. She submitted it to a Marine Corps Association contest. And she won 1st Prize in the “MajGen Harold W. Chase Prize Essay Contest” for her entry.

She’s going to have a lot of the Sisterhood mad at her. But if a Marine officer can’t take it, who can? Here’s just a taste of her excellent essay:

My argument has little to do with whether women can pass the Infantry Officer Course or Infantry Training Battalion, or endure the hardships of combat. Even those select women who can physically endure the infantry are still posing a threat to the infantry mission and readiness. Female Marines who want to stir the pot by joining the infantry ranks are more interested in their careers than the needs of the Corps—they are selfish. 2dLt Sage Santangelo’s recent article in The Washington Post about why women are failing Infantry Officer Course argued that “the Marine Corps needs to set women up to succeed in combat roles.”2 Why? How will that contribute to a better fighting force, the needs of the Marine Corps, and the success of young enlisted Marines? The time, energy, and conflict associated with setting women up for success in infantry billets will not make the Marine Corps more combat effective.

I have no doubt that there are women who can pass initial infantry schools—and I applaud their strength. However, as Capt Katie Petronio argued in her 2013 Gazette article, “Get Over It! We are not all created equal,” long infantry careers for female Marines will eventually lead to career-ending medical conditions as they get older and their bodies are unable to withstand the years of constant infantry training.3 For the already fiscally strained military, this will lead to an increase in medically retired Marines who rate medical financial support for the rest of their lives.

You would be well advised to Read The Whole Thing™ on the Marine Corps Association website. Among the other points she makes in the article:

  • The people who are pushing this have the least experience in the military. For example, the officers in favor tend to be green 2nd Lieutenants, and a lot of the support comes from people who have never served in the military.
  • Even the careerists who think this is a ticket punch they need for their imagined Courtney Massengale careers are probably wrong: the Marines (like the other services) have a lot of jobs outside of direct ground combat where good leaders are prized — and promoted.
  • She points out that examples like Israel and Kurdistan are not on point, because in those cases the women fight because the alternative is extermination (actually, the Kurds are a bad example, as we’ve seen, but she’s been conned by the same PR campaign that has conned so many).
  • Then, there’s what the military euphemistically calls, “fraternization.” Our Marine’s take on it:

Women in the Marine Corps are already in better shape than the average civilian and it can be assumed that any infantry woman will be a physical specimen. In the young, testosterone-filled infantry ranks, this is asking for love triangles, unit drama, and the potential for intraunit relationships. Platoon commanders in co-ed units already deal with a tremendous amount of drama, pregnancies, and sex in the co-ed unit barracks. Each time an issue arises, the platoon leadership spends a lot of time switching Marines’ barracks rooms, billets, etc.

And finally, there’s the involuntary side of sexual attraction, the sexual-assault and -harassment angle, something the writer has seen from a number of diverse angles.

There’s a lot to read here, so do Read The Whole Thing™ and let us know in comments where you agree (or not). For our part, we strongly agree with the sentiment in Capt Serrano’s essay. Note that it is that Women do not belong in the Infantry, not that Women do not belong in the Marines (or the Army, or Special Operations Forces). Because they do belong there (and she actually cites a SOF example in the essay). But there are things, frankly, that men are better at and women are better at. Infantry’s mission (and that of DA-oriented SOF elements) is to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver. When women are Division 1 college football and other contact-sports players, then they’ll be ready for the grunts. Not before.

Sten Gun Manufacturing, 1943 or So

This footage survives because it was documenting something thought remarkable at the time — entire ordnance factories operated mostly by women. But if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may be more interested in what these British ladies are doing in the Royal Ordnance Factory at Enfield: manufacturing STEN Mk II submachine guns.

The guns and their near-cottage-industry manufacturing processes are both interesting. The guns are clearly Mk. IIs, but there appear to be two variants of the tee stock — perhaps the film crew was there at the exact moment of a running change, or perhaps the stocks came in from subcontractors and a degree of variation in appearance was the norm.

The industrial processes in use include some automatic rifling machines, but it looks like a lot of manual labor went into a STEN. It was only the el cheapo gun of legend because these ladies of Enfield were getting paid such token sums. In the short video, you’ll see brazing, welding, and hand-riveting with a hammer. There has to be a video somewhere of Guide Lamp cranking out Grease Guns, and you can imagine the automotive industry process engineers shaking their heads if they saw how a STEN went together.

Some men work in the plant, too, but the original filmmaker’s focus was on the women. Men have had held some jobs exclusively, including test-firing completed STENs, but women are doing a lot of things that they’d never have applied themselves to pre-1939. After the war, it was no longer unprecedented for women to work outside the home, even in industrial crafts, and England (and the world) never reverted to the status quo ante.

As a bonus, in keeping with the theme of women in war production, here’s a film about how they did it at the Willow Run B-24 plant (Ypsilanti, MI).

Don’t Drone Me, Bro

cyborg unplugAh, what will they think of next? A New Zealand entrepreneur has come up with a small unit called Cyborg Unplug that you can use to kick such users as drones and Google Glass wearers off your network.

They warn that you might be liable for what occurs afterward… like the Google Glass guy collapsing into catatonia because his feed stopped.

 Billed as a “wireless anti-surveillance system,” Unplug is, essentially, a portable router that can detect drones, surveillance cameras and mobile tech like Glass trying to access your Wi-Fi signal and boot them off of it.

“Whether business office, restaurant, school or nightclub: it’s your territory and your rules, so make it harder for those that seek to abuse it,” Cyborg’s website reads.
That’s Unplug’s stated purpose, anyway. But, as its creators freely note, it also has an “All Out Mode” that would let you knock devices off of any wireless network, not just yours.
The company says it doesn’t recommend doing that because … you know … it’s probably really, really illegal.

The company notes that the device is not a jammer, which blocks all digital signals in a particular area. Instead, it targets certain devices the user has identified. So, for example, you could tell Unplug that Glass is no bother, but drones and microphones need to be shut down. It uses the unique hardware signature that all Wi-Fi devices have to recognize what it’s seeing before sending a “deauthentication packet” blocking access.

via A gadget to knock drones, Google Glass offline – CNN.com.

Boy, there’s a great science fiction story to be written around the idea of a “deauthentication packet.” Where’s Philip K. Dick when you need him? Oh, yeah. Dead. Anyway, this device is pretty useless from a surveillance denial point of view, because the typical surveillant is not planning to use your router to stream his drone feed. It’s a parlor trick, albeit a clever one.

It’s all fun and games until your static line seizes up

Dateline Mexico. This guy gets towed, and instead of either pulling him in or cutting him loose, the JMs and safetys seem to convene a Knesset in the airplane while he spins around out there. The video doesn’t show what finally happened to him. Commenters said he was OK in a longer version of the video, but the only longer version we could find was the same video with another copy of itself pasted on the end.

Getting towed is one of the nightmares of static line jumping. Usually what happens is the SL seizes on some piece of equipment. We had a guy get hung up by an entrenching tool, clipped onto his ALICE pack with two of those flimsy ALICE clips. He said the worst of it was that it was hard to breathe, with the parachute harness constricting his chest and the thin air in the slipstream behind the airplane (C-130 in his case).

In the US, jumpers are trained to put their hand on their reserve and the other on their helmet to signal to the crew they’re ready for cutaway. We doubt Mexican procedure is very different. If the jumper is unconscious, they won’t cut him loose, but they try to bring him into the tailgate, or at least get him close. The aircrew may call ahead to have the fire apparatus spread foam on the runway so that a guy trailing behind the big iron bird doesn’t get a terminal case of runway rash.

Just to show you Army SF can screw up jumping, too, here’s a 5th Group JM exiting a wee bit early. He was OK, apart from the embarrassment of the thing.

He got the usual result if you accidentally activate a reserve in the tailgate area — an instant exit, and descent under two canopies (with very little directional control, but a soft landing guaranteed). It’s a different matter if you pop the reserve near the door whilst doing a door jump. There, the doorframe impedes your exit, and you hit it at ±130 kt or so. SF strongly prefers tailgate jumps anyway, but the 82nd has lost a couple of guys to near-door activations.

If you pop the reserve a bit deeper inside the airplane, everybody tries to dive on the pilot chute and control it before it can catch the wind.

Military parachuting is a harsh environment and there are frequent arguments over whether it is worth the vast expenditure on it. Most major and regional powers (like Mexico) think it is. It is another way to project power, and forces certain defensive dispositions on an enemy even if it isn’t used. And it also provides an important gut check and confidence builder for troops. Elite forces that are not parachute trained are relatively rare worldwide.

Army Ranger Chicks — Official Message

Soon available in ladies' sizes....

Soon available in ladies’ sizes….

This is the original source document, documenting the first half of the story we had last week — yep, they want chicks in Ranger School. Note that this is a “recruiting effort” directed by the command, but they specify that women will not be commanded to attend. The second part, about the women commissars, was in a separate ALARACT (ALl ARmy ACTivities) message. We note that, while units must fund the attendance of their men at this school, word is that some DA slush fund will fund the attendance of these women, so it costs units nothing to send their females except the absence from duty. (That’s probably why they had to order them not to order women to attend, or every unpleasant female in the Army would be Benning-bound in early ’15 while her leaders and subordinates relaxed). They want a headcount by 1 Nov 14 and names of volunteers by 1 Dec. Other than that, no editorial comment on this. Read our original story for that! — Eds.


SUBJ/ALARACT 222/2014 - FEMALE STUDENTS FOR THE UNITED STATES ARMY
MANEUVER CENTER OF EXCELLENCE (MCOE) RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT
THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN TRANSMITTED BY US ARMY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
AGENCY (USAITA) ON BEHALF OF HEADQUARTERS, US ARMY TRAINING AND
DOCTRINE COMMAND (TRADOC)
SUBJECT: FEMALE STUDENTS FOR THE UNITED STATES ARMY MANEUVER CENTER
OF EXCELLENCE (MCOE) RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT
NARR/(U) PURPOSE OF THIS MESSAGE IS TO SEEK ARMY-WIDE SUPPORT OF
ELIGIBLE FEMALE STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MCOE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT(DECISION REGARDING EXECUTION OF ASSESSMENT WILL BE MADE IN
JANUARY 2015).
1. (U) BACKGROUND: AS PART OF THE ARMY SOLDIER 2020 INITIATIVE TO
ENSURE THE BEST-QUALIFIED SOLDIERS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE IN
ANY POSITION WHERE THEY ARE CAPABLE OF PERFORMING TO STANDARD, THE
MCOE MAY CONDUCT A RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT IN 3RD QTR FY15 (EXACT
DATES TBD).
1.A. (U) MCOE MAY CONDUCT A RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT TO INFORM FUTURE
DECISION MAKING.
1.B. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS SELECTED TO ATTEND THE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT (EXACT CLASS TBP) WILL BE REQUIRED TO MEET ALL COURSE
PERFORMANCE STANDARDS AND TRAINING REQUIREMENTS.
2. (U) ARMY COMMANDS (ACOMS), ARMY SERVICE COMPONENT COMMANDS
(ASCCS), AND DIRECT REPORTING UNITS (DRUS) WILL CONDUCT A RECRUITING
EFFORT TO IDENTIFY FEMALE VOLUNTEERS FOR THE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT.
3. (U) PREREQUISITES FOR ENTRY INTO THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT CAN
BE FOUND IN THE ARMY TRAINING REQUIREMENTS AND RESERVATION SYSTEM
(ATRRS). ADDITIONAL STUDENT INFORMATION AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
CAN BE FOUND ON THE AIRBORNE AND RANGER TRAINING BRIGADE (ARTB) WEB-
SITE UNDER THE STUDENT INFORMATION LINK
(HTTP://WWW.BENNING.ARMY.MIL/INFANTRY/RTB/)
3.A. (U) ADMINISTRATIVE RESTRICTIONS PROHIBITING WOMEN FROM ATTENDING
THE RANGER COURSE ARE SUSPENDED FOR SELECTION INTO THE RANGER COURSE
ASSESSMENT.
3.A.1. (U) THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT IS OPEN TO ALL FEMALE
VOLUNTEERS IN THE GRADES E4-O4.
3.A.2. (U) FEMALE SOLDIERS MUST BE VOLUNTEERS. FEMALE SOLDIERS WILL
NOT BE DIRECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT.
3.A.3. (U) ALL FEMALE VOLUNTEERS MUST HAVE AN END TERM OF SERVICE
(ETS) NO EARLIER THAN 01 OCTOBER 2016.
3.A.4. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS MUST COMPLETE AN APPROVED RANGER
PHYSICAL EXAMINATION (DD FORM 2807-1, DD FORM 2807-2, AND DD FORM
2808) AND AUDIOGRAM (DD FORM 2216) PERFORMED IAW AR 40-501, CHAPTER
8. FEMALE VOLUNTEERS MUST PROVIDE COPIES OF ALL LABORATORY OR
SPECIALIZED CONSULTATIONS SIGNED BY A DOCTOR AND DENTIST, DATED
WITHIN 18 MONTHS OF COURSE START DATE. VOLUNTEERS MUST MEET MEDICAL
FITNESS STANDARDS IAW AR 40-501, CHAPTERS 2, 5-3, AND 5-4.
ADDITIONALLY, VOLUNTEERS MUST PROVIDE A CURRENT COPY OF MEDPROS THAT
INCLUDES A ROUTINE ADULT + H1N1 MODULE AND A ROUTINE IMMUNIZATION
SUMMARY.
3.A.5. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS WILL BE ADMINISTERED A PREGNANCY TEST
DURING IN-PROCESSING. POSITIVE TESTS WILL RESULT IN DISENROLLMENT.
3.A.6. (U) ALL FEMALE VOLUNTEERS WILL BE REQUIRED TO ATTEND THE US
ARMY NATIONAL GUARD, RANGER TRAINING AND ASSESSMENT COURSE (RTAC)
CONDUCTED AT FT BENNING, COLUMBUS, GA PRIOR TO ENROLLMENT IN THE
RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT CLASS.
3.A.7. (U) ALL RTAC COURSE (ATRRS) RESERVATIONS, IN SUPPORT OF THE
RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT, WILL BE COORDINATED THROUGH THE US ARMY
INFANTRY SCHOOL (USAIS).
3.A.8. (U) ALL FEMALE VOLUNTEERS WILL HAVE A COPY OF THEIR COMMANDERS
VALIDATION LETTER FOR IN-PROCESSING. IN-PROCESSING PREREQUISITE
INFORMATION, INCLUDING AN EXAMPLE COMMANDERS VALIDATION LETTER, CAN
BE FOUND ON THE ARTB WEB SITE UNDER THE STUDENT INFORMATION LINK
(HTTP://WWW.BENNING.ARMY.MIL/INFANTRY/RTB/).
3.A.9. (U) THE COMMANDERS VALIDATION LETTER WILL CERTIFY ALL
PARTICIPANTS ARE PROFICIENT ON RANGER TASKS AND RANGER ASSESSMENT
PHASE REQUIREMENTS, INCLUDING: THE RANGER PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT (49
PUSH-UPS, 59 SIT-UPS, 5-MILE RUN IN 40 MINUTES, and 6 CHIN-UPS); 12-
MILE FOOTMARCH IN 3 HOURS; THE COMBAT WATER SURVIVAL ASSESSMENT
(CWSA); AND LAND NAVIGATION. THE 12-MILE FOOTMARCH IS CONDUCTED IN
THE ARMY COMBAT UNIFORM, BOOTS, FIGHTING LOAD CARRIER (FLC), PATROL
CAP, AND RUCKSACK WEIGHING A MINIMUM OF 35 LBS (WITHOUT WATER) WHILE
CARRYING AN INDIVIDUAL WEAPON.
3.B. (U) VOLUNTEER IDENTIFICATION AND ENROLLMENT TIMELINE.
3.B.1. (U) UNITS WILL PROVIDE USAIS THE NUMBER OF POTENTIAL
ASSESSMENT VOLUNTEERS NLT 3 NOV 14.
3.B.2. (U) UNITS WILL PROVIDE USAIS STANDARD NAME LINE INFORMATION OF
ASSESSMENT VOLUNTEERS NLT 1 DEC 14.
3.B.3. (U) DETAILED SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND INFORMATION WILL BE
PUBLISHED IN A SUPPLEMENTAL MESSAGE. ALL ATRRS RANGER COURSE SEATS
FOR THIS ASSESSMENT WILL BE HELD AND MANAGED BY THE USAIS.
3.C. (U) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
3.C.1. (U) FEMALE VOLUNTEERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO COMPLETE THE 90-DAY
RANGER COURSE PREPARATION PROGRAM ON THE ARTB WEB SITE
(HTTP://WWW.BENNING.ARMY.MIL/INFANTRY/RTB/).
3.C.2. (U) ALL WOMEN WHO SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE AND GRADUATE FROM THE
RANGER COURSE WILL RECEIVE A GRADUATION CERTIFICATE AND BE AWARDED,
AND AUTHORIZED TO WEAR, THE RANGER TAB. UNTIL FUTURE INTEGRATION
DECISIONS ARE MADE AND REQUIREMENTS UNDER TITLE 10 US CODE, SECTION
652 ARE SATISFIED, FEMALE GRADUATES WILL NOT RECEIVE THE ASSOCIATED
RANGER SKILL IDENTIFIERS OR BE ASSIGNED TO RANGER CODED UNITS OR
POSITIONS.
4. (U) FUNDING INFORMATION FOR ASSESSMENT PARTICIPANT ATTENDANCE AT
RTAC AND THE RANGER COURSE ASSESSMENT WILL BE PUBLISHED IN A
SUPPLEMENTAL MESSAGE.
5. (U) POINTS OF CONTACT (POCS).
5.A. (U) INITIAL REQUESTS FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WILL BE SENT TO
THE USAIS AT USARMY.BENNING.TRADOC.MBX.OCOIWEB@MAIL.MIL OR BY VOICE
MESSAGE AT (706) 545-0458; DSN 835-0458
5.B. (U) INDIVIDUAL POCS (FOR FUNDING, ORDERS, AND ATRRS) WILL BE
IDENTIFIED IN SUPPLEMENTAL MESSAGES.

Jerry Miculek and the Stoner 63

The Stoner 63 is interesting for a number of reasons. It was the Next Big Thing that Eugene Stoner did after leaving Armalite, and it had a lot of effort behind it, thanks to its sponsor, defense contractor Cadillac Gage which made, among other things, the V-100 armored car. Apart from the Stoner connection, the gun had two things that helped to build its legend. It was an early example of a modular weapons system, readily converted from box-fed rifle to carbine to belt-fed light machine gun and back again. It was such a novel idea, way back then in the Kennedy Administration, that it received US Patent 3,198,076 on 22 Mar 63. The second thing was that it was used in combat in Vietnam by the Navy SEAL teams as the Mark 23 LMG. Very few weapons are uniquely associated with specific special operations units,  but this is one.

The SEALs would probably still be using them if they could maintain them, but no one has made parts in 40 or 50 years.

The carbine configuration had an optional folding stock and a barrel that ended at the front sight base (with an M16-like birdcage flash suppressor forward of the FSB).

Unfortunately, Jerry got to light up only the rifle version, not the SEAL LMG. With barely over 3000 Stoner 63 series guns produced, and almost all of them delivered to the US military (the Marines combat tested the rifle in Vietnam before deciding to stick with the M16), there are very few Stoner 63s on the NFARTR.

To us, the most interesting part was Reed Knight’s explanation of how the conversion from rifle to Bren-like mag-fed LMG to belt-fed worked, and what economics actually drove the modularity.

Here’s a lower-quality video of an updated Stoner 63 belt-fed version firing on full auto.

Stunts like this are why most of the few Stoner 63 LMGs on the registry are badly shot-out. The barrels are close to but “not quite” like AR barrels.

Along with the rifle, carbine, and machine gun variants, which Cadillac Gage hoped to produce in larger quantities for military contracts, there were some unusual and one-off variants. This video (we’re back to professional, if weird, production now) depicts an entrant in an Air Force survival carbine competition (probably the same one that the Colt Model 608 Aviator Survival Carbine was made to contest). We’re not sure whether the competition was canceled before or after testing began, but no carbine was selected.

In the end, the whole story of the Stoner 63, except its moment of glory in the hands of the “Men with Green Faces,” as the VC labeled the SEALs, is a story of almost-was and mighta-been. There was nothing catastrophically wrong with the gun, apart from one safety problem that was fixed in the Mk 23 Mod 0 version; it (and its designer and manufacturer) just didn’t get the breaks.

You may be curious about the safety problem, so we’ll tell the story. In MG config (including LMG/auto rifle top-feed config), the Stoner 63, 63A and Mk23 all fire from an open bolt. They fire in full-auto mode only; the selector on the modular trigger group is still present, but does nothing. “Open bolt” means that the bolt is retained to the rear by the sear, and all the safety selector does is lock the sear so it can’t be withdrawn from the bolt. The trigger mechanism is attached to the receiver by front and rear pins (sort of like a roller-delayed HK). If one of the pins slips out, the trigger mechanism housing can pivot, and the sear will move out of contact with the bolt, firing the gun — and, if a belt is in place, creating a runaway gun. (This can also happen with the top-side magazine fed LMG or “automatic rifle” configuration of the Stoner). The failure mode had not occurred to anyone until it actually happened, killing a SEAL. Subsequently, modifications were designed, preventing this kind of runaway, and retrofitted to all Mk 23 LMGs in service. Civilian Stoners with the mods are referred to as Model 63A1.

When the Army was looking for a light machine gun a few years later, Cadillac Gage had exited the firearms business and ATF had overseen the destruction of their inventory. Knight’s acquired the parts and tooling and made some transferables before the NRA shut down machine gun manufacture in a tradeoff with anti-gun politicians in 1986. Knights is reported to still hold some pre-86 receivers, but there are no parts to build guns on the receivers with.

Excellent information on the Stoner 63 in all its permutations is found on “Mongo’s” web site. He’s clearly an intensive student of the arm.