Category Archives: Rifles and Carbines

What GI Joe Knew about Landser Fritz’s Small Arms

Here’s a once-classified (if mildly so) World War II training film that teaches American GIs how to recognize, operate, field-strip and reassemble four basic German infantry weapons: the Kar.98k rifle, the MP.40 submachine gun, and the MG-34 and -42 general purpose machine guns.

If you ever wondered how the three different feed arrangements for the MG-34 worked, or what that big washer on a Kar.98 stock was for, this movie has your answer. If you knew all that, enjoy learning what was thought to be important, sensitive information to pass to American GIs.

There are a few errors in the film. They even correct one with a title card: no, don’t disassemble the MP.40 (or anything else!) with the magazine in place. Another is referring to the MP.40 as the Schmeisser, which came about, as we understand it, because some early MP.38 magazines noted that the dual-column, single-feed magazine was made according to a Schmeisser patent. 

If you ever caught yourself wondering why everybody used to call an MP.38 or .40 a “Schmeisser,” showing this video to 12 million or so GIs may have been a factor.

The classification with which this video is marked, “Restricted,” is long defunct. (In some postwar documents, it is labeled “Restricted — Security Information.”) It is not to be confused with the sensitive “Restricted Data” marking used for nuclear weapons information, much of what is still not classified, and is marked “Formerly Restricted Data.” RD/FRD was not an Army/Navy or DOD clearance, but an Atomic Energy Agency, later Department of Energy, clearance.

Regular Army/Navy “Restricted,” on the other hand, was a notch below the first true stage of classification, “Confidential.” It was often used on things like this that discussed enemy and/or threat weapons, tactics, or operational art.

A civilian might suspect that classifying such things is a classically military example of blockheadedness, but the reason for the secrecy is not because some cretin in the Pentagon thinks it would be dangerous to show the  Germans how to field-strip their own machine guns, but because we’d rather not have had the Germans knowing what we know about their guns.

And this video, in Wehrmacht hands, would have told them something about our understanding of their weapons policy. By this point, the Wehrmacht had been combat testing the intermediate-round assault rifle for months if not a year, and this film makes no mention of the Mkb.42 (H) and )(W) or the MP.43. Our best guess is that the Germans were testing these new weapons primarily on the Eastern Front, not in the Western Desert or Italy where they were engaging American or British forces. But in the end that is only speculation.

The movie itself is a fact, a primary source for all of you, from World War II. Source here if you’d like to download an MP4 copy or grab embed code for your own blog.

Seven is Six and Six is Five…

Especially when we’re talking about AR locking lugs. The AR is often described as having 8 locking lugs. It has 8 locking lug recesses, but take a good look at the ‘”locking lug” on the extractor!

Anyway, this was Kyle Defoor’s harvest at a recent carbine class:

defoor failed boltsThe most common failed lug is the one just before the extractor, looking at the bolt face and counting clockwise, and three out of four of these have lost that lug. The fourth from the left has lost the first lug after the bolt face, and the second from the left has lost both.

This picture was posted to Instagram with this terse but sound advice:

Change at 6k, 5k is better

Indeed. Some of these bolts — they’re all Colt, magnetic particle inspected bolts — have telltale markers of high round count. Look at how, on the left-most bolt, the first locking lug after the extractor recess has one corner rounded off, and the locking lug closest to the ejector seems to be similarly rounded.

Sumdood, who’s clearly not mechanically inclined, asked Defoor this:

Kyle you replace the entire bolt or just the extractor, spring and o ring?

Uh, the extractor is not the problem here, son. Defoor didn’t dignify that one with an answer. But he did respond to this one:

the locking lugs are obviously broken, and since there are more it will still lock and function for a while, but….

The maestro replied:

I’ve run bolts with 3 locking lugs missing for hundreds of rounds

And then there was this question:

Is this just from shooting 556 out of a 223 rated Chamber?

Uh, no.

The guns likely would have kept running, at least for a time, if the bolts were assembled back into them.

A Mystery in Springfield

Meet Colt XM16E1 Serial Number 50,000, held by ATF SA Allan Offringa on a visit to the Springfield Armory Museum.

SA Allan Offringa w sn-50000

The ladies flanking him are forensics types: Nancy McCombs of the California State DOJ, Katherine Richert of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, and Lily Hwa of the Houston PD. Might as well keep the names with the picture, yes?

This M16 has some sort of a gold finish, and is a bit of a mystery gun. Most likely it was dressed up because of it’s serial number: 50,000. It was made in 1963, and Springfield Armory National Historic site notes a rumor that it may have been intended for presentation to President John F. Kennedy, himself something of a gun buff (Kennedy accepted a gift of an AR-15 at some time, and that rifle is in a collection in the USA). It didn’t come to the Museum until 1966.

XM16E1 SN50000 left

Springfield describes the rifle like this:

U.S. ASSAULT RIFLE XM16E1 5.56MM SN# 050000
Manufactured by Colt, Hartford, Ct. – Special presentation XM16E1 assault rifle. Gold finish and black plastic stock and black sling. Weapon has forward assist. 85,000 manufactured under Contract “508” at a cost of $121.84 each. Weapon complete with 20-round detachable box magazine and in good condition. There is some belief that this weapon was intended for presentation to President John F. Kennedy.

Markings:
Magazine housing: COLT/AR15/PROPERTY/OF U.S. GOVT./XM16E1/CAL. 5.56MM/SERIAL 050000.
Frame: COLT’S PATENT FIREARMS MFG. CO./HARTFORD, CONN./U.S.A.

Weapon transferred to the Museum on 8 February 1966. At that time weapon was appraised at $250.00.

Army card #8986 – “Presentation weapon.”

XM16E1 SN50000 right

Contrary to common belief, there is no definitive difference between an “XM16E1” and an “M16A1” except the roll mark, which was changed when the rifle was finally standardized on 28 February 1967. All of the changes that collectors discuss as if they marked the transition from XM16E1 to M16A1 were actually running changes on the production line: the closed-end “birdcage” flash hider, the protective boss around the magazine release, and the parkerized instead of chromed bolt and carrier, were among the hundreds of changes that the M16A1 rifle experienced during the first three or four years of its long production life. Every XM16E1 and M16A1 from Day 1 of production had the forward assist.

Number 50,000 has some markers of a very early production rifle. The stock appears to be Type C (it’s hard to tell without a comparison in the picture). The magazine is a very early “waffle” type. The lower receiver is one of the earliest forgings, with no protective boss and a reinforcement line that lines up from lower to upper receiver. (It is possible that, when the receiver change came through, one or more of the now-surplus older forgings was set aside for use on “specials” like this presentation gun. Colt often used obsolete parts on tool-room prototypes, and was still using slick-side first-generation forgings on SP1 semi-autos into the late 1980s). This firearm is not semi-auto — you can see the sear pin quite clearly above the safety/selector, thanks to the contrast between the Parkerized pin and the gold-finished lower receiver.

The gold finish must be some kind of plating or paint. Is it possible to get plating to adhere evenly over aluminum (the receivers) and steel (the barrel) at all?

By the time this gun arrived at the Springfield Museum, the writing was on the wall for Springfield Armory. This gun’s page at the Museum website includes extensive quotes from a news story that also ties Colt (maker of this M16) and Springfield: in 1966, Colt was recruiting soon-to-be-unemployed Armory workers for its busy plant an hour south, down newly built Interstate 91.

Springfield Union, July 1, 1966 – “Business & Industry. Colt Firearms Div. Gets Recruits from Armory. Hartford Plant Said Capable Of Matching Job Skills Exactly.
Springfield Armory workers, apparently resigned to the projected closing of the installation by the Department of Defense, are responding in undisclosed numbers to a recruitment program at Colt’s Firearms Division of Colt Industries, Hartford, Conn.
That word came Tuesday from Bruno Czech, personnel director of the firearms manufacturing concern, who said that recruitment for the Hartford plant from Greater Springfield in on the increase.
Workers Hired – Skilled and unskilled workers are being hired by Colt’s which now has a training program in operation for the first time in its history.
The facility manufactures hand guns, shotguns, machine guns, the AR15 rifle and military pyrotechnics.
Czech said that although the firm is generally recognized as a military producer, more than 60 per cent of its sales are commercial.
Plans for an increase in military production of heavy weapons systems had in part resulted in an expected 30 per cent increase in employment by the end of the year, he said.
Armory Conference – ‘When the proposed Armory closing was announced by Secretary MacNamera,’ Czech said, ‘we conferred with officials there pointing out that we desired capable workers and that if the closing became a reality, we would definitely offer positions in our plant.

One wonders how it felt for former Springfield workers to be offered work on the production line of the M-16 — the very rifle that many of them blamed, fairly or not, for their unemployment.

Is This the Perfect Carbine?

Kyle Defoor thinks so.

KDs Perfect Carbine

(Image does embiggen).

Here’s how Defoor described the gun:

Tough to beat this setup for a traveling gun, hd gun, lo vis gun and with 20 rd mags a great lightweight hunting gun (two doe with this setup this year- one shot of 120 yds). @bravocompanyusa -9″ 300 BLK barrel w/7″ KMR rail
@aimpointusa – Micro T1
@streamlightinc – TLR 1 HL
@bobro_engineering – T1 mount

With the compactness of a PDW, the 9″-barreled carbine trades some velocity and effective range for convenience of carry. Pretty cool gun. With its Gemtech suppressor in place, it’d still be shorter than an M16A1. The Micro T1 optic is enjoying a real position of market dominance right now; it has the advantages of Aimpoint’s M68 or Comp2/4 optics, but the Micro takes up less rail space, and doesn’t weigh as much as an M68.

Of course, this is an NFA weapon, a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) so not a choice for those who live in States that forbid all NFA weapons or SBRs). Here, too, civil rights have been marching forward, and several states that had SBR bans of very long standing like Illinois (!), Michigan, and Washington, have liberalized their laws in recent years. (On the other had, North Carolina has been backsliding in the same period; the problem is not black-letter law but hostile legal interpretations from the state’s Attorney General).

OK, Who’s Missing a G36?

The ATF has got one… from Pennsylvania.

atf_forfeiture_notice_g36ke

 

(This one was a dealer sample, for sale from Virginia, of this exact model)

HK G36KE Armslist

And the one from Mt Wolf, PA is being forfeited to the agency. The owner would have had to have been an FFL dealer, and only one dealer comes up in Mt. Wolf. We wonder what the story is?

The ATF announced two years ago that it was going to be more aggressive about forfeitures, and a quick search of HKPro finds a G36 horror story, although it’s from ‘way back in 2009. It’s interesting that the ATF agents in the 2009 case insisted that HKParts.net was breaking the law, and the firm’s Adam Webber was indicted for gun law and tax violations in 2014. Webber’s charges hinge on the fact that he had earlier settled a disagreement with the ATF by forfeiting his FFL and agreeing not to deal in firearms. We have been unable to find any update since the indictment.

More ATF forfeitures at forfeiture.gov.

 

 

 

 

Fill in the Blank: An M1 Garand weighs__________ .

This book punts: it reproduces the original Springfield Armory drawings of the rifle's parts, but has no specifications!

This book punts on the question in the post title: it reproduces the original Springfield Armory drawings of the rifle’s parts, but has no specifications!

There is more individual variation in firearms than you might think. Even today, some makes and models are extensively hand-fitted. Most specifications table come from a sample of one firearm, and anyone in manufacturing will laugh at the idea of a complex assembled product being reverse-engineered by the measurements of a single example. (Yet, this has really happened in gun making, and there are at least three books out there that are reverse engineered drawings of a single sample of a firearm).

For example, here’s a question for you: how much does an M1 rifle weigh? What’s its mass times acceleration towards earth’s center? The answer is that there is no single answer. Instead, you have an array of possibilities:

  1. The measured weight of a single rifle (and even there, the equipment, conditions, and location used to measure the rifle may induce variations);
  2. The central tendency of a series of measures, either of different rifles under the same conditions, or of a single rifle under multiple conditions, or of multiple rifles under multiple conditions.
  3. A range of measured weights, from the least to the greatest, a range that can be stated with some confidence if enough rifles are measured;
  4. A constrained range of weights, excluding outliers; for example, the weight range from the 5th to the 95th percentile rifles.
  5. Or you can just use the weight the Army published, and call it good.

And then, there are estimates, and hearsay, which is what you get from most internet articles where nobody actually put their mitts on an M1 and put it on a scale.

Not just any M1, this one belonged to President John F. Kennedy.

Not just any M1, this one belonged to President John F. Kennedy.

The estimate works for the individual GI. Tell him his M1 weighs “about ten pounds” and he knows what he needs to know, namely, that it’s better than carrying the 1919A4 or the BAR. (Whether the firepower tradeoff works for him is another question).

What do net resources say about the M1? Here’s a google search so you can see for yourself.

Each of these rare prototypes would be expected to vary in weight....

Each of these rare prototypes would be expected to vary in weight….

Surprising, to us, Wikipedia does note that there is a range, and that the range is due to varying stock weights and sling weights (true, but incomplete. Other M1 parts also vary in weight, especially comparing early and late rifles). Most of the other sites use 9.5 lbs, which is actually at the low end of the observed range.

Weight does matter, but light is not automatically better. Chuck Hawks has this very interesting comment in an essay on rifle weights:

The famous U.S. military rifle of World War II and Korea, the semi-automatic, gas-operated, M1 Garand makes an interesting case study in rifle weight. This weapon weighed 9.5 pounds and was chambered for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge. Practically everyone thought it was too heavy, yet most soldiers also thought that it kicked pretty hard. Had it been lighter its recoil would have been even more pronounced. And, in the event, virtually all soldiers were able to carry it as far as required. In hindsight, the M1 was probably on the heavy side, but not by much. Perhaps 9 pounds would have been an ideal weight to balance portability against the recoil of the .30-06 cartridge in a battle rifle.

Hawks is absolutely right. You only want the rifle to be light to a point. The problem is not that the weight will wear on soldiers in combat — it won’t, it will be the last thing they consider — but that it will weigh on them, no pun intended, in training; but if the rifle is made too light, and is punishing on the range, it is destined to be shot poorly.

Compare this thread at the old High Road forum. Everyone is talking about how the M1 could have been made lighter, but there’s relatively little talk about whether that’s even a good idea — that is, why the lightest rifle possible might not be the best choice. Some commenters note that a battle rifle has to be robust enough to do blunt-instrument duty, but in a quick scan of the thread you have to go very deep indeed to see anyone talking about recoil. Hey, if you’re only going to talk about shooting it, you can imagine a .300WM that’s three and a half pounds like a .22 kids’ rifle. Think how great that would be for elk hunting, especially if you don’t see any elk!

It would be pretty ugly to shoot, though.

But these GI service rifles, stored in a can by the Armory, would also exhibit a range of weights.

But these GI service rifles, stored in a can by the Armory, would also exhibit a range of weights.

The M1 is more compact than people think. It is barely 4″ / 100mm longer than the M16A1; the approximately three pound weight loss in the thirty years between the two rifles came not from the M16’s revolutionary materials as much as it came from the reduced-impulse cartridge that made the recoil of a 6.6 pound/3 KG weapon tolerable if weights were so reduced. There are two other sides of the ammo-weight reduction, too: a reduction in the soldier’s load (or an increase in his practical firepower), and, and perhaps this is most important, a reduction in the logistical impact of the firearm. It will never occur to the average Army or Marine rifleman (excuse me, “rifle entity,” to encompass all Ray Mabus’s 56 “genders”), but some load planner at Transportation Command at Scott AFB has an easier life now that we’re no longer launching 7.62 x 63 towards our enemies. Even the change from the .30-06 to the .308, a fairly insignificant change from behind the rifle, made a huge difference on the logistics end, when extended out to a industrial scale. In terms of rifle effectiveness, the change was unjustifiable, but it may have paid for itself many times over in the ammo plant and on shipping manifests.

Looking at firearms history, when a revolution comes, it comes to the ammunition, first; all the rest follows.

We Didn’t Watch this Whole Video

We got as far as the guy describing the Johnson M1941 as a “delayed blowback” rifle. No, genius, it’s short recoil. If you don’t know the difference, what the hell are you doing in a firearms museum?

curators_corner_johnson_screenshot

https://www.nranews.com/series/curators-corner/video/cam-and-company-2016-johnson-rifle-m1941/episode/curators-corner-season-9-episode-1-johnson-rifle-m1941

(Link because we can’t figure out how to embed this).

He also manages to describe Mel Johnson dismissively as a Harvard lawyer, when it also was somewhat on point that Johnson was a Marine ordnance officer and the author of what was then the most complete compendium of world automatic rifles and machine guns.

The Johnson they put on display is one of the postwar-sporterized ones sold by Winfield. The Museum’s Andrew Dalton may not know this, but the actual military version had a bayonet lug and a bayonet, if an unconventional one. And its military failure was simply this: the military was very far along with the Garand, and the Johnson wasn’t so distinctly superior as to justify a change. (Indeed, Garand and Johnson qualities seem about a wash).

curators_johnson_m1941

There’s nothing about how it came to the Marines (via an order for the Dutch East Indies, which were overrun before the guns left the docks) or who used Johnson guns in service (the Raiders, the OSS, and the 1st Special Service Force).

Putting on a bow tie to look like a nerd doesn’t actually make you smart. And the other guy has never seen a gun where the barrel moves (what, he doesn’t know any hunters with a Browning Auto-5 or one of its many copies? Boy howdy, that barrel moves…).

There’s copious written information about the Johnson available, including an excellent book by Bruce Canfield, Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns, which the NRA certainly must have in their library. There’s no excuse for doing this crappy a job on a Curator’s Corner. And Curator’s Corner is usually outstanding, authoritative. Why did they drop the ball on this one?

 

Mr Bond, Kindly Drop the Vz.58 at Enfield…

OK, maybe they didn’t get it from Bond, even if the Czech Vz. 58P and Vz. 58V  (which we believe stand for Pechotni [Infantry] and Vysadkovy [Paratroop] fixed- and folding-stock versions) did show up in a lot of Bond movies (Roger Moore slides down a banister blasting away with one in Octopussy).

Octopussy_(090)_Vz._58 But somehow British Intelligence got hold of a couple of Vz.58s and delivered them unto the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock by mid-1966. The Small Arms Branch Testing Section received, first, a folding-stock rifle (they didn’t know its proper nomenclature) and began to prepare a report for it; for reasons they don’t share with us, it “was withdrawn and replaced with one with a fixed butt, before the Weapon Description Form had been completed…” but they continued and produced a descriptive report about the weapon by January of 1967.

Small Arms Trial Report Vz 58 RSAF Enfield Lock 1966Our best guess is that the Vzs were loaners from some third-world country that maintained good relations with the Czech export agency, and with Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But there could be some tale of derring-do to be declassified in 2066 or so.

It is almost as big a mystery, where the report went after that, although bureaucratic headers indicate that it was initiated by the Principal Inspector of Small Arms on behalf of the Director General of Artillery.

In those days, before Xerox was ubiquitous, an original was typed and a very few copies were made using mimeographs of a carbon copy of the original, and photographic prints of the photos. It was an expensive way to put a document together and naturally limited its distribution (the document was not ever classified). Per copy, Xerox was cheaper even in 1966, but RSAF Enfield probably didn’t have the capital budget (much less the foreign currency) for one, even in those days of 95% marginal taxation.

How it got in our hands is a little less mysterious: thinking we were buying a fairly rare period Xerox or offset-printed document, we bought it off eBay. To our surprise, we received this absolutely remarkable original, hand-prepared vintage document in the mail.

Unfortunately, our letter carrier rolled the stiff cardboard document into a tight tube to deliver it to Hog Manor, which did it little good. The lignin in the cheap government paper has turned the pages yellow, and somewhere over the decades the pages might have gotten wet, as they have a wavy appearance. The scanner software strives mightily to correct for that.

Vz 58 photographed from overhead

We debated what we would do with this, and ultimately decided that the very best thing to do, while we’re waiting to finish Volume I of Czech and Czechoslovak Firearms so we can start Volume II where this fits, is to share it with you. We will do a proper scan later, but an initial, nondestructive (and non-optimized) scan and OCR, accomplished with our Fujitsu SV600, is attached: RSAF SATB Small Arms Trial Report Vz58 1966.pdf

The report was, as we’ve already said, a descriptive analysis of the rifle and its associated equipment, like bayonet, cleaning equipment, and magazine.

VZ 58 left side with magazine detached

This is a crude, preliminary scan, and will have considerable distortion, as you can see in the attached images. The OCR is likely to be dodgy as well. Later, we will carefully remove the brass staples and rescan under a nonreflective glass platen, and make a new version, but for now, here’s a document we bet you haven’t seen before.

Small News Items on Army Small Arms

There’s a bunch of little news bits going around the Army about maintenance issues and problems. We’ll cover them from most to least serious:

Item: Somebody Blew It

Beretta_M9_FAIL

File photo of failed M9 slide. Not the mishap firearm.

In late 2015, a very high (but unknown) round count M9 pistol had a catastrophic failure of the slide. With the Army scrimping on O&M money, especially on the ripe-for-replacement Beretta handgun, failures are not unusual and usually turn out to be fatigue failures from parts that have been carelessly used long past their service life. So was this one. The pistol was older than the soldier shooting it, and, as it turned out, someone, somewhere had pencil-whipped the maintenance records.

Slides fail every week, somewhere in an Army with hundreds of thousands of pistols that were almost all bought 30 years ago. But what happened next wasn’t supposed to happen. When the pistol slide failed at the slide’s weakest point, the locking-block cuts, the rear half of the slide kept on motoring, striking the GI in the cheek and upper jaw area and causing non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation determined that a mandatory maintenance work order, MWO 9-1005-317–30-10-1, issued twenty-seven years ago in March, 1989, had never been complied with. They couldn’t track where the pistol was at the time it was not repaired; Army units and activities with M9s had until June, 1993 to comply.

Somebody reported that his M9s were in compliance, when they weren’t. This is what you get when a zero-defects, up-or-out culture undermines integrity while at the same time penny-pinching undermines maintenance. The soldier who drew that defective M9, and every soldier that’s been drawing and shooting it since 1989, is damned lucky to be alive. (Fortunately, when a slide fails on most pistols (or a bolt on a Mauser C96, etc.), gravity usually  ensures that the part hits below the eye, on cheek, jaw, chest or shoulder).

Meanwhile, the Army sent an urgent Safety-of-Use message mandating an Army-wide inspection of all M9s for completion of the MWO. Since the resources for completing the MWO no longer exist, the remedial action is to immediately deadline and turn in the offending M9 and draw a replacement.

How many units pencil-whipped their response to that ALARACT message?

Item: Safety? Sometimes it’s Evolution in Action

FOOM!Word is, some genius removed himself from the breeding population of Homo sapiens in 2014 by “improvising” M203 ammo (may have been 320) by cutting the links off of (higher-pressure) Mk19 belted ammo. The links were actually designed so they couldn’t snap off by hand, to prevent that.

Can we get a “FOOM!” from the assembled multitudes?

And oh, yeah, trying to belt up 203 ammo and fire it in an Mk 19 leads to FOOM also, of a different variety — out of battery ignition. Another opportunity for poka-yoke missed.

Item: Ambi Selectors Reaching Troops.. slowly

The Army has finally woken up to two facts:

  1. About 10% of the troops are left-handed, and
  2. There are lots of good ambi selectors available.

So the Army chose one and put it into the pipeline. So far so good, right? Not entirely. The selectors are only being replaced when the weapons are overhauled. And they don’t fit in the M12 racks many units still have. Work around is to cut a notch in the rack with a torch, or with a file and plenty of time, or to bend the part of the rack that hits the right-side selector out of shape so that the selector clears the rack.

Also, the slow migration of the ambi selectors means not all M4/M16 weapons in any given unit have them. Why don’t they just push the parts down to the unit armorers? Three reasons:

  1. The big one: they’re afraid of armorers stealing parts if they take rifles apart
  2. It doesn’t fit the concept of echeloned maintenance, even though that’s being streamlined;
  3. They don’t trust the armorers let alone the Joes, not to botch the installation.

On top of that, of course, it’s not penny wise and pound foolish in the great Army tradition.

Item: New Stuff Coming in, Old Stuff Going Out

A number of new arms are reaching the troops, and old arms are going away.  We’ll have more about that in the future, especially the M2A1 and the coming “rationalization” of an explosion of shotguns and sniper rifles. We just broke it out of this post to keep the length manageable.

ITEM: MG Maintenance Problems = Operator Headspace & Timing

m249-PIPThe biggest single problem the Army has with the current pair of machine guns (M240 and M249) is burned out barrels. That’s caused by not changing barrels, either in combat, or especially on the range. Often, units go out without the spare barrel so it’s not like they gave themselves any option.  (The M2 version of this is going out with only one set of gages for the M2s. The gages are not required for the M2A1). The Army is falling back into the peacetime mindset of “leave it in the arms room and we can’t lose it.” True enough, we’ll just destroy the one we take out instead.

The fact is, and it’s a fact widely unknown to GIs, MGs have rate-of-sustained-fire limitations that are lower than they think. (Remember the MGs that failed at Wanat? They were being operated well outside their designed, tested envelope).

The M249 should never be fired more than 200 rounds rapid fire from a cold barrel. Then, change to a cold barrel, repeat. The Army being the Army, there are geniuses who think that they can burn a couple belts in a few seconds, change barrels, burn a couple belts in a couple more seconds, then put the original honkin’ hot barrel back in and burn — you get the idea. If you have a situation where you’re going to fire a lot of rounds from a single position, like a predeployment MG familiarization for support troops or a defensive position, you might want to lay in some extra barrels (and yes, Army supply makes that all but impossible, so you have to cannibalize your other MGs).

The M240 is a little more tolerant but should still be changed every 2 to 10 minutes of firing, and even more frequently if the firing tends towards real sustained fire. (The deets are in the FM, which is mostly only available on .pdf these days).

One last thought, your defensive MG positions need to have alternate, displace positions, and you need to displace after sustained fire from one position — unless you want to share your hole with an exploding RPG, ATGM or mortar round. “Where’s your secondary position?” or “-fallback position?” should not produce the Polish Salute.

As ordnance experts have observed ever since World War II, a barrel can be burnt out due to overheat and still mic and even air-gauge good. You only know it’s hosed when it can’t shoot straight.

Well-maintained MGs are more accurate than people seem to give them credit for. Some SOF elements have selective fire M240s and really, really like them. (The standard M240 has no semi setting). They’re capable of surprising accuracy from the tripod.

ITEM: For Want of a Cord, a Career was Lost

GIs frequently lose or throw away the idiot cord on the PVS-14 night vision monocular. If these sights were being properly inspected, which they usually aren’t until a team comes in just before deployment, they’d be tagged NMC (non mission capable) for missing  that stupid cord. You don’t want to be in the bursting radius of a unit CO who’s just been told 85% of his night vision is NMC… especially when that news is delivered in earshot of his rater and senior rater. It’s a bull$#!+ requirement but it’s in the book, and if the Army ever has to choose between following the book or winning the war, the book comes up trumps every time.

You’re not going to stop GIs from losing cords, but replacement cords are in the supply catalog.

A New Rifle, a Reliability Problem

question mark(Apologies to all for the premature launch of this post at 0600 this morning. It was originally supposed to go there, then it was moved to the 1100 spot but the night shift botched the job. Those responsible have been sacked. Your comments and poll elections should be preserved.-Ed.)

The rifle had been praised wildly on the occasion of its adoption. Years of testing had proven its superiority, and it offered a revolution in rifleman’s firepower. Some of the claims made for the new rifle were:

  • Greater accuracy in combat conditions;
  • a greater volume of fire, firepower equal to five of the old rifles;
  • more effective against modern threats;
  • less demanding of training time;
  • lower recoil, and negligible fatigue from firing;
  • average size of production rifle groups, 1.75″ extreme spread at 100.
  • accuracy “better than the average service rifle, compares favorably with [a customized target] rifle”; and,
  • “every organization so far equipped has submitted enthusiastic reports of their performance under all conditions…”

Despite that glowing report from the men responsible for the decision, reports began to trickle in of unusual, crippling, and intermittent stoppages, and this reinforced many servicemen in their reluctance to give up their Ol’ Betsy for this new piece of technology.

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