Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

A Rare Gun Turns Up in a Terrorist Attack

It's hard to identify in screenshots, but if you watch the whole video at the DailyNews link, you can make out the silhouette of the Spectre M4 -- or, possibly a converted Spectre HC.

It’s hard to identify in screenshots, but if you watch the whole video at the NY Post link, you can make out the silhouette of the Spectre M4 — or, possibly a converted Spectre HC.

The latest in a series of palestinian terror tantrums that had already killed 20 Israelis and 2 foreigners (one American and on Eritrean) claimed two more Israelis killed and about eight wounded in a submachine gun attack in Jerusalem.

A stateless Arab has been identified as the attacker. His motivation? The usual terrorist manifesto, the Koran he left behind in the bag he’d used to conceal his weapon. But, rather than use a common and garden AK, he slew his Jews with an exotic and rare weapon, and that’s where we come in.

The New York Post says:

There were conflicting reports about the weapon used — with some witnesses describing it as an AK-47, others an Uzi submachine gun and at least one an M-16 assault rife.

Images aired by Israeli media also show a discarded ammo magazine that appeared to be from a Spectre M4 machine gun– a weapon rarely seen in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Reuters reported.

Recovered 30-round Spectre mag. This magazine fits no other weapon known to us.

Recovered 30-round Spectre mag. This magazine fits no other weapon known to us.

Simta co-owner Dudi Malka described the gunman as a “fairly short, light-skinned man holding an M-16 gun,” Haaretz daily reported.

According to the Daily Mail, the terrorist threw the weapon in a trash can as he fled; the Israeli authorities recovered it. His backpack was found to contain terrorist literature, to wit, the Koran.

The weapon was a SITES Spectre M4 submachine gun, a rare 9mm weapon made in Italy, and later, in Switzerland. It was designed by Roberto Teppa and Claudio Gritti and made from 1984-1997 in Turin by Societa Italiana TEchnologie Speciali, SITES. Some additional arms were made until 2001 by Greco Sport SA in Massagno, Ticino, Switzerland (an Italophone canton). Greco Sport went paws up and appears to have been liquidated on 20 June, 2006.

In addition to the submachine gun version that the maker tried to interest world armies in, a semi-automatic pistol version was briefly imported into the USA before the 1994 assault weapons ban slammed the door on imported large pistols.

It did not sell well, as it was priced higher than shoddy Tec-9s and similar horse pistols, and import (different attempts by FIE, Mitchell Arms, American Arms) ended in 1993, well before the AWB took effect. Numbers imported were probably under 2000. It has gotten a new lease on life after being featured in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops, but the orphaned firearm is no longer a practical weapon despite its interesting features. (Of course, that doesn’t affect its use by a homicidal jihadi who’s expecting to throw his worthless life away, anyway).

Here’s one for sale, NIB, on GunBroker.

Spectre HC semi pistol 2The seller says:

Italian SITES Spectre HC semi-auto pistol AKA SITES Spectre Falcon or M4 semi-auto still in box with 2 original SITES 30 rd “casket” magazines, SITES speed loader, and forward grip which is still in unopened plastic. The original buyer never fired it so is in like new condition except for the box/packaging has some normal wear so am classifying it as “New Old Stock”. This one is in 9mm and was imported by American Arms, Inc sometime before 1993 and have not been imported since. These are no longer in production and is a great find, especially in this condition. Don’t let this one pass you by!

This next picture shows it from nearly the angle that the first surveillance video shows the terrorist.

Spectre HC semi pistol

It’s a penny auction with an unknown reserve; no bidders yet.

Here’s another one, not quite as mint as the first…

Spectre HC semi pistol second example right…with a more laconic description:

-USED- Sites Spectre in 9mm. 6″ barrel. One 30rd magazine, ambi safety a decocker. Adjustable sight. imported from 1990-93. Clean pistol. There is some wear from the charging handle. Original box and mag loader. No owners manual.

Spectre HC semi pistol second example right

He’s asking $1,500 to start and has, not surprisingly, no bidders.

The SITES Spectre was designed originally as a compact, advanced 2nd-Generation submachine gun in 9mm, in hopes of getting some of the cop money that was flowing to Oberndorf. It had extremely practical, ergonomic controls and a grip that was clearly borrowed from H&K.

Spectre HC semi pistol second example close-up

The US semi version, seen here, fired from a closed bolt, but so did the submachine gun. The SMG, called the Spectre M4, can be distinguished by its folding stock, which lies along the top of the receiver when folded.

Spectre M4 SMG with 50-round magazine.

Spectre M4 SMG with 50-round magazine.

All magazines were of the “coffin” type, and are normally found in 30- and 50-round denominations. All magazines are rare, but the 50-round mags, which were not intended to be sold into the USA, are extremely rare. Magazines sell, on the rare occasions they appear, for hundreds of dollars.

The Spectre M4 also has a unique trigger system, as described at world.guns.ru:

The trigger group is more similar to handguns, then to SMG – it is double action without manual safety but with decocker. So, Spectre could be carried with loaded chamber and hammer down and then fired immediately simply by pressing the trigger.

On the semi-auto pistol version found in the USA, the Spectre HC, the forward lever is the safety, which falls right to thumb (in either hand), and the trigger is DA/SA. The aft lever is a safe decocker that works independently of the safety. Thus it’s a bit like a SIG 22x series handgun in its manual of arms, except for its polymer-covered operating handle forward rather than having a pistol slide.

Max also notes that the bolt was designed also to pump air through the ventilated foregrip, cooling the barrel. The gun was assembled with few “user-serviceable parts inside” and extensive use of e-clips.

It will be interesting to see if Israeli police can determine where this crumb got hold of a Spectre. It is possible that the manufacturers sold into the Arab world, or to Iran (most foreign weapons sold to Iranian “police” are passed on to terrorist groups), and it’s possible, though unlikely, that it was originally a US-market semi. Against that possibility, the surveillance video seems to show automatic fire, and converting a Spectre HC to reliable full-auto fire would not be a slam dunk.

The Tanks of 1918

We’ve introduced before the American involvement in armored warfare in the last months of World War I. At the time we promised you a report on the battles, and a description of the hardware involved. This is the hardware post.

While American manufacturers, notably including Ford Motor Company, quickly pledged to build tanks, their industrial production had no material affect on the war; but a time tanks were coming off American production lines, the war was over. And the first American tanks were, or were intended to be, built on foreign patterns.

Renault FT17. This one is preserved at a Polish military museum, part of the global FT17 diaspora; this tanks was probably used in the Russo-Polish War.

Renault FT17. This one is preserved at a Polish military museum, part of the global FT17 diaspora; this tank was a gift from Afghanistan to Poland for Polish support. The tank may have been used in the Russo-Polish War and captured by the Soviets, then given to Afghanistan; or it could just be a tank the Kingdom of Afghanistanw bought on the world market in the 1920s or 30s. It is the 37mm, 20-caliber variant. The US Army also used these tanks, and built a copy under license.

This was because America was fresh in the war, and largely unprepared; apart from our tiny professional military caste, most Americans hadn’t even been following it very closely. There was a vague understanding of things called “tanks,” but no grasp of their design details, let alone how to build them.

That should’ve been slightly embarrassing, because the concept of the tank came from arming and armoring the American-designed Holt tractor in the first place.

With no tanks in production, the US certainly had no tank tactics or operational art, and it set out  to learn from the experienced nations that would provide the tanks: Great Britain and the Republic of France.

After over three years of war, the British and French were eager to share what they’d learned. You might think that they’d be reluctant to give up any share of their tank production to the war’s newcomer, but their problem was a mirror image of the Americans’: the Yanks had volunteers but no experience, training, or tanks, and the European Allies had too much experience, production lines producing more tanks than they could use, and a shortage of manpower after years of blind, wasteful attrition on the Western Front. Indeed, the French and especially the English hoped that the Americans would just provide them with warm bodies, to be expended as replacements in their own bled-out regiments, under the leadership of the same guys responsible for bleeding the regiments out. The US commander, General John Pershing, forcefully declined this offer every time it was made.

The Americans would fight in their own units, under their own leaders. Decision made.

Despite that one disagreement, coalition warfare went remarkably well. American tank units — once trained — worked with British Commonwealth and French units, and even incorporated, at one point, a French tank company in their task organization. At one point, this produced a moment of combat laughter when an American unit sent their valiant French interpreter to stop and redirect a supporting French tank — only to have the turret hatches clank open, and an American TC pop out — “What the hell do you want?”

This FT17 is on display in Compiègne, France. The card-suit markings were used by French and American tank units in WWI.

This FT17 is on display in Compiègne, France. The card-suit markings were used by French and American tank units in WWI. The high-contrast camouflage was intended to break up the tank’s outline, especially versus aerial reconnaissance. The TC’s ingress and egress was through the double-door hatch in the back of the turret. Most photos in this post expand with a click.

Light Tanks from France

The confusion was obvious, because the American tankers were in a French Renault FT, the light tank America adopted from France. Attempts to build this simple, light (about 7 metric tons) two-man tank in the USA bore no immediate fruit. Ford first redrew every Renault drawing and redimensioned them in Imperial units, with the predictable result that none of the Ford parts fit the Renaults, and vice versa. Even the tracks didn’t match: the French tracks were 13″ wide, and the US copy 13 3/8″. The US-designed and built Mk VIII Liberty tank was in the style of the larger British tanks, but powered by the US Liberty engine (the engine was one of the few success stories in American war production in WWI, but the tank wasn’t). In any event, mere token numbers of the American tanks got to the American Expeditionary Force by the Armistice. The hundreds of tanks actually used were all made in France.

The other side of the Compiègne tank. Note the 8mm Hotchkiss armament.

The other side of the Compiègne tank. Note the 8mm Hotchkiss armament.

The Renault FT light tank was a product of French doctrine, which emphasized small, maneuverable tanks that could act as mobile pillboxes for the infantry in the advance. France produced a couple thousand of the FT, which came in a single 8mm Hotchkiss MG version, or in a stubby 37mm L/20 cannon version (the gun barrel was only 720 mm, about 28″, long — shorter than a lot of duck guns). The USA used both versions, organized into Light Tank Companies and Light Tank Battalions, on the Western Front.

This FT was delivered to Switzerland for tests in 1921, in hopes of a sale. It is preserved today in Thun.

This FT was delivered to Switzerland for tests in 1921, in hopes of a sale. It is preserved today in Thun.

All these pictures make the size of the FT unclear — it looks pretty big. Actually, its nearest analogy might be a 1960s VW Beetle, although it’s taller. It would fit in the average garage. This maintenance photo, from tank expert Steven Zaloga’s photobucket, gives you a better idea of the sheer size, or lack of it, of the FT:

French FT17

In Wilson, this image is identified as American crewmen receiving training on the FT17 at the 311th Tank Center at Bourg, France. The men are wearing American uniforms.

This period French manual illustration doesn’t help as the poilus inside are drawn rather small. It does show the layout of the tank, though. The FT is laid out much like WWII and modern tanks — armament in a turret, engine in the back:

Renault_FT_17_sketch

There were quite a few variations of the FT17. For example, the British tank museum at Bovington preserves a prototype with a one-piece cast turret; versions exist with spoked steel idler wheels (the big wheels up front) and with built-up wooden idlers.

Cast armor was unusual in World War I. Most tanks were protected by face-hardened armor, which is obvious when you see the shattered plates of a destroyed one.

Frenh Heavy Tank. Fix this caption.

St. Chaumond Heavy Tank. The “prow” was for negotiating trenches, the main gun a French 75, the secondary armament 8mm Hotchkisses, fired by crouching soldiers who couldn’t stand up or sit down in the cramped tank.

France had made heavy tanks too, the Schneider and the St. Chaumond. In fact, France had been developing tanks for about as long as Britain had, but seems to get short shrift in English-language sources. In any event, the large French tanks were little loved by the French, and were rejected by the Yanks:

Neither vehicle could be truly classified as a tank. Instead, they were nothing more than armored artillery carriers requiring infantry skirmishers to lead them into battle, carefully marking the routes that should follow. Underpowered and lightly armored, they did poorly traveling cross-country, and their crews suffered badly if they received direct hits from artillery fire.1

The French, by late 1917, had put their faith in the light tank; while they still operated the clumsy behemoths, their production was heavily weighted to the small FT, optimized for accompanying infantry in the assault.

The Americans turned instead to Britain for heavy tanks.

Heavy Tanks from Great Britain

Britain had a completely different concept of tank warfare than France – attempts to reconcile these differences had been unsuccessful, with each nation going its own way – and their vision was of the tank going out ahead of the infantry to make a breakthrough, which infantry would then exploit. Each British tank, then, was a sort of a landship, capable of fighting independently or in conjunction with other tanks. They normally employed a team with a cannon-and-MG-armed “male” tank “married up” with an MG-only “female.” (A tank that bore both cannon and MGs? “Hermaphrodite.” Heh.) As you might expect these landships were large and well-armored and armed for the day.

bovingtons_surviving_mark_v

A rare operating survivor: Bovington’s Mark V.

British tank models were logically, if unimaginatively, numbered in sequence from the pioneering Mark I of 1915, and the two models the Americans acquired were the Mark V and the Mark V*, which Americans usually referred to in speech and even in writing as the Mark V Star. Readers familiar with British small arms of the period will recognize the * as a marker of a modification, but the Mark V* was quite a bit different from the ones which had no stars upon thars. (Apologies to Dr. Seuss. Couldn’t resist). It was longer, heavier, and improved in many small ways.

The Mark V is what you think of when you envision the classic, lozenge-shaped tank of World War I. Relatively few of these tanks survive; most of the survivors are in Ukraine, Russia or the other former Republics of the Soviet Union, and are remnants of UK/US intervention at Archangelsk, and Western support to the White Armies in the Russian Civil War. The Soviets preserved this history to a greater extent than the Americans or Britons did. For example, two Mark Vs were preserved in Luchansk, Ukraine. They were in bad shape, with battle damage, rust, e…generations of looting, more rust, and…

Surviving_Mark_V_2

…covered in grafitti (whoever Artyom is, he’s an asshat), but the tanks were removed and restored:

Restoration in Progress Mark V

…and replaced. (In he picture below, one of the restored tanks is in place, the restoration of the park is yet to get started).

Restored Lugansk TAnk

One fascinating find during the restoration: a rifle cartridge case. But it doesn’t look like a Russian 7.62 x 54R to us; it looks like a rimless case. Could this tank have belonged to the American contingent at one time? The case looks too short to be a .30-06. The button appears to be a British Army one, too. A mystery!

Mark V artifacts Lugansk

Another fascinating find: what appears to be one of the same tanks during the Civil War, captured by the White-aligned “Don Army” of rebellious Cossacks:

Mark_V_tank_of_the_Don_army_1919

Lugansk/Luhansk is in disputed territory in the Ukraine and was seized by Russian troops and Russian-controlled militia in 2014. It has been the scene of much fighting, and it’s unclear whether the monument tanks have survived. It’s the least of the many pities of that civil war, one supposes, but a pity nonetheless.

Returning to our American tankers of a century ago: as nearly as possible, American tankers tried to keep the Mark Vs and the different V*s sorted by assigning them to different Heavy Tank Companies, which were assigned to Heavy Tank Battalions.

All tanks of the period were very unreliable; for every one killed by enemy countermeasures (artillery, mines, and the Anti-Tank Rifle) literally dozens broke down or got bogged down. An important part of tank planning was the establishment of engineering organizations to recover, repair, and return to the combat force those abandoned tanks.

This artwork, The Tanks at Seicheprey by Harvey Thomas Dunn, is in the US Army collection. Dunn observed the attack depicted in this impressionistic illustration, the first day of the St. Mihiel offensive.

seicheprey-i

It’s reminiscent of this famous photo, which is often displayed divorced from the information about it. But this is actually a photo of an American tank in combat in the Great War — a very rare thing.

us_ft-17_in_combat

This photo was taken at Seicheprey. Compare the tank’s attitude to the background tank in Dunn’s illustration. But we know the unit, the 326/344th Light Tank Battalion2, and the driver, Corporal George Heesch.

All of the world’s tank types have their ancestry in these flimsy, brittle, unreliable machines.

Surviving WWI Tanks

Some tanks were produced in very low numbers, like the German A7V. Others were mass produced — there are images of production lines for the British tanks. All in all, thousands of tanks were produced, including nearly 2,000 Renault FTs and probably another 1,000 to 1,500, maybe more, of all other types combines. Yet, only a dozen or two tanks survived, not the war, but the century between then and now. 

We know of two lists of surviving Great War tanks: Dave Maynard’s which comes up as disabled due to nonpayment, and an illustrated list found on sub-pages of the Surviving Panzers page: http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_Panzers.html

That includes ….

…this list of non-FT-17 type WWI tanks surviving, including reproductions: http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_WW1_Tanks.pdf

…this list of FT-17s: http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_FT-17.pdf

…this list of US M1917 Six Ton Tanks: http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_6ton_M1917.pdf

Notes

  1. Wilson, Dale E. Treat ‘Em Rough: The Birth of American Armor, 1917-20. p. 9.
  2. Wilson, pp. 116-117, note 53, explains that Patton’s battalions were renumbered by HQ on the eve of the St. Mihiel offensive. At the time this photo was taken, in September 1918, the unit was already the 344th but the old 326th was still the name everyone was using.

When Self-Defense is Outlawed, to Run Away is Your Only Defense

This is the official Metropolitan Police guidance for surviving a terror attack in five easy steps.

  1. Make like Brave Sir Robin — “Run Awaaaaay!
  2. If you can’t run away, hide and hope that the terrorists lose interest. Or that they find religion. (Well, religion other than the murderous one they’ve already found). Or that your hiding place is jolly good. To quote a certain fictional detective inspector, “Do you feel lucky?”
  3. Call 999 (that’s 911 with a British accent) and wait for the rozzers to arrive, either to rescue you or chalk your outline on the floor, depending on how lucky you got with #2. There are two optional steps you can take after calling 999:
  4. Bend over, and place your head between your thighs….
  5. …and kiss your ass good-bye.

Watch this video and see if you can figure out the optimum timing for that final rump snog.

This is life where the citizens are a herd.

It’s the nature of herds that from time to time there are a few culls, which is just business, and doesn’t vex the managers of the herd as long as the herd overall survives. So herd managers aren’t going to actually fight terrorism unless and until terrorists display indicators of the capability to kill everybody — the whole herd. That’s why the UK shrugs it off when a few buses or tube trains go FOOM, or some idealistic Koran student eviscerates an unarmed soldier or two; but bombs or invades whole countries if they start getting distributive with CBRNE technology.

What this video tells you to do is throw the dice — and if it comes up snake eyes for you, then, you’re the  cull, sorry about that. Let’s see your organ donor card; no hard feelings. Just lie down and think of England as some Syrian “refugee” goes to work on your neck’s connective tissue.

After all, you wouldn’t want to make him feel unwelcome, would you?

That’s life — and death — in the herd.

Here we are a pack.

The old, the young, the infirm and the weak will indeed shelter, but along with concealment, they will have means of defense. And meanwhile, some two millions of us are vets of the recent unpleasantness; and millions more saw the elephant in earlier conflicts, or trained — what we call keeping the unit’s pilot light on — between wars. These men, and some women, will move towards the gunshots. We have faced better men than any of these yellowstain terrorists, and killed them.

We’re prepared to do it again.

We’ll yield the field to SWAT when they show up… twenty-some minutes after the killing starts is considered good in most places, an hour in New Orleans. But until then, we will not give the enemy any free shots.

You can’t always hide in such a way as to outsmart your enemy, but you can kill him so conclusively dead that there’s no need to hide from him any more.

The Metropolitan Police can keep Run / Hide / Call. If we did a STAY SAFE video it would be:

  1. Arm (ourselves)
  2. Prepare (a defensible position for our non-hunters, with armed persons to defend them)
  3. Hunt (the enemy). And handover to the authorities on their arrival.

Or hey, you can roll the Met’s dice. And keep a stiff upper lip if they come up Cull.

Patton’s Lessons Learned for Tank Warfare, WWI

"Treat'em_Rough^_Join_The_Tanks._United_States_Tank_Corps.",_ca._1917_-_ca._1919_-_NARA_-_512447We’ve been reading Treat ’em Rough: The Birth of American Armor 1917-20 by Dale Wilson. It is the single book-length treatment of the US Army Tank Corps in World War I, and it filled its void so well — there was no such book before it — that it seems to have derailed future scholorship — there has been no such book since, although there has been an overview by Robert Cameron for the US Army Center for Military History: Mobility, Shock, and Firepower: The emergence of The U.S. Army’s Armor BrAnch, 1917– 1945. Cameron’s book is rather dependent on Wilson for its WWI details, and is available for free in .pdf format from the Army CMH web. If you’re interested in WWI armor, though, the Wilson book is the gold standard,

We’ve been surprised to learn how quickly the US established an effective tank arm, as we’ve been familiar with the terrible teething problems of US Army and Navy aviation in the Great War.

The term, “Treat ’em Rough,” was the recruiting slogan of the tank corps, which was characterized also by a mascot — a furious black tomcat, hair up and claws out. Wilson’s Treat ’em Rough uses the most colorful of these posters as its cover.

Join the Black Toms - They Treat 'em Rough Recruiting Poster by W.F. HoffmanThe tankers were plagued by many of the same problems as the aviators — American manufacturers who over-promised and under-delivered, and the resulting need to use foreign equipment — but they resolved them with grit and imagination. Many of the WWI tank officers would be important men in WWII, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton Jr.

By war’s end, Patton had developed a series of lessons learned. Many of these still apply today; others resulted from the novelty and relative unreliability of Great War Tanks.

Here are Patton’s perceptions (from Wilson, pp.208-09).

  • Senior officers, in their demands on the tanks, did not seem to realize their limitations and especially the fact the tanks must have infantry operating with them, if they are to be successfully employed.
  • A lack of liaison between tanks and the infantry severely handicapped the tanks during operations.
  • The infantry used the tanks as a crutch, expecting them to overcome enemy resistance and consolidate objectives after successful attacks.
  • Tanks, because of their mechanical weaknesses, should not be squandered in a reconnaissance role.
  • The distance between attack positions and lines of departure should be reduced in order to cut losses due to mechanical failure.
  • There is no substitute for physical ground reconnaissance by key leaders.
  • Measures such as smoke screens and dedicated artillery units for counterbattery fire should be employed to reduce the effectiveness of enemy artillery against tanks.
  • Tanks clearly demonstrated their value as an offensive weapon and as a separate combat arm.
  • Changes in tactics, especially with regard to better use of tanks in mass and depth, or needed.1

See what we mean about reliability? Patton clearly had been badly burned, and after action reports show that most tanks broke down in most operations.

Here's the Black Tom (in campaign hat!) perched on a Mk. V. These lozenge-shaped tanks are also visible in the other posters.

Here’s the Black Tom (in campaign hat!) perched on a Mk. V. These lozenge-shaped tanks are also visible in the other posters.

The Army got the best and most reliable tanks their allies made (the Renault FT light tank and the British Mk V and Mk V* (“Mark Five Star”) heavy tanks). It’s just that, in 1918, the best wasn’t all that good.

We’ll have more to say about these tanks in a future post, we hope, but the FT had a swiveling turret with a short 37mm gun or a Hotchkiss machine gun.It had a crew of two. The lozenge-shaped Mk V, the classic WWI tank, had a crew of eight or nine and was armed with machine guns and, in some versions, cannons, in hull-side sponsons. Both had a top speed of about 5 mph, a good match for a walking doughboy.

British and French tank concepts were entirely different, with the
French using light tanks to accompany and support infantry, and the British heavy tanks to force breakthroughs for exploitation by infantry. American doctrine hastily synthesized both nations’ approaches and then went into stasis for most of the period in between the wars, while British, French and Soviet tankers shook down new operational concepts.

The Germans countered the Allied tanks with anti-tank rifles, armor-piercing ammunition for their thousands of machine guns, and, most effectively, with direct-fire and indirect-fire artillery under the control of forward observers with their eyes on the tanks. But for every tank destroyed by enemy action, several fell to overheating, clutch failure, thrown tracks, or other breakdowns. One major weakness of the Mark V and Mark V Star was the fan belt, failure of which would quickly down the tank. The Americans carried spare fan belts in a designated maintenance tank, an idea that simply hadn’t occurred to their British mentors (but which the British wasted no time adopting).

Still, a hit from an artillery shell usually meant curtains for a tank, like this FT. WWI tanks had thin face-hardened armor, which shattered under artillery assault, as seen here.

renault_ft_killed_1918A number of the tank crewmen were recognized for acts of desperate valor, including two NCOs who received the Medal of Honor (one posthumously), and many officers and NCOs decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross.

Some tankers also received British decorations, especially after American tank battalions (and other American units) were attached to Sir John Monash’s Australians for a late-September 1918 offensive.

After the war, aviation managed to survive as a separate branch or corps, but tanks didn’t. They were subsumed under the authority of the Infantry branch, and neglected until the clouds of World War II made the Army start to improve its tanks, finally, in both mechanical and doctrinal ays. (They had used long-obsolete Ford Six Ton Tanks, a “copy” of the FT that managed to have zero interchangeable parts, well into the 1930s). Talented officers such as Patton and Eisenhower saw the writing on the wall, and rebranched to the branch of service that the Army brass of 1920 considered to have a future.

The horse cavalry.

That’s the Army for you.

Corrections

Several typos in the initial post have been corrected. WeaponsMan.com regrets the errors. Thanks to the reader who brought them to our attention.

Notes

  1. Wilson extracted this information from pages 9-10 of Patton’s Operations of the 304th Brigade, Tank Corps, from September 26th to October 15, 1918, from the Patton chronological files, to which he had access.

How Much Accuracy & Precision Do You Really Need?

It seems illogical, but for a combat weapon, (c) might be more desirable than (a). And even (d) might work.

It seems illogical, but for a combat weapon, (c) might be more desirable than (a). And even (d) might work.

Back in September of ’13 (yeah, we have a lot of tabs to clear, don’t we?) Shawn had a really interesting post at LooseRounds.com. Not like that’s unusual or anything. But he wondered why so many people over-buy accuracy and precision for the kind of shooting that they really do.

That leads us to a parable of sorts. A few years ago, a guy asked if we wanted to buy his rifle. What sort of rifle? A Blaser, he told us, in .300 Winchester Magnum. It was accurate to 1,200 yards, he said.

And where, we asked, in the state of New Hampshire, could you fire 1,200 yards? There are some private ranges, but we do not know of one in the Seacoast region.

Russians are smart, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

Russians are smart guys, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

That, he explained, is why he was trying to sell it.

Not every gun is fit for every purpose, and people frequently buy more gun than they need. Shawn’s point is that this is very common with respect to accuracy.

Time after time I look through the popular gun boards and see users with Larue OBR, PredatARs and Noveske rifles doing rapid fire mag dumps at targets no further away then 50 yards. Most the time it is on man sized targets and they have mounted the popular T-1 or eotech or something there about. Why do they need a gun that shoots 1/4 MOA to hit a man sized target across the room? Some of them do not even take the gun off of a benchrest and restrict their shooting to 25 yards incredibly. I have even seen some shooting these match rifles using military surplus ball ammo. They do not even bother with the match ammo it takes to achieve the precious level of accuracy they so badly wanted and paid for. The biggest mind boggler to me is the mag dumps. Sure the rifles can handle it, but that accuracy level of the barrel will only last so long and after a certain number of rounds fired, it will go from 1/4 or 1/2 to 1 MOA or 2 or even larger depending on what goes bad or wears first.

Howard: -The first time I saw a LaRue Stealth Upper, it was being used to bump fire. All of the 5.56 OBR rifles I have seen have had either an Aimpoint or Eotech on it. Similar for Noveske rifles. Often they were just used for offhand rapid fire. The sort of shooting I witness these precision rifles used for could be achieved with any quality standard carbine barrel. While it is very nice to have a match barrel, why spend the money one one unless you actually require that accuracy.-

Shawn and Howard are right. If you are plinking, then you do not need tack-driving accuracy, and there’s more than a little suspicion that you can’t put it to use. The percentage of shooters that can outshoot their firearms is incredibly small. Shawn has made a habit of demonstrating the practical long-range accuracy of a rack-grade service rifle is considerably better than the specifications demand, or the average operator (in the sense of “one who operates a rifle” not “wannabe SWAT assclown”) can deliver.

The same is true of pistols. Mounted in a Ransom Rest, many mass-produced pistols can deliver accuracy that puts their owners to shame. Yet the desire to own the newest and flashiest, and to have accuracy bragging rights, seems unstoppable.

How to separate the pistol's potential from the pistolero's: the Ransom Rest and a grip adapter that fits.

How to separate the pistol’s potential from the pistolero’s: the Ransom Rest and a grip adapter that fits.

Money spent on accuracy not used is money wasted. In economic terms, it’s an opportunity cost. 100%, to a first approximation, of shooters, would improve their lethality and therefore their safety in an armed encounter if they put those dollars into ammo, or, especially, training. Yet the guy who balks at taking a pistol class (unless maybe he can take it from a high-speed “operator” who wears designer Multicam down to his skivvies) will drop that money on a tuned 1911. Who are you going to shoot with that 1911? If you’re the late Paul Poole, you shot F-type silhouettes at 100 yards to get people’s attention; if you’re a ranked competitor, you might need that edge when X-rings decide who takes home the trophy. But who are you going to plug with a .45? A burglar in your bedroom? A carjacker in the pax seat of your Prius?

The waste of excessive accuracy is not the only problem with high-precision weaponry. Yes, precision costs money — any gunsmith, machinist, hell, any biologist sequencing a bacterial genome will tell you that. Costs rise asymptotically as you approach the goal of perfection.  And yes, all this is bad. Because money is fungible, at the defense ministry or service finance level, a dollar spent on excess accuracy is a dollar than can’t buy training ammo, tank fuel, medical supplies or new radios (or anything else).

But the things that make for optimum accuracy alone may not be suitable for a general purpose weapon. Have you ever wondered why all M1 Garands or M14s weren’t National Match rifles? It’s not just because Uncle Same Numba Ten Cheap Charlie. It’s because some of the NM “improvements” are only improvements for the express purpose of match competition. Tighter parts fit? Hand-lapped locking lugs? A “blueprinted” or tight chamber? A smaller rear-sight aperture? All of these things are wonderful when your target is a bullseye at 500 yards, but they’re no help when your target’s the 10,000 screaming Norks or Chinamen who are coming to take your position or die trying. Indeed, since history tells us that you’ll be facing that human wave in bitter cold, blowing sleet, enervating heat or jungle monsoons, accuracy for a service rifle is defined as practical accuracy that a real-world rifleman (who is not NRA Distinguished or the owner of a Presidents Hundred tab) can employ in real-world combat.

Engineers have a saying for this. “The best is the enemy of the good.” Excess performance over practical specs has uncertain benefits but very real costs.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been unusual in their generous provision of long-shot targets. Had The Big One ever happened in Europe, a typical sniper shot would probably have been around 300-350 meters. You just don’t have anything but a fleeting target in the rolling, forested and built-up terrain.

This is why the Soviet Army issued a so-so sniper rifle — the SVD — on a very broad basis. The squad designated marksman who carried that rifle wasn’t going to be plinking NATO generals at their field desks two thousand meters away; they were there to provide a precision engagement capability that extended the area of influence of their rifle squads beyond what an AK or RPK can dominate.

Another Negligent Fed, Another Murder Victim

ICE badge

Now it’s ICE’s turn to cover for a negligent agent.

Not long ago we had the death of an innocent woman in San Francisco because an irresponsible criminal investigator with the Bureau of Land Management couldn’t be bothered to secure his handgun.

Add to that a government that at its most senior levels will not deport or imprison violent criminal aliens. And there you have the death of Kate Steinle, at the nominal hands of criminalien Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. Lopez-Sanchez had a strong assist from the US government at several levels: the agent, the BLM (which has never held the agent accountable), and every open-borders enthusiast who draws a government paycheck.

Did Feds learn from that? No, since there were no consequences for the careless bum who left his firearm unsecure, they did not. Now we have a new murder victim, who was reportedly shot with a gun negligently left unsecured in a car by a special agent with ICE ERO.

[M]uralist Antonio Ramos was killed on September 29th with a gun stolen from an agent about two weeks earlier.

“He was painting the mural and he had taken a break and was taking some pictures so he could memorialize it and put it up on the website, so he had some of his camera equipment out there,” said Roland Holmgren of the Oakland Police. “I believe that’s what sparked the whole incident.”

A 20-year-old career criminal killed Ramos so he could steal the Ramos’s camera. Who says the welfare-and-crime-class won’t help themselves? They’ll help themselves to your car, to your cash, to your camera, to some inept and apathetic Fed’s gun, and ultimately, to your life, and then bien pensants will whine about all the vital potential wasted by putting human pathogen Marquise Holloway in prison for the next 70 years. #BlackLivesMatter, they say.

#Blackcrimesmatter. That’s usually how black men wind up in prison, because our society isn’t self-confident enough to have an immune system able of swinging pathogens like Holloway — black, white, or any shade between — from a lamppost, or parting them out as living organ donors the way the practical Chinese do with their domestic criminal class.

A Vaccination for Human Viruses? It's called, "hanging."

A Vaccination for Human Viruses? It’s called, “hanging.”

If we treated human virions like Holloway the way we treat an ebola infection, prison overcrowding would be a thing of the past. And the basic difference between Holloway and ebola is this: you can learn something useful by studying ebola.

Naturally, the agency whose agent was so criminally irresponsible disclaims all responsibility:

In a written statement ICE said, “A duty weapon belonging to an officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) was stolen Sept. 13 in San Francisco from a vehicle being used by the officer. The theft was properly reported to local authorities and through official federal channels.”

Shorter ICE: “We made a report. That erases our blowing off our responsibility to secure our firearms, so get off our back.” The BLM used similar boilerplate when they put a gun in a murderer’s hand, too.

While ICE acknowledged a gun was stolen, they did not verify if it was used in the shooting.

Marquise Holloway, 20, is facing murder charges in the death of Ramos. Holloway is also accused of several street robberies.

Stealing guns from careless cops is a favorite technique of violent criminals in the San Francisco Bay Area, where punitive state and local controls have reduced the number of non-police legal gun owners, and the culture of law enforcement impunity means that negligent cops and feds who arm murderers are never held accountable.

The bonehead Bureau of Land Management special agent who facilitated Lopez-Sanchez’s murder of Kate Steinle faced no consequences, and the idiot ICE ERO whose irresponsibility enabled Holloway to murder Ramos will face no consequences too.

Hey, at least the BLM and ICE agents’ guns have been recovered, of course, only after being used in murders. One stolen from a negligent San Jose police cadet’s trunk in October hasn’t turned up in a murder… yet. (Note that the idiot who wrote the story identified the stolen weapon as a “service revolver…” plus, “three high-capacity clips.” That’s what layers and layers of editors will get you).

And the SJPD, too, is fully tapped into the culture of police impunity: they high-handedly refused to discuss the theft, as it was a “personnel matter.” No one at SJPD cares if some muggle gets murdered, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience a cop or crimp his career.

When we’re done hanging all the Holloways in our future perfect world, maybe we can fire all the cops who are negligent with their firearms.

Shoot Like a Fed II: The FBI Qualification 1997-2013

keep-calm-and-carry-a-fbi-badgeCan you shoot like an FBI  Special Agent? A single box of ammo will tell you, as the qualification runs 50 rounds. True, this is an outdated certification that dates from the days that the Bureau issued DA/SA SIG pistols. (The current qualification has some insignificant changes, like starting at the close targets and working back; and some significant ones, like eliminating the 25-yard line and requiring all strings to be fired after drawing from concealment. We may cover that in the future).

While a listing of a qualification’s stages in black and white is necessary and works for people who learn well from the printed page, we think videos like this one, which one of our readers found online, really help to get the points across.

The FBI then used the Q target. Scoring is simple: a round touching the line of or inside the “bottle” counts for 2 points, a round outsize zero. The standards are: 85% to qualify, and 90% for instructors. The stages are listed below this 2012 video from Darkwood Personal Defense, which lasts 4:18.

Stage I:
25 yards. 75 seconds. Firearm fully loaded. All shots (regardless of barricade side) are taken with two hand hold with strong hand operating pistol.
6 rounds prone; 3 rounds strong side kneeling/barricaded; 6 rounds strong side standing/barricaded; 3 rounds weak side kneeling/barricaded. Total 18 rounds.

Stage II:
Start at 25 yards, firearm fully loaded, in holster. Total time 18 sec.
Start at 25 yards; but shooter does not fire here. On command, shooter displaces to 15 yard line, draws, fires 2 rounds, 6 seconds. Decock (if DA/SA) and return to low ready. On command, Fire 2 rounds in 3 seconds, return to low ready. Repeat on command 2 rounds, 3 seconds, three times. Total 10 rounds (running total 28).

Stage III: 
Start at 15 yards, firearm loaded with fewer than 12 rounds, in holster, and spare magazine on belt. Total time 15 sec.
Start at 15 yards; but shooter does not fire here. On command, shooter displaces to 7 yard line, draws, fires 12 rounds — including a reload — in 15 seconds. Total 12 rounds (running total 40).

Stage IV:
Start at 7 yards, firearm loaded with a 5 round magazine, in holster, spare mag on belt with 5 rounds. Total time 15 sec.
Start at 7 yards; but shooter does not fire here. On command, shooter displaces to 5 yard line, draws strong hand only, fires 5 rounds.  Transfers gun to weak hand (this can happen before, during or after the reload. It is safest before, and fastest during, as the instructor demonstrates), reloads, fires 5 rounds weak hand only. Time limit 15 seconds. Total 10 rounds (running total 50).

This is a much simpler and easier qualification than the ICE/DHS HSI qualification that we’ve posted before. We’ve never heard of a Bureau candidate being sent to hit the bricks for failing the pistol test (we’ve heard of a few “retested” by managers after the instructors gave up on them, and miraculously passing. This happens in every agency), but we have heard of special agents in the field being retasked to desk work after repeated failures to qualify. It is a rare agent who will fire his or her firearm in anger, but every one is supposed to be ready to do so. The replacement qual is not significantly more difficult, although it’s generally closer in, and stresses starting from concealment, which is more realistic for an investigative agency. (Sure, if they’re expecting trouble, like a warrant service, they unholster in advance or even break out the long guns… or they re-plan the arrest so that it’s less risky, if possible). The FBI’s upcoming change to 9mm from .40 S&W will make it easier yet.

So, can you shoot like a Fed?

A Different (and better?) Look at Crime Statistics

no-crime-zoneJeff Asher of New Orleans, a city noted for a triphammer murder rate, has a beef with the way people usually analyze gun crime: by looking at murders. He argues that it’s better to look at shootings, which he defines as, “any incident in which a person is struck by a bullet fired by someone else.”

Murder makes an imperfect proxy for crime for several reasons. First, murders are rare enough (unless you’re lucky[?] enough to be in NOLA, DC, or Chicongo) that normal variability is going to introduce confounding effects, not to mention that their low numbers yield poor statistical power. And the real reason people use murder as a proxy for crime is not just because it’s the statistic we have, it’s also a statistic that’s harder than the others for the white shirts to game. Asher writes (at FiveThirtyEight.com):

[T]wo unrelated cases in one of the country’s worst cities for gun violence can help us understand why murder statistics alone are a bad metric for measuring gun violence trends. Both featured groups of gunmen firing wildly in the vicinity of innocent bystanders, but only one ended in a tragedy receiving extended public attention. So even though 90 percent of New Orleans murders are committed with a gun, looking at total shooting incidents tells us more — by focusing attention on all the gun violence in a city, in addition to those shootings that end in a fatality

We could quibble with his using “shootings” rather than murders on a couple of points: it’s probably better to look at armed robberies to see the real impact of “gun crime,” because 90-95% of robberies don’t involve a firearm discharge, but their impact on the quality of urban life is enormous. And if “murder rate” is the crime you watch, crime seems to go down steadily — as your emergency departments get better and save more shot-up gangbangers. But as we mentioned, these are quibbles.

Murders in Baltimore may be all over the place, but since city and national politicians declared war on the police in June, 2015, shootings are doing what Asher says, showing us a truer picture of violence in the city:

asher-feature-gun-violence-2

Unfortunately, most cities, even the ones using CompStat or other data-gathering systems, don’t gather data that supports this granularity. So far, Asher has secured data from New Orleans (where he used to do this kind of stuff for the city) and Baltimore.

Asher has an interesting blog at the New Orleans Advocate, Behind the Numbers. As he writes:

The goal is to look deeply at underlying data to see what it tells us — in hopes of being able to say not just what’s happening, but why it’s happening. We’ll begin with a focus on New Orleans crime….

Asher may be a typically shallow, well-credentialed and poorly educated media writer for all we know: ready to blame Teh GUNZ!! and the cismale heteronormative patriarchy for why armed robbers feel comfortable threatening people with death to steal their money. He could be. But unlike the average reporter, Asher is not innumerate. That makes his blog instantly worth more than most newspaper crime writing, which usually launches from the two pinnacles of 1) ignorance of crime & criminals and 2) absolute conviction that one’s Columbia Journalism School ticket bestows Deep & Penetrating Insight.

Having someone trained in statistics is essential to avoiding mistaken conclusions. For example, he has traced some “crime rate improvements” in NOLA to the NOPD’s lousy and worsening response times.

[L]onger responses are deflating crime statistics by increasing the likelihood that a crime will be found unfounded. Using publicly available data we can estimate that about 6 percent more crimes are being marked unfounded in 2015 than would have been had response rates stayed at 2014 levels. This translates to over 1,000 more crimes being marked unfounded than expected over the course of a year, all because of slower responses.’

How slow? Data Jeff posted to this item show that responses to the most serious calls Priority 3, have increased to a half hour in 2015. The average crime against a person, from robbery to homicide, takes an hour for the unit to report on site. No wonder criminal shooters are acting emboldened in the Crescent City.

Violent crimes against people get the best response, but “best” is relative:

[T]here have been 50 aggravated assaults and batteries in 2015 in which victims had to wait more than 10 hours for a response.

We wonder how different Jeff’s charts would look if he charted median response times, not means which can be skewed by a few outliers.

Our focus is on Jeff’s stats-jitsu here, but the Advocate also has been running some heartbreaking stories about what the sclerotic police response means to crime victims. (In one case, after Sofia Froeba was carjacked and left unconscious and bleeding in the street, the cops not only didn’t respond to the scene, but their “investigation” consisted of calling her cell phone — taken by the carjacker — and marking her report “unfounded” when she didn’t answer!)

There’s Accurate, and there’s the One Mile Club

Steel silhouette used for the 1 mile club shoots. Barrel of the rifle visible right. The holes are from short range (300-800 yard -- that's short?) hits with the .300 UM and the one-mile load.

Steel silhouette used for the 1 Mile Club shoots. Barrel of the rifle visible right. The holes are from short range (300-800 yard — that’s short?) hits with the .300 UM and the one-mile load.

Like many an obsession, it had a casual start.

It all started with an off hand comment.

We saw what you did there.

A friend and I had been shooting to 1,000 yards and a little beyond for years and while talking to a 3rd friend one day and telling him about the D&L sports ITRC and a recent article in The Accurate Rifle magazine about it, I mentioned a section at the end about participants of the match having a choice to “join the One Mile Club”.

The best I can recall, the idea was the shooter got as many rounds as he wanted at the target 1 mile away but, after having made the hit, had to zero back down and make a 100 yard  shot.  The person got only one chance at the 100 yard target after scoring the 1 mile hit or else they would not be counted as one of the OMC according to whatever rules  they had decided on locally.   This had stirred up some talk among the us local long range shooters and got the gears turning.

And that’s how Shawn Thompson and his friends got started on making a one mile shot with a mass-produced  commercial rifle and optics. (They’s not complete fools. They handloaded the ammo).

With the gears turning, as he put it, Shawn and his friends planned to build and/or modify rifles for a one-mile man-sized target. In the end, the mod that was most necessary was a scope base with mils enough to correct for bullet drop. The guy that planned to build a custom rifle just for the one-mile friendly competition, and went so far as to buy a new Model 70 long action, in the end, didn’t bother.

To make the one-mile hit, everything has to go right, but Shawn and the gang proved that it can be done. (As others have done before them, like the guys at the match he was reading about). Shawn didn’t like the idea of building a chassis-hosted, ultra-heavy-barrel, near-crew-served “race gun” for this one task.

My friend continued to cling to the idea of building a gun just for the shot, but this had very little appeal to me. Then as now, I only wanted to make the hit with something a man could carry by himself and [that] was portable and practical. …

The idea was to use something standard. No wildcats and no full custom rifles. That was to be our starting attempt. To work with something factory made and if it was not adequate to the task we would move on from there.

As the friends were booting around the idea, “a windfall came into the gun store” in the form of a Remington 700 in .300 Ultra Mag with a 28″ heavy fluted stainless barrel. It came with an H-S Precision stock. (We’re not H-S P fans. Yes, it’s a good basic stock, well proven on production sniper rifles, but the company takes pride in endorsement by indicted-but-beat-the-rap FBI button man Lon Horiuchi. Mauser, conversely, has the good decency not to mention the morally equivalent Einsatzgruppen when listing its famous users).

Steel silhouette used for the

It’s all COTS stuff. Quality stuff, but still COTS.

A Nightforce rail (40 MOA) and Badger Ordnance rings, a Leupold VX-III 8-32 scope, a little trigger work, and the mile master was coming together. For convenience’s sake, a bipod; for accuracy’s sake, a level. (The displacement caused by a little bit of cant isn’t little any more after flying for a mile).

By the summer of 2005, they were ready to try for the mile marker. With careful load development, they did indeed produce a load (using a Berger VLD bullet and a powder load they’re keeping confidential) that got them on target on their first day of shooting at the 1 mile target (they had tested the load at shorter ranges). They hadn’t expected success so soon, but the rifle, load, and optic all performed just right, and the environment was perfect — no wind, no mirage, they could spot the shots from the firing line.  The shooters began to realize that they could do it on this day, with this set of tools, if they did their parts.

As soon as the ballistic software data from the chart was dialed in and the shots started to fall around the target, and we overcame our surprise, we knew we were going to do it.

We … started to make the attempt in earnest. My friend who I originally discussed the project with was first to make the hit after I coached him onto it. Next was the owner of the rifle and the gun store. I went next and will never forget making the hit on my third shot.

The target was placed in the middle of a huge powdery dirt area and a shooter could easily see the misses. The time of flight allowed recovery from recoil and muzzle blast enough to watch through the optic. I will never forget firing, my friend excitedly saying “hit” and as I was about to ask “you sure” I heard the distant, very faint “ding”.

The particular steel gong I chose for the target was used for a variety of reason, one being it range very loudly though we doubted we would actually hear it. On that day of perfect conditions, we indeed could. We all got one hit on the target before running out of ammo. Between 3 of us we used up 50 rounds of the hand loaded ammo but got only 1 hit each.

That’s pretty remarkable, hits on a man-sized target at one mile’s distance. We’ve never done that. The funny thing is, this remarkable achievement deserves everyone’s respect, and yet Shawn is just now writing it up, ten years later. It was the shot that started him on the long-range shooting that first brought LooseRounds.com to wide attention.

Before you criticize the few hits from 50 shots, bear in mind that at that range this load required a holdover of between 260-292 clicks (closer to 292, as a mile is 1760 yards).

The 1 mile project propelled into other projects like a 1,233 yard hit on the same target with a stock surplus K31 with GP11 ammo using a special scope base …. And a few other special shots were made over the years. One was the original iron sighted 1,000 yard shot you may have read about here.

In my opinion it stands as an excellent example of my pet subject, that a rifleman with standard equipment can do amazing things with skill and practice. The shots were taken from prone, using a variety of sand bags and bipods. Nothing extraordinary, really. An entire market and training industry has arisen since, …dead set to convince you that a standard factory made rifle can not do this type of thing.

I always recommend new shooters start at the quality factory rifle level since it will be a while before you will be able to shoot better than the rifle anyway.

Do go Read The Whole Thing™. You might think that we’ve excerpted the guts out of it, but there’s plenty more there, including Shawn’s recommendations on where not to save money if you choose to take up extreme long-range shooting, many more pictures of the gun including its laminated-on dope sheet, and the names of the four members of the Pike County One Mile Club.