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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just finished reading "Misfire: The History of how America's Small Arms have Failed our Military" by William H. Hallahan. There are a couple of issues that I thought might be worth discussing:

1. Hallahan writes that during the Korean War, our troops were often outgunned by the North Korean Army, which supposedly possessed greater firepower (in terms of infantry weapons). I found this very hard to believe. To my knowledge, the N. Koreans never used the AK-47, only WWII-era Soviet small arms. On the other hand, our troops were armed with the M1 Garand, M2 Carbine, and BAR, among others. Can anyone dispute this claim that our troops lacked firepower, or was he correct? If there are any Korean War vets that could give an opinion, that would be great.

2. Hallahan seems to have nothing but disdain for the M14. Now, I don't wish to start an "M14 vs. M16" debate, but if anyone was (is) in the military, I'd like to hear their opinion about this rifle (the M14).

3. In his conclusion, Hallahan obviously laments the fact that today's M16 is equipped with a 3-shot burst instead of a full-auto capability. I do not profess to be an expert on infantry tactics, but this seems like a rather trivial issue. A platoon of soldiers armed with M16A2s supplemented with SAWs or M60s could put up quite a wall of lead. What do you guys think: is the 3-shot burst really a handicap?

Also, I'd like to hear what you think of this book overall.
 

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I can only answer #3 since I'm not old enough to have experienced #1 or #2.

The M-16A2 is almost impossible to control on full auto. Even on burst, the third round can be a flyaway. Moreover, the weapon was NOT designed as a machinegun and thus has no real need for f/a fire. You are correct - the SAW, M-60 (phased out in the Corps), and 240G are used to lay down a heavy volume of fire. Plus the MK19, mortars, and M203 can be used for indirect fire. Remember, artillery/indirect fire causes the greatest number of casaulties to infantry.

I personally, rarely will put the weapon on burst, preferring to take slow well aimed shots when possible. Even in close quarters, the burst function isn't utilized. There are thoughts of replacing the SAW with a heavy barrelled M-16 but so far nothing's materialized yet (still testing I believe). Finally, if the M-16A2 was frequently fired on F/a I believe the barrels would wear out rather quickly. I hear the SEALs have this problem with M-4's that have this capability.
 

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Referring to your first question, I read a book on the battle of the Chosin Reservoir (The Frozen Chosin) in Korea, and the only GI's that felt out gunned were the ones with the M1 and M2 carbines. The round is anemic, and had trouble penetrating heavy coats and multiple layers of clothing. The cold weather posed two problems for the .30 carbines. 1. The wound, when it did penetrate, didn't bleed much due to the restricted veins (they attributed some of this to the narcotics the enemy was supplied with) and 2. The gas system wouldn't function reliably turning the carbines into bolt actions.

The GI's generally were happy with their Garands, and M14's as they had good knockdown power, reliability, and terminal ballistics in the cold weather. I'll try and find the book and post the name and the author for you guys.
 

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Any time I witnessed the beginning of a firefight at night, the tracers would ALL be forming a arc into the sky and then slowly brought down as both sides realized they were firing auto into the sky. Happened EVERY time. Controlled semi-fire is the way to go. So I think the new 3-round burst is a good thing, though I never had one like it.
 

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Originally posted by GI-45:
3. In his conclusion, Hallahan obviously laments the fact that today's M16 is equipped with a 3-shot burst instead of a full-auto capability. I do not profess to be an expert on infantry tactics, but this seems like a rather trivial issue. A platoon of soldiers armed with M16A2s supplemented with SAWs or M60s could put up quite a wall of lead. What do you guys think: is the 3-shot burst really a handicap?
You are right. It is a very trivial issue. Three round burst is a good thing. Far more controllable and allows one to get back on target before firing another burst. And with practice, at pistol ranges
, it can be quite 'combat' accurate. At ranges beyond that it becomes more of a supressive fire deal.
 

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During my sojourn with "The Green Machine", we trained for rapid, accuarte, semi-auto fire. Usually, only the point man would use the three-round burst. Each fire team had at least one M-203, some of which were on M-16A1 frames (full auto capable) and one SAW. We did not use the M-60 as a dismounted weapon (Mechanized Infantry). As a SAW gunner, I was trained, and believed in, using short 5-8 round bursts. Anything beyond that was a waste of ammo.

Steve
 

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I concur with the opinion that the M16 is generally impractical when fired automatic. It is useful perhaps close up, but still a handful. It is also extremely wasteful - most people who have not fired a subgun or automatic rifle have no idea just how fast one will empty a 30-rd mag. Troopers without a continuous resupply are going to find themselves in trouble. And ammo, even 5.56 is *heavy* to lug around in quantity.

Even just several hundred rounds of 5.56 in continuous sustained fire will destroy a barrel in accuracy terms in short order. Suppressive fire ought to be left to MG's.

From accounts I have read of the Korean War, it bogged down into trench warfare stuff in many places. An M1 Garand wouldn't have been as handy as an M2 in such circumstances, and the commies did have more than a few of the WW2 Russian PPSH subguns. The Russian 7.62x25 cartidge wouldn't have had any more "stopping power" than the .30 Carbine round.

I have read much material around the M1 and M2 Carbines and the .30 Carbine catridge - including those who feel it is a "poor stopper", and those who say it is just fine.
A friend of mine who was a South Vietnamese Special Forces Officer tells me it was his weapon of choice over all the others in that fracas; and he had the pick of anything he wanted.

I have a hard time believing that the .30 Carbine won't punch holes in most any type of heavy clothing, as it will penetrate better than just about any other pistol cartridge.

This brings to mind the threads on ammo choices for pistols - if a .30 carbine from an M1/M2 won't penetrate heavy clothing, people that are carrying 1911's in areas that have a winter season better think again. This is a reason though that I believe a 9mm is a better choice than a .45 in certain circumstances; especially when loaded with NATO-spec ball.

On reliabilty - I will confess I have never owned an M1 Carbine (I may do something about that). I have owned a Garand, which has a similar design. Any semi-auto (and most others too) firearm that is lubed with the wrong stuff in very low temperatures or otherwise gets iced up, is likely to jam or seize. I suspect that this was/is a matter of proper cleaning and maintenance rather than design. The M1 Garand and the M1 Carbine are so similar in design that what will foul up one is very likely to do the same to the other.
 

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Lak, I was just passing on the opinions of the GI's in the book that I read. The guys in 'nam had a little different climate to deal with, and the carbines had already proven themselves capable in tropical environs (Island hopping in WW II) and I expect would give good results in an area such as Vietnam. The cold weather prevented some of the free bleeding that occurs in some of the warmer areas. There wasn't much trench digging at the Chosin Reservoir as the ground was frozen perma frost. I wasn't speaking for the Korean war in general, just for the one particular battle.

Heavy clothing will effect a bullet in both penetration and wound ballistics. If you are shooting a cartridge that has already been made marginal by the climate, then alot of layered clothing just compounds the problem.

I own a M1 carbine and I could see where the gas tappet that cycles the slide could give one problems if it got cold, and any oil on it thickened. The 30-06 of a Garand has alot more expanding gas to work with than the .30 cal. carbine does.

[This message has been edited by JRJ (edited 08-23-2001).]
 

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The name of the aforementioned book is BREAKOUT: THE BATTLE OF THE CHOSIN RESERVOIR By Martin Russ
 

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A lot of this talk has its roots in a query as to why the army insisted on arming its troops with trapdoor Springfields instead of Winchesters during the so-called "Indian Wars." Of course, all Lakota warriors who could afford them traded for Winchesters. The army's reasoning was that the 45-70 cartridge had a longer range than the 44-40 round of the Winchester '73 and the .44 round of the Winchester '66 (as well as the .44 rimfire of the Henry.) But, the truth is, Native American beliefs about battle dictated that they must face an enemy face-to-face and killing by one's own hand at close range was preferred for honor and status reasons. Therefore, the army's reasoning for not equipping their men with repeating weapons became a moot point. (One of the few times Native Americans were impressed enough by long-range firepower was at Adobe Walls. But those weapons were .50 caliber Sharps; a weapon superior to the army Springfields.)

A recent archeological survey of the Little Big Horn battle site revealed some startling results. This was done after a brush fire exposed the battle site and a ran washed away covering earth. Into view came spent 45-70 casings that had pry marks on them. Also found were broke knife blades. This evidence pointed to an extraction problem with the Springfields the troopers were carrying. This had been suspected for a long time, and the recent evidence tends to support this. Also found were scores of Winchester spent casings near positions where Lakota warriors were thought to have been. Also found were enough steel arrowheads to point to the Natives having fielded more bows than had previously been thought to have been. Being as the bow is a weapon with a much higher rate of fire than a single-shot rifle, this points to an overwhelming quantity of firepower in the form of Winchesters and bows. Could the army have been better armed? Yes. Could it have made a difference at Little Big Horn? Perhaps, perhaps not. But the fact was, the trapdoor Springfield was certainly not the best weapon of the period in question. Most civilians were not owning this piece (those who opted for single-shots had Sharps or Remington rolling-blocks) but rather owning Winchesters.

While many are fascinated by military weapons, many of those weapons are what the military could afford at the time of adoption or what was "good enough" at the time of adoption. We cannot confuse that with quality.

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Those that beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that don't

[This message has been edited by Kevan (edited 08-24-2001).]
 

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JRJ,

Indeed, heavy clothing clothing will affect a bullet's penetrating abilities, and hence my reference to those who would rely on a 1911 (in .45) in a cold climate. That if a .30 carbine, fired from a carbine, will not make it through particular heavy clothing a .45 pistol is not going to cut it either. Reduced ammo efficiency in low-temps would only amplify the disparity between the .30 carbine and the .45 pistol.

Army SOP for Garands (I have one of the Army Field Manuals *somewhere*), and I would presume the carbines, in very cold weather is *no lube* - dry -unless special low-temp lube was available.

In winter the ground might freeze to a certain depth, especially at higher elevations. The particular battle cited in the book aside; the communist forces were very well dug-in in places throughout the war, with extensive trenches and bunkers. They were then occupied by our guys after being taken, sometimes retaken by the North Koreans and later the Chicoms and so on.

Talking of books, "A Rifleman Went to War", by Herbert W. McBride (highly recommended by Col. "Jeff" Cooper -which is why I initially aquired it). Excellent work on many practical facets of small arms in warfare and of general practical merit as well.

Kevan,

The military certainly has a history of being supplied with gear more influenced by factors such as cost, contractual/political considerations than by practicality or effectiveness. That OICW ("Objective Individual Combat Weapon") springs to mind again - I have to wonder just what "Objective" they had in mind with that one.
 

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I have to agree about the OICW (OIC You-got-ripped-off-too.) With a $14,000 per weapon price tag, we the taxpayers are getting the screws by army ordnance boards once more.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Originally posted by LAK:
This brings to mind the threads on ammo choices for pistols - if a .30 carbine from an M1/M2 won't penetrate heavy clothing, people that are carrying 1911's in areas that have a winter season better think again. This is a reason though that I believe a 9mm is a better choice than a .45 in certain circumstances; especially when loaded with NATO-spec ball... Indeed, heavy clothing clothing will affect a bullet's penetrating abilities, and hence my reference to those who would rely on a 1911 (in .45) in a cold climate. That if a .30 carbine, fired from a carbine, will not make it through particular heavy clothing a .45 pistol is not going to cut it either. Reduced ammo efficiency in low-temps would only amplify the disparity between the .30 carbine and the .45 pistol.
By the same token then, 9mm might not be such a great choice either, right? I mean, if a .30 Carbine round has trouble penetrating in low temperature conditions, then 9mm would have even more difficulty.

(Hopefully this won't get this thread moved to "The Ammo Can" forum!
)
 

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Kevan,

We are certainly getting fleeced on that one. More importantly, I think the troopers that are being saddled with it are not going to be very happy in the long run.

GI-45,

Naturally, anything a .30 Carbine won't penetrate is going to frustrate a 9mm. But a 9mm definately has an edge in this regard over a .45. I don't berate the .45 as a good, useful combat round; but in regard to penetration of clothing - and stuffing, wood, or any other tactical barrier NATO-spec 9mm ball has a significant edge. As will the 7.62x25 Tokarev at say 1500-1600 fps penetrate such material better than a 9mm.

On that line, referring to the initial post, first paragraph as far as "firepower"; I am led to believe the Chicoms had plenty of those Russian PPSh-41 subguns in 7.62x25 - with the 71-round Suomi-type drums. Much heavier than, and not as "handy" maybe as an M2, but apparently they used them to good effect.

[This message has been edited by LAK (edited 08-25-2001).]
 

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And on the subject of the M1 Carbine - Capt. C. Shore in his book "With British Snipers to the Reich" mentions the Carbine in several places, including his experiences with it, and other hunting (!) in occupied Germany after the war. As an aside, this is another book that has broad merit on the subject of small arms.

An interesting point in the first chapter he mentions is the answers he received from troopers regarding the "stress factor" and combat. He writes that the greatest fear/stress came with sniper/aimed rifle fire, then mortars, then artillery shells, then machinegun fire - in that order.
 

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Another thing about that cumbersome, Rube Goldberg contraption they call the OICW (O, I C it's-a-P.O.S.) is the weight! It weighs just about the sae as a M-60 machine gun! And did anyone notice in the press photos it has a bayonet on it? WHY!!!??? How could anyone possibly use it in such a capacity. There are so many great weapons out there to choose from these days and they had to come up with this?

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Did a search on Google for the OICW, came up with these photos:





Is this going to replace the M16 eventually? Sure is a mean lookin' weapon
.
 

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Yes, that would be the POS. All $14,000 per weapon of it. And the 20mm rounds cost $25 each, so the army is already saying they won't be able to afford to use live 20mm rounds for practice. The army is back to 1873 when they refused to buy the Winchester '73 because they said the .45-70 single-shot trapdoor Springfields had longer range than the .44-40 Winchester. But the army also didn't have the money to buy ammo for regular target practice, so what was the point of having a longer range weapon in the first place?

"O, I C it's another single shot Springfield."

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Looking at the figures from S.E. Asia for the number of rounds fired per casualty, it runs as high as 200,000.

If you examine the spec-sheets for the OICW, they talk of "500% increase" in hit probability. Even assuming the addition of that 20mm apendage helps (and I doubt it will); given a previous hit ratio of one out of every 200,000, a 500% increase in hits is not going to amount to much.

Given the fact that many can not even manage a single trigger and safety - I have to wonder what a single trigger and selector, combining a rifle and a 20mm "cannon", with all the electric gizmos, are going to produce in the hands of the "New Army".

And batteries?
 

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Originally posted by GI-45:
Did a search on Google for the OICW, came up with these photos:
Did anyone ever the comic book, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD? The OCIW is what the guns in the comic book looked like; all sorts of doodads and geegaws hanging off of them.
 
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